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Calais Campbell: Cardinals are best team in NFC

Arizona Cardinals vs Houston Texans Getty Images

Over the last eight weeks, no one has played as well as the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona is 7-1 with blowout wins over the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams at home and a surprising upset victory against the Seahawks last weekend in Seattle. Despite a 10-5 record and a chance to get to 11-5 with a win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the Cardinals will need more than just the victory over the 49ers to reach the postseason.

But as far as who is playing the best football right now in the NFC, Cardinals’ defensive end Calais Campbell believes Arizona is at the top of the charts.

“In my opinion, I think we are the best team in the NFC. I hope we get into the playoffs and we can show it,” Campbell said on NFL AM on the NFL Network.

Arizona needs a victory over the 49ers and loss from the New Orleans Saints against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in order to find themselves playing beyond this weekend. The Saints host Tampa Bay this weekend and New Orleans is 7-0 at home on the year. It leaves a very real possibility that the Cardinals will be watching the playoffs instead of participating.

“Going 11-5 and not making it into the playoffs, nobody really knows,” Campbell said. “The only teams talked about are the playoff teams. We really hope we get a chance to get in. I know if we do we’ll do some damage.”

Arizona’s run defense is the best in the league. Campbell and Darnell Dockett specifically were responsible for causing serious problems for Seattle last week in creating space of Marshawn Lynch. Despite their offense turning the ball over four times on four interceptions from Carson Palmer, the defense held a struggling Seattle offense to just 10 points and only two drives longer than four plays.

The Cardinals are shaping up much like the Seahawks from a season ago. If they make the postseason, they’re going to be the team nobody wants to play in the NFC.

“It’s going to hurt,” Campbell said. “If that was to happen, it would hurt but I can hang my hat on 11-5. If we go 11-5, we did our part and it just wasn’t in the cards for us. But if we do get in, they better watch out.”

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Andre Smith done for the day with an arm injury

Atlanta Falcons v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals were just getting used to having Andre Smith back in the lineup, now he’s gone again.

The veteran right tackle has left with an arm injury, and won’t return.

Smith was just getting back from an ankle problem, and has been replaced by Marshall Newhouse.

Injuries have plagued the Bengals up front all year, and having backups trying to slow J.J. Watt isn’t an ideal situation.

But they have put together their best drive of the day, and Mohamed Sanu got their on the board with a 6-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

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Free tickets to Jets-Bills are no longer free

Tickets Getty Images

After the NFL decided to move the game between the Jets and Bills to Detroit, tickets were distributed for free.  They could have picked a slightly higher price point.

According to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, the tickets are gone — and at least one scalper was looking for $125 for a ticket to the game.

This ain’t a free game, man,” one scalper said.

While it’s unlikely that many tickets would have been sold at a face value of $125, the NFL presumably could have charged something for the tickets.  Five dollars.  Ten.  Even $19.95.

It’s a great gesture by the NFL to give the tickets away, something the league has done in past cases when circumstances forced a game to move.  But if someone is going to make money for something given away for nothing, maybe the something shouldn’t be given away.

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Eagles up 7-0 after opening kickoff

Philadelphia Eagles v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Eagles are trying to shake off last week’s blowout loss to the Packers and they got off on the right foot against the Titans on Sunday.

Josh Huff took the opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown to hand the Eagles a 7-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.

Huff’s touchdown continues a strong season for the Eagles special teams. Darren Sproles has two punt return scores, Chris Polk has also returned a kickoff for a touchdown and they’ve blocked five kicks so far this season. That knack for big plays eluded them last week as the Packers had a punt return for a score, but it seems the old magic has returned now that the Eagles are back on their home turf.

It’s also a nice change of pace for Huff, who has had a rocky rookie season up to this point.

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No Julius Thomas for Broncos today

Julius Thomas AP

The Broncos will be without at least one of their main passing targets today.

According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Broncos tight end Jay Glazer won’t play today because of an ankle injury.

