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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win.  It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong.  I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35.  I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks. 

Maybe he should apply for a job there.  They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.


Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take:  When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice.  The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve.  Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two.  The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are.  The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009.  This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches.  I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less.  Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose.  One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired.  The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough.  But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary.  The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance.  If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece.  At least the Jaguars seem like they care. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take:  From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals.  Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins.  More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3.  Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph.  Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up.  The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team.  Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money.  Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is.  Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin'; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take:  I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens.  514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows.  He’s a great runner and seems to like contact.  And he has a red beard.  The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take:  For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit.  In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points.  In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins.  Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done.  Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way:  (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take:  Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road.  This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives.  This time around, the Rams simply have the better team — which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving.  The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way.  Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take:  The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense.  Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack.  The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye.  Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1.  All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.)  All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him.  But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers.  And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests.  Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes.  The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors.  The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers.  The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC.  Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately.  A lot.  His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine.  His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago.  Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly.  Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Vikings 13. 

Rosenthal’s take:  After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.”   Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach.  The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference.  This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC.  Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC.  Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium.  And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season.  If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away.  Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better.  It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different.  And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Here’s the toughest call of the week.  Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.  Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL.  The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago.  Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner.  Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time.  The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take:  At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league.  It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance.  Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now.  A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers.  Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups.  At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take:  The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off.  Since then, the Texans have been roughly average.  They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing.  But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home.  Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans — and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 33, Texans 27. 

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense.  The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk.  At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.

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Seahawks pick Brady again, turn it into a 24-14 lead

Super Bowl Football AP

The Seahawks continue to get pressure on Tom Brady, and he’s looking surprisingly human.

Brady just threw his second interception of the game, this time to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wager.

And the Seahawks made them pay for it quickly, with Russell Wilson hitting a wide open Doug Baldwin for a 24-14 lead.

While the Patriots have adopted a quick-passing approach to this game, the Seahawks are still making him hurry in the pocket, with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril forcing him to speed it up even more.

And with the Seahawks able to lean on their running game to get them in position, they’re going to make it harder for the Patriots to get multiple possessions.

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Seahawks seize their first lead of the night

Matthews Getty Images

After a first half in which it seemed at times as if the Patriots were poised to win Super Bowl XLIX easily, the Patriots now don’t even hold the lead.

Fueled by a 45-yard reception from the previously little-known Chris Matthews, the Seahawks have scored three more points on the first drive of the third quarter. Seattle now is ahead for the first time all night, 17-14.

It seemed that another touchdown was inevitable after the long catch from the undrafted wideout who had no career grabs before tonight put Seattle on New England’s 17. But the Patriots stiffened, keeping Marshawn Lynch from getting to the sticks on third down and forcing a 27-yard field goal.

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Gronkowski gives Pats lead, but Seahawks strike back quickly

Super Bowl Football AP

The Patriots appeared to have grabbed a lead just before halftime, moving quickly downfield as they continue to peck away at the Seahawks Defense.

But the Seahawks were even quicker, and we’re tied at halftime of the Super Bowl.

An eight-play, 80-yard drive was capped by a 22-yard touchdown to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was matched up on Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright.

Not only did it give them a 14-7 lead at halftime, but it allowed Brady to tie Joe Montana with his 11th Super Bowl touchdown pass.

They’re actually averaging 5.7 yards per play, though they’re working quickly to try to negate the Seahawks pass rush.

Short passes are turning into run-after-catch opportunities, and the Seahawks have made just enough mistakes allow long drives.

The Seahawks drove in the final 30 seconds of the half, taking advantage of a Kyle Arrington facemask penalty, and driving 80 yards in five plays.

With six seconds left in the half, Chris Matthews tied the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass into the corner of the end zone.

It was a risky play-call, but it’s the Super Bowl.

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Seahawks tie it up

Lynch AP

The Seahawks woke up a lot earlier than they did two Sundays ago.

To cap a drive that started with quarterback Russell Wilson having not completed a pass all game, Wilson connected on a pair of throws en route to a three-yard touchdown run from tailback Marshawn Lynch. The game currently is tied at the two-minute warning in the first half, 7-7.

