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Looking ahead at future Hall of Fame classes

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The seven members of the 2014 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame have received their busts in Canton, Ohio, and now that enshrinement weekend is behind us, let’s look ahead at the players, coaches and contributors who could comprise the next five Hall of Fame classes.

2015

Junior Seau will be eligible for the first time next year, and he’s the one man who looks like a lock for the class of 2015. Seau’s enshrinement will bring up stories about his suicide and questions about whether brain damage on the football field could have led to his depression, but his enshrinement should also be a celebration of one of the greatest linebackers ever to play the game.

Paul Tagliabue, the former commissioner, may be the biggest beneficiary of the Hall of Fame’s new policy of voting on contributors separately from players and coaches. In past Hall of Fame votes, Tagliabue has lost out, but now that he’s no longer competing with players and coaches, there’s a good chance that he’ll be enshrined next year.

Steve Sabol would also be a good choice in 2015, when there will be two Hall of Fame finalists from the separate contributors category. Sabol’s father Ed is already in the Hall of Fame, but both Sabols deserve busts in Canton for building NFL Films.

Kurt Warner is, after Seau, the player with the best chance of being enshrined in his first year of eligibility next year. Some may say Warner’s greatness was too short-lived to merit Hall of Fame induction, but a player with two regular-season MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP award is probably going to end up in Canton.

Orlando Pace protected Warner’s blind side in St. Louis and was one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL for a decade, and he’ll also be eligible for the first time next year.

Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were the top two receivers on the Greatest Show on Turf, and they both retired after the 2009 season, making them eligible in 2015. (You can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten that Holt was in Jacksonville and Bruce was in San Francisco in 2009.) It would really be something if they were both inducted along with Warner and Pace. That, however, is awfully unlikely. Wide receivers have had a hard time getting into Canton in recent years, and Holt and Bruce may end up competing against each other and therefore hurting each other’s chances in much the same way that Steelers greats John Stallworth and Lynn Swann did for many years.

Jerry Kramer, the great Packers offensive lineman, would be a strong choice as a senior candidate. Next year will be a harder year for seniors to get in, as only one senior finalist will be nominated. But Kramer may be the most deserving senior candidate eligible.

2016

Brett Favre is a sure thing to be inducted in 2016, and the Packers have already begun the process of turning the year before his induction into a long ceremony honoring Favre, who will have his number retired in 2015.

Terrell Owens also becomes eligible in 2016, but he’s a long shot. Owens is second only to Jerry Rice on the all-time receiving yards list and third behind Rice and Randy Moss in receiving touchdowns, but Owens acted like such a jerk, so often, that he’s remembered as much for becoming a disruptive force in the locker room as he is for being a dominant force on the field.

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former 49ers owner, may benefit from the new contributors category and be enshrined soon. The question is whether Hall of Fame voters will reward DeBartolo for his role in building the great 49ers teams of the 1980s and 1990s, and overlook the circumstances that led DeBartolo to be forced out of the NFL.

Jerome Bettis may finally get his bust in Canton in 2016, as a relatively weak crop of first-year eligible players will make room for those who have previously been passed over.

Will Shields, the great guard for the Chiefs, would also seem likely to benefit from a lack of first-year eligible players, although there have been so many great offensive linemen enshrined in Canton in recent years that it’s hard for any one to gain recognition over all the others.

Marvin Harrison was voted down this year, but he had so many great seasons as a receiver for the Colts that it seems like just a matter of time before he gets in, and 2016 may be the year.

Randy Gradishar and Ken Stabler are a couple of good senior candidates who may be enshrined in 2016, when two seniors will be eligible. (Only one senior is eligible in 2015, 2017 and 2019.)

2017

LaDainian Tomlinson becomes eligible for the first time in 2017, and with 13,684 career rushing yards, Tomlinson looks like a good bet to make it. Only four players have more yards than Tomlinson (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin) and all four are already in the Hall.

Jason Taylor becomes eligible in 2017 as well, and he has a good case, although he may be joining a crowded field of pass rushers, as we’ll detail momentarily.

