Lorenzo Alexander: LB, Oakland Raiders (6-8)
Alexander had his best game of the season as he recorded a season-high three tackles, but the Raiders lost 30-20 at home against the Green Bay Packers.
Tyson Alualu: DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9)
Alualu defended on pass and registered a hit on Matt Ryan, but the Jaguars took a 23-17 loss at home against the struggling Atlanta Falcons.
This is one of a few games lately that the Jaguars will wish they had back in an AFC South that was actually winnable for their young squad this season.
C.J. Anderson: RB, Denver Broncos (10-4)
Anderson rushed just four times for 14 yards while catching one pass for six yards as the Broncos surrendered a big halftime lead in a a 34-27 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bryan Anger: P, Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9)
Anger punted the ball six times for an average of 42.3 yards (38.8 net), with a long of 60 yards. He has punted one ball for at least 50 yards in 13 of 14 games this season.
Anger ranks top 10 in the league in total punts and yards.
Deandre Coleman: DT, Miami Dolphins (5-9)
Coleman notched the first three tackles of his NFL career during the Dolphins' 30-14 loss on the road against the San Diego Chargers.
Chris Conte: S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
Conte totaled four tackles during the Bucs' 31-23 loss on the road against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday Night Football.
Conte was limited in practice Wednesday for the Bucs due to an injury sustained during the loss to the Rams.
Brian de la Puente: OL, Washington Redskins (7-7)
De la Puente played in his third game of the season as the Redskins took down the Buffalo Bills 35-25. The Redskins are alone atop the NFC East and can clinch the division with a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles this Saturday.
De la Puente had to fill in for injured Redskins center Josh LeRibeus against the Bills and there is a chance he could start this weekend against the Eagles.
DeSean Jackson: WR, Washington Redskins (7-7)
Jackson had his best game of the season, by far, as he caught six passes for 153 yards (including a 77-yard touchdown). Jackson has 15 touchdown catches of 60-yards or more during his career.
Here are Jackson's full-game highlights.
Marvin Jones: WR, Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
Jones caught four passes for 89 yards to lead all receivers during the Bengals' 24-14 win on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Bengals.
Cameron Jordan: DE, New Orleans Saints (5-9)
Jordan tallied three tackles and one sack, his ninth of the season, to go along with one quarterback hit and another tackle for loss as the Saints took a 35-27 home loss to the Detroit Lions.
Jordan's nine sacks has him tied for 12th in the NFL.
Mychal Kendricks: LB, Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)
Kendricks' 11 tackles marked a season-high, but it was not enough to avoid a 40-17 defeat at home against the Arizona Cardinals.
Kendricks has 73 tackles in 11 games this season.
Kendricks provided a bit of bulletin board material for the Redskins this week (per 247 Sports).
Saturday night can’t get here fast enough. Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks' Sunday night quote is now on the wall in the Redskins locker room.
"If I know myself and I know my teammates, the Redskins got something coming to them,” said Kendricks to reporters. ”For real. That's real s**t.”
Asked about Kendricks’ comments, Redskins defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois had plenty to say to The Washington Post’s Master Tesfatsion.
“We heard it, but who is paying attention to it?”said Jean-Francois to Tesfatsion. “Who is giving it really any type of attention? The only people who may be giving it attention is you guys, the media, and that’s about it. Anything else, who the hell is paying attention to what this guy is saying? He says we’ve got something coming to us. We’ll be on the plane, we’ll be leaving on Christmas Day, we’ll be there [at Lincoln Financial Field] the next day after Christmas and we’ll be lined up at 8:25 [p.m.]. Everything you said on that little piece of paper, everything you said on Twitter like you’re Meek Mill, we’ll see you on Saturday night to play us.”
L.P. Ladouceur: LS, Dallas Cowboys (4-10)
Ladouceur has now played in 171 consecutive games for the Cowboys, who lost 19-16 to the New York Jets.
Marshawn Lynch: RB, Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
Lynch was inactive for a fifth consecutive game, but the Seahawks beat the Cleveland Browns 30-13 despite losing Lynch's backup, Thomas Rawls, to injury as well.
There is no timetable on when Lynch will return.
Alex Mack: C, Cleveland Browns (3-11)
Mack started his 14th game of the season. Mack also earned another nod for the Pro Bowl.
Here is an article from Cleveland.com about Mack's opt-out clause which he could exercise this season.
Center is the second-most important position on the offensive line behind left tackle. The Browns have been fortunate to have those positions covered for years with Joe Thomas and Mack.
Returning from a broken leg, the 30-year-old Mack was understandably slow to regain form and his Pro Bowl berth might have been earned as much on reputation as performance. The analytics website ProFootballFocus.com ranked him among the "five players who shouldn't have made the Pro Bowl."
"A very average year, with him not generating a lot of movement in the run game and allowing too much pressure," according to the PFF report.
Fair enough, given that the Browns rank near the bottom of the league in rushing (86.5 yards per game) and among the leaders in sacks allowed (46).
But Mack remains a quality player in the prime of his career and, as Pettine noted, he's demonstrated steady improvement over the past month, "playing at a high level."
