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Sunday night wrap-up: Texans move to 8-1

Houston Texans v Chicago Bears Getty Images

The Texans improved to 8-1 with their 13-6 win over the Bears.

But the best thing they did was prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they could be mudders.

Even though their defense has taken the fore from a offense that put up good fantasy numbers in years past, it was hard to describe the Texans as a hard team.

But then they went into Soldier Field and out-Bearsed the Bears.

They threw for 95 yards. And won.

From creating four turnovers to running with authority, the Texans played the way we have come to expect the top NFC teams to play this year.

That’s going to serve them well come playoff time, as it’s a little hard to declare too many of their AFC opponents as tough or physical, at least to the degree the Texans showed.

Here are five more things we learned on Sunday Night Football:

1. One of the smartest signings new Bears GM Phil Emery made was bringing in backup quarterback Jason Campbell.

He’s a smart and steady player, and even though he didn’t lead a comeback, there’s at least a floor you know he’s not crashing through.

The Bears watched Caleb Hanie take them from 7-3 to 7-7 in four starts last season, and having a player the caliber of Campbell could prevent such a skid again.

Of course, he’s the only other quarterback on the roster, with Matt Blanchard on the practice squad. That could change, but having Campbell is a good investment.

2. Coaches can be stubborn.

It’s raining, it’s cold, it’s Chicago.

And they keep trying to throw.

Teams that invested so heavily in running backs Matt Forte and Arian Foster took too long to decide to use them.

To their credit, the Texans figured it out first, which explains some things.

3. Even before he was concussed, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was off.

He finished the first half 7-of-14 for 40 yards, with two interceptions. The conditions had a lot to do with that, and Brandon Marshall didn’t help by dropping one in the end zone.

But part of what makes Cutler good is that he’ll play stubborn at times, and not hesitate to throw into a tight spot.

It’s a good trait, except when it isn’t.

4. The stud play of the night might have been Robbie Gould’s second quarter field goal.

In a driving rain, Gould hit a knuckling 51-yarder.

Solider Field is a bad place to kick anyway, with a chewed up turf along with the wind, but Gould hit a big-time shot. It’s very difficult to get a solid plant foot there, and while Gould’s kick wasn’t beautiful, it did work.

5. The Texans are a good football team.

But they might be better off if no one noticed.

You could easily argue their three worst games of the year were all in prime time, including getting their doors blown off by the Packers earlier on SNF and a too-narrow win over the Jets on Monday Night Football.

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Panthers sign an emergency long snapper for the week

JJ Jansen AP

The Panthers are cruising right along at 10-0, having survived the big injuries.

Now, they’re having to make roster moves to cover some smaller ones.

The team announced they had signed long snapper Danny Aiken, filling the roster spot created when guard Amini Silatolu was placed on injured reserve.

Aiken became a temporary need when regular long snapper J.J. Jansen came in with a headache and may go into the league’s concussion protocol.

“He said he had taken a shot [against Washington], so we’ll see what the doctors decide,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said yesterday, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.

Jansen has snapped in 106 games for the Panthers, but with his status up in the air, they needed some cover from someone who actually snaps for a living, rather than let defensive end Jared Allen or tight end Greg Olsen or Ed Dickson do it.

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Rex: We can probably force the issue with throws to Sammy Watkins

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to catch a pass in the end zone under pressure from Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

In Monday night’s loss to the Patriots, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins had three catches for 39 yards and was targeted seven times overall by quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Watkins said earlier in the season that he thought he should have the ball thrown his way 10 times a game, but he didn’t repeat that thought this week. He said that “it’s not about getting targets, it’s about winning” when asked about how often the Bills looked his way.

Coach Rex Ryan had a somewhat different take on things. During an interview with “Schopp and The Bulldog” on WGR 550, Ryan called Watkins “too good of a playmaker not to get more looks” and said that the receiver’s ability was good enough that the Bills should be trying to get him the ball even if it’s not an ideal situation to send the ball in his direction.

