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Aaron Jones
AP
Football Daily Dose

Packers Ride Jones to NFC North Crown

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: December 24, 2019, 2:29 am ET

The Packers dominated Monday night’s eventual 23-10 win over the Vikings much of the evening, but they simply couldn't find the end zone in the first half, settling for three field goals.  Aaron Jones took the game over after the break, however, with 109 yards and both of his scores on 13 totes. Jones finished with a 23-154-2 rushing line. It helped that Jamaal Williams left with a shoulder injury, paving the way for every-down work for Jones, something the football community has been dying to see.  Jones' first score was a 12-yarder on a stretch run to the left, and the second a 56-yarder up the left sideline to salt the game away. Jones now has 19 touchdowns on the season, one more than Christian McCaffrey. The Packers won the NFC North Monday but will be playing for seeding purposes in Week 17 against the Lions. Jones will have a good shot at hitting the 20 touchdowns mark. He laughably wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, proving just how bogus that game and its voting process really is.

Mike Boone got the start for the Vikings with Dalvin Cook (shoulder) and Alexander Mattison (ankle) out, but he obviously was a massive mega-flop after fantasy owners waited all week for him to be their Monday night hammer in finals matchups.  Boone produced just 28 scoreless yards on 11 carries behind a terrible offensive line. Boone was essentially benched in the second half in favor of Ameer Abdullah. Boone had one touch for zero yards after the break. Cook and Mattison should be back when the games matter again for the Vikings in the playoffs, but Week 17 could be another Boone-Abdullah game with Minnesota locked into the six seed.

Adam Thielen’s lone touch was a two-yard run, and Thielen was targeted just once in the second half, which is even harder to believe since the Vikings were chasing on the scoreboard and threw it 19 times in the third and fourth quarters.  Thielen saw four targets all night. It's been ugly for Thielen since he injured his hamstring Week 7 in Detroit. He briefly played Week 9 at Kansas City, didn't catch a pass that day, missed the next five weeks, and went 3-27-0 last Sunday against the Chargers before this second goose egg.  The Vikings could opt to rest their starters next week against the Bears. Thielen really needs to get right for the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers wasn't very good, but he was good enough.  His Monday night interception was his first since Week 6, and this was his seventh straight 243-yards or fewer passing game.  Rodgers has just one multi-touchdown game in that span. The Packers are 12-3 but not because of Rodgers. Green Bay will try to ride Jones in its slow-paced ball-control offense throughout the playoffs.  Rodgers just has nobody to throw to outside of Davante Adams. The Packers go to Detroit in Week 17 where they still have playoff seeding to play for in that one.

Kirk Cousins made maybe one good throw all night, dropping a 21-yard touchdown into Stefon Diggs in extremely tight coverage, but it was a disaster outside of that pass.  He was under an incredible amount of pressure behind one of the worst offensive line performances of the season, taking five sacks and running for his life on several other drop-backs.  It's the popular thing to drag Cousins on social media, but he had no help, though he also had some poor misfires. Cousins will have to shake this one off before a Wild Card playoff game.  The Vikings could opt to rest their starters Week 17 against the Bears, but Cousins would then have to sit on this poor outing for two weeks in what surely left a bad taste in the Vikings’ mouths.

 

Injury Updates

Jordan Howard scored six touchdowns Weeks 3-9 but hasn’t played since due to a shoulder injury. However, he’s expected back for the Week 17 finale against the Giants. The Eagles cut Jay Ajayi in preparation for Howard’s return. Miles Sanders has been great in Howard’s absence and carried some fantasy teams to championships. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles deploy the two backs moving forward. Boston Scott is probably the biggest loser here.

The Titans opted to rest Derrick Henry in what was somehow a meaningless Week 16 game against the Saints, but he’s fully expected to play in the finale against Houston. If the Titans win, they’re in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Henry’s absence against New Orleans was more precautionary than anything. His hamstring needed a break, but we’d expect the King to be fed relentlessly at Houston. Dion Lewis will go back to his lightly-used change-of-pace role.

