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PFT’s Week Three Picks

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Last week, I had my chance to pull even with MDS.  Thanks to a Panthers defense that was playing not to lose and a blown coverage at the goal line that guaranteed it, I had prevailed in the only disagreement of the day.

But then came the night game.  And I was one of the “ignorant idiots” who thought the 49ers could beat the Seahawks in Seattle.

The result was a push for the week, with both of us getting 12 right and four wrong.  For the year, I’m 23-9, and MDS is 24-8.

This week, all hell will break loose, Breaking Bad style.  We disagree on SIX of the games.  For all the picks from Week Three, scroll baby, scroll.

Chiefs at Eagles

MDS’s take: Can Andy Reid return to Philadelphia and get his team to 3-0? It would be a great story, but I don’t see it happening: Chip Kelly’s offense will put too many points on the board for Reid’s more conservative offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 27.

Florio’s take:  Week Two helped everyone make better sense of Week One.  And it appears through both games that the Chiefs doing what coach Andy Reid wants them to do, and that the Eagles are still a work in progress under Chip Kelly.  This may be Big Red’s only chance to win another game in Philly.  It’s unlikely he’ll squander it.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Eagles 20.

Texans at Ravens

MDS’s take: The defending Super Bowl champions just haven’t looked particularly good on either side of the ball this season, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. J.J. Watt is going to make life miserable for Joe Flacco as Houston wins a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Ravens 9.

Florio’s take:  Both teams are banged up a bit, and each has struggled.  Give the home team the edge — even though Ed Reed could end up making the difference for Houston.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Texans 21.

Packers at Bengals

MDS’s take: I like the way the Bengals’ defense is playing, but I like the way Aaron Rodgers is playing more. Expect Rodgers to have a big game as the Packers improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  Green Bay’s defense is better, and its offense at times is unstoppable.  The Packers offensive line has been holding up well enough to let 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers play like a serious contender for 2013 NFL MVP.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Bengals 27.

Giants at Panthers

MDS’s take: I viewed both of these teams as playoff contenders heading into the season, but the loser will be 0-3, and it’s awfully tough for any team to dig itself out of a hole that deep. Both teams have offensive problems that need to be corrected, and I have more confidence in Tom Coughlin and his staff to figure out a way to cut down on the turnovers than I have in Ron Rivera and his staff to find a way to get Cam Newton making big plays again. So I’m leaning toward the Giants in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take:  Last year in Week Three, the Giants blew out the Panthers in their own building.  And the Giants still didn’t make the playoffs.  This year, it won’t be as ugly against a Panthers team that has been playing not to lose — and that has no one to cover Victor Cruz.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Panthers 17.

Rams at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I’m not really sold on either of these teams as NFC playoff contenders, although the NFC East looks so weak that the Cowboys just need to hang around .500 all season to stay in the race. I see the Cowboys getting above .500 with a close home win over the Rams.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:  The all-time series is tied at 11-11 in the regular season, and 4-4 in the postseason.  The easy pick is the Cowboys, who held serve (finally) against the Giants in Week One to start the season.  But the right pick could be the Rams, who held off a Cardinals team that beat the Lions — and who rebounded from a deep deficit against the Falcons to make a game of it on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Cowboys 23.

Browns at Vikings

MDS’s take: I was tempted to pick the upset before the Browns traded Trent Richardson because I thought Richardson could move the ball effectively against the suspect Vikings run defense. But I just can’t pick a team to win on the road with Brian Hoyer as its starting quarterback and no running backs who have carried the ball a single time all season.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Bernie Kosar.  It doesn’t matter.  The Trent Richardson trade puts extra pressure on the passing game against a Vikings team playing the first game of its final season in the Metrodome.  Adrian Peterson will show the Browns what they hoped they were getting when they traded up with Minnesota to take Richardson.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 27, Browns 14.

