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Week 17 Monday 10-pack

Green Bay Packers quarterback Flynn hands off the ball against the Detroit Lions during the second half of their NFL football game in Green Bay Reuters

It’s the first Monday of the year, and it’s the last Monday 10-pack of the year.

I miss the days when football season ended before December 31.

As a setup goes, that’s all I got.  Let’s get on to the 10 takes from a 32-team season-ending Sunday.

1.  Packers should strongly consider franchising Flynn.

In 2008, after the first annual Brett Favre retirement, the Packers drafted two quarterbacks.  The gesture was interpreted by some (i.e., by us) as a bolting of the door behind Favre and the blocking of it with large pieces of furniture.

Brian Brohm, who entered the 2007 college football season as one of the top prospects, slid to the Packers in round two, pick 56.  LSU’s Matt Flynn was an afterthought, with pick number 209 in round seven.  Four seasons later, Brohm is long gone — and Flynn showed on Sunday that he’ll be the hottest commodity in the 2012 free-agent market.

If he gets there.

Like Matt Cassel of the Patriots in 2009, the Packers should think about slapping the franchise tag on Flynn, in order to trade him to a quarterback-needy team.  With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III the best options in the draft, teams like the Redskins and Dolphins and Browns and maybe the Seahawks will be clamoring for a proven commodity like Flynn.

The risk, of course, is that Flynn would sign the franchise tag but no serious offers would come for his services, given that the starting point for a long-term deal would be the one-year guaranteed salary of $14.5 million or so in 2012.  If that would happen, the Packers would be stuck with a backup earning roughly $6.5 million more next year than starter Aaron Rodgers, who is due to earn a base salary of $8 million next season.

The other side of the coin is that Flynn will walk away with plenty of coins in his pockets — and zero compensation to the team that transformed him from a seventh-round pick into a guy who’ll be the most coveted quarterback not named Luck or Griffin.

2.  Rex should be on the hot seat.

Though it’s too early to fire Jets coach Rex Ryan, who has two appearances in the AFC title game in three seasons as a head coach, he deserves the pressure that goes along with the accountability for guaranteeing a Super Bowl win (and, even more importantly in New York, a win over the Giants) and failing to deliver.  Only so many times can a head coach protect his players and assistants by saying “put the blame on me” until someone decides to put the blame on him.

Yes, his players seem to still believe.  More importantly, the owner seems to still believe.  But the players and the owner may believe a little less in 2012 — especially if Rex emerges from a disappointing 2011 season (in light of the expectations fueled by Ryan) as brash and bold as ever.

Beyond the boundaries of his team, Rex has become a caricature.  (Some would say he already was one.)  If that sense ever makes its way into the locker room, and eventually it should, it’ll be time to move on.

Apart from all the words, it’s one specific action that could, as a practical matter, put Rex in a position to be coaching for his job in 2012.  The misguided decision to make receiver Santonio Holmes a captain, given that Holmes spent much of the year not acting like a captain, could come back to haunt Ryan.

Arguably, it already is.  And now Rex has a mess on his hands, especially since a guy who spent much of Sunday acting like he didn’t want to be with the Jets signed a long-term, big-money deal before the season.

3.  Steelers fleeced Jets on Holmes.

Speaking of Santonio, Steelers fans didn’t care much for the abrupt decision to trade Holmes to New York for a fifth-round pick in 2010.  With a four-game suspension for violation of the substance-abuse policy coming on the heels of Ben Roethlisberger’s misadventures in Milledgeville, it was perceived that the Steelers’ decision was driven less by football strategy and more by public relations sensitivities.

But the Steelers were looking ahead.  With Holmes due to miss the first four games of the 2010 season and one wake-n-bake away from a one-year suspension, the Steelers opted to unload a potential headache — especially since the Steelers knew they’d never tie their hands by giving Holmes a huge contract.

And so the Steelers didn’t simply get a fifth-round pick.  The Steelers also received the peace of mind that comes from dumping a wideout who would have been a major pain in the butt for the balance of 2010, and who simply no longer factored into their plans.

Meanwhile, the Steelers traded that fifth-round pick to the Cardinals for cornerback Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick.  And with that sixth-round pick the Steelers found their 2011 MVP in round six of the same draft.  Receiver Antonio Brown has become almost everything Holmes was as a player, without creating any of the headaches or other issues that go hand in hand with having Holmes on the team.

Advantage Steelers.

