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PFT’s Week 14 picks

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With four weeks to go, the lead is back to three.

And we disagree on three games.

In other words, MDS a/k/a the master of Raiders exacta, could catch me by 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Last week, I went 11-5.  MDS was 10-6.  For the season, I’m now at 123-68-1, a 64.0 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 120-71-1, which equates to 62.5 percent.

Broncos at Raiders

MDS’s take: My amazing run of accuracy in predicting Raiders scores has put a lot of pressure on me to get this one right. So here’s what it boils down to: The Broncos are good, the Raiders are not, and the score won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 13.

Florio’s takePeyton Manning has never lost in Oakland.  Then again, he has played there only twice.  Make it three on Thursday night.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 27, Raiders 13.

Rams at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense has turned things around recently, with Mario Williams getting five sacks in the last three games. I think Williams will bring the pressure to Sam Bradford, and the Bills will win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Rams 14.

Florio’s take:  The up-and-down Rams play very well inside the division and not so well outside of it.  The Bills sometimes play well at home, and sometimes they don’t.  The difference here is that the Rams have an arguably realistic shot at the postseason, and the Bills don’t.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 17, Bills 13.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Panthers are playing for the first overall pick in the draft. Advantage Atlanta.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Panthers 13.

Florio’s take:  Earlier this year, the Panthers nearly toppled the Falcons in Atlanta.  The rematch comes in Charlotte, with the Falcons chasing the top seed and the Panthers pursuing respect.  As they move closer to proving that they’re ready to hang with the big boys, the Falcons prove that their near-miss against Carolina was a fluke.

Florio’s pick:   Falcons 31, Panthers 20.

Cowboys at Bengals

MDS’s take: This is a close, competitive game, and I have a funny feeling the Bengals’ superior special teams could turn out to make the difference. The Bengals will bolster their own playoff hopes and deal a lethal blow to the Cowboys’ hopes.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Florio’s take:  Yes, the Cowboys won last week.  But they beat the Philly “B” team, barely.  The Bengals are moving in the right direction, and it’ll stay that way at least until they have to play the Steelers or Ravens again.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Chiefs at Browns

MDS’s take: The weekend’s worst game will be in Cleveland, where the Browns will win an ugly one.

MDS’s pick: Browns 15, Chiefs 12.

Florio’s take:  A week after the biggest win of his career, Brady Quinn returns to the place where his career started.  Though the Browns probably will win this one, I can’t pick against Quinn and the Chiefs.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Browns 20.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Colts stumble on their march to the playoffs here — this team could be ripe for an upset after gutting out a tough, physical, hard-fought game in Detroit last week. I also have major doubts about the ability of the Colts’ defense to keep them in big games down the stretch. The Titans, however, don’t have much offensive firepower, and so I’ll take the Colts in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Titans 17.

Florio’s takeAndrew Luck and the Colts move closer to one of the most unlikely playoff berths in recent history.  Meanwhile, Titans owner Bud Adams moved toward a series of pink slips and middle fingers fired at his employees.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 34, Titans 20.

Jets at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Rex Ryan gave Mark Sanchez what should be an easy win in Jacksonville. I’m not sold on Sanchez, but I am sold on the Jets’ ability to shut down the Jaguars’ offense.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  Whether it’s Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Vinny Testaverde, or Joe Namath at quarterback, the Jets have the defense to shut down the Jacksonville offense.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 10, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: After an amazing start to the season, Chicago’s defense has declined in recent weeks. Playing against the struggling Christian Ponder is just the thing to cure what ails the Bears.

MDS’s pick: Bears 17, Vikings 7.

Florio’s take:  It’s the last, best chance for the Vikings to remain in the playoff race.  And it’s the last, best chance for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to show that he realizes that, with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, there’s never a reason to pass the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Bears 16.