Kevin Greene was voted down as a Hall of Fame finalist last year, but with 160 sacks in his career, he seems sure to get in eventually: The only players with more career sacks than Greene were Bruce Smith and Reggie White, two of the greatest players in NFL history. The 2017 class may be the one that finally makes room for Greene.

Charles Haley also might finally get his Hall call in 2017. He’s been voted down five times already, but his contributions to Super Bowl winners in both San Francisco and Dallas should be enough to earn him a bust at some point.

Hines Ward was a great wide receiver and a Super Bowl MVP winner, and he’ll be eligible for the first time in 2017. But Ward’s career numbers (1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns) are dwarfed by those of some other recent receivers, and Ward may suffer by comparison.

Brian Dawkins was a nine-time Pro Bowl safety who also becomes eligible in 2017, but he seems unlikely to be selected in his first year of eligibility. Dawkins was a beloved player both on and off the field, and at some point the voters may put him in Canton, but that point probably won’t be until he’s on the ballot for at least a few years.

George Young, the former Giants general manager, is just the kind of person that the new “contributors” category is designed to recognize, and the 2017 class may be the year that the late Young gets his due.

Don Coryell would appear to be a likely choice as a senior candidate some day, and 2017 may be when that day comes. Coryell never won a championship as a coach, but he was such an innovator of the passing game that he’s a significant figure in the history of football.

2018

Ray Lewis will be an easy choice as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. There’s no room for debate on that.

Randy Moss may leave some room for debate, as his numbers are comparable to those of Terrell Owens, who looks like a long shot. But Moss at his best was such a game-changer that he just feels like exactly the kind of player who belongs in Canton.

Brian Urlacher, who like Lewis and Moss becomes eligible in 2018, has a very good case for enshrinement as well. Although he’ll suffer in comparison to Lewis, there will probably be enough support for Urlacher to get him enshrined in his first year of eligibility.

Steve Hutchinson was a great guard and also becomes eligible in 2018, but he won’t get in on his first year of eligibility. Hutchinson may be a finalist many times, but getting the necessary 80 percent of the vote will be tough.

Tim Brown is a longtime finalist who feels like he accomplished enough in the NFL (usually while serving as the only decent threat in his teams’ passing games) that he should be recognized eventually. The 2018 class may be the year.

Art Modell has been voted down several times, and the opposition to his candidacy is strong from some who say that taking the Browns out of Cleveland was an unforgivable sin. But the new contributors category gives Modell a much better chance, and 2018 could be his year.

Bob Kuechenberg and Cliff Harris are among the best senior candidates who haven’t been selected yet.

2019

Tony Gonzalez becomes eligible for the first time in 2019, and he’s just about a sure thing as one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the game.

Ed Reed also becomes eligible for the first time in 2019, and he also looks like a sure thing as one of the greatest safeties ever to play the game.

Tony Dungy was voted down in his first year of eligibility last year and may be voted down a few more times, but he’s likely to get in eventually, and 2019 could be the year.

Morten Andersen was also voted down this year in his first year as a Hall of Fame finalist, but he also has a good case to make it eventually. Andersen, the NFL’s all-time leader in points scored, would join Jan Stenerud and Ray Guy as the only kicking specialists in the Hall of Fame.

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Raiders promote Trey Scott

NAPA, CA - AUGUST 05:  A detail of a helmet during the Oakland Raiders Training Camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on August 5, 2009 in Napa, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders, who apparently won’t be having to replace director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales this year, may already have an in-house substitute in mind, if/when someone else makes Clinkscales a General Manager.

The team has promoted midwest scout Trey Scott to the position of Assistant Director of Player Personnel. Scott, 28, has spent five prior seasons with the team. Before that, he worked for Washington.

Scott arrived in Oakland with Clinkscales and others in May 2012. Both are names to watch, especially if this year’s playoff berth from the Raiders is a sign of things to come.

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Jason Tarver to interview for Washington DC job

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

Washington continues to add to its search for a defensive coordinator, with a fourth name joining the list.

According to Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, former 49ers linebackers coach Jason Tarver is scheduled to interview.

Former Bills coordinator Rob Ryan met with them today, and they’ve also interviewed former Browns head coach Mike Pettine and former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.

