Patriots

Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension becomes official

Benjamin Watson's four-game suspension becomes official

The New England Patriots signed Benjamin Watson in free agency to provide depth and experience at tight end. However, they are going to have to wait before he can be used in the regular season.

Watson recently revealed on social media that he was facing a four-game suspension after failing a drug test in the following his retirement. On Thursday, that suspension became official, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

Watson, 38, will miss games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills. He will be eligible to return to the team for their Week 5 matchup with the Washington Redskins.

Watson's suspension won't officially begin until the 53-man roster is finalized, but tight end will be one of the biggest position battles to watch in the offseason. The competition will be wide open, and several players will have a chance to establish themselves in Watson's absence.

Notably, the team signed veterans Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency, and they could attempt to hold the fort until Watson can return. Seferian-Jenkins had a 50 catch, 337-yard, three touchdown season in 2017 before struggling with injuries in his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.

Meanwhile, LaCosse is coming off a career year with the Denver Broncos in which he grabbed 24 passes for 250 yards and a score despite starting just five games. In a bigger role, he could find success.

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NFL playoff picture Week 11: Patriots, Ravens in exciting race for AFC's top seed

NFL playoff picture Week 11: Patriots, Ravens in exciting race for AFC's top seed

The New England Patriots protected their lead atop the AFC standings in Week 11 with a 17-10 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles, improving their record to 9-1.

The defending Super Bowl champs suffered their first loss in Week 9 with a lackluster 37-20 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens, but they recovered nicely after a Week 10 bye to keep their grip on the conference's No. 1 seed. Tom Brady and Co.'s margin of error remains razor thin, though, because the Ravens have the tiebreaker advantage as a result of their head-to-head win two weeks ago.

If it wasn't already clear Baltimore is a legit Super Bowl contender, quarterback Lamar Jackson made it quite evident Sunday by leading a 41-7 trouncing of the Houston Texans.

Both the Patriots and Ravens have tough Week 12 matchups on deck. The Pats will host the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, while the Ravens will face the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams on the road.

The Texans dropped from the No. 3 seed to the No. 6 seed as a result of Sunday's defeat, but they lead the Oakland Raiders for the second wild-card spot because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Raiders extended their win streak to three games with a 17-10 victory versus the winless Cincinnati Bengals.

The Colts earned a comfortable 33-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to move back into the AFC South lead.

The Kansas Chiefs have the AFC West lead over the Raiders (via the head-to-head tiebreaker) entering their Monday night matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. It's basically a must-win game for the Chargers, who are 4-6.

The Buffalo Bills continued to ride a soft schedule to a potential wild card berth. Buffalo beat the Miami Dolphins 37-20 on Sunday.

The NFC race is going to be absolutely wild down the stretch. There are five teams with an 8-3 record or better, and the fight for the top two seeds -- which mean a first-round playoff bye -- will be a lot of fun to watch. The best game of Week 12 is a matchup between the Chiefs and Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football" that will impact the playoff race in both conferences.

Here's the updated NFL playoff picture after Sunday's Week 11 games.

AFC
1. New England Patriots, 9-1 (AFC East leader)
2. Baltimore Ravens, 8-2 (AFC North leader)
3. Indianapolis Colts, 6-4 (AFC South leader)
4. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-4 (AFC West leader)
5. Buffalo Bills, 7-3 (First Wild Card)
6. Houston Texans, 6-4 (Second Wild Card)

In the Hunt
7. Oakland Raiders, 6-4
8. Pittsburgh Steelers, 5-5
9. Tennessee Titans, 5-5

NFC
1. San Francisco 49ers, 9-1 (NFC West leader)
2. Green Bay Packers, 8-2 (NFC North leader)
3. New Orleans Saints, 8-2 (NFC South leader)
4. Dallas Cowboys, 6-4 (NFC East leader)
5. Seattle Seahawks, 8-2 (First Wild Card)
6. Minnesota Vikings, 8-3 (Second Wild Card)

In the Hunt
7. Los Angeles Rams, 6-4
8. Philadelphia Eagles, 5-5
9. Carolina Panthers, 5-5

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NFL odds Week 12: Opening spread for Patriots vs. Cowboys game revealed

NFL odds Week 12: Opening spread for Patriots vs. Cowboys game revealed

The New England Patriots are favored over the Dallas Cowboys by almost a touchdown in the opening betting lines for Week 12 of the 2019 NFL season.

The early spreads for every Week 12 game were released by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, and the Patriots are 6.5-point favorites at home versus Dallas.

Here are all the lines for next week's matchups:

The Patriots have made sports bettors a lot of money this season. The defending Super Bowl champions are 7-3 against the spread (9-1 head-to-head) after Sunday's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. The Pats have a 1-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed.

The Cowboys are coming off a 35-27 Week 11 win over the Detroit Lions that moved them ahead of the Eagles for first place in the NFC East division.

New England has won five of its last six meetings with Dallas, including a 4-2 against-the-spread record over that span.

Kickoff for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Cowboys is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.

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