New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson says he hopes having more weight will improve his performances after piling on the pounds following a disappointing rookie season in the NFL.

The 22-year-old was selected second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft but did not have the desired impact during his first season out of college.

Wilson threw for 2,334 yards, just nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with a dismal pass completion rate of 55.6 per cent.

He also struggled physically over a punishing first year, sacked 44 times in 13 games as no QB in the NFL lost more sack yards (370, tied with Joe Burrow).

But the ex-BYU man has added 13 pounds over the offseason, returning to the Jets as "a better athlete", he says.

"I feel better for sure," Wilson added. "The energy, the ability to have that stamina throughout the whole practice is better.

"In the long run, once we get into a game when we actually get hit and tackled, having more size on me will help."

Having gone 3-10 as a starter last year, Wilson hopes for a stronger second season.

The Jets have bolstered their offensive ranks, adding tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin and drafting wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall.

"I feel like the entire staff, from the GM to ownership on down, those guys have done a great done of getting the pieces we need," Wilson said.

"I think it comes back to my job. Now I have to do my job of getting these playmakers the ball.

"How can I get these big tight ends, these really good receivers and these running backs the ball in space and do what we brought them here to do?

"We're definitely going to be better. I don't think we'll be able to tell until the first game, but the improvement is there.

"We have the talent, we have the guys. Now can we tie it all together and put something together?"

While quarterback-needy teams grappled with the decision over whether to bet on a member of an underwhelming 2022 draft class at the position, those teams who were astute enough to select a signal-caller from the loaded 2021 class spent their offseasons attempting to stack the deck around the player they handpicked as the future of the franchise.

The 2022 season will be a significant one for Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones, with questions sure to be asked of the five first-round picks if they do not show signs of vindicating their respective franchises for selecting them last year.

Jones arguably already proved himself as the most pro-ready QB of the quintet in an impressive rookie campaign, but 2022 may well reveal how high the ceiling is for the least physically gifted of the bunch. The rest are all aiming to prove they have the skill sets to join the league's expanding and increasingly youthful elite at the NFL's most important position. 

Indeed, the first four quarterbacks off the board in 2021 were all regarded as players with the potential to elevate those around them and take their offenses to new heights. But a quarterback, regardless of his athletic and mental gifts, cannot do it all himself. So who among the 2021 first-rounders has the best supporting cast to help them excel?

To help us answer that question, we at Stats Perform have gone back to look at our post-free agency positional unit baselines that inform our team rankings.

The baselines were produced for seven different units: quarterback, pass blocking, run blocking, route runners/pass catchers, pass rush, run defense and pass defense. The units are comprised of projected playing time for players on the roster combined with the player baselines linked to each of those units.

An individual player has a year-over-year baseline for a unit input (i.e. pass blocking for a team's projected left tackle). His baseline is combined with those of his team-mates and then adjusted for the importance of the position to that unit to produce an overall unit baseline.

The six non-quarterback baselines, plus a look at some of the moves made in the draft by each quarterback's respective team, provide a picture that reveals which of the second-year signal-callers have the talent around them to thrive.

5. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Even though the numbers are not impressive, there were clear flashes of promise in Fields' rookie season with the Bears.

While he only finished with a 70.9 well-thrown percentage – seven percentage points below the average for quarterbacks with at least 50 throws – and had a pickable pass rate of 5.36 per cent that was the eighth-worst among that group, Fields did display the upside that led the Bears to trade up for him.

Only two quarterbacks averaged more air yards per attempt than Fields' 10.02 and his three passing plays of 50 yards or more were the most of all rookie quarterbacks and as many as Josh Allen and Justin Herbert managed all season.

You would think, therefore, that the Bears' focus this offseason would be on giving Fields the weapons to produce further explosive plays in 2022. Not so, the Bears waited until the third round to add a wide receiver in the draft – 25-year-old return specialist Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears' reluctance to add to a group of pass-catchers that prior to the draft had the sixth-lowest unit baseline in the NFL hardly suggests at a sophomore surge for Fields in 2022.

