Can the Texans win for the first time ever in Indianapolis? Does the cold weather favor the Patriots over the Dolphins? The Bears need a win over the Lions, will they get it? The PFT guys answer these questions and more as they make their Sunday picks.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: PFT Sunday picks
The Chiefs called left tackle Branden Albert’s hyperextended knee a “day-to-day situation” on Monday and it wasn’t feeling well enough two days later for Albert to participate in practice.
Albert was one of three key members of the Chiefs lineup who sat out the first practice of the week. Linebacker Justin Houston, who sat out last week’s loss to Denver after suffering a dislocated elbow, and tight end Anthony Fasano, recovering from both a concussion and a knee injury, joined him on the sideline.
Coach Andy Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, that Donald Stephenson will play left tackle as long as Albert is out. First overall pick Eric Fisher will return to the starting lineup at right tackle with Stephenson swapping sides of the line. Reid also said that Geoff Schwartz will continue to start at right guard with Jon Asamoah’s shoulder feeling “a bit tender.”
It will probably be Friday at the earliest before we know anyone’s status for certain, but having any of Albert, Houston or Fasano will be a boost as Kansas City tries to halt its losing streak at three games.
The NFL is trying something different with a 2014 game in London: An early kickoff.
The league announced today that the Lions-Falcons game on Sunday, October 26 will kick off at 1:30 p.m. UK time, which is 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. That’s believed to be the earliest kickoff in NFL history. (The other two London games in 2014 will kick off at the customary time of 1 p.m. Eastern.)
FOX will broadcast the game nationally as the lead-in to its normal 1 p.m. Eastern kickoffs. And, given that everything the NFL does draws big TV numbers, FOX can probably expect big numbers for this game, too — not as big as a typical Sunday afternoon game, but huge compared to what TV networks normally draw on Sunday mornings.
And that leads to an interesting question: If the NFL follows through with the talk of eventually moving eight games a year to London, will it have all eight of those games kick off at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and then sell that package of eight games to a TV network? If so, the NFL may have just found another lucrative revenue stream. As if the league’s billionaire owners need it.
As the great Vincent LaGuardia Gambini once muttered under his breath to Judge Herman Munster, “There’s a f–kin’ surprise.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who if the league office were handing out $100 bills would complain that they aren’t sufficiently crisp, has griped about the punishment imposed on coach Mike Tomlin for his Thanksgiving night side-step right.
Asked by Devan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review whether Clark believes it’s fair to delay the decision on stripping a draft pick, Clark said: “It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s Roger Goodell. When has he been fair?“
Clark’s disdain for Goodell is preventing him from understanding the fairness inherent in the decision to wait. Taking a pick without knowing where that pick falls could hurt the Steelers, based on how high they finish in the draft order. Thus, the most fair outcome to the Steelers would be to wait for the draft order to be established before deciding how to proceed with the final portion of the penalty, which includes a $100,000 fine for Tomlin.
And that’s exactly what Goodell is doing.
In past cases (such as Spygate and Bountygate), the draft pick forfeiture was specified at the time of the penalty. This provides certainty in the event of potential trades. Once the trade deadline passes, there’s no reason to make a decision about draft-pick forfeiture or modification until the final order is set.
In this regard, modification becomes an intriguing possibility. In tampering cases, the draft-pick penalty included a flip-flopping of picks between the teams involved. Based on where the Steelers and Ravens pick, Pittsburgh may not lose a draft pick; the Steelers may simply have a pick downgraded.
Regardless, the potential modification or forfeiture of draft picks constitutes a significant penalty for the Steelers, far more significant than a six-figure fine. One Steelers source told PFT over the weekend that the team would prefer a one-game suspension of Tomlin to the loss of draft picks.
How big of a deal would it be for the Steelers to lose a late-round pick? Receiver Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick.
The weekly quarterback question has been answered in Minnesota, and it’s the old guy again.
Cassel was perfectly acceptable in Sunday’s win against the Bears, and has played in all three of their wins this season.
The fact that there are only three wins kind of makes the question of a week-to-week starter kind of a moot one, since it ought to be somebody else next year.
But it’s becoming clear they’re not comfortable running Josh Freeman out there again, which only adds to the importance of finding a new one this offseason.
The number of Buccaneers on injured reserve has hit 14 with the announcement that linebacker Jonathan Casillas has been shut down for the season because of a knee injury.
Casillas signed with the Bucs as a free agent before the season and had played in all 12 games for the team this season. He started four of those games, including the Week 13 loss to the Panthers that he couldn’t finish because he hurt his knee. Casillas finishes the year with 24 tackles and a forced fumble on defense as well as a team-high nine tackles in kick coverage.