They had referred to him as a game-time decision, but it appears this one came in well in advance.

Thomas’ ankle injury wasn’t as bad as feared, but they’re still going to play it smart with a guy they’ll need coming down the stretch.

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Glazer: Browns plan to unleash Josh Gordon

Gordon Getty Images

The Browns will limit receiver Josh Gordon’s reps on Sunday.  Unless they don’t.

The battle lines have been drawn.  Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Browns will use Gordon for only 20-30 snaps in his return from a 10-game suspension.  Jay Glazer of FOX reports that the Browns plan to unleash Gordon.

I’ve got no inside information on what the Browns plan to do, but the reality is that the plan often goes out the window once the game starts.  And with the Browns trying to keep their postseason hopes from going down the drain, they’ll do what they need to do to win games.  Which includes getting the most out of one of the most dynamic players in the league.

So whatever the over/under is for Gordon, take the over.

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Report: Vikings general counsel has been working against Peterson

Warren Getty Images

So who was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson referring to when he said that someone with the organization didn’t support him?

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Peterson was referring to Vikings general counsel Kevin Warren.  Schefter also reports that Warren and the NFL have been working together to ensure that Peterson doesn’t play this season.

That fits squarely with our (or at least my) strong belief that someone decided back in the middle of September that Peterson wouldn’t play again this year, and that every decision, breached agreement, and/or misapplied policy has been aimed at keeping Peterson from playing this year.

“I know there’s people in the organization that support me and there’s people that I know internally that has not been supporting me,” Peterson told USA Today recently, without naming names.

A request for comment has been sent by PFT to the Vikings, but they’re less than 40 minutes from kickoff against the Packers.

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Matt Kalil, Greg Jennings active for Vikings

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Getty Images

Of the four Vikings listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Green Bay, three will suit up.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (rib), left tackle Matt Kalil (knee) and wide receiver Jarius Wright (hamstring) are not among the club’s inactives for Week 12. Also active is newly acquired tailback Ben Tate, who figures to play behind rookie Jerick McKinnon.

However, while Jennings, Kalil and Wright will play, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) is inactive. He was questionable after missing Thursday and Friday.

The Vikings’ other inactives are tailback Matt Asiata (concussion), fullback Zach Line, linebacker Mike Mauti, linebacker Brandon Watts, offensive guard Austin Wentworth and offensive guard David Yankey.

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Reggie Bush inactive, LeGarrette Blount active in New England

Miami Dolphins v Detroit Lions Getty Images

LeGarrette Blount was unhappy about being on the Steelers sideline less than a week ago.

Sunday will find him happier to be in a different but familiar uniform. The running back is active for the Patriots after signing up for a second tour of duty with the club on Thursday.

Blount joins last week’s rushing hero Jonas Gray, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and James Develin in the backfield for the Patriots on Sunday with rookie James White on the inactive list. Coach Bill Belichick offered no hints about Blount’s potential role beyond saying that it is totally up to Blount.

While the Patriots get Blount back in the lineup this week, the Lions will have to wait a bit longer for Reggie Bush to return to their offense. He was listed as inactive for Sunday’s game, the second straight game he’s missed because of an ankle injury, and hopes to return for the Thanksgiving game against the Bears.

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Griffin could be benched today

Griffin Getty Images

With the handwriting etched into the wall by the repeated public remarks of coach Jay Gruden, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Gruden is prepared to bench Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, if Griffin continues his ineffective play on Sunday at San Francisco.

If benched, Griffin’s replacement would be Colt McCoy, who led the team to wins over the Titans and Cowboys while Griffin was recovering from a dislocated ankle.

Gruden’s brother, Jon, works for ESPN, making it tempting to connect the dots from Gruden to Gruden to Mortensen.

The coach has gone all in against Griffin this week, calling him out for calling out teammates and for having bad fundamentals in a post-bye week 20-point loss to Tampa Bay.  After a temporary backtracking, Gruden then told NFL Media (partially owned by owner Daniel Snyder) that the “clock’s ticking” on Griffin, who has been “coddled” in the past.

