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PFT’s Week 15 picks

Peterson AP

Three weeks remain, and I’ve gradually built the lead back to four games.

But MDS has a chance to trim the gap down to one, if he’s right and I’m wrong on the three games on which we disagree.

And yes, Raiders fans, after four weeks of picking your team to lose, getting the exact score of two games right, missing a third exacta by one point, and correctly predicting the Raiders’ point total in all four games, MDS is picking your team to win this week.

Our picks on all Week 15 games appear below.  (Then again, where the hell else would they be?)

For last week, I eked out the win, 11-5 to 10-6.  For the year, I’m 134-73-1, a 64.4 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 130-77-1, which keeps him at 62.5 percent.

Bengals at Eagles

MDS’s take: I’d been saying for weeks that the Eagles have given up on the season and wouldn’t win another game this year, and they proved me wrong with a spirited effort on Sunday, beating a Buccaneers team with playoff aspirations. So can they do that twice in a row? I don’t see it. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins will lead a defense that will make life miserable for Nick Foles.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles have now won more recently than the Phillies.  At least that can’t change until April.  Between now and then, the Eagles will change, plenty.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Eagles 17.

Giants at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are still the favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but I think the Giants are the better team. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Giants win in Atlanta in December and then do it again in January.

MDS’s pick: Giants 30, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons need a win to prove they can win in the playoffs.  The Giants need a win to help ensure they’ll get to the playoffs.  This one feels like the NFC version of Texans-Patriots.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 31, Falcons 21.

Broncos at Ravens

MDS’s take: Baltimore’s decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron strikes me as a desperation move. The Ravens know they’re not as good as the three elite teams in the AFC, and the Broncos are going to demonstrate that on Sunday in Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens don’t match up well against Peyton Manning.  They never have.  Throw in a flat-tire offense that the Ravens are trying to change while the car is moving, and the late-season slide continues.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 28, Ravens 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, and I think they’ll do just that. Lovie Smith has said from his first day as the Bears’ coach that his No. 1 goal is to beat Green Bay, and Smith’s seat will get even hotter when he fails to do that on Sunday at Soldier Field.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Bears 13.

Florio’s take:  If Jay Cutler doesn’t play, who’ll shove J’Marcus Webb when this one starts to go south?

Florio’s pick:  Packers 24, Bears 13.

Redskins at Browns

MDS’s take: The Redskins have been red hot lately, but the Browns are better than people give them credit for. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins, the Redskins’ quarterback is going to have a tough time against Cleveland’s defense, and I like the Browns to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Browns 13, Redskins 10.

Florio’s take:  With or without RG3, the Redskins have found their groove and they’ll continue to push for the playoffs.  Still, this one could be the toughest challenge yet, notwithstanding wins over the Ravens, Giants, and Cowboys.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Browns 21.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans don’t have much time to lick their wounds after the epic beating they took in New England, but Houston is a more complete team than Indianapolis and should put the Colts away and clinch the AFC South.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:  The Texans may have never won in Indy, but they’ve finally figured out how to beat Indy in Texas.  Besides, the Texans need the win to stay ahead of the Pats for the top seed — and the Colts for the division crown.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 28, Colts 17.

Jaguars at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is particularly good, but the Dolphins at least look like they’re going in the right direction, while the Jaguars look like they need to be torn apart and rebuilt from the ground up.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jaguars 7.

Florio’s take:  The Jags’ travel expenses will be low.  Their offensive output will be even lower.  And no one will notice.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 20, Jaguars 10.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: Drew Brees will turn in a big game against a depleted Buccaneers secondary, and the Saints will put together a solid win, too late for it to matter in the playoff race.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take:  Not long ago, both of these teams had a real shot at the postseason.  Now?  Not.  Though the Bucs have held their own in the Bayou in recent years, the Saints will be buoyed by their bounty victory.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Buccaneers 23.

