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Former Illini and area standouts in NFL: Week 18

Jan. 7—Sydney Brown had a memorable pick-six for the Eagles — even in a loss — while Devon Witherspoon earned his first Pro Bowl nod as only one of three rookies to make the roster. With several teams vying to reach the playoffs, N-G sports staffer Joe Vozzelli has an update on each former Illini and one former area high school standout with the final week of the regular season about to get underway:

Tony Adams

New York Jets

Looking back: Adams and the Jets have not played since a 37-20 loss in Week 17 against the Browns on Dec. 28 in Cleveland.

What's next: New York (6-10) will wrap up its season with a noon kick on Sunday against the Patriots (4-12) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Nick Allegretti

Kansas City Chiefs

Looking back: The offensive lineman saw limited participation with Allegretti playing eight total snaps, seven of which came on special teams, as the Chiefs clinched the AFC West with a 25-17 victory against the Bengals this past Sunday in Kansas City, Mo.

What's next: Kansas City (10-6) is locked into the AFC's No. 3 seed and the Chiefs will rest some of the team's key starters in the regular-season finale against the Chargers (5-11) at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Chase Brown

Cincinnati Bengals

Looking back: The rookie running back carried the ball three times for five yards and added two receptions for 23 yards in the Bengals' 25-17 road loss to the Chiefs last Sunday. Brown logged 11 snaps on offense and 16 snaps on special teams, as well.

What's next: Cincinnati (8-8) has been eliminated from playoff contention ahead of its season finale against the Browns (11-5) at noon on Sunday at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.

Sydney Brown

Philadelphia Eagles

Looking back: The rookie defensive back provided one of the few highlights in the Eagles' shocking 35-31 home loss to the Cardinals last Sunday with Brown intercepting a Kyler Murray pass just outside Philadelphia's own end zone and returning it for a 99-yard pick-six touchdown in the second quarter. Brown saw the Eagles' defense struggle in the second half and finished the game with four tackles on 28 defensive snaps and added a special teams tackle after 12 snaps with that unit.

What's next: Philadelphia (11-5) completes the regular season and is still alive in the NFC East — though that would require a loss from the Cowboys — ahead of its trip to north New Jersey to face the New York Giants (5-11) at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Tommy DeVito

New York Giants

Looking back: The undrafted quarterback did not play after coach Brian Daboll opted to start Tyrod Taylor in New York's 26-25 home loss to the Rams this past Sunday.

What's next: DeVito will again back up Taylor when the Giants (5-11) conclude the 2023 season with a 3:25 p.m. home NFC East matchup with the Eagles (11-5).

Kendrick Green

Houston Texans

Looking back: The offensive lineman is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

What's next: The Texans (9-7) head to Indianapolis to face the Colts (9-7) at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Jake Hansen

Houston Texans

Looking back: The second-year linebacker had two combined tackles on three defensive snaps and also participated on 18 snaps on special teams in the Texans' 26-3 home win last Sunday against the Titans.

What's next: The Texans (9-7) would clinch the team's first playoff appearance since 2019 with a win in Week 18 against the Colts (9-7) with the two AFC South teams meeting at 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Justin Hardee

New York Jets

Looking back: Hardee and his teammates last played on Dec. 28 in a 37-20 loss in Week 17 against the Browns in Cleveland.

What's next: The Jets (6-10) will close the books on the 2023 season with a road matchup at noon on Sunday against the Patriots (4-12).

Nate Hobbs

Las Vegas Raiders

Looking back: Hobbs started at cornerback and delivered a team-high eight tackles while playing 53 of 56 defensive snaps, but the Raiders lost 23-20 to the Colts on New Year's Eve in Indianapolis to snap Las Vegas' two-game winning streak.

What's next: The Raiders (7-9) will look to end the 2023 season on a strong note with a 3:25 p.m. home game against the Broncos (8-8) at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Kerby Joseph

Detroit Lions

Looking back: The defensive back started at free safety and produced six tackles and defended one pass after playing 70 combined snaps, including all 65 of his team's defensive snaps, in the Lions' 20-19 loss last Saturday against the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.

What's next: Detroit (11-5) is guaranteed of at least the NFC's No. 3 playoff seed before finishing out the regular season at noon on Sunday against the Vikings (7-9) at Ford Field in Detroit.