They could also use Danny Lansanah, who they signed off the Jets’ practice squad to take Casillas’ place on the roster, but Lansanah hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2008 season so he may not be the best option. Lansanah is the fourth player Tampa’s signed off another team’s practice squad this season.
The Dolphins defensive end had 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks in the Dolphins’ blasting of the Jets.
Granted, it was against the Jets, but he led a defensive attack which allowed just 177 yards of total offense.
Vernon has 5.5 sacks in the last three games, giving him 10.0 for the season. And his progression in his second year has allowed the Dolphins to bring rookie Dion Jordan along slowly this year, since Vernon and Cameron Wake are playing at a high level.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri each hit five field goals in their Week 13 games, providing their sometimes sputtering offenses with points they needed to win games that loomed large in the AFC playoff race.
Their exploits weren’t enough to earn them recognition as the conference’s special teams player of the week, however. The honor went to Bengals punter Kevin Huber instead.
Huber averaged 55.5 yards on his four punts in last Sunday’s 17-10 victory over the Chargers. Huber dropped two of those punts inside the 20 to help the Bengals win the field position battle while holding onto a slim lead. One of Huber’s punts traveled 75 yards, tying a franchise record and giving Huber the second-longest punt in the league this season.
Huber’s the first Bengals punter to be named special teams player of the week. Tucker, Vinatieri, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee were also nominees for this week’s award.
The man who recruited quarterbck Marcus Mariota to Oregon has no issue with Mariota’s decision to stay there. Especially since Chip Kelly doesn’t currently need a quarterback.
Kelly applauded Mariota’s decision to stay in school, via John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com. And Kelly suggested that Mariota’s decision could extend through 2015.
“I’m happy for him,” Kelly said. “I know he comes from a great family. His dad and mom value education. Marcus is going to stay and get his degree. He’s a really special young man. I think everyone in the league is going to have to wait a couple of years.”
Kelly said that he didn’t consult with Mariota about the decision. League rules prohibit it.
Then again, League rules also prohibit talking about an underclassman who has yet to be certified for the draft.
“I love coaching him,” Kelly said of Mariota. “He’s exactly what you want in a football player.”
It’s a good thing Nick Foles has been named the starter for the next 1,000 years. Otherwise, Foles could get the wrong idea.
Speaking of wrong, Mariota could be making the wrong decision. While it’s an intensely personal choice, we’ve seen more than a few guys wait — and suffer for it via their future draft stock. NFL teams want guys who crave the opportunity to compete at the highest level. When a guy’s draft stock already is as high as it likely will be, why wait?
Waiting also delays the player’s ability to get a second contract, which has become even more important in the wake of the new rookie wage scale.
Still, Mariota has the right to continue playing football for no money. Or, more accurately, for plenty of money that flows into someone else’s pockets.
But at least he gets to wear a different helmet every week.
There was a bye week in between, but Eagles punter Donnie Jones has won his second straight NFC special teams player of the week award.
As he did two weeks ago for his work against the Redskins, which included a 70-yard punt, Jones took home the weekly honors.
Against the Cardinals Sunday, Jones dropped seven punts inside the 20-yard line, which was a new team record. He also hit a 69-yarder, showing power along with control.
Jones has been an excellent pickup for the Eagles this year, as the 10th-year punter’s 41.3 net average is the highest for a single season in franchise history.
So much for the notion that 106.7 The Fan in D.C. shied away from radio ads protesting the team’s name because it didn’t want to alienate the local NFL team.
The NFL team officially has become alienated, via a series of parodies that mock the team and its radio broadcast crew.
According to Paul Fahri of the Washington Post, team spokesman Tony Wyllie has complained to the station about the parodies. Fahri cites unnamed station sources in support of the notion that Wyllie claimed that “the routines were malicious — so malicious that they could prompt legal action by the Redskins.”
Wyllie tells the Post that all is currently well.
“All we did was ask questions about what they were doing,” Wyllie said. “Once they said it was all in jest, we were fine with it. . . . I have a sense of humor, like everyone else. It’s a joke, and I take it as a joke. Once they said it was all a joke, that’s all there was to it.”
And the jokes will continue. The station plans to continue the parodies.
Also, the Redskins will continue to play games. Which, at least for the rest of this year, will continue provide plenty of fodder for laughter.
When you’re dealing in a science as inexact as drafting NFL players, it’s worth remembering that smart guys miss too.
