Week 15 injury report roundup

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Week 15 kicked off on Thursday with a win by the Broncos and it continues with this season’s first two Saturday games. 12 more games will be played on Sunday, which means that the 24 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

 

Dolphins at Bills

The Dolphins put the doubtful category to good use by listing QB Matt Moore (foot), CB Cordrea Tankersley (ankle, shoulder), S Michael Thomas (knee) and RB Damien Williams (shoulder, illness) that way for Sunday’s game. G Jermon Bushrod (foot) is definitely out and three players — DE Andre Branch (knee), CB Xavien Howard (illness), DT Jordan Phillips (ankle) — are considered questionable.

QB Tyrod Taylor (knee) returns to the starting lineup while Nathan Peterman (concussion) is out. T Cordy Glenn (foot, ankle) and G John Miller (ankle) are also out and WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) is questionable.

Packers at Panthers

CB Davon House (shoulder, back) will miss Aaron Rodgers‘ return to the Packers lineup. CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring), LB Nick Perry (foot, shoulder), LB Jake Ryan (knee) and T Jason Spriggs (hip) are questionable to play.

Panthers WR Devin Funchess (shoulder) is listed as questionable, although coach Ron Rivera said he will play. LB Shaq Thompson (foot) and G Trai Turner (concussion) were ruled out and C Tyler Larsen (foot) joins Funchess in the questionable category.

Ravens at Browns

All of the Ravens on this week’s injury report — CB Maurice Canady (knee), G Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder), C Ryan Jensen (ankle), QB Ryan Mallett (hips), WR Chris Moore (hip), LB Za'Darius Smith (shoulder) and WR Mike Wallace (ankle) — are considered questionable to play.

Three cornerbacks appear on the Browns’ injury report. Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) is likely going to sit after being listed as doubtful while Darius Hillary (knee) and Jamar Taylor (foot) are questionable. WR Matt Hazel (hamstring) is in the same category.

Texans at Jaguars

Texans LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion), T Kendall Lamm (concussion), WR Braxton Miller (concussion) and QB Tom Savage (concussion) are out for Sunday’s game. LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee, illness), WR DeAndre Hopkins (toe) and  TE MyCole Pruitt (calf) are listed as questionable with Clowney and Hopkins expected to wind up on the right side of that question.

RB Leonard Fournette (quadricep) missed practice all three days this week, but the Jaguars left the door open by listing him as questionable. Wide receivers Allen Hurns (ankle) and Larry Pinkard (concussion) are out.

Bengals at Vikings

The Bengals ruled out LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion) and LB Nick Vigil (ankle) on the same day they put LB Kevin Minter (hamstring) on injured reserve. C T.J. Johnson (pectoral) is listed as doubtful. RB Joe Mixon (concussion) and S Shawn Williams (hamstring) drew questionable tags.

It looks like the Vikings will have to go without T Riley Reiff (ankle) and TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. CB Mackensie Alexander (ribs) was ruled out and LB Emmanuel Lamur (foot) is questionable.

Jets at Saints

DE Muhammad Wilkerson is out for the game, but the reason is a coach’s decision rather than an injury. RB Matt Forte (knee) and G Brian Winters (abdomen, ankle) are listed as questionable.

DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and LB A.J. Klein (groin) won’t play for the Saints. WR Ted Ginn (rib) and G Andrus Peat (groin) drew questionable tags.

Eagles at Giants

The biggest Eagles injury isn’t on the injury report after Carson Wentz was placed on injured reserve. G Stefen Wisniewski (ankle) is the only member of the active roster on the list and he’s questionable to play.

Safety is likely to be a thin spot for the Giants. Nat Berhe (hamstring) is out and Landon Collins (ankle) is doubtful. CB Brandon Dixon (heel, hamstring), WR Roger Lewis (ankle) and WR Travis Rudolph (hamstring) are all listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Redskins

The Cardinals ruled out WR John Brown (toe), LB Gabe Martin (hamstring) and G Earl Watford (ankle). RB Adrian Peterson (neck) was initially ruled out before being placed on injured reserve. TE Jermaine Gresham (illness), DT Josh Mauro (ankle) and DT Corey Peters (ankle) were all listed as questionable.

Redskins LB Zach Brown (illness, toe, achilles, hip) takes this year’s honor for most reasons why he was ruled out of a game. S Montae Nicholson (concussion) was also ruled out while LB Ryan Anderson (ankle), WR Ryan Grant (ankle), WR Maurice Harris (concussion), DE Terrell McClain (toe), T Morgan Moses (ankle), C Chase Roullier (hand) and T Trent Williams (knee) are listed as questionable.

Rams at Seahawks

QB Brandon Allen (back) is doubtful and the rest of the Rams, including WR Robert Woods (shoulder) and LT Andrew Whitworth (knee), are good to go.

LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) is questionable for the Seahawks. If he doesn’t go, they’ll likely be down two linebackers with K.J. Wright (concussion) listed as doubtful. S Kam Chancellor (neck) is out and DT Nazair Jones (ankle) is doubtful.

Patriots at Steelers

Patriots DT Alan Branch (knee) won’t play in the matchup of the AFC’s top two teams. DE Trey Flowers (rib), CB Stephon Gilmore (ankle), LB David Harris (ankle), WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), S Brandon King (hamstring), DE Eric Lee (ankle), WR Matt Slater (hamstring), LB Kyle Van Noy (calf), T LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and DE Deatrich Wise (foot) are all listed as questionable.

The Steelers are waiting to make calls on CB Joe Haden (fibula), CB Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) after listing them as questionable. TE Vance McDonald (shoulder) has been ruled out.

Titans at 49ers

LB Derrick Morgan (knee) is out for the Titans, who listed S Johnathan Cyprien (back) and TE Phillip Supernaw (ankle) as questionable.

Cornerbacks Greg Mabin (calf) and Ahkello Witherspoon (knee) are questionable to play for the 49ers. T Trent Brown (shoulder) is out and expected to have season-ending surgery.