Chargers at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s win over the Ravens, while the Chargers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals: The talent gap between these two teams isn’t big, but the Steelers play their best in crunch time, and the Chargers play their worst in crunch time.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 23, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers haven’t won in Pittsburgh since somehow toppling the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium for the 1994 AFC title.  The 0-6 streak will continue on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 24, Chargers 13.

Eagles at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Greg Schiano’s guys are playing hard every week, win or lose, while Andy Reid’s guys have quit on the season. This is an easy one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 35, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Phillies have won more recently than the Eagles.  That fact should hold for another week, or longer.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Eagles 17.

Ravens at Redskins

MDS’s take: The Ravens’ run defense is terrible, and the Redskins’ run offense is excellent. Washington will rush for 200 yards and win a tough, physical game.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 13, Ravens 10.

Florio’s take:  The Redskins currently look more like the potential Super Bowl team, beating every other team in the NFC East in a three-game stretch.  Though it remains to be seen whether God really is on the Redskins’ side, He’s definitely not on the Ravens’ this year.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 23, Ravens 21.

Dolphins at 49ers

MDS’s take: Colin Kaepernick may have taken a step backward last week against the Rams, but he’ll show against the Dolphins that Jim Harbaugh made the right decision. And even if Kaepernick has a bad game, it’s not like the Dolphins are putting many points on the board against San Francisco’s defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Dolphins 6.

Florio’s take:  This game has considerably less hype than their Super Bowl XIX rendezvous.  But the outcome will be similar.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 38, Dolphins 16.

Saints at Giants

MDS’s take: The Saints are out of the playoff race, but they’re still a dangerous team, and I’m tempted to pick them against the Giants, coming off a tough loss on a short week. But the Giants know their backs are against the wall, and that’s when this team usually plays its best football.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Saints 27.

Florio’s take:  New York’s margin for error has, for now, shrunk to zero.  Which matches the Saints’ chances of getting to the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 28, Saints 17.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: With the Cardinals’ horrendous offense playing in a tough environment in Seattle, this game could get ugly. Looks to me like the biggest mismatch of the week in the NFL.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Cardinals 3.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks don’t lose at home.  The Cardinals don’t win anywhere.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, Cardinals 10.

Lions at Packers

MDS’s take: The Lions have a knack for playing well enough against good teams to keep it close, and then losing. That’s what they’ll do in Green Bay, where Calvin Johnson will have another big-time performance but Aaron Rodgers will pick apart Detroit’s secondary.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Lions 27.

Florio’s take:  The Packers need to keep winning.  For the Lions, it’s too late.  At this point, they’re playing only for Calvin Johnson to break Jerry Rice’s record.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Lions 20.

Texans at Patriots

MDS’s take: Now this is a great Monday Night Football game. If the Texans win, the race for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs is pretty much over. But I think the Patriots are a better football team right now, and they’re going to take this one and make a big statement that they’re the favorites to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC, even if they have to win a rematch in Houston in January to get there.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Texans 14.

Florio’s take:  The Pats make their move toward the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff field.  It’s a great game on paper, but it’s got the potential to be a snooze-fest.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Texans 24.

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Browns put Tashaun Gipson on IR

Tashaun Gipson AP

The Browns will be without one of their key defensive players for the rest of the season.

The club announced Saturday it had placed free safety Tashaun Gipson on injured reserve. Gipson, whose six interceptions are tied for the NFL lead, suffered an MCL sprain in the Browns’ November 23 win at Atlanta.

A third-year pro from Wyoming, the 24-year-old Gipson has 12 interceptions for Cleveland since 2012.

Jim Leonhard has stepped into the lineup in Gipson’s absence.

To replace Gipson on the roster, the Browns promoted linebacker Scott Solomon from the practice squad. The 26-year-old Solomon has appeared in 20 regular-season games in three NFL seasons, including six with Tampa Bay earlier this year.

The 7-7 Browns are the lowest-seeded club still in playoff contention in the AFC. They play at Carolina on Sunday.

