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PFT Live: Lorenzo Alexander says ‘Skins more confident

Mike Florio chats with Washington Redskins LB Lorenzo Alexander about the changing mood in the Redskins’ locker room after each win, if Robert Griffin III will be ready to go when the team travels to Cleveland this weekend, his take on the Cowboys’ and Chiefs’ recent tragic events.

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RG3: I’m here to help Browns beyond the next four weeks

FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. Griffin moved closer to playing again this season as the team designated him for return from injured reserve. The team officially made the move Wednesday, nov. 23, 2016, giving the Browns 21 days to activate him to the roster.(Winslow Townson/File) AP

Browns coach Hue Jackson said he isn’t ready to publicly name a starter for this weekend’s game against the Bengals, but most speculation about who will get the nod is centered on Robert Griffin III.

Griffin has been practicing for a little while and is expected to be formally restored to the 53-man roster this week so that he can make his second start of the season. His first resulted in the broken bone in his left shoulder that landed him on injured reserve, which leaves him eager to “give the team as much of a spark as I possibly can.”

Griffin said Monday that he is in the dark about Jackson’s plans for this week, but that he wants to be part of them beyond the end of this season regardless of the choice for Week 14.

“I don’t know, coach could wait until Sunday,” Griffin said, via Cleveland.com. “That’s why he’s got the HC on his hat and we all trust him in this locker room. I trust him, and it’s just a matter of do they feel I’m ready to play or do they feel like I need to take some more time. So whatever their decision is, I’ll be OK with it because I’m here to be a Cleveland Brown. I’m here to help this team, not just these last four weeks but into the future.”

Griffin knows that future isn’t guaranteed and admitted that “the world could end tomorrow” while discussing the uncertainty of what’s ahead. He was waxing philosophical at that moment, but playing behind the 2016 Browns offensive line has felt that way on more than one occasion.

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Trent Williams coming back this week, in his normal spot

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 2: Tackle Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins acknowledges the crowd in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Browns at FedExField on October 2, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington’s coming off a tough road loss with more injuries to deal with, but at least they’re getting their best offensive lineman back this week.

Via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, left tackle Trent Williams is set to return from his four-game drug suspension to play against the Eagles.

Backup Ty Nsekhe has played well in his absence, and Williams has plugged in at guard before when injuries forced their hand, but coach Jay Gruden isn’t going to fiddle with things now.

“The plan moving ahead with him is he’s our starting tackle, and he’s the best in the business,” Gruden said of Williams. “So we’re excited to get him back.”

Center Spencer Long is in the league’s concussion protocol. He was replaced Sunday in Arizona by John Sullivan. There’s a chance of activating Kory Lichtensteiger from IR if they need another body there, but they’ll need to find another center regardless.

And tight end Jordan Reed’s status is also up in the air because of his shoulder injury, creating plenty of uncertainty as Washington pushes for a Wild Card berth. They’re 1-4 in the five games Reed has missed with injury the last two seasons.

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Jets closing in on top five pick in 2017 NFL Draft, which is nice

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  A New York Jets fan wears a bag on his head after they were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts 41 to 10 at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you’re a Jets fan looking for a silver lining this morning, well, there isn’t really one. Your team stinks.

But as we’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness, we can point out that they are moving closer to securing a top-five spot in the 2017 NFL Draft order thanks to last night’s loss and the Bears’ epic win over the 49ers.

If the season ended today, the 0-12 Browns (of course) would still pick first, followed by the 1-11 49ers and the 2-10 Jaguars. The 3-9 Jets and Bears are deadlocked (no, really, that’s a perfect word) at 3-9, and have the same strength of schedule number at the moment so they’d flip for the fourth and fifth picks.

They’d be followed by the Titans (enjoying that Rams pick), the Panthers, Bengals, Saints, and Chargers in the top 10.

Also, if the season ended today, people would say “Why on Tuesday?”

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Colts keep foot on gas, in driver’s seat of AFC South

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

When a possibly bad team beats an indisputably wretched one, it’s easy to roll your eyes when the winner starts to puff out his chest.

But in the case of the Colts, it’s legitimate, as improving to 6-6 has them in great position to win the AFC South.

Oh, at the moment, there’s a three-way tie for the division lead, with Houston and Tennessee. But after dismantling the Jets last night, the Colts are feeling like it’s theirs for the taking.