4.  Texans-Bengals game could be the key to the AFC playoffs.

I’ve been concerned throughout much of the 2011 season that, once the Texans get to the postseason, a lack of playoff experience would keep them from being successful.  But their first opponent is the Bengals, a team with young players having no playoff experience and, by all appearances, no players having any positive playoff experiences.

So the Texans, who beat the Bengals last month after trailing 16-3 at the half and 19-10 after three quarters, will have a very good shot at holding off the No. 6 seed.  Taking a broader look at the AFC field, the outcome of that game could have a huge bearing on the determination of the eventual conference champion.

If Houston holds serve at home, it will be time for a return to Baltimore, where the Ravens’ eight regular-season wins included a trouncing of the Texans.  The Steelers, after most likely beating Denver, will head to New England.

Though Baltimore would have to face one of those two potent teams (either Pittsburgh at home, where the Ravens won 35-7 in Week One or the Patriots in New England, where the Ravens won in the playoffs two years ago, 33-14), the Ravens wouldn’t have to play both of them.  Which, for the Ravens, is nice.

If, in contrast, the Bengals upset the Texans, Cincinnati would head to Foxboro — and Pittsburgh would return to Baltimore with a burst of momentum and a shot at becoming the latest wild-card winner to catch a division rival flat-footed after a bye week and knock them out of the playoffs.  If Baltimore manages to beat the Steelers for a third time this year, the reward would be a trip to New England.

The converse is true for the Pats.  A win by the Bengals keeps New England from having to play both Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  If Houston wins, the Patriots would have to face a Steelers team that gave New England one of its three 2011 losses before inviting the Ravens back to town.

One way or the other, the outcome of Saturday’s game will make the path to Indy considerably easier for New England or Baltimore, by sending the Steelers to one place or the other.

5.  Crossroads for Daniel Snyder.

The Redskins became the property of Daniel Snyder in 1999.  In the 13 seasons since then, Snyder has employed (excluding interim hires) six head coaches.  Other than Snyder’s boyhood hero, Joe Gibbs, no coach has made it more than two seasons on the job.

Mike Shanahan has just completed his second season on the job.  Recently, Shanahan has been subtly justifying his two losing seasons by explaining that much work needed to be done to improve the bad team he inherited.  And while there’s no indication that Shanahan will be fired, there likewise was no indication that the end was coming three years ago for Shanahan in Denver.

The bigger question for Snyder is whether he’s willing to stay the course not only now but after the 2012 season.  If Shanahan and G.M. Bruce Allen position themselves to land Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in the draft, it would be foolish to give Shanahan only one year to work with the new quarterback.

And so Snyder needs to realize that, by deciding to keep Shanahan now, Snyder essentially is deciding to keep Shanahan for 2013 — and possibly for 2014.

6.  Another Manning/Leaf dilemma coming?

Speaking (twice now) of Luck and Griffin, what once was a one-man show at the top of the draft quickly has become another Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf conundrum.  On Sunday’s Football Night In America, former Colts coach Tony Dungy explained that Colts vice chairman Bill Polian has shown a willingness to go against conventional wisdom in the draft, taking Edgerrin James in 1999 over Ricky Williams and Dwight Freeney over Albert Haynesworth in 2002.

Dungy even said he’d personally lean toward Griffin, the Heisman winner and architect of a 67-point explosion in Baylor’s bowl win.

Luck still has one more chance to create some separation, when Stanford takes on Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.  Despite the obsession over measurables and the things a guy can do when not wearing pads, scouts seem to be influenced heavily by performances on the big stage.

What Luck does with it could ultimately determine whether Luck and Griffin will become another Manning and Leaf dilemma, which despite being a no-brainer in hindsight was a much closer call in 1998.

7.  Pay the Cruz.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz has made, in two seasons, the unlikely climb from undrafted free agent to superstar.  Nearly as shrewd as the Giants’ decision to give him a chance was their decision to sign him to a three-year contract.

And so Cruz remains contractually obligated to show up for mandatory offseason workouts and training camp in 2012, despite being slated to earn a paltry $490,000.

But the Giants need to send a message to the locker room that stellar play will be rewarded.  While they could force Cruz to continue to prove himself — and to bear the injury risk — for the final year of his rookie deal and a season as a restricted free agent, the best move would be to find a way to pay him a fair salary that reflects not only his skills and abilities but also the contributions he made during a season that seemed destined for failure again.

In each of the last two games, a long-yardage catch-and-run from Cruz gave the Giants the upper hand.  It’s only right to put a lot more money in the guy’s pockets.