“You try to look at the defense and put your guys in an opportunity where they can be successful. You’re trying to throw to the open guy,” Ryan said. “However, I think Sammy is such a talent that you can probably force the issue a little bit there. And obviously if there’s one-on-ones across the board, then let’s take our best shot. We’ll throw it to our best against your best and see what happens. Because I truly believe Sammy is that good. So we got to look at that. As we’re moving forward, start taking advantage of this young man.”

Simply throwing the ball to Watkins regardless of coverage is a recipe for disaster, but some risks have to be taken to make sure that your best players have the ball in their hands as often as possible. One way to help make that happen is to take advantage of the openings that come from increased attention on Watkins, something Tyrod Taylor and company struggled to do against the Patriots on Monday night.

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NFL admits Sammy Watkins got out of bounds with two seconds left

Rex Ryan AP

The NFL has admitted that Bills receiver Sammy Watkins got out of bounds with two seconds remaining on Monday night, meaning the Bills should have had time to run one last play in their 20-13 loss to the Patriots.

NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network on Tuesday night that Watkins rolled out of bounds without being touched, which means the clock should have stopped. The official closest to the play erroneously thought Watkins was giving himself up in the field of play and signaled for the clock to keep running.

“He is down in bounds, but he’s not contacted,” Blandino said as he showed video of the play. “He’s attempting to get out of bounds, you want to give that player the opportunity to get out of bounds, and really, that’s what should have happened.”

For the official right on top of that play to screw it up is a serious mistake. It also doesn’t help matters that the NFL waited until Tuesday night to acknowledge the error. That led to a day of confusion in which many fans, wrongly interpreting the rule, posted on social media that the clock kept running because Watkins wasn’t moving forward when he went out of bounds.

It’s good that the NFL is transparent enough to acknowledge such mistakes, but the league would do better to acknowledge those mistakes more quickly. Even better, of course, would be not to make mistakes in the first place.

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Joseph Randle arrested at Kansas casino

Joseph Randle AP

Former Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was arrested Tuesday night outside a Kansas casino, TMZ reported.

Per the TMZ report, Randle was asked to leave the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, KS. He did, but he later returned and tried to fight a security officer.

Randle is facing charges of felony criminal threats, misdemeanor assault of a law enforcement officer, interference with a law enforcement officer, battery, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.

Before the Cowboys released Randle in early November, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was concerned about Randle’s mental health.

Randle is subject to a four-game NFL suspension even though he’s not on a team.

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PFT’s Week 12 picks

Matthew Stafford AP

The good news? After a crappy Week 10 performance, I finished about .500 in Week 11. The bad news? Not by much.

It was 8-6 for me, 9-5 for MDS, and now we’re tied with six weeks to go.

With six disagreements this week (the most of the year, by far), this is the weekend when separation could happen. If definitely will begin on Thursday, where we disagree on one of the three Thanksgiving Day games.

For the year, we’re both 101-59, a success rate of 63.12 percent.

Eagles at Lions

MDS’s take: The Eagles looked terrible on Sunday and the Lions looked pretty good, but Detroit’s offense still isn’t making many big plays, and I think Philly can win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Lions 14.

Florio’s take: The Lions are hot, and the Eagles are on the verge of an implosion. With Jim Caldwell earning a chance to keep his job (and possibly to emerge with power over personnel) and Mark Sanchez likely starting again for Philly, Detroit could be halfway to .500 after a 1-7 disaster.

Florio’s pick: Lions 24, Eagles 17.

Panthers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: In their last 28 games, the Cowboys are 16-3 when Tony Romo starts and 0-9 when he doesn’t. Unfortunately for Dallas, Romo now has to face perhaps the best defense in the NFL in the Panthers, and a loss on Thanksgiving will seal the Cowboys’ fate.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Cowboys 13.