Cowboys at Raiders

The Cowboys ruled out LB Justin Durant (concussion), DE David Irving (concussion) and CB Orlando Scandrick (back). WR Brice Butler (foot), T La'el Collins (back), DT Maliek Collins (foot), TE James Hanna (knee), LB Sean Lee (hamstring, back) and T Tyron Smith (back) are questionable to play in Sunday’s final game.

Raiders WR Amari Cooper (ankle), DE Mario Edwards (ankle), S Obi Melifonwu (hip), TE Clive Walford (concussion, neck) were ruled out with Melifonwu heading to injured reserve after having surgery on Thursday. CB David Amerson (foot) is set to join them on the sideline after being listed as doubtful. DE Denico Autry (hand, ankle), G Jon Feliciano (concussion) and S Keith McGill (knee) are listed as questionable.

PFT’s Week 15 picks

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Like Doug Jones, MDS has an insurmountable lead (seven games) with three weeks left. Like Roy Moore, I’m not conceding.

Although it’s going to require plenty of skill and luck. This week, we disagree on only three games. Which means I need a sweep in order to even have a remote chance to catch him.

For all of the Week 15 picks, do the mouse/finger thing.

Broncos at Colts

MDS’s take: The season’s last Thursday night game is not a good one. But the Broncos showed enough signs of life last week that I’ll pick them to win on the road.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 16, Colts 13.

Florio’s take: John Elway stuck it to the Colts decades ago, when he told them not to draft him. He’ll stick it to them again tonight.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Colts 20.


Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been playing better football of late, and that makes me tempted to pick an upset. But with Jim Caldwell coaching for his job, I think the Lions will do just enough to win.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s take: A team that had won three games in 13 weeks isn’t going to be winning twice in six days. #analysis.

Florio’s pick: Lions 30, Bears 14.


Chargers at Chiefs

MDS’s take: This is a huge game that may determine the winner of the AFC West, and I think the Chargers’ late-season surge is going to continue and push them toward a playoff game in their tiny stadium.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Chiefs 31.

Florio’s take: One of the hottest teams in football gets a chance to show the Chiefs (and everyone else) how far they’ve come.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Chiefs 21.


Texans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars’ pass defense is going to make life miserable for T.J. Yates.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 20, Texans 3.

Florio’s take: If the Jaguars truly have matured, they’ll avoid stepping into a pothole against an overmatched Texans team.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 30, Texans 13.


Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: The Browns may have missed their best opportunity to eat a W on Sunday against the Packers. I can’t see them beating a Ravens team that is hungry to earn a wild card spot.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: Nearly 10 years to the day after the Ravens “helped” the Dolphins avoid an 0-16 season, the team that used to be the Browns gets a chance to assist the current Browns in the avoidance of the ultimate embarrassment. Don’t count on it happening; after blowing a 14-point lead against the Packers and bungling a chance to salvage victory in overtime, the Browns seem to be ready to accept their fate.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Browns 10.


Packers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The return of Aaron Rodgers will be spoiled by a good Panthers defense that will hold a rusty Rodgers in check and pretty much end the Packers’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Packers 17.

Florio’s take: If the Packers make the playoffs, they’ll make it to the Super Bowl. But if they lose to the Panthers, the Packers won’t make it to the playoffs. Ipso facto, don’t make reservations for Minnesota in late January, Cheeseheads.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Packers 23.


Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: The Dolphins surprised me on Monday night, but I think the Jay Cutler-led offense is going to struggle on a cold day in Buffalo.

MDS’s pick: Bills 13, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take: The Dolphins finally found the gas pedal. Is it too late?

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 21.


Bengals at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings have a good shot at earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and they’re not throwing away their shot against the Bengals.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Bengals 10.

Florio’s take: Old friends Mike Zimmer and Marvin Lewis meet, with Marvin on the hot seat. If Zimmer blows this one, he should be, too.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Bengals 17.


Cardinals at Washington

MDS’s take: Two teams that thought they were playoff contenders but now find themselves playing out the string. Kirk Cousins still has something to play for, and I think he’ll have a big game.

MDS’s pick: Washington 31, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: A pair of former NFC East rivals get together. And that’s the only thing interesting about this game.

Florio’s pick: Washington 23, Cardinals 20.


Eagles at Giants

MDS’s take: Nick Foles gets an easy opponent in his first start, and he’ll play well as the Eagles cruise to another win.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 14.

Florio’s take: It’s easy to exude confidence to the point of delusion about succeeding without Carson Wentz . . . before actually playing a game without Carson Wentz.

Florio’s pick: Giants 21, Eagles 20.


Jets at Saints

MDS’s take: Josh McCown played well this year, but now that he’s done the Jets are going to look like the team everyone thought they’d be back in September. The Saints will win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Jets 7.

Florio’s take: Extra time to prepare plus a sense of urgency to get a win minus Josh McCown for the Jets equals an easy 10th win for the home team.

Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Jets 17.


Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: In a huge game for the NFC West race, I like the Seahawks to do just enough on defense to slow down the Rams’ high-scoring offense, and Russell Wilson to make a couple of big plays late to win a close game.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Rams 27.

Florio’s take: The Rams got their nine wins, but they may not get their playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 24.


Titans at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers are 2-0 since switching to Jimmy Garoppolo. Make it 3-0.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Titans 21.

Florio’s take: The Titans could be in the process of squandering what once seemed like a sure-fire playoff berth. If they don’t get it right now, it could be over.

Florio’s pick: Titans 23, 49ers 16.


Patriots at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Patriots will bounce back from an ugly Monday night loss to win what is the biggest game of the regular season so far.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 24.

Florio’s take: The Patriots lose so rarely that whenever they do some assume they’ll never win again. Ass. U. Me.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Steelers 27.


Cowboys at Raiders

MDS’s take: Derek Carr has been a disappointment this season, and the Cowboys’ defense is going to have a good game against him on Sunday night.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Raiders 16.

Florio’s take: Derek Carr was wise to take the $25 million per year; if he hadn’t, he’d be lucky to get half that now.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 23, Raiders 14.


