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Carl Nicks dealing with permanent toe injury


Last year, the Buccaneers splurged on three big-name free agents:  Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright.

Wright already is gone.  While Nicks is still there, he’s not really there — because of a toe injury that will always be there for Nicks.

Nicks showed up for camp with his foot heavily bandaged, and he has participated sparingly in practice.  He explained to reporters that it’s a condition that won’t completely be going away.  Ever.

I will have to deal with it my whole life,” Nicks said, via  “Honestly, it is not 100 percent, yet. I plan on playing some this next preseason game and obviously, the third one.  We will see how it goes.”

Regardless of how it goes, it’s never going away.

“I have all the confidence in the world I will be back to playing,” Nicks said.  “I will just have to deal with it my whole life.  I would lie if I told you it didn’t affect me at all.  It affects the way I walk, the way I stand around.  I have to stand a certain kind of way.  It is something I just have to deal with.  I don’t want to get into taking painkillers and not knowing if it is hurting.”

It’s unclear whether Nicks is suffering from turf toe or some other toe injury.  Regardless, it’s affecting him — and it will be affecting him forever.

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Deshaun Watson will take “open mind” and “open book” to training camp

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Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson embarks on his first NFL training camp next week, and he’s bringing the right attitude with him.

I just listen to all the veteran guys,” Watson said Saturday after an appearance in South Carolina, via Scott Keepfer of the Greenville (S.C.) News. “I’ll keep an open mind and an open book. . . .

“I’ve been wishing I could do this for a long time, and now it’s finally here, So I’ll be enjoying every moment, cherishing every moment and taking it one thing at a time.”

Watson also expressed appreciation for the praise he recently received from Texans assistant coach Wes Welker, who raved on PFT Live about Watson’s demeanor and work ethic.

“That’s pretty cool right there,” Watson said regarding Welker’s remarks. “Wes is a great guy, great mentor, especially for the receivers, but also for me. He’s seen a lot, played a lot of football, experienced a lot.”

Watson has experience a lot at the college level, where he played very well in consecutive NCAA championship games for Clemson against Alabama. Which is one of the reasons why Watson has had the highest-selling NFL jersey since the draft in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Does Belichick think Garoppolo will be the next Brady?

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Tom Brady supposedly hopes to play for another five or six seasons. Jimmy Garoppolo has only one more season of a commitment to the Patriots. So how will this one play out?

Coach Bill Belichick may eventually have to make a choice between the two. Underscoring the stakes of that decision is the possibility that Garoppolo could become the next Brady.

“Bill thinks he’s got the next great one,” an unnamed scout told Mike Giardi of CSN New England. “I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he’s gotten there.”

If Belichick truly has the next great one, so does agent Don Yee, whose firm represents both Brady and Garoppolo. Given that Brady consistently has done below-market deals with the Patriots, many assume that Garoppolo will behave the same way, especially in light of the Yee connection.

But what if Yee intends to make back from Garoppolo some of what Yee didn’t make from Brady? What if Garoppolo, buoyed by the Kirk Cousins situation and an emerging sense among players that they individually should be making more than they do, decides to play the same kind of hardball with Belichick that Belichick consistently plays with all of his players?

Garoppolo is 16 regular-season games and up to four postseason games away from becoming a free agent. And those games likely will involve little or no risk, since Plan A will be for QB1 to take all the snaps. Indeed, Garoppolo’s biggest injury risk will come over the next month, when he’s taking snaps behind the second-string offense line.

Like every other quarterback due to become a free agent, the analysis of his value is simple. The franchise tag will exceed $22 million for 2018. And that number will become at least $26.4 million for Garoppolo in 2019 and at least $38 million for 2020. That’s a minimum of $86.4 million that Garoppolo would make on a year-to-year basis over three years, if the Patriots keep using the franchise tag to keep him in place.

If they don’t tag him in any given year, Garoppolo would hit the open market — and possibly hit the jackpot. Ultimately, then, the question will be whether he’s not only the “next great one” but also the next great one to accept less-than-great contracts in a sport where the stars seem to be waking up to the leverage they possess.

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Darren McFadden misses Cowboys’ team charter

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Cowboys running back Darren McFadden will have to pay his own way to California.

McFadden missed the team charter Saturday afternoon, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. He called team officials to tell them he was running late and won’t face a fine as long as he arrives by 2 p.m. PT Sunday when players are required to arrive.