Vikings at Rams

MDS’s take: Raise your hand if you actually predicted before the season that this Week 15 game would have playoff implications for both teams. I’m betting on both of these teams falling just short, but I’m impressed that Jeff Fisher and Leslie Frazier have their teams playing well into December. I see the Rams’ defense forcing Christian Ponder into three interceptions and the Rams ending the Vikings’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Vikings 16.

Florio’s take:  I broke from my vow to never pick the Vikings again this year after their Week 11 bye, and it turned out to be a smart move.  For a change.  So why not do it again?  The young Rams remain inconsistent, and they’re due to lay an egg like the one they popped out against the Jets last month.  Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is making a run at history.  What better way to take a big chunk out of the gap between A.P. and E.D. (that nickname isn’t as cool as it used to be) than to do it against the team with which he set the record?

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Rams 13.

Lions at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Neither team is playing particularly well, but at least the Lions are playing competitively. The Cardinals aren’t doing anything right.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Cardinals 6.

Florio’s take:  Something’s gotta give when a pair of crappy teams get together in Arizona.  The Lions are the lesser of two evils, thanks to the fact that they have the better of the two starting quarterbacks.  By far.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 31, Cardinals 17.

Seahawks at Bills

MDS’s take: Seattle catches a break here, as a bad road team is going not to Buffalo but to Toronto, where the pro-Bills crowd won’t be quite as raucous. The Seahawks strike me as a team peaking at the right time, and they’ll beat Buffalo handily.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Bills 17.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks are getting better on the road.  Especially when the road is more like the semi-neutral site that is Toronto.  The push continues for a playoff berth — and possibly the NFC West crown.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 33, Bills 20.

Panthers at Chargers

MDS’s take: Give credit to both of these teams: Late in a tough season, when it would be easy to mail it in, they’re both playing hard. So this should be a pretty good game, something you can’t often say about a December game when both teams have losing records. A big game from Philip Rivers will win it for the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Panthers 28.

Florio’s take:  Ron Rivera returns to San Diego, with inside information about the Chargers’ offense and a quarterback who seems to be finding his stride, again.  Sunday’s upset by San Diego over the Steelers was an aberration; the Panthers’ unexpected win over Atlanta wasn’t.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Chargers 20.

Steelers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This might be the best game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams are desperate. Then again, the Steelers were desperate last week, too, and they laid an egg. Pittsburgh looks like it’s fading down the stretch.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s a rematch of three prior Super Bowls, and each team’s ability to pursue another Super Bowl appearance rides on the outcome.  It’s hard to overlook that ugly home loss by the Steelers — and it’s even harder to ignore the sense that the Cowboys are finding a way to pull together after Saturday’s tragedy.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Steelers 17.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: This might be the worst game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams have nothing to play for other than possibly getting the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. I like the Raiders to win and the Chiefs to take another step toward the top pick.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 21, Chiefs 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s the latest renewal of a once-great rivalry, and it continues to disintegrate.  If the Raiders can win at Arrowhead, they can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 17, Chiefs 7.

49ers at Patriots

MDS’s take: In a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night, I think the Patriots will show they’re playing at another level from the rest of the league. Tom Brady will have a big game against a good 49ers defense, and Bill Belichick will have something up his sleeve for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Another prime-time home game against a playoff-caliber team, another big win for a Patriots team that is poised to make another assault on a championship.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, 49ers 24.

Jets at Titans

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Jets are particularly good, but none of the teams they’re playing in December are particularly good, either. So I like the Jets to win this one, and probably win out to earn a surprising 9-7 record and even an outside shot at an AFC wild card berth.

MDS’s pick: Jets 14, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Jets keep moving toward an unlikely playoff berth.  The Titans keep moving toward an inevitable house cleaning.  Mittens off for Bud Adams!

Florio’s pick:  Jets 14, Titans 10.

