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2013 opponents determined for every NFL team

[Editor's note: The following was released by the NFL on Monday, December 31, the day after the end of the regular season.]

The opponents for all 2013 regular-season games have been determined and a complete list of each team’s home and away matchups was issued today by the NFL.

The scheduling formula implemented in 2002 with realignment guarantees that all teams play each other on a regular, rotating basis.

Under the formula, every team plays 16 games as follows:

· Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).

· The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).

· The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).

· Two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings (2 games). These games match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference are matched in the same way each year.

Beginning in 2010, a change was made to how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the AFC and NFC West divisions would not be required to make two west coast trips (e.g. at San Francisco and at Seattle), while other teams in their division had none (e.g. at St. Louis and at Arizona).

The official 2013 schedule, with playing dates and times, will be announced in the spring.

NFL Kickoff 2013 Weekend will begin on Thursday night, September 5, and the regular season will conclude on December 29.

Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey will be played on Sunday, February 2.

2013 OPPONENTS

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

2. Miami Dolphins Home: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

Away: Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. New York Jets Home: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Away: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

4. Buffalo Bills Home: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

Away: Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AFC NORTH

1. Baltimore Ravens Home: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

Away: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

2. Cincinnati Bengals Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

3. Pittsburgh Steelers Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

4. Cleveland Browns Home: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions

Away: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

AFC SOUTH

1. Houston Texans Home: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

Away: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

2. Indianapolis Colts Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

Away: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

3. Tennessee Titans Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

4. Jacksonville Jaguars Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers

Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

AFC WEST

1. Denver Broncos Home: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Away: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

2. San Diego Chargers Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

3. Oakland Raiders Home: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

Away: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

4. Kansas City Chiefs Home: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants

Away: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

NFC EAST

1. Washington Redskins Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers

Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders

2. New York Giants Home: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders

Away: Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers

3. Dallas Cowboys Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders

Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers

4. Philadelphia Eagles Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers

Away: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

2. Minnesota Vikings Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

3. Chicago Bears Home: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

Away: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

4. Detroit Lions Home: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

Away: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC SOUTH

1. Atlanta Falcons Home: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Away: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

2. Carolina Panthers Home: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets

Away: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

3. New Orleans Saints Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, New York Jets

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

Away: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, New York Jets

NFC WEST

1. San Francisco 49ers Home: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts

Away: Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

2. Seattle Seahawks Home: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

Away: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts

3. St. Louis Rams Home: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

Away: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts

4. Arizona Cardinals Home: St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts

Away: St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans

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Marshall apologizes for not talking to the media

Marshall AP

When Bears receiver Brandon Marshall decided not to talk to the media after Sunday’s loss to the Packers, it was obvious he’d talk about the situation during his in-week gig with Inside The NFL.  And he does.

“People in Chicago have really treated me well, and I need to give them a little more,” Marshall said during the show that debuts at 9:00 p.m. ET on Showtime.  “I tried to channel my inner emotions and it didn’t work. . . .  It’s been haunting me for the past three weeks and I know I have to give [the press, the fans, Chicago] a little more. . . .  I have to do a better job. . . .   I’ve done a great job my whole career, but these past few months I really haven’t talked to the media at all. . . .  I’ll do a better job.”

Based on Marshall’s apology, it sounds like his silence has gone on for more than a week.  Which could put him in line for a fine, if the media in Chicago ever complain about his silence.

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Santana Moss says “it hurts” to sit on the bench

Santana Moss AP

Washington receiver Santana Moss has been inactive for each of the first four games of the season, and he doesn’t like the feeling of being a bench warmer.

Honestly, man, it hurts. It does,” Moss told 106.7 The Fan. “I’m not sure if it hurts more because I know these years count so much to me, or it’s just me knowing that I put so much in to be ready. And to be able to accept coming in knowing that it was going to be harder to just say, ‘Yeah, I’m on this team.’ And all the other stuff, man, to finally be here and then sitting here and not being able to be a part of wins and losses. It’s just tough.”

It’s surprising that Washington kept Moss on the roster if he wasn’t going to be active on game days. Usually the players who are on the roster but inactive on Sundays are young guys who are still developing as players, not 35-year-old veterans like Moss.

Perhaps Washington still thinks Moss provides an insurance policy in case another receiver gets injured, or perhaps the team hopes Moss could be traded to another team that finds itself in need of a veteran receiver. (Cleveland, where Moss knows the offense of coordinator Kyle Shanahan, is a destination that could make sense.) But for now, Moss remains in Washington. Which means he remains on the bench.