Falcons at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are still fighting for a playoff berth, and they’re doing it against the Buccaneers, who may be this year’s most disappointing team. Atlanta should get an important win on the road.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take: Jon Gruden will be joining the Ring of Honor. Dirk Koetter may soon be performing the walk of shame.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 20.

Jerry Jones calls Commissioner’s power “antiquated”

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In a show of unity, Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones entered the post-meetings press conference together. They exchanged a man-hug as the NFL Commissioner left the podium.

By appearances, all is well. The Cowboys owner insists he supports the contract extension for Goodell despite a four-month fight. At the same time, though, Jones made it clear he wants to take power back from the Commissioner by changing the league’s constitution.

‘This bunch [of owners] is the most qualified people I know to set the course . . . for the future of this league,” Jones said. “That’s going to take some constitutional changes. One of the things that we’ve agreed to, and this process did or didn’t influence it, but we’ve agreed to really address this league for some constitutional changes that is the real way to address not only the Commissioner and some of these issues, on all areas, that’s the real way to address it is right there on how you affect decisions.

“I’m very rewarded that this exercise of extending Roger has brought that about. That is the way that I see it, and it’s going to be. I want to emphasize, I didn’t do it. It took the will of 32 owners to get that done. I am rewarded. What is neat is that Roger, who always has the league in mind, Roger has agreed to be a leader in implementing those changes. And there’s nobody that doesn’t see the need for changes in the NFL in several areas. We’re doing a lot of things good. But there’s some areas we need to change. One of it, it’s an antiquated constitution, an antiquated situation as to the power of the commissioner, this will address that.”

Although Jones didn’t derail the deal, as he had hoped, he did declare victory (as Mike Florio predicted three weeks ago). Or maybe it was more like Jones didn’t concede defeat.

Goodell signed the five-year performance-based extension worth up to $200 million if owners approve all bonuses and incentives are met. Most owners will have oversight on the bonuses and incentives.

“I hope Roger earns every dime,” Jones said. “That means he’s doing a great job, and we’re doing good.”

Jones was one of the owners who voted 32-0 in May to grant the six-member Compensation Committee authority to execute the contract. Jones began fighting the deal after Goodell suspended Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games, but Jones said Elliott’s suspension had nothing to do with it.

So, Jones was asked, what then changed between May and August?

“They have a term in business called a mac,” Jones said. “Material adverse circumstances happen between the time that you shook hands and the time you did the deal. It’s a very valid change of scenery. It’s called a mac. Anybody who says we haven’t had any changes since last spring would be an exaggeration. Certainly that was a part of it. But more importantly than anything, I really felt that something as sensitive as owners giving their vote to a group to make these decisions needed to have a clarity. It needed to have specificity and not three lines to get that ability to make that decision for all the owners. I really did think we had a complaint there. I agreed to drop that [threat of a lawsuit], and I did. I agreed not to have that decided by somebody other than us. So we didn’t do that. What we did was come up to where we are today, and I’ll go with what we’ve got today, because we’ve got more to come that I know will improve the National Football League.”

Arthur Blank: Commissioner’s contract has Jerry Jones’ support

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Jerry Jones spoke for “5 to 10 minutes” during the NFL owners meetings Wednesday morning. By all accounts, the Cowboys owner is on board with the contract extension for Roger Goodell.

Jones is scheduled to speak with the media when the meetings conclude this afternoon.

“He was fine. He was a Texas gentleman,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said during a break.

Owners likely did not grab hands and sing Kumbaya, but they are singing the same song. Jones seems to have made peace with Goodell’s performance-based extension, which will pay him up to $200 million.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the chairman of the Compensation Committee, joined Committee member Bob McNair, the Houston Texans owner, in a conference call with Jones a few days before the contract was signed by Goodell.

“I’ve got a great respect for Jerry,” Blank said. “. . . It was a very good conversation. I thanked him, which I didn’t get a chance to do, or chose not to do really, the time we [the Falcons and Cowboys] played because I didn’t think it was the right setting. I thanked him for the help he’s been to myself and to many owners throughout the league, his leadership in stadium development and branding and marketing and a variety of issues. Jerry has been an active owner and an important owner in the progress of the league over the last 28 years.

“We were not necessarily connected totally on how this process should have been handled.”

Jones tried to derail the deal for Goodell, which will run through the 2023 season and into the spring of 2024. Jones failed because owners gave the Compensation Committee unanimous authorization in May 2017 to execute the contract.

Jones threatened to sue at one point in his fight, prompting the six owners on the Compensation Committee to send Jones a letter telling him to cease and desist. Blank would not comment on the letter.

“I was bothered by anything — and I think the owners are bothered by anything that was a distraction from the league and from the league’s business, both the issues and the opportunities that the league has,” Blank said. “I think there was a general strong feeling in the room that we need to bond together, be together, be a team on the field and off the field as a group of owners in dealing with the issues and the opportunities that the league has now. Our world is changing dramatically in terms of fans and how they’re receiving our content and the experience they have in the stadiums and obviously player relationships are critical, and player safety is critical. The view of the outside world of the league is very important to us. All of those issues we spent a great deal of time on this morning.”

Blank avoided Jones before the Falcons’ Nov. 12 game against the Cowboys, an unusual pregame occurrence between owners.

Jones has insisted that he has had the league’s best interests in mind, even as he fought the deal, and that his attempts to prevent the extension had nothing to do with his anger over Ezekiel Elliott‘s six-game suspension.

Blank was asked if Jones had mended fences, with the contract a single-issue disagreement or a long-term rift.

“I don’t know that there’s a rift going forward,” Blank said. “I think that Jerry, he loves the league; he loves the Cowboys; he’s very passionate about issues that he cares deeply about, which is great. I think it’s important to have different voices in the room. You’ve got a lot of very bright men and women in that room that care about not only their own franchise but care about the pillars of the National Football League, care about our fans, care about our players, care about our sponsors, care about media partners. I think we’re all committed to being connected and dealing with those issues.”

Roger Goodell’s “last contract” will have ownership oversight

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Roger Goodell’s contract extension will take him through the 2023 season as commissioner. The NFL will have a new Commissioner when it expires, league spokesman Joe Lockhart said Wednesday.