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Tedy Bruschi rips Marty Hurney for “culture of cheating” remarks

AFC Championship - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Getty Images

Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi taking up for his former co-workers isn’t exactly a surprise.

But Bruschi went after a fellow ESPN contributor, dismissing former Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney’s comments from last week as sour grapes.

Hurney, an occasional contributor on ESPN’s Insiders, openly questioned whether #DeflateGate was just the latest in what he described as “a culture of cheating.”

“There are just certain opinions about the New England Patriots out there because somebody’s team got beat,” Bruschi said during his weekly spot on WEEI, via ESPNBoston.com. “Marty Hurney, your team got beat [in Super Bowl XXXVIII]. That’s all it is. Move on. But you want to talk about and you want to bring it up because you need some reason why as to why you were beat. But this is the reason why: you were outcoached and you were outplayed. …

“We won, that’s the bottom line. And that [Patriots] team is still continuing to win and people want their own justification as to why. Why? You were outcoached, you were outplayed. End of story.”

Actually, that would be the end, if things such as Spygate and #DeflateGate hadn’t happened since the Patriots beat the Panthers in 2004.

But Hurney’s questions were ones shared far beyond Carolina, as the Patriots have frankly made it easy to be skeptical.

But Bruschi passionately defended coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady,

“I think it’s a very difficult position for me to be on set [at ESPN] with certain people that said certain things that of course I was listening to and I heard,” Bruschi said. “Every man is entitled to their opinion. I disagree with them as strongly as I possibly can because I’ve been in this organization for 13 years.

“Tom Brady, I know. Bill Belichick, I know. If vouch is the word, vouch is the word I’ll use. I vouch for these guys. I know their character. There isn’t anything more that they can do or they can say in terms of what they know what happened.”

While successful people are always targets, the Patriots have through deed and defiance brought more scrutiny on themselves.

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Report: Rams L.A. plans met with “quiet applause” by NFL

Stan Kroenke AP

The news that Rams owner Stan Kroeneke’s plans to build a football stadium in Los Angeles have been met with a variety of public reactions from other owners, but a new report indicates that the private response inside the league office has been positive.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Kroenke’s plan to build a stadium in Inglewood with designs on the Rams moving there in the near future was met by “quiet applause” at the league office. One league source told Breer that “we’re beginning to see the goal line” in the league’s efforts to return to Los Angeles.

Per Breer, the plan was proposed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in December and should take two steps forward this week. The first was the Rams providing notice to St. Louis on Monday that they will go year-to-year on their lease at the Edward Jones Dome and the other is the presentation of 8,500 signatures on a petition to Inglewood to set up a public vote on rezoning 238 acres of land around 60 owned by Kroenke so that all of it is zoned for a stadium.

St. Louis is still trying to keep the Rams and are working on plans for a new stadium, but they have to sort out financing and the Rams seem disinterested about working with local officials about getting a deal done in Missouri.

Breer reports that Kroenke is “amenable” to another team playing at the stadium, something that could help get three-quarters of the other owners to give a green light to a move for the 2016 season although Kroenke is reportedly prepared to move the team with or without such approval.

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Broncos announce a couple of assistants

Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

John Fox landed in Chicago as the new head coach of the Bears shortly after parting ways with the Broncos, who have hired a member of last year’s Bears staff as their new linebackers coach.

Reggie Herring will be making the opposite trip from the one Fox took earlier this month to join Gary Kubiak’s staff in Denver. It’s a reunion for Herring and Kubiak, who spent three years together when Kubiak was the head coach in Houston and Herring coached the linebackers. Herring has also worked for the Cowboys and at the University of Arkansas over a 25-year coaching career.

Herring joins defensive line coach Bill Kollar, tight ends coach Brian Pariani and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison as former Texans assistants to rejoin their old boss in Denver.

The team also confirmed that Clancy Barone will be their offensive line coach. Barone is a holdover from Fox’s staff, although he’ll be shifting from working with tight ends to working in his new role. Barone was also the Broncos’ offensive line coach in 2010, but worked with the tight ends during Fox’s four years as the head coach in Denver.