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Saturday one-liners

Miller Getty Images

The production of Dolphins RB Lamar Miller drops dramatically after his 10th carry of a game, from 5.4 average yards to 2.5.

A week after shutting down Aaron Rodgers, the Bills hope to similarly harass Oakland QB Derek Carr.

The Patriots are preparing for Percy Harvin with some of the same keys they used when preparing to face Randall Cobb.

Jets S Rontez Miles had emergency surgery on Thursday after being kicked in the shin during practice.

Ravens WR Jacoby Jones says it won’t be emotional to return to Houston and play the team that once cut him.

Former Bengals RB Corey Dillon is impressed with Bengals rookie RB Jeremy Hill.

C Alex Mack may be the only player definitely returning to the Browns in 2015.

Steelers players are lobbying for LB Lawrence Timmons to make it to the Pro Bowl.

The Texans will get a good look on Sunday at a running back they maybe shouldn’t have let get away.

Maligned in May, the Colts’ quintet of draft picks has done well.

If you’re among the many who passed on Thursday night’s game, here’s what the win revealed about the Jaguars.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt summarizes his first season with the team in three words:  “It’s not fun.”

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders has a simple approach when returning punts — get at least 10 yards, making it like a first down on offense.

Former Chiefs Pro Bowl OL John Alt is helping LT Eric Fisher.

The Raiders may be shorthanded at cornerback with Buffalo coming to town.

So what does the Chargers’ defense need to do to win some games?  Defensive coordinator John Pagano makes it as simple as possible:  “Play better.”

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant could be the key to beating Indianapolis.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin wants WR Odell Beckham to be like LeBron James.

A reduction in touches for RB LeSean McCoy is fueling speculation that he won’t be back with the Eagles in 2015.

How bad is Washington’s offensive line?  Really bad.

The decision to start Bears QB Jimmy Clausen is creating no buzz in Halas Hall.

Joique Bell quietly has become the No. 1 running back for the Lions.

Here’s a great look at how the Packers are trying to slow down great receivers at a time when the rules are helping them.

Vikings FB Jerome Felton knows he likely won’t be back next year.

Falcons DT Ra’Shede Hageman realizes that he’ll need to earn the trust of the coaching staff in order to get more playing time.

Panthers DT Star Lotulelei is struggling in his second season.

With free agency looming, Saints RB Mark Ingram has picked a good year to be on pace for his first 1,000-yard season.

The win the renewal of the Bay of Pigs rivalry, the Buccaneers will need to be able to run the ball effectively.

The Cardinals joined the NFL in 1920; Sunday night’s game is the biggest regular-season contest in franchise history.

Rams S E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round draft pick in May, has had a strong rookie season.

Saturday’s game could be the next to last in San Francisco for 49ers RB Frank Gore.

A big test is coming Sunday night for Seahawks rookie OT Justin Britt.

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Joe Thomas downplays charges of discharging manure

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

A day after he was accused of environmental violations including discharging manure into a wetland, Browns tackle Joe Thomas said it was no BS.

Actually, it was a much smaller variety of S.

“I know it sounds horrific when you see the list of violations, but in the end it’s rabbit turds here,” Thomas told Steven Verburg of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Thomas was cited by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for some irregularities on a farm he owns there. Among the violations are damming a navigable waterway, dredging a spring-fed pond, tearing down a barn without a permit and most spectacularly, the previously mentioned discharge of manure.

He could face $10,000 a day fines, but Thomas said he’s meeting with DNR officials to make sure he’s in compliance.

“When you read that list, you’d think I was the worst person in the world, like I put a two-lane bridge over the Mississippi River,” Thomas said. “In reality, it’s all kind of interrelated and very small.

“I don’t want to say anything to you that would make their side look bad,”

The property is described as a few hundred feet from the Blue River, which is apparently a Class II trout stream. While dropping a load of brown trout into that waterway would obviously disturb the ecosystem, Thomas said his intentions for the property were pure.

