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Greenway should get super duper fined for asking fans to get “super duper drunk”

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As the Vikings prepare to host the Bears in a game that will go a long way toward determining whether they’ll have a domed stadium’s chance in a blizzard of making the playoffs, linebacker Chad Greenway has a request for the home team’s fans.

Hopefully, they’re super duper drunk,” Greenway said recently, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  “So drink liquor, not beer.”

Since the game begins at 12:00 p.m. CT, how can a fan get “super duper drunk”?

“I would say morning drinking,” Greenway said.  “Why not?  You could pull an all-nighter.  Then you’d have the drunk, tired guys who will really be obnoxious.”

Last year, Pats quarterback Tom Brady made similar but far less over-the-top remarks in the days before a late-afternoon kickoff against the Chargers.

“Yeah, start drinking early,” Brady said at the time.  “It’s a 4:15 game.  They have a lot of time to get lubed up, come out here and cheer for the home team.”

The Patriots promptly issued a statement with tongue clumsily planted in cheek, explaining that Brady “wants everyone to drink a lot of water, stay hydrated.”

Binge drinking remains a serious problem in our society, and the NFL continues to struggle with striking the balance between selling beer to fans while also ensuring that those fans don’t become sufficiently intoxicated to ruin another fan’s experience at the game or an innocent stranger’s life while driving home.  Public comments from players urging fans to get sloppy drunk become irresponsible in this context, especially since plenty of fans are young and male and more than happy to oblige the home team’s request for folks to be “super duper drunk.”

The league’s best response is simple.  Greenway should be super duper fined, and any player who makes similar remarks in the future should be treated the same way.

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Titans inching toward No. 1 overall pick

Coby Fleener, Donte Moncrief AP

Titans fans hoping their club garners the No. 1 overall pick don’t have any complaints at the moment.

The Colts have edged to a 17-7 third-quarter lead at Tennessee (2-13). Meanwhile, the 2-13 Buccaneers are up 20-7 against the Saints.

In short, if the results hold, the Titans will have the top selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Colts — who have clinched the No. 4 seed in the AFC — have pulled quarterback Andrew Luck as the third quarter begins in Nashville. Luck threw for 160 yards and two scores, with half of the yardage coming on one second-quarter completion to Reggie Wayne.

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Lamar Miller goes 97 yards for a touchdown

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Entering Sunday’s action, only four men in NFL history have run the ball for more than 96 yards from scrimmage.

Lamar Miller made it five in the third quarter against the Jets. One play after the Dolphins Defense stoned the Jets on fourth down, Miller took the ball from Ryan Tannehill and eluded a couple of attempted tackles before turning on his own jets for a touchdown. He joins Bob Gage (1949) and Andy Uram (1939) as players with 97-yard runs and they trail only Ahman Green (98 yards in 2003) and Tony Dorsett (99 yards in 1982).

The run also put Miller over 1,000 yards for the season. It’s the first time the third-year player has crossed that milestone and his eight touchdowns are also a career high.

The score extended Miami’s lead to 24-14, but the lead dropped back to three points a short time later as Eric Decker burnt Cortland Finnegan for a 74-yard touchdown. It’s the second time Decker, who was out briefly with a shoulder injury, has burnt Finnegan for a long gain on the afternoon.

The Jets have lost standout defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson for the rest of the day (and season) with a head injury.

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Bears, Vikings quietly finishing out their seasons

Matt Forte AP

Like golfers trying to squeeze in nine holes before work, Sunday’s Bears-Vikings game is moving quickly along, with Chicago edging to a 6-3 early third-quarter lead.

Both clubs traded field goals in the first half, with Minnesota’s Blair Walsh hitting a 37-yarder and Chicago’s Jay Feely connecting from 48 yards.

Three plays ruled touchdowns on the field — catches by Minnesota’s Greg Jennings and Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery and an interception by Chicago’s Kyle Fuller — have been overturned upon review.

Chicago’s Matt Forte (12 carries, 44 yards) has exceeded 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season.

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Eagles lead 17-16 at halftime of Sanchez’s return to MetLife

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Neither the Giants nor the Eagles are going to the playoffs this season and Sunday’s performance by both defenses is making a strong argument for why they’re missing out.

The Eagles and Giants have combined for more than 540 yards of offense through two quarters while trading romps down the field, although the teams have settled for four field goals due to some poor execution near the goal line. Eagles kicker Cody Parkey hit the last of them and his team leads 17-16 at the half.

Mark Sanchez’s return to MetLife Stadium has been a mixed bag. He threw two touchdowns in the first quarter, but threw an interception and has been sacked twice to keep the Eagles from fully capitalizing on the Giants’ defensive deficiencies.

