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NFL statement: Odell Beckham Jr. suspended for multiple violations of player safety rules

[Editor’s note: The NFL issued the following statement on Monday, December 21, 2015.]


ODELL BECKHAM JR. of the New York Giants has been suspended without pay for next Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules in yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Beckham was penalized three times for unnecessary roughness, including a late helmet-to-helmet hit against a defenseless player in which Beckham left his feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, lowered his helmet and initiated forcible contact with his helmet, and forcibly struck the defenseless player’s head. This “blindside block” was particularly flagrant because Beckham, with a 10-yard running start, had an unobstructed path to his opponent, the position of the opponent was not impacted by any other player, and the contact with the head/neck was avoidable.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations MERTON HANKS. Hanks ruled that Beckham’s actions placed his opponents at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.

In a letter to Beckham, Hanks noted, “At numerous times during yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, your actions placed a fellow player at unnecessary risk…and clearly did not represent the high standards of sportsmanship expected.”

Beckham will not be permitted this week to attend team meetings and functions; attend or watch practices; appear at the club’s facilities for any reason; attend press conferences; appear at the team’s December 27 game; or have contact with any club personnel except to arrange off-site medical treatment or rehabilitation. Beckham will be reinstated on Monday, December 28.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

The conduct of other players in the Panthers-Giants game is being reviewed for potential discipline in the form of fines.

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NFC playoff picture: East, North still to be decided

Ryan Kerrigan, Sam Bradford, Trent Murphy AP

Two NFC divisions have been wrapped up and two are still in contention with two weeks left in the season.

The Panthers have already clinched the NFC East and the Cardinals have already clinched the NFC West. The NFC East and NFC North are still to be determined, with a big game on Saturday between Philadelphia and Washington and a big game in Week 17 between Green Bay and Minnesota.

Here’s how the playoff picture looks:

1. Panthers (14-0): Need one more win or a Cardinals loss to clinch home-field advantage.

2. (Cardinals (12-2): Need one more win or a Packers loss to clinch a first-round bye.

3. Packers (10-4): If they win out, they win the division.

4. Washington (7-7): A big game looms on Saturday against Philadelphia.

5. Seahawks (9-5): Seattle is locked into a wild card and doesn’t have much to play for in the last two weeks.

6. Vikings (9-5): Minnesota still has a Week 17 game against Green Bay, so if the Vikings win out, they win the NFC North. The only way the Vikings can miss the playoffs is in the extremely unlikely even that they finish in a three-way tie with the Seahawks and Falcons at 9-7.

7. Falcons (7-7): Atlanta technically hasn’t been eliminated but would need to win out and have both the Vikings and Seahawks lose out.


Eagles (6-8): If Philadelphia wins out, it wins the NFC East.

Giants (6-8): The Giants need to win their last two while Washington loses its last two. If that happens, the Giants win the NFC East.

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NFL morning after: Cam Newton’s signature performance

during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Getty Images

In 2030 or so, when Cam Newton’s bust has been sculpted and NFL Films is putting together the highlight package to show at his induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, yesterday’s game will be featured prominently.

On a day when the Panthers were in a desperate fight to remain undefeated, Newton delivered his best game yet, and after a furious Giants rally tied the score 35-35, Newton marched his team down the field into field goal range for the 38-35 win. That was the signature performance not just of Newton’s MVP season, but of his career. Newton passed for 340 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 100 yards rushing. Loyal readers will remember that I’m always a fan of players who record double triples, but Newton did a lot more than just that.

Newton is the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards while throwing five touchdowns. In fact, no one else had ever even run for 50 yards while throwing five touchdowns. Until Newton’s performance yesterday, you know what the record was for the most rushing yards on a five-touchdown pass day? It was 49 yards, by Cam Newton two weeks ago against the Saints.

Yesterday was Newton’s third five-touchdown game of the season. No other quarterback has three five-touchdown games this year, and only Russell Wilson has two.

Newton now has five seasons with 3,000 pass yards and 500 rush yards. No one else in NFL history has four such seasons, and only Randall Cunningham even has three.

Simply put, Newton is playing the quarterback position in a way no other player has ever played it before. He’s not the best runner ever to play the position and he’s not the best passer ever, but he combines the two skills in a way no other quarterback has.

I should admit here that I was late to the party on Newton’s MVP candidacy. He went through a stretch this season when he wasn’t playing all that well, and the Panthers were winning thanks to their defense: From Week Six to Week Nine, Newton had seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, and I said at the time that he really wasn’t playing at an MVP level. But since Week 10, Newton has 19 touchdowns and one interception. There’s no question that he’s the MVP now.

The Panthers are two wins away from 16-0, and five wins away from the first 19-0 season in NFL history. That won’t be easy to accomplish, but at this point, it’s hard to bet against Cam Newton.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

A special day for the Texans. Yesterday was the first time the Texans have ever won at Indianapolis. That’s amazing, considering that they’ve played there every year since 2002. It’s hard to believe that a Brandon Weeden-led team appears headed to the playoffs, but despite all their quarterback problems this season, the Texans now are in control of the AFC South.

DeSean Jackson continues to amaze. With his 77-yard touchdown in Washington’s win over Buffalo, Jackson now has 20 career touchdowns of 60 or more yards. The NFL record is 23, by Jerry Rice. But Rice scored those 23 touchdowns of 60 or more yards in 303 career games. Jackson has 20 touchdowns of 60 or more yards in just 110 career games. Jackson is one of the greatest big-play threats in NFL history.

Teddy Bridgewater had the best game of his career. Prior to the Vikings’ win over the Bears yesterday, Bridgewater never had more than two total touchdowns in a game. Yesterday Bridgewater had five total touchdowns, four passing and one rushing. That’s a very good sign for the Vikings that Bridgewater is trending in the right direction heading toward the playoffs.