“My whole idea was to make it a fish and wildlife paradise like it used to be,” he said. “I don’t want to get into the specifics of every little violation. The bottom line is I hired a couple contractors to help with the cleanup project and it was just not knowing that you needed permits for certain things that resulted in the violations.”

Unless one of those contractors turns out to be Najeh Davenport, it sounds like Thomas is doing everything he can to make sure this doesn’t turn into a big stink.

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Report: Executives suggest Bears could have to attach a draft pick to move Cutler

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Getty Images

If the Bears want to move quarterback Jay Cutler in the offseason, would they have to swap draft picks with the acquiring club to get the deal done?

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “several NFL executives” have indicated the Bears might have to trade draft selections to close any Cutler deal, given the guaranteed money on Cutler’s contract.

The idea of “sweetening the pot” to close a Cutler trade is something PFT’s Mike Florio suggested after the quarterback’s benching. Were this indeed required to make a deal, it would speak to Chicago’s lack of leverage.

In the scenario suggested by Schefter, an acquiring team would get Cutler and a higher pick, with the Bears getting a lower pick and salary-cap relief in return. As Schefter notes, any trade can’t be an out-and-out giveaway; the Bears would have to receive something in return, per NFL rules.

How Bears ownership proceeds with coach Mark Trestman and G.M. Phil Emery at season’s end figures to be a primary factor in any future decisions on Cutler. A new coach/G.M. combination might not have any ties to Cutler and could be able to cut the cord without anguish.

The more interesting question is whether Emery would be willing to make such a move. The decision to sign Cutler to a lucrative deal last January looks dubious, with Cutler’s play not coming close to expectations. Moving Cutler and a draft pick is the stuff of management nightmares, especially with the Bears in desperate need of youthful reinforcements throughout the defense. The club’s spending in the most recent free agent period produced mixed results, with defensive end Willie Young proving a bargain but defensive ends Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston not producing as much as hoped, though illness slowed Allen and a knee injury ended Houston’s season early.

In short, the Bears aren’t in a position to be giving away draft picks. And have we mentioned the franchise again might be looking for a quarterback? Oh yes, that.

If Bears fans are walking around looking like they’ve bitten down on all the world’s lemons, they cannot be blamed. Soon, the snow will come, the salt trucks will come out, the sky will be gray and the taxes will still be high. But the Cubs look like they’ve figured it out, and the Bulls are flank-steak tough. Look, Chicagoans are used to QB uncertainty.

Doesn’t mean they have to like it, though. And they really won’t like it if that draft pick goes out the door with Cutler.

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49ers could be looking for young offensive specialist to succeed Harbaugh

McDaniels Getty Images

With all the talk about Jim Harbaugh’s future, hardly any time has been spent on the question of who will replace him in San Francisco.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the team is expected to look for a young offensive specialist to take over the team.  Mort specifically mentioned Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

The last time the job was open, the 49ers tried the opposite approach.  As Bill Parcells discloses in his new book, the 49ers tried to hire the then-69-year-old defensive specialist to coach the team in 2011.

From 2009 to 2010, McDaniels coached the Broncos to an 11-17 record.  In a stint perhaps best known for the selection of Tim Tebow with a first-round pick, a 5-17 slide after a 6-0 start greased the skids for McDaniels’ termination with four games left in his second season.

But McDaniels has recovered nicely.  Despite coach Bill Belichick’s background as a defensive guru, it’s Belichick and not McDaniels who has gotten the credit for a masterful run of offensive game plans (with the exception of the loss at Lambeau) since the team fell to 2-2 after a Monday night blowout in Kansas City.

It has been believed that 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has the early inside track to the job, in large part because Tomsula was pegged to take over for Harbaugh if he’d been traded to the Browns in February.  With the offensive side of the ball needing a kick in the pants, maybe the change of plans makes sense.