And with Chicago's offensive line among the worst in the league for pass protection and run-blocking baseline and its defense in the bottom six for pass defense and bottom three for pass rush, it appears likely to be another year when Fields is swimming against a tide engineered by his own franchise.

4. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Simply having an adult in the room with experience of winning at the NFL level should help Lawrence's cause, with Doug Pederson a substantial improvement on Urban Meyer as head coach.

As is the case with Fields in Chicago, Pederson will hope Lwrence can build on last season's flashes of the talent that led some to label him as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Lawrence's well-thrown percentage of 76.3 was significantly better than that of Fields, but his 26 pickable passes were the fourth-most in the league.

Unlike the Bears, the Jags invested heavily in getting Lawrence receiving help, doing so in a bemusing manner as they threw eye-watering amounts of money at players who fit best as secondary targets rather than as the leading receiver for a player dubbed a 'generational' quarterback prospect.

Indeed, the lucrative deals handed out to the likes of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones only put them 20th in pass-catching unit baseline prior to the draft. The hope will be that Kirk, who was seventh among receivers with at least 100 targets with a big-play rate of 35.6 per cent last year, can help Lawrence generate more explosives in year two.

And while much of the Jags' roster still reeks of mediocrity, an offensive line that ranked fourth in pass-block win rate in 2021 may give him the time to help justify the Jags' belief in Kirk and Lawrence's other new weapons.

3. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

The Jets received almost universal praise for their draft, acquiring cornerback Sauce Gardner, wide receiver Garrett Wilson and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II in the first round before then adding the consensus top running back in the class – Iowa State's Breece Hall – in the second.

Their roster looks in significantly better shape than it did at the end of the 2021 campaign, but the Jets were working from a pretty low starting point.

Coming out of free agency, only six teams had a lower unit baseline among their pass-catchers than the Jets, whose offensive line was in the bottom half of the league in pass protection baseline and in the run-blocking baseline.

Johnson's arrival and the return of fellow edge rusher Carl Lawson from injury should provide a clear boost to a pass rush that was fourth in unit baseline last year while a secondary that exited free agency just outside the top 10 in pass defense baseline appears much better equipped to provide support to Wilson and the offense.

However, Wilson had the worst well-thrown percentage (66.6) of any rookie quarterback last season, with Fields (5.36) and fellow rookie Davis Mills (5.56) the only two quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts to have a higher pickable pass rate than Wilson's 5.21 per cent.

The Jets are relying on Mekhi Becton to get healthy and play a full season at left tackle and, though they have some more established options at tight end and receiver, are also putting a lot on a rookie receiver in likely leaning heavily on Garrett Wilson to elevate his second-year quarterback.

It has been a successful offseason for the Jets, but a lot needs to happen for their hopes of a second-year leap for team and quarterback to come to fruition.

2. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Were it not for the outstanding season enjoyed by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Jones may well have won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The outstanding accuracy Jones demonstrated at Alabama translated to the pros, Jones producing a well-thrown ball on 80.1 per cent of attempts. He achieved that feat while averaging more air yards per attempt (8.11) than both Lawrence and Wilson, yet there is reason for trepidation around thoughts of him progressing significantly in his second year.

Jones' passer rating on throws of 21 or more air yards was 65.4 – 31st among the 41 quarterbacks to attempt at least 10, illustrating the limited ceiling of a quarterback whose arm is not on the level of his fellow 2021 first-rounders.

Yet Jones does have the benefit of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. After free agency, the Patriots' O-Line was tied for sixth in pass protection unit baseline and fifth in run blocking baseline.

They replaced guard Shaq Mason, who was surprisingly traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by making the similarly eyebrow-raising move of selecting Chattanooga guard Cole Strange in the first round of the draft. Strange's arrival should solidify the interior of the line and allow the Patriots to stick to a formula of leaning on the run game to take the pressure off Jones.

New England's receiving corps is at best uninspiring and the Patriots' failure to address a depleted secondary may prohibit playoff aspirations, but the strength in the trenches means Jones is in a better position to achieve short-term success than most of his second-year contemporaries.

1. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are set to step into the unknown in 2021, with all signs pointing to Lance playing his first full season since his lone campaign as the starting quarterback at North Dakota State in 2019 despite Jimmy Garoppolo's continued presence on the roster.

Handing the keys to an offense that was in the NFC championship Game over to a quarterback with only two career starts to his name represents a substantial risk, but it is a risk the Niners are in an excellent position to take.

While there remains no sign of the impasse between San Francisco and All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel coming to an end, the Niners left free agency with a group of pass-catchers ranked sixth in the league in unit baseline. They added to that group in the draft by selecting SMU speedster Danny Gray in the third round.

San Francisco's pass defense was also in the top half of the league in that regard going into the draft, while its pass rush was third in unit baseline and could have an even higher ceiling in 2022 if Drake Jackson adapts quickly to the pros. The Niners' second-round pick registered a pressure rate of 24.2 that was the fifth-best among edge rushers in this draft class in 2021.

The Niners ranked in the top 10 in pass block win rate and seventh in run block win rate last season, yet their biggest issue may be maintaining that standard after losing left guard Laken Tomlinson to the Jets amid doubts over whether center Alex Mack would retire.

Lance could, therefore, be playing behind a largely inexperienced O-Line this coming season. However, the data from his small sample size last year hinted at him having what it takes to elevate those around him. He averaged 10.10 air yards per attempt – the second-most in the NFL – and no player to average at least 9.0 air yards had a better well-thrown percentage than Lance's 77.1.

His challenge will be to maintain that combination of aggression and accuracy over the course of a full season.

If the Niners can come to an understanding with Samuel, Lance will have one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL to help him build on those encouraging flashes. He'll also benefit from the support of a stout defense built on the strength of its front and a diverse running game that will likely grow even more varied with him under center.

The trump card for Lance is head coach Kyle Shanahan, who is arguably the pre-eminent offensive mind of the modern NFL. Between the talent on both sides of the ball and Shanahan's ability to draw up a running game and put receivers in space, the Niners are a high-floor, high ceiling team.

There may be doubts about Lance, but there should be no doubt he is the quarterback in the best situation to silence those concerns.

In 2022, safeties are not players who can get NFL fans out of their seats.

Gone are the days of the ultra-physical safeties whose careers are defined by compiling highlight reel hits.

The NFL's continued development as a passing league built on the foundation of a seemingly ever-expanding number of athletic dual-threat quarterbacks has facilitated the implementation of more malleable defenses with a variety of pitches in their arsenal to help them rise to the increasingly difficult challenges they face.

This is not an era where defenses can have one safety to play the role of enforcer and one with the range to play the deep middle. Teams ideally need both safeties to have the skill set to play the deep middle and down in the box while also possessing the ability to match up with wide receivers and tight ends in the slot.

In essence, teams must have safeties to enable them to effectively play the two-high zone coverages that were, last season at least, the most widely used solution to the explosive passing games proliferating around the NFL but also provide them with the personnel to stop the run while operating from those shells.

The 2022 NFL Draft may not have the same star quality as previous rookie classes. However, what it does boast is several of those multi-faceted safety prospects, with the headliner among that group Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton.

Were the league still dominated by single-high safety defenses, Hamilton would not have found himself in the discussion to be the first overall pick in the draft. 

He doesn't have the range of a baseball center fielder that is required to be an elite single-high safety, but his combination of versatility and college production had many asking whether he could be the first name off the board in Las Vegas despite playing a position that has typically not seen its importance reflected by high draft selections. 

Hamilton has the athleticism and awareness to make game-changing plays when lined up deep in two-high looks, while he also possesses the downhill speed and physicality to be an asset against the run and the coverage ability and build to excel matched up against tight ends and receivers.

As a modern-day NFL safety, Hamilton ticks all the boxes, and every team in the league could use him. There is not one defense he would not fit. 

Still, he is unlikely to go number one to the Jacksonville Jaguars but, during a time in league history where safeties do not command the exposure they certainly deserve, Hamilton is a candidate to revitalise the fortunes of the two teams from the NFL's biggest market who each have a pair of top-10 picks.