Like last season’s late-season dysfunction between Griffin and former coach Mike Shanahan, these developments suggest that player or coach won’t be back in 2015.  Silent amid the turmoil has been both G.M. Bruce Allen and owner Daniel Snyder.  How they feel about Griffin and Gruden will go a long way toward determining which guy will return in 2015.

Surely, they don’t believe that the two men will continue to be able to coexist after the coach has so publicly condemned a quarterback who already had a well-earned reputation for being sensitive to criticism.

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Week 12 early inactives

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Every week we’ll bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. So check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Browns at Falcons

Browns: TE Jordan Cameron, WR Marlon Moore, LB Karlos Dansby, WR Rodney Smith, CB Pierre Desir, DB Robert Nelson, OL Vinston Painter

Falcons: CB Robert Alford, T Jonathan Scott, QB Sean Renfree, LB Tyler Starr, T Cameron Bradfield, LB James Anderson, DT Cliff Matthews

Buccaneers at Bears

Buccaneers: LB Lavonte David, WR Robert Herron, RB Mike James, CB Crezdon Butler CB C.J. Wilson, T Kevin Pamphile, DE Da’Quan Bowers

Bears: DE Trevor Scott, WR Chris Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, CB Terrance Mitchell, LB Khaseem Greene, OL Eben Britton, T Jordan Mills

Bengals at Texans

Bengals: LB Vontaze Burfict, DE Margus Hunt, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, RB Rex Burkhead, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, T Tanner Hawkinson, WR Greg Little

Texans: CB Kareem Jackson, RB Arian Foster, QB Tom Savage, WR DeVier Posey, LB Max Bullough, T Jeff Adams, DB Josh Aubrey

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars: DE Andre Branch, LB Jeremiah George, WR Mike Brown, CB Teddy Williams, RB Storm Johnson, G Tyler Shatley, OT Sam Young

Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, T Gosder Cherilus, CB Greg Toler, OL Lance Louis, C Khaled Holmes, DT Kelcy Quarles, DT Zach Kerr

Packers at Vikings

Packers: TE Brandon Bostick, QB Scott Tolzien, CB Jarrett Bush, LB Nick Perry, LB Carl Bradford, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis

Vikings: RB Matt Asiata, DT Sharrif Floyd, FB Zach Line, LB Mike Mauti, LB Brandon Watts, G David Yankey, G Austin Wentworth

Lions at Patriots

Lions: DT Nick Fairley, G Larry Warford, QB Kellen Moore, DE Larry Webster, RB Reggie Bush, TE Kellen Davis, WR Ryan Broyles

Patriots: DE Chandler Jones, T Cameron Fleming, RB James White, WR Aaron Dobson, CB Malcolm Butler, DL Dominique Easley, OL Jordan Devey

Titans at Eagles

Titans: QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Kris Durham, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, DB Marqueston Huff, T Will Svitek, TE Richard Gordon, DE Ropati Pitoitua

Eagles: QB Nick Foles, CB Roc Carmichael, DB Jaylen Watkins, OL Julian Vandervelde, OL Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, DL Taylor Hart

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Arian Foster inactive for second straight game for Texans

Arian Foster AP

If the Texans are going to continue their unlikely push for a playoff spot today, they’re going to have to do it without Arian Foster.

The running back won’t play today because of a groin injury, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

He did some work Wednesday but then sat out Thursday’s work, but coach Bill O’Brien said there was no setback.

Regardless the semantics, the Texans will rely on Alfred Blue today, as the coaches protect Foster for the long term. Blue has run well, and will get plenty of chances against a Bengals run defense which hasn’t been stellar.

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Report: Lavonte David to sit out Sunday’s game at Chicago

Minnesota Vikings v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The Buccaneers will not have the NFL’s co-leader in tackles in the lineup at Chicago.