Like Henry above, Josh Jacobs (shoulder) also missed Week 16. And like the Titans, the Raiders are somehow still in the mix for a playoff spot at 7-8. They need a lot of things to go right to get in, including winning their game in Denver. Coach Jon Gruden said Monday there is a chance Jacobs is able to play. DeAndre Washington has been more than serviceable in Jacobs’ two missed games and wouldn’t represent much of a downgrade.

Kyler Murray’s Monday MRI on his hamstring came back clean, showing “nothing alarming.” But it’s unclear if the No. 1 overall pick will play in the finale against the Rams. Neither team is headed for the postseason. Brett Hundley would start if Murray can’t go. Another player who underwent an MRI Monday, Mark Ingram’s came back with relatively good news, showing a strained calf. The Ravens have already clinched homefield throughout the playoffs and already ruled their starters out for Week 17. Ingram will hope to be ready for Week 19. Gus Edwards and Justice Hill should get plenty of action for those playing in Week 17 fantasy leagues.

 

Seahawks RB Reunions

After losing Chris Carson (hip) and C.J. Prosise (arm) to season-ending injuries in the Week 16 loss to the Cardinals on top of the recent ACL tear for Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks are bringing back two familiar faces at running back. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin both signed Monday. It's unclear what kind of football shape Lynch is in, but this could be more of a morale signing than anything for the Seahawks, who are coming off an inexcusable devastating Week 16 home loss to Arizona.  Lynch was good in 2018 with the Raiders before getting hurt and missing most of the season, but there's just no way to know what to expect with this signing in terms of stats. Lynch, Turbin, and Travis Homer is the new backfield for the rest of 2019.

 

Teams Resting Starters

As previously mentioned, the Ravens announced they will not play Lamar Jackson and other key starters in the Week 17 finale against the Steelers. It’ll be Robert Griffin III under center for Baltimore and a tandem of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill in the backfield. The Texans are locked into the No. 4 seed in the AFC, but coach Bill O’Brien said he plans to play to win the game Sunday against the Titans. We’ll see how true that actually is, but it’ll be tough to trust Texans in Week 17 fantasy matchups. Will Fuller (groin) has already been ruled out. The Bills are settled into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Coach Sean McDermott wouldn’t reveal his Week 17 plans for Josh Allen and other key Buffalo players. The Vikings are another team that may choose to rest players after their Monday night loss locked them into the No. 6 seed in the NFC.

 

Quarterback & Running Back Quick Slants

With Myles Gaskin (ankle) getting hurt in the Week 16 win over the Bengals, the Dolphins signed RB Samaje Perine off Cincinnati’s practice squad. Patrick Laird, De’Lance Turner, and Perine will be the Fins’ RBs for Week 17 against New England. … The Steelers are “optimistic” Ben Roethlisberger will make a full recovery from his elbow injury and be ready to go for 2020. There were whispers of the contrary earlier Monday. It’s clear Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges aren’t the answers long-term in Pittsburgh. Rudolph (shoulder) is expected to miss Week 17 against the Ravens, giving Hodges another start. … After being carted off in the Week 16 loss to the Giants, Dwayne Haskins will miss the season finale with his ankle injury. Case Keenum will get the start against the Cowboys. … Contract-year QB Philip Rivers confirmed he plans to keep playing in 2020. It remains to be seen if it will be with the Chargers.

 

Wide Receiver & Tight End Quick Slants

The Bengals finally pulled the plug and placed A.J. Green (ankle) on I.R. Green missed the entire season and will head to free agency in March barring the franchise tag or a long-term deal. … Corey Davis is in the league’s concussion protocol ahead of the important Week 17 game against the Texans. … Zach Ertz will undergo further tests on his injured ribs, but he was able to return to Week 16 against Dallas after briefly leaving with the injury. We’d expect him to play in a game the Eagles need to try and win for the NFC East title. … DeSean Jackson (core) is expected to resume practicing next week should the Eagles advance to the playoffs. He’ll be eligible to play in the second round.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.