McFadden, though, will have to buy a commercial flight to Southern California.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick, defensive lineman David Irving and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis also weren’t on the team charter.

Scandrick, who lives in L.A. in the offseason, flew back to California on a commercial flight Friday after flying into DFW for a physical and a conditioning test earlier in the day.

Irving failed to report to The Star and faces a $40,000 fine for an unexcused absence, but he is in California.

Lewis returned to Michigan on Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. Jury selection begins Monday morning after a Thursday hearing ended without a settlement. Lewis, 21, pleaded not guilty to the charge on March 16. Under Michigan law, he faces a maximum of 93 days in jail and a fine of $500 if convicted.

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Lions hope to “ultimately” work out rift with Calvin Johnson

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With the Lions and Barry Sanders renewing their relationship a generation after Sanders abruptly quit and the team made him pay back millions, the Lions now have only one former superstar player who retired under less than ideal circumstances. And team president Rod Wood has now spoken publicly twice about the situation in less than a week, more recently expressing optimism that the situation “ultimately” will work itself out.

Wood’s remarks make it clear that there’s a problem; otherwise, there would be nothing to ultimately work out. The question becomes what it will take to work things out.

As recently suggested, the Lions could either release Johnson from the reserve/retired list or give him back the bonus money he paid upon retirement — or both.

The Lions are required to do nothing, but if they truly want to work things out, they should do something. An invitation to hang out at training camp or to stand on the sidelines during games likely won’t do much, if anything, to change the mind of a guy who has been consistently becoming more candid about his concerns with the organization.

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Cardinals sign LB Tevin Floyd, release C Lucas Crowley

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The Cardinals signed linebacker Tevin Floyd, releasing center Lucas Crowley to make room.
Floyd, a rookie free agent, started all 12 games last season at The Citadel, earning first-team All-Southern Conference with 86 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. He finished his college career with 295 tackles, the third most in school history, while playing in 49 games as a three-year starter.  
Floyd participated in the Cardinals’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis in May.

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Darron Lee changes numbers

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It’s a new year for former Jets first-round linebacker Darron Lee. And he’ll start it with a new number.

Via the team’s official website, Lee will switch from 50 to 58.

“It’s just all of my numbers in my lifetime added up,” Lee said. He wore No. 8 as a youth, No. 2, No. 5, and No. 8 in high school, and No. 43 at Ohio State. So 8 plus 2 plus 5 plus 43 is 58.

Erin Henderson wore No. 58 for the Jets a year ago, and Spencer Paysinger wore No. 58 during the offseason, after arriving in June. Paysinger will switch to No. 49, a number that also will be worn by tight end Jordan Leggett.

The league at one point required any player who switched numbers to pay for any unsold jerseys bearing the prior number. It’s possible that there aren’t all that many Darron Lee jerseys floating around, since he doesn’t play the kind of position that is conducive to major sales numbers, and he didn’t have the kind of rookie season that would make people want to buy it.

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Jalen Ramsey opens camp on PUP list

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Second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a top-five pick who faces high expectations in 2017, will start training camp with no practice.

Via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Ramsey will be placed on the physically unable to perform list at the outset of formal preseason preparations. He had core muscle surgery in June.

Joining Ramsey on PUP will be cornerback Aaron Colvin.

Players on the active/PUP list can be activated once they pass a physical. They can’t participate in practices until activated.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 7: Seattle Seahawks

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The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are the only two teams in the NFL to have won at least one playoff game in each of the last five seasons. The Seahawks had few departures from last year’s roster that lost in the Divisional Round to the Atlanta Falcons. They’ve added an 11-man draft class and augmented the roster with a few free agent signings that addressed a few areas of concern over the offseason.

Seattle’s roster remains the most talented in the NFC West. However, an offseason dominated by trade discussions involving star cornerback Richard Sherman has left an uncertainty regarding the cohesion of the locker room after Sherman’s multiple tirades and criticism of coaches last season. And for all the downplaying of the trade discussions Seattle wants to espouse now, NFL teams don’t look to trade All-Pro cornerbacks in their prime, with a reasonable contract and depth issues at the position for no reason at all. And the Seahawks practically hung a “For Sale” sign on Sherman in letting teams know publicly they were taking calls regarding Sherman’s availability.

