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Jets announce Rex Ryan will be back

Rex Getty Images

The Jets have emerged from the trio of also-rans in the NFC East to finish second in the division, with an unlikely 8-8 record.

And that’s been good enough to keep Rex Ryan on the job.

Owner Woody Johnson announced after Sunday’s season-ending win in Miami that Rex Ryan will return to the team in 2014.

It remains unknown whether Ryan will be coaching under the final year of his current contract or receiving an extension.  While some coaches have worked as lame ducks (e.g., Mike Tice with the Vikings in 2005, Marvin Lewis with the Bengals in 2010, John Fox with the Panthers in 2010), it would be hard for the Jets and Ryan to get through a season in which Ryan’s contract will expire upon conclusion of the Week 17 season.

Regardless, Rex will be the coach entering 2014.  And that’s something that appeared to be inconceivable in late August.

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Trent Williams, David Amerson won’t play on Sunday

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Washington Redskins Getty Images

The 49ers had a lot of success attacking Giants backup right tackle Charles Brown last Sunday.

They’ll get a shot at a backup left tackle this Sunday. Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is inactive for the game after suffering sprains to both his ankle and MCL. Rookie Morgan Moses took over after he was injured last week and the need to turn to him this week won’t do much to help an offense that’s been the subject of many bad vibes in recent weeks.

Washington also ruled out cornerback David Amerson, who wasn’t on the injury report. There’s been no announcement from the team about why Amerson, who is a starting cornerback, is out for the game.

Tight end Jordan Reed, quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and defensive lineman Chris Baker are also inactive.

The 49ers ruled out right tackle Anthony Davis and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey on Friday. Quarterback Josh Johnson, WR Bruce Ellington, WR Quinton Patton, cornerback Tramaine Brock Brock, tight end Vance McDonald are the other inactives for the 49ers.

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Packers lead 14-13, but Vikings hanging around

Richard Rodgers AP

The Packers are playing like a team confident it can make a play whenever it pleases.

There’s a reason for that, based on things Aaron Rodgers has done today.

But the Vikings are hanging around, trailing just 14-13 after a 51-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

The Packers made of the day’s most remarkable plays, with Rodgers rolling to his right then throwing a lob back across his body to a wide open Richard Rodgers for a touchdown.

But they’ve also made enough mistakes on defense and special teams to let the Vikings keep it within reach. If Teddy Bridgewater were more acccurate (he’s 13-of-27 passing), they’d be in position to lead, but dropped passes and inaccurate ones have forced them to settle for field goals.

If anything, the Packers look a bit too relaxed.

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Buccaneers take 10-0 lead over sputtering Bears

Jay Cutler, Gerald McCoy AP

As might be expected, the Buccaneers’ defense has shown up big time in Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago.

A 19-yard Mike Evans TD catch and a 32-yard Patrick Murray field goal have given Tampa Bay a 10-0 halftime lead at Soldier Field. However, the Bucs’ defense has been star of the show, holding the Bears to just 68 yards on 28 plays.

The Bears have gotten little going in the ground game, gaining just 14 yards on seven carries. Quarterback Jay Cutler, meanwhile, lost a fumble on a Gerald McCoy sack, which helped lead to Evans’ eight TD of the season.

As the first half ended, Bears fans booed their club off the field, for Smith’s Buccaneers had been the far better side in the first 30 minutes.

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LeSean McCoy running well with Eagles up 27-17 at half

Tennessee Titans v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The reasons for concern about Eagles running back LeSean McCoy’s drop in production haven’t been in evidence in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.

McCoy has run 14 times for 100 yards and scored a touchdown in the second quarter on the way to a 27-17 lead over the Titans at halftime. It’s McCoy’s third time with at least 100 rushing yards this season and comes a few days after McCoy insisted he’s the same player that led the league with more than 1,600 rushing yards last season. Another half like this one will convince a few other people of that.

The Eagles would likely appreciate it as the Titans came back from 17-0 down in the first quarter to get back into the game. Zach Mettenberger hit one long pass to Justin Hunter, with the help of a well-angled deflection, for a touchdown and one to Delanie Walker to set up a Shonn Greene score as the Titans found some footing after a brutal opening quarter for the offense. The rookie was 8-of-15 for 170 yards overall while Mark Sanchez went 19-of-27 for 195 yards.

Sanchez made a bad throw that wound up as an interception, but he’s delivered more good than bad for Philly thus far. That includes a couple of completions just before halftime that led to a 49-yard field goal try. Cody Parkey couldn’t hit it, however, and the lead held at 10 when the teams went to their locker rooms.

