Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, right, catches a pass ahead of New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, center, and cornerback Jonathan Jones, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) tries to break a tackle by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen scrambles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The most recent time the Bills faced the Patriots, they left little doubt about their status as the pacesetter in the AFC East.
Buffalo walked off the field with a 47-17 win in the wild-card round of the playoffs this past January, demoralizing a New England team that was celebrating being back in the postseason after a one-year absence.
The Bills (8-3) will look to add to their recent run of success in a rivalry once dominated by the Patriots (6-5) during their latest trip to New England.
Buffalo enters Thursday night's matchup the winners of three of the past four regular-season meetings and is in second place in the AFC's only division in which all four teams are above .500.
But it has yet to notch a division win with close losses to Miami and the New York Jets. Both setbacks were on the road, a fact not lost on quarterback Josh Allen.
''Division games, you got to win them,'' Allen said. ''We know our record this year in them. It's not easy going on the road and playing in division games. We got to understand that and be ready for it again, a hostile environment.''
For New England, which is coming off its best offensive performance since quarterback Mac Jones returned from an ankle injury, the approach has been to remember but not fixate on last year's playoff debacle.
''I'm not going to just dwell on something that's in the past, but it was definitely in my mind how we ended the season last year,'' running back Rhamondre Stevenson said. ''I feel like we get to go out and put a different game on film.''
Thursday's game will be the third in 12 days for the Patriots, coming off having their season-best three-game winning streak ended in a 33-26 loss on Thanksgiving at Minnesota.
Back in last place in the division, it's left little room for error with six games remaining.
''We're going to need to play our best game and that's what we're going to prepare to do this week,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
The injury bug has migrated around the Bills' defense this season. The latest to be affected is top pass rusher Von Miller after he was ruled out with a knee injury.
Miller leads the team with eight sacks, but left Buffalo's 28-25 win over Detroit on Thanksgiving. It creates a big hole for a unit that has allowed just 18.1 points per game this season, the fifth fewest allowed in the NFL.
Coach Sean McDermott acknowledged it will be one of their toughest adjustments yet.
''He's a future hall of famer for a reason,'' McDermott said. ''That said, we've got to move forward this week. And the person or the people responsible to step in and step up have got to do the job, and that's the way it goes.''
The news isn't all bad. Buffalo's other starting defensive end Greg Rousseau started the week as a full participant in practices after missing the previous three games with a high ankle sprain.
''We've got to hold together,'' defensive tackle Ed Oliver said. ''Von did the same thing for us.''
If the Patriots are going to snap their two-game losing streak to Buffalo, it may start with forcing the Bills to punt the ball.
Buffalo scored on all seven of its drives without punting in last season's playoff win and went nine possessions without punting in its 33-21 regular-season victory.
''We went out there and it was negative-1 (degrees) and went out there and basically got our face kicked in,'' Patriots safety Adrian Phillips said. ''It's a big deal, but at the same time you can't let that consume you. It's a whole new team, a whole different mindset.''
Patriots team owner Robert Kraft interrupted McCourty's weekly news conference this week to present him with a photo collage in commemoration of what will be his 200th game for New England on Thursday.
The collage was made up of photos of McCourty from each of his previous 199 appearances for the Patriots over 13 seasons - all starts. It ranks third in team history behind only Bruce Armstrong (212 starts) and Tom Brady (283 starts).
''I came in here as a young pup and accomplishments didn't matter - individual accomplishments,'' McCourty said. ''But it's been a heck of a journey. I'm enjoying every moment of it.''
He's also still contributing in a big way, entering the week tied with Harrison Smith for the most interceptions among all active NFL players with 33.