Buccaneers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Bucs have played better than their 0-2 record suggests. The Patriots have played worse than their 2-0 record suggests. This is a close game, but in the end the Patriots will pull it out at home.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Pats are 2-0 and could be 0-2.  The Bucs are 0-2 and could be 2-0.  But New England is the team with the franchise quarterback and the coach with enough pelts on the wall to justify antisocial behavior.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 20, Buccaneers 10.

Cardinals at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have started 2-0 without their offense really breaking out yet. Week Three will be when we see Sean Payton’s offense shine.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 10.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals are better than anyone thought they’d be.  And that will serve them very well.  But not in New Orleans against the Saints, who also are better than anyone thought they’d be.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 31, Cardinals 24.

Chargers at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans’ defense is a lot better than it was last year, and I think Gregg Williams deserves a lot of the credit. Before he was known for Bountygate, Williams was known for devising aggressive schemes that gave opposing quarterbacks fits, and that’s what he’s doing in Tennessee this season. His defense will give Philip Rivers fits on Sunday as the Titans improve to 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  The franchises that squared off in the first two AFL title games get together, with both so far looking like potential playoff teams.  Flip a coin, throw a dart, light a match.  What the Chargers did in Philly was more impressive than what the Titans did in Pittsburgh.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Titans 25.

Lions at Redskins

MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one: When Washington has the ball, I could see Robert Griffin III having his best game of the season against a suspect Lions secondary, but I could also see a talented Lions line making life miserable for Griffin. When Detroit has the ball, I could see Matthew Stafford putting up huge numbers against a defense that has looked terrible this year, but I could also see the Lions struggling if Reggie Bush is at less than 100 percent. Ultimately, I think the story of the game will be that Washington still doesn’t have its defensive problems fixed.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Redskins 30.

Florio’s take:  The Lions have never ever ever never ever never won in D.C.  The Redskins have never ever ever never ever never won in 2013, dating back to January.  Though we don’t know whether No. 21 will be available, it’s time for Detroit to end an 0-21 road streak that dates back well before the commencement of the Curse of Bobby Layne.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Redskins 20.

Falcons at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ defense is good against the pass and bad against the run. Unfortunately for the Falcons, with Steven Jackson out they can’t take advantage of Miami’s biggest weakness. The Dolphins will improve to 3-0 with a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 17, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take:  Could the 13-3 Falcons plunge to 1-2?  Yes they could, thanks to an improving Dolphins team that has started the season with a pair of road wins.  Injuries aren’t helping matters for the defending NFC South champions, who’ll need to help their offensive lineman in order to ensure Matt Ryan doesn’t join the list of the limping.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Falcons 20.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: It’s billed as the battle of AFC East rookie quarterbacks, but neither Buffalo’s EJ Manuel nor New York’s Geno Smith will be able to do much in a game that will be dominated by defense. I’m picking the Jets to win by a field goal.

MDS’s pick: Jets 9, Bills 6.

Florio’s take:  This battle of rookie quarterbacks will overshadow a far more intriguing subtext relating to the return of former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to face his former boss, Rex Ryan.  The road team simply has the better overall talent.  Which means that, at least for now, the servant becomes the master — and the Bills become the third-best team in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Jets 17.

Colts at 49ers

MDS’s take: Last year the Colts got a lot of good breaks on the way to a surprising playoff run. This year the Colts are getting all kinds of bad breaks, and they’re crashing back to earth. The 49ers will rebound from Sunday’s loss in Seattle and beat the Colts easily.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s a Stanford reunion, with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh and Coby Fleener and Pep Hamiltion reminiscing about their mutual dislike of Pete Carroll and Cal.  After, of course, the 49ers take care of business against a team that saw five of its six total losses in 2012 come when playing away from home.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 35, Colts 20.

