The Latest: 6 more players closing in on 100 catches

The Latest on NFL’s Week 16 (All times Eastern).

1:40 p.m.

Five NFL players have 100 catches this season and six more are within striking distance.

The players who have already reached the mark are Saints receiver Michael Thomas with 109, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen with 105, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz with 101, and Falcons receiver Julio Jones and Packers receiver Davante Adams with 100 each.

Among the players who are close are Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with 95 catches and teammate Antonio Brown with 90.

Also close coming into today’s games are Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins with 94, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey with 94, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce with 93 and Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs with 92.

The record for most 100-reception players in NFL history is nine set in 1995.

—Arnie Stapleton in Denver.


1:30 p.m.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke is off to an impressive start in his first career NFL for Carolina, moving the Panthers 73 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown against the Falcons.

Heinicke, filling in for the injured Cam Newton, was 5 of 6 on the opening drive for 38 yards, including a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Ian Thomas. Heinicke also showed great speed and pocket awareness when he tucked the ball and ran 11 yards on a third-and-9 play.

It was the first career TD pass for Heinicke and Thomas’ first career TD catch, meaning the youngsters will have to fight over who keeps the ball.

Running back Christian McCaffrey also became the first Carolina running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both accomplished the feat in 2009.

—Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina.


1:20 p.m.

Dallas defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was taken off the field on a cart after getting injured on the second play of the game against Tampa Bay.

Crawford’s neck was stabilized on a stretcher with his facemask removed, and several teammates looked distraught as he was treated on the field.

The seventh-year player was moving his arms while on the stretcher, and he moved his legs while being treated before going on the stretcher.

There was no immediate word on the nature of the injury.

Crawford started every game so far this season and was second on the team with 5 1/2 sacks. He missed all of the 2013 season, his second, after tearing an Achilles tendon in training camp.

—Schuyler Dixon in Arlington, Texas.


1:10 p.m.

Tom Brady is 14 yards shy of his 10th 4,000-yard season as he faces the Bills today.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers reached the 4,000-yard mark for the 10th time in his career in a loss to the Ravens last night.

Peyton Manning holds the NFL record for most 4,000-yard seasons with 14, followed by Drew Brees with 12.

Brees can make it 13 with 334 yards today against the Steelers.


12:30 p.m.

Some Carolina players are warming up with white T-shirts with a green bottle of Heineken on the front, only the word “Heinicke” replaces “Heineken” in support of quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who makes his NFL starting debut against the Falcons.

Cam Newton had given Heinicke the nickname.

The Panthers sat down Newton, the league’s 2015 MVP, because of lingering shoulder problems that have prevented him from throwing balls more than 15 yards downfield.

There is a chance Newton could play in Week 17 against the Saints if the Panthers are somehow still alive in the playoff race.

Carolina needs to beat Atlanta and have Minnesota lose this week to survive until next weekend.

The Panthers host the Falcons in the regular season home finale.

—Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina.


11:30 a.m.

It’s Week 16 of the NFL schedule, which always means several teams can secure playoff berths.

New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago and the Los Angeles Chargers already have qualified.

New England wins its 10th successive AFC East title with a victory or tie at home against Buffalo, or Miami losing or drawing with Jacksonville.

Houston takes the AFC South by beating the Eagles in Philadelphia. It earns at least a wild-card spot with a Pittsburgh loss at New Orleans.

The Chiefs earn the AFC West crown with a victory at Seattle now that the Chargers have lost to Baltimore.

In the NFC, a Saints victory gets them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Bears lose at San Francisco or the Rams fall at Arizona, New Orleans has a first-round bye even with a loss to the Steelers.

A Rams win and Bears loss gives LA a wild-card round bye.

If Dallas beats visiting Tampa Bay, it owns the NFC East. Should the Eagles lose to Houston, the Cowboys also get the division title. They can also earn at least a playoff berth if they tie the Bucs and the Vikings lose at Detroit.

But Minnesota can take a wild-card spot with a win and loss by Philly.

Finally, Seattle also gets a wild card if it beats the Chiefs


More AP NFL: and—NFL