8.  Broncos should get Quinn ready to play Sunday.

Tebowmania landed with a thud 15 days ago, with the Patriots providing the rest of the league with the blueprint for turning the page on the NFL’s flavor of the month.

As a result, Tim Tebow has played worse than poorly the last two weeks, with as many turnovers against the Bills and Chiefs (six) as Tebow had in his 10 prior games combined.

Enter the Steelers, who have made crafted their legacy over the past two decades by methodically building a lead and then gradually choking off the opposing offense.

As a result, if the Broncos want to have a realistic shot at advancing, it may be prudent to be ready to pull off a Rocky-style switch to southpaw, by switching from the southpaw to Brady Quinn.

This isn’t a long-term indictment of Tebow.  It’s a recognition of the fact that, at least for now, he has bumped up against his ceiling.  The goal on Sunday is to win one game, and it could be that the only way to do that will be to know when to flip the switch from the unconventional quarterback to the guy whose abilities would defy the Steelers’ preparation.

9.  MJD deserves high praise.

Every year, there’s a sense that Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has reached the limit of his abilities, and that a regression is coming.  Every year, he simply continues to play at a high level.

This year, on a team with no passing offense to draw safeties away from the box, Jones-Drew piled up 1,606 rushing yards, more than 240 yards better than Ray Rice, who finished at No. 2.  Jones-Drew added 374 receiving yards, which gives him 1,980 yards from scrimmage.

At a time when former USC tailback Reggie Bush is still trying to become the best running back in the game, the former UCLA running back who entered the league in the same draft as an afterthought to Bush is what Bush has always wanted to be.  Unfortunately for Jones-Drew, the Jaguars may not be able to develop a decent passing game before the window closes on his prime.

10.  Packers defense is even worse than the Patriots.

All year, the media has harped on the Patriots’ porous defense, barely noticing the Swiss cheese sieve in Green Bay.

At the end of the season, the numbers don’t lie.  The Patriots gave up 411.1 yards per game, and the Packers gave up 411.6.

The Packers also finished with a worse pass defense, giving up 299.8 yards per game.  The Pats surrendered, on average, 293.9.  That’s 34.1 yards per game more than the third-worst pass defense, the Saints.

Fittingly, the three worst pass defenses are complemented by the three best pass offenses.

And so, if the top two seeds make it to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl (or if the Saints get there instead of the Packers), it could be time to reduce the field from 100 yards to 50, put up nets at either end, and just call the game what it will be — arena football.

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Harvin says Jets have told him to be himself

Harvin AP

Jets receiver Percy Harvin met the New York media for the first time on Monday.  And while he wasn’t pressed as aggressively as the New York media’s reputation would suggest, Harvin elaborated much more on his circumstances than when he faced a strong of slo-pitch softballs from the media operation owned by the Jets.

Harvin opted not to delve into the events that resulted in the stunning trade that sent him from Seattle to New York.  “All I am is I’m moving forward,” Harvin said.  “I’m leaving what’s in the past in the past.”

On whether he’s a good teammate, Harvin said, “All I can say is judge me off of what you see.”

So what will we see?  Harvin said that management “told me to just come here and be myself.”  (Which reminds me of Bill Cosby’s take on cocaine.)

“I’m definitely not a perfect person,” Harvin said.  “I have a lot of things I wish I would have done a little differently.  I’m moving forward.  I’m learning from those lessons.”

He hopes to put the lessons to use for more than the next nine games.  “It’s definitely a place I want to be for a long time,” Harvin said.

“I just feel good here.  I feel welcome.  I’m ready to go.”

He’s ready to play for coach Rex Ryan.  “I love him,” Harvin said.  “Love him, love him.”

That’s good news for Rex.  Because Harvin reportedly has had multiple confrontations with coaches he didn’t love, love.

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Raiders veterans not sure how to get team moving in the right direction

Tony Sparano AP

The Raiders lost again on Sunday, running their record to 0-6 for the first time in 52 years and continuing a 12-game losing streak that extends into last season.

Among the many things to dislike about the outcome was the fact that the Raiders failed to build on the previous week’s gains on offense while the defense struggled to get off the field after spending the previous week concentrating on improving their play on third down. The Cardinals converted 60 percent of their third down tries, which was even worse than the NFL-worst 51 percent that the defense had given up coming into Week Seven.

“I don’t know how to take that … not being able to get it done,” safety Charles Woodson said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m not sure where to go with it at this point.”