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Fitzgerald inactive for Cardinals

Fitzgerald Getty Images

If the Cardinals are going to beat the Seahawks in Seattle, the Cardinals will have to do it without receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is inactive for Sunday’s game with a knee injury suffered last week against the Lions.  Although Fitzgerald finished the game, he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain.  That’s enough to wipe a player out for at least a week — and indeed it has.

The Cardinals, who have ridden a “next man up” mentality to a 9-1 record, have Michael Floyd and John Brown to replace Fitzgerald, who has 46 catches for 658 yards and two touchdowns for the season.

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Bengals pulling away from Texans, 16-3

A.J. Green, A.J. Bouye AP

The Bengals haven’t had much of what you’d call a flow today, but they’re building a commanding lead.

They let Houston hang around in the first half, but just took advantage of a turnover to build a 16-3 lead early in the third quarter.

The Texans had to have been relieved trail just 9-3 at the break, considering they got the ball first. But quarterback Ryan Mallett was picked off by linebacker Rey Maualuga, and the Bengals answered quickly with a Jeremy Hill touchdown run.

The Bengals are fortunate to have gotten the good Andy Dalton today, as he’s 17-of-19 passing. A.J. Green has caught 10 of those for 101 yards, as they’ve played a stable game, without much of what you’d call drama.

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Colts trudge to 6-3 halftime lead

Chris Smith, Andrew Luck AP

The AFC South-leading Colts are in a bit of a battle with the last-place Jaguars.

Host Indianapolis holds a 6-3 halftime lead vs. Jacksonville after two turnover-filled quarters at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts lost three fumbles, including two by Andrew Luck, who has been sacked five times. Overall, Indianapolis has fumbled five times.

However, the Jaguars haven’t been much better, with Blake Bortles throwing one interception and tailback Denard Robinson coughing up a fumble.

The Colts have outgained Jacksonville 148-104, with Luck completing 10-of-17 passes for 112 yards and rushing twice for 26 yards. By contrast, Bortles is just 4-of-10 passing for 34 yards, though he has added 21 yards on the ground.

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Winston explains contact with official

Jameis Getty Images

The link on the home page says Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s contact with an official was “unintentional.”  The headline to the story says it wasn’t “malicious.”  The quotes attributed to Winston contain neither of those inconsistent terms.

He was just holding me because he said we had a substitution,” Winston said after the game regarding the official whom Winston tried to physically relocate.  “It was actually a fast-tempo play, so I was trying to get up under there and let it ride.”

While Winston surely had no actual malice when trying to move the official, Winston’s words prove that the action was necessarily “intentional.”  He didn’t accidentally try to pick up an official and move him.  He deliberately did it.

As MDS pointed out last night, Winston’s history makes him more of a target for criticism in cases like this.  But even without Winston’s baggage, trying to lift up a game official as if he were a suitcase creates red flags, regardless of Winston’s history.

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Falcons grab halftime lead after picking off Brian Hoyer

Julio Jones AP

It hasn’t been the prettiest of halves for the Falcons, but 4-6 teams trying to win a division title can’t really worry all that much about how they get wins.

Matt Ryan threw an interception and lost a fumble on a sack by Paul Kruger, but the Browns could only turn them into six points as their offense misfired once they moved into Atlanta territory. Settling for field goals was still better than the result of another foray onto the Falcons’ side of the field.

Brian Hoyer threw a wounded duck that Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael picked off and returned to midfield. Ryan hit Julio Jones for a couple of first downs and then flipped a shovel pass to Jacquizz Rodgers for an 8-yard touchdown that made the score 14-13 Falcons at halftime. Ryan was 12-of-22 for 161 yards overall and was lucky to escape with just one interception as Browns safety Donte Whitner let a takeaway slip through his fingers.

Hoyer is 11-of-22 for 151 yards and has looked Josh Gordon’s way often in the first half. Any talk of easing Gordon back into the lineup appears to have been misguided as Hoyer looked his way 10 times. Gordon got four catches for 70 yards on those looks and Hoyer has missed him on a couple of deep balls, including one just before the half, that could have boosted those totals and the Browns’ score significantly.

That final miss to Gordon preceded a 60-yard field goal attempt that fell short and into the hands of Devin Hester. Hester returned the ball into Cleveland territory, but guard Joel Bitonio was able to stop him before he added to his record book. It was the most exciting play of a sloppy first half, so perhaps better things are in store in the final 30 minutes.