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Mark Davis thinks the Raiders job will be “enticing” for a new coach

Mark Davis AP

Raiders owner Mark Davis believes a good coach will want to work for him.

Davis, whose team fired coach Dennis Allen and promoted Tony Sparano to interim head coach today, said he believes the Raiders, thanks to a great deal of cap space, are a team that NFL coaches will be interested in coaching.

“The organization itself is in a very good position to move forward, whether Tony Sparano wins this year and becomes the permanent head coach of the Raiders or we bring in another head coach,” Davis said. “I believe the salary cap, contracts, all of those things, I think we’re going to have $60-$65 million in cap space next year and so it’s quite an encouraging thing and enticing for a new head coach if in fact we find one and go through a search that this could be an organization they would want to be with.”

Davis may be right about the attractiveness of ample cap space, but the Raiders job hasn’t been enticing in many years. Getting a coach to come to Oakland may be a tougher sell than Davis realizes.

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Sparano says they need to let players do what they do best

Sparano Getty Images

The press conference announcing the firing of a head coach and the promotion of a guy the fired coach had hired to serve as an assistant always entails some tightrope-walking by the new coach, who needs to express regret that his boss is gone while also expressing enthusiasm and preparation to embrace the challenge for cleaning up the mess that the new coach helped create.

On Tuesday, new Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano offered a clue as to how his approach may differ from Dennis Allen’s.

“We’ve got a lot of good players here,” Sparano said.  “We need to let them do what they do best.”

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Raiders have a lot of good players (quit laughing, Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers fans), Sparano’s comment could be interpreted as a disclosure that, under Allen, players were expected to fit the schemes.  By saying that the Raiders need to let the players do what they do best, Sparano could be saying that he’ll design plays and concepts based on the strengths and weaknesses of the players.

This assumes that the players have enough strengths (and sufficiently few weaknesses) for that to matter.

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LaMichael James lands in Miami

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Getty Images

Running back LaMichael James appeared to be on his way out of San Francisco for much of the offseason, but the team wound up keeping him on their roster to start the regular season.

It was a brief stay, however. James was dropped after the first week of the regular season and has been looking for work since then. One spot he looked was Miami, where he worked out for the Dolphins a couple of weeks ago.

Nothing happened at the time, but it seems James did make a positive impression on the team. James’s agent Jeff Sperbeck announced on Twitter Tuesday that his client has signed with the Dolphins.

The Dolphins haven’t announced anything yet and they are on their bye week, so it may be a while before we find out what kind of role they have in mind for the former 49er. Knowshon Moreno isn’t thought to be far off from rejoining Lamar Miller in the backfield, so a role as a returner might be part of the plan for James in South Florida.

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Raiders coach Tony Sparano “very excited about where we’re going”

tonysparano AP

New Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano says he believes he can turn the team in the right direction after an 0-4 start led to the dismissal of former coach Dennis Allen.

“I’m excited,” Sparano said at his introductory press conference. “Very excited about where we’re going right now, what we’re trying to do.”

Sparano praised Allen as an “outstanding football coach” and said it was tough to see the man who was his boss until yesterday lose his job.

“This is obviously a bittersweet moment for me right now in that a great friend of mine and a person I respect a great deal in Dennis Allen was let go,” he said. “That’s unfortunately part of our business but this is the situation we’re in right now.”

Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie also spoke highly of Allen but said the move had to be made.

“I had a good talk with Dennis,” he said. “I just want to say that I appreciate everything he’s done. He worked hard, very diligent, but I had to make the move and I did that yesterday. Moving forward, I’m excited to bring before you a new interim head coach, Tony Sparano. I’m excited about the experience he brings, the leadership he brings, the passion he brings to get this organization, the Raider organization, to what we need to do, and that’s win.”

The Raiders haven’t won at all this season and haven’t won consistently since the Jon Gruden days. Unless Sparano can oversee a miraculous turnaround, fans may be clamoring for a return of Gruden after Sparano coaches out the last 12 games of 2014.

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More support for Harbaugh from 49ers locker room

Jim+Harbaugh+cpUYrtG9pt2m Getty Images

Deion Sanders says 49ers players want coach Jim Harbaugh to go.  Harbaugh says it’s a bunch of crap.  The jurors (i.e., the players) are beginning to chime, and the early verdict is . . . .

Crap.

He’s the best coach I’ve ever been around,” tackle Jonathan Martin said, via the San Jose Mercury News.  “Even though he might be cheesy at times with slogans and sayings, his enthusiasm rubs off on players.  And his record speaks for itself.”