Florio’s take: The playoffs start for the Cowboys on Thursday. If so, they’ll be one and done. The Panthers are better than most will realize or admit, and Cam Newton will relish the opportunity to dance for a national audience that is dabbing the gravy from its collective chin.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Cowboys 27.

Bears at Packers

MDS’s take: Green Bay’s offense does miss receiver Jordy Nelson, but Aaron Rodgers should be able to get back on track against a weak Bears defense. The Packers will cruise.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: They’re retiring Brett Favre’s number, which will give his successor (and one-time in-house rival) extra motivation to avoid losing a second straight home game to a division rival.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Bears 21.

Vikings at Falcons

MDS’s take: This is a huge game in the NFC wild card race, as the Vikings and Falcons would currently be the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds in the conference. I like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to have a big day in what should be an exciting game.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Vikings 27.

Florio’s take: The Vikings had one bad game in their last six. The Falcons have had one good game in their last six. The Vikings have the better team on both sides of the ball, and (most importantly) it’s not really a big game for Minnesota. Which means they won’t stain their purple pants yellow.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 26, Falcons 18.

Rams at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Bengals went through a tough stretch the last couple weeks, but the Rams have been a brutally bad team on offense recently, and that should be just what Cincinnati needs to win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 13, Rams 6.

Florio’s take: After two straight losses, the Bengals are close to reacquiring the same, old “same old” prefix. Fortunately for Cincinnati, the Rams are falling apart at a much more dramatic and profound rate.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Rams 15.

Saints at Texans

MDS’s take: When they’re not starting Ryan Mallett, the Texans are a pretty good team: They went 1-3 with Mallett starting, but they’re 4-2 in their other six games. Brian Hoyer should have a big game against the Saints’ bad defense, and the Texans will move to 6-5.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Saints 20.

Florio’s take: After two straight wins, it’s time to believe in the Texans. After two ugly losses, it’s time to not believe in the Saints. Which probably means the Saints will find a way to surprise us. Nevertheless, if the Texans are going to be a factor in the AFC South, they need to win this one.

Florio’s pick: Texans 24, Saints 20.

Buccaneers at Colts

MDS’s take: Both of these teams are coming off road wins last week and fighting for playoff berths, which makes this a pretty good game. I think the Colts will improve to 4-0 in games Matt Hasselbeck starts.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take: The Colts are shaky and the Bucs are gaining confidence by the week. If Jameis Winston can stay healthy (which given his style of play could be a big if), Tampa Bay could find itself in the postseason.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 26, Colts 23.

Chargers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars remain right in the thick of things in the AFC South, while the Chargers are so beaten up that they’re just struggling to find 46 healthy bodies to throw out there on Sunday. Jacksonville should take this one and improve to 5-6.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 30, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take: The Chargers are falling apart. The Jaguars are surprisingly competitive. Advantage: Team that is still playing for a playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 23, Chargers 13.

Bills at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are on a four-game winning streak and have won all four games handily. Despite a slow start, Kansas City has a good chance of making the playoffs, and they’ll knock off a potential wild-card rival with a win over the Bills.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 21, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: The Bills have a short-week trip to a hostile environment, against one of the hottest teams in the league. Kansas City has come too far after a 1-5 start to stumble now.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Bills 17.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: Remember when Dan Campbell had turned the Dolphins around? That feels like a long time ago. The truth is, the Campbell Dolphins aren’t much different from the Joe Philbin Dolphins.

MDS’s pick: Jets 21, Dolphins 17.

Florio’s take: Previously, the Jets got Joe Philbin fired. New Dolphins coach Dan Campbell will show his appreciation by beating the Jets, who have fallen apart after a 4-1 start.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 17.

Raiders at Titans

MDS’s take: The Raiders have taken a step backward after looking like playoff contenders early in the season, but they should still be good enough to win at Tennessee, where the Titans are the NFL’s only winless home team.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 38, Titans 24.

Florio’s take: The Titans aren’t as bad as their record indicates, and the Raiders have suddenly lost their way. It’s time for Marcus Mariota to pick up his third win.

Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Raiders 20.

Giants at Washington

MDS’s take: The winner of this game is in first place in the NFC East. It’s going to be a close, tough game that the Giants will pull out in the fourth quarter.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Washington 23.

Florio’s take: New York makes its final push to win the division, and to hold off the Cowboys. Washington will have little or no chance to capture the title with a loss.

Florio’s pick: Giants 23, Washington 17.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Cardinals are closing in on the NFC West crown and will take another step in that direction with another division road win.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 28, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take: Arizona beat Colin Kaepernick by 40 points. Blaine Gabbert will fare better, but not much.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 40, 49ers 17.

Steelers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: This is close to a must-win game for the Seahawks for an NFC wild card berth, and it’s a big game for the Steelers for an AFC wild card berth as well. I think Seattle, playing at home, will turn in a good defensive effort and win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take: Seattle needs another win, badly. Thomas Rawls has given the offense a huge boost, and the bye week gave them more time to figure out how to use Jimmy Graham. The Steelers remain viable contenders in the AFC, but it won’t be easy to pull out this one.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Steelers 24.

Patriots at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos made the right call by replacing Peyton Manning with Brock Osweiler, but neither quarterback would lead Denver to a win over New England.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Broncos 14.

Florio’s take: Gary Kubiak struggled against the Patriots during his time with the Texans, but he had the Patriots on the ropes in January as the offensive coordinator of the Ravens. Based on how well the Broncos played last time they hosted an unbeaten team on Sunday Night Football, and given how well Brock Osweiler fits the Kubiak offense, it could be time for New England’s run of perfection to end.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Patriots 23.

Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: The late-season Monday night slate has a lot of ugly games, and this is the ugliest. I like the Johnny Manziel-led Browns to beat the Matt Schaub-led Ravens.

MDS’s pick: Browns 20, Ravens 16.

Florio’s take: The King of the Pick Six is back, leading a team with seven losses in 10 games. It gives the Browns a rare chance to get a win in an even rarer Monday night appearance.

Florio’s pick: Browns 13, Ravens 10.

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Mike Mitchell: We want to run the AFC North

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 18:  Mike Mitchell #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after recovering a fumble in the 3rd quarter of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on October 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers are two games behind the Bengals in the AFC North and Cincinnati won the first matchup of the year between the two teams, but that’s not stopping Pittsburgh from setting its sights on a division title this season.

While safety Mike Mitchell concedes that the Steelers are “a little behind the eight ball” in that quest, that’s about all he’s willing to concede with six games left on the schedule.

“We want the division,” Mitchell said, via the team’s website. “We never want to back door into the playoffs. Obviously you will get in any way you can. We want to win the division. We want to run the North. But we will get in any way we can.”

The Bengals looked the most vulnerable they’ve looked all season in a Week 10 loss to the Texans, but put together a better effort in last Sunday’s close loss to the Cardinals and have the Rams and Browns on the schedule before a Week 14 rematch with Pittsburgh. They then close the year with the 49ers, Broncos and Ravens.

The Steelers, meanwhile, have to travel to Seattle this weekend and host the Colts in Week 13 before closing the year with the Broncos, Ravens and Browns. There’s not much margin for error there if the Steelers are going to wind up with the division title, but it’s hard to expect them to set any other goal at this point in the proceedings.

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Crosby kicks his way to record, NFC honor

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Packers kicker Mason Crosby was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Wednesday after a five-field goal performance that made a bit of NFL history.

Crosby connected from 42, 47, 40, 42 and 52 yards against the Vikings last Sunday, becoming the first kicker to make five field goals without a miss in a game when all five tries were from 40-plus yards.

The player of the week award is the sixth of Crosby’s career.

Crosby has made 17 of 19 field goal attempts this season. The five makes in a game tied a career best he previously set in 2013.