“The Commissioner has been clear that he views this as his last contract and will allow him to both deal with some of the important issues that we know are on the horizon — the CBA, our network partners — and it’ll also allow him to spend a significant amount of time not only at his level but among his executives working on succession,” Lockhart said during the annual NFL owners meetings at the Four Seasons in Irving, Texas.

Goodell signed the five-year extension worth up to $200 million if owners approve all bonuses and incentives are met. Lockhart said “almost 90 percent of the compensation is performance-based and not guaranteed.”

“Most of the owners will have some involvement in the oversight as we look at these things over the next seven years,” Lockhart said. “There are no post-retirement consulting payments of any kind after the commissioner leaves. The commissioner, as he does now, has use of a plane, but as he does now, he pays for private use. Going forward, if he wants to use, we use NetJets, and if he wants to use that, he will pay for that. There’s been significant uninformed discussion about that.”

The oversight of the bonuses and incentives falls in line with one of Jerry Jones’ concerns, so the Cowboys owner likely will claim at least a small victory.

The Compensation Committee also used an independent compensation consultant to help in the process.

“[The consultant] concluded, at the end, that this contract met all the goals that had been set out by the committee at the outset of the discussions, which were well over a year,” Lockhart said.

The Compensation Committee received unanimous authorization from the owners in May 2017 to execute the contract, and it the six-member Committee did just that. Still, the entire ownership was expected to discuss it yet again Wednesday, even though it is done.

“All the owners had the opportunity to weigh in,” Lockhart said. “I think it’s worth noting that the Commissioner’s contract and the extension has been talked about at every league meeting this year. Everyone has been up to date in group settings. Each of the owners has been contacted multiple times through the year. The Compensation Committee split them up.”

Report: 2018 salary cap projects somewhere between $174.2 million and $178.1 million

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NFL teams saw projections for the 2018 salary cap during the league meetings Tuesday.

The NFL projects the cap to fall somewhere between $174.2 million and $178.1 million for next year, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. The league will reveal the exact number before free agency begins in the spring.

It will mark the fourth consecutive year the salary cap has increased.

This year’s salary cap is $167 million.

Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees, Case Keenum, Jimmy Garoppolo, Trumaine Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, Jimmy Graham and Sam Bradford are among the players scheduled to become free agents.

Week 14 power rankings

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1. Steelers (11-2; last week No. 2): They keep playing down to the level of the competition, but they also keep beating the competition.

2. Patriots (10-3; last week No. 1): The Patriots have a clear winning-in-Miami problem, even if Bill Belichick won’t admit it.

3. Eagles (11-2; No. 4): It’s up to Nick Foles and/or Nate Sudfeld to keep them in the top three.

4. Vikings (10-3; No. 3): Glass half full, the Vikings never gave up on Sunday. Glass half empty, the injuries are piling up.

5. Jaguars (9-4; No. 9): A bye week isn’t a pipe dream.

6. Panthers (9-4; No. 10): A bye week isn’t a pipe dream.

7. Saints (9-4; No. 6): A bye week isn’t a pipe dream.

8. Rams (9-4; No. 5): Missing the playoffs isn’t out of the question.

9. Seahawks (8-5; No. 7): If their game on Jacksonville had been played in prime-time, Michael Bennett and Quinton Jefferson wouldn’t be playing this weekend.

10. Chargers (7-6; No. 12): The playoffs don’t begin on Saturday night for the Chargers — they continue.

11. Falcons (8-5; No. 13): They still have a chance to blow a fourth-quarter lead in the playoffs.

12. Ravens (7-6; No. 11): Their fourth-quarter blown lead may keep them out of the playoffs.

13. Cowboys (7-6; No. 15): Zeke’s looming return will make for an intriguing finish.

14.  Titans (8-5; No. 8): So much for “winning the games they’re supposed to win.”

15. Bills (7-6; No. 16): The Bills would like to build their next stadium at the North Pole.

16. Packers (7-6; No. 18): “Well . . . . We’re waiting.”

17. Lions (7-6; No. 17): The inevitable failure to make the playoffs has been delayed.

18. Chiefs (7-6; No. 19): The inevitable failure to make the playoffs has been delayed.

19. Dolphins (6-7; No. 22): The inevitable failure to make the playoffs has been delayed.

20. Raiders (6-7; No. 14): The inevitable failure to make the playoffs has arrived.

21. Jets (5-8; No. 20): They’d be crazy not to bring back Josh McCown.

22. Cardinals (6-7; No. 24): They’d be crazy to bring back Blaine Gabbert.

23. Washington (5-8; No. 21): They remain crazy.

24. Bengals (5-8; No. 23): They’re involuntarily tanking.

25. 49ers (3-10; No. 27): The team has found its best Italian quarterback since Giovanni Carmazzi. (Then again, Jimmy G. is the team’s only Italian quarterback since Gio.)

26. Bears (4-9; No. 28): Nothing like a few late-season wins to screw up the path to a great draft pick.

27. Broncos (4-9; No. 30): Nothing like a few late-season wins to screw up the path to a great draft pick.

28. Buccaneers (4-9; No. 25): Chucky is coming home on Monday. Will he stay?

29. Texans (4-9; No. 26): Bill O’Brien has a home. Will he stay?

30. Colts (3-10; No. 29): Chuck Pagano should go ahead and sell his home.

31. Giants (2-11; No. 31): Eli Manning can screw things up for the Eagles by winning at home.

32. Browns (0-13; No. 32): Hue Jackson will be the Browns coach in 2018. At least on the first day of 2018.

AFC playoff picture: It’s showdown time

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The Steelers rallied back on Sunday night to beat the Ravens, but the Patriots couldn’t do the same in Miami on Monday night.

That means the Steelers have clinched a division title while the Patriots still need to put the finishing touches on the AFC East. It also means that the Steelers can wrap up the top seed in the conference with a win and a Jaguars loss in Week 15.

As you’re probably aware, they’ll need to beat the Patriots in order to do that and that ensures that the fireworks Mike Tomlin talked about recently will be in full effect at Heinz Field.