Tarver was defensive coordinator in Oakland from 2012-14, and previously worked for the 49ers as a position coach.

Washington had received permission to talk to Panthers secondary coach Steve Wilks, but he got the same promotion in Carolina after Sean McDermott got the Bills head coaching job.

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Richard Sherman had knee injury, Seahawks didn’t report it

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks talks with cornerback Richard Sherman #25 prior to the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

For much of the 2016 season and into this year’s playoffs, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would get days off practice that the Seahawks would claim on their official injury report were “not injury related.”

Now the Seahawks are admitting that an injury did affect Sherman for much of the season.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said today on 710 ESPN in Seattle that Sherman suffered an MCL injury during the season. Carroll said the injury was affecting Sherman both physically and mentally.

That raises an obvious question: Why did the Seahawks’ injury report repeatedly list Sherman’s days off as “not injury related” when an injury was affecting him physically and mentally? The whole point of the injury report is that the NFL wants teams to be transparent about which players are ailing and which players are healthy. The Seahawks were less than transparent.

Carroll surely believes the Seahawks’ decision not to list Sherman on the injury report was true to the letter of the law, or else he wouldn’t have mentioned it today. And he might be right: Not every bump and bruise has to be listed on the injury report, and if the Seahawks were certain Sherman was going to be able to play through the injury, they may be in the clear as far as the league office is concerned.

Still, it’s odd that Carroll is talking about injuries affecting Sherman now, when the official word from the Seahawks all season was “not injury related.”

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Chip Kelly talking to Jaguars again, and they have a head coach

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on October 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tom Coughlin interviewed for the Jaguars head coaching job, didn’t get it, and still ended up employed there.

And Chip Kelly might be following the same path.

After interviewing for the head coaching job that went to Doug Marrone, the former Eagles and 49ers head coach was back at EverBank Field today talking to Jaguars officials, according to Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.

Kelly as coordinator would be a fascinating idea, and could give Blake Bortles a better chance to succeed. They haven’t officially parted ways with coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, but if Kelly’s hanging around, there are only so many other jobs for him there.

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Report: DeShawn Shead suffered torn ACL

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07:  Defensive back DeShawn Shead #35 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a pass intended for Wide receiver Anquan Boldin #80 of the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks safety Deshawn Shead suffered a torn ACL in last weekend’s playoff loss at Atlanta, NFL Network reported.

The report said Shead will have surgery to repair the tear. The Seahawks feared after the game that Shead had torn his ACL but no official diagnosis was made until the team returned to Seattle.

Shead will become a restricted free agent in March.

Shead started all 15 games he played in 2016. He had one interception and a career-best 14 pass breakups.

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Titans add two to coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Ryquell Armstead #25 of the Temple Owls celebrates with wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the East Carolina Pirates at Lincoln Financial Field on November 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans have hired ex-NFL player Frisman Jackson as their new wide receivers coach and Craig Auckerman as assistant special teams coach.

This is Jackson’s first NFL coaching job. Jackson spent the last two years as wide receivers coach at Temple and previously coached at North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois and Akron. He added the title of passing game coordinator at Temple last season.

Jackson played under Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie with the Browns in the early 2000s.

Auckerman was special teams coordinator with the Chargers last season after serving as assistant special teams coach the previous three seasons with the Chargers. Auckerman has 10 years of NFL coaching experience.

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Julio Jones may be limited, but will be “ready to rock”

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:   Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

It may not be “no concern,” but the Falcons are apparently confident wide receiver Julio Jones is OK.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters that Jones might be limited in practice this week, but would be “ready to rock,” in time to play Sunday against the Packers.

Jones aggravated the foot/toe injury he’s been dragging around the last few weeks, and may not be 100 percent.

But it’s also clear there’s nothing so significant it will keep him off the field against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

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New Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hires his son

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: A Cleveland Browns helmet rests on the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns are hiring Blake Williams as their new linebackers coach and Jerod Kruse as assistant defensive backs coach, per multiple reports.