Woodson’s veteran teammates share his confusion about how to move forward at this point in the season. Defensive tackle Antonio Smith said the team tries to fix things every week, only to be left “wondering why it ain’t working” on gameday. It’s the kind of thing that can make a team want to close up shop, but cornerback Carlos Rogers vowed to keep fighting and keep his teammates fighting in the weeks to come.

Even with that fight, though, he knows that better days aren’t guaranteed for a team that hasn’t won in a very long time.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Rogers said.

The Raiders will be in Cleveland next weekend for their next shot at finding a formula that works.

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Lions add Kellen Davis

Kellen+Davis+DOjoqPnGYGSm Getty Images

Kellen Davis will continue his NFL career in London.  Technically.

As the Lions prepare to face the Falcons at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Detroit has added the veteran tight end to the roster.

A pair of tight ends missed Sunday’s win over the Saints.  Joseph Fauria has an ankle injury, and rookie Eric Ebron has a hamstring problem.

Davis spent five years with the Bears, joining the Seahawks for 2013.  He was cut by the Giants before the start of the 2014 regular season.

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Cowboys give game ball to TE coach Mike Pope after beating his former team

Gavin Escobar AP

When the Bills beat the Lions, they carried defensive coordinator and former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz off the field at the end of the game.

The Cowboys didn’t carry anyone off the field at the end of their victory over the Giants on Sunday, but they did recognize that the win meant a little bit extra to one member of the organization. Mike Pope joined the team as their tight ends coach in the offseason after his long tenure with the Giants came to an end with a pink slip.

Pope had been an assistant with Bill Parcells, Jim Fassel and Tom Coughlin, making him part of every Giants team that has ever gone to the Super Bowl, but that history wasn’t enough for him to survive the housecleaning that the Giants did after the offense stumbled badly last season. Pope got some payback when tight end Gavin Escobar caught two touchdowns on the way to a 31-21 win that he’ll get to remember by looking at the game ball the team gave him after the final whistle.

“He spent a lot of time in New York with that team, so to be over on this side and get that win surely means a lot to him. You try to say it’s never personal, but for him to come down here and have success — especially against the Giants — was big,” tight end Jason Witten said, via the New York Post. “We knew he wanted to win this one. This was his big game, and he really wanted it. You know he was loving this after it was over.”

Giants tight end Larry Donnell had a key fumble in the second half of the game, a development that Pope might not have been able to stop if he were still with Giants but one that probably didn’t make the win feel any less sweet for him either.

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Jaguars lose Paul Posluszny for the season to torn pectoral

Le'Veon Bell, Paul Posluszny AP

The Jaguars got their first win of the season yesterday, but they didn’t get to celebrate for long.

Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, veteran middle linebacker Paul Posluszny suffered a torn pectoral muscle yesterday and will be out for the year.

That’s a huge blow for a young team that was beginning to show signs of life after an 0-6 start, taking the leader out of the middle of the defense.

It’s a big loss,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “That will be a difficult one.”

Posluszny will have surgery this week, and will be placed on injured reserve.

Bradley also said that defensive end Andre Branch suffered a groin injury, and would miss about six weeks.

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Calvin Johnson will make trip to London with Lions

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Lions have played without wide receiver Calvin Johnson for the last two weeks, but the door will remain open for his return in Week Eight even though the team will be playing a long way from home.

The team leaves for London on Monday night to begin their week of preparations for next Sunday’s game against the Falcons and coach Jim Caldwell told reporters, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, that Johnson will be making the trip with the team.

There have been suggestions that the team would hold the wide receiver out until after their Week Nine bye, but that clearly hasn’t been set in stone. Johnson worked out on the field before the team took on the Saints, but his high ankle sprain wasn’t well enough for him to return to action. If he can progress over the next few days and practice with the team later this week, the result may be a different one come Sunday.

While the Lions offense hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the two games without Johnson or the two games he played at considerably less than 100 percent, they have found that there’s a way to move the ball without Johnson being the centerpiece of the offense. Keeping that mentality while getting the talented wideout back in the lineup should help the Lions as they move into the second half of the season.

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Orakpo done for the year with torn pec

Orakpo

Brian Orakpo’s second annual contract year has not ended well.  The Washington linebacker, who had been struggling while playing under the $11.45 million franchise tag, suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Sunday against the Titans, per a league source.

Orakpo will be placed on injured reserve, ending his 2014 season.

A torn pec ended Orakpo’s 2012 season after only two games.  Healthy for 15 games last year, 10 sacks from the 2009 first-round pick prompted Washington to use the franchise tag.  A second application of the tag would cost $13.74 million.