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Dustin Colquitt named AFC special teams player of week

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg4njmxmmixotixytmxmmu5nmvinwiwzmm0zdi1zdm3 AP

Usually it’s the guys who return punts or block punts or score points with kicks. Rarely do the punters get recognized.

But Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt was just named AFC special teams player of the week, for his role in the Chiefs’ surge back to relevance.

Colquitt averaged 40.6 yards on his five punts in last week’s win over the Chargers, but four of them were downed inside the 20. The field position helped, as they held the Chargers to a single field goal in winning their fourth straight game.

He’s just the second Chiefs punter to earn the weekly honor, following Louie Aguiar in Week Five of 1995.

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Brock Osweiler’s first NFL start earns player of the week honors

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 22:   Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos carries the football in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Brock Osweiler bided his time behind Peyton Manning for more than three seasons before getting his first chance to start at quarterback for the Broncos, but his debut in that role was good enough that the Broncos would probably be sticking with him this week even if Manning weren’t under doctor’s orders to remain out of the lineup at least a little while longer.

Osweiler completed 20-of-27 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in Denver’s 17-15 win over the Bears in Week 11. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Denver and Osweiler’s performance made him the choice for AFC offensive player of the week in his first time out of the gate.

Osweiler will make at least two more starts while Manning recovers from the foot injury that has him in a walking boot after visiting with Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte this week. Bill Belichick figures to make things tough on Osweiler when the Patriots roll into Denver this weekend, but there’s not much reason to think he’ll do any worse than Manning would have done based on Manning’s results this season.

Should Osweiler continue to play like he did against Chicago, his run as starter could continue well beyond that point and his offseason contract negotiations will be among many interesting offseason storylines to watch at the quarterback position.

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J.J. Watt wins AFC defensive player of the week award

J.J. Watt AP

For the first time since Week 11 of the 2014 season, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is the AFC’s defensive player of the week, for Week 11 of the 2015 season.

Watt had two sacks, eight tackles (five for loss), and five quarterback hits in a 24-17 win over the Jets.

With 11.5 sacks for the year, Watt currently leads the league. He also has at least one sack since Week Seven. Although he’s not (yet) on pace to match last year’s 20.5-sack season, Watt is arguably having a better year. Which means that maybe he should once again be getting MVP consideration.

The difference this year is that he’s not catching touchdown passes as a part-time tight end, which results in less buzz for that kind of an award. Likewise, with a pair of 10-0 teams, it will be difficult for Watt to get many votes, even if the Texans run the table.

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Two picks, one TD make David NFC Defensive Player of the Week

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

After intercepting Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez twice and returning one for a touchdown last Sunday, Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The interceptions were his first two of the season. David returned the second 20 yards to cap a 45-17 victory.

David became the first Buccaneers linebacker to record multiple two-interception games and now joins Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson as Buccaneers linebackers to win multiple defensive player of the week awards.

David was unofficially credited with six tackles in the game.

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Cam Newton takes NFC offensive player of the week

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers does The Dab after a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cam Newton and Jameis Winston each threw five touchdown passes last week, but it seems Winston may not be old enough to win NFC offensive player of the week yet.

Newton took the honors for Week 11 over the Buccaneers rookie, which makes him a five-time winner of the award and a two-time winner this season. The Panthers quarterback also took the honors for Week Nine.

Newton was 21-of-34 for 246 yards in the 44-16 rout of the Redskins that moved the Panthers to 10-0 this season. Newton’s five touchdowns went to five different receivers as he continued to show progress as a pocket passer despite playing with a receiving corps that no one would rank among the best in the league.

Newton and the Panthers will try for an 11th straight win in Dallas on Thanksgiving. If Carolina wins, they could wind up clinching a playoff spot by the time the weekend is over with the right combination of losses by other NFC teams.

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Jaguars, Rams, Bengals to play London “home” games

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptu3nwvkogu2mgu3yzuznzg0yzrmmdizymzhywm1yte3 AP

The Jaguars, Rams and Bengals will play so-called “home” games in London next season, the NFL announced today.

