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PFT’s Week 16 picks

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The proverbial pink champagne is on ice.

Yes, with a clean sweep in the three games on which we disagreed last weekend, I’ve now built a seven-game lead over MDS, with only 32 games to go.

The problem for MDS is that we probably won’t disagree on seven games in the final two weeks.  Even then, he needs to be right on all of them.

For Week 16, we disagree on three.  So I’ll lead by at least four and possibly by 10 by the time the fat man in the red suit breaks into my house, eats my cookies, and leaves behind a bunch of stuff for everyone but me.

For the week, I was 12-4 to a 9-7 from MDS.  On the year, I’m at 146-77-1, good for 65.1 percent.  MDS is 139-84-1, still at 62.0 percent.

Falcons at Lions

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have been severely inconsistent this season, with the Falcons consistently managing to pull out wins when they don’t play very well, and the Lions consistently managing to pull out losses when they play competitively. So after a week in which the Falcons blew out a good team and the Lions got blown out by a bad team, I’m picking both teams to revert to their inconsistent ways. Does this logic make sense? Maybe not, but I’m going to have to pick some upsets to catch Florio.  So what the heck?

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  It would be fitting for the Lions to close out a disappointing year with a pair of home wins over postseason contenders from Atlanta and Chicago.  It would be fitting, but after seeing the Lions lay an egg against the nine-eggs-in-a-row-laying Cardinals, it’s impossible for me to think the Lions can take down a Falcons team that put a goose egg on the Giants.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 31, Lions 17.

Giants at Ravens

MDS’s take: Both of these teams once looked like locks to win their divisions and now look desperate. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells liked to say that in games like this, you go with the more desperate team. That’s the Giants, who probably need to win out to make the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Ravens 13.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens are desperate for a win.  The Giants are more desperate for a win.  Even though Eli Manning’s Giants have lost to two teams that Peyton Manning’s Broncos played previously and beat, the third time needs to be a charm, or Eli will have no chance to chase his third ring.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Ravens 20.

Raiders at Panthers

MDS’s take: A couple weeks ago this looked like it could be a game to determine the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But the Panthers have won two in a row, and the Raiders won last week, and so now it looks merely like a game that could help shape the Top 10 of the draft. Which makes it an even less interesting game than it otherwise would have been.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Raiders 10.

Florio’s take:  Ron Rivera is making it very hard for the next G.M. to hire a new coach.  It will keep getting harder.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 31, Raiders 20.

Saints at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Dallas secondary is going to struggle mightily against the Saints’ passing attack, but with the season on the line I see Tony Romo having a big game against the Saints’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 34, Saints 31.

Florio’s take:  A loss to Dallas is a win for the Saints, since it makes it more likely that there won’t be a place with the Cowboys for Sean Payton.  Even though the Saints won big over the Bucs, the Cowboys are chasing a playoff berth no one thought they’d secure.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 30, Saints 24.

Titans at Packers

MDS’s take: Tennessee has actually played some reasonably good football in the five weeks since owner Bud Adams put the team on notice following a humiliating loss to the Bears: In those five weeks the Titans have blown out the Dolphins, ended the Jets’ playoff hopes and played a very close game against the playoff-bound Colts. But Green Bay in December is a tough place to play, and the Packers won’t have too much trouble putting the Titans away.

MDS’s pick: Packers 35, Titans 21.

Florio’s take:  Green Bay is reached for a No. 2 seed.  The Titans are reaching for a lower draft pick.  Advantage Packers.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 27, Titans 17.

Vikings at Texans

MDS’s take: It’s impressive that the Vikings are still playing meaningful games this deep in the season, but this is where it comes to an end.  The Texans will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by spanking the Vikings, and the loss will severely damage the Vikings’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Texans 41, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take:  The Texans may not be able to stop Adrian Peterson, but they’ll likely come through in the most important statistical category — points scored versus points allowed.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 31, Vikings 20.

Patriots at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Patriots can’t be feeling good about themselves after Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers. They’ll take it out on the Jaguars in the day’s biggest blowout.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Jaguars 3.

Florio’s take:  Five years ago, these two teams squared off in the playoffs.  The closest the Jaguars ever get to returning comes from periodically losing to New England.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 41, Jaguars 14.

Colts at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Let’s just stop and reflect for a moment on how important the quarterback position is in the NFL: In 2010, with Peyton Manning, the Colts were a playoff team. In 2011, with Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins, the Colts were the worst team in the league. In 2012, with Andrew Luck, the Colts will beat the Chiefs on Sunday and clinch a playoff berth.

MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Chiefs 14.

Florio’s take:  The team that lucked into the top pick in the 2012 draft faces the team that won’t have the same good fortune finding a quarterback with the first or second overall selection in 2013.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Chiefs 13.

Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Amazingly, the Dolphins are still in playoff contention, although they would need a lot of help in order to get there, even if they win out. They’ll at least take care of their end by winning on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins are surprisingly still alive for the postseason.  The Bills unsurprisingly aren’t.  Edge to the home team and the team that still have something to play for, which in this case is the same team.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 20, Bills 17.

Redskins at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Redskins just need to win out and they win the NFC East. No way they get tripped up by the Eagles, who are just playing out the string. Who would have figured before the season that the Redskins would be playing for a division title while the Eagles would be long since eliminated from playoff contention?

MDS’s pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s likely the final home game for Eagles coach Andy Reid.  And Reid surely would love to spoil Washington’s chances to get to the postseason.  Of course, Reid also would have loved to have had the kind of year that would have made Sunday’s game not his final home game.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Eagles 14.

Bengals at Steelers

MDS’s take: The game of the day is in Pittsburgh, where these two teams will be fighting for the one open playoff spot remaining after the Colts take care of business. I like the Steelers to summon everything they have left and put themselves in prime position to clinch in Week 17.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 21, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals are 0-9 in their last eight games against the Steelers and Ravens.  And the Steelers are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.  And the Steelers desperately need a win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.  This isn’t a game the Steelers lose.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 23, Bengals 13.

Rams at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: I was surprised the extent to which the Bucs looked on Sunday like they’ve given up on the season. Greg Schiano and Jeff Fisher both have rebuilding jobs on their hands, but Fisher’s Rams appear to be closer to getting that job done than Schiano’s Bucs.

MDS’s pick: Rams 17, Buccaneers 9.

Florio’s take:  The Bucs play their final home game of the season while in a full-blown free fall.  Since it’s potentially cornerback Ronde Barber’s final home game of his career, look for the Bucs to find a way to turn things around against a Rams team that saw its unlikely postseason run slam to a halt in Week 15.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 28, Rams 17.

Browns at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos just need to beat two bad teams, the Browns and Chiefs, in order to ensure that if they rematch the Patriots in the playoffs, that game takes place in Denver. Peyton Manning and Co. will take care of business.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Broncos are closing in on a bye.  The Browns are closing in on saying “bye” to their coach and G.M.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 27, Browns 14.

Bears at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Bears need to win out and get some help to make the playoffs. I’m not sure if they’ll get the help, but with only the Cardinals and Lions left on the schedule, they should win out.

MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Cardinals 9.

Florio’s take:  No one’s ass is getting crowned as a result of this one.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 20, Cardinals 10.

49ers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Sunday night game is a big one, matching the two teams that may be playing the best football in all of the NFL right now. On a neutral field I’d probably take the 49ers, but in Seattle I give the Seahawks the edge.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 21, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  The “what’s your deal?” rivalry suddenly has become one of the best in the game, making the frosty relationship between the two coaches an afterthought.  The Seahawks could have, and should have, won the last time these teams met.  This time, the Seahawks are even better.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, 49ers 17.

Chargers at Jets

MDS’s take: Greg McElroy may get the loudest ovation at home that a Jets quarterback has received since Joe Namath. I don’t think McElroy is the long-term answer, but I do think he’ll play competently, and the Jets’ defense will play well, and Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will stand together on the sideline awkwardly watching the McElroy-led Jets win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Jets 13, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  The McElroy era begins with a Bolt.  Or maybe a butt fumble.  There’s too much drama this week in the locker room for the Jets to come together and win.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 17, Jets 10.

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Kam Chancellor nursing bone spurs in his ankle

Chancellor AP

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor certainly didn’t look all that limited against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

However, it appears that the ankle issue that forced him to miss practice last Wednesday and land on the injury report was more troublesome than it seemed.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Chancellor is dealing with bone spurs in his ankle that had the team considering surgery with the team set for their bye this week. If they had elected for surgery, Chancellor would have likely missed 6-8 weeks. Because the team already used their one reserve/injured-designation to return card on cornerback Jeremy Lane, they would have had to carry him on their active roster the whole time.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the ankle injury had really affected Chancellor’s play in Seattle’s loss in Week 2 to the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s had ankle issues for some time,” Carroll said. “His ankle really bothered him in the San Diego game. It was on fire. It really got in the way of his play.”