Ted Karras

Cincinnati Bengals

Looking back: Cincinnati's starting center played all 74 offensive snaps in the Bengals' 25-17 road loss last Sunday to the Chiefs.

What's next: Cincinnati (8-8) will face the Browns (11-5) in a Week 18 home game at noon on Sunday.

Vederian Lowe

New England Patriots

What's next: The second-year offensive lineman started at left tackle and played all 53 offensive snaps in the Patriots' 27-21 loss to the Bills this past Sunday in Buffalo, N.Y.

What's next: New England (4-12) could play the final game of the Bill Belichick era with the future uncertain for the longtime Patriots' coach before his team plays the Jets (6-10) at noon on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

Quan Martin

Washington Commanders

What's next: The rookie defensive back started again at safety, recorded four tackles and played 63 of his team's 70 defensive snaps in Washington's 27-10 home loss last Sunday against the 49ers.

What's next: The Commanders (4-12) have the chance to play spoiler — although they are also in line for a high pick in next April's NFL draft — at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday against the rival Cowboys (11-5), who would secure the NFC East title with a win at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Chase McLaughlin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What's next: The veteran place-kicker didn't have many opportunities this past Sunday, accounting for only one extra-point kick on his lone snap of the game in a 23-13 home loss by the Buccaneers to the division-rival Saints.

What's next: Despite the loss to New Orleans, Tampa Bay (8-8) can clinch the NFC South title with a win against the NFL-worst Panthers (2-14) with the Week 18 game set for a noon kick on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Alex Palczewski

Denver Broncos

What's next: It's been a tough rookie year for the offensive tackle despite the 24-year-old Mount Prospect native making the Broncos' roster as an undrafted free agent. But injuries have kept Palczewski out for the first 17 weeks of the NFL season.

What's next:Palczewski, who was designated to return from injured reserve on Dec. 20, could still play in Denver's final game of the 2023 season with the Broncos (8-8) visiting Las Vegas for a 3:25 p.m. Sunday matchup against the Raiders (7-9).

Del'Shawn Phillips

Baltimore Ravens

What's next: The linebacker tallied two tackles while logging five snaps on defense and 22 as a special teamer in the Ravens' 56-19 victory last Sunday against the Dolphins in Baltimore that assured the Ravens of a No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

What's next: Baltimore (13-3) will use Week 18 to rest its key players with coach John Harbaugh's team ending the regular season against the Steelers (9-7) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Trent Sherfield

Buffalo Bills

What's next: The wide receiver from Danville was targeted three times in the passing game but did not record a reception while participating on 19 snaps on offense and six on special teams in the Bills' 27-21 home win last Sunday against the Patriots.

What's next: Buffalo (10-6) travels to Miami Gardens, Fla., to face the Dolphins (11-5) where the winner of the 7:20 p.m. Sunday game will be crowned AFC East champion.

Dawuane Smoot

Jacksonville Jaguars

What's next: The defensive end/outside linebacker was on the field for 29 defensive snaps but did not record any other stats in the Jaguars' 26-0 shutout home win against the Panthers last Sunday.

What's next: Jacksonville (9-7) needs a win in Week 18 to lock up the AFC South title with the Jaguars playing the Titans (5-11) at noon on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

Jihad Ward

New York Giants

What's next: The defensive end had three combined tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit while taking part in 28 defensive snaps in the Giants' 26-25 home loss last Sunday against the Rams.

What's next: New York (5-11) will play the Eagles (11-5) for the second time in three weeks with the Week 18 NFC East showdown set for a 3:25 p.m. kick on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Devon Witherspoon

Seattle Seahawks

What's next: The rookie defensive back returned after missing two games with a hip pointer and finished with three total tackles, including one tackle for loss, in the Seahawks' 30-23 home loss last Sunday against the Steelers.

What's next: Witherspoon — who is in the mix for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors alongside Jalen Carter (Eagles) and Will Anderson (Texans) with Carter considered the odds-on favorite — will go to his first Pro Bowl, the NFL announced on Wednesday, and the former Illini great still has a chance to extend his season beyond Sunday with the No. 5 overall pick in last April's NFL draft and Seattle (8-8) concluding the regular season at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday against the Cardinals (4-12) at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The Seahawks need a win and to have the Packers lose to the Bears to qualify for the postseason.