The Patriots are 26-4 when McCourty has an INT in a regular-season game.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (knee) will not practice on Wednesday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said McCaffrey "just felt something" in Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints. He added that he's hopeful McCaffrey will be able to play this week against the Miami Dolphins. Given his injury history over the past few years, fantasy players have reason to be concerned with McCaffrey's practice status. However, this could be the 49ers being overly cautious with their superstar running back. If he doesn't practice again tomorrow and Friday, fantasy players should start to worry. With Elijah Mitchell (knee) out the next 6-8 weeks with an MCL sprain, Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason are the next guys up if McCaffrey can't play this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Jaylen Warren (hamstring) told reporters that doctors have cleared him to return and that he expects to play this week. The rookie running back missed Monday night's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts because of a hamstring injury he suffered the week before against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, his return from the injury couldn't have come at a better time for the Steelers. Najee Harris suffered an abdominal injury against the Colts and couldn't play in the second half. While he reportedly didn't suffer a severe injury, Harris' status for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons is still up in the air. If Harris can't play, Warren should get the start against a struggling Atlanta run defense.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (quad) was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday. The superstar has stayed mostly healthy this season, only missing the Week 8 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Samuel was dealing with a hamstring injury in practice last week and appeared to aggravate the injury on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. However, fantasy players shouldn't panic over the receiver's practice status. The fact that he could partake in some part of Wednesday's practice is good news. Unless Samuel earns a did not practice designation tomorrow or Friday, the veteran receiver should be ready to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Denver Broncos wide receivers Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and KJ Hamler (hamstring) are not practicing on Wednesday. The wide receivers have missed a combined six games this season. Jeudy hasn't played since Week 10, while Hamler has missed the past three games. With both wide receivers out of the lineup, the Broncos have had to lean on Courtland Sutton and a combination of Kendall Hinton, Montrell Washington, Jalen Virgiland Brandon Johnson. The veteran Sutton has averaged 8.7 targets and 10.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over the past three weeks. Meanwhile, the rest of the receiving corps has been hit or miss every week. Hopefully, Jeudy and Hamler can return this week, as the Broncos have a favorable fantasy matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is set to have a vital role against the Buffalo Bills Thursday. The 24-year-old is expected to be New England's lead back, with backfield teammate Damien Harris (thigh) unlikely to suit up for Thursday Night Football. Stevenson has a tough matchup Thursday against a Bills defense that ranks seventh in rush DVOA this season. He has been productive this season, rushing for 680 yards and four touchdowns while catching 50 passes for 359 yards and a score over 11 games in 2022. The Oklahoma product has caught 15 passes over the last two weeks, and the Bills allow just over four catches a game to running backs. Despite the tough matchup, Stevenson is a mid-range RB2 in most leagues but has more fantasy appeal in PPR formats.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) was officially designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday. Furthermore, the third-year running back will practice today. Dobbins has missed the past five games after having surgery to remove scar tissue from his knee. The young running back missed the entire 2021 season after suffering a severe knee injury in the preseason. He then missed the first two games this season, recovering from that injury. Hopefully, Dobbins' knee is 100% healthy, and the star running back can finish the year on a positive note. However, fantasy players shouldn't get too excited about his return, as Dobbins will share the backfield with Gus Edwards and potentially Kenyan Drake.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (shoulder) said the plan is for him to return after his four-game stint on injured reserve is over. The veteran tight end suffered a shoulder injury against Washington Commanders in Week 10. Philadelphia placed the star tight end on injured reserve, knocking him out for weeks. However, Goedert says the plan as of right now is to return when he is eligible. Therefore, he should be back for the Week 15 matchup against Chicago Bears. Fantasy players with either an open IR or a bench spot should continue to hold onto the veteran tight end. He was the TE5 before getting hurt, averaging 10.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones threw for a career-high 382 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Thanksgiving game loss to the Minnesota Vikings. It was his second 300-yard and first multi-touchdown effort this season. The 24-year-old will look to build on last week's performance against the Buffalo Bills. Overall, Jones hasn't been productive this season. He has thrown for 1,768 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions through eight games in 2022. Jones has a tough matchup on Thursday against a Bills defense that ranks fourth in pass DVOA, making him mainly an option in superflex league formats.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (concussion) will practice today. The superstar running back suffered a concussion in Week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, he couldn't clear the protocol in time to play last week against the Tennessee Titans, resulting in Samaje Perine getting the start. However, Mixon's return to practice is an excellent sign that he should be ready to play Sunday for the showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs. The superstar is the RB8 for the year, averaging 16 half-point PPR fantasy points per game this season. Assuming he clears the protocol and can play, Mixon is a plug-and-play RB1 this week against Kansas City.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers designated defensive back Logan Ryan (foot) to return from Injured Reserve on Wednesday, opening his 21-day practice window for the team to officially activate him from IR. There's a chance that Ryan will be able to play on Monday night in Week 13 against the New Orleans Saints, but it will depend on how he looks at practice this week. The 31-year-old has been sidelined since mid-October due to a fractured foot that required surgery, so there's a good chance he's eased back in once he's officially activated. With the Buccaneers still in play to win the NFC South despite a losing record, the Bucs will hope that Ryan can help their secondary down the stretch. Ryan had only nine tackles (five solo), an interception, two passes defensed and a forced fumble in four games before he broke his foot.
The Chicago Bears signed quarterback Tim Boyle off of the Detroit Lions practice squad on Wednesday. Justin Fields (shoulder) and Trevor Siemian (oblique) are both dealing with injuries, so the Bears need some more insurance at the position heading into Week 13 against the division-rival Green Bay Packers. In a worst-case scenario in which neither Fields nor Siemian are available to play this weekend, either Nathan Peterman or Boyle would be thrust into a starting role against Green Bay this Sunday for the Bears. In that case, the Packers defensive unit would be a must-start in fantasy. Boyle played in five games (three starts) for the Lions in 2021 and threw for 526 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions on 94 pass attempts.
The Philadelphia Eagles opened the 21-day practice window for rookie first-round defensive tackle Jordan Davis (ankle) on Wednesday, and he could come off Injured Reserve to play as soon as Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans this Sunday. Davis suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and hasn't played since, but he's now nearing a return and could suit up this weekend if he looks good in practice this week. The 22-year-old will return to a starting role in the trenches once he's ready, a boost to an already strong Eagles defensive line. Before his injury, Davis had 14 tackles (eight solo) and a pass defensed in his first eight NFL games (five starts).