But the team believes they’ve found a treatment plan to keep Chancellor’s ankle problems quieted down to where it won’t affect his play.

“[The trainers] found a couple things that they could do to help him,” Carroll said. “…We didn’t have a great outlook going into the week, we weren’t sure, but it just turned really quickly on Thursday and fortunately he came flying back.”

Chancellor had nine tackles, two passes defended, a forced fumble and a key interception of Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter that preserved Seattle’s five-point lead.

“Man, it felt great today,” Chancellor told, via Garafolo. “Last week, it was bothering me. But this week, it felt amazing. We did some different stuff to fix it up, fix the shoes and stuff and it felt awesome.”

It is still an issue the team will have to continue to monitor throughout the season.

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49ers, Cardinals fans involved in bloody melee

49ers Cardinals Football AP

Following the NFL’s realignment in 2002, the four teams placed in the new NFC West didn’t really have histories that led to heated rivalries between the teams.

The Seattle Seahawks had been a member of the AFC. The Arizona Cardinals had been in the NFC East and the rivalry between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers didn’t feel like it carried over when the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

Now over a decade into the new alignment, the rivalries on the field have heated up and apparently carried over to the stands as well.

According to Andrew Joseph of AZCentral.com, a massive brawl broke out in the stands during the Cardinals 23-14 victory over the 49ers on Sunday afternoon.

Several fights occurred in that section of the stadium during the game.

In a video posted to Youtube that has since been removed, a group of close to 10-20 fans appeared to be involved in the incident. After some pushing and shoving with punches thrown, a handful of bodies tumbled down a staircase in the stadium as the fight enveloped security as well that was attempting to quell the melee.

In the aftermath, blood could be seen splattered over the stadium’s staircase.

One person was arrested with several others ejected from the stadium.

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Report: Cardinals signing RB Marion Grice

Marion Grice AP

The Cardinals are reportedly adding another reserve tailback.

The club has reached a deal with rookie Marion Grice, a member of the Chargers’ practice squad, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The Chargers selected Grice (6-0, 208) in Round Six of the 2014 draft. He led San Diego in rushing in the preseason, but he was waived on Sept. 1 before being re-signed to the practice squad.

The signing of Grice, once official, will give the Cardinals five tailbacks, with Stepfan Taylor, Jalen Parmele and Robert Hughes the other backups behind lead back Andre Ellington. The signing would also give Arizona 54 players without another roster move, so a corresponding transaction is coming.

The Cardinals’ addition of Grice comes with the Chargers having just two healthy running backs (Donald Brown, Branden Oliver). The Chargers lost Danny Woodhead to a season-ending leg injury in the Week Three win at Buffalo, and starter Ryan Mathews is dealing with a knee injury. San Diego will almost certainly add at least one more back before Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville.

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Report: Manti Te’o has broken foot, out “multiple weeks”

Manti Te'o AP

Yet another foot injury will sideline Manti Te’o.

Te’o, a starting inside linebacker for the Chargers, will be out “multiple weeks” with a fractured right foot, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The 23-year-old Te’o recorded 10 tackles in the Chargers’ 22-10 win at Buffalo on Sunday. The former Notre Dame star and 2013 second-round pick has been a starter since joining San Diego, appearing in 16 games over two seasons with 80 tackles and four passes defended. According to the Union-Tribune, Kavell Conner is likely to replace Te’o in the lineup.

Te’o has suffered injuries to both feet since entering the NFL last spring. He had right foot surgery in the offseason, and he dealt with a left foot ailment this summer. Te’o’s current right foot injury is a new ailment, and it is one that will not necessitate him landing on injured reserve, the Union-Tribune said.

The Chargers have won two games in a row. They are heavy favorites against winless Jacksonville next Sunday.

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Cutler, Bennett connect for two scores as Bears earn 27-19 win over Jets

Chicago Bears v New York Jets Getty Images

Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett connected on a pair of touchdown passes and the Chicago Bears held off a second half New York Jets rally to earn a 27-19 victory on Monday night.

The Jets out-gained the Bears by a 414-257 margin but had three turnovers and a muffed punt that turned into a 14-0 hole New York had to dig their way out of.

Despite the deficit, the Jets still had a chance to tie in the closing seconds. Geno Smith led New York on a 12-play, 71-yard drive to get within sight of the goal line, but a fourth down pass from Smith to Jeremy Kerley fell incomplete as the Bears held on for the victory.