Weak-side linebacker Lavonte David won’t play in Sunday’s game vs. the Bears at Soldier Field, Jenna Laine of SportsTalkFlorida.com and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported this morning.

David sat out Thursday and Friday with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable on the injury report. He shares the league lead in tackles with Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly (116).

Brandon Magee is listed as the top backup at weak-side linebacker on the club’s depth chart.

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Report: Larry Fitzgerald not expected to play on Sunday

St Louis Rams v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Cardinals held out hope all week that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald would be able to play against the Seahawks despite suffering a sprained MCL last weekend, but it doesn’t look like things will go that way.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that it “would take a miracle” for the veteran wideout to be in the lineup on Sunday afternoon. Fitzgerald did not practice at all this week, but said Thursday he was optimistic that he’d be able to play and that his knee was feeling better as the week went on.

Fitzgerald leads the Cardinals with 46 catches and 658 receiving yards this season. Michael Floyd and John Brown will likely start at receiver if he isn’t able to play and both are potent deep threats, but Fitzgerald’s absence underneath should lead to them getting more attention from the Seattle secondary.

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Josh Gordon avoids suspension for DUI guilty plea

Gordon Getty Images

With a 10-game suspension behind him, Browns receiver Josh Gordon officially doesn’t have to worry about another suspension in the wake of his DUI guilty plea.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon was fined by the NFL and not suspended after pleading guilty to DUI charges in North Carolina.

Gordon pleaded guilty to the DUI charge in September, in order to avoid the automatic two-game suspension contemplated by the revised substance-abuse policy.  Under the prior substance-abuse policy, a suspension for a first-offense DUI was possible for players who had been disciplined under the policy.  Gordon had been disciplined under the policy multiple times, culminating in a full-season suspension that the new policy reduced to 10 games.

While Gordon remains subject to further action if he tests positive for alcohol, marijuana, or other street drugs, there will be no suspension arising from his DUI guilty plea.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Torrey Smith, Antwon Blake

Bills WR Robert Woods thinks the team needs to be aggressive on Monday night.

Are the Dolphins going to win 10 games this season?

Increased physicality has been part of the Patriots’ approach this season.

The Jets are happy with WR Percy Harvin’s immersion in the offense.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith isn’t sure why his jersey is a popular item for women in Washington D.C.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton is hoping for a happier return to his hometown this Sunday.

Browns RB Isaiah Crowell has to show he isn’t a fumbler.

Looking at what the Steelers need to do to make the playoffs.

What happens when Texans DE J.J. Watt meets a horse named J.J. Watt?

A few things to watch for when the Colts face the Jaguars.

Patience paid off for Jaguars RB Denard Robinson.

Where do the Titans have an edge on the Eagles on Sunday?

The Broncos hope they get their run game going again this week.

How much will Thursday’s loss cost the Chiefs?

Raiders RB Marcel Reece could be in line for more carries.

The Chargers have missed what RB Danny Woodhead brings to the lineup.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant was handing out turkeys on Friday night.

A 3-7 record isn’t enough for Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul to count his team out.

How worried should the Eagles be about RB LeSean McCoy?

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is one touchdown pass away from tying Jay Schroeder for 10th on the team’s all-time list.

Three necessities for the Bears if they want a win on Sunday.

The Lions carry the underdog label this weekend.

C Corey Linsley’s ascension to the Packers starting lineup didn’t come too early.

Vikings S Harrison Smith wants to make the Packers one-dimensional on offense.

DB Charles Godfrey has accepted a special teams role with the Falcons with enthusiasm.

Getting RB Mike Tolbert back changes the look of the Panthers Offense.

Saints CB Patrick Robinson’s confidence continues to grow.

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson could be a wanted man in the offseason.

A win on Sunday would silence a few more Cardinals doubters.

Rams QB Shaun Hill hopes to make it two straight wins this week.

DT Quinton Dial has been called into action on the 49ers defense.

Seahawks WR Paul Richardson hasn’t had the same impact as some other rookie receivers this season.

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