Williams is the son of Gregg Williams, who was hired as the Browns’ defensive coordinator earlier this month. The Browns have made staff changes on both sides of the ball since the end of last season.

Blake Williams worked under his father with both the Saints and Rams. He’s spent the last four seasons coaching in the college ranks, the last two at Southeastern Louisiana.

Kruse will work under DeWayne Walker, who was hired as the secondary coach last week. Kruse also coached at Southeastern Louisiana.

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49ers continuing G.M. interviews with Seattle’s Trent Kirchner

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The 49ers might be honing in on a head coaching choice (or just picking whoever’s left), but their search for a General Manager is continuing.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers are interviewing Seahawks personnel man Trent Kirchner today.

They’re presumably clear to also talk to Seattle’s Scott Fitterer today, as he was among the previously reported candidates and the Seahawks’ schedule is clear after this weekend’s loss to the Falcons.

The 49ers have cast a wide net for G.M. candidates, and initially suggested they wanted to fill that position before they hired a head coach. And if the Falcons beat the Packers this week, they’d technically have another two weeks to accomplish that goal, since presumed choice Kyle Shanahan would be held up the way Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was.

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Brady, Ben, Peyton are 14 of the last 16 AFC Super Bowl quarterbacks

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers speak before the game at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the 14th time in the last 16 years, the AFC Super Bowl team will be quarterbacked by Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning.

That became certain when Brady’s Patriots and Roethlisberger’s Steelers won this weekend to meet in the AFC Championship Game. Either Brady will start his seventh Super Bowl, adding to his own NFL record, or Roethlisberger will start his fourth. Manning also started four.

The only other quarterback to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl in the last 13 years was Joe Flacco, whose team topped Roethlisberger’s Steelers to win the AFC North in 2012, then beat Manning’s Broncos in the divisional playoffs and Brady’s Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Before that, the last other quarterback to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl was Rich Gannon, whose 2002 Raiders dethroned Brady’s 2001 Patriots as reigning AFC champions.

Sunday will be, incredibly, the 11th time Brady has started in the AFC Championship Game. It will be Roethlisberger’s fifth AFC Championship Game. Manning also started five AFC Championship Games.

Since 2001, the Patriots have advanced to 11 AFC Championship Games, the Steelers six (five with Roethlisberger, one without), the Colts four (three with Manning, one without) and the Broncos three (two with Manning, one without). So counting this year, those four teams will have accounted for 24 AFC Championship Game appearances since the 2001 season, with the other 12 AFC teams accounting for a combined eight AFC Championship Game appearances.

Here’s a list of the starting AFC quarterbacks in the Super Bowl for every season in the 21st Century:

2001: Tom Brady, Patriots

2002: Rich Gannon, Raiders

2003: Tom Brady, Patriots

2004: Tom Brady, Patriots

2005: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2006: Peyton Manning, Colts

2007: Tom Brady, Patriots

2008: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2009: Peyton Manning, Colts

2010: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

2011: Tom Brady, Patriots

2012: Joe Flacco, Ravens

2013: Peyton Manning, Broncos

2014: Tom Brady, Patriots

2015: Peyton Manning, Broncos

2016: Brady or Roethlisberger

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Report: 49ers “honing in” on Kyle Shanahan

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the turf before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta. Shanahan, expected to be one of the top targets for teams looking to replace head coaches, could be available for interviews this week. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, “I'm sure he will be contacted by some teams.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) AP

Monday brought word that Josh McDaniels will be remaining with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator after pulling his name from consideration for the 49ers head coaching job.

That decision leaves the team with a pair of candidates that they’ve interviewed in Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team is “honing in” on hiring Shanahan as their next coach.

Shanahan interviewed during the Falcons’ bye week and can talk to the 49ers again after the NFC Championship Game. Should the Falcons win, the 49ers would have to wait until the game is over to formally hire Shanahan and they’d be able to make a hire right away if Green Bay goes to the Super Bowl.

Shanahan has had several head coaching interviews over the last couple of years. If he does wind up with the job in Santa Clara, he’ll be a bit behind — quite a bit if the Falcons get to Houston — other teams when it comes to filling out a staff.