Prayer shouldn’t be an exception to the NFL’s rules. Panthers receiver Ted Ginn was penalized for excessive celebration yesterday for going to the ground after a touchdown. But don’t NFL players frequently kneel on the ground in prayer after touchdowns? Yes, they do. As former head of officiating Mike Pereira explained it, the NFL has a special exception to the celebration rules that allows players to go to the ground if it’s in prayer. That rule should change. It’s not the NFL’s place to say that religious celebrations are allowed but secular celebrations are not. Texans running back Arian Foster, who is currently recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, may want to kneel on the ground in a moment of quiet reflection if he returns to the field and scores a touchdown next year. Foster, however, has said that he doesn’t believe in God. So because he’s not religious, his kneeling on the ground after a touchdown would be a penalty, whereas a religious player’s kneeling on the ground is not. That’s a ridiculous rule. The NFL should let players celebrate a touchdown however they want, as long as they’re not taunting an opponent or carrying on so long that they delay the extra point. A religious exception to the rules is a bad idea.

The NFL should suspend Odell Beckham Jr. I love Beckham. He’s maybe my favorite player to watch. But his actions yesterday were totally inexcusable. He and Josh Norman were jawing back and forth, pushing and shoving, and taking cheap shots at each other for much of the game. Although Norman deserves league discipline as well, Beckham was the clear instigator and committed the worst infraction of all, a blatant, intentional helmet-to-helmet hit that could have seriously injured Norman. The NFL has only suspended one player for an on-field infraction this season (Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, for an eye poke), but now it’s time to do it again. In a Panthers-Giants game in which Newton showed he’s the class of the NFL, Beckham was classless.

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Week 15 early inactives

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Getty Images

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

Chiefs at Ravens

Chiefs: LB Justin Houston, S Husain Abdullah, WR De’Anthony Thomas, G Jeff Allen, QB Aaron Murray, DL David King, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

Ravens: TE Crockett Gilmore, QB Ryan Mallett WR Marlon Brown, CB Kyle Arrington, LB Albert McClellan, TE Richard Gordon, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

Texans at Colts

Texans: QB Brian Hoyer, DT Christian Covington, S Rahim Moore, CB Darryl Morris, LB Justin Tuggle, OL Oday Aboushi, TE Garrett Graham

Colts: QB Andrew Luck, S Colt Anderson, CB D’Joun Smith, CB Greg Toler, LB Sio Moore, G Lance Louis, LB Bjoern Werner

Falcons at Jaguars

Falcons: LB Paul Worrilow,  CB Akeem King, RB Terron Ward, G Ben Garland, T Bryce Harris, DT Joey Mbu, DE Malliciah Goodman

Jaguars: RB T.J. Yeldon, CB Dwayne Gratz, LB Joplu Bartu, WR Bryan Walters, OL Luke Bowanko, TE Nic Jacobs, DE Ryan Davis

Bears at Vikings

Bears: CB Bryce Callahan, CB Jacoby Glenn, RB Antone Smith, LB Christian Jones, OL Nick Becton, T Tayo Fabuluje, WR Cameron Meredith.

Vikings: S Harrison Smith, LB Anthony Barr, WR Charles Johnson, DT Linval Joseph, QB Taylor Heinicke, C Nick Easton, OL Jeremiah Sirles

Titans at Patriots

Titans: DT Mike Morgan, WR Kendall Wright, S Da’Norris Searcy, WR Damaris Johnson, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, T Jamon Meredit, DE Ropati Pitoitua

Patriots: WR Julian Edelman, LB Jonathan Freeny, S Devin McCourty, OL LaAdrian Waddle, TE Scott Chandler, C Bryan Stork, DL Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

Panthers at Giants

Panthers: RB Jonathan Stewart, LB David Mayo, WR Brenton Bersin, RB Brandon Wegher, S Colin Jones, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Ryan Delaire

Giants: LB Devon Kennard, DT Markus Kuhn, DE George Selvie, WR Geremy Davis, CB Jayron Hosley, OL Adam Gettis, OL Emmett Cleary

Bills at Redskins

Bills: T Seantrel Henderson, CB Ron Brooks, TE Charles Clay, LB Nigel Bradham, QB Josh Johnson, LB Max Valles, DL LaVar Edwards

Redskins: WR Andre Roberts, LB Perry Riley, S Jeron Johnson, QB Robert Griffin III, RB Chris Thompson, OL Arie Kouandjio, TE Je’Ron Hamm

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Week 15 injury report roundup

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 26: Outside linebacker Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates his winning TD return with free safety Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings in overtime at Raymond James Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) Getty Images

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Saturday night and Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 14 of the 2015 season.

Jets at Cowboys (Saturday night)

The Jets placed wide receiver Devin Smith (torn ACL) on injured reserve Friday, but everyone else on the active roster is probable and expected to play in Dallas. The Cowboys won’t have linebacker Rolando McClain (concussion) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) is unlikely to play after being listed as doubtful.

Chiefs at Ravens

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (knee) remains out for a third straight week. Safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (concussion) will also miss the game. Guard Jeff Allen (ankle) and running back Spencer Ware (rib) drew questionable tags. The Ravens ruled out tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) and listed cornerback Kyle Arrington (back), wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) and linebacker Albert McClellan (ankle) as doubtful. Quarterback Matt Schaub (chest) is probable after sitting out last week.

Texans at Colts

Quarterback Brian Hoyer (concussion) will sit and T.J. Yates will start for the Texans. Defensive end J.J. Watt (hand), linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (hamstring) and linebacker Brian Cushing (hip) are all listed as probable after missing practice time this week. The Colts remain without quarterback Andrew Luck (kidney/abdomen), but Matt Hasselbeck (back, ribs) is probable after some early doubt about his status. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee) is probable to return to the lineup, but wide receiver Donte Moncrief (toe) and cornerback Greg Toler (knee, hamstring) are questionable to play.

Falcons at Jaguars

Linebacker Paul Worrilow (knee) won’t play for the Falcons, but the team is otherwise healthier than their recent record as they make the short hop to Jacksonville. The Jaguars listed defensive end Ryan Davis (knee) and running back T.J. Yeldon (knee) as doubtful, leaving them unlikely to play this weekend. Safety Sergio Brown (thumb), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (hamstring), tight end Nic Jacobs (hamstring) and wide receiver Bryan Walters (back) are all questionable. Linebacker Paul Posluszny (hand) is expected back after missing last week.