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Ted Wells says #DeflateGate investigation won’t be a quick one

Winter Weather Massachusetts AP

So much for having #DeflateGate tied up in a neat little bow before Super Bowl XLIX kicks off.

Ted Wells, who is leading the league’s investigation, said it will be some time before he’s ready to release any findings about the fluctuations in ball pressure heard round the world.

“We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation on the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship,” Wells said in a statement. “This work began last week, stretched through the weekend, and is proceeding expeditiously this week notwithstanding the Super Bowl.  We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation.

“I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks. In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly.

That’s no surprise, as the league isn’t commenting on the latest round of reports, including Jay Glazer’s that the investigation has zeroed in on a Patriots ball boy.

So until that time, be prepared for more installments of PSI: New England, which threatens to overshadow the game everybody’s waiting to see this weekend.

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Prop Challenge, Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD on Sunday?

Marshawn Lynch AP

Leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, we’ll take a closer look at one proposition bet per day, something we’ve dubbed PFT’s Prop Challenge. Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then turn it over to you to vote upon which side you would take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of oddsmaker William Hill U.S.:

Over-Under on Super Bowl XLIX’s shortest touchdown: 1.5 yards.

Over: +115 (lay $10 to win $11.50).

Under: -135 (lay $13.50 to win $10).

This prop boils down to one question: Will there be a one-yard touchdown in the Super Bowl?

Let’s consider some data.

Per Pro Football Reference, there have been 1,246 touchdowns scored in regular-season and postseason play in 2014.

Of those 1,246 TDs, 195 scores were one-yard long — about 15.7 percent.

Twelve of those scores have come in the first 10 postseason games of 2014, with New England tallying two and Seattle tallying one.

On average, about 4.7 touchdowns per game were scored this season, per PFR’s data, with 0.73 touchdowns of one yard per contest.

Finally, per the PFR database, there have been 42 one-yard TDs in Super Bowl history, including Seattle tailback Marshawn Lynch’s score last season.

So now, it’s up to you. Will the shortest TD in Super Bowl XLIX be OVER or UNDER 1.5 yards? The poll is open, as are the comments.

The floor is yours.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

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Bills hire Chris Palmer as senior offensive assistant

Tennessee Titans 2011 Headshots

The Bills have brought on an experienced offensive coach to help them develop EJ Manuel or another quarterback during the 2015 season.

The team announced Monday that Chris Palmer will join Rex Ryan’s staff as a senior offensive assistant. Palmer was the first head coach of the revived Browns in 1999 and has also served as the offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach for the Titans, Giants, Cowboys, Texans, Patriots and the USFL’s New Jersey Generals over the course of his long career.

Buffalo also announced that former NFL safety Michael Hamlin has been hired as the special teams quality control coach and that wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal and defensive assistant D’Anton Lynn will follow Rex Ryan from the Jets. The team also announced the previously reported hires of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

Assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson, outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich and offensive quality control coach Jason Vrable will return after spending the 2014 season on Doug Marrone’s staff.

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League has no comment on latest Deflategate development

Super Bowl Football AP

The news that the NFL has zeroed in on a Patriots locker room attendant as the key person of interest in the Deflategate controversy has been met with silence from the league office.

After Jay Glazer of FOX Sports broke the latest development in the ongoing controversy, PFT reached out to the league office for a response. The NFL’s response was only that “we are not commenting on any aspects of the investigation.”

The very existence of an ongoing investigation gives the league an excuse to provide “no comment” answers. That may be one of the reasons that the league hired Ted Wells to undergo a thorough and deliberate investigation. The league would much prefer to be talking about the Super Bowl this week, and so all Deflategate questions will surely be met with similar “no comment” answers from Commissioner Roger Goodell and everyone else at the league office.

