Packers-Panthers: Picks, how to watch and stream with Aaron Rodgers back from injury

Packers-Panthers: Picks, how to watch and stream with Aaron Rodgers back from injury

The NFC playoff race got pretty interesting this week when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was medically cleared to return to football. That means he’s starting for the Packers on Sunday afternoon in Carolina, the first game back for Rodgers since he suffered a broken collarbone at the hands of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr back in Week 7.

Rodgers will get his shot at revenge next week with another Vikings matchup. Meanwhile he’ll have to focus on beating the Panthers and ensuring the Packers’ opportunity to make a playoff run stays alive. 

How to watch, stream

  • Kickoff: Dec. 17, 1 p.m.
  • TV: FOX (Check local listings)
  • Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free) 

Will Rodgers look rusty when he returns?

Put a gun to my head and I would tell you that Aaron Rodgers is the most talented — not the best, just the most talented — quarterback I have ever seen play live. The things he does in terms of releasing from every single arm slot, to moving in the pocket, to creating plays on the run, to firing in tight windows … he is just the best. But Rodgers is also not entirely superhuman. He is incredible, but he is coming off a broken collarbone. 

That would be less of a big deal because of 2013, when Rodgers came back from a collarbone injury and helped the Packers win in Week 17 by beating the Bears and securing the division at 8-7-1. This is a much bigger uphill battle for Green Bay — Rodgers needs to win three games, and he has to play two of the best defenses in the NFL to start that stretch.

Also: he hurt the collarbone on his throwing shoulder this time around. I know we saw a lot of Rodgers winging the ball down the field before the game against the Steelers. That’s great, it means he can throw the ball well and his bone is healing in the way you would want. But the problem here is it presupposes that Rodgers will be fine throwing on the run or that something worse will not happen if he takes a big hit. 

Should Rodgers take a hit from his old friend Julius Peppers or one of the interior linemen like Kawaan Short, he could easily land on this throwing shoulder. That would be not great. 

And there’s a general matter of rust. Rodgers hasn’t played in two months. He can’t just saunter out on the field and expect to hit his apex.

Should the Panthers’ injuries be concerning?

The biggest problem for Carolina, as far as I can tell, is that there are 19 (!) guys on the injury report. This is a team that should be better than the Packers on paper; worst case with Rodgers healthy, the Panthers would be able to hang with Green Bay at home and/or away. It would be a dog fight.

Now is a different scenario because Carolina has to battle these injuries. Both Trai Turner and Shaq Thompson are already ruled out. Those are problems for the Panthers off the bat, but for different reasons and on different sides of the ball. 

Devin Funchess checking in as questionable is a big concern too. The Panthers can’t be without their top option at wideout if they want to win, unless they can just dominate in the running game. (That’s harder with Turner out.) 

Looking up and down the injury report, though, it appears as if most of the guys who will matter in a big way — Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton — should be active after a full week of practice.

It’s worth watching to see whether any of these players are actually inactive come Sunday and just how much it impacts the Panthers once the action starts.

Who wins?

If Rodgers is Rodgers and the Packers’ offense gets rolling with zero hiccups, then the Packers can win this game. But if Rodgers struggles to acclimate himself, which would not be that unusual, this is a tough matchup. There’s a reason why the Panthers are still three-point favorites here — Vegas is largely unsure what to do with this game. But don’t sleep on the Panthers’ motivation. They need to win this game almost as badly as the Packers do.

My colleague Pete Prisco agrees and sees the Panthers emerging victorious.

This should be the return of Aaron Rodgers for the Packers from his missed time with a shoulder injury. How effective can he be in his first game back? The Panthers were really good on defense last week against the Vikings, and I think that will be the case in this one. Cam Newton and the Panthers win it. 

It’s a pretty big litmus test for both teams. The Panthers drew a short straw by landing Rodgers instead of Brett Hundley here (the line would likely be at least Panthers -7 with no Rodgers), but they can still put their stamp on the playoff race with a big win.


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LOOK: Lions ditch original Color Rush uniforms, will wear new ones vs. Bears

LOOK: Lions ditch original Color Rush uniforms, will wear new ones vs. Bears

The Washington Redskins aren’t the only team in the NFL this season to decide not to wear their original Color Rush uniforms. You can add the Lions to that list. 