The score was set up by a 44-yard rainbow from Wilson to receiver Chris Matthews. The man who recovered the onside kick in Seattle’s thrilling come-from-way-behind win over Green Bay made his first career catch, securing the ball with both hands while preventing it from popping out of his control upon hitting the ground.

The drive was kept alive before the long throw by a six-yard pass from Wilson to receiver Jermaine Kearse.

Lynch currently has 12 carries for 45 yards, including the game-tying touchdown.

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Brandon LaFell gives Patriots a 7-0 lead in second quarter

Super Bowl Football AP

Tom Brady’s willing to play small ball, and the Seahawks finally yielded a play.

Brady just hit Brandon LaFell for an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead.

With cornerback Jeremy Lane doubtful to return with an arm injury, Brady was picking on backup cornerback Tharold Simon. Julian Edelamn got inside Simon for a 23-yard gain on a crossing route, setting up the score.

Brady took one shot over the top to Rob Gronkowski (which could have easily been called for offensive pass interference when Gronk clubbed Kam Chancellor in the head), but otherwise the Patriots are willing to dink, dunk and run their way downfield.

The Seahawks haven’t completed a pass yet today, and they’re clearly going to need to find something through the air soon.

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Jeremy Lane injures arm, leaves game after interception

brady AP

Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane made a big play in the first quarter of the Super Bowl, but it may have been his last play.

Lane landed awkwardly on his left arm after intercepting a Tom Brady pass and stayed on the ground for a few minutes. He eventually had an air cast put on his arm and then walked to a cart, where he rode to the locker room.

The Seahawks announced that Lane is doubtful to return to the game.

Lane was the subject of some scrutiny during the run-up to the Super Bowl after he said he doesn’t think Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a good player. By picking off a pass in the first quarter, Lane showed that he can play as well as talk. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he’ll get to show anything else today.

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Tom Brady with the game’s first turnover, to Jeremy Lane

Super Bowl Football AP

The Patriots were willing to use jabs early in this fight.

But the Seahawks came up with the first good cross.

Jeremy Lane just picked off Tom Brady in the end zone, to end a methodical 13-play Patriots drive.

With both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett converging on Brady, his pass to Julian Edelman was rushed just enough to force the turnover.

The Seahawks take over on their own 14, after a three-and-out on their opening drive.

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Brady’s interview contains no unequivocal denials

Brady AP

Yes, the Super Bowl has begun.  But the #DeflateGate controversy will continue.  In addition to the flurry of reports that emerged on Sunday regarding the pending investigation, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s interview with Bob Costas of NBC’s Football Night in America has become yet another piece in a puzzle that will, at some point, be pieced together into a picture that reveals cheating or not cheating.

The full interview appears below.  The last question is the most important one, with Costas giving Brady a clear chance to say that Brady had no prior knowledge of any intentional tampering with the footballs.

“What I hear you saying is,” Costas said, “no matter what may or may not have happened, you had no prior knowledge of it.”

Brady didn’t simply agree with what Costas said and move on.  Brady offered a lengthy explanation.

“I — you know, look, I’ve talked about that in the past, and I don’t want that to continue to be a story about this particular game,” Brady said.  “All the facts will come out after the Super Bowl, and however those facts come out, you know, that will be news to me as well.  So that process will all take place at some point.  I’m excited about the Super Bowl, and that’s where my energy is.  I think there was a little bit of an energy drain, like I said, with my emotions and feelings being involved earlier in the week, but, you know, I’ve got to be able to move past those things and compartmentalize those things, and be mentally tough enough to go out there and try to shine through.”

Like so many other aspects of this controversy, those inclined to believe the Patriots will claim that Brady essentially denied having prior knowledge by saying “however those facts come out, you know, that will be news to me as well.”  Those inclined to suspect cheating will say Brady’s failure to offer an unequivocal denial could be aimed at providing a safe harbor in the event that, for example, someone has confessed to deflating the footballs and has claimed Brady knew.

Either way, the issue will linger for as long as it takes for the NFL to conclude its investigation, to generate a report, and to impose discipline, if any.  Chances are that, regardless of the outcome, the issue will linger well beyond the moment the NFL officially closes the books on #DeflateGate.

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Neither offense can get much going on the first drive

bradyball AP

The Seahawks’ defense got the Super Bowl off to a good start. And so did the Seahawks’ fans.

