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NFL News and Notes for January 14

After 18 grueling weeks, the NFL playoffs are finally upon us. Both the NFC and AFC have narrowed their respective fields down to the top seven teams.

In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers hold the top spot and a first-round bye. They will play the winner of the Rams and Cardinals.

The rest of the NFC playoffs feature the Cowboys and 49ers doing battle, with the winner set to take on the winner of the Eagles and Buccaneers.

In the AFC, it is the Tennessee Titans who hold the No. 1 seed. After enjoying a bye, they will play the winner of the Raiders and the Bengals.

On the other side of the AFC bracket, the Bills will host the Patriots. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Steelers and Chiefs.

Of the 14 teams, the Packers currently have the best odds of winning it all at +380. The Chiefs have the best odds of any AFC team at +450.

While most of the attention is focused on these matchups, there is plenty of other news from around the NFL as well. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories from the week.

Coaches And General Managers Searches Get Underway

While some teams are preparing for the playoffs, others are preparing for turnover within their organizations.

On Thursday, the Houston Texans became the most recent team to fire their head coach as they let David Culley go after just one season.

With his departure, eight teams are looking for new head coaches, including the Texans, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants.

Additionally, after firing Jon Gruden, the Raiders have been rolling with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and could also choose to look for a new coach.

Three teams also cleaned house at the general manager level. The Bears, Vikings, and Giants are all looking for general managers in addition to head coaches.

In many cases, interviews have already gotten underway for both coaching and general manager positions. Obviously, part of the challenge for some of the prospective coaches is balancing both interviewing and preparing for their team’s playoff matchups.

From a head coaching standpoint, some of the popular names being interviewed by multiple teams include Todd Bowles, Nathaniel Hackett, Leslie Frazier, Byron Leftwich, Brian Daboll, Doug Peterson, and others.

Hopkins Out For Playoff Game

According to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk, it appears that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is not ready to come back to action for the Arizona Cardinals’ Wild Card game.

Hopkins has been on the injured reserve since December when he tore his MCL. Still, there was hope that he could be ready for the playoffs. While that could still come to fruition if the team makes it into the latter stages, he will not be on the field Monday night.

This season, in 10 games, Hopkins had 42 receptions for 572 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Cardinals are currently the underdogs in their matchup with the Rams at +166.

Weddle Returns

Speaking of the Cardinals versus Rams game, Los Angeles is bringing someone out of retirement for this game. Eric Weddle is returning to the Rams for the playoffs as the two-time All-Pro is hoping to help a secondary ravaged by injury.

Weddle last played in the NFL in 2019, but the Rams still believe he can contribute in the playoffs.

Los Angeles is -198 to win their Wild Card matchup and +1000 to win the Super Bowl.

Bucs Getting Healthy

Just in time for the playoffs, it appears that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting healthy. Head coach Bruce Arians announced that pass rusher Shaquil Barrett (51 tackles, ten sacks), linebacker Jason-Pierre Paul (31 tackles, 2.5 sacks), and running back Leonard Fournette (812 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) are all expected to play in the Wild Card round.

On the flip side, the Bucs did announce that cornerback Richard Sherman’s season is done after being put on the injured reserve for the second time. The 33-year-old Sherman had just 11 tackles and one interception in five games this season.

The defending Super Bowl champions are currently +750, tied for third-best odds, to repeat this year.

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