Can the Seahawks still win the division and make a deep playoff run despite any potential lingering issues? Of course. They managed to win the division again last year in the midst of all the happenings with Sherman. But if the gremlins of last season carry over into 2017, there is potential for a crash landing.

Even if they do, the Seahawks may be talented enough to win the division again anyway.

Biggest positive change: With the selection of four defensive backs among their 11 draft picks in the NFL Draft, the Seahawks infused youth into their secondary depth. The additions of Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and Mike Tyson give the Seahawks young depth that can contribute immediately on special teams and push starters Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor for playing time in the coming years. Griffin could earn a starting role opposite Sherman as Deshawn Shead is likely to start the year on PUP and Jeremy Lane has been better served as a slot cornerback during his tenure in Seattle. The rest of the group provides potentially more stable options as backups should a player of Thomas’ caliber be lost for the season again as he was last December. The drop in ability from Thomas to back up Steven Terrell was substantial and significantly lessened Seattle’s defensive might.

Biggest negative change: While Steven Hauschka had some issues in Seattle last year, the Seahawks now seem destined to be relying upon a career resurgence from Blair Walsh. Walsh, who helped the Seahawks win a playoff game in Minnesota two years ago by missing a 27-yard field goal at the end of regulation for the Vikings, now joins the Seahawks in an effort to get his career back on track. Walsh was released by the Vikings last year nine games into the season after missing eight (four field goals, four extra points) of his 35 kicks on the year. Hauschka had a problem with low kicks as five of his 10 missed kicks last season were blocked. Walsh has a big leg and earned a Pro Bowl trip as a rookie. However, what he can bring to the table now is uncertain.

Coaching thermometer: Pete Carroll has a job in Seattle as long as he wants it given the run of success the team has had during his tenure as head coach. The Seahawks have made two Super Bowl trips and brought home their first Lombardi Trophy in 2013, have won at least one playoff game in each of the last five seasons and have missed the postseason just once in Carroll’s seven seasons at the helm. Carroll has given no indication he sees the end of his coaching road coming any time soon. He and general manager John Schneider are seemingly joined at the hip and Carroll’s contract was extended through 2019 last summer.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Jon Ryan. The Seahawks’ punter is one of the more engaging personalities on the team. He’s thrown a touchdown pass in an NFC Championship game, broke his face in frigid conditions during a playoff game in Minnesota and fumbled without being touched on a fake punt. He’s also caught a 109-yard touchdown pass as a receiver playing college football at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Ryan is now the longest-tenured member of the Seahawks and the only player on the team to predate Pete Carroll in Seattle. Honorable mention to Doug Baldwin.

How they can prove us wrong: In the positive, the Sherman issues don’t linger into the season. Wilson returns to 2015 form, now healthy, behind a significantly improved output from Seattle’s offensive line. Lacy gives the team the power back presence they’ve missed and Seattle’s defense remains along the league’s best. In the negative, the Seahawks are slow out of the gate as Wilson struggles behind continued poor offensive line play. Fissures within the team resurface as blame gets tossed around. The running game isn’t consistent. Wilson is forced to throw 30-35 times a game. Age begins to catch up to key pieces of Seattle’s defense as they slide back from the top of the league. Blair Walsh’s inconsistencies follow him to Seattle.

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Tamba Hali angry at lack of playing time in the playoffs

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In the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Steelers, defensive end Tamba Hali barely played: His seven snaps against Pittsburgh were by far his fewest in any game of the 2016 season.

Anger at that lack of playing time has apparently been simmering all offseason, and today Hali went off. In a series of tweets, Hali questioned why he didn’t play more and asked if the Chiefs even want him anymore.

“Fans should know this. Only played 7 snaps last year 2017 playoff game against the Steelers,” Hali wrote. “Am I needed in KC anymore?”

Hali said he always wants to give it all for his team and is frustrated that the team wouldn’t let him.

“I’ve played through all my injuries I’ve acquire throughout my careers not sitting out because I did not feel I wouldn’t be at my best,” Hali said. “I play because I love the game and did it under some of the worst conditions.”

The 33-year-old Hali said he was ready to play in the playoffs, comes to work ready every day, and wants to be a valuable member of the team.

“I was healthy last year and the year before. I had a scope not a major procedure. The result of playing for a long time,” Hali wrote. “I haven’t missed any off-season workouts in 11 years w/the Chiefs. I’ve played in every game except four in my 11 year career with Chiefs.”