Jaguars at Seahawks

MDS’s take: In one of the most lopsided games in recent NFL history, the question isn’t so much who will win as by how much. I think it’s the Seahawks by a lot.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 38, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  The CBS affiliate in Orlando will be apologizing again.  If the Seahawks can beat one of the best teams in the league by 26 in Seattle, this one could be historic.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 45, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers’ offense has been dismal this season, and the Bears’ defense isn’t going to make things any easier. The Bears improve to 3-0 and the Steelers drop to 0-3.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Steelers 10.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers rarely are on the mat.  When it happens, they find a way to get up.  Eight years ago, they were left for dead after a loss to the Bengals, and the Steelers sparked a run that resulted in a Super Bowl win by beating the Bears at Heinz Field.  Though it’s way too early to even think about playoffs in Pittsburgh (except for the baseball team), it’s not too early to envision a proud franchise mustering enough punch to bring the 2-0 Bears back down to earth a bit.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Bears  16.

Raiders at Broncos

MDS’s take: This is going to be a more competitive game than most people think. The Raiders aren’t quite the doormats that people were expecting them to be. Still, with Tyvon Branch injured, I don’t see any way the Raiders keep Peyton Manning in check, and it’s going to be tough for Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders’ offense to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 23.

Florio’s takeRyan Clady or not, the better-than-expected Raiders still aren’t good enough to hang with the Broncos in their own building.  Look for another big night from Peyton Manning, who knows his supply of prime-time opportunities is dwindling.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 45, Raiders 20.

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Irsay’s slow, deliberate decision ultimately was made by gut feeling

Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay announces that he has relieved general manager Ryan Grigson of his duties with the team during a press conference at the NFL team's facility in Indianapolis, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) AP

In announcing and explaining the belated decision to fire G.M. Ryan Grigson, Colts owner Jim Irsay spent plenty of time trying to create the impression that the delay had nothing to do with lining up Grigson’s replacement and everything to do with engaging in a thorough and rational and analytic and deliberate process regarding whether to fire him.

A thorough and rational and analytic and deliberate process that boiled down to a raw, basic gut feeling.

“It was a gut, intuitive instinct from looking at where we were and where we are as a franchise,” Irsay told reporters, via the transcript provided by the team. “I think that we needed to make a change. Intuitively you get the feeling when the timing is right, where a change will help. Whereas continuity is something that I really want and long to have as much as we can have it, but in this case I really felt that the time was right to make a change, that we needed some new direction in the vision of our football program. That is from talking to a lot of people and giving it a lot of thought.”

So why did it take 20 days to develop the gut feeling needed to make a change, especially when Irsay had all season to ponder whether another 8-8 season and/or a non-banner-hanging third-place finish in the AFC South should have consequences? Every other team that made a major change based on 2016 did it during or immediately after (as in, the same day) the season ended.

“There is no question in my mind that this was the right move for the franchise,” Irsay said. “There is also no question in my mind that we went through an extremely thorough process before we reached that decision so I feel a lot of comfort in knowing that.”

That process obviously included trying to line up a replacement before letting Grigson go. Irsay tried hard to downplay that, disputing that he talked to Jon Gruden about coaching the team and denying that Peyton Manning may be running the franchise.

Irsay possibly is motivated by a desire to create the impression that he spent the last 20 days focusing only on the up-or-down decision on whether to fire Grigson and nothing more, and that Irsay will now turn his attention for the first time to finding Grigson’s successor. Common sense, fueled by the unrebutted-at-the-time reports that Gruden and Manning were courted, suggests that Irsay made this move only after coming to the conclusion that he can and will do better than Grigson.

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Sunday morning one-liners

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 08:  Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers defends against  Jake Matthews #70 of the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on December 8, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

A list of quarterbacks with connections to Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

Some free agent options for the Dolphins’ defensive front.

Patriots WR Danny Amendola is ready to play any role the team asks of him.

Will the Jets draft an offensive tackle?

Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon learned a few things during his rookie season.

What will the offseason bring for Bengals QB A.J. McCarron?

The Browns will get a close look at many draft prospects at the Senior Bowl.