The Jets drove inside the Bears 25-yard line on seven different occasions and only came away with one touchdown. The results of those possession: field goal, field goal, touchdown, interception, field goal, field goal, turnover on downs.

The Jets also had a touchdown taken away when a fumble returned for a touchdown by Demario Davis was blown dead by the officials. New York instead failed to score on the ensuing possession.

The Bears secondary took some significant blows as safeties Chris Conte, Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy all left with injuries throughout the contest, forcing Chicago to turn to rookie Brock Vereen and Ahmad Dixon.

Mundy intercepted Smith for a 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter and Bennett hauled in his first touchdown, a 7-yard catch, from Cutler following muffed punt catch from Jalen Saunders.

The Bears added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bennett and two Robbie Gould field goals.

Ultimately, the Jets didn’t have the ability to score touchdowns despite repeated trips into the Chicago red zone. Smith and Kerley connected for a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Nick Folk converted four field goals (43, 28, 22, 42 yards) for the Jets

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Chris Conte out for Bears, Eric Decker out for Jets

Eric Decker AP

The Chicago Bears are having their depth at safety tested during Monday night’s game against the New York Jets,

Both Chicago starters have suffered shoulder injuries in the game.

Chris Conte is out for the rest of the game after injuring his shoulder in the third quarter. Ryan Mundy also left the game with a shoulder injury, but his return to the game was listed as probable.

Danny McCray and rookie Brock Vereen came into the game to replace Conte and Mundy for the Bears.

Jets receiver Eric Decker’s status for the game was also in question prior to the game due to a hamstring injury. Decker was active for the game but left once again after re-aggravating the injury during Monday night’s game.

Decker caught just one pass for 19 yards before leaving the game with the injury. He was initially ruled as questionable to return to the game but was downgraded to out in the fourth quarter.

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Blown call costs Jets a touchdown before halftime

cutlerjets AP

The officials are doing the Jets no favors as they try to come from behind against the Bears.

With a minute and a half to go before halftime, Jets linebacker David Harris hit Jay Cutler, forcing a fumble that Jets linebacker Demario Davis scooped up and ran downfield for what looked like an easy touchdown. Unfortunately, the officials blew the play dead.

It was reviewed on instant replay and correctly ruled a fumble, but because the officials had wrongly blown the play dead, the Jets didn’t get the touchdown that Davis almost certainly would have scored if the play had been correctly called on the field. The Jets’ offense wasn’t able to do anything after gaining possession, and the Jets had to punt.

Correct that blown call and the bad pass interference call that set up the Bears’ only offensive touchdown, and this game that the Bears lead 17-13 could easily be something more like a 20-10 Jets lead.

The Jets have to overcome both the Bears and the officials in the second half.

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The story behind ESPN’s Ravens story, sort of

Bisciotti AP

ESPN’s bombshell story regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation landed on Friday at 5:47 p.m. ET, in a spot where information typically goes to not be noticed.

The decision to publish the item in a bad-news wasteland fewer than two hours after Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference has sparked questions in the industry about the thought process behind pulling the sheet off the story late on a Friday afternoon, versus holding it for Sunday morning or — as TMZ surely did with the Ray Rice video two weeks ago — Monday morning.

ESPN’s position is that there’s nothing to see regarding the timing of a story that may not have received the attention and traction it deserved beyond those who closely follow the NFL.  The story was published as soon as it was ready, ESPN contends.  Curiosity about the timing nevertheless exists.

The curiosity is enhanced by some of the circumstances surrounding the final hours before the report was published.  Although ESPN’s reporters worked on the story for 11 days, the first request for comment to the NFL came at 12:34 p.m. ET Friday, via a list of 15 detailed, written questions submitted roughly 90 minutes after the league announced that Commissioner Roger Godless would be conducting a press conference at 3:00 p.m. ET.  The Ravens separately received a list of written questions at roughly 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday.

The NFL declined to answer any of the written questions, and it appears that ESPN did not send anyone to the press conference with the task of posing any, some, or all of the 15 questions directly to Goodell.  Spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN, “Mr. [Robert] Mueller is in the process of conducting his investigation into the pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.  His report will be made public.”

The story initially claimed that Rice watched Baltimore’s Week One game with center A.Q. Shipley, a clear error given that Shipley had been cut by the Ravens and claimed on waivers by the Colts.  The mistake quickly was corrected. Likewise, the contention that Ravens senior personnel assistant George Kokinis believed that Rice should be cut in February is regarded by some in the organization as a mischaracterization of his role and responsibilities.   At least one member of the Ravens organization privately has pointed to these errors as evidence that the entire story may lack full and complete credibility.

