John Sleezer/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire
8hBill Barnwell

The most important NFL games left

Raiders at Chiefs kicks it off, but that's just the beginning. Consider this a viewer's guide to the essential remaining games for the 2016 regular season.

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4hMel Kiper and Mike Sando

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NFL Nation reporters assess the biggest injuries across the league, including updates on Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett.

Stephen A. reveals the origin of his disdain for the Cowboys (2:25)


Paul Gutierrez ESPN Staff Writer 

Again, left guard Kelechi Osemele is a late scratch due to illness after being limited all week with a knee issue. Osemele, who had played in all 12 games thus far, has been a tone setter on the offensive line all season and his loss is big for a unit that has given up a league-low 13 sacks this season. Expect either Jon Feliciano or rookie Vadal Alexander to get the start.

Bob Holtzman ESPN 

Raiders just announced starting left guard Kelechi Osemele is a late scratch due to illness.

Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell

With Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford all available, Chiefs can attack Osemele's replacement at left guard all night.

Jeremy Fowler ESPN Staff Writer 

Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons, who's having a solid year, says he felt like he was back in high school playing wide receiver during his long INT return Sunday.


Josh Weinfuss ESPN Staff Writer 

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald said Thursday he doesn't plan on playing long enough to pass either No. 2 Tony Gonzalez or No. 1 Jerry Rice on the NFL's all-time receptions list. "I won't catch any of those guys," Fitzgerald said. "I don't plan on playing that long to catch those guys." Fitzgerald moved into third on the list during Sunday's win over Washington. He currently needs 220 to pass Gonzalez and 444 to pass Rice. But Fitzgerald insisted Thursday's comment wasn't a retirement announcement.

Paul Gutierrez ESPN Staff Writer 

Here are the Chiefs inactives.,,

Paul Gutierrez ESPN Staff Writer 

Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele is a late scratch due to illness. Osemele was limited all week in practice with a knee injury.

Bob Holtzman ESPN 

The Chiefs are as healthy as they've been in weeks. Jeremy Maclin is back tonight. Their only "questionable" is NT Dontari Poe, but he told me he will play. The Raiders have some injury issues on defense. Starters S Karl Joseph and DT Stacy McGee are out, and CB D.J. Hayden was placed on IR last week.

Sheil Kapadia ESPN Writer 

Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said he "absolutely" expects safety Earl Thomas to come back and play next year. "He loves to play this game, and there's no doubt. We're all disappointed. I know he is that he's not getting the chance to do what he loves to do, but I certainly hope so because the game is better with him out there playing."

Bob Holtzman ESPN 

Chiefs do-everything-weapon Tyreek Hill talked this week about "national respect". He said he feels the Chiefs have been overlooked and "this game will put us where we need to be." He might have a point, Kansas City is 17-3 since week 7 of last season, the NFL's best record.

Bob Holtzman ESPN 

Latavius Murray is averaging 6.1 yards per rush in his career against Kansas City and has some extra motivation tonight. The reason surprised me. Murray was in attendance the other night in Oakland when the Warriors' Klay Thompson scored 60 in three quarters. Murray told me an athlete's mentality is to set and break records and said, "it was inspiring to be around greatness."

Bob Holtzman ESPN 

The winner of tonight's Raiders-Chiefs game will likely spend the weekend of January 7/8 on a bye, resting and preparing to host a playoff game the following weekend. The loser will spend the January 7/8 weekend playing on the road. No bye. No home game. Big difference.

Jenna Laine ESPN Staff Writer 

Bucs players say that there really is no "stopping" Saints quarterback and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. But they can disrupt him.


Bob Holtzman ESPN 

Raiders TE Clive Walford was born and raised in Miami...and so far he's the only player I've seen in shorts.

Sheil Kapadia ESPN Writer 

Russell Wilson said he wants snow in Green Bay: "I'm hoping it's coming down, I'm hoping it's snowing. I'm hoping it's kind of a downpour of snow. That would be great."

Mike Wells ESPN Staff Writer 

Colts LB Robert Mathis (bicep) continues to be out. There's a chance he could miss his second straight game. The Colts will also be without S Clayton Geathers (neck) and LB D'Qwell Jackson (suspension) against Houston on Sunday