Odell Beckham has six catches for 75 yards, but the offensive star for the Giants has been Rueben Randle. Randle has five catches for 134 yards to end a frustrating season on a high note, but Eli Manning has completed just 14-of-30 passes on a day when the Giants have joined the Eagles in leaving even more points on the field.

It’s been a sloppy day all over, including for the officials. A pass interference call on the Giants before one of Sanchez’s touchdown passes was questionable and a late second quarter play saw Beckham take off his helmet while protesting the lack of a call on Eagles defensive backs. There could have been a flag on the Eagles and probably should have been a flag on Beckham for removing his helmet, but the officiating crew apparently wasn’t in the mood to penalize anyone.

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Texans keep getting hurt, keep hanging around

Arian Foster, Case Keenum AP

Even with Case Kennum under center, and even with Alfred Blue in the backfield, the Texans are alarmingly close to making the playoffs.

They’re up 14-10 over the Jaguars at halftime, with results that are favorable to them.

They could get in the playoffs with a win and losses by the Chargers (who are losing to the Chiefs) and the Ravens (who are tied with the Browns).

Houston’s also doing it without Arian Foster, who left the game with a hamstring injury and won’t return.

They’ve done just enough so far, and go into the third quarter of a finale with a chance. That speaks to the coaching job done by Bill O’Brien this year.

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Dolphins grab lead just before halftime

Lamar Miller, Quinton Coples AP

The Dolphins are 30 minutes away from their first winning season of the Joe Philbin era.

Philbin’s return for 2015 was confirmed by owner Stephen Ross after last week’s win and his team is trying to send him out on a winning streak against the Jets on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill hit Charles Clay for a 25-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Dolphins a 17-14 lead over their AFC East rivals at the half.

Tannehill is 15-of-20 for 161 yards thus far and Lamar Miller has run 11 times for 51 yards as he tries for his first 1,000-yard season. He needs 28 more yards to reach that milestone and Tannehill is 53 yards shy of 4,000 passing yards.

Geno Smith threw an incompletion after opening the game with eight straight completions, but finished the half 9-of-10 for 122 yards and a touchdown. His fumble set the Dolphins up with a short field for their first touchdown, however, and that’s proven to be the difference.

Coming back to send Rex Ryan out a winner will be made more difficult if wide receiver Eric Decker remains out. Decker left after appearing to injure his shoulder while trying to make a catch in the second quarter.

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Browns, Ravens tied at three at halftime

Justin Forsett, Paul Kruger, Billy Winn AP

The short-handed Browns are giving the Ravens a game.

Led by a strong effort by their defense, the Browns have fought to a 3-3 tie after two quarters in Baltimore.

The Ravens got on the board first on a 25-yard second-quarter field goal by Justin Tucker, with Justin Forsett’s 32-yard rush a key play on the drive. However, Baltimore has had a pair of marches inside the Cleveland 10 result in just three total points.

The Browns would counter with a Garrett Hartley 38-yard-field goal with 2:32 left in the half. A 36-yard rush by Terrance West helped spark the march.

The Ravens will clinch a wild-card berth with a victory and a Chargers loss at Kansas City.

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Chiefs take 16-7 lead, Justin Houston has two sacks

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The Kansas City Chiefs need to win and get some help to make the playoffs. Whether they get help remains to be seen, but they’re taking care of their own business.

The Chiefs have jumped out to a 16-7 lead just before halftime over the Chargers, who entered today leading the race for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. If the Chargers win they’re in the playoffs; if the Chiefs win they need the Ravens and Texans to lose.

For the Chiefs, Justin Houston has recorded two sacks in the first half, giving him an NFL-leading 20.0 sacks on the season. Houston’s J.J. Watt also has two sacks today and is at 19.5 sacks on the season.

The Chiefs nearly got their first touchdown of the season by a wide receiver when quarterback Chase Daniel hit Dwayne Bowe near the goal line. The officials on the field initially signaled that Bowe had scored, but on replay the referee ruled that Bowe fumbled into the end zone and it was actually Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who recovered the fumble, who had scored the touchdown. The Chiefs could become the first NFL team since 1950 to go an entire season without a wide receiver scoring a touchdown.

But that’s of little importance in Kansas City. What matters is whether they can get the win and get to the playoffs, and on that count they’re at least taking care of their own part of the deal.

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Geno Smith opens 8-of-8 in 2015 audition

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The Jets have reportedly already started making moves toward hiring a new coach and general manager, changes that would leave Geno Smith’s future with the organization in different hands.

He’s doing his best to leave them with a positive impression when they watch film of Week 17. Smith has opened the game 8-of-8 for 125 yards as the Jets have grabbed a 14-10 lead in Miami.