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LeGarrette Blount scores as Patriots lead Lions

blount AP

It didn’t take LeGarrette Blount to pick up where he left off with the Patriots.

Blount, who re-signed with the Patriots this week after the Steelers sent him packing, scored a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Tom Brady also has two touchdown passes, and the Patriots lead 21-6.

The Patriots’ offense has revolved around the passing game, with Blount as the leading rusher with just two carries for five yards late in the second quarter. Although New England went three-and-out on its first two offensive series, the Patriots have picked things up since then.

The Lions’ offense has struggled, with Matthew Stafford looking skittish behind a banged-up offensive line (left tackle Riley Reiff was hurt on the first play). Even when he’s on target, Stafford isn’t getting much help from his receivers: Joseph Fauria and Corey Fuller have both had passes go through their hands in the end zone.

The Lions have had some successful second-half comebacks this year. They’ll need their best second half of the season to beat the Patriots.

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Mike Evans does it again

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Remember when it took time for first-round receivers to hit their stride?

In May, the Buccaneers took wideout Mike Evans No. 7 overall. And on Sunday in Chicago, Evans hauled in his eighth TD of the season to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 second-quarter lead.

Evans’ 19-yard TD catch was set up when Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy drilled Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, causing a fumble recovered by Tampa Bay.

On Evans’ touchdown, the 21-year-old former Texas A&M star beat Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. However, Evans did draw a taunting foul after the score. In the end, though, the Bears didn’t capitalize.

And it appears we are far from the end of Evans’ NFL highlight reel.

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Report: Andre Smith suffers triceps tear, MRI tomorrow

Andre Smith AP

The Bengals are off to a 9-0 lead on the Texans, but they may have suffered a significant loss.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Bengals right tackle Andre Smith has suffered a “significant tear” to his triceps. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury, but it’s obviously bad news for a line that has dealt with injuries up front all season.

Marshall Newhouse replaced him, but had to leave briefly after getting poked in the eye, though he was able to return.

The Bengals tried to extend their lead by going for a fourth-and-inches, but Andy Dalton’s fade pass to A.J. Green didn’t quite come together. The Bengals responded by recording a safety on the next Texans play.

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Vikings use long drive to tie the Packers

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

There was nothing easy about it, but the Vikings tied things up with the Packers.

A 14-play drive was capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Charles Johnson, allowing the Vikings to even things up at home.

Minnesota converted a pair of fourth downs during the drive, including having an interception waved off because of a Packers holding penalty.

Bridgewater’s only completed 4-of-12 passes, but he’s at least been timely, and the Packers are letting them hang around.

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Eagles lose Zach Ertz, but lead 17-7 in second quarter

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Sunday got off to a good start for the Eagles and things continued to go well for most of the first quarter.

The Titans went three plays and out on all three of their first quarter drives and Darren Sproles ran for a short touchdown as the Eagles built of Josh Huff’s game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown to take a 17-0 lead.

A Mark Sanchez interception helped close the gap, however. Sanchez made a poor throw to Riley Cooper that Cooper probably could have done more to keep from winding up in Brandon Ghee’s hands and the Titans capitalized a couple of plays later. Safety Malcolm Jenkins tipped a Zach Mettenberger pass to Justin Hunter, but Hunter was able to reel it in and keep going for a 40-yard touchdown that cut the Eagle lead to 10 points.

The Eagles also lost tight end Zach Ertz to an oblique injury as the first quarter wound down. He’s questionable to return to the game.

UPDATE 2:10 p.m. ET: Ertz is going to return to the game, which the Eagles now lead 20-14. Mettenberger and Delanie Walker hooked up on a 68-yard gain up the seam and Shonn Greene ran the ball in to draw the Titans closer.

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Turnovers the story early in Indianapolis

Andrew Luck AP

The defenses have ruled thus far in Indianapolis, with the Jaguars and Colts tied at three after one quarter.

The Jaguars and Colts have each tallied a field goal set up by a takeaway, with the Jaguars capitalizing on an Andrew Luck fumble on a sack and the Colts cashing in a Blake Bortles interception.

The Colts have had problems protecting Luck, who has been sacked four times thus far, losing a pair of fumbles when sacked. However, on both occasions, the Jaguars’ coverage was a factor.

Meanwhile, the underdog Jaguars have again struggled to play sound football. In addition to Bortles’ pick, Denard Robinson has lost a fumble. Even their made field goal was far from perfect; the Colts deflected the ball, but it made its way through the uprights nonetheless.

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