Hali wasn’t pleased with the playoff loss, wasn’t pleased when the Chiefs fired General Manager John Dorsey last month, and isn’t pleased now. With training camp about to open, the Chiefs have some issues with a star player.

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Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald won’t play in Hall of Fame Game

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The preseason is often a letdown, as fans get excited for the return of football only to watch a game featuring a bunch of third-string scrubs who will be bagging groceries by September. At least Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is warning you in advance.

Arians said today that he has decided not to play quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the Hall of Fame Game.

Although Arians said he does want to give his starters more preseason reps to have them up to speed for the start of the regular season, he doesn’t want to put too much on two of his most important players.

So when the Cardinals take the field against the Cowboys, Drew Stanton will get the start at quarterback. No word yet on whether Dak Prescott will suit up for Dallas, but suffice to say that if he does, he won’t play long. Nor will fans’ excitement for the return of football, once they remember what the preseason is all about.

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UNLV hires high-priced lawyer to assist with Raiders negotiation

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UNLV sees “no hurdles” in their negotiations with the Raiders for the new football stadium they’ll share, and they’ve hired a lawyer who charges $745  per hour to assist with the no hurdles that will be experienced.

Via the Las Vegas Sun, the school has hired Daniel Etna of Herrick Feinstein LLP to advise it through the process of working out a fair deal with the Raiders.

“Getting the best possible use agreement for UNLV will dictate its future in athletics,” University Regent Trevor Hayes said, via the Sun. “I support spending money to hire the best experts. Even if it costs $100,000, that equates to $3,333 per year for the 30-year life of the [lease]. A poor use agreement will put UNLV out of the Division I athletics business.”

The Raiders and UNLV are legally required to share the venue, which will be built with $750 million in taxpayer money. But it’s up to the Raiders and UNLV to negotiate the agreement, and the first draft proposed by the Raiders likely was slanted in favor of the side that wrote it. So they’ll go back and forth in order to work out a final deal, and UNLV can either do it by the seat of their pants or the school can rely on someone with the knowledge, experience, and skill to get the best possible deal.

Which the Raiders surely are already doing.

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The official PFT preseason power rankings landing page

The PFT preseason power rankings are entering the home stretch. Before seeing how it ends, why not go back to the beginning and review the full list?

Teams No. 8 through 32 appear below. Below that, your comments about where we’re right, where we’re wrong, plus whatever else didn’t get deleted due to the presence of locker room talk.

But don’t pop off without doing your homework; click the links to the ones you may disagree with before articulating your disagreement. And, yes, I’m simply saying that to generate clicks.

8. Kansas City Chiefs.

9. New York Giants.

10. Tennessee Titans.

11. Miami Dolphins.

12. Denver Broncos.

13. Houston Texans.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

15. Detroit Lions.

16. Baltimore Ravens.

17. Carolina Panthers.

18. Philadelphia Eagles.

19. New Orleans Saints.

20. Minnesota Vikings.

21. Cincinnati Bengals.

22. Arizona Cardinals.

23.  Buffalo Bills.

24.  Los Angeles Chargers.

25. Washington.

26. Indianapolis Colts.

27. Los Angeles Rams.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars.

29. San Francisco 49ers.

30. Chicago Bears.

31. Cleveland Browns.

32. New York Jets.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 8: Kansas City Chiefs

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While the Chiefs may not be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl, they’ve been loitering on the porch. For 2017, the question is whether they’re deliberately taking a few steps down toward the sidewalk in order to getting a running start that will knock it down.

In three of coach Andy Reid’s four seasons with the team, the Chiefs have made it to the postseason. But a bye in 2016, their first first-round bye since 2003, led to the same outcome as each of the other three times they skipped wild card weekend and hosted a game in the round of eight: The Chiefs lost.

They last made it to the AFC title game in 1993, and most perceive a gap between Kansas City and Oakland even though Kansas City, not Oakland, most recently won the AFC West. Contributing to the confusion regarding the Chiefs was the curious decision to invest two first-round pick in a work-in-progress quarterback when Alex Smith still has gas in the tank. The move became an obvious admission that they believe Alex Smith is a guy who can keep them on the porch, but not much more than that.