But the misses have become increasingly clear in Green Bay, where recent drafts have not helped General Manager Ted Thompon’s reputation as an evaluator.
As pointed out by Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, releasing second-year safety Jerron McMillan on Tuesday means the Packers have fewer than half their draft picks from the 2011 and 2012 drafts on the current roster.
Granted, Thompson believes in buying in bulk, trading down to amass picks. And with a good roster in place, there are fewer spots for late-round picks to occupy.
But after giving big contracts to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and outside linebacker Clay Matthews this year, the need is greater than ever to hit on those picks to backfill the roster with cheap talent, and lately, Thompson hasn’t.
McMillan was one of their fourth-rounders in 2012, the 133rd pick overall. Now, of the 18 players they drafted in 2011 and 2012, only eight are still with the Packers, with two of those on injured reserve (though second-round gem Randall Cobb is designated for return).
“You never want to give up on a young guy,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after McMillian was released, but that’s what they’ve increasingly done.
Of course, Thompson built the roster that makes it harder for late-round picks to stick, so he does deserve credit. And all seven of his 2010 picks are still with the team, so it’s not as if he’s never been good at this.
But as with other respected evaluators, there can be downturns. Go look at Bill Polian’s last few drafts in Indianapolis, or the defensive backs and receivers the Patriots have burned high picks on in recent years.
At the moment, the Packers seem to be in one. If Rodgers were healthy, everything would look better, certainly. But the absence of quality quarterback depth only underscores the accumulation of small problems that have turned this season into a big one in Green Bay.
On a scale of Rex Ryan to Shecky Greene, it probably doesn’t register.
But Patriots coach Bill Belichick can occasionally fire off a one-liner, and it’s possible that their scarcity makes them seem funnier than they actually are.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Belichick was in a good mood today, and was able to work in a dig with a joke when asked about his time in Cleveland.
Asked if he had a personal affinity for the Browns organization after his five years as a head coach there, Belichick initially steered it back to the present.
“”I was there for five years. Those were five important years in my life — for myself and my family and all that,” he said. “But obviously, we’ve all moved on and I have a job to do here, and that’s where my loyalty is — to Robert [Kraft] and the Patriots organization and this football team. It’s no different than how I feel, honestly, about [previous stops] the Colts or the Lions, or the Broncos, . . .
“I feel differently about the Jets. We won’t put them in that category.”
Hey, yo. Bill will be here all week.
He said to try the veal.
The 49ers have been blown out by the Seahawks in the last two games between the teams.
Both of those games were played in Seattle and their Week 14 tilt will be at Candlestick, where the 49ers beat the Seahawks last season. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area will join Mike Florio on Wednesday’s PFT Live to discuss how much of a difference that will make in the final result. They’ll also talk about the 49ers offense and where quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands near the end of his first full year as a starter.
Whether he wins or loses on Sunday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will not see his job security altered. The same isn’t true of some other members of the coaching fraternity, however, and Florio will discuss which coaches fall into the latter category during the program.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it live by clicking right here.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants to pay his $100,000 fine and move on.
Tomlin, who was fined $100,000 by the NFL for standing on the field in the path of Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving, issued a statement confirming that he accepts the punishment (not that he had much of a choice) and adding that he doesn’t want to talk about it any longer.
“As I stated yesterday, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins,” Tomlin said.
It’s easy to see why Tomlin doesn’t want to talk about the issue any longer, although he’s sure to be questioned about it for at least several more months, as the NFL has announced that it will also consider stripping draft choices from the Steelers as part of Tomlin’s punishment. Forfeiture of draft picks will make this a story in the NFL long after Tomlin wants to move on.
The Browns have two healthy quarterbacks right now, neither of whom have taken a snap for the team in a game as both have been added to the roster in the last two weeks.
Such a state of affairs makes it easy to understand why Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is keeping his options open at quarterback as long as he possibly can. Chudzinski said Wednesday that Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are still waiting to get cleared for returns to practice by doctors after suffering concussions, leaving Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney to take first team reps at practice on Wednesday.
Because Chudzinski hasn’t seen either player in action, he said at his press conference, via several Browns beat writers, that he will wait until Friday at the earliest before naming a starter for the game against the Patriots. Chudzinski said he could take it all the way to Sunday, especially if it looks like one or both of the experienced Browns quarterbacks will be able to play.
It’s usually gamesmanship when a coach won’t name a starting quarterback during the week before a game. Chudzinski’s being honest in this case, though, because there’s no advantage to gain with any of the four options on the roster.