The Steelers pass rush will be crucial to their chances of winning on Sunday.

Early mock drafts are all over the map for the Texans.

Some reaction to the Colts firing General Manager Ryan Grigson.

CB Aaron Colvin could be a candidate for a contract extension.

Said Titans RB Derrick Henry of DeMarco Murray, “I got better during practice, and it showed during the games, by just watching him.”

Broncos QB Paxton Lynch is looking forward to getting his chance in a new offense.

A position-by-position report card for the Chiefs.

Raiders G.M. Reggie McKenzie reflected on free agent signings that worked out well.

A church outside San Diego took a shot at the Chargers.

Their season is over, but Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott are still hanging together.

An argument against the Giants using their top pick on a running back.

What did the Eagles learn about coach Doug Pederson this season?

The ups and downs for the Redskins running backs and tight ends in 2016.

Lovie Smith looks back at the Bears team he coached to an NFC title.

Breaking down the 2016 Lions draft class.

The Packers pass protection has plenty of admirers.

Said Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell, “It’s not what I need to do, it’s gaining the trust and the opportunities from the coaches. Every year you just need to keep getting better. Everybody is going to get better in the offseason.”

Falcons T Jake Matthews may be blocking his cousin Clay at times in Sunday’s game.

Ric Flair’s wavering football allegiances irk Panthers DE Charles Johnson.

A preview of what to expect from the Saints this offseason.

Lessons the Buccaneers can learn from the teams playing on Sunday.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians remains hopeful that WR Larry Fitzgerald will play in 2017.

Former Rams players helped out as coaches at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

49ers fans will likely be paying close attention to how Kyle Shanahan and the Falcons fare on Sunday.

Sizing up the Seahawks receiving corps.

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Brice Butler rule could be eliminated or modified

INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 30: The referee Tony Corrente #99 makes a call during the game betweeen the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game on September 30, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The rule that wiped out a 22-yard gain and turned it into a 15-yard loss for the Cowboys on Sunday eventually could be earned from the rule book.

A vestige of the ’50s, the rule that allows the referee to flag the offense for unsportsmanlike conduct if a player not in the game approaches the huddle and then leaves without participating in a play could soon be expunged.

As one source with thorough knowledge of the rule book and its application told PFT on Saturday, current game mechanics aimed at giving the defense a fair chance to match any changes the offense may be making in an effort to confuse the opponent make the threat of a 15-yard penalty irrelevant. Put simply, the so-called (at least by me) Brice Butler rule has become outdated.

For now, it exists. And it’s no coincidence that referee Tony Corrente is the man who called the foul on Sunday in Dallas. Corrente called the foul the last time the rule was invoked during a Washington-Dallas game in 2014. He’s regarded as the lone stickler on this issue among the NFL’s referees.

At a minimum, the rule book could be (and should be) cleaned up to eliminate conflict between the actual rule regarding offensive players who quickly enter and exit (Rule 5, Section 2, Article 5) and a provision that lists the penalties for various types of illegal substitutions (Rule 5, Section 2, Article 8) and that inaccurately summarizes the text of the rule to prohibit a player from “mov[ing] onto the field inside the field numerals and leaves without participating in one play.”

Even if the rule isn’t changed or modified, the NFL may consider making it a dead-ball foul. Since the violation locks in before the snap, there’s no reason to wait until after the play to call it and to enforce it. That would lessen the potential impact of the call; last Sunday, the Cowboys wouldn’t have lost 22 yards before losing 15.

Then there’s the practical impact of clinging to this archaic rule. If Corrente had never thrown the flag, it never would have been an issue. The Packers wouldn’t have complained that they didn’t get a fair chance to match the offensive personnel and/or that the 22-yard gain should have been wiped out due to a technicality. If they had, many would have accused the Packers of complaining about a goofy technicality.

Instead, the issue has become a distraction to what was an excellent and memorable playoff game — even though (as PFT has learned) the Cowboys never complained about it.