The 49ers also will be looking for someone who can get along well with G.M. Trent Baalke, who somehow has escaped scrutiny for the team’s collapse in 2014.  If, as it appears, Baalke will be back, a far bigger factor than X’s and O’s will be whether the new coach can work and play well with his boss.

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Arians: Seahawks have a wishbone running game and a great QB

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Seahawks lead the league in rushing but aren’t just a rushing team, which makes them a pain for opposing defenses.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians compared preparing for the Seahawks to preparing to face an old-school Oklahoma or Nebraska wishbone running offense. Except those teams couldn’t beat opponents through the air the way the Seahawks can.

“Trying to get ready for them is basically like trying to get ready for a wishbone team back in college — with a great quarterback,” Arians said.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t mostly (or even primarily) a running quarterback, and yet he’s been by far the most effective running quarterback in the NFL this year. Wilson has 106 carries for 754 yards and five touchdowns this season, leading all quarterbacks in all three categories and putting him more than 300 yards ahead of any other quarterback in the league. Wilson also has six runs of more than 20 yards, best among all quarterbacks, and is the only quarterback in the league with more than one run longer than 40 yards. Wilson is on pace to finish this season with more than 3,300 passing yards and more than 800 rushing yards, a passing/running combination that only Randall Cunningham (who passed for 3,466 yards and ran for 942 yards in 1990) has accomplished before.

The Cardinals will have a tough time stopping Wilson. Even worse, they’re stuck with third-stringer Ryan Lindley as their own quarterback against the Seahawks’ ferocious defense. If Arians can find a way to win this one, they could cancel the coach of the year vote and hand him the award on Sunday.

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2016 becomes the target for an L.A. move

keep-calm-im-not-moving

When the Chargers announced earlier this week that they won’t be moving out of San Diego in 2015, the message was clear:  If the Chargers are willing to announce now that they won’t try to move to L.A. in 2015, no one will be moving to L.A. in 2015.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Commissioner Roger Goodell made it known this week internally that no teams will be moving to Los Angeles in 2015.  It remains possible, if not likely, that someone will move to L.A. in 2016.

Sure, someone can still apply for relocation in early 2015. But good luck getting 24 owners to approve the move.

The Chargers, as we’ve previously explained, are better positioned than the Rams and Raiders to satisfy the terms of the NFL’s relocation policy, since the Chargers have been trying for 14 years to get a new stadium in San Diego.  The extra year also potentially helps the Rams and Raiders build a stronger case that they’ve tried diligently to resolve a bad stadium situation in their current location before trying to move to a new city.

It’s believed that up to two teams eventually will move to Los Angeles.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the powers-that-be in San Diego, Oakland, and/or St. Louis take full advantage of what could be their last opportunity to find a solution more viable than hoping that their team becomes the odd man out in a game of L.A. musical chairs.

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NFL Weather Watch — Week 16

2011 NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Those waiting for one of those patented late-season “weather games” will likely have to wait another week.

The expected conditions for Week 16’s outdoor games are relatively favorable for the penultimate weekend of the year, per forecast data from WeatherUnderground.com. No game has more than a 30 percent chance of precipitation (Packers-Buccaneers in Tampa).

The strongest winds are expected in Lions-Bears, but Chicago brought in Jay Cutler for games just like this, so worry not about the home team’s ability to deal with a little wind!

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of conditions expected in all 10 outdoor games. Unless otherwise noted, kickoff time is 1 p.m. Eastern:

SATURDAY

Philadelphia at Washington (4:30 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 36 degrees.

Wind: Eight mph out of the west-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Eight percent.

San Diego at San Francisco (8:25 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 59 degrees.

Wind: One mph out of the west-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Ten percent.

SUNDAY

Cleveland at Carolina (1 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 47 degrees.

Wind: Three mph out of the east.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Twenty-six percent.

Detroit at Chicago

Temperature: 37 degrees.