LEADERS
1. Steelers (11-2): The Steelers haven’t beaten the Patriots since 2011, which makes this a fine time to snap that losing streak.

2. Patriots (10-3): They’ll have Rob Gronkowski back as they try to take the tiebreaker over the Steelers.

3. Jaguars (9-4): This is the latest they’ve been in first place in the division since 2009, although clinching before Week 17 will take help from the Titans.

4. Chiefs (7-6): With their losing streak over, the Chiefs now try to solidify control of the AFC West against the Chargers.

5. Titans (8-5): Avoiding a loss to the suddenly competent 49ers is essential to keeping their division title hopes alive.

6. Bills (7-6): Surviving the snow made for more than a pretty picture as it also bumped them ahead of the Ravens and Chargers in the Wild Card hunt.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Ravens (7-6): If they don’t make the playoffs, blowing an 11-point lead on Sunday night will haunt them.

8. Chargers (7-6): The path to the division title is as easy as winning their final three games.

9. Raiders (6-7): Losing to the Chiefs was bad, but the way they lost was even worse.

10. Dolphins (6-7): It’s probably too late to matter, but the Dolphins played their best football of the year this week.

11. Jets (5-8): Josh McCown‘s broken hand and a flop in Denver mean it’s officially time to play out the string.

12. Bengals (5-8): A tough loss in Week 13 was followed by a disaster in Week 14.

13. Texans (4-9): What would they have been with better injury luck?

14. Broncos (4-9): They snapped their eight-game losing streak with an impressive defensive performance.

15. Colts (3-10): It was tough to see the Colts in their latest loss thanks to white uniforms in the snow and camouflage wouldn’t be a bad idea in general until the team can find a better formula.

16. Browns (0-13): The Browns came close to a win, but it looks the same as a blowout in the standings.

NFC playoff picture: Eagles take the top spot

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The Eagles’ win over the Rams on Sunday — along with the Vikings’ loss to the Panthers — earned Philadelphia the top spot in the NFC playoff race.

But while Philadelphia has the NFC East locked up, much of the rest of the playoff race is far from over. Here’s how it looks, with three games to go:

LEADERS
1. Eagles (11-2): They’ve clinched the NFC East, but Carson Wentz‘s injury cast a pall over Sunday’s win.

2. Vikings (10-3): Still nearly certain to win the NFC North, despite Sunday’s loss.

3. Rams (9-4): Still have the lead in the NFC West, but missed a big opportunity to earn home-field advantage in the playoffs.

4. Saints (9-4): The NFC South race is going down to the wire.

5. Panthers (9-4): A big win over the Vikings keeps the Panthers in good shape to make the playoffs.

6. Falcons (8-5): Still in the NFC South race, and a good bet to earn a wild card if they don’t win the division.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

7. Seahawks (8-5): The head-to-head loss to the Falcons hurts.

8. Lions (7-6): Detroit in all likelihood needs to win out to get a wild card.

9. Packers (7-6): Staying in contention without Aaron Rodgers, but they’re still a long shot.

10. Cowboys (7-6): Probably too far out to have a realistic chance at a wild card.

11. Cardinals (6-7): Played well against a playoff team in the Titans, but unfortunately for the Cardinals, it’s a lot easier to be a playoff team in the AFC than the NFC.

Week 14 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available 90 minutes ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Colts at Bills

Colts: C Ryan Kelly, TE Darrell Daniels, CB Rashaan Melvin, WR Donte Moncrief, RB Matt Jones, T Tyreek Burwell, DT Hassan Ridgeway

Bills: G John Miller, QB Tyrod Taylor, T Cordy Glenn, CB Leonard Johnson, WR Brandon Reilly, TE Khari Lee, T Seantrel Henderson

Vikings at Panthers

Vikings: T Mike Remmers, TE David Morgan, QB Kyle Sloter, WR Stacy Coley, C Pat Elflein, DT Jaleel Johnson, DE Tashawn Bower

Panthers: LB Shaq Thompson, QB Garrett Gilbert, CB LaDarius Gunter, FB Alex Armah, T Amini Silatolu, DE Zach Moore, C Tyler Larsen

Bears at Bengals

Bears: QB Mark Sanchez, RB Taquan Mizzell, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, S Adrian Amos, OL Cameron Lee, DT Eddie Goldman, LB Pernell McPhee

Bengals: LB Vontaze Burfict, RB Joe Mixon, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Shawn Williams, LB Nick Vigil, G Christian Westerman, DT Josh Tupou

Packers at Browns

Packers: CB Demetri Goodson, RB Devante Mays, LB Nick Perry, T Ulrick John, OL Adam Pankey, WR Michael Clark, LB Chris Odom

Browns: QB Cody Kessler, WR Bryce Treggs, DB Jabrill Peppers, DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, DL Danny Shelton, TE Matt Lengel, OL Marcus Martin

49ers at Texans

49ers: T Trent Brown, RB Jeremy McNichols, CB Antone Exum, LB Pita Taumoepenu, DL Leger Douzable, DL D.J. Jones, DL Ronald Blair

Texans: RB Alfred Blue, WR Braxton Miller, LB Jelani Jenkins, T Julien Davenport, WR Cobi Hamilton, DT Chunky Clements, LB Ufomba Kamalu

Raiders at Chiefs

Raiders: G Jon Feliciano, CB David Amerson, QB Connor Cook, LB Cory James, DE Jihad Ward, T Jylan Ware, WR Isaac Whitney

Chiefs: C Mitch Morse, S Eric Murray, CB Marcus Peters, QB Tyler Bray, LB Ramik Wilson, OL Parker Ehinger, DL Justin Hamilton

Lions at Buccaneers

Lions: T Rick Wagner, RB Ameer Abdullah, RB Dwayne Washington, CB Jamal Agnew, G Emmett Cleary, LB Nick Bellore, WR Bradley Marquez

Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT Clinton McDonald, S Josh Robinson, S T.J. Ward, QB Ryan Griffin, OL Mike Liedtke, WR Bobo Wilson

Cowboys at Giants

Cowboys: WR Brice Butler, CB Orlando Scandrick, RB Trey Williams, LB Justin Durant, DT Daniel Ross, TE Blake Jarwin, DL David Irving

Giants: LB B.J. Goodson, OL Justin Pugh, QB Davis Webb, WR Tavarres King, WR Travis Rudolph, CB Eli Apple, DT Khyri Thornton

Week 14 injury report roundup

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Week 14 kicked off on Thursday with a win by the Falcons and it continues with 14 more games on Sunday, which means that the 28 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Colts at Bills

Colts TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring), CB Rashaan Melvin (hand) and WR Donte Moncrief (ankle) were ruled out. T Denzelle Good (illness), C Mike Person (ankle) and CB Chris Milton (neck) are questionable.