“It’s December football — we wanted to start fast and take the crowd out of the game,” Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said, via Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. “And we didn’t want to take our foot off the gas.”

The Colts own a tiebreaker over the Titans via head-to-head sweep. The Texans beat the Colts the first time through, but a Colts win this week would give them a one-game advantage in the standings with three to play.

The Texans have lost three straight (though they’re apparently on the verge of greatness or something), but after the Colts game they get to close with home games against the Jaguars and Bengals before going to Tennessee.

The Colts finish with potentially tricky road trips to Minnesota and Oakland before hosting Jacksonville to finish, so on paper it’s a tougher way to end the season.

The Titans have games remaining with the Broncos, at the Chiefs and Jaguars and the home finale with the Texans.

“Everything is right there in front of us,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

And while it’s not the most glamorous division in football, one of them is getting invited to the party at the end of the season, and at the moment, it looks like the Colts have the best chance.

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Ugly loss raises calls for Jets regime change

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets, flexed out of prime time a week earlier, got a stand-alone close-up on Monday night. And it wasn’t pretty.

“For the first time this year, we got our ass handed to us,” coach Todd Bowles told reporters after the 41-10 loss to the Colts, the biggest win by the Colts over the Jets since a 52-19 victory in 1975 . . . in Baltimore. “That’s very disappointing from a physical standpoint. . . .

“I thought they kicked our ass. I don’t think we had a lot of effort. I’ll see the film. I’m sure there are some people who showed up, but for the most part, we got our ass kicked. . . . It’s very troubling when you get your ass kicked.”

To his credit, Bowles made no excuses nor deflected blame: “All of it falls on me. I’m the head coach.”

So is Bowles concerned that his second year with the Jets will be his last?

“No,” Bowles said. “You know your job is in jeopardy when you take one of these jobs.”

That matter-of-fact calm demeanor has been one of Bowles’ strengths. With the season, and perhaps his job, crumbling, it could quickly becomes a liability — because it may send a message he doesn’t really care as much as he should.

And he should seem to care more than he does. The calls for Bowles to be fired have begun; Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, for example, writes that it’s time for Bowles to go.

Why give him a third year when 28 games into his head coaching career he has proven he’s not the right man to end the Jets nearly half-century Super Bowl drought?” Myers writes. “No need to make a bad situation even worse. This is a multi-billion dollar business and you can’t give away seasons.”

Of course, that same argument could be made in the direction of Bowles’ boss. And the question becomes whether owner Woody Johnson would blow out G.M. Mike Maccagnan along with Bowles, or whether Maccagnan — the man who has assembled the quarterback clusterfudge that has delivered nothing this year — should get a chance to both hire a coach and find a competent signal-caller.

One major factor in the final analysis surely will be the instant success the Giants have realized by making big changes after the 2015 season.

That same season brought so much hope for the Jets after they nearly qualified for the playoffs. This year, they’ve been eliminated with four games to play.

One of those games will be played in 11 days on NFL Network, at home against the Dolphins. The Just End the Season season then ends in Week 17 with a visit from Rex Ryan and the Bills.

At this point, the question may not be whether Bowles is fired at the end of the season, but whether he even makes it through the final 25 percent of it.

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Rams’ Johnny Hekker having the greatest punting season ever

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Punter Johnny Hekker #6 of the Los Angeles Rams during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 17-13.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rams coach Jeff Fisher took some criticism yesterday when he said, “We’re on a record-setting pace with our punt team.” For the coach of one of the worst teams in the league to boast about punting doesn’t sit well with some football fans.

But here’s the thing: Rams punter Johnny Hekker really is having a great season. He’s having perhaps the greatest season of any punter in NFL history.

Net punting average is the single most important stat to use to evaluate a punter, and by that measure Hekker is having the best season ever, and it’s not even close. Hekker is already the only punter in NFL history to finish a season with a net average of over 44 yards, setting the league record for net punting average at 44.2 yards in 2013,. But this year Hekker isn’t just over 44 yards, he’s over 45 yards: If he stays at his current pace of 45.8 yards, he’ll obliterate his own record.

