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NFL News and Notes: December 31, 2018

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest news stories from around the NFL as the 2018 regular season wraps up.

Packers Request Interview With Fitzgerald

League sources are reporting that the Green Bay Packers are expected to request an interview with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The request would come after Fitzgerald leads his team in the Holiday Bowl against Utah on New Year’s Eve. Fitzgerald has a relationship with Packers CEO and President Mark Murphy, who was the athletic director at Northwestern and hired Fitzgerald. Green Bay has already conducted interviews with former Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell and former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. The Packers are looking for a coach to replace Mike McCarthy who was fired on December 2.

Damon Harrison Plays in 17 Games

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Damon Harrison made NFL history during week 17. Harrison became just the 8th player in NFL history to play in 17 regular season games, after being traded to Detroit from the New York Giants earlier this season. Harrison joined linebacker Will Witherspoon as the only two players to start in 16 of the 17 games that they played in during the regular season. Detroit did not elect to start Harrison in a week eight matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, but he appeared in the game. Harrison is the first lineman to accomplish the feat of playing in 17 games in one season.

Buccaneers Bringing Winston Back

Jameis Winston is expected to be back as the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2019 season. Winston began the 2018 season with a suspension and was also benched at different points during the season. The Buccaneers selected Winston with the number-one overall pick, and owe the 24-year-old $20 million next season. Winston entered week 17 with 2,647 passing yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 games this season.

Mahomes Eclipses 50 Touchdowns

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown for at least 50 passing touchdowns this season. Mahomes hit Demarcus Robinson for an 89-yard TD pass in week 17 to move into elite company. The second-year quarterback joins Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to reach that total in a single season. Week 17 marked the 11th straight game that Mahomes has thrown multiple touchdown passes this season. The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2018 regular season with a 12-4 record and will be the top overall seed in the AFC Playoffs.

Rivera Back With Panthers in 2019

The Carolina Panthers have informed head coach Ron Rivera that he will be back with the team in 2019. Carolina finished the 2018 regular season with a record of 7-9, but that came after getting off to a 6-2 start. Rivera will be back for his 9th season at the helm in Carolina and has had great success during his tenure. The Panthers have gone 71-56-1 during his eight seasons in Carolina and reached the Super Bowl during the 2015 season. Carolina has missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

Texans Win AFC South

The Houston Texans wrapped up the 2018 AFC South with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 17. Houston finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and will be the third seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Texans also joined the Chicago Bears as teams who have gone from worst-to-first in 2018. This is the second straight season that the NFL has had two teams go from last place to first place which is the first time it has happened in professional sports. Houston will await the winner of the Indianapolis Colts-Tennessee Titans game to determine their first-round playoff opponent.

Foles Ties NFL Record

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tied an NFL record in week 17 by completing 25 straight passes. Foles joins Philip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill as the only two players in NFL history to accomplish the feat. The backup quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP completed 28 of 32 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown entering the fourth quarter. Foles suffered an injury early in the fourth quarter and was unable to return to the game.