When the Color Rush uniforms were unveiled in September 2016, the Lions were given an all-black uniform by Nike. 

However, the Lions never wore the all-black look last season because they weren’t scheduled to play in a Thursday Color Rush game. Although the Lions play on Thursday every year, that comes on Thanksgiving when teams aren’t required to wear their Color Rush uniforms. 

Since the Lions wanted to wear their Color Rush uniforms this year, they decided to do it for Saturday’s game against the Bears. The big twist here is that the Lions won’t be wearing all-black against Chicago, but instead a brand new uniform that was unveiled in April

The team had long been planning a uniform overhaul for the 2017 season, and since they were already redesigning things, they decided to go a completely different route with their Color Rush uniform. 

Instead of going all-black, the Lions decided to go with steel grey

Here’s a peek at what they’ll be wearing against the Bears. 

On one hand, that’s not exactly putting the color in Color Rush. On the other hand though, I kind of like them. 

As you can see below, the steel grey is slightly darker than the silver that the Lions usually wear. 

Here’s a few more pictures of the Lions’ new look that will be debuted on Saturday. 

Although the Lions will be breaking out their Color Rush uniform for this week’s game, the Bears won’t be doing the same thing. The team confirmed to that they’ll be wearing their traditional navy jersey with white pants. 

After Lions unveil their steel grey look on Saturday, the Browns will be the only team in the NFL that has yet to wear a Color Rush uniform. The Bears and Lions kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET from Ford Field in a game that will be televised by NFL Network. 


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Bears at Lions in Week 15: Picks, how to watch and stream on NFL Saturday

Bears at Lions in Week 15: Picks, how to watch and stream on NFL Saturday

This 2017 season’s first edition of Saturday football features two teams from the NFC North. One is fighting for its playoff life, and the other is looking to spoil its division rival’s hopes. 

The Detroit Lions are 7-6 entering their Week 15 matchup with the Chicago Bears, which puts them a game back of the Falcons for the No. 6 seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks are also ahead of Detroit, however, so the Lions will likely need to not only win out through the rest of the regular season, but get some help along the way, if they want to get into the playoffs. 

Chicago, with its 4-9 record, has already been eliminated from contention, but has emerged as a surprisingly frisky squad over the last few weeks. The Bears lost five games in a row before finally getting a win over the Bengals last week, but only one of those losses was by more than one possession.

Can they manage to make it two wins in a row and ruin the Lions’ playoff hopes at the same time? We’ll find out Saturday afternoon. 

How to watch, stream

  • Kickoff: Dec. 16, 4:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NFL Network
  • Streaming: fuboTV (Try for free) 

Lions offense is banged up

Detroit will be without offensive line starters Travis Swanson and Rick Wagner for this game. Losing a top right tackle like Wagner is bad enough, but also being without the starting center makes things even worse. Add those injuries to Matthew Stafford’s various ailments, and this is an offense clearly not operating at full strength. 

The team is expected to get Ameer Abdullah back this weekend, but that’s not enough to make up for the absences of the linemen — especially considering Abdullah’s ineffectiveness this season. There will be a lot of pressure on Stafford to make things happen on his own against a quietly solid Bears defense that tends to funnel passes away from wide receivers and toward tight ends and running backs. 

Detroit has Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick at those positions to catch passes, but there’s no question Stafford would rather be throwing to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. If the Bears manage to get enough pressure on him with the linemen out, he may not have enough time to work the ball to the outside and down the field. 

Trubisky is coming on

In his first four starts, Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed just 38 of 80 passes for 512 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. That’s 6.4 yards per attempt and a 66.2 passer rating. That’s terrible.

Over his last five starts, however, Trubisky has been much better. He’s completed 93 of 145 passes for 996 yards, four touchdowns, and two picks. That’s 6.9 yards per attempt and an 87.6 passer rating. That’s still not great, but it’s clearly much better. 

And in each of his last two starts, Trubisky has managed a passer rating of 112 or better, completing 37 of 47 passes for 373 yards and two scores. There’s still not a whole lot there in the way of volume, but his efficiency has risen greatly. The Bears will need more from him in the future than they’re getting right now, but this is undeniably a step in the right direction. 