Smith hit Eric Decker for a long pass past Cortland Finnegan and then threw a touchdown pass to Chris Ivory to put the Jets back in front in the second quarter. He also hit Chris Owusu for 36 yards to set up an Owusu touchdown run in the first quarter.

Not all the tape will be good. Smith also fumbled while running with the ball in his hand in a pose that could best be described as a person trying to keep something from getting wet while wading through shallow weather. The Dolphins scored a few plays later on a Daniel Thomas touchdown run.

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Conflicting reports emerge regarding Rick Smith’s future in Houston

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‘Tis the season for conflicting NFL reports.  One of the biggest for Sunday centers on the Houston Texans.

Jason La Canfora of CBS reports that Texans G.M. Rick Smith could be shifted to a different position in the organization, with a new G.M. arriving for 2015.  John McClain of the Houston Chronicle disputes that.

“I’ve spoken to the [four] in front office I trust the most and all shot it down,” McClain said via Twitter.  One of the four was Texans vice-chairman Cal McNair.

Speculation about Smith, who arrived in 2006 after Charley Casserly resigned, isn’t surprising, given that the team has become bereft of talent at several key positions.  And the decision to keep the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft and to use it on Jadeveon Clowney currently looks like a major mistake.  But Smith also drafted J.J. Watt, which more than makes up for the possibility that Clowney will be a bust.

The wild card in Houston is coach Bill O’Brien, who has done well enough in his first year to have the ability to try to grab power and/or to get one of his guys hired.  The question is whether O’Brien would do that after only one year.

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Bucs up 10-0, screwing up the top pick in the draft

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The Buccaneers even lose when they’re winning.

Today, they’re up 10-0 on the Saints, who look kind of bored.

The Bucs have outgained New Orleans 153-31 en route to an upset in a meaningless game, at least as it pertains to this season.

But a win, coupled with a Titans loss (they’re losing 7-0 to the Colts at the moment), would drop them out of the top spot in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Both are 2-13, but the Bucs would win a tiebreaker by having a lower strength of schedule if they have the same record.

A third win, however, would drop the Bucs no lower than second in the order.

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Ravens’ fourth-down try goes bust

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Some short-yardage rushing struggles have left a sour taste early for the Ravens.

The Browns stuffed tailback Justin Forsett on a 4th-and-1 try from the Cleveland one-yard line late in the first quarter, ending a promising Baltimore drive without points. The Ravens and Browns remain scoreless early in the second quarter.

The Ravens had 1st-and-goal at the Browns’ two-yard-line, but two Bernard Pierce rushes netted just one yard. Then, a third-down pass fell incomplete.

This left Ravens coach John Harbaugh with a decision on fourth down.

The Ravens rolled the dice.

And the Browns won the gamble.

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Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray break Cowboys franchise records

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The Cowboys had their playoff berth locked up when they woke up in Washington this morning.

But they have a pair of milestones taken care of in the first quarter.

Running back DeMarco Murray topped Emmitt Smith’s franchise rushing record (he now has 1,798 yards this season).

Then wide receiver Dez Bryant broke the single-season touchdown reception record, when his second score of the day was granted after a replay reversal.

That was his 16th of the season, wiping Terrell Owens out of the record book.

Having that kind of offensive star power is the reason the Cowboys have broken out of a 8-8 rut to make the postseason, although it will also provide some future questions about how to pay the pending free agents.

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Jets could delay decision on Rex, who isn’t happy about that

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The Jets keep on doing Jets things.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the Jets may not fire coach Rex Ryan until a new G.M. is hired.  Owner Woody Johnson, per Mort, wants the G.M. to make a decision on Ryan.

According to Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, Rex Ryan isn’t happy about that.

Rex is livid right now,” a person with knowledge of Ryan’s thinking told Cosentino.  “He hasn’t talked to Woody yet, but he wants to talk to him and say, ‘Fire me [bleeping] today.  Fire me whenever.  I’m not going to hang around and miss out on [another job opportunity].'”

This assumes that Rex will have another job opportunity.  Perhaps he will; a guy like Rex would make plenty of sense for a team like the Bears, Falcons, Raiders, each of who have a quarterback but who each need the kind of defensive enema Rex would provide.

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J.J. Watt has two sacks already, as Texans take early lead

J.J. Watt AP

The Texans’ playoff chances are about as big as the likelihood defensive end J.J. Watt comes away with the league MVP.

But there’s still a chance.

Watt has a pair of sacks already, and the Texans are off to a 7-3 lead over the Jaguars.

Watt now has 19.5 sacks on the season, and is as dominant as any player in the league right now. Whether that translates into MVP votes remains to be seen, but his impact is hard to understate.

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