Bears at Vikings

There’s a good-sized group of questionable Bears this week. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf, illness), cornerback Sherrick McManis (concussion), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), tight end Zach Miller (ribs), cornerback Tracy Porter (ankle) and defensive end Will Sutton (knee) all drew the tag. Cornerback Bryce Callahan (quad) is doubtful. The Vikings will play without safety Harrison Smith (knee) and linebacker Anthony Barr (groin) for the second straight week. They hope to have defensive tackle Linval Joseph (foot) and defensive end Everson Griffen (shoulder) after listing them as questionable.

Titans at Patriots

Defensive tackle Mike Martin (knee), safety Da’Norris Searcy (hamstring) and wide receiver Kendall Wright (ribs) will be out of the Titans lineup. Tight end Phillip Supernaw (foot) is questionable. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (illness) missed practice Friday and is listed as questionable, although word around the team is that he will play. Linebackers Jonathan Freeny (hand) and Eric Martin (illness) have been ruled out and it looks like another week without wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot, doubtful). Tight end Scott Chandler (knee), safety Patrick Chung (foot), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee), guard Josh Kline (shoulder), safety Devin McCourty (ankle) and wide receiver Matt Slater (stinger) are listed as questionable along with Brady.

Panthers at Giants

The Panthers head to New Jersey without running back Jonathan Stewart (foot) or linebacker David Mayo (hamstring) in the lineup, but cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) and tight end Greg Olsen (knee) are both probable to play after questions about their availability earlier in the week. Three Giants defenders — linebacker Devon Kennard (foot, hamstring), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (concussion) — have been ruled out, while left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) and wide receiver Dwayne Harris (shoulder) are questionable.

Bills at Redskins

Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), cornerback Ron Brooks (concussion, neck), tight end Charles Clay (back) and tackle Seantrel Henderson (illness) have been ruled out. The team left the door open for safety Bacarri Rambo (knee), running back Karlos Williams (shoulder) and defensive end Mario Williams (illness) by listing them as questionable. The Redskins will play without linebacker Perry Riley (foot) and wide receiver Andre Roberts (knee). Defensive end Jason Hatcher (neck, knee), safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring), linebacker Keenan Robinson (shoulder) and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) all drew questionable tags. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (knee) and left tackle Trent Williams (foot) are probable.

Packers at Raiders

The Packers won’t have cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) or wide receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle). Wide receiver Davante Adams (foot), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hamstring), guard T.J. Lang (shoulder, ankle) and center Corey Linsley (ankle) are all questionable. The Raiders ruled out safety Nate Allen (knee) or tackle Austin Howard (knee), listed cornerback Neiko Thorpe (neck) as questionable and expect to have wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot) in the lineup.

Browns at Seahawks

Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (concussion) and running back Glenn Winston (concussion) are out for the Browns. Kicker Travis Coons (right groin) is questionable, leading the Browns to work out kickers and talk up quarterback Austin Davis’s kicking ability. Cornerback Justin Gilbert (concussion), wide receiver Marlon Moore (ribs) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (shoulder) are also questionable while left tackle Joe Thomas (knee) is probable. The Seahawks ruled out defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe), running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) and tight end Anthony McCoy (knee, ankle). Safety Kam Chancellor (pelvis) and cornerback Deshawn Shead (ankle) are questionable with coach Pete Carroll saying he expects Shead to play.

Broncos at Steelers 

The Broncos remain without safety Omar Bolden (hamstring), quarterback Peyton Manning (foot) and safety T.J. Ward (ankle) with linebacker Lerentee McCray (hamstring) joining them on the sideline this Sunday. Running back C.J. Anderson (ankle), wide receiver Andre Caldwell (quadricep), linebacker Todd Davis (shoulder), wide receiver Bennie Fowler (ankle), guard Evan Mathis (ankle) and safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) are all questionable and 12 other Broncos are probable. The Steelers have nine probables of their own, although that makes up their entire injury report.

Dolphins at Chargers

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe) and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf) are out for the Dolphins. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) is on track to join them after being listed as doubtful and wide receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs) and cornerback Bobby McCain (concussion) are questionable. Chargers left tackle King Dunlap (ankle) won’t play and wide receiver Stevie Johnson (groin) is doubtful to make it back into the lineup. Tight end Ladarius Green (ankle), defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (shoulder) and cornerback Steve Williams (hip) are listed as questionable.

Bengals at 49ers

We’ve known for a while that Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (right thumb) won’t play on Sunday. The Bengals added tight end Tyler Eifert (concussion), tackle Jake Fisher (concussion) and safety George Iloka (groin) to the will not play list on Friday. Cornerbacks Adam Jones (foot) and Leon Hall (back) are expected to play. 49ers guard Alex Boone (knee) and linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle) won’t play and linebacker Aaron Lynch (concussion) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (back, toe) are both questionable. Eighteen others are listed as probable.

Cardinals at Eagles

The Cardinals may get running back Andre Ellington (toe) back after he drew a questionable tag on Friday. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee), safety Rashad Johnson (ankle), cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle), cornerback Jerraud Powers (calf), defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (ankle, illness) and center Lyle Sendlein (knee) have the same designation. The Eagles have no one listed as out, doubtful or questionable this week.

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PFT’s Week 15 picks

139622943-e13354562464031 Getty Images

Last week, I managed to claw a chunk out of the three-game lead MDS developed the prior weekend. This week, there’s no way I can gain ground.

In picking the outcomes of the 16 games coming up in Week 15, MDS and I agree on each and every game.

Yes, I was tempted to change a couple of my picks while loading them in. But it’s critical to maintain the integrity of and public confidence in this contest. Given our performance this year, it’s pretty much all we have going for us.

For the week, I was 11-5 and MDS was 10-6. For the year, he’s 132-76 (63.4 percent), and I’m at 130-78 (62.5 percent).