But just because the league won’t talk doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be developments. Glazer’s report that the league has interviewed the Patriots locker room attendant, and that he allegedly took footballs from the officials’ locker room after they had been inspected and approved and brought them to another area of the stadium before the game started, will have people talking at Media Day.

Even if the league office has nothing to say.

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Raiders re-sign S Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson AP

Charles Woodson is returning for a third season in his second stint with Oakland.

The Raiders announced Monday they had signed Woodson to a new deal covering the 2015 season.

The Raiders’ starting free safety, Woodson notched 113 tackles and intercepted four passes in 2014, his 17th NFL season. He turns 39 in October.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Woodson played his first eight NFL seasons with Oakland before signing with Green Bay in 2006. Woodson went on to have a splendid seven-season run with the Packers, highlighted by Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl XLV.

Woodson ranks 11th all-time in career interceptions (60).

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Report: NFL investigation has “zeroed in” on Patriots locker room attendant

Bill Belichick Blinds NFL WIth Science On Deflategate Getty Images

Last week, the NFL released a statement saying they were continuing their investigation into under-inflated footballs used by the Patriots during their AFC Championship game victory over the Colts to determine if the deflation was “the result of deliberate action” by the Patriots.

Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both denied any knowledge of what happened and Belichick offered up an explanation via scientific experimentation on Saturday, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the league has “zeroed in” on a team employee in their investigation.

Per Glazer, the league has interviewed a Patriots locker room attendant who allegedly took footballs from the officials locker room after they had been inspected and approved “to another area on way to field” before the start of the game. There’s reportedly video of this attendant with the balls, although Glazer adds that the league’s investigators are “still gauging” if the attendant, called a “strong person of interest,” had anything to do with the deflation.

The Patriots are on their way to Arizona right now. If anyone’s betting on the first question Belichick gets asked after arrival, it would probably be unwise to bet on anything other than Glazer’s report.

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Brandon Browner on Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman: Hit that shoulder, hit that elbow

Brandon Browner AP

Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner is in a very different position this year than he was at this point in 2014.

Browner was a member of the Seahawks, but he wasn’t getting ready to play in the Super Bowl because he was serving a suspension. During an interview with Josina Anderson of ESPN, Browner discussed how difficult it was to sit and watch his teammates beat the Broncos and how he didn’t feel like part of the festivities once they became champions.

Browner told Anderson he made a promise to himself to get back to the Super Bowl to remedy that feeling. Browner says he has no hard feelings for the Seahawks and remains friends with his fellow defensive backs, but that’s not stopping him from advising his teammates to go after Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’s injured shoulder or cornerback Richard Sherman’s injured elbow.

“At the end of the day, this is about the Super Bowl. I’m gonna tell my teammates ‘go hit that elbow,go hit that shoulder,'” Browner said. “Hit it, yeah. Try to break it if you can. You can be my best friend after the game but, at the end of the day, I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do.”

Sherman practiced all of last week and Thomas returned to work on Friday, so they should both be on the field for the Patriots to attack this Sunday.

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Perry Fewell on to Washington in search for new job

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

When the Redskins were looking for a head coach in 2014, they interviewed Perry Fewell before hiring Jay Gruden.

Fewell was defensive coordinator of the Giants at the time, a job he lost at the end of the 2014 season thanks to a dismal performance by his unit on the way to a 6-10 finish. That’s left him in search of a new job and put him on the interview list for a different job in Washington.

Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that Fewell is interviewing for the defensive backs job on the staff of new coordinator Joe Barry. Raheem Morris had been in that role, but he’s reportedly agreed to a job in Atlanta. Fewell was a defensive backs coach before making the move to coordinator with the Bills in 2006.

Fewell also interviewed for a job on the 49ers staff and John Keim of ESPN.com reports that he’s making the trip to Washington with an offer from the team in his pocket. It would appear, then, that Fewell will be on someone’s staff come the start of next season.