New England received the opening kickoff but was forced to punt after picking up just 17 yards and one first down. Of perhaps equal importance to Seattle is that the Seahawks’ fans are making their presence known, with crowd noise already a factor. In last year’s Super Bowl, the Broncos were taken aback by their need to use silent snap counts because of the “12s,” and it appears that just as many Seahawks fans have made the trip to this year’s Super Bowl.

But those Seahawks fans didn’t have much to cheer about on Seattle’s first drive, as the Seahawks went three-and-out. Now we’ll see if the Patriots can shrug off the crowd noise, and give their own fans something to cheer about.

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PFT Planet’s Super Bowl XLIX prop bet plays

Las Vegas Strip Exteriors Getty Images

In the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIX, we asked PFT Planet to make a call on 10 proposition bets. Here’s how you voted. Check back Monday when we grade the results:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards: 50.5.

OVER 50.5 RECEIVING YARDS: 3,385 votes (55%)

UNDER 50.5 RECEIVING YARDS: 2,780 votes (45%)

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches: Four.

OVER 4 CATCHES: 2,347 votes (55%)

UNDER 4 CATCHES: 1,909 votes (45%)

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

YES: 5,781 votes (84%)

NO: 1,061 votes (16%)

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

YES: 1,946 votes (64%)

NO: 1,103 votes (36%)

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s  receiving yards: 0.5.

YES: 3,556 votes (84%)

NO: 678 votes (16%)

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries: 13.5.

OVER 13.5 carries: 2,408 votes (68%)

UNDER 13.5 carries: 1,110 votes (32%)

Day VII: Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

NO safety: 2,837 votes (86%)

YES safety: 449 votes (14%)

Day VIII: Over-Under on Russell Wilson’s rushing yards: 41.5.

OVER 41.5 RUSHING YARDS: 2,477 votes (66%)

UNDER 41.5 RUSHING YARDS: 1,273 votes (34%)

Day IX: Will there be overtime in the Super Bowl?

NO OVERTIME: 2,357 votes (86%)

YES OVERTIME: 379 votes (14%)

Day X: Will Richard Sherman intercept a pass in the Super Bowl?

NO INTERCEPTION: 1,038 votes (60%)

YES INTERCEPTION: 681 votes (40%)

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Kam Chancellor wearing knee brace, good to go for game

Kam Chancellor AP

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor was added to the team’s final injury report of the year with a knee injury that he picked up during practice on Friday.

That injury was reported to be a bruise and coach Pete Carroll didn’t seem too concerned about it on Saturday, but he did say the team would take another look at Chancellor during pregame warmups to make sure that all was well. Chancellor was wearing a brace on his left knee during those warmups for Super Bowl XLIX, which were watched by Carroll, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and members of the medical staff.

A brace may indicate that the injury is something more than just a bruise, but it doesn’t seem to have much chance of keeping Chancellor off the field. Steve Wyche of NFL Media reports Chancellor told him he’s good to go for the game after what he called an “aggressive” workout on the field Sunday.

Chancellor is expected to play a big role in Seattle’s plans to limit Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, something that’s going to be part of any plan to win a second straight Super Bowl title.

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New NFL Media report on #DeflateGate raises plenty of questions

Untitled 10

As the NFL continues to process the events of two Sundays ago regarding the inflation of certain footballs, the media company owned by the NFL has tried to advance the ball from a news standpoint.

The end result creates plenty of questions — questions that undoubtedly will be answered, one way or the other.

Much of Ian Rapoport’s new report isn’t new.  He confirmed without crediting reports from FOX and PFT regarding the surveillance video that shows Patriots employee taking 12 Patriots balls and 12 Colts balls into a restroom.  The new information:  Rapoport describes the man as “elderly,” and Rapoport says the man was in the restroom for 98 seconds.  (PFT previously reported that the man was in the restroom for approximately 90 seconds.)  Rapoport also confirmed without crediting the PFT report that the Patriots turned the video over to the NFL early in the process.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Chris Mortensen of ESPN initially reported that 11 of the 12 balls were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum.  PFT later reported that 10 of the balls were closer to one pound under the minimum than two.  Now, the media company owned by the NFL reports that “[m]any of [the footballs] were just a few ticks under the minimum.”