QB Tyrod Taylor (knee) is questionable for the Bills, who would start Nathan Peterman if Taylor can’t go. T Cordy Glenn (foot, ankle), CB Leonard Johnson (knee), T Seantrel Henderson (back) and DT Kyle Williams (groin) are also questionable while G John Miller (ankle) is out.

Vikings at Panthers

TE David Morgan (concussion) and T Mike Remmers (back) will not be in the lineup for the Vikings. C Pat Elflein (shoulder) is questionable and the only other player on the Friday report.

TE Greg Olsen (foot) and C Ryan Kalil (neck) are listed as questionable, but all indications are that they will be in the lineup for the Panthers. WR Devin Funchess (shoulder), C Tyler Larsen (foot) and WR Kaelin Clay (shoulder) are also tagged as questionable while LB Shaq Thompson (foot) was ruled out.

Bears at Bengals

The Bears didn’t rule out S Adrian Amos (hamstring), DT Eddie Goldman (hip) and LB Pernell McPhee (shoulder), but none are expected to play after being listed as doubtful. S DeAndre Houston-Carson (ankle) is the lone questionable player on the injury report.

LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion), CB Adam Jones (groin), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion), RB Joe Mixon (concussion), LB Nick Vigil (ankle) and S Shawn Williams (hamstring) are all out for the Bengals this Sunday. CB Darqueze Dennard (knee), S Brandon Wilson (ankle), LB Vincent Rey (hamstring) and DT Geno Atkins (toe) are all listed as questionable.

Packers at Browns

CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring) will not play and the Packers don’t expect CB Davon House (shoulder) to play after giving him a doubtful tag for Sunday. DT Quinton Dial (chest, knee), LB Nick Perry (foot, shoulder) and G Lucas Patrick (hand) are the questionable contingent for Green Bay.

S Jabrill Peppers (knee) is doubtful to be in the Browns lineup. CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), DT Danny Shelton (chest, ribs), WR Sammie Coates (knee, ankle), DE Tyrone Holmes (knee) and TE Seth DeValve (hip) are all considered questionable for Sunday.

49ers at Texans

T Trent Brown (shoulder) is questionable and a one-man injury report for the 49ers.

The Texans ruled out RB Alfred Blue (concussion), T Julien Davenport (shoulder), LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion) and WR Braxton Miller (concussion). G Xavier Su'a-Filo (groin) is the only questionable player for Houston this week.

Raiders at Chiefs

It wasn’t looking good for Raiders WR Amari Cooper (ankle) when the day began, but he got some work in at practice before being listed as questionable. G Jon Feliciano (concussion) won’t play for the Raiders with LB Cory James (knee) and DE Jihad Ward (foot) set to be inative after being listed as doubtful to play. CB David Amerson (foot), DE Denico Autry (hand), RB Jamize Olawale (ankle) and WR Cordarrelle Patterson (hip) join Cooper in the questionable group.

Chiefs C Mitch Morse (foot) and S Eric Murray (ankle) will miss the game with injuries while CB Marcus Peters is suspended. LB Tamba Hali (knee) is the only player listed as questionable.

Lions at Buccaneers

The Lions ruled out RT Rick Wagner (ankle) for this week and listed 10 players as questionable. QB Matthew Stafford (hand) is the biggest name on that list, although it looks like he’s on track to play. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), G T.J. Lang (foot), RB Ameer Abdullah (neck), CB Jamal Agnew (knee), P Sam Martin (right foot), T Emmett Cleary (ankle), T Corey Robinson (foot), C Travis Swanson (knee) and DE Cornelius Washington (shoulder) are the other questionables for Detroit.

CB Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring), DT Clinton McDonald (back), S Josh Robinson (hamstring) and S T.J. Ward (concussion) are out for the Buccaneers. DE Ryan Russell (knee) is questionable.

Cowboys at Giants

WR Brice Butler (foot), T La'el Collins (back), DT Maliek Collins (foot), LB Justin Durant (concussion, illness), DE David Irving (concussion), CB Orlando Scandrick (back) and T Tyron Smith (back) are all questionable to play for the Cowboys, but LB Sean Lee (hamstring) is off the injury report.

The Giants ruled out LB B.J. Goodson (ankle) and G Justin Pugh (back) for Eli Manning‘s return to the lineup. CB Eli Apple (hip, back), RB Orleans Darkwa (illness), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger), WR Travis Rudolph (hamstring), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and T Chad Wheeler (concussion) are all listed as questionable.

Titans at Cardinals

LB Derrick Morgan (knee) won’t play, but the Titans are otherwise healthy.

The Cardinals ruled WR John Brown (toe) and RB Adrian Peterson (neck) out on Friday. DT Josh Mauro (ankle), WR J.J. Nelson (knee), DT Corey Peters (ankle), CB Patrick Peterson (hamstring) and T Jared Veldheer (elbow) are all listed as questionable.

Jets at Broncos

Jets LB Bruce Carter (groin) won’t play this weekend. RB Matt Forte (knee) and G Brian Winters (abdomen, ankle) will be game-time decisions after drawing questionable tags.

The Broncos ruled out G Ronald Leary (back) and QB Paxton Lynch (ankle) again this week. DE Adam Gotsis (illness), DT Domata Peko (knee) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) are all listed as questionable.