A flexible turnover machine

Hamilton was deployed all over the field during his time with the Fighting Irish. In 2021, he played 222 snaps as a deep safety, 137 as a slot cornerback and 53 as a box safety.

And, as his numbers illustrate, Hamilton was extremely effective at influencing the game regardless of where he lined up.

Hamilton registered eight interceptions between 2019 and 2021, the fifth-most among FBS safeties during that period.

He also added 16 pass breakups, Hamilton's on-ball production a testament to his blend of instincts and athletic ability.

Hamilton excels at reading the eyes of the quarterback to drop into throwing lanes and make plays on the ball, with his eye discipline and efficiency in changing direction enabling him to pick up new assignments in coverage on the fly.

Using his 33-inch arms to stay in tight man coverage and disrupt passes at the catch point, Hamilton has additionally demonstrated prowess for recovering separation and jumping the routes of receivers, showcasing another gear to help him get to the ball when he has a chance to take it away.

While the downhill thump he offers and his long speed in pursuit are significant parts of Hamilton's skill set, it is the fact his versatility is supplemented by turnover production that makes him so appealing, particularly to teams like the New York Jets who have found takeaways extremely hard to come by.

The final piece of Saleh's secondary puzzle?

The Jets, who own selections four and 10, managed just 14 takeaways last season, putting them 31st in the NFL, with the Jaguars (nine) the only team to record fewer.

Pass rush plays a substantial role in a defense's ability to force turnovers, but the Jets – even with Carl Lawson missing the entire season through injury – ranked third in pass rush win rate last season, perhaps indicating that their struggles taking the ball away were a result of the performance of the secondary and a lack of luck.

Hamilton has the talent to significantly influence the former, and he would join a secondary that is in better shape than it is perhaps given credit for.

Starting cornerback Bryce Hall had the lowest combined open percentage (14.61) allowed across man and zone coverage of all corners in the NFL with at least 100 coverage matchups in 2021.

The Jets also added strong safety Jordan Whitehead, who during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed his prowess for making plays in coverage and down near the line of scrimmage.

Whitehead registered eight pass breakups and two interceptions in 2021 while his tally of 14 tackles for loss over the last two seasons is bettered only by Jamal Adams among safeties (15).

Not short of talent up front, infusing Hamilton into the secondary could give Jets coach Robert Saleh the back seven he needs for his defense to take a leap to help them compete in the AFC East, and the team with whom they share a stadium may also have designs on him elevating their defense to the NFL's elite.

Safety could be Giant strength for Martindale

There wasn't much good about the New York Giants in 2021, yet their defense did rank 11th in yards per play allowed (5.31).

That defense will be run by Don "Wink" Martindale in 2022, and there is no doubt a respected defensive mind of his calibre would relish the chance to get to work with a chess piece like Hamilton. The Giants are in a great spot to give him that opportunity, picking fifth and seventh.

At the safety position, the Giants already possess one versatile and seemingly quickly improving player in Xavier McKinney. 

McKinney spent 838 snaps lined up as a deep safety last season but did play 96 in the slot, with his combined open percentage allowed of 17.07 the third-best among safeties with a minimum of 100 matchups.

The Giants' secondary will likely lose a veteran player with cornerback James Bradberry expected to be traded, yet by pairing McKinney with Hamilton, they would immediately boast one of the most multi-faceted defensive backfields in the NFL, one which would offer Martindale the opportunity to decrease his dependency on single-high looks, having predominantly leaned on Cover 3 shells in his final year as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

As is the case with the Jets, the Giants still have a lot of questions to answer, especially on the offensive side of the ball, where there are doubts over two first-round selections at quarterback at different points of their career and a clear need for a further infusion of talent among both groups of wide receivers.

In an offense-driven league, it is the answers to those questions that may determine how quickly two teams that have spent far too long in the mire can ascend back to contention.

But neither franchise is in a spot to thumb its nose at a defensive building block who fits exactly where the game is going and has the potential to become an elite player at his position. Safety has historically not been a highly valued position in the draft, but Hamilton's ceiling is such that he could eventually be regarded as a franchise-changing selection for the team that is willing to put history to one side, and the Jets and Giants have the positional need and the potential opportunity do just that.

