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PFT’s Week 13 picks

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All I wanted was a chance to catch MDS.  And I suddenly have it.

After going 3-1 in our head-to-head disagreements last week, I’m now five games back.  And we disagree on five games this week.  If I can pull off the unlikely-but-not-unpossible five-game sweep, we’ll be tied with four weeks left.

For all our picks for Thanksgiving weekend, scroll baby, scroll.

I was 8-6 last week, MDS was 6-8, and for the year he still leads at 113-63.  I’m 108-68.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: Does anyone want to win the NFC North? None of the contenders are playing like it. Two weeks ago, the Lions were in great shape to run away with the division, and now they’ve lost back-to-back games to teams with losing records. Still, I don’t trust the Packers’ defense to rein in a Lions offense with Calvin Johnson (who missed the previous Lions-Packers game with a knee injury) and I don’t trust the Packers’ offense to score much without Aaron Rodgers.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Packers 14.

Florio’s take:  Detroit needs to end its recent free fall.  So do the Packers.  With Aaron Rodgers most likely out, the Lions have more talent and more incentive to win.  They’ll still have four games after that to screw things up and miss the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Packers 20.

Raiders at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dallas is neck-and-neck in an NFC East race that seems destined to be determined in Week 17. The Cowboys know they can’t afford any slip-ups, and they’ll avoid one against an overmatched Raiders team.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Raiders 13.

Florio’s take:  A letdown is entirely possible for the home team, with the erratic and underachieving Raiders coming to town only four days after the Cowboys scored an emotional and physical win over the Giants.  And I’m tempted to pick the upset, because losing in this spot would be the ultimate Cowboys maneuver.  But this could be the year that chances perceptions in Dallas — at least until the Panthers or Cardinals roll into town for the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 34, Raiders 21.

Steelers at Ravens

MDS’s take: It says something about how bad the AFC is that the winner of this game will (for at least three days) take the lead for the sixth and final playoff spot. If one of these teams has a playoff run in them, I think it’s Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 14.

Florio’s takeBen Roethlisberger has a 7-2 record against Joe Flacco, and a 3-1 mark in Baltimore since Flacco and John Harbaugh arrived.  More importantly, the Steelers have become the Steelers again.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Ravens 10.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Bucs are playing surprisingly good football on their current three-game winning streak (and in an overtime loss at Seattle before that). But Tampa Bay isn’t on the same level as Carolina, which is playing far too well to get tripped up at home.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take:  It’s another potential letdown for a Panthers team poised to challenge the Saints for the division title.  The Bucs will give Carolina a tough fight and possibly win the game — but these Panthers know how to overcome adversity with a potent defense and a maturing quarterback who soon will be in the MVP discussion.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Buccaneers 23.

Jaguars at Browns

MDS’s take: This is a tough one. Can I pick a Brandon Weeden-led Browns team to win a game? I don’t feel like I can. But can I pick the Jaguars to win their third consecutive road game? I don’t feel like I can. I suppose I could pick this game to end in a tie, but I’ll say the Browns find a way to win.

MDS’s pick: Browns 12, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:   The Factory of Sadness hosts a perpetually sad team that has been a little less sad lately.  I feel sad for anyone who bought tickets for this one.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Jaguars 13.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: If the Titans win this one, they can make the AFC South race interesting. But I have a feeling Andrew Luck is going to put the Colts on his back over the final month of the season and drag them to the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Colts 33, Titans 21.

Florio’s take:  Outscored 93-12 in the first halves of the last four games, the Colts can essentially nail down the AFC South with a win over Tennessee.  It won’t be easy — and they may not go far in the playoffs — but the Colts reclaim the division, even if by default.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Titans 24.