Redskins at Chargers

WR Maurice Harris (concussion), S Montae Nicholson (concussion) and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) are out for the Redskins. LB Zach Brown (hamstring, achilles), DE Terrell McClain (toe), T Morgan Moses (ankle), C Chase Roullier (hand), LB Martrell Spaight (ankle) and T Trent Williams (knee) are listed as questionable.

DT Corey Liuget (toe) and WR Mike Williams (knee) are questionable for the Chargers.

Seahawks at Jaguars

The Seahawks ruled out G Oday Aboushi (shoulder), S Kam Chancellor (neck) and DT Nazair Jones (ankle). DE Dion Jordan (neck) is questionable to play this weekend.

WR Allen Hurns (ankle) will miss another game for the Jaguars. CB Jalen Ramsey (hamstring) and LB Telvin Smith (concussion) are both listed as questionable.

Eagles at Rams

TE Zach Ertz (concussion) is out of the concussion protocol, but joins LB Joe Walker (neck) with a questionable designation for the Eagles.

Rams linebackers Connor Barwin (forearm) and Alec Ogletree (elbow) are both listed as questionable. WR Robert Woods (shoulder) is also questionable for the matchup with the NFC East leaders.

Ravens at Steelers

The Ravens gave LB Za'Darius Smith (shoulder) a doubtful tag while listing G Jermaine Eluemunor (shoulder), WR Jeremy Maclin (back) and LB C.J. Mosley (neck) as questionable.

Steelers CB Joe Haden (fibula), LB Tyler Matakevich (shoulder) and LB Ryan Shazier (back) will miss Sunday night’s game. S Mike Mitchell (ankle) is questionable to play.

PFT’s Week 14 picks

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The 10-game gap has been cut to seven, thanks to a 15-1 performance last week from yours truly, which included a 4-1 record in games on which MDS and I disagreed.

This week, I’m going all in. We disagree on eight games. Which means that a clean sweep would give me the lead with three weeks left.

So let’s go Falcons, Bucs, Browns, Broncos, Eagles, Seahawks, Ravens, and Dolphins.

Now, let’s go scrolling to see all of the picks.

Saints at Falcons

MDS’s take: This game is so good, it’s surprising it’s on Thursday night. (Order will be restored next week when the Thursday night game is Broncos-Colts.) I think the Falcons’ defense will have a tough time containing the 1-2 punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 28.

Florio’s take: The Falcons know they can’t afford to lose many more games if they hope to get back to the playoffs, and they should be able on a short week to show up against a rival they’ll be playing again in little more than two weeks.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 23.


Colts at Bills

MDS’s take: It hasn’t exactly been a successful season in Buffalo, and yet here they are likely to win this week, improve to 7-6 and find themselves right in the thick of the wild card race down the stretch. The Bills are still playoff contenders and have a good chance of finishing 9-7.

MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Colts 20.

Florio’s take: The playoffs remain elusive, but the Bills are good enough to beat a team that has been in a full-season free fall.

Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Colts 14.


Cowboys at Giants

MDS’s take: Eli Manning is back at quarterback, which probably gives the Giants a better chance to win but doesn’t allow them to evaluate rookie Davis Webb, which is something they probably ought to do before the season is over. I’m tempted to pick the Giants to rally after the firing of Ben McAdoo, but the Cowboys are fighting for a wild card berth and so I see them putting together a strong game.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: The end of the Eli Manning era has ended. It won’t be enough to overcome two weeks of dysfunction against a Dallas team that remains alive for a playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 17.


Lions at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Two of this season’s more disappointing teams will battle in Tampa, and I like the Lions, who still have slim playoff hopes, to beat the Buccaneers, who have no playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take: The Lions are falling apart, and Jim Caldwell could end up facing the same fate as Dirk Koetter. The good news is that Jameis finally gets to eat a long-awaited W.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Lions 17.


Raiders at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The AFC West has suddenly become the league’s most interesting division. The Chiefs are imploding, but I think they’ll bounce back with a good offensive performance against a bad Raiders pass defense.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Raiders 24.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs are in full-blown desperation mode. Fortunately for them, the Raiders aren’t nearly as good as they were expected to be.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Raiders 20.


49ers at Texans

MDS’s take: Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback makes the 49ers a better team, but he can’t do anything about their lousy defense. DeAndre Hopkins should have a big game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, 49ers 20.

Florio’s take: This could be a preview of Super Bowl LV. For now, it’s a game that only family members and friends would want to witness.

Florio’s pick: Texans 20, 49ers 13.


Packers at Browns

MDS’s take: This is actually a winnable game for the Browns, which we don’t say very often, because Brett Hundley is playing so poorly. And yet . . . they’re the Browns. I can’t pick them to win.

MDS’s pick: Packers 14, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: It’s time, Cleveland. It has to be.

Florio’s pick: Browns 18, Packers 12.


Bears at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Bengals’ playoff hopes came to an end with Monday night’s meltdown. Now they’re just playing out the string — but they should still beat a lousy Bears team at home.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Bears 10.

Florio’s take: Another game involving a pair of potential short-time head coaches. Marvin Lewis has the better chance to save himself.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Bears 13.


Vikings at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Vikings are fighting for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, while the Panthers are fighting for a playoff berth. Case Keenum will have a big game and strengthen his MVP candidacy.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Panthers 21.

Florio’s take: Mike Zimmer has handled Cam Newton with a lesser defense than the one Zimmer currently has.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Panthers 24.


Washington at Chargers

MDS’s take: Los Angeles has found itself surprisingly back in the AFC West race, while Washington has found itself surprisingly out of the NFC East race. The Chargers will take another step toward the playoffs on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Washington 23.

Florio’s take: From 0-4 to AFC West title to a real chance to disrupt a Steelers-Patriots AFC title game.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Washington 20.


Jets at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Jets are still playing hard late in a season that many thought they were tanking. The Broncos are terrible late in a season that many thought would see them in the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Jets 30, Broncos 20.

Florio’s take: The Jets are the better team, but if the Broncos are going to win another game this year, this is the one to win.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 20, Jets 17.