Two years ago, the Browns held the hammer in the form of transition and franchise tags. They opted for the transition tag, saving the franchise $1 million, but allowing Mack to meet with other teams. The Jaguars offered him the five-year, $42 million deal with the opt-out clause. The Browns elected to match it.
Mack plans to make no decisions on his future until the season is over.
"I will say winning is really important to me," said a player who's spent a grand total of 18 days over .500 while on the active roster since the Browns drafted him in 2009.
Mack chose not to waive his no-movement clause at the trade deadline -- a smart play by a pending free agent who would have spent the final weeks of the year learning a new offense and looking tentative doing it.
My guess is Mack will test the market. The Browns, who have no salary-cap issues, should make a strong push to re-sign him, especially with right tackle Mitchell Schwartz likely headed to free agency.
Chris McCain: LB, Miami Dolphins (5-9)
McCain came off the bench against the Chargers, but did not record any statistics. McCain has played in eight games this season and recorded two tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
McCain has been placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Dolphins.
Brandon Mebane: DT, Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
Mebane notched three tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit. The Seahawks win against the Browns clinched a playoff spot for the defending NFC Champions.
The Seattle Times has a story on Mebane's return from injury and a great play he made against the Browns.
Mebane and fellow defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin chased down Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson 22 yards downfield following a screen pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30-13 victory at CenturyLink Field.
“That is what we’re after,’’ Carroll said. “We’re always after complete effort, total effort. Every step a guy takes, we want it to be full speed, doing his job, chasing the ball or moving the thing down the field. That’s not what comes natural. That’s not a natural thing. That’s something that people have to learn and acquire the mentality for.’’
On the play, which snapped at the Cleveland 48-yard line, Mebane initially rushed up the field, then after fending off blockers, turned at about the Cleveland 45 and gave chase to Johnson as he headed down the sideline. After Rubin hit Johnson, Mebane finally made the tackle at the Seattle 30.
“I mean, that’s an awesome play for a 320-pound dude,’’ defensive end Cliff Avril said of Mebane, who is listed at 6 feet 1 and 311 pounds. “And (Rubin) was in on the play. Most D-tackles aren’t doing those kinds of plays. That just shows where we are as a team and what guys are willing to do to keep winning.’’
A year ago at this time, Mebane could only stand and watch, sidelined by the first serious injury of his career. On a similar play against the New York Giants on Nov. 9, 2014, Mebane pulled his hamstring when he turned to run down a screen pass.
Ron Rivera (HC) and Richard Rodgers Sr. (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach), Carolina Panthers (14-0)
Rivera's Panthers avoided quite a scare during a 38-35 win on the road against the New York Giants. Rivera's squad jumped out to a 35-7 lead, but squandered it before kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Rivera had this to say on the Josh Norman v. Odell Beckham shenanigans that took place during the game (per Fox Sports).
There was obviously much to be said about Josh Norman and how things played out between him and Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 15. One person who recently chimed in, was Ron Rivera, as he was asked about the "erratic behavior" by Norman against the Giants.
“There is a fine line. It doesn’t matter who you are playing, when you are playing or where you are playing, there is a fine line and guys do try to take it to a specific point. And they go from there. I think unfortunately, in some instances the line got crossed and it has happened before. Not just in that game (Giants), but in previous games. You as a player and coach have to know that and know when to reign it in and when to be smart and is some cases when to just flat out stop it. It’s one of the things that we talked about. Josh enjoys playing. He loves the game.” Rivera stated.
Aaron Rodgers: QB, Green Bay Packers (10-4)
Rodgers completed 22-29 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown during a victorious return to the Bay Area. The Packers beat the Raiders 30-20 and clinched a playoff spot.
Rodgers earned another Pro Bowl nod.
Richard Rodgers: TE, Green Bay Packers (10-4)
Rodgers caught just one pass for seven yards, but he did make a tackle during the game.
Jeremy Ross: WR/RET, Oakland Raiders (6-8)
Ross returned two punts for negative three yards against the Packers.
Mitchell Schwartz: T, Cleveland Browns (3-11)
Schwartz made the start for the 62nd consecutive time in his career and has never failed to make a start since joining the league in 2012.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com wrote an article about upcoming free agents and had this to say about Schwartz:
At 26, he's a right tackle just hitting his prime and has played respectably against some of the NFL's best pass rushers this season. Browns fans may not know that they have a good starting right tackle, but other NFL executives certainly do. If Cleveland doesn't pay him, someone else will.
Craig Stevens: TE, Tennessee Titans (3-11)
Stevens caught one pass for five yards during the Titans' 33-16 loss on the road against the New England Patriots.
Nick Sundberg: LS, Washington Redskins (7-7)
Sundberg took care of the long snap duties for the 14th time this season.
Shane Vereen: RB, New York Giants (6-8)
Vereen caught eight passes (a season high) for 43 yards and one touchdown during the Giants' loss to the Panthers.
Steve Williams: CB, San Diego Chargers (4-10)
Williams was inactive against the Dolphins.