Broncos at Chiefs

MDS’s take: After giving up a 24-0 halftime lead in New England, the pressure is on the Broncos. Lose in Kansas City, and there’s a good chance that they’ll be on the road throughout the playoffs. But I think Peyton Manning will turn things around and win a big one against the Chiefs.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  The stakes are high for this one, with the winner on track to secure the top seed and the loser relegated at best to No. 5.  Lost in Kansas City’s defensive collapse is that the Chiefs had their best offensive output of the year against the Chargers.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 30, Broncos 27.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: Minnesota is a bad matchup for Chicago.  The thing the Bears do worst is stop the run, and the thing the Vikings do best is hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson. The Bears will hurt their own playoff hopes and drop a game in the division.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s takeJosh McCown gets another crack at the Vikings, nearly a decade after he knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs in a Week 17 thriller at Arizona.  At least McCown can’t impact the Vikings’ playoff position this time around.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Vikings 21.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: The Jets had a nice run, but they look like they’re on the verge of collapse. Miami is still playing competitive football.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s an elimination game, as a practical matter, between a pair of AFC East teams that seem to be trying to get eliminated.  The Dolphins get eliminated on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 24, Dolphins 16.

Cardinals at Eagles

MDS’s take: This is a surprisingly great game.  The Cardinals’ defense is playing tough, physical football, while Nick Foles and Chip Kelly have the Eagles’ offense rolling. In a close game with playoff implications for both teams, I’ll take the Eagles at home.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Cardinals 24.

Florio’s take:  Former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles comes home with a much better defense, and one of the hottest teams in the league.  Chip Kelly never saw an Arizona team like this when he was at Oregon.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 27, Eagles 20.

Falcons at Bills

MDS’s take: The CFL season is over, and now the Canadian fans get to see two of the NFL’s worst teams square off in Toronto. I’m not sure if I’d pick the Falcons to beat anyone right now.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Falcons 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s fitting that the Falcons will be playing in Toronto.  They’ve imploded almost as quickly and completely as the mayor.  The implosion continues.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Falcons 17.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: I love the way the Rams are playing tough, physical football, and I also love the way they’re finally making use of Tavon Austin’s game-changing speed. Unfortunately, they’re catching a 49ers team that looks like it’s getting all the pieces in place for a late-season run.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:   Before Niners fans get too giddy about Monday night, keep in mind that the victory came against the Redskins.  This next one will be a lot harder.  Throw in the short week and the cross-country flight, and it could be time for an upset.  And I was going to take the upset  And then I remembered that Kellen Clemens is the St. Louis quarterback, and that the 49ers can actually defend against the run.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 20, Rams 10.

Patriots at Texans

MDS’s take: New England beat Houston easily last year, when the Texans were good. The Patriots will surely beat the Texans easily now that they’re bad.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Texans 14.

Florio’s take:   It was nearly a year ago that the Patriots brought the 11-1 Texans back to reality with a 42-14 drubbing in New England.  Since then, the Texans are 4-13.  The letterman jackets are in mothballs, and the coaching staff is about to get exterminated.

Florio’s pick:   Patriots 42, Texans 13.

Bengals at Chargers

MDS’s take: With Geno Atkins and Leon Hall out for the seaosn, I think the Bengals’ defense is going to be a major liability down the stretch. Look for the Chargers’ offense to put a lot of points on the board as San Diego keeps up its run toward the final AFC wild-card berth.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Bengals 28.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home.  The Chargers weren’t the same team at Kansas City that they’ve been most of the year.  Give the advantage to the home team.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Bengals 21.

Giants at Redskins

MDS’s take: In the race for last place in the NFC East, I think Washington will get to the bottom with another poor showing from Robert Griffin III, who turns the ball over far too often and will do so a couple times against the Giants.

MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Redskins 10.

Florio’s take:  The spotlight of the national stage remains in D.C., and things are getting more and more dysfunctional.  From winning their final seven after starting 3-6 last year, these Redskins could do the opposite, starting at 3-6 and ending at 3-13.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 24, Redsins 13.

Saints at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The best game of the week, between the two best teams in the NFC, will come down to home-field advantage and will all but clinch home field throughout the playoffs for the Seahawks. Seattle is such a tough place to play that it’s hard for me to see the Saints winning there — and hard for me to see the Seahawks losing at home in the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Saints 20.

Florio’s take:  The race for the No. 1 seed ends Monday night, if the Seahawks win.  It becomes a bigger “if” without Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.  But the 12th Man can fill the avoid, and the 13th Man (i.e., the weatherman) could be the difference, with freezing temperatures and the possibility of rain/snow in the extended forecast.

Florio’s pick:   Seahawks 24, Saints 17.

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Tomlin says Roethlisberger has a concussion

Ben Roethlisberger AP

Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion on Sunday. Unless he didn’t.