So how many are “many”?  And how much is “just a few ticks”?

Making the NFL media report even more confusing is the fact that, when Rapoport discussed the issue on the air, he specifically said that “a couple, three or four were about a pound under and three or four more were right at the line but a little bit under.”

As one league source with knowledge of the situation told PFT in response to the NFL Media report, “Ian’s wrong.”  Apart from the inherent conflict between the written assertion that “many” were “just a few ticks under” and only “three or four” were “right at the line but a little bit under,” it’s possible that both versions are incorrect.

Either way, the truth eventually will be known.  As a different source told PFT on Sunday morning, the NFL logged all PSI readings for the Patriots and Colts footballs at halftime of the AFC title game.  Assuming that this information makes its way into Ted Wells’ report (and surely it will), the hard numbers eventually will become public.

In the end, it will be more than a little awkward, to say the least, if the official NFL investigation report conflicts with the latest NFL Media report on the investigation.

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Jonas Gray among the inactives for Super Bowl XLIX

Jonas Gray AP

Patriots running back Jonas Gray had one of the most impressive games of the season.

But he’s not going to play in the final one.

Gray was among the seven inactive players for the Patriots tonight, despite his breakout 201-yard game against the Colts in November which landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Also on the list are defensive end Zach Moore, wide receivers Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms, defensive tackle Joe Vellano, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, and running back James White.

For the Seahawks, the inactives are quarterback BJ Daniels, cornerback Marcus Burley, offensive linemen Patrick Lewis and Keavon Milton, defensive end David King, offensive tackle Garry Gilliam and wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

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John Harbaugh says he had no role in #DeflateGate

John Harbaugh AP

One of the more intriguing aspects of #DeflateGate comes from reports that Ravens coach John Harbaugh instigated the complaints about the alleged underinflation of Patriots footballs by putting the idea into the head of Colts coach (and former Ravens assistant coach) Chuck Pagano prior to the AFC championship game.

Harbaugh, appearing on NBC’s Super Bowl pregame as a guest analyst, rejected the notion that he had any role in the process.

“I heard all that, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it,” Harbaugh told Bob Costas.  “It’s ridiculous, it never happened, I’ve been, I never made any call, nobody in our organization made any call.  As a matter of fact, just to make sure I had all the facts, I called up Chuck Pagano and asked him, ‘Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about deflated footballs?’ and he said, ‘No way.'”

Harbaugh also said he never even considered ball inflation until it became an issue in the Colts-Patriots game.

“It never came up, it never crossed my mind, it wasn’t even an issue in the [Colts-Patriots] game,” Harbaugh said.  “I didn’t even think about it until I read about it later.”

That likely won’t do much to change the suspicion within the Patriots organization that Harbaugh had something to do with the current controversy.  Still, Harbaugh insists he didn’t stir the pot, which is consistent with the NFL’s insistence that the issue didn’t come up until Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the first half and took the ball to the sidelines.

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Tom Lewand thinks Lions have “very, very good chance” of deal with Suh in next few weeks

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Lions have some time to negotiate with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh before the start of free agency and team president Tom Lewand is optimistic that they’ll put it to good use.

During an appearance on WDIV on Sunday, Lewand said that he thought the team had “a very, very good chance” of reaching agreement on a deal with Suh in the next few weeks. The Lions already have a lot of money committed to quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and any Suh deal would push a lot of their money to three players, but Lewand said it was something the Lions could do.

“Matthew, Calvin and Ndamukong have all and very lucrative contracts under the old rookie system and even as Matthew and Calvin have done their extensions,” Lewand said. “So we’ve done that, we’ve lived in that environment. There’s no reason we can’t continue to live in that environment. We plan really well looking out into the future and where our salary goes. I think we can do that, I have no doubt we can do that with Ndamukong and make him a continuing part of the core of our football team. There’s no doubt that there are trade-outs that have to happen along the way. You can’t keep everybody because it’s a hard cap, but if you have a good nucleus of guys then the draft every year comes through and you can keep adding good players to the mix.”

Lewand says that his impression is that Suh wants to play in Detroit, although Suh said near the end of the season that his agent would be making the decision. That suggests it will come down to money, which would be at odds with the decision to re-sign with the Lions before hearing from any of the league’s other 31 teams.

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