And Hekker is consistently putting opposing teams in bad field position: He already has 40 punts inside the 20-yard line this season, by far the most in the league and within striking distance of the NFL record of 46. At his current pace, Hekker will finish the season with 53 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Perhaps most amazingly, Hekker is nailing all those punts inside the 20 without kicking any too far: He has just one touchback this season. A ratio of 40 punts inside the 20 to one touchback is preposterous.

So laugh if you must at Fisher propping up his punting team. But know this: Fisher’s punter is having the best punting season ever.

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Bryce Petty to start final four games for Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets looks to pass in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said that Bryce Petty will start the final four games of the season after another dismal showing for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets’ offense Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.

Bowles claimed that the decision to start Petty for the final four games of the season had already been decided prior to Monday night’s outing.

“Well the plan was for us to start him the last four games anyway so we just started a half early,” Bowles said. “We could have won 45-0, he was going to start the last four games.”

If there was any doubt about making a change, Fitzpatrick did little to make a case for himself. Fitzpatrick completed just 5 of 12 passes for 81 yards with an interception as the Colts smacked the Jets 41-10.  The Jets have now lost four straight games and were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Monday night.

“We weren’t doing much in the first half so put the kid in and try to get a spark,” Bowles said.

The Jets were already trailing 31-3 before Petty entered the game in the third quarter. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 135 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

“I didn’t get it done,” Fitzpatrick said.

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Luck throws four touchdown passes as Colts embarrass Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Dwayne Allen #83 celebrates his second touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Jets with teammate  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes, two on the game’s first two drives, and there was never a doubt about Monday night’s result.

The Colts cruised to a 41-10 victory. Tight end Dwayne Allen caught those first two touchdown passes and a third later in the first half.

The Jets had three personal foul penalties in the first 20 minutes — and it really didn’t get much better from there. Down 31-3 by the time they got the ball in the third quarter, Jets coach Todd Bowles inserted young quarterback Bryce Petty and removed Ryan Fitzpatrick, probably for the last time.

The Colts improve to 6-6 and are in a three-way tie atop the AFC South with the Texans and Titans.

It was a night of milestones for the Colts. Frank Gore passed Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for eighth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, T.Y. Hilton passed Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison for the most 100-yard receiving games (22) in the first five years of a career, and Allen became just the third tight end in franchise history to post a three-touchdown game.

It was Luck’s eighth career game with at least four touchdown passes.

The Colts thought they had another touchdown late in the first half but tight end Jack Doyle was ruled to have fumbled into the end zone for a touchback. That was about the only thing that went wrong for the Colts until veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson walked to the locker room after suffering a neck injury in the fourth quarter.

In addition being generally defenseless — the Colts rolled up more than 400 yards of offense — the Jets turned the ball over three times and didn’t get into the end zone until Petty threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to rookie Robby Anderson in the fourth quarter. They managed 116 yards and five first downs in the first half.

The Jets fall to 3-9 and figure to stick with Petty the rest of the way as they point towards 2017.

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Which bad team is the closest to contending?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04:  Leonard Floyd #94 of the Chicago Bears sacks Blaine Gabbert #2 of the San Francisco 49ers in the end zone for a safety
at Soldier Field on December 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the 49ers 26-6.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

For every good team in the NFL, there’s necessarily a bad team. And for every really good team, there’s usually a really bad team.

So which of the really bad teams is in the best position to become really good? Or at least good enough to contend?

That’s the PFT Live question of the day for Tuesday. Cast a vote, drop a comment, and then tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio. We migrate to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the final two hours of the show.

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Seahawks to sign fullback Marcel Reece

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders runs the ball during the 1st half of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 8, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to sign former Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece.

Reece played his college football at the University of Washington in Seattle where he was a wide receiver for the Huskies. After going undrafted, Reece spent eight seasons with the Raiders and was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons.

The expected signing – first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com – was confirmed to PFT by a team spokesman.

Reece caught 205 passes for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns and has rushed for 844 yards and three touchdowns during his career with the Raiders.

Seattle fullback Will Tukuafu has a concussion after a collision on a kickoff with Panthers linebacker David Mayo, who also suffered a concussion on the play. The Seahawks could place Tukuafu on injured reserve to make room for Reece on their roster. However, Earl Thomas is likely IR bound as well after fracturing his left tibia in Sunday’s win over Carolina and could also free up a spot.

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Jets bench Fitzpatrick, go to Petty

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback  Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets looks on in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets’ season is over, and coach Todd Bowles acted accordingly in the third quarter Monday night when he replaced quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with second-year quarterback Bryce Petty.