More specifically, he says he didn’t. His head coach says Roethlisberger did.

In his weekly press conference, Tomlin said that Roethlisberger indeed suffered a concussion against Seattle. Regardless of whether Roethlisberger calls it a concussion, he’s in the concussion protocol. Which means that someone believes he suffered a concussion, and that he won’t be playing until he passes the various steps — culminating in clearance from an independent neurologist.

Roethlisberger, who self-reported the concussion symptoms, has no reason to lie about his diagnosis. It’s possible he’s confused.

Regardless, the player never has the final word on injuries of this nature. If the coach says Roethlisberger has a concussion, then he has a concussion.

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NFL says Ravens were not offside on blocked field goal

Shareece Wright, John Harbaugh AP

Another Monday night, another controversial call from the officials. But this time the NFL says the officials were right.

On the last play of Monday night’s game in Cleveland, the Ravens blocked the Browns’ field goal attempt and returned it for a touchdown. It looked like a great play by the Ravens and another rough break for the Browns, but by Tuesday morning, fans and members of the media were asking whether it was actually a blown call: Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine may have had his hand in the neutral zone at the snap.

However, the league office tells PFT that the play has been reviewed, and the officials got it right. Although Levine’s hand was over the line of scrimmage superimposed on the ESPN broadcast, that line is not official, and the league says Levine got back behind the actual line of scrimmage.

“The ball was spotted at the 33-and-a-half yard line for the kick,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told PFT via email. “The center moves the ball up slightly to get in position for the snap. The black line you see, which television uses to denote the line of scrimmage, appears to be at the 33, not the 33-and-a-half. So when the ball is snapped, the defensive player is not at the 33-and-a-half yard-line and he appears to be in a legal position.”

The NFL also said Ravens defensive back Will Hill did not step out of bounds on his touchdown return, contrary to some images suggesting that he might have.

This season has been full of missed calls by the officials, and Monday Night Football has been particularly affected by. We’ve already had an official miss an illegal bat on the Seahawks in the final moments of a win over the Lions, and an official miss a mistake by the clock operator late in the Steelers’ comeback win over the Chargers. The NFL admitted those two mistakes but says that on this Monday night in Cleveland, the officials properly called the final play.

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Jerry Jones bristles at questions about Tony Romo’s longevity

Tony Romo AP

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett thinks quarterback Tony Romo has a lot of football left in him. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a specific number in mind: four or five years.

That’s what Jones said in one of his twice-weekly appearances on 105.3 The Fan. Romo, who turns 36 in April, who has had multiple back surgeries, and who has broken the same collarbone three times, will play, in the opinion, of the team’s owner four or five more years.

Pressed on the point, Jones eventually bristled.

“This is not a debate,” Jones said. “I don’t know if he’s got 4 or 5 years — you asked me my opinion.”

Jones’ opinion traditionally lands in the glass-half-full category, regardless of what he truly believes. And based on what we’ve seen from Romo the past few years, it’s hard to imagine him remaining healthy enough to play at a high level at age 36, 37, 38, 39, and/or 40.

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Report: Browns signing Terrelle Pryor

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 03: Terrelle Pryor #87 of the Cleveland Browns runs around end against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on September 3, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Browns 24-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns couldn’t find a spot on their roster for Terrelle Pryor in September, but it appears they’ve got one in December.

Mary Kay Cabot of reports that the Browns will be signing Pryor on Tuesday. Per Cabot, Pryor was set to meet with the Bears but has opted to return to the Browns instead.

Pryor was with the team through camp despite a hamstring injury that kept him off the field much of the time, but he was released days before the start of the season when they claimed Robert Turbin off of waivers. He’s worked out for several teams over the last few months without landing another job in the NFL.

Pryor was playing wide receiver for the Browns this summer and that’s presumably where he’ll be playing this time as well. They played without Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins because of concussions on Monday night and Dwayne Bowe has given the team nothing since signing with them as a free agent during the offseason.

With Josh McCown getting hurt again on Monday, there’s a chance they may also like the prospect of Pryor serving as further depth at quarterback. Austin Davis and Johnny Manziel are already on the roster at the position.

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Bills add three, and of course one of them’s an ex-Jet

Anthony Dixon, T.J. Barnes AP

The Bills made some moves to replenish their injury thinned defensive line.