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Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan expected to play for Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 12:  Malcolm Mitchell #19 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on December 12, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots had a few injury concerns among their pass catchers this week, but it doesn’t look like they are going to result in any absences from the lineup on Sunday.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that wide receivers Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell are both expected to play against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Hogan had to leave last Saturday’s victory over the Texans after injuring his thigh in the third quarter, but expressed confidence all week about being well enough to play.

Mitchell has missed the last two games with a knee injury, but was able to participate in practice all week. Wide receiver Danny Amendola was also listed as questionable after returning from an ankle injury last week and having all three up along with Julian Edelman may not leave room for Michael Floyd as well.

Tight end Martellus Bennett is also expected to play after drawing the questionable designation, which should give Tom Brady a full complement of targets against Pittsburgh.

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Police apprehend Boston man for false alarm at Steelers’ hotel

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers got a 3 a.m. wakeup call courtesy of a false fire alarm at their team hotel in New England, and the authorities were quick to act.

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reports that Massachusetts State Police have apprehended a 25-year-old Boston man on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and pulling a false alarm at the Steelers’ hotel.

The false alarm was apparently planned out in advance by Patriots fans wanting to disturb the Steelers: Paolantonio reports that the man pulled the alarm, ran out of the hotel and jumped into a waiting car, fleeing the scene. But police were nonetheless able to catch up to them.

The Steelers were awakened by the alarm but may still be able to get a decent amount of rest before today’s 6:40 p.m. ET kickoff.

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Report: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams expected to play

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers looks for yards against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 1, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers called up a wide receiver from their practice squad on Saturday, giving themselves a healthy body at the position in the event that one or more of their three unhealthy ones isn’t able to play against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Max McCaffery may be headed for an afternoon as an observer, however. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will all be in the lineup for the NFC Championship Game unless they have trouble during pregame warmups.

Nelson missed last week’s game with broken ribs suffered against the Giants in the Wild Card round and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Nelson ordered extra kevlar padding to protect his injury. Adams and Allison also drew questionable tags on the team’s injury report after missing practice during the week.

Safety Morgan Burnett is also expected to be available. He injured his thigh against the Cowboys in the divisional round.

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False fire alarm causes Steelers hotel to be evacuated

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28:
A firetruck and ambulance leave the Capitol grounds as they drive down Constitution Avenue after gun shots were reportedly fired at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center March 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  A gunman was reportedly captured and a police officer shot at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers had their night of sleep interrupted early on Sunday morning by a fire alarm.

Alarms began going off at the hotel where the team is staying ahead of Sunday evening’s AFC Championship Game around 3 a.m. and Rich Walsh of KDKA reports that the entire building had to be evacuated while the fire department responded. The ringing continued for 30 minutes before everyone was allowed back to their rooms.

Walsh reports hotel personnel told him that the alarm was a false one. The person responsible for triggering that false alarm isn’t known, but it would not be the first time that a visiting team (or one preparing for a neutral site game) had to deal with attempts to throw them out of their comfort zone.

The Steelers have the late kickoff on Sunday with their game against the Patriots getting underway at 6:40 p.m. ET.

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Packers couldn’t fly out of Green Bay, got to Atlanta late

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers consults with head coach Mike McCarthy during a timeout against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on December 20, 2015 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The trip to Atlanta did not go smoothly for the Packers.

Although the team was supposed to get a flight from Green Bay to Atlanta, dense fog in Green Bay prevented that, as the plane that was supposed to take the Packers to their destination couldn’t land in Green Bay because of the fog.

As a result, the Packers had to board buses from Green Bay to Milwaukee, then fly from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

The Packers landed in Atlanta at 8:30 p.m. ET, much later than road teams usually arrive on a Saturday before a game. So while the Packers made it to their Atlanta hotel in time to get a good night’s sleep, it wasn’t as smooth a trip as they would have liked before the NFC Championship Game.