Wind: Twelve mph out of the south.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Eight percent.

Minnesota at Miami

Temperature: 79 degrees.

Wind: Nine mph out of the southeast.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Six percent.

New England at N.Y. Jets

Temperature: 41 degrees.

Wind: Five mph out of the north-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Fourteen percent.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh

Temperature: 35 degrees.

Wind: Two mph out of the southwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Five percent.

Green Bay at Tampa Bay

Temperature: 74 degrees.

Wind: Six mph out of the south.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Thirty percent.

Buffalo at Oakland (4:25 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 62 degrees.

Wind: Three mph out of the west-northwest.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Eleven percent.

MONDAY

Denver at Cincinnati (8:30 p.m. ET)

Temperature: 44 degrees.

Wind: Six mph out of the south-southeast.

Precipitation chance at kickoff: Twenty-two percent.

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Julio Jones’ availability hinges on pre-game workout, again

Julio Getty Images

Last week, the Falcons waited until Sunday morning to decide whether receiver Julio Jones would play despite a hip injury.  This week, it’ll be the same routine.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Jones’ availability for Sunday’s showdown with the Saints will hinge on the Sunday morning pre-game workout.

Obviously, he wants to play.  (Rarely if ever does an NFL player pull a Lee Corso with a key game coming up.)  And the team desperately need Jones.

In his last two games played, Jones generated 448 receiving yards, with a whopping 259 yards coming in a Monday night loss to the Packers.  Between the performances with Jones and the team’s struggles without him, the fourth-year wideout from Alabama is laying the foundation for a major payday at some point during the 2015 offseason.

Coupled with the presence of quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ head coaching job becomes perhaps the most attractive of any that woud be available in the upcoming hiring cycle.  Whether the job actually is available depends in part on beating the Saints, with or without Jones on the field.

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Dalton struggles on the big stage

Dalton Getty Images

Andy Dalton has something in common with Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe.  Both have trouble performing when other people are watching.

In prime-time and playoff games, Dalton has a career record of 2-9.  He’ll get a chance to change that on Monday night against the Broncos and, possibly, next Sunday night against the Steelers.  (The Week 17 Sunday night game will be determined after Week 16; there’s a chance the league will choose Bengals at Steelers.)

In those 11 games played at night and/or in the postseason, Dalton has eight touchdown passes, 14 interceptions, and five lost fumbles.

In fairness to Dalton, the problems extend beyond one player.

“I don’t know why we haven’t played as good on defense in those games, but we need to,” coach Marvin Lewis said this week, via ESPN.com.  “I don’t know why we haven’t played as good on offense, or why we’ve given up on a play on special teams in those games, but we need to do better.”

Defensive end Wallace Gilberry has a theory:  “I guess we’re afraid of the dark.”

On Monday night, they’ll get a chance to prove that they aren’t.  Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe’s bladder could be depending on it.

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Chargers say Philip Rivers’s injuries won’t affect him today

Philip Rivers AP

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be playing through back and rib injuries today against the 49ers, but the team doesn’t expect that to be a problem.

Chargers coach Mike McCoy said Rivers looked good in the Chargers’ last practice of the week and will be good to go at San Francisco.

Philip had an outstanding day,” McCoy said, via U-T San Diego. “A ball did not hit the ground in all the throws he made today. Philip was Philip, so he’ll be ready to roll.”

Rivers, who has started 142 straight games, said he wouldn’t miss a week of practice either.

“I hate missing at all during the week, and to not practice at all, I can’t even imagine doing that,” Rivers said. “So yeah, it was good. It went well.”

With the Chargers clinging to slim playoff hopes, they need to win today. Which means they need Rivers to look as good against the 49ers as he did in practice this week.

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Harbaugh reportedly “torn” between NFL, Michigan

Harbaugh Getty Images

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t talking about the possibility that he’ll coach Michigan or any other football team.  Someone close to him is talking a blue streak now, Jack.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Harbaugh’s “family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan HC job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL, per sources close to the situation.”