That’s an inconvenience, but it may not be a major one for Shanahan given how it has worked out for current boss Dan Quinn, who was hired in Atlanta after the Seahawks lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago.

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Josh McDaniels withdraws from 49ers coach search

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s one head coaching vacancy in the NFL right now and it appears it will not be filled by Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

According to multiple reports, McDaniels has pulled his name from consideration for the position. He interviewed during Wild Card weekend and would be eligible to speak to the Niners again after Sunday’s game against the Steelers whether the Patriots win or lose, although any hire would obviously have to wait until after the Super Bowl if the Patriots advance.

Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reports that McDaniels gave the 49ers job a lot of consideration, but is making a “personal decision” to stay put rather than move across the country at this time. McDaniels has said that he wants another chance to be a head coach and will likely be a candidate for openings again next season.

With McDaniels out of the running, Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable are the other candidates who have interviewed with the team without getting another job. The 49ers are also looking for a new General Manager after dispatching Trent Baalke along with Chip Kelly after the end of the season.

UPDATE 11:42 a.m. ET: McDaniels confirmed he’ll be staying put during a Monday conference call.

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Report: Rob Ryan to interview with Redskins

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Defensive coach Rob Ryan of the Buffalo Bills makes a call after beating the Cleveland Browns 33-13 at New Era Field on December 18, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Rex Ryan’s departure from Buffalo struck a serious blow to his hopes of more head coaching work in the NFL and many have opined that his coaching future in the league would be as a defensive coordinator.

There’s been no sign that Ryan is going to go that route in 2017, but his brother appears to have interest in such a position. Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports that Rob Ryan is scheduled to interview with the Redskins for their defensive coordinator opening this week.

Ryan spent last season in Buffalo with his brother, although their combined efforts didn’t do enough to get the defense where it needed to be. He came to Buffalo after being dismissed as the Saints’ defensive coordinator during the 2015 season and Ryan has also run the defense in Dallas, Cleveland and Oakland over the course of his career.

Washington fired Joe Barry after the season and they interviewed Mike Pettine, who was a longtime Ryan assistant before becoming the Browns head coach, and Gus Bradley for the opening.

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Jordy Nelson better, but “no guarantees” for Atlanta

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers stands on the field before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The absence of wide receiver Jordy Nelson didn’t stop the Packers from coming back to beat the Giants in the Wild Card round and it didn’t stop them from taking down the Cowboys 34-31 on Sunday, so the team knows they can win if Nelson’s injured ribs keep him out of the lineup against the Falcons.

They’d prefer to have everyone on hand helping with the effort to get to the Super Bowl, however. After Sunday’s win, Nelson said that his ribs were feeling “a lot better” than he was a week ago but that it’s too early to say if he’ll be able to play.

“No, there’s no guarantees,” Nelson said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re a whole week away.”

The Packers had a handful of other players get banged up during the win over the Cowboys. Safety Morgan Burnett’s thigh injury appears most serious as a return after getting hurt in the first quarter was short-lived. Tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga joined wide receiver Davante Adams and cornerback Ladarius Gunter as players who were briefly sidelined before returning to action, something that should bode well for their availability in the NFC title game.

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Packers-Cowboys draws highest divisional round rating in 20 years

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Packers scored a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sunday afternoon’s Packers-Cowboys game has done blockbuster TV ratings for the NFL on FOX.

Packers-Cowboys drew a 28.2 overnight rating, which is the highest rating for a divisional playoff game in 20 years.

The combination of two popular teams and a great game that was decided as time expired gave the NFL an absolutely phenomenal rating — the kind of rating that can be topped only by the conference championship games and the Super Bowls. Other sports simply can’t draw those kinds of ratings, even for the biggest and best games. For context, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series drew a 25.2 overnight rating, while Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals drew an 18.9 overnight rating.

That’s very good news from the NFL, which spent much of the 2016 season mired in low television ratings. Those ratings began to rebound after the election, and the playoffs have been particularly strong.

From a ratings standpoint, the Cowboys losing is not great news for the NFL and FOX, as the Cowboys are the league’s biggest television draw. But Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots are both attractive matchups as well, and the league should expect strong ratings for the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

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