Titans at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Marcus Mariota is not playing well, but the Titans are finding ways to win. They should do so again in Arizona.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: The Titans win the games they’re supposed to win. They’re supposed to win this one. It’s that simple.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Cardinals 20.


Eagles at Rams

MDS’s take: This is a great game in the NFC playoff race, and I see it as the second consecutive West Coast loss for an Eagles team that previously looked like it was ready to run away with home-field advantage.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: One is an accident, twice is a trend. Or something. Either way, the Eagles won’t be letting their losing streak run to two.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Rams 21.


Seahawks at Jaguars

MDS’s take: It sounds odd to say a December game in Jacksonville is a big one, and even odder to say the Jaguars are going to win. But they will, thanks to their first-rate pass defense holding MVP candidate Russell Wilson in check.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 17, Seahawks 13.

Florio’s take: It’s potentially a sneaky great game, but December is a bad month to see the Seahawks on the schedule.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Jaguars 17.


Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: I have a feeling this is going to be a matchup we see three times this year, with the wild card Ravens also visiting Pittsburgh in the playoffs. And I have a feeling the Steelers are going to go 3-0 against the Ravens.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take: The Steelers have been living too close to the edge in recent weeks. The Ravens knock them off the cliff, with possibly the first of two straight home losses.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 19, Steelers 16.


Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The absence of Rob Gronkowski might be enough to make the difference if it were coming against the Steelers next week, but against the Dolphins this week, the Patriots should win anyway.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 21.

Florio’s take: For the Dolphins, this is the closest thing to a Super Bowl. For the Patriots, it’s a prime opportunity to be caught napping — as they sometimes are in late-season divisional games.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Patriots 23.

Full text of memo announcing Goodell deal

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[Editor’s note: As PFT reported earlier this afternoon, the NFL’s Compensation Committee has informed all owners that a binding contract for Commissioner Roger Goodell has been executed. The full text of the memo from the Compensation Committee to all owners appears below.]

In recent days, we have spoken with each of you regarding the status of the negotiations to extend Commissioner Goodell’s employment contract. In the course of those discussions, we have reviewed with you the details of the contract extension. Our Committee unanimously supports the contract and believes that it is fully consistent with “market” compensation and the financial and other parameters outlined to the owners at our May 2017 meeting, as well as in the best interests of ownership. We also have expressed in those conversations our strong belief that we should proceed to sign the agreement now, consistent with the unanimous May resolution and to avoid further controversy surrounding this issue. We are pleased to report that there is a nearly unanimous consensus among the ownership in favor of signing the contract extension now.

Accordingly, this will advise the ownership that a binding contract extension has been signed by the Commissioner and by Arthur Blank, on behalf of the League entities.

We are pleased to have resolved this issue and we appreciate the strong support received from our partners. It was particularly gratifying to hear so many owners commit to being more engaged in

League affairs and to express the desire to work more closely with the Commissioner and League staff on matters critical to the League. We know that we speak for all of you, as well as for the Commissioner, in saying that the NFL is strongest when our ownership is active and unified.

We look forward to seeing each of you at the Special Meeting in Dallas on December 13th and to working together, as a partnership, to address the important issues facing the League.

NFL to consider targeting rule similar to college football

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The NFL will consider a targeting rule similar to college football, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said today via Judy Battista of NFL Media.

Vincent also said the NFL will discuss a punishment schedule for “non-football acts” such as Rob Gronkowski‘s late hit on Bills defensive back Tre’Davious White.

The NFL’s obvious goal is to make the game safer, with the Competition Committee discussing those rules changes and others in the offseason.

The NCAA implemented a targeting rule 10 seasons ago, though it didn’t make player ejections part of the penalty until 2013. The NFL Competition Committee approved automatic ejections for egregious hits to the head this offseason, but even illegal hits to the head by Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, Gronkowski, Bengals safety George Iloka and Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso didn’t result in an ejection.

The NCAA’s targeting rule includes a 15-yard penalty and an ejection, though it includes an automatic review that allows the replay official to overturn the call.

AFC playoff picture: Steelers stay on top

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It took a rally from 13 points down in the fourth quarter on an injury-filled night in Cincinnati, but the Steelers wound up with another win that keeps them in the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoff picture for another week.

The picture at the top will get more definitive when the Patriots and Steelers square off in Week 15 and there’s a similar reckoning to come in the AFC West. That one could wind up being more difficult with three teams involved, but there are enough games left between the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers that it is too soon to jump to any conclusions.

In the AFC South, meanwhile, the Titans and Jaguars remain on track for a Week 17 game that will decide who gets to host a game in the Wild Card round.

LEADERS
1. Steelers (10-2): They have to deal with the surging Ravens before it’s time for the fireworks against the Patriots.

2. Patriots (10-2): Another division crown can be clinched with a win against the Dolphins or a Bills loss.

3. Titans (8-4): Winning both games on a two-game road swing through the NFC West will ensure they’ll at least play for the AFC South in Week 17.

4. Chiefs (6-6): Their fade continues, but they’d win the tiebreakers in the division as of now.

5. Jaguars (8-4): A visit from the Seahawks provides a good test as the Jaguars try to clinch a winning season.

6. Ravens (7-5): Sunday’s win was their third in a row and featured their best offensive performance to date.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Chargers (6-6): They’ll be in Kansas City in Week 15 for a crucial matchup.

8. Bills (6-6): Nathan Peterman may be back in the saddle after Tyrod Taylor‘s knee injury.

9. Raiders (6-6): They can knock the Chiefs out of first place this week.

10. Jets (5-7): More wins than many expected, but still short of the postseason.

11. Dolphins (5-7): They snapped their losing streak just in time to face the Patriots.

12. Bengals (5-7): With the playoffs falling out of the picture, will this be Marvin Lewis’ swan song?

13. Texans (4-8): Houston will have to settle for a World Series champion.

14. Colts (3-9): They can hand the Patriots the AFC East by beating the Bills, which may be reason to tank this week.

15. Broncos (3-9): Eight straight losses and counting in Denver.

16. Browns (0-12): Josh Gordon looked good in his return, but the Browns still look like the Browns overall.