ESPN has said repeatedly that it stands by its reporting, reiterating that stance in the wake of the lengthy statement issued on Monday by the Ravens and owner Steve Bisciotti’s press conference.  During his 47 minutes with the media, Bisciotti accused ESPN of essentially rushing the story to publication, pointing to the fact that the reporters spent 11 days working on the story but that ESPN ultimately asked for input from the league and the team only a few hours before the story was unleashed.

Given the potential damage that an inflammatory report like this can do to the broader relationship between ESPN and the NFL, it’s odd to say the least that ESPN opted to push forward at a time when the parties against whom the allegations were made didn’t have a full and fair opportunity to respond to details that took nearly two weeks to compile.  Perhaps ESPN wanted to redirect blame from the NFL to the Ravens in the aftermath of the Goodell press conference.  Perhaps ESPN wanted to make Goodell seem less credible.  Perhaps ESPN simply believed that publishing the story within the hours after Goodell’s press conference would generate the most attention for the story, and in turn for ESPN.

Or perhaps ESPN simply decided that it didn’t make sense to wait for someone else to report the same information ESPN was poised to report.

The timing of the publication has no bearing on the accuracy of the report.  But with the Ravens now issuing a lengthy statement identifying the many flaws that it believes the report contains, ESPN may feel compelled to continue to work the story even harder, in order to prove that the Ravens are wrong, and that ESPN is right.

Ultimately, the tie may be broken by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating the Rice investigation.

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Jets have pick-six, muffed punt, down 14-0 in first five minutes

ryanmundy AP

The Jets got off to a bad start tonight against the Bears. A very bad start.

On the game’s first series, Jets quarterback Geno Smith threw a pass right into the hands of Chicago’s Ryan Mundy, who raced 45 yards for a touchdown to make the score 7-0.

An exchange of punts ensued, but Jets return man Jalen Saunders muffed his punt, and the Bears recovered. A Jay Cutler deep ball to Alshon Jeffery resulted in a highly questionable pass interference penalty on the Jets, setting up first-and-goal.

From there, Jay Cutler hit Martellus Bennett in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown, and it was 14-0 Bears, barely five minutes into the game.

This one’s a long way from over. But early on, it looks like we could have another prime time mismatch on our hands.

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Bisciotti shrugs at possibility he’d be forced to sell over Rice situation

Bisciotti AP

In the aftermath of Friday’s ESPN report regarding the alleged mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti met for 47 minutes with the media to answer many questions about the report and the investigation.

Informed that a Forbes article has raised the possibility of Bisciotti being forced to sell the team, Bisciotti said, “If they force me to sell, then I guess I’ll sell.”

He then added that, because he doesn’t work very hard as owner of the team, he really wouldn’t have a major void in his life.

Bisciott’s version of the situation, as articulated at the press conference and set forth in the the lengthy statement from the team, could be interpreted as Bisciotti believing that he did nothing that would justify a decision to force him to sell the team.  Ultimately, the decision regarding what the Ravens knew, when they knew it, and what if anything they did wrong will be made by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is conducting an investigation of the entire situation.

And that’s when things could get even more interesting.  If Bisciotti disputes Mueller’s version of the events, will Bisciotti change his mind regarding whether any employees of the team should no longer be employees of the team?  Or will Bisciotti dispute Mueller’s report the same way Bisciotti disputed the ESPN report?

That’s an angle that, like so many other issues in this situation, the NFL and the Ravens possibly haven’t thought all the way through.  Are the league office and the Ravens prepared to accept Mueller’s conclusion, or will they reserve the right to disagree, like Goodell did when former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions imposed by Goodell in the Saints bounty scandal?

Ultimately, Mueller’s investigation could result in many eye-opening conclusions.  At this point, nothing should be ruled out.

Included a possible decision by ownership that Bisciotti should sell the team.  If that happens, it sounds like he’ll go more quietly than Donald Sterling did.

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Reports: James Harrison to rejoin Steelers

James Harrison AP

Less than a month after retiring, James Harrison is set to rejoin the club with whom he’s had his greatest success, per multiple published reports.

The Steelers will sign the 36-year-old Harrison this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Monday.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Harrison will meet with the Steelers on Tuesday and is on track to sign, barring any snags.