Buccaneers at Rams

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have some good young players who have shown flashes of promise this season. On Thursday night, I think the best young players on the field will be Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, both of the Rams, and St. Louis will win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Rams 17, Buccaneers 14.

Florio’s take: It could be the last game ever played in St. Louis, at least until the next time they pilfer a team from another city. The uniforms look like ketchup and mustard; the outcome could be be something that no one relishes. (Try the veal. With relish.)

Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Buccaneers 20.

Jets at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Jets’ pass defense is good. The Cowboys’ pass offense is not. Dallas will be shut down offensively.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Cowboys 6.

Florio’s take: When the schedule came out, it seemed likely that this late-season prime-time game would have postseason implications for one of the two teams involved. We just thought it would be the other team.

Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Cowboys 13.

Chiefs at Ravens

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are playing some of the best football in the league right now, and the Ravens are playing some of the worst. Kansas City should win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 35, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take: For a trap game to be a trap game, the trap has to be sufficiently potent to operate as a trap. The Ravens are missing the spring, and the cheese has gone rancid.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Ravens 13.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is any good, but someone has to win the AFC South, and I think it’s going to be Houston.

MDS’s pick: Texans 21, Colts 20.

Florio’s take: The Texans have never won in Indianapolis. Ever. Then again, the Texans have never played the Colts on their home field after Indy gave up 96 points in back-to-back games. Even with T.J. Yates at quarterback, it’s time for the Texans to do what they’ve never done before.

Florio’s pick: Texans 20, Colts 17.

Falcons at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Falcons are cratering, and the Jaguars are improving. This would have seemed crazy a couple months ago, but the Jaguars are the better team right now and should win at home.

MDS’s pick: Jaguars 24, Falcons 17.

Florio’s take: It’s battle of former Seahawks defensive coordinators, and essentially a playoff elimination game. With the Jaguars winning by 35 and the Falcons losing by 38, how can I pick Atlanta? (And now Atlanta will win.)

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 30, Falcons 23.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: If the Vikings win out, they win the NFC North. I’m not sure if they’re going to do that, but they’re at least going to stay in contention with a win over the Bears.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Bears 23.

Florio’s take: Not a great opponent? Check. Not a prime-time game? Check. It’s looking like 150 yards or more for Adrian Peterson, a ninth win, and a big step closer to the No. 6 seed.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Bears 20.

Titans at Patriots

MDS’s take: The easiest game on the board to pick. Even with the Patriots struggling through several injuries, they shouldn’t have any trouble with an overmatched Titans team.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Titans 20.

Florio’s take: In 2009, the Patriots beat the Titans 59-0. Could this be worse? Maybe, but I’ll play it a little more safely.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 45, Titans 10.

Panthers at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants desperately need this win. The Giants have a history of beating undefeated teams in big games. Could they do it? Well, they could . . . but I don’t think they will. The Panthers will survive in a close game.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Giants 17.

Florio’s take: The Giants could beat the Panthers, and it wouldn’t be a shock. But Carolina seems to be firing on all cylinders, the Giants are too inconsistent, and the Panthers likely will be able to take New York’s best shot, if the Giants are able to apply it.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 34, Giants 20.

Bills at Washington

MDS’s take: Does anyone want to win the NFC East? Someone has to, but I have a feeling that there will be a three-way tie for first at 6-8 after Washington loses on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Bills 21, Washington 20.

Florio’s take: They have the same record, but the Bills are the better team on both sides of the ball. If they uncharacteristically play with discipline, they should be able to pull back to .500.

Florio’s pick: Bills 23, Washington 20.

Packers at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Raiders turned in an impressive second-half comeback win over the Broncos on Sunday, but I don’t think they can do it two weeks in a row. The Packers’ offense is going to be too much for the Raiders’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Raiders 21.

Florio’s take: Oakland stole one last week despite having a pathetic offensive output in the first half. The Packers, fully emerged from their November slumber, should be able to avoid letting the Raiders steal one like they did in Denver.

Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Raiders 16.

Browns at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Seahawks may be playing the best football of any team in the NFL right now. They’re going to destroy the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 41, Browns 10.

Florio’s take: Yes, Johnny Manziel has played in more hostile environments. But not with a talent gap like this one.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 44, Browns 20.

Broncos at Steelers

MDS’s take: Brock Osweiler got more credit than he deserved when Denver won a few games after he took over for Peyton Manning. The Broncos will lose their second straight game on Sunday, and we’ll start hearing calls for Manning to return.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Broncos 17.

Florio’s take: Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning, it doesn’t matter. The Steelers offense has found its groove, making it good enough to outscore a Denver team that relies on its defense to support a so-so offense.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 34, Broncos 21.

Dolphins at Chargers

MDS’s take: There’s very little reason for anyone to care about this game, but I figure Philip Rivers will play pretty well and San Diego will win.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 23, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take: If the Chargers can’t find a way to make it work for what could be the last game they ever play in San Diego, maybe they should fold, not move.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Dolphins 21.

Bengals at 49ers

MDS’s take: If Andy Dalton were healthy, I’d say Cincinnati wins this one easily. With Dalton injured, however, I think Cincinnati will struggle for four quarters before pulling out a late, close win.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 20, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  A week after losing a trap game to the Browns, the 49ers are reminded that they are the trap game. The Bengals are good enough, even with A.J. McCarron, to avoid stepping in it.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 20, 49ers 13.

Cardinals at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles have played much better on defense and special teams the last couple weeks, but their offense remains problematic. I don’t think they can score enough to keep up with the excellent Cardinals offense.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Eagles 21.

Florio’s take: The Cardinals are the new America’s Team, with five prime-time games this year. They’re 4-0 so far. Make it five.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Eagles 26.

Lions at Saints

MDS’s take: The NFL schedule makers probably thought this would be a Monday night matchup of two teams fighting for NFC playoff spots, but they thought wrong. It’s a game that there isn’t much reason to watch, but one the Saints should win.

MDS’s pick: Saints 28, Lions 24.

Florio’s take: Tanks fer nuttin’, April schedule release.

Florio’s pick: Saints 24, Lions 17.