Who ya got?

Six of eight experts expect the Lions to beat the Bears, but only two of eight expect Detroit to cover the 5.5-point spread. One of the experts playing the middle is Pete Prisco, who has the Lions winning, 28-23

“The Bears are playing consecutive road games after beating up on the Bengals Sunday. The Lions are still alive in the playoff chase, which will show up in terms of motivation. Matt Stafford has a big day.” 

You can get all of our picks for the game here.


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Panthers begin investigation of owner Jerry Richardson after allegations of misconduct

Panthers begin investigation of owner Jerry Richardson after allegations of misconduct

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is being investigated for alleged workplace misconduct. 

The team announced Friday that an outside law firm has been brought in to conduct the investigation of the Panthers’ 81-year-old owner. The process will be overseen by limited owner and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles. 

“The Carolina Panthers and Mr. Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said in a statement. “The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally. We have work to do to achieve this goal, but we are going to meet it.”

The team hasn’t a put a timeline on the potential length of the investigation. 

“Erskine Bowles is a trusted leader of unquestioned integrity. We look forward to this report, which we know will be honest and thorough,” Drummond said.

The Panthers also didn’t specify any of the allegations that are being made against Richardson. 

Richardson has been the team’s owner since October 1993 when the NFL awarded the city of Charlotte an expansion franchise. The Panthers’ first season came two years later in 1995. Richardson also played in the NFL for two seasons with the Baltimore Colts in 1959 and ’60.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera told that he’s going to withhold judgment on the situation until results of the investigation come in. 

“I have had a strong relationship with Mr. Richardson during my time with the Panthers,” Rivera said. “I have enormous respect for the man, but will wait for the results of the investigation before making any judgment.”

The 9-4 Panthers, who are in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt, host the Packers on Sunday. 


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Cardinals’ Adrian Peterson placed on injured reserve

Cardinals’ Adrian Peterson placed on injured reserve

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Adrian Peterson was placed on injured reserve Friday because of a neck injury, ending the running back’s season after only six games with the Arizona Cardinals.

Acquired from New Orleans on Oct. 10, Peterson ran for 448 yards – 314 in his first three games – and two touchdowns on 129 carries and had nine catches for 66 yards for the Cardinals. He missed the last two games. In four games for the Saints, he ran for 81 yards on 24 carries and caught two passes for 4 yards.

”The good news is my neck injury doesn’t require surgery, but I’m told by Dr. Robert Watkins that the best thing for me is just more rest than the length of the season,” Peterson wrote on Instagram. ”Obviously, I’m disappointed about going on IR when my body is still able to produce, but I look forward to returning completely healthy for another season in 2018. I’m grateful for the opportunity that the Arizona Cardinals have given me to show I can still contribute on an NFL team.”

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Peterson signed with the Saints during the offseason after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He came to the Cardinals to help replace David Johnson, the star running back who broke his left wrist in the season opener. With Peterson sidelined, Arizona has turned to Kerwynn Williams as the starter.

Peterson is under contract through next season.

”He’ll heal fine,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. ”I don’t even think about next year. I have enough problems with Washington this week.”

Also Friday, the Cardinals acquired cornerback C.J. Goodwin off waivers from Atlanta. Goodwin appeared in 12 games for the Falcons this season.

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Seahawks’ Wagner a game-time decision, K.J. Wright doubtful

Seahawks’ Wagner a game-time decision, K.J. Wright doubtful

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks appear likely to be without at least one of their starting linebackers for Sunday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.

K.J. Wright has not practiced all week due to a concussion sustained last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While not officially ruled out, Wright has all but run out of time to clear the league’s concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game. He’s listed as doubtful to play against the Rams.

Bobby Wagner will be a game-time decision. Wagner aggravated a hamstring strain early in the third quarter of the team’s 30-24 loss to the Jaguars and did not return. He’s also been unable to practice this week.

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”He did some good stuff today in rehab, and he’ll run tomorrow and we’ll take it to game time,” head coach Pete Carroll said on Friday.

The Seahawks already have three defensive starters out for the year in Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. The play of Wagner and Wright has been a big reason Seattle has been able to keep winning. However, being without one, if not both, against the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL presents a sizable challenge for the Seahawks.