The Jaguars will “host” the Colts on October 2, 2016 at Wembley Stadium, part of the Jaguars’ annual commitment to play at least one game in London.

The Rams will “host” the NFC East team that finishes in the same spot in the standings as the Rams do in their division. That game will take place on October 23 at Twickenham Stadium, the rugby stadium that will be hosting an NFL game for the first time. It won’t be known until the end of the season which NFC East team that will be, and it’s also unclear right now whether the Rams will be giving up a St. Louis home game or a Los Angeles home game.

The Bengals will “host” Washington on October 30 at Wembley Stadium. It’s the first time Cincinnati has given up a home game. It could also make Washington the first team to play back-to-back games in London, if Washington and St. Louis end up in the same place in their respective divisions.

The NFL has not yet announced the kickoff times for the three games. This year, every NFL game in London kicked off at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The league also may play a fourth International Series game. That might mean playing in Mexico City, or a fourth game in London.

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NFL to announce London games at 9:30 a.m. ET

during the NFL week 10 match between the Jackson Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium on November 9, 2014 in London, England. (Nicky Hayes/NFL UK - Pool /Getty Images) Getty Images

The full, 256-game NFL schedule won’t be announced until April. Some of those 256 games will be announced today.

The NFL has announced that the games to be played in London next season will be unveiled Wednesday, at 9:30 a.m. ET.

A PFT reader in England who tipped us off to the looming announcement has also suggested that the following four games will be announced: Packers at Washington; Colts at Jaguars; Jaguars at Chargers (at Twickenham); and Eagles at Bengals. (That’s not a firm report, but the guy was right that the announcement is coming today, so let’s see if he’s right about the four matchups.)

The window for playing the games is expected to be October 9 through November 6. If the Jaguars play twice in London, it will mean that they won’t have a bye week after one of the two games.

Over the past few years, there have been periodic rumors of the Jaguars playing a second game in London, via a road game to go along with the home game they play there every year. There’s a chance those rumors will finally come to fruition.

Either way, we’ll know within an hour.

UPDATE 9:33 a.m. ET: Well, the PFT reader was close. The official slate of games is Colts at Jaguars, Washington at Bengals, and an NFC East opponent at the Rams (at Twickenham).

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Aaron Rodgers excited about seeing Bart Starr, Brett Favre

Bart Starr, Aaron Rodgers AP

Aaron Rodgers is going to be busy with a game he’s trying to win, but the Packers quarterback also knows Thursday night’s going to be historic on a number of levels.

In addition to the retirement of Brett Favre’s jersey marking the healing of relationships at a personal and organizational level, there’s also the matter of Packers legend Bart Starr’s return, in what his wife has said will likely be their final trip to Green Bay because of the health issues he’s faced in recent years.

That makes it meaningful for Rodgers, who has developed a close relationship with Starr over the years.

You know Bart’s been such a great encouragement to me since I was drafted here, and I really have appreciated all of our conversations over the years with him and his lovely wife,” Rodgers said, via Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “He was kind of enough to do my charity event a few years ago and I was able to do another charity event with him. It’s tough to follow him speaking because he’s had such incredible stories, whether he’s talking about Super Bowls or NFL championships or the Ice Bowl. It’s always fun being around him but he’s such a positive, encouraging person. It’ll be great to see him.”

Of course, Rodgers has another role in the Packers history which will be made, as his appearance on stage with Favre at the 2013 NFL Honors show broke the ice on the relationship between Favre and the team, after their ugly separation in 2008.

“It does feel like a long time ago,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s been a good proper healing process for everybody. Kind of starting with us on stage at the honors, getting to share some laughs together, and just going from there. It’s the right thing to do and be exciting for him and Packer fans in a couple days, and great to see him into the Hall of Fame next offseason.”

And having three legendary quarterbacks in Lambeau Field together is going to make it a memorable night, particularly for the one who has a job to do.

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