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Five more teams can clinch playoff berths this week

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 23:   Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers greets Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings on the field after defeating the Minnesota Vikings 21-24 on November 23, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

We already know that the Panthers, Cardinals and Patriots will make the playoffs. By Sunday night, we may know the identity of five more playoff teams, as the Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Seahawks and Vikings all have playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 15.

Here are all of this week’s playoff scenarios:

Patriots: New England has already clinched the AFC East and can clinch a first-round bye with a win and either a Broncos loss or a Bengals loss.

Bengals: Cincinnati clinches the AFC North with a Steelers loss. Cincinnati also clinches a playoff spot with a win, or a Jets loss, or a Chiefs loss.

Broncos: Denver clinches the AFC West with a win and a Chiefs loss. Denver also clinches a playoff berth with a win, or with a Jets loss.

Panthers: Carolina has already clinched a first-round bye and will clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win and a Cardinals loss.

Cardinals: Arizona clinches the NFC west with a win or a Seahawks loss. There’s also a scenario in which Arizona clinches the NFC West even if the Cardinals lose and the Seahawks win, which would require the Bengals and Saints to win while the Cowboys and Steelers lose. The Cardinals clinch a first-round bye if they win and the Packers lose.

Packers: Green Bay clinches a playoff berth with a win. Green Bay can also clinch a playoff berth with a loss, if the Buccaneers lose and either Washington or the Giants lose.

Seahawks: Seattle clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Buccaneers loss, plus either a Giants loss or a Washington loss, or a Falcons loss and a Vikings loss and a Packers loss.

Vikings: Minnesota clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Buccaneers loss, plus a loss by either Washington or the Giants, and a loss by either the Falcons or Seahawks.

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PFT’s Week 15 Power Rankings

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1. Panthers (13-0; last week No. 1): The only way Cam Newton isn’t the NFL’s MVP if is they change the meaning of the acronym to something like “Mint Veal Pancreas.”

2. Cardinals (11-2; No. 4): The new America’s Team is 4-0 in prime time, with another date on Sunday Night Football looming.

3. Patriots (11-2; No. 5): Every time Tom Brady runs with the ball, I expect to hear John Facendas voice. Then I realize it’s not actually slow motion.

4. Packers (9-4; No. 6): If Mike McCarthy is a genius for taking back play-calling duties, was he an idiot for giving them up?

5. Seahawks (8-5; No. 7): Cam Newton will be the MVP — and Russell Wilson could be the Super Bowl MVP.

6. Broncos (10-3; No. 2): It would be a good idea for the receivers and tight ends to stop dropping passes before Uncle Peyton starts throwing them again.

7. Steelers (8-5; No. 9): The most dangerous team in the AFC could still be watching the playoffs from home.

8. Chiefs (8-5; No. 8): Apparently, they were the best 1-5 team in NFL history.

9. Bengals (10-3; No. 3): Andy Dalton will finally prove his value to the Bengals through his inability to play.

10. Jets (8-5; No. 10): IK Enemkpali should be named team MVP.

11. Vikings (8-5; No. 11): Well, at least there’s now a chance they won’t get embarrassed in their one-and-out playoff appearance.

12. Raiders (6-7; No. 16): With Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, the future’s so bright that the logo will need a sunglass monocle.

13. Eagles (6-7; No. 18): Chip Kelly may not have called LeSean McCoy last week. Chip definitely should give him a call this week.

14. Washington (6-7; No. 19): Just when they stop winning at home, they figure out how to start winning on the road.

15. Giants (6-7; No. 20): Monday night’s game wasn’t a playoff game, but Eli Manning performed like it was.

16. Bills (6-7; No. 12): Doug Marrone got seven losses without LeSean McCoy or Tyrod Taylor.

17. Texans (6-7; No. 14): To have a chance at winning the division, they simply need to win in a city where they have never, ever won.

18. Buccaneers (6-7; No. 15): The Bucs are a lot better, but they’re still not good enough.

19. Bears (5-8; No. 17): Don’t worry, Robbie Gould. You’ll have a chance to miss key field goals with another team next year.

20. Colts (6-7; No. 13): Chuck Pagano says the team hasn’t quit. Imagine how ugly that 51-16 loss to the Jaguars would have looked if the team had.

21. Jaguars (5-8; No. 28): Hanging 51 points on the Colts could be the dam-breaking win the Jaguars needed.

22. Falcons (6-7; No. 21): If a vote of confidence is bad, is a vote of “complete confidence“worse?

23. Dolphins (5-8; No. 22): The uniform of the team from the ’70s looked good on Monday night. Players who play like those teams would look even better.

24. Rams (5-8; No. 27): And now it’s time for the late-season surge that will persuade ownership to stick with the status quo.

25. Saints (5-8; No. 29): Ending Carolina’s unbeaten streak would have been nice. Putting a fork in Tampa Bay’s playoff chances will be the consolation.

26. Lions (4-9; No. 23): At least ownership won’t have a tough decision to make about Jim Caldwell.

27. Cowboys (4-9; No. 25): Maybe the Cowboys should have signed the quarterback they’ll see on Saturday night, when the Jets come to town.

28. Ravens (4-9; No. 26): All the Ravens wanted for Christmas was to not have to play the Steelers at home on a Sunday night.

29. Browns (3-10; No. 32): The Factory of Sadness had an uncharacteristic holiday-season shutdown.

30. 49ers (4-9; No. 24): The 49ers fell victim to a trap game? The 49ers are the trap game.

31. Chargers (3-10; No. 31): How bad would this team be without Philip Rivers?

32. Titans (3-10; No. 30): Remember the Titans II: Forget the Titans.

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NFC playoff picture: Three-way tie in the East

Bashaud Breeland, DeMarco Murray AP

The NFC East stinks, but that’s a good thing for football fans: If that weren’t the case, the NFC playoff race would be boring.

We basically know all the playoff teams other than the NFC East winner: The Panthers and Cardinals are already in, the Packers are all but in, and the Seahawks and Vikings have a two-game lead over the rest of the wild card field with three games to play.