New York Jets undrafted rookie running back Zonovan Knight has earned a role in the offense going forward, regardless of whether Michael Carter (ankle) plays in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings -- even ahead of James Robinson, who was a healthy scratch in Week 12. Knight was the first player in Jets history to total more than 100 scrimmage yards (69 rushing, 34 receiving) in his NFL debut. "He was juicy as a runner, getting north and south," head coach Robert Saleh said. "He's a one-cut runner, which is kind of the staple of our scheme, and he played fast, he played physical." Knight needs to be picked up off the waiver wire in all fantasy leagues right away, and he could be the team's lead ball-carrier if Carter is out or limited this weekend against Minnesota.
A league source said that it's "feasible" for the Dallas Cowboys to offer free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) a multi-year deal "if the numbers are reasonable." The Cowboys are waiting for Beckham's visit on Dec. 5 to learn his contract desires more specifically, at which point they could make an offer. The 30-year-old wideout is scheduled to visit with the New York Giants later this week before making visits to Dallas and the Buffalo Bills next weekend. OBJ has reportedly received full medical clearance after rehabbing from a torn left ACL he suffered in last year's Super Bowl, so he should be ready to get to work right after he signs with a team. If he signs with the Cowboys, he'd enter a crowded receiving corps that includes CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Noah Brown, and they're set to get James Washington (foot) back soon as well.
The Dallas Cowboys are expected to open the 21-day practice window for wide receiver James Washington (foot) on Wednesday, according to a source. Washington has been on Injured Reserve after breaking his foot in training camp. The 26-year-old last practiced on Aug. 1, so it's highly unlikely that he'd be officially activated from Injured Reserve to play in Week 13 on Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. But it's good news for Dallas' receiving depth to close out the season. Washington was expected to open the year as the No. 2 behind CeeDee Lamb with Michael Gallup recovering from offseason knee surgery, but that never transpired. Once healthy, Washington will be battling for targets with Gallup and Noah Brown. Don't expect much from him once he does make his 2022 season debut.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (hip) said that he's preparing to play in Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs. "We'll see how I feel later in the week, but I'm planning to take some reps," Chase said. He's not a lock yet to return this Sunday, but the Bengals have been hoping all along that he could return to face the Chiefs this weekend after injuring his hip in Week 7. We'll keep a close eye on his practice participation this week, and it sounds like he'll at least be limited in Wednesday's session. Barring a setback, fantasy managers should be able to throw him back into their starting lineups in Week 13, albeit as a much riskier WR1 choice. Chase's return will cut into valuable targets for both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in Cincy's passing attack.
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said that running back Raheem Mostert (knee) "should be ready to go this week." "I think he could've played (vs. Houston) and if we had adhered to his hopes and desires he might've played last week. It was too risky to what he means to the team," McDaniel said. Fantasy managers will want to keep an eye on Mostert's practice status this week, but barring any setbacks, it sounds like he'll be back on the field this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. However, Jeff Wilson Jr. has quickly taken over as the Dolphins' lead back after coming over from San Francisco, which has made Mostert a low-upside, touchdown-dependent RB3/flex in fantasy. Mostert has found the end zone in his last two games played, but he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 8.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (abdomen), who was ruled out on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts with an abdominal injury, didn't suffer a major injury, according to sources. Harris' status for Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons is up in the air, though, and he'll be evaluated as the practice week unfolds. Fantasy managers will want to keep a close eye on his practice participation, but it's good news that his injury isn't considered serious. A week after having his best game of the season, Harris scored his third touchdown in two weeks, but an abdominal injury forced him out in the first half and he never returned. He's likely to be questionable for Week 13, and if he doesn't play, Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. will likely split backfield work if rookie Jaylen Warren (hamstring) misses a second straight game with his injury.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter (ankle) is not practicing on Wednesday, according to head coach Robert Saleh. The Jets remain hopeful that Carter will be able to play through a low-ankle sprain in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings, but he remains day-to-day early in the week. And even if the 23-year-old is given the green light to play this Sunday, there's a good chance that rookie Zonovan Knight and Ty Johnson will have bigger roles in the Jets backfield, which will make Carter much more risky as a starting option in fantasy lineups. Knight is a very popular waiver-wire pickup this week as a result after he carried the ball a team-high 14 times for 69 yards while catching three passes for 34 targets in his NFL debut in the Week 12 win over the Chicago Bears. James Robinson, who was a healthy scratch last week, could also be involved if Carter cannot play this weekend.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (knee) has officially been ruled out for the rest of the year, according to head coach Arthur Smith. Pitts was previously out indefinitely with damage to his right MCL that required surgery. The 22-year-old former fourth overall pick in 2021 should be ready to go for the 2023 season after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in Week 11. He had been extremely frustrating for fantasy managers in his second NFL season before his knee injury, catching only 28 of his 59 targets for 356 yards and two touchdowns a year after going for over 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie campaign. Pitts' fantasy stock will be down entering drafts next year, but he could outperform expectations if quarterback Marcus Mariota isn't running the offense. Parker Hesse and MyCole Pruitt will share playing time at the position the rest of the way in Atlanta.