Biggest positive change: In an offseason that didn’t feature much in the way of veteran player acquisition or departure, the effort by the franchise to get a franchise quarterback stands out — if they’re right about Patrick Mahomes. For now, it’s a coin-flip proposition at best, especially with Mahomes making the difficult transition from the college spread to Reid’s version of the West Coast offense. Given that the league has three types of teams — teams with franchise quarterbacks, teams trying to find franchise quarterbacks, and teams who aren’t quite sure whether their quarterback is a franchise quarterback — the Chiefs have decided after four years with Alex Smith that he isn’t. While the move may not bear much fruit in 2016, it sets the stage for filling the void that will emerge in the conference if Tom Brady is in the final year or two of his career.

Biggest negative change: The sudden, abrupt decision to dump receiver Jeremy Maclin surprised many and reinforced the idea that the Chiefs are focused more on developing for the future than pushing their chips to the middle of the table right now. And while Reid knows Maclin well enough to know when to get out from under an eight-figure salary, the fact that the Chiefs didn’t try to get him to take less and stick around means that they simply wanted to clear him off the roster so that younger guys can get the reps. If the younger guys can’t get it done, however, that won’t help the Chiefs get to the divisional round again, and it definitely won’t help them get past it.

Coaching thermometer: By getting an extension on the same day G.M. John Dorsey got a pink slip, Reid has as much security as any coach in football. And with Brett Veach replacing Dorsey, many believe Reid will now have even more influence over the roster. So if the Chiefs are indeed taking a step or two back in an effort to eventually take a step up, chances are that Reid will be there every step of the way.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Eric Berry. He overcame cancer and has returned as good as ever, becoming the heart and soul of the team and finally getting a contract that reflects it. What does he really think about undermining Smith and eventually replacing him with Mahomes? What does the think about the way Maclin’s exit was handled? Does he truly believe that the team is moving in the right direction, and that the team can put together a championship-caliber offense before the window closes on a quality defense?

How they can prove us wrong: If they decide to throw Mahomes into the fray as a rookie in the hopes of having the game slow down for him sooner than later, the Chiefs could quickly become not a top-10 team. Likewise, the apparent plan to thrust 2016 rookie phenom Tyreek Hill (who averaged only 5.3 touches from scrimmage per game last year) into a bigger role will mean more opportunities to take more of the hits that are more likely to lead to an injury.

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At age 40, Tom Brady may do what only Warren Moon has done before

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On August 3 Tom Brady will turn 40, an age at which NFL quarterbacks have rarely been able to keep playing. But if Brady plays in 2017 at anywhere close to the same level he played in 2016, he’ll be the best 40-year-old quarterback the league has ever seen.

So far, the list of quarterbacks who have entered a season at age 40 or older and played well that year consists of just one name: Warren Moon, who entered the 1997 season at age 40 (and turned 41 during the season), and that year he led the NFL with 245.2 passing yards per game and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

Other than Moon, the list of quarterbacks entering a season at age 40 and older is a list of players who were past their primes. Brett Favre entered the 2009 season at age 39 and played well after his 40th birthday, but by 2010, the season he entered at age 40, he had fallen off a cliff. Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde were still in the league after turning 40, but they didn’t play particularly well. Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Sonny Jurgensen played at age 40, but they were backups.

If Brady can do anything close to what he did last year, when he threw 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, it will be by far the best season of any quarterback who entered a season age 40 or older. And even if Brady takes a significant step backward, he’d almost certainly be the second-best 40-year-old quarterback behind Moon.

Brady is going to get old eventually, because everyone does. But he’s poised to be the best old quarterback ever.

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Robert Mathis regrets winning only one ring in Indianapolis


Robert Mathis retired this year after a 14-year NFL career, all with the Colts. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl ring. But only one.

As Mathis looks back on his career, he sees a lot of accomplishment, but also regret, for the fact that a Colts team that came close many times only won one Super Bowl.

“Looking back on that team, I feel a mix of pride, and I’ll admit, the slightest bit of disappointment,” Mathis wrote at the Players’ Tribune. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished during our era of Colts football, but I think every person, down to the last man, would tell you that he expected to win more than one ring in Indy. If there’s any regret I have from my career, it’s that.”

The Colts made the playoffs in each of Mathis’s first eight seasons, then missed the playoffs in the year of Peyton Manning’s neck injury and returned to the playoffs for three more consecutive years with Andrew Luck at quarterback. They were consistently among the best teams in the league, and yet they only ended the year on top once. It’s hard not to look at those Colts teams and think that as good as they were, they could have done even more in the postseason.

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