So as we review the NFC playoff picture, the one big question mark is which team will win the East:

1. Panthers (13-0): They’ve already clinched a first-round bye and could clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as soon as Sunday.

2. Cardinals (11-2): Arizona would win a tiebreaker with Carolina, but that would require Carolina to lose two games, which is exceedingly unlikely.

3. Packers (9-4): Green Bay has a one-game lead over Minnesota in the NFC North.

4. Washington (6-7): They own the tiebreaker over both the Giants and Eagles, based on a head-to-head win against the Eagles and a better division record than the Giants.

5. Seahawks (8-5): Seattle is playing as well as anyone right now, but the Seahawks will likely have to win three straight road games in January to get back to the Super Bowl.

6. Vikings (8-5): If Minnesota wins out, it wins the NFC North, thanks to a Week 17 date with Green Bay.

7. Buccaneers (6-7): Tampa Bay is now an extreme long shot to make the playoffs.

8. Falcons (6-7): Atlanta has cratered since starting 5-0.

9. Eagles (6-7): Philadelphia controls its destiny, needing only to win out with a Week 16 game against Washington.

10. Giants (6-7): New York has a tough road ahead, finishing with Carolina, Minnesota and Philadelphia. The Giants are a long shot.

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AFC playoff picture: Patriots in, five good teams vie for four spots

Rob Gronkowski, Sylvester Williams AP

Here are the three things you need to know about the AFC playoff race: The Patriots are in. Five good teams are vying for four other playoff spots. And someone has to win the AFC South.

This is the way the playoff race shapes up through Week 13:

1. Patriots (11-2): New England has clinched a playoff berth and has the inside track for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

2. Bengals (10-3): For now Cincinnati has the tiebreaker over Denver, but that will be decided when the teams meet in Week 16.

3. Broncos (10-3): If Denver wins out it gets a first-round bye.

4. Colts (6-7): Someone has to win the AFC South, and right now that “someone” looks like the Colts — potentially with third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback.

5. Chiefs (8-5): Kansas City owns the conference record tiebreaker over the Jets and Steelers

6. Jets (8-5): New York currently owns the AFC record tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.

7. Steelers (8-5): If Pittsburgh wins out it’s in the playoffs, even if the Jets and Chiefs win out, too.

Texans (6-7): Houston can move into first place with a win in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Jaguars (5-8): Jacksonville is a long shot, but if the Jaguars can get to 8-8, that may be enough to win their terrible division.

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NFL morning after: League should crack down on fake injuries

Von Miller AP

During Sunday’s Raiders-Broncos game, an Oakland pass along the sideline was ruled a completion, but Denver thought the receiver failed to get both feet inbounds. The Broncos wanted to have time to check the replay and throw the challenge flag as the Raiders were lining up to run the next play, so Broncos linebacker Von Miller did the one thing a player can always do to get the officials to halt the game: He said he was injured.

Specifically, Miller flopped onto the ground, holding his leg. It was a bad acting job that Dan Fouts, calling the game on CBS, immediately called out as a fake injury. But it had its desired effect: The officials stopped the game for Miller’s “injury,” and the Broncos successfully challenged the play.

Some people laugh that stuff off as gamesmanship, but the fact is that it’s cheating. And it’s a particularly insidious kind of cheating because it exploits the NFL’s player safety rules, which say that a game must be stopped when a player is hurt.

What can the NFL do about it? For starters, it can fine both Miller and the Broncos. The league has taken that step once before, when the Steelers were fined $35,000 and Emmanuel Sanders was fined $15,000 in 2012 because Sanders pretended to be hurt to give the Steelers’ offense time to change a play without a delay of game penalty. Those fines are a good first step toward cracking down on fake injuries, but they’re insufficient. That’s just not enough money to discourage an NFL team or player from faking an injury. Steeper fines and the loss of draft picks would go a long way toward sending the message that fake injuries won’t be tolerated.

The NFL could also change the rules on how injured players are handled. Currently, the rule is that if the clock stops to give a player medical attention on the field, that player must sit out one play. A rule requiring the player to sit out the rest of that possession would make players a lot less likely to fake an injury, and would have the added benefit of ensuring that team medical personnel have enough time to diagnose and treat injured players on the sideline.

What the NFL can’t do is have referees throw penalty flags on injury fakers. There’s just no way for a ref to know for sure, in the heat of the moment, that a player is faking. A 15-yard penalty would be the easiest way to stop fake injuries, but that’s just not going to happen.

So what the NFL will have to start doing is handling fake injuries through the league’s disciplinary process. The Broncos and Miller should be hearing from the league this week.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Calvin Johnson is the NFL’s most expensive decoy. The Lions are paying Megatron $20 million a year, by far the most that any NFL receiver gets paid. And yet they’re barely using him in their offense: Yesterday he caught one pass. There’s simply no excuse for allocating that much cap space to a player you don’t even use. The new G.M. in Detroit next year will have a tough decision to make about whether the Lions can continue to justify Johnson’s enormous contract.

The Colts are terrible, and could still make the playoffs. The Colts have lost their last two games by a combined score of 96-26. Yesterday they were obliterated, 51-16, by a bad Jaguars team. And yet it’s still entirely possible that Indianapolis will win the AFC South. This is an absolutely awful division.

Todd Gurley remains incredible. Gurley had 16 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns in yesterday’s win over the Lions, and his 49-yard run was his fifth run of 40 or more yards this season, the most in the NFL. There was some talk in recent weeks that he had hit a rookie wall, but Gurley is still the best rookie in the NFL.

Marcus Mariota had one big play in defeat. Last Sunday, Mariota was brilliant. Yesterday, Mariota struggled through much of the Titans’ 30-8 loss to the Jets. But Mariota did catch a 41-yard touchdown pass on a trick play. That makes him the only player in the NFL this year who has a touchdown run, a touchdown pass and a touchdown catch.

The AFC wild card race is heating up. The Chiefs, Jets and Steelers all won yesterday to improve to 8-5, and they’re going to have a very interesting three-way race for the two AFC wild card spots. The Chiefs appear to have the best chance because their remaining three games are against three bad teams, the Ravens, Browns and Raiders. The Jets still have to play the Patriots (as well as the Cowboys and Bills), while the Steelers still have to play the Broncos (as well as the Ravens and Browns). A pretty good team is going to get left out.