Solomon Thomas, the former number three overall pick, has agreed to join the New York Jets.

According to widespread reports, defensive lineman Thomas has signed a one-year deal with the Jets after spending last season with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Thomas had a career-high 3.5 sacks as well as 12 QB hits with the Raiders in 2021 despite not starting any games.

The 26-year-old spent his first four seasons with the team who drafted him, the San Francisco 49ers, where Jets head coach Robert Saleh previously served as defensive coordinator.

While Thomas has not lived up to his lofty draft position, the rebuilding Jets will hope his reunion with Saleh proves to be a productive one.

The Jets struggled to a 4-13 record in Saleh's first season, but are optimistic about posting an improved 2022 campaign after a productive free agency period.

Tyreek Hill is leaving the Kansas City Chiefs in the latest blockbuster trade of this NFL offseason, landing at the Miami Dolphins.

Reports from ESPN and NFL Network revealed on Wednesday a breakdown in contract negotiations between six-time Pro Bowler Hill and the Chiefs.

The wide receiver market was rocked by Davante Adams' huge move from the Green Bay Packers to the Las Vegas Raiders elsewhere in the AFC West.

Kansas City expected Hill to leave and earn a huge deal elsewhere after they could not come to terms, with the Dolphins and the New York Jets said to be the two finalists for his signing.

After a short period in which Hill appeared to consider his options, as players from both teams made Twitter pleas to the wide receiver, he decided on Miami.

The Dolphins have sent the Chiefs five draft-picks, including a first-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft and a second-rounder.

While Hill gets a new four-year, $120million contract, with $72.2m guaranteed, according to reports, the Dolphins and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are boosted by one of the signings of the offseason.

Tagovailoa is yet to convince since he was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, although his starting spot does at least now appear secure following months of speculation around a trade for Deshaun Watson, who has joined the Cleveland Browns.

The Dolphins ended last season on an 8-1 run, but Tagovailoa, who started seven of the nine games, threw for just nine touchdowns and five interceptions in that time.

However, across the 2021 season, the Dolphins QB was throwing to an open target just 73.8 per cent of the time, down on the league average of 78.4 per cent and well below Patrick Mahomes' league-leading 85.5 per cent.

Of course, Mahomes could look to Hill, whose open percentage of 82.7 allowed him to tally 824 yards at the point of catch (seventh in the NFL).

That contributed to his fourth 1,000-yard season in a six year career, which has included 56 receiving TDs.

As their top pass-catching option headed out the door, the Chiefs reportedly had Marquez Valdes-Scantling visit. They have signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, too, but Hill's departure from an increasingly competitive division represents a big blow.

New York Jets offensive lineman Cameron Clark will retire at the age of 24 due to a spinal cord injury.

Clark's agent confirmed the decision with the risk of paralysis if he continued to play, having suffered the injury in a training camp.

The 2020 fourth-round pick was injured on August 3 in Jets training and was motionless for several minutes.

At the time, the Jets labelled the injury a spinal cord contusion and said he would make a full recovery but Clark missed the entire 2021 NFL season and has now opted to retire.

"Based on the advice of Dr. Andrew Hecht, a prominent orthopedic surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, Cameron will not be able to continue to play football for the New York Jets," Clark's agent Alan Herman told ESPN.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh told ESPN: "A great young man, with a bright future, I am thankful for Cameron's peace in making his decision, however bittersweet it may be.

"He made it to the league because of his talent, hard work and attitude and I have every confidence that they will all continue to serve him as he transitions to the next step."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians insisted he had "no regrets" over signing Antonio Brown following his bizarre walk-off during the clash with the New York Jets on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game, which the Bucs went on to win 28-24 and move to a 12-4 record in the NFC.

Speaking after the comeback victory, Arians told reporters: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game."

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019.

Arians had initially called Brown a "diva" and said "there's no room" for him at the Bucs.

But despite an eight-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy after punching a delivery truck driver, they did eventually sign him. 

He served another three-game ban this season after an NFL investigation found that he had produced a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

Arians is happy with his decision to sign Brown, however, and hopes this latest incident can act as a turning point for the 33-year-old. 