Fitzpatrick is on a one-year deal, and his career with the Jets is probably over, too. The Jets will be 3-9 when this game is over. They trailed the Colts, 31-3, when the change was made.

What was left of the crowd at MetLife Stadium cheered when Petty was inserted into the game. Petty completed his first pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and also had a third-down completion to Brandon Marshall, but the Jets punted soon after.

Petty made his first career start last month when Fitzpatrick was injured. The Jets lost that game, 9-6.

The Jets managed just 116 total yards and five first downs in the first half Monday night with Fitzpatrick at quarterback.

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Luck, Allen post big numbers; Colts overwhelming Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Dwayne Allen #83 celebrates his second touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Jets with teammate  Phillip Dorsett #15 of the Indianapolis Colts during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets were no match for Colts in the first half Monday night.

Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes to tight end Dwayne Allen — yes, three — and the Colts have a 24-3 halftime lead.

Luck and Allen connected for touchdowns on the Colts’ first two drives. The Colts thought they had another touchdown late in the half but tight end Jack Doyle was ruled to have fumbled into and through the end zone for a touchback.

That is about all that went right for the Jets, who had three personal foul penalties in the first 20 minutes.

At halftime, Luck has 179 yards passing. Allen has three catches for 51 yards and T.Y. Hilton has six catches for 98 yards. The Jets have managed just 116 total yards and five first downs.

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Frank Gore becomes NFL’s 8th all-time leading rusher

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 04:  Frank Gore #23 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts running back Frank Gore has passed Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for eighth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

Dorsett posted 12,739 rushing yards in his career. Gore surpassed that in the second quarter Monday night vs. the Jets when he got loose into the Jets’ secondary for a 19-yard run that led to a field goal.

Gore, 33, has played in 176 games over his 12-year career. He’s in his second year with the Colts.

Gore went over 1,000 yards rushing in seven of his 10 seasons with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He has 74 career rushing touchdowns, which ties him for 24th in league history.

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Approaching all-time loss record, Jeff Fisher opts for optimism

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

On Sunday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher celebrated a new contract. As soon as next Sunday, he could be celebrating a new record.

Fisher, will one more loss, ties the record for the most in NFL history. He’ll match Dan Reeves with 165.

Is it tough to be one game away from the record?

“No, I actually don’t look at that,” Fisher told reporters on Monday. “I’ve had a few wins in my career, as well. I’ve also been able to be very, very fortunate and have a long career. You can look at it as is the glass half full or half empty – I look at it as half full. I’m just honored that I still have an opportunity to coach in this league.”

His opportunity will continue for a couple more years, if he is permitted to work the full extent of his extension.

“The players were, by and large, really, really excited,” Fisher said regarding the news of the new deal. “But I think a lot of players knew that this had been done previously. So, it didn’t appear to be a big deal. I spoke candidly about it yesterday. I don’t think I need to go into it again. We’re moving on.”

As the franchise moves on, Fisher was asked to explain where the franchise currently is.

“Coaches, we don’t like making excuses, we just move on from week to week to week,” Fisher said. “We didn’t have [defensive end] Rob Quinn yesterday, we didn’t have [receiver] Tavon Austin, we didn’t have [offensive lineman] Rodger Saffold yesterday and we played the New England Patriots. If you’re going to have a chance to beat them, you need to go in there with all hands on deck. We’re building this team, we’ve extended players, we’re building this team for the future, we’ve made a commitment to our young quarterback and he’s playing now. In my opinion, I think there’s a lot of things to be excited about.”

Fans may disagree, especially those who are following a certain pied piper named Eric Dickerson.

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Luck hits Allen, again, as Colts go up 14-0

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:   Dwayne Allen #83 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Bacarri Rambo #30 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dwayne Allen was wide open. Again.

The Jets can’t cover Allen — or anyone else in a Colts jersey — and the Colts are out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of Andrew Luck touchdown passes to Allen.

Luck is 6-of-6 passing for 93 yards and two touchdowns on two drives. Not many Jets fans showed up to MetLife Stadium, but the ones who did aren’t happy. And there’s a lot of game left.

If the Colts win they’ll move to 6-6 and force a three-way tie with the Texans and Titans atop the AFC South.

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