An awful injury for Thomas Rawls. Rawls, the Seahawks’ undrafted rookie running back who burst out of nowhere as a replacement for and even an improvement on Marshawn Lynch, suffered a season-ending broken ankle yesterday. Rawls’s rookie season ended with 147 carries for 830 yards, a 5.65-yard average that is the second best in NFL history for a rookie running back who had at least 140 carries. Only Maurice Jones-Drew, who averaged 5.67 yards a carry as a rookie in 2006, had a higher average as a rookie.

Andy Dalton’s injury changes everything. The Bengals had a real shot at the Super Bowl and Dalton was playing at a very high level, but Dalton’s likely season-ending broken thumb is devastating for Cincinnati. It was a terrible Sunday on the injury front, both the real kind and the fake kind.

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Week 14 early inactives

Justin Houston AP

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

Seahawks at Ravens

Seahawks: RB Marshawn Lynch, DE Demarcus Dobbs, DT Jordan Hill, WR/QB B.J. Daniels, CB Tye Smith, S Steven Terrell, OL Kristjan Sokoli

Ravens: QB Matt Schaub, TE Crockett Gillmore, WR Marlon Brown, CB Tray Walker, TE Richard Gordon, DT Carl Davis, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

Falcons at Panthers

Falcons: DT Paul Soliai, RB Terron Ward, CB Akeem King, S Charles Godfrey, C Gino Gradkowski, T Bryce Harris, DE Malliciah Goodman

Panthers: CB Charles Tillman, WR Brenton Bersin, DE Ryan Delaire, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, DB Dean Marlowe, WR Kevin Norwood, RB Brandon Wegher

Redskins at Bears

Redskins: LB Perry Riley, RB Chris Thompson, S Jeron Johnson, QB Robert Griffin III, WR Andre Roberts, OL Arie Kouandjio, TE Je’Ron Hamm

Bears: LB Pernell McPhee, CB Bryce Callahan, S Antrel Rolle, RB Antone Smith, OL Nick Becton, WR Cameron Meredith, DL Ziggy Hood

Steelers at Bengals

Steelers: WR Jacoby Jones, QB Mike Vick, RB Jordan Todman, DE L.T. Walton, WR Sammie Coates, LB Anthony Chickillo, T Byron Stingily

Bengals: WR Mario Alford, CB Adam Jones, LB Paul Dawson, T Jake Fisher, DT Marcus Hardison, DE Will Clarke, DT Brandon Thompson

49ers at Browns

49ers: TE Vance McDonald, LB Michael Wilhoite, WR DeAndrew White, LB Aaron Lynch, CB Chris Davis, OG Brandon Thomas, OL Ian Silberman

Browns: CB Joe Haden, CB Justin Gilbert, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Taylor Gabriel, DB Pierre Desir, OL Gabe Ikard, WR Dwayne Bowe

Colts at Jaguars

Colts: T Anthony Castonzo, QB Andrew Luck, LB Jerrell Freeman, LB Daniel Adongo, S Winston Guy, CB Greg Toler, LB Erik Walden

Jaguars: LB Paul Posluszny, WR Rashad Lawrence, CB Demetrius McCray, DE Ryan Davis, OL Luke Bowanko, WR Bryan Walters, TE Nic Jacobs

Chargers at Chiefs

Chargers: WR Dontrelle Inman, WR Stevie Johnson, G D.J. Fluker, QB Brad Sorensen, LB Kavell Conner, DB Greg Ducre, DL Sean Lissemore

Chiefs: LB Justin Houston, S Husain Abdullah, DE Mike DeVito, WR De’Anthony Thomas, QB Aaron Murray, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, OL Jeff Allen

Titans at Jets

Titans: WR Kendall Wright, LB Derrick Morgan, DT Mike Martin, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, OT Jamon Meredith, and DE Ropati Pitoitua, RB Bishop Sankey

Jets: CB Marcus Williams, QB Bryce Petty, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, G Dakota Dozier, S Dion Bailey, G Ben Ijalana, S Ronald Martin

Bills at Eagles

Bills: RB Karlos Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Ron Brooks, T Seantrel Henderson, QB Josh Johnson, DE LaVar Edwards

Eagles:QB Thad Lewis, WR Jonathan Krause, DB Denzel Rice, DL Steven Means, LB Brad Jones, OG Tanner Hawkinson, DL Brandon Bair

Lions at Rams

Lions: WR Lance Moore, OT LaAdrian Waddle, DL Jermelle Cudjo, OT Corey Robinson, DL Gabe Wright, TE Tim Wright, DB Bill Bentley

Rams: T Andrew Donnal, QB Sean Mannion, DB Janoris Jenkins, C Brian Folkerts, DL Matt Longacre, K Zach Hocker

Saints at Buccaneers

Saints: G Jahri Evans, DT John Jenkins, WR T.J. Graham, QB Garrett Grayson, DB Chris Owens, LB David Hawthorne, DE Phillip Hunt

Buccaneers: DE Jacquies Smith, QB Ryan Griffin, LB Jeremiah George, OT Demar Dotson, TE Brandon Myers, LB Josh Shirley, DL George Johnson

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Looking at the potential coaching vacancies for 2016


With four games left in the regular season (for all but the two teams who played on Thursday night), Black Monday is only 23 days away. And so it’s not too early (heck, it’s never too early) to consider which of the 32 most coveted jobs in football will soon be available — and which coaches will be applying for membership in Jon Gruden’s Fired Football Coaches Association.

Two of those jobs already are available. The Dolphins fired Joe Philbin and the Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt during the season. Their replacements most likely haven’t done enough to earn the full-time position; besides, the Rooney Rule requires a full-blown search before Dan Campbell or Mike Mularkey, respectively, would be hired.

So let’s look at the rest of the potential vacancies (in no particular order), with the understanding that what happens during the next four games will, in most situations, have a major impact on whether a change is made.