And yes, of course, they went out and found a former Jet among them.

The Bills announced they had signed defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and defensive end Lavar Edwards, along with linebacker LB Kevin Reddick, while placing veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams on season-ending injured reserve because of a knee problem.

The 6-foot-7, 364-pound Barnes came from the Jets practice squad. He was with them last year when Bills coach Rex Ryan was coaching the Jets, hence the requisite familiarity. He’s bounced between the practice squad and active roster in New York, playing in six games this season.

Reddick has bounced among five teams, and was on the Bills practice squad earlier this year. Edwards was signed off the Cowboys practice squad.

The Bills were short up front, with Williams not able to come back from a year-long knee issue, and defensive tackle Alex Carrington going down with a knee injury last week. They don’t know whether defensive end Mario Williams is going to be able to go this week, hence the need for depth there.

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PFT Live: Broncos talk with Vic Lombardi, Colts talk with Bob Kravitz

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The Broncos became the first team to beat the Patriots this season with last Sunday night’s overtime victory, leaving them with a 9-2 record ahead of this weekend’s trip to San Diego.

That game will mark Brock Osweiler’s third start at quarterback and we’ll spend some time on PFT Live talking about Osweiler’s play when Vic Lombardi of CBS4 in Denver joins Mike Florio. In addition to looking at Osweiler, they’ll discuss the Broncos rushing performance against New England and Peyton Manning’s injury.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR will join the show as well for a chat about the 6-5 Colts. That conversation will also have a lot to do with quarterbacks and injuries, specifically the one that is keeping Andrew Luck out of the lineup.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app.

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Ben Roethlisberger: “I’ll play through any injury but brain”

Ben Roethlisberger AP

When rules were tightened up to reduce high hits, many players complained that it would result in defenders diving at their knees.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apparently values another part of his body slightly more.

After self-reporting concussion symptoms during last week’s game and taking himself off the field, Roethlisberger said today on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan that “I’ll play through any injury but brain.”

“I feel like I made the right [decision],” he said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteI think more guys should do it.”

Roethlisberger said he thinks he’s cleared the concussion test he took this morning, saying it was more of a migraine. During the game, he told team doctors that his peripheral vision wasn’t normal, and that’s when they shut him down for the day. But he said those symptoms went away shortly after the game.

Roethlisberger has played through a number of injuries, often coming back well before he should. And while it’s certainly easier for a star with financial and positional security to raise his hand and ask out of a game, perhaps his being willing to do so will help others take the necessary steps for self-preservation.

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Lions: To stop Packers, we have to stop run

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When the Lions and Packers met in Week 10, the Lions held the Packers to 47 yards on the ground and Green Bay’s 61 pass attempts couldn’t generate enough offense to avoid an 18-16 loss.

The Packers were missing Eddie Lacy in that game, but he’s returned with 205 yards on 39 carries in the last two games to provide some more balance to their offense. The Lions expect to see a heavy dose of Lacy in their rematch with the Pack on Thursday night and safety Glover Quin says that the team is focused on making sure that the Packers don’t run their way to victory.

“Even though Aaron Rodgers is a super, super great, talented quarterback, they got great running backs in Eddie Lacy and James Starks,” Quin said, via the Detroit Free Press. “And if you let those guys get going, that’s going to make Aaron Rodgers even better. So you’ve got to make sure you stop the run game.”

Coming into the season, it was hard to imagine too many people would predict that teams would propose that making Rodgers and the Packers beat them through the air would be a good way to wind up with a victory. Things haven’t played out as expected for the Packers offense, however, and it’s hard to argue with a goal of making Green Bay one-dimensional on Thursday night.

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Morelli should be glad to avoid another Colts-Steelers game

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After making a series of mistakes that included not properly counting the downs in Sunday’s game between the Cardinals and 49ers, referee Pete Morelli and his crew have been yanked from Sunday night’s game between the Colts and Steelers.

The crew isn’t happy, but maybe the chief of the crew should be.

A decade ago, Morelli presided over a playoff game between the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. The sixth-seeded Steelers upset the Colts, who finished the season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The game included a significant error from Morelli, who incorrectly overturned via replay review an interception made by former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Despite the fact that the Steelers won the game, someone was sufficiently upset with the outcome to throw a rock through a window in Morelli’s California home. Via Deadspin, the authorities were stumped: “There was no way to determine if this had anything to do with his NFL job. . . . There was no note on the rock.”