Of course, Martin would be likely to say that, since Harbaugh coached Martin at Stanford and helped resurrect Martin’s pro career after he decided to walk out on the Dolphins as the result of intense bullying in 2013.  But Martin, who said he has seen no evidence of discord, wasn’t alone.

“Everything’s great,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “I mean, we play, he coach. We can’t really control anything else.”

(It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s also no evidence that players want Harbaugh gone.)

Ditto from punter Andy Lee: “I don’t see that anywhere in this locker room.  From my point of view, everything is normal.”

And from linebacker Michael Wilhoite: “His attitude is the attitude we take. That toughness, that grind, that grit — it’s been bred in us since I first got here. It was known we were going to be tough. It was known we were going to have a callous that we had built up. It was known that we were very physical, we ran the ball, we stopped the run, we played good football and we were disciplined.”

So maybe Deion is simply wrong.  Or maybe there’s a small pocket of malcontents who won’t complain about Harbaugh on the record.

Or maybe Deion is playing a psychological game with one of the various teams for which he once played, like Tom Jackson once claimed he did when picking the Jets to lose to the Patriots in the playoffs.

Regardless, Deion’s “report” that the players don’t like their coach seems to be galvanizing the 49ers.  Maybe in February Harbaugh will snub Deion after winning the Super Bowl like Bill Belichick once did with Jackson, who had proclaimed in September that the Patriots players “hate their coach.”

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Jadeveon Clowney thinks he’ll be back in a few weeks

Jadeveon Clowney AP

The Texans are 3-1 even though they’ve only had rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney in the lineup for the first half of the first game of the season and the first overall pick in this year’s draft said it has been “very tough” to be on the sideline for the last three weeks.

Clowney is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, a procedure that left him with a four-to-six week timetable for his return to the lineup. We’re closing in on the front end of that projection, but Clowney said Tuesday that it will still be a bit more time before he thinks he’ll be ready for a return to action.

“Everything is starting to come along just like I want it to. … I think I’ll be back in a few weeks — that’s the goal,” Clowney said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Right now I’m just taking it day by day, just trying to get back healthy. Rehab is coming along good. My leg feels a lot better. I’m just taking it a day at a time right now.”

J.J. Watt’s weekly feats of strength have made it easier to forget that Clowney is supposed to be on the field causing more havoc for opposing offenses. If he can get back without too much rust accumulating on his game and the Texans can keep winning in his absence, Clowney’s return could be a big factor in how the AFC South race plays out this season.

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Teddy Bridgewater held out of Vikings practice again

Bridgewater Getty Images

The Vikings have sounded optimistic, and they’ve sounded cautious.

The Packers are just assuming.

But those are subjective measures.

In the cold, calculating world of the NFL injury report, the news is quantifiable.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did not participate in practice today, according to the Vikings’ report submitted to the league. Linebacker Chad Greenway and tight end Kyle Rudolph didn’t either, but that’s not what you’re here to read about.

With just one more day between doing nothing and playing the Packers Thursday night, the chances of Bridgewater playing might not appear great. But that’s part of the reaility of short-week games anyway.

If he can’t go, the Vikings would have to start Christian Ponder, and promote one of their practice squaders so they’d have a viable backup.

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Belichick bears the blame for current Patriots’ mess

Belichick Getty Images

When reporters asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick about a burgeoning quarterback controversy, he shouldn’t have scoffed.  He should have been grateful.

The focus on Tom Brady has kept many from looking at the guy squarely responsible for the current state of the team — Belichick himself.

The head coach and de facto G.M. has been heralded as a genius for much of the last 13 years, and rightfully so.  Belichick has found a way to keep the team competitive on a consistent basis in an age of parity and a salary cap.

But the quality of the roster has eroded in recent years.  The offensive line presently stinks.  While the departure of long-time line coach Dante Scarnecchia likely played a role in the ability of the line to play its role the right way, the players aren’t good.  Which makes the decision to dump guard Logan Mankins after he refused to take a pay cut even more bizarre.  Belichick miscalculated the ability of the line to thrive without Mankins, and as a result the Patriots could miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.

No one can question Belichick’s coaching ability.  But when it comes to handling the personnel side of the operation, he’s either losing his fastball or he needs more help.  Because it’s not enough to find ways to trade down or to draft backup quarterbacks lower than perhaps they should have gone.  At some point, the players need to be good enough to play.

Right now, they’re not.  And that lands at the feet of the guy who runs the show.

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Texans part ways with Shiloh Keo

Chris Johnson, Shiloh Keo AP

The Texans have made a change at safety.