Thus, Orakpo will undoubtedly hit the open market — and he’ll likely stay with Washington only if they offer him more than he could get elsewhere.

If it’s over for Orakpo in Washington, it ends with 71 games, 40 sacks, and a playoff appearance that was earned with Orakpo missing every game beyond Week Two.

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Panthers offensive line taking a beating, getting MRIs

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Panthers had to clear the decks to keep an offensive line on the field yesterday, and don’t know yet who will be available this week.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said that starting left tackle Byron Bell (elbow) and right guard Trai Turner (knee and ankle) were getting MRIs today, to determine the extent of their injuries.

When they left yesterday’s seal-beating in Green Bay, the Panthers had to turn to a pair of undrafted rookies, Canadian tackle David Foucault and guard Andrew Norwell.

Considering an injury to left guard Amini Silatolu had backup Fernando Velasco on the field anyway, the Panthers line was a real hash by the end of the day. And it’s not as if they were the 1980s Washington Hogs to begin with.

Quarterback Cam Newton has played well for most of the season, but their lack of talent up front has impacted the way they run and pass, and appears that it will continue to be a problem.

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Idzik thinks acquisition of Harvin could be a coup for the Jets

John Idzik AP

Percy Harvin is at work with his new teammates on the Jets today, and the man who brought him to town thinks that’s a big deal.

“This could be a potential coup for the Jets,” General Manager John Idzik said at a press conference today.

There’s no doubt that Harvin has the talent to significantly upgrade the Jets’ offense, as well as their special teams. But Harvin had the talent to upgrade the Vikings and the Seahawks, too, and both teams ultimately decided that he wasn’t worth the headaches. So why will it be different in New York?

Idzik said the Jets have high standards, and that “acting like a Jet” will be a requirement of Harvin and everyone else, but the Jets believe Harvin has what it takes to improve their team. Idzik stressed that the Jets are still committed to developing their offense around quarterback Geno Smith, and bringing Harvin in gives Smith a big weapon.

The Jets are 1-6 and an extreme long shot to make the playoffs, which makes them an odd destination for a star player in a mid-season trade. But Idzik said the Jets don’t think it’s too late for them to go on a run and get to the postseason.

If that happens, Idzik will look brilliant for making this move. But if the Jets keep losing, and if Harvin turns out to be a locker room cancer, this could be a coup in which Idzik and Rex Ryan are overthrown.

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Fred Jackson hopes to return from groin injury within a month

Fred Jackson AP

Fred Jackson was one of two Bills running backs to leave Sunday’s 17-16 win over the Vikings with an injury, but the outlook for his injured groin is better than the one C.J. Spiller got for a broken collarbone.

Spiller is expected to miss the remainder of the season, but Jackson is going to try to make it back faster than the four-week timetable he’s been given by doctors.

“It’s not as bad as it could have been,” Jackson said on WGR 550, via ESPN.com. “It’s typically a four-week injury. But we’ll try to do some things to get it sped up. I like to think of myself as somebody who can come back before typical. It’s just gonna be on me to get in there and rehab and see the team doctors and do what it is they want me to do.”

The Bills will use Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown as their primary ball carriers until Jackson is ready to return to the lineup. Brown has yet to play a regular season game for the Bills in his first season with the team and Dixon ran for 51 yards after the injuries pressed him into an expanded role against Minnesota.

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PFT Live: Bills talk with Tim Graham, Jaguars talk with Mike Dempsey

Sammy Watkins AP

The Bills won in thrilling fashion on Sunday when Kyle Orton hit Sammy Watkins for a touchdown just before time expired to lift Buffalo to a 17-16 victory over the Vikings.

On Monday’s edition of PFT Live, we’ll talk about that contest with Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. Graham and Mike Florio will discuss Orton’s play since taking over the starting job, the injuries to running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and any changes that might be on the horizon now that the team has been sold to Terry Pegula.

The Jaguars also won on Sunday and it’s notable even though it didn’t come down to the very end of the game. Mike Dempsey of 1010XL in Jacksonville will be on the show to talk to Florio about rookie quarterback Blake Bortles‘ progress, how the plan put in place last year is coming together and what to look for in the coming weeks from the Jags.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Blake Bortles admits he had a bad game in Jaguars’ first win

bortles AP

Quarterbacks shouldn’t be judged by wins and losses, and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles may be the prime example.