The report doesn’t specify the full universe family members who are urging Harbaugh to abandon California for Ann Arbor.  It’s widely believed, and it’s been consistently reported, that Harbaugh’s wife doesn’t want to leave the Bay Area.

The tension arises from the fact that Harbaugh wants to wait and see which NFL opportunities emerge and Michigan needs to know sooner than later whether to move on to Plan B.  However, Schefter points out that Harbaugh’s agent “has a good sense of realistic NFL options already.”

In part, this seems to be about getting Harbaugh’s realistic NFL options and Harbaugh’s current employer to develop a discreet understanding as to how the dominoes will fall after the regular season ends, with the team that will eventually trade for Harbaugh:  (1) firing its current head coach; (2) complying with the Rooney Rule; (3) striking a deal with the 49ers for permission to negotiate with Harbaugh; and (4) working out a contract with him.  Those dominoes all need to be properly arranged now, so that Harbaugh will know whether to wait for the inevitable NFL scenario to play itself out.

Leverage remains a key factor in this dance.  Schefter’s report seems to be a deliberate leak aimed at fleshing out Harbaugh’s NFL options now, so that Harbaugh will know what’s behind Door No. 1 before he tells Michigan thanks but no thanks for the second time in four years.

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New Ray Rice video emerges showing aftermath of incident

Ray Rice, Janay Palmer AP

After Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancée unconscious and then dragged her out of the elevator at an Atlantic City casino, cameras were still running.  ABC News has obtained 45 minutes of footage showing the aftermath of the incident.

Rice tried to prevent ABC News from obtaining the video.  A judge ruled against Rice.

“This is a time of healing and he, quite naturally, doesn’t want another media showing of what must have been the worst event of his life,” Rice’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, told ABC News.  “What the media ought to be focusing on is the issue of domestic violence.”

I haven’t watched the new video and don’t plan to.  Based on the description supplied by ABC News it sounds as if sheds no new light on the incident and contains nothing that objectively would be regarded as newsworthy.  Its relevance primarily comes from its existence, given that a video taken earlier that night sparked one of the most bizarre and troubling periods in NFL history.

Some extra relevance comes from that same layer of human nature that turns heads when passing the scene of an accident.  But not much.

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49ers call up NT Mike Purcell from practice squad

Mike Purcell, Glenn Dorsey AP

The 49ers have filled their open roster spot with a defensive lineman, signing nose tackle Mike Purcell from the practice squad. The club announced the move on Friday.

The 23-year-old Purcell has played two seasons with the Niners, with whom he signed as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming in 2013. Purcell (6-3, 303) spent the entire 2013 regular season on the practice squad, as well as the first 14 games of 2014.

Now, with two games left, Purcell has a chance to suit up in a regular-season game for the first time. He will also get a raise over his practice squad salary.

The promotion of Purcell comes six days after San Francisco placed nose tackle Glenn Dorsey on season-ending injured reserve with a biceps injury.

The 49ers (7-7) play host to 8-6 San Diego on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium.

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Two days before home finale, Jets work out seven

Greg Childs AP

NFL teams typically bring in the bulk of their tryout players on Tuesday.  The Jets, only two days away from facing the Patriots in the regular-season home finale, brought in seven players for a Friday workout.

Per a league source, the Jets took a look at quarterbacks Dominique Davis and Bryn Renner, receivers Greg Childs, Joe Morgan, and Eric Ward, linebacker Brandon Denmark, and defensive back Aaron Hester.

Childs (pictured) was a fourth-round pick of the Vikings in 2012. He suffered a torn patellar tendon in both knees as a rookie, and the Vikings released him in March.

None of the players have been signed. It’s possible that the Jets were taking advantage of an opportunity to kick tires before the offseason roster rules allow the team to expand to a maximum of 90 players on the roster.

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