Michael Wilhoite, Terence Garvin, D.J. Alexander and P.J. Dawson would be called upon to step up in the absence of Wagner and/or Wright. Dawson was promoted from the team’s practice squad earlier in the week.

Defensive tackle Nazair Jones will likely miss a third straight game with a sprained ankle as well.

”It’s going to be a miraculous recovery if he makes it from here. I don’t think he is going to make it,” Carroll said.

Seattle did get some positive news: running back Mike Davis is ready to play. He injured his ribs when he got hit with a helmet to his back last week in Jacksonville. He was able to practice throughout the week and will be able to play. Defensive end Dion Jordan is back as well after missing three games with a neck issue.

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Panthers owner under investigation for workplace misconduct

Panthers owner under investigation for workplace misconduct

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Panthers are investigating workplace misconduct allegations against founder and owner Jerry Richardson.

The team said Friday former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles is overseeing the investigation by a Los Angeles-based law firm.

Team spokesman Steven Drummond said in a release that the Panthers and Mr. Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct.

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”The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally,” Drummond said in the release. ”We have work to do to achieve this goal, but we are going to meet it.”

The 81-year-old Richardson was unavailable for comment.

Drummond told The Associated Press because the matter is under legal review, the Panthers cannot comment publicly on the specifics of the allegations.

The Panthers made the NFL aware on Friday that it has initiated an investigation into Richardson’s alleged workplace misconduct.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has no comment at this time.

The investigation against the team’s only owner in franchise history is being led by international law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, and will be overseen by Bowles, who is a minority owner.

Richardson brought NFL football to the Carolinas in 1993 when he became the first former NFL player since George Halas to own a team.

The Panthers began play two years later in 1995.

Richardson has worked primarily behind the scenes during his tenure with the Panthers and rarely does interviews. But he has been very active through the years with league matters.

Richardson was hospitalized 2008, one month after receiving a pacemaker. Richardson underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2002 and was placed on a donor waiting list for a new heart. He received the new heart on Feb. 1, 2009, and has not had any known setbacks since.

He is only one of two owners to have owned a franchise since its inception. The other is Houston’s Robert McNair.

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Jets receiver has possibly the worst excuse ever for failing a PED test

Jets receiver has possibly the worst excuse ever for failing a PED test

Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley will be returning to the field this week for the first time in more than a month. Kerley hasn’t played since being hit with a four-game suspension over a failed PED test just days before the Jets’ Week 10 game against the Buccaneers

At the time of his suspension, Kerley promised to do one big thing during his time off: He said he was going to put on his investigative hat to try and figure out how a banned substance ended up in his body. 

“While I did not have enough time prior to the deadline to resolve this case, I fully intend to investigate this matter until I am able to figure out what caused the positive test, because I know that I have done nothing wrong,” Kerley said in early November. 

So what did Kerley’s four-week investigation turn up? 

Well, he finally gave us an answer to that question this week, and let’s just say he definitely wins the award for most creative excuse for failing a PED test

“There’s a lot of ghosts around here. Maybe a ghost put it in me,” Kerley said, via the New York Post. “You know the Ghost of Christmas Past? A ghost might have put it in me. I don’t know.”

Other suspects may or may not include the Ghost of Christmas Present, Casper the Friendly Ghost, the movie “Ghost,” the ghost Bruce Willis played in “The Sixth Sense” and any bad guy ever from “Ghostbusters.”

Although most people probably won’t believe Kerley’s ghost excuse, you’re going to have to take his word for it because the investigation has officially been closed. 

“I ain’t got time to investigate it. It is what it is,” Kerley said. “I’m back now.”

Fittingly, Kerley’s return will come in New Orleans, which is one of the most haunted cities in the country.   

Of course, the real scary thing for Kerley is that he won’t be catching passes from Josh McCown this week. With McCown (hand) out for the season, the Jets will be starting Bryce Petty, who has a 1-3 career record and has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (3) in his career. 


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Appeals court gives life to Super Bowl tickets lawsuit

Appeals court gives life to Super Bowl tickets lawsuit

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A federal appeals court has given new life to a lawsuit claiming the NFL violated New Jersey laws with its ticket policy for the 2014 Super Bowl.