Buffalo: The honeymoon with Rex Ryan had ended before last weekend’s win over the Texans, which may have set the stage for a second honeymoon. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, it’s highly unlikely that Ryan would be one-and-done in Buffalo. (If any big changes are made, it’s more likely that the team replaces G.M. Doug Whaley.)

Cleveland: Many believe it’s a foregone conclusion that owner Jimmy Haslam will make another coaching change. An ugly loss on Sunday against the 49ers could hasten it, especially after Mike Pettine opted to publicly question this week whether the organization is unified.

Indianapolis: Chuck Pagano remains in the final year of his contract, with an extension unlikely. To get a new deal to keep the job that Pagano has said on multiple occasions will be his last, it’s unclear how far he needs to take the Colts. Securing a playoff berth is critical to his chances. Pagano also likely has to win in the wild-card round at home. A competitive loss at Denver, Cincinnati, or New England in the divisional round could be enough to stay. A blowout at that level (or the next) possibly won’t be.

Jacksonville: Most NFL owners have become increasingly impatient. Hall of Fame G.M. Ron Wolf recently blamed it on 1996, when both the Panthers and Jaguars made it to the conference-championship round in only their second seasons of existence. For Gus Bradley, season three with the Jaguars has entailed four wins in 12 games. But owner Shad Khan has remained uncharacteristically patient. That likely will get Bradley another year to make the Jaguars into a contender again.

San Diego: With a move to L.A. looming, the Chargers will need a spark for the entire franchise. Mike McCoy hasn’t provided much of a spark this year, and the team has gradually fallen apart. Once word emerged that the G.M. hired in the same cycle as McCoy received a new contract and McCoy didn’t, the chances of a change became much greater.

Giants: If Tom Coughlin and company fail to get to the playoffs again, the franchise’s streak of 16 games only will run to four years. Those two Lombardi Trophies from 2007 and 2011 still gleam, but how many years of futility will they justify? The Giants seem to be hoping Coughlin chooses to jump before being forced to push him, but at least a nudge could be coming if the NFC East title doesn’t return to New Jersey.

Philadelphia: It appears that owner Jeffrey Lurie won’t be firing Chip Kelly and that Kelly won’t be bolting for a college job. The one lingering unknown arises from what could happen if the Titans call the Eagles and inquire about the compensation necessary to get Kelly and quarterback Marcus Mariota together again.

Detroit: The apparent plan to hire a G.M. and then to let the G.M. make a decision about Jim Caldwell could buy Caldwell valuable time. By the time a G.M. is on the job, it could be too late to find a viable replacement for the head coach, giving Caldwell a chance to prove to the new boss that Caldwell is the right guy for the job.

Atlanta: As 5-0 has melted into 6-6, a failure to turn it around could prompt owner Arthur Blank to make dramatic changes to the organization. Last year, there was concern that Blank would press the reset button. This year, he finally could, even if it means parting ways with Dan Quinn after only one year (who then would immediately become a candidate to become the new coach in Miami, where his former agent, Mike Tannenbaum, runs the show).

New Orleans: No one quite knows what will happen when the dust settles for the Saints. Does Sean Payton want to move on? Does the organization want him to? Will the Saints play it cool in the hopes of getting a draft pick or two in trade for a guy whom they may be moving on from anyway? At this point, no one really knows. For Payton, however, this could be the best year to land with another team that has a good-to-great quarterback, because several teams that fit the description will be looking.

St. Louis: From 4-3 to 4-8, the speculation has gone from swirling to defeaning that the Rams will be hiring a new coach if they move to L.A. But Fisher likely was hired in part because of his expertise in leading a franchise to a new city, as he did when the Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans. For Fisher, a move to L.A. will be a homecoming, which could enhance the connection as the Rams reunite with Los Angeles. Like everything else with Rams coach Stan Kroenke, no one knows what the man known as Silent Stan will do.

San Francisco: Even if the front office and ownership were inclined to admit that they shouldn’t have fired Jim Harbaugh and promoted Jim Tomsula, the franchise has won enough games this year to justify not making that admission and giving Tomsula one more year. Come 2016, that could change.

Wild card: On one hand, I’m covering my ass in the event that one of the vacancies comes from a city not listed above. On the other hand, nearly every year a change that no one saw coming occurs. I won’t speculate on where that could happen this year. After all, we need to not see it coming.

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Week 14 injury report roundup

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Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 14 of the 2015 season.

Seahawks at Ravens

Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) remains out for the Seahawks, who don’t expect to have defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe) after listing him as doubtful. Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) won’t play while wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) and tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) are doubtful. Quarterback Matt Schaub (chest) is questionable after missing practice all week.

Falcons at Panthers

Defensive tackle Paul Soliai (calf) has been ruled out and kicker Matt Bryant (quad) was placed on injured reserve, but everyone else on the Falcons roster is expected to play. Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) and wide receiver Brenton Bersin (groin) are doubtful, but Carolina is otherwise healthy.

Redskins at Bears

Safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring), linebacker Perry Riley (foot) and running back Chris Thompson (shoulder) are out for the Redskins. Tight end Derek Carrier (ankle), defensive end Jason Hatcher (neck, ankle), wide receiver Andre Roberts (knee) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (shoulder) are all listed as questionable. The Bears ruled out wide receiver Marquess Wilson (foot) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) is doubtful. Linebacker Sam Acho (shoulder), cornerback Bryce Callahan (quadricep), tight end Zach Miller (ribs), cornerback Tracy Porter (ankle), safety Antrel Rolle (knee) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (knee) all drew questionable tags.

Steelers at Bengals

The Steelers have no players listed as anything other than probable. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (foot) is doubtful and was still in a walking boot on Friday. Cornerback Leon Hall (back) and safety George Iloka (groin) are questionable, but tight end Tyler Eifert (neck, probable) is expected to return to the lineup.

49ers at Browns

49ers running back Carlos Hyde (foot), tight end Vance McDonald (concussion) and linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle) won’t play in Cleveland. Cornerback Tramaine Brock (foot), linebacker Aaron Lynch (concussion) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (back, toe) