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The Washington Football Team got good news on Thursday as starting quarterback Alex Smith threw to receivers during the team’s individual period of practice. Dwayne Haskins, embroiled in COVID-19 protocol breaches, took all the first-team reps, but having Smith on the field is a strong sign he may be ready for Sunday’s game.
The Washington Football Team (6-8) hosts the Carolina Panthers (4-10), and a win coupled with a New York Giants loss clinches the NFC East.
Washington could also get running back Antonio Gibson back from a toe injury. He has missed the last two games, with Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic filling in. Washington is favored over the Panthers by one point.
Jones Still Out for the Buccaneers
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to clinch a playoff spot on Saturday in Detroit, they will do so without starting running back Ronald Jones II. Jones, who went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Dec. 16, will not play Saturday.
The Buccaneers ran for just 51 yards without Jones last week as they fell behind the Atlanta Falcons early before rallying to win.
Tampa Bay clinches a Wild Card spot with a win on Saturday, and it will stay alive for the NFC South title only if the New Orleans Saints lose on Friday. The Bucs are -9.5 against the Lions and will split carries between Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
On the other side of that game, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (ribs/right thumb), kicker Matt Prater (back), and center Frank Ragnow (throat) are all questionable. Interim head coach Darren Bevell will not be on the sideline Saturday after a positive COVID-19 test.
Playoff Showdown in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Raiders must beat the Miami Dolphins on Saturday and get plenty of help to rescue their playoff hopes. They are +3 against the 9-5 Dolphins, but quarterback Derek Carr did not have an injury designation on Thursday’s report and should be good to go.
Meanwhile, Miami wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring), tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder), and defensive end Shaq Lawson (shoulder) were among those listed as questionable.
Hill Hurting for the Champs
The Kansas City Chiefs wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win on Sunday, but two of their best playmakers are questionable. Wideout Tyreek Hill (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday after missing practice on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) didn’t practice on Thursday. The Chiefs are -10.5 against the Atlanta Falcons, who saw Julio Jones (hamstring) miss practice again on Thursday.
Vikings Hurting Before Must Win
The Minnesota Vikings have fond memories of New Orleans after an overtime win there in the playoffs last season. But the seven-point underdogs will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss at the Superdome on Christmas Day.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Alexander Mattison, and linebacker Eric Kendricks have all been ruled out.
Niners Welcome Back Kittle
The San Francisco 49ers (5-9) have been eliminated from the playoffs but can play spoiler against the Arizona Cardinals (8-6) on Saturday. They are +5 in the Arizona stadium the teams have shared the last few weeks.
For the first time since Week 8, the 49ers will have tight end George Kittle (foot) in the lineup.
Arizona clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Chicago loss on Sunday. The Cardinals have listed Larry Fitzgerald (groin), linebacker Hasson Reddick (shoulder), and running back Chase Edmonds (ankle/knee) as questionable.