By avoiding the Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, Morelli has less reason to worry about more rocks, with or without notes on them.

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Dolphins sign center as Mike Pouncey insurance

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 01:  Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the New York Jets  during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 1, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins coach Dan Campbell said Monday that Mike Pouncey’s foot injury wasn’t as serious as the team initially feared, but that there was a good chance that they’d bring in another center in the event Pouncey doesn’t come around in time to play in Week 13.

They signed that center on Tuesday morning. The team announced that they have signed Jacques McClendon to their 53-man roster.

McClendon has had two other stints with the Dolphins this year. He spent training camp with the team before being released ahead of the opener and then returned to the team to play one game in September. McClendon played in 18 games for the Jaguars in 2013 and 2014 and has also spent time with the Lions, Steelers and Falcons since entering the league as a Colts fourth-round pick in 2010.

Jamil Douglas replaced Pouncey in the loss to the Jets and had some issues with low snaps in the shotgun. Linebacker James-Michael Johnson was released to open a spot for McClendon.

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Davante Adams trying to shake off poor Thanksgiving performance

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 15: Davante Adams #17 of the Green Bay Packers tries to make a cacth over Quandre Diggs #28 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on November 15, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Lions defeated the Packers 18-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams didn’t have much to feel thankful about on the field on Thanksgiving.

Adams dropped more passes than he caught in Green Bay’s loss to the Bears, including one on a post pattern that might have gone for a touchdown if Adams had been able to reel in Aaron Rodgers’s pass. Adams also caught blame from coach Mike McCarthy for the route he ran on a Rodgers interception in a performance that continued a trend that has the Packers finding little success when they look in Adams’s direction.

Adams says he’s trying to shake off the poor game, but he’s still “pissed off” about the way he played in the loss to the Bears and that’s making it difficult to completely turn the page.

“It’s hard to let it go,” Adams said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “You really want to have that, they call it, the DB [defensive back] mentality. Just let it go, and go to the next play. Forget about it. But it’s hard.”

In other seasons, a game like that might lead to extended time on the bench for Adams. As the 11 passes thrown his way last Thursday illustrate, however, the Packers aren’t filled with options at receiver at the moment and that means he’ll likely get more chances against the Lions this Thursday. If he doesn’t do more with them, the Packers’ chances of avoiding a Lions sweep of the season series will be more difficult.

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Pete Morelli’s crew yanked from Week 13 Sunday night game

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Referee Pete Morelli walk out of the tunnel towards the field before a game between the Oakland Raidersand Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on September 30, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

After dispensing no additional discipline beyond the grading process in response to multiple errors made by the officials during the Week 11 Monday night game, the NFL has decided to take action in response to mistakes made during one of the two late-afternoon games from the twelfth Sunday of the regular season.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL has removed referee Pete Morelli’s crew from the Colts-Steelers game to be played on Sunday night. Morelli’s crew has been reassigned to another game.

It’s the third time this season the NFL has taken specific action in response to officiating errors. Side judge Rob Vernatchi was suspended with pay after a clock error in the Steelers-Chargers Monday night game, and back judge Greg Wilson was assigned away from a Sunday night game between the Colts and Patriots after missing the illegal bat at the end of the Lions-Seahawks game.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this item explained that Morelli’s crew had been reassigned from the Monday night game between Dallas and Washington. The crew had been assigned to work the Sunday night game between the Colts and Steelers, which actually will have a significantly larger audience given that it will be televised on a broadcast network, not cable.

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Sam Bradford to throw today as he comes back from shoulder injury

Sam Bradford AP

We can debate later whether it’s a good thing, but it appears Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is closer to being back.

According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bradford’s apparently been cleared from the left AC joint sprain that’s kept him out the last two weeks, along with the concussion which he was cleared from last week.

I just don’t know where we are from a throwing standpoint with him,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “He threw a little bit on Thursday in Detroit, . . . The big test will be [Tuesday] in terms of him throwing the ball around and seeing if there is residual soreness.”

While the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, Kelly still worried whether it will affect Bradford’s throws.