According to multiple reports, the team has waived safety Shiloh Keo and promoted Josh Aubrey to the 53-man roster.

Keo was a 2011 fifth-round pick in Houston who saw action in every game for the team in 2012 and 2013. He spent much of the 2013 season as a starter after the team’s move for Ed Reed failed to pan out, but did little to suggest that he has a future in the league as a first-team defensive player. Keo had 63 tackles and an interception last year, but saw most of his other work on special teams and that’s probably where any NFL future lies as well.

Aubrey had one tackle in six games with the Browns last year. He didn’t make the team out of camp this year and spent a brief spell with the Seahawks before landing on Cleveland’s practice squad.

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McKenzie announces that Allen has been fired

McKenzie AP

It’s not entirely Dennis Allen’s fault that the Raiders stink.  And so it was fitting that the guy who shares in the blame for the current state of the team made the official announcement that Allen has taken the fall for the team’s predictable 0-4 start.

“After thorough evaluation, we have determined to move in another direction,” G.M. Reggie McKenzie said in a statement released by the team.  “We appreciate Dennis Allen’s dedication to the organization and wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

The different direction, at least for now, will be offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who took the Dolphins to a 29-33 record over four years before being fired after the 2011 season.  It’s hard to imagine the outcome being any different with Sparano than with Allen, given the lack of talent and other issues with the franchise.

But Sparano will have a far more extended opportunity to earn the job on an ongoing basis, given that 12 games remain on the schedule.  That’s actually better for the Raiders; it makes an artificial improvement in performance from players who prefer to keep the current staff less likely.  Far too often, the interim coach has success in the last 2-3 games of the year, secures the job, and then the wheels come off.

The Raiders have scheduled a press conference for 5:00 p.m. ET.  Even though the press release didn’t include any quotes from owner Mark Davis, he presumably will be there.  There’s even a slim chance we’ll see an overhead projector.

That last part is a joke.  I think.  It nevertheless will be interesting to see whether Mark Davis continues his father’s habit of trying to find ways to stiff fired coaches out of the balance of their remaining salary.

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John Conner returns to Jets

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Getty Images

In The Terminator, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot from the future who said “I’ll be back” while trying to stop Sarah Connor from becoming the mother of mankind’s future savior John Connor.

We’re not sure if fullback John Conner, dubbed “The Terminator” by Rex Ryan when the Jets drafted him in 2010, said the same thing when the Jets released him in 2012, but he made good on the promise if he did. The Jets announced Tuesday that Conner is back with the club.

He’ll take the spot of fullback Tommy Bohanon, who broke his collarbone against the Lions. Bohanon suffered the injury early in the game, but, in a move any time traveling cyborg could appreciate, was able to remain on the field for the duration of the contest.

Conner played 13 games for the Giants last season, but lost a training camp battle to Henry Hynoski this summer and has been unemployed since the Giants dropped him as part of their cut to 53 players.

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West says Browns will go with the “hot hand” at running back

West Getty Images

Veteran tailback Ben Tate suffered a knee injury in Week One.  Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell performed well in his absence.  Now that he’s back, will there be enough touches to go around?

“We’ll see,” Tate told reporters on Tuesday, via comments distributed by the team.

As to who’ll get the carries, the answer is less unclear.

“Whoever’s got the hot hand and whoever’s going to get us the win, that’s who we’re going to roll with,” West said.

That’s a far cry from Tate’s assessment before the season that he’s the starter and there’s no competition.

“I probably would have said the same thing,” West said.  “Everybody should have that personality coming onto the field. If you’re on the field, you should think you’re the best. If you don’t you shouldn’t be out there.”

West has emerged as the top option for the Browns, with 47 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns.  Crowell has 27 attempts for 141 yards and three scores.

Tate exited the Week One loss to the Steelers with only six carries for 41 yards.

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Jordan Cameron feeling better, but thinks shoulder will be issue all year

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

The bye week has done some good for Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.

Cameron said Tuesday that the sprained AC joint in his right shoulder is feeling better than it did heading into the bye week.

“I feel good. I feel healthy,” Cameron said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

There’s room for an asterisk next to Cameron feeling healthy, though. He also said that he thinks the injury, which he initially suffered in the preseason and aggravated in the season opener, is going to linger throughout the season. That’s not great news for the Browns offense, which still has a while to go before wide receiver Josh Gordon will return to the lineup.

It’s also not great news for Cameron, who is eligible for free agency after the season. Cameron has already missed one game because of the injury and had just one catch in Week Three, a pattern that would likely have a deflating effect on any contract offers that will come his way if it were to continue for the remaining 13 weeks of the regular season.

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