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Michael Bennett: Gronk is NFL’s No. 2 tight end, after my brother

Michael Bennett AP

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says there’s only one tight end in the NFL better than Rob Gronkowski: Martellus Bennett.

Martellus, the Bears’ tight end, is Michael’s brother. So it’s probably safe to say that Michael is a little biased on that evaluation.

“I think Gronkowski’s the second-best tight end. My brother’s first, obviously,” Michael Bennett said.

Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane said last week that he doesn’t think Gronkowski is very good, but Bennett doesn’t agree with that.

“His body’s pretty good,” Bennett said of Gronk. “He’s a good blocker. I think he does great. I think his run-after-catch is second to none. I think he has great hands. He’s just a great player, honestly.”

Everyone except Lane would agree that Gronk is a great player. Even if Bennett can’t go quite so far as to call him the best tight end in the NFL.

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Vernon Davis offers his support for Rob Chudzinski

Rob Chudzinski AP

49ers tight end Vernon Davis apparently wouldn’t mind if the club went a certain way with its upcoming offensive coordinator hire.

At the very least, there’s a certain candidate he would like to meet.

As Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area notes, Davis posted a picture of Colts special assistant to the head coach Rob Chudzinski on Instagram on Monday with the following message:

“All I want for Christmas … is to meet #robchudzinski #OC”

Chudzinski, whose Colts contract is expiring, can start to talk to clubs about coordinator vacancies on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The 49ers would like to interview Chudzinski, Schefter said.

The 46-year-old Chudzinski has experience coaching tight ends, and tight ends have done well in his offenses.

In Chudzinski’s lone season as Browns head coach in 2013, tight end Jordan Cameron went to the Pro Bowl, catching 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. The previous season, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen hauled in 69 passes for 843 yards and five scores as Chudzinski called the plays for Carolina. Also, in Chudzinski’s first season as Browns offensive coordinator in 2007, Kellen Winslow had an 82-catch, 1,106-yard campaign.

The 30-year-old Davis had an injury-plagued and disappointing 2014 season, catching just 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. However, in previous campaigns, he had been a vital and productive part of the San Francisco passing attack, making two Pro Bowls. He is slated to make $4.35 million in salary in 2015, per Rotoworld.

No matter how the 49ers proceed at offensive coordinator, getting more out of the tight end position is a must.

And Davis might have some suggestions about that.

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Aaron Hernandez jury seated, trial starts Thursday

Aaron Hernandez AP

The trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd in 2013 will begin on Thursday as a result of the blizzard bearing down on the Northeast.

A jury of 18 people — 13 women and five men — was selected on Monday in Fall River, Massachusetts, but the Hartford Courant reports that Judge E. Susan Garsh pushed back the intended Tuesday start date because the predicted snowfall is expected to leave the area digging out for the next couple of days.

Hernandez and two other men are accused of picking up Lloyd in a car early in the morning of June 17, 2013 and murdering him a short time later. The other men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, will be tried separately.

Prosecutors recently submitted a petition for immunity for Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancee, in what’s believed to be a bid to get her to testify against Hernandez at the trial. Jenkins faces a charge of perjury related to the case, but, per the Courant, no immunity had been granted by Monday’s jury selection.

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Report: Richard Smith joining Raheem Morris on Falcons staff

Richard Smith AP

The Falcons continue to keep busy while waiting to officially make Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn their new head coach.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Redskins defensive backs coach and former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris has verbally accepted a spot on the team’s coaching staff, a move that was reported over the weekend. Breer also reports that Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith will be coming on board.

The initial reports on Morris had him coming to Atlanta as the team’s defensive coordinator, but Breer reports he’ll be the assistant head coach and run the team’s pass defense. Smith will “likely” be the coordinator and run the team’s run defense, although Quinn’s background suggests he’ll play a big role in everything the defense does in Atlanta.

Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Texans from 2006-2008 and also ran the defense in Miami in 2005 for Nick Saban.

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