“If you have some instability in there, you’re susceptible to something if you get hit,” he said. “Can he handle that? Can he take a hit? It’s not something that’s going to affect him long-term.”

Of course, unless Bradford can play defense, it might not be enough to help things, as the Eagles have been rather porous in his absence (90 points in two games), knocking Mark Sanchez way down the list of concerns.

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NFL really is doing a better job of spotting concussions

Brian Hoyer AP

In Week 11, the NFL’s current system for spotting a concussed player and getting him off the field failed, badly. Rams quarterback Case Keenum, clearly in distress, remained in the game when he shouldn’t have, due in large part to a too-many-chefs system that allows the buck to be passed like the salt and pepper when it fails.

But despite the periodic mishaps (and even one mishap per season is far too many), the NFL has truly made strides when protecting players from themselves. Peter King of explains that, in the same game that saw Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger self-report concussion symptoms (a headache), Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ensured that linebacker Ryan Shazier would submit to the concussion protocol, against his wishes.

Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chair of the NFL’s head, neck, and spine committee, told King that the ATC spotter noticed that Shazier was woozy in the second quarter. Video showed a helmet-to-helmet hit, with Shazier’s head also hitting the ground. As doctors attempted to evaluation Shazier, he insisted he was fine. And then Tomlin intervened, telling Shazier, “You will listen to these doctors, and you’ll do it now.”

Shazier was later ruled out for the game, and he now resides in the league’s concussion protocol.

“This was a very good day for culture change,” Ellenbogen told King. “The team was all-in. The coach was involved, and he was fully supportive of what the medical people were doing. He couldn’t have been more supportive. Then we had a player self-report in the middle of an intense game, which is exactly what we want. He put health and safety over the competition. Concussions sometimes can take a few minutes to appear, as in this case. Today the system worked. The humans worked.”

It was a fortuitous turn of events for the NFL, which only six days earlier saw the ESPN Monday Night Countdown crew properly chastising the league for its handling of the Keenum situation — with a commercial for the new movie Concussion playing during a break later in the show. And it was smart for the league to ensure that a positive story regarding the handling of concussions has made it to light.

But even before Keenum, the system worked in Houston, where quarterback Brian Hoyer was removed from play not because of anything the ATC spotter saw or anything Hoyer said but because others noticed Hoyer wasn’t right.

“I think the guys just recognized on the sideline I wasn’t acting normal and then you get checked out,” Hoyer told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “I think it was a little bit of everything teammates, coaches, trainers I mean it’s kind of a collective thing where I think for me you know I was lucky they spotted it. . . . [Y]ou’re kind of so used to playing and you get dinged a little bit. . . . [A]drenaline is carrying you, autopilot I guess you would call it. You can still function, but I think when you’re missing certain things some of those guys around kind of notice and did the right thing.”
It’s important that the league has plenty of eyes watching for signs of concussions. But unless the lines of responsibility and accountability are clear and unambiguous, it remains possible that a player from time to time will fall through the cracks.
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Rams owner Stan Kroenke meets with Missouri governor

Kroenke Getty Images

With increasing signs that his wish to move the Rams to Los Angeles lacks the support of the majority of owners, perhaps Stan Kroenke is looking at options closer to his current home.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kroenke met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at Rams Park Monday. The chair of the St. Louis stadium task force, Dave Peacock, was also at Rams Park but didn’t take part in the meeting. A spokesperson for Nixon would confirm the meeting but provided no other details.

The meeting might be the first face-to-face meeting between Kroenke and the Governor regarding the possibility of relocation, or the state’s effort to keep the team in place.

While details are scarce, it seems that the league may be trying to nudge Kroenke in the direction of a new stadium in St. Louis. Already, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has voiced his support for the Chargers (and possibly Raiders) and the competing Carson project.

The league’s oft-stated stance is that they’d prefer to keep teams in their existing markets if there’s a viable stadium plan in place. St. Louis has at least made an effort in that regard, while the Chargers and Raiders seem stuck in a years-long holding pattern looking for new buildings to replace their decrepit ones.

While Kroenke could just be checking off a box before he packs up and moves, the possibility of a thaw between him and the locals who want to keep his team could be an interesting development, on the eve of this week’s owners meetings in Dallas.

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