Long-time Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also reported that Harrison will rejoin the team after a season away.

And on Instagram, Harrison posted a video suggesting he would be returning to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are in need of outside linebacking depth after Jarvis Jones was placed on injured reserve/designated for return on Monday, and Harrison is well-versed in Dick LeBeau’s defense. The 36-year-old Harrison played 10 seasons for Pittsburgh (2002, 2004-2012), recording 64 sacks. He played 10 games for Cincinnati in 2013.

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Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery all active tonight

Eric Decker AP

Three starting wide receivers were listed as inactive for tonight’s game. They’ll all play.

Jets receiver Eric Decker and Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are all active. They may not be 100 percent healthy — Decker’s hamstring in particular has caused some concerns — but they’re all going to play.

Inactive for the Jets is cornerback Dee Milliner, meaning the Jets’ secondary will have a tough task against Marshall and Jeffery.

The Jets’ other inactives are defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, offensive tackle Dakota Dozier, linebacker A.J. Edds, defensive end Ikemefuna Enemkpali, receiver Walter Powell and offensive tackle Ben Ijalana.

The Bears’ inactives are center Roberto Garza, tackle Charles Leno, linebacker Shea McClellin, cornerback Sherrick McManis, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, defensive end Trevor Scott and guard Matt Slauson.

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Clay Matthews: “Hard to answer” if groin injury will keep him out

Clay Matthews AP

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews wasn’t on the field for the final minutes of his team’s 19-7 loss to the Lions on Sunday because of a groin injury.

Matthews got hurt while trying to avoid a cut block by Lions wide receiver Golden Tate and said after the game that he wasn’t sure how severe it might be. He didn’t have a much clearer idea on Monday either.

“It’s hard to answer that right now,” Matthews said, via ESPN.com. “Obviously I think it’s something I can play with, but you’ve got to make sure you’re operating at a high level. That will be the biggest obstacle, not obstacle but thing to find out, and I think we’ll know more on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Injuries have cost Matthews, who has a sack in three games this year, nine games over the last two seasons and the Packers have suffered when he’s been out of the lineup. Matthews did say that he feels good a day after the game and his condition will be updated once the Packers start practicing later this week.

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Peyton Manning: Overtime rules put a premium on the coin toss

peytoncarroll AP

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning led his team to a stunning comeback in Seattle on Sunday, tying a game in the final minute after it appeared to be lost. Then Manning made a mistake that cost his team the game: He called tails.

After the Broncos lost the overtime coin toss, Manning could do nothing more than stand on the sideline and watch as Russell Wilson led the Seahawks down the field toward a game-winning touchdown. After ending the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass, Manning never touched the ball in overtime.

As Manning noted afterward, that coin toss loomed large.

It puts a premium on the coin toss,” Manning said. “I called tails at the beginning of the game, and went with it again in overtime. It was heads, and it proved to be a significant call. But that’s the way it is. And you’d like to not leave it to that, leave it to get to that situation.”

For years, overtime in the NFL was true sudden death, with the first team to score winning. The newer rules make the coin toss a bit less important, as a team can’t win with a field goal on the first possession. But the coin toss still matters. Some fans prefer the college format, where teams alternate possessions from the 25-yard line, but winning the coin toss matters in college, too, as it’s advantageous to win the toss, play defense first and then know on the subsequent possession whether to play it safe for a field goal or whether a touchdown is necessary. An auction-style overtime rule, where the teams would “bid” on a yard line to start from in overtime, could eliminate the coin toss but has never really caught on.

The NFL probably won’t change the rules on overtime any time soon, if ever. So players who don’t want to deal with a rule that puts a premium on the coin toss will just have to win the game in regulation.

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Bucs work out Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor AP

The Bucs may be without quarterback Josh McCown for the next few weeks after he suffered a thumb injury in the team’s blowout loss to the Falcons last Thursday and that may have them in the market for some help at the position.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that the team worked out former Raiders and Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday. Pryor was let go by the Seahawks at the end of the preseason after Seattle gave the backup job to Tarvaris Jackson. He started nine games for the Raiders last season, throwing seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions while also running for 576 yards.

Pryor isn’t up to speed on the Buccaneers offense, obviously, so he wouldn’t be an ideal choice if they needed to turn to someone in a pinch behind Mike Glennon. Mike Kafka is on the practice squad, which likely leaves him better suited to role.

Pryor’s athleticism could intrigue the Bucs from a longer term perspective, however, so we’ll see if anything develops for him in Tampa.

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