The Jaguars won their first game on Sunday, but Bortles is the first to admit he played badly: Bortles completed 17 of 31 passes for 159 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. He now has an NFL-high 10 interceptions, an average of two a game since he took over for the benched Chad Henne.

Bad, not good,” Bortles said of his performance. “The defense and offensive line and running game won this game, no doubt about it. Anybody can see that. Obviously, I’m not happy with the way I played, but I’m extremely happy with the outcome of the game.”

Bortles really isn’t ready to be an NFL starter, and the Jaguars have known that for months. That’s why Henne started the season, and the coaches initially said Bortles would sit out his rookie year. Unfortunately, Henne was so bad that the coaching staff felt it had no choice but to bench him, and Bortles is going through growing pains.

For now, the primary focus of the coaches is to make sure Bortles doesn’t lose confidence. Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said that when Bortles came off the field hanging his head after an interception, Fisch gave him a pep talk.

“I told him, ‘That’s not going to be the last pick you ever throw so move on,’” Fisch said. “We weren’t going to sit there and just go through each pick. We can talk about that [Monday].”

If Bortles keeps throwing interceptions at this rate for the rest of the season, he’ll finish 2014 with 28 picks. That’s terrible. But it’s also the same number of interceptions that Peyton Manning threw as a rookie. Sometimes a young quarterback just has to go through growing pains, and that’s what Bortles did on Sunday.

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Browns waive starting fullback Ray Agnew

Ray Agnew, J.T. Thomas AP

The Browns have released one of their offensive starters.

The club announced Monday it had waived rookie Ray Agnew, who started Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville, playing 18 snaps on offense and catching one pass for three yards. An undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois, the 23-year-old Agnew had started all six games for Cleveland, rushing twice for two yards and catching two passes for 15 yards.

To replace Agnew, the Browns called up rookie fullback Kiero Small, who was a seventh-round pick of Seattle in May. The Browns added Small (5-8, 244) to their practice squad before the start of the season. The 23-year-old Small played collegiately at Arkansas.

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Rams are regarded as the favorites to move to L.A.

Cunningham AP

Two weeks ago, we sparked a flurry of reports and quotes and boasts and ultimately concerns regarding the return of the NFL to Los Angeles, reporting that the league believes one or two teams will move there within the next 12-24 months.

Of the three teams viewed as the most likely to move — the Rams, Raiders, and Chargers — the team viewed by the NFL as most likely to make the move is the Rams.

If it’s the Rams, the most likely location for a new stadium becomes the land owner Stan Kroenke purchased last year at Hollywood Park.  AEG’s proposed downtown stadium is believed to hinge on owner Philip Anschutz purchasing a significant piece of the anchor tenant.

The Rams currently have a year-to-year arrangement at the Edward Jones Dome.  They can leave without financial consequence after the coming season, and every season thereafter.

The powers-that-be in St. Louis reportedly are working on a proposal of a new open-air stadium in St. Louis.  It could be a legitimate effort to keep the team.  Or it could be an effort to diffuse criticism that the local politicians didn’t try hard enough to keep him.

But what about San Diego’s threat to oppose the relocation of any team to the L.A. market?  Per a league source, those concerns likely would be resolved, possibly with the Chargers getting a larger slice of the relocation fee than other teams receive.

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Drew Brees feels like he let the Saints down

New Orleane Saints v Detroit Lions Getty Images

For most of the Saints’ visit to the Lions, it looked like the team would buck their recent history of struggling away from the Superdome.

They led by 13 points in the fourth quarter, their defense was keeping the Lions in check and it looked like it would just be a matter of running out the clock for their third win of the season. That’s when things fell apart.

A Golden Tate 73-yard touchdown brought the Lions within a score and Drew Brees threw an interception on the next possession to set the Lions up for their game-winning score.  Some wondered if the team should have been running the ball instead of throwing it at that point in the game and several members of the team said that there was plenty of blame to go around, but Brees wanted most of it for himself.

“The worst feeling in professional sports is when you feel like you let your team down. And that’s the way I feel right now,” Brees said, via the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “You’ve gotta know when to take a chance, when to try to fit a ball in there, or when to throw it away, take a sack, scramble, whatever it might be, and make sure the ball stays in your hands. And unfortunately that’s a critical time of the game where a turnover cannot happen, and I’m responsible for that. That one’s on me.”

One thing or another has gone wrong just about every time the Saints have played on the road in the last few years, which has left them with 10 losses in their last 12 road trips. That has to change if the 2-4 Saints are going to turn their season around and the improvement is going to have to come from everyone, not just Brees.

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