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Conference championship ratings almost certainly will drop

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 23:  A woman walks in blizzard-like conditions on January 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Northeast and parts of the South are experiencing heavy snow and ice from a slow moving winter storm. Numerous deaths from traffic accidents have already been reported as the storm makes its way up the coast.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Getty Images

The apples-to-apples comparison of last year’s conference championship games to this year’s conference championship games will be hampered by one major difference between the broader circumstances from this same weekend from 12 months ago.

Last year at this time, much of the northeast was buried in snow after a blizzard hit on Friday and Saturday, the two days before the AFC and NFC title games. So with millions snowed in, millions tuned in.

On average, 53.3 million watched the Patriots-Broncos game, which went down to the wire. The Cardinals-Panthers game, which was a blowout, averaged 45.7 million.

This year, with no snow and seasonably warm temperatures throughout much of the country, it will be very difficult for Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots to match those numbers, no matter how compelling the games are.

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Jim Irsay: Peyton Manning won’t be joining the Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07:  Peyton Manning (L) and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay hug during a press conference announcing that the Colts will release Manning at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay finally has done that which seemed quite possible if not likely three weeks ago: He has fired G.M. Ryan Grigson.

At a press conference to announce the move, Irsay said that Peyton Manning will not be joining the team as the G.M. But Irsay may have taken his position on Peyton Manning a bit too far by claiming that Manning and Jon Gruden joining the team was “never in the cards.”

Multiple reports indicated that Irsay tried to woo Gruden and Manning as a package deal. The two men are close friends (it’s not quite The Odd Couple, but it’s close), and the goal was to get both of them. If those reports were all #fakenews, Irsay should have shot them down days ago.

Irsay said he has a list of G.M. candidates, that it could expand, and that he’ll interview current Colts executive Jimmy Raye III for the job. (I think Irsay knows who he’ll hire, but he’s trying to ensure the perception of a full and fair search.)

As to coach Chuck Pagano, Irsay explained that Pagano will be back for 2017, but it’s obvious he’ll be on the hot seat — especially if the new G.M. comes from outside the organization. Every coach wants his own quarterback and every G.M. wants his own coach, and half-measures of this kind rarely work.

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Blandino explains accuracy of Chiefs holding call

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Side Judge Carl Cheffers #51 listens in as the officials discuss a play during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears on September 12, 2004 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Lions defeated the Bears 20-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The outrage over the holding call that wiped out what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion last Sunday night in Kansas City was entertaining but, ultimately, not accurate. Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher held Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

In his weekly officiating video, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed the accuracy of the call made by referee Carl Cheffers, whose assignment on such plays when positioned on the right side of the quarterback includes watching the interaction between the left tackle and the man he’s blocking.

“We talk about position, body position,” Blandino said. “We talk about feet. If the blocker can maintain good feet and he can maintain position in front of the defender and if he can stay square to the defender and he can continue to move his feet, we’re not gonna have a foul for holding. If the defender gets outside his feet and the blocker has to reach, now he reaches with his left arm across the body of the defender and he’s gonna grab . .  on the jersey. When we see that, now we have to look for restriction. Does he materially affect the defender’s ability to get to the ball carrier?”

The foul occurred when Harrison tried to break free from Fisher, and when Fisher knocked Harrison down.

“The other factor, we have a rip . . . technique,” Blandino said. “Where the defender’s gonna bring his arm under the arm of the blocker, try to gain leverage, and get through to the quarterback. When there’s a rip, there’s no foul for holding unless the defender’s feet are taken away. And you can see clearly the defender’s feet are gonna be taken away as he’s taken to the ground.”

The explanation is useful, but the simpler point is that it looks like holding, clearly and unmistakably. So while it was surely disappointing for the Chiefs to have two critical points taken from the board in the closing minutes of an elimination game, the foul occurred — and kudos to Cheffers for having the will to throw the flag at a time when plenty of officials take a “let them play” approach, which essentially means when obvious fouls aren’t called, “Let them cheat.”

