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NFL News and Notes: December 23, 2018

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest news stories surrounding week 16 of the NFL season.

Cowboys Clinch NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys have clinched the 2018 NFC East Division title. Dallas beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 27-20 in week 16 to clinch the title with one week to go in the regular season. It is the third division title in five seasons for the Cowboys who improved their record to 9-6 with the win. The Cowboys did most of their damage at home this season, finishing with a 7-1 record at AT&T Stadium. Quarterback Dak Prescott completed 20 of 25 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown and also ran for a rushing touchdown. The Cowboys will wrap up the 2018 regular season with a road game against the New York Giants. Dallas could still move up to the third overall seed in the NFC.

Patriots King of AFC East Again

The New England Patriots are the king of the AFC East for the 10th straight season, clinching the division title with a week 16 win over the Buffalo Bills. New England beat the Bills by a score of 24-12 to cap off another division title. With the win, the Patriots improved their record to 10-5, and they still have plenty to play for in week 17 in regards to playoff seeding in the AFC. Not only did the Patriots set an NFL record with their 10th straight division title, they also became the first team in NFL history to make 10 consecutive postseason appearances. New England has won the AFC East Division 16 times in the 18 years since Tom Brady took over the starting quarterback job for the Patriots. The Patriots tied the NFL record with their 16th consecutive season with at least 10 regular season victories. New England will wrap up the 2018 regular season by hosting the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.

Demaryius Thomas Leaves With Injury

The 2018 playoff hopes of the Houston Texans might have taken a significant blow with an injury to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The Houston Texans have announced that they believe that Thomas suffered a torn Achilles in their week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Thomas suffered the injury during the second half of the 32-30 loss and was forced to be carted off of the field. The Texans traded for Thomas before the 2018 trade deadline, and he provided an instant boost to their offense. Thomas has caught 20 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns this season in Houston.

Gurley Inactive For Week 16

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley was inactive for the week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Gurley was forced to miss practice all week with inflammation in his knee, and the team decided to give their offensive star some rest. Gurley entered week 16 ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,251 and also ranks second in the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns. The Rams (11-3) enter week 16 with a chance to clinch a first-round bye with a victory coupled by a Chicago Bears loss.

Mariota Suffers Stinger

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a stinger in the team’s week 16 victory over the Washington Redskins. The injury occurred during the second quarter of the game and was believed to be in the shoulder area. Mariota did not return to the game after being helped to the locker room. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert entered the game and led the Titans to 25-16 comeback victory to keep the postseason hopes alive. Gabbert threw for 101 yards and one passing touchdown in the win. The Titans will host the Indianapolis Colts to wrap up the 2018 regular season.

Saints Activate Ted Ginn

The New Orleans Saints are getting some reinforcements to their league-leading offense in the form of Ted Ginn. The Saints activated the wide receiver off of injured reserve in advance of their Week 16 battle against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ginn suffered a knee injury during week 7, and was placed on injured reserve shortly after by the team. The veteran wide receiver appeared in four games earlier this season, catching 12 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns. New Orleans entered week 16 with a 12-2 record and the top spot in the NFC Playoffs.