A ruling published Friday reversed a lower court ruling and said the case can go forward pending a state Supreme Court review.

A New Brunswick man claims in the 2014 lawsuit that he spent $2,000 per ticket on the secondary market instead of the $800 face value because the NFL only released 1 percent of the tickets to the public through a lottery.

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Josh Finkelman alleges that violated state consumer protection laws.

Friday’s ruling held Finkelman made a plausible argument that the NFL’s policy contributed to the higher prices.

An NFL spokesman said Friday the league’s policies complied with New Jersey law.


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Broncos still juggling quarterbacks during lost season

Broncos still juggling quarterbacks during lost season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Vance Joseph’s rookie season in Denver has been full of losses, laments and quarterback switches.

Joseph said Friday that Trevor Siemian’s season is over, indicated Brock Osweiler’s starting days also might be finished and hinted Paxton Lynch could start at Washington next week .

Siemian was placed on injured reserve Friday after injuring his left shoulder Thursday night at Indianapolis, where Osweiler came in cold and sparked a 25-13 comeback over the Colts with a touchdown run and two TD passes while completing 12 of 17 throws for 194 yards.

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That didn’t necessarily earn him the starting job for the Broncos (5-9) down the stretch, however.

”I’m not sure. We’ve got two healthy guys there,” Joseph said when asked if Osweiler would start at Washington on Christmas Eve. ”We’re going to have a staff meeting on Monday morning and see who’s best for us. Paxton being a young guy, we want to see him play more, so that part will have some bearing there. So we’ll see.

”Brock played really well last night. He made some big-time throws and his leadership showed. He played with great poise and he took care of the football. That’s going to be a long and hard conversation.”

So Lynch might get the nod when the Broncos visit Washington (4-10) next week.

At the very least, he could share snaps with Osweiler like in the preseason.

Joseph acknowledged a sort of double standard at quarterback with Lynch, who’s been a major disappointment ever since general manager John Elway moved up to select him in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.

Joseph has been saying that despite Denver’s dive, it’s still more important to win games now than to focus on getting a better draft position in 2018. That philosophy played out during the team’s back-to-back wins over the Jets and Colts following an eight-game skid that was the franchise’s worst in half a century.

”Where we are right now with the quarterback, we have to see where we are there,” Joseph said. ”There’s obviously a major decision moving into the offseason. So, that’s different in my opinion when it comes to the quarterback.

”Now, we’re not going to forfeit games. Whoever is playing for us, our goal is to win the football game. Whoever plays the quarterback position on Sunday afternoon, we want to win the football game whether it’s Paxton or Brock.”

Siemian beat out Lynch for the second straight summer but lost his job to Osweiler after going 3-4. Osweiler went 0-3 and lost his job to Lynch, who was injured in his only start, a loss at Oakland on Nov. 26, and Siemian regained the starting job three weeks ago.

Lynch wasn’t striding normally on his sprained ankle during warmups Thursday night but Joseph said he should be cleared this weekend and the coaching staff will gather Monday morning to make a decision on who will start at QB.

The Broncos don’t plan on signing a third quarterback, Joseph said.

Instead, wide receiver Jordan Taylor will serve as the emergency QB. If it gets to that point, running backs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker could also expect some direct wildcat snaps.

Joseph also said there’s a strong possibility that rookie running back De’Angelo Henderson could play for the first time since September, when he had a single carry for one yard against Buffalo.

Joseph acknowledged he has mixed feelings about the Broncos finding their footing this month.

”It’s what we’ve coached and preached the entire season. To finally see it the last two weeks, it’s good, but it could’ve been six weeks ago, seven weeks ago,” Joseph said. ”It’s bittersweet.”

Joseph said his message to fans ”would be something good is happening here. The more we figure out our formula to win, it’s going to be better for us here. I’ve been proud of the players for how engaged they’ve been and how hard they’ve worked. We have a good team. We have a good locker room. It’s not perfect. We have to fix some things in the offseason, but it’s a special group of people here. It’s going to get fixed. I promise.”

Notes: Joseph said WR Emmanuel Sanders is day to day with a bone bruise in his right ankle. … OLB Shane Ray tweeted that he had the pins removed from his wrist that he injured in the preseason and should be OK to play against the Redskins.

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