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With three receivers hurt, Packers call one up from practice squad

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 28: Max McCaffrey #87 of the Duke Blue Devils stiff-arms Zach Dancel #9 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on November 28, 2015 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packer have called in reinforcements for their ailing receiving corps.

Max McCaffrey, a rookie receiver who has yet to play in an NFL game, has been promoted from the Packers’ practice squad to their active roster. That means he could play tomorrow in the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons.

Three Packers receivers — Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison — are questionable for the game Nelson is dealing with an illness and broken ribs, Adams has an ankle injury and Allison has a hamstring injury.

McCaffrey signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL draft but did was cut at the end of the preseason. The Packers signed him to their practice squad in December. A three-year starter at Duke, McCaffrey is the son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey and the older brother of potential 2017 first-round draft pick Christian McCaffrey.

To make room for McCaffrey on the 53-player roster, the Packers placed offensive lineman JC Tretter on injured reserve.

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Pat McAfee celebrates the firing of Ryan Grigson, apparently

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 24:  Pat McAfee #1 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after throwing a first down pass on a trick play during the second quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you’re wondering what Colts players think about the decision to fire G.M. Ryan Grigson, look no farther than the Twitter page of Colts punter Pat McAfee.

Thank God,” he tweeted not long after the news broke. He then followed it with an observation that “‘Unwarranted Arrogance’ just ran into a brick wall called karma.”

After Indianapolis radio personality and former college basketball coach Dan Dakich sneered at these observations from “the punter,” McAfee removed any doubt that he was talking about Grigson: “‘All Pro punter’ please and thank you.. also someone who has seen your best friend treat humans absolutely horrendously for 5 years.”

It’s stunning stuff from McAfee, but I’ll take honesty over robotic Foxboro cliches any day. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether any teammates join in the chorus or publicly dispute McAfee’s views about Grigson.

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What’s Jim Irsay’s next move? Presumably, he already knows

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Jim Irsay Owner of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates their 30-17 victory of the New York Jets during the Lamar Hunt Trophy presentation after the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Nearly three weeks after the Colts’ season ended and a full week after it became obvious that owner Jim Irsay was courting Peyton Manning to run the team and Jon Gruden to coach it, Irsay finally has made a move.

With Irsay expected to announce that G.M. Ryan Grigson has been fired, the question becomes what will be Irsay’s next move?

Presumably, he already knows. And that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s good because it means Irsay has achieved his obvious goal of landing an upgrade before dumping Grigson. It’s bad because it means that Irsay could have a hard time complying with the Rooney Rule, if it’s widely believed that Irsay already knows who he is going to hire.

For that reason alone, don’t expect Irsay to name a successor — unless he has pre-complied with the Rooney Rule. Which would mean that he has been interviewing candidates while Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano have been hanging out to dry.

Grigson has three years left on his contract, which means he’ll be paid by Irsay minus whatever he makes elsewhere. And “elsewhere” could potentially be a return to the Eagles front office, where Grigson worked before being hired by the Colts.

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Colts fire Ryan Grigson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 16: General manager Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts looks on during a rookie minicamp at the team complex on May 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

After five seasons and little progress, Ryan Grigson is out as the General Manager of the Colts.

Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay fired Grigson today, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The Colts have announced that Irsay will speak to the media later this afternoon, but they have not confirmed that Grigson is out.

It has been widely reported that Irsay would love to change the structure of his front office and work out a deal to put Peyton Manning in charge. It is unclear if firing Grigson is a step toward hiring Manning, or whether Irsay just decided to can Grigson and start searching for a new G.M. now.

It is also unclear whether head coach Chuck Pagano’s job is safe.

The Colts will now get a very late start on the offseason, as most teams have their front office personnel in place and are already making preparations for free agency and the draft. But Grigson had ample opportunity to build a team around Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, and he failed to do so. As a result, he’s out.

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