"I have no regrets [over signing him]. I just hope the best for him," he told a media conference.

"It was very hard. I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It's very hard because I do care about him; I care about him a bunch. I hope that he's OK."

Asked if Brown told him he was injured, Arians said: "No. It's pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation, and he left the field."

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Antonio Brown has apparently played his last game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after head coach Bruce Arians declared that the wide receiver is "no longer a Buc".

Arians made the comments following Brown's bizarre walk off during the clash with the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game, which the Bucs went on to win 28-24 and move to a 12-4 record in the NFC.

Speaking after the comeback victory, Arians told reporters: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game."

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019, followed by two claims of retirement from the game before changing his mind.

Antonio Brown bizarrely walked off mid-game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old wide receiver had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game.

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns, and had been a doubt for the trip to the Jets with an ankle injury, but was able to play until he decided to leave of his own accord.

Tampa Bay had already clinched the NFC South Division title but were still hoping to add to their 11-4 record heading into this weekend as they seek to secure home advantage for the playoffs.

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019, followed by two claims of retirement from the game before changing his mind.

Bruce Arians will be able to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New York Jets after clearing coronavirus protocols.

Arians and wide receivers coach Kevin Garver have spent the week in isolation following positive tests for COVID-19.

However, both will be available for the Week 17 clash, and the Bucs could also have two cornerbacks back on their active roster.

Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting were each activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list having been placed on it on Tuesday.

They are listed on the injury report as questionable and, should the Bucs deem them ready to play, they will travel separately for the game in New Jersey. 

Tampa Bay head into the game 11-4, a game behind the 12-3 Green Bay Packers in the race for the one seed in the NFC.

Joe Flacco will start for the New York Jets when they face the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

The veteran quarterback replaces Mike White, with rookie Zach Wilson not ready to return from a second-degree PCL sprain.

Flacco was reacquired by the struggling Jets (2-7) in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles last month following Wilson's injury blow.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Wednesday confirmed the 36-year-old will suit up to start in the Week 11 battle between the bottom two in the AFC East.

"One of the reasons we went and got Joe is for the experience, not only for the playing ability or for the [locker] room, but also for situations like this," said Saleh.

"Miami's got a dynamic coverage system, with all the different coverages they run. Joe has been there and done that and has kind of a steadying influence we felt would put us in the best position."

White threw four interceptions in last week's heavy 45-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. 

He has thrown for 953 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions in four matches this season.

Flacco spent the 2020 season at the Jets as backup before moving to the Eagles on a one-year, $3.5million contract.

The former Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl champion was relegated behind starter Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew at Philadelphia, who felt he was surplus to requirements.

Flacco completed 74 of 134 passes for 864 yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions for the Jets last season.

Carson Wentz and Jonathan Taylor led the way as the Indianapolis Colts beat the lowly New York Jets 45-30 in a high-scoring NFL matchup.

Colts quarterback Wentz threw three touchdowns and team-mate Taylor rushed for a pair of TDs to fuel the Colts to victory on Thursday.

The Colts (4-5) became the first team in the Super Bowl era to have 250-plus rushing yards, 250-plus passing yards, two or fewer penalties and no turnovers in a game, according to Stats Perform.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the opening quarter – Nyheim Hines' 34-yard rushing TD was cancelled out by the Elijah Moore-Mike White combination – the Colts powered clear in the second period.

Wentz flexed his muscles with a pair of TD passes to Jack Doyle and Michael Pittman Jr. after a 21-yard run from Taylor had put the Colts 14-7 ahead.

Entering the third quarter leading 28-10, another touchdown throw from Wentz – this time to Danny Pinter – and Taylor's blistering 78-yard rushing touchdown sent the red-hot Colts 42-10 clear.

Taylor became the first player with 100-plus scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown in six straight single-season games since 2006.

The Jets (2-6) scored 13 unanswered points and 20 of the final 23 to make things interesting after Josh Johnson (27-of-41 passing for 317 yards, three TDs and an interception) replaced injured QB White (seven-of-11 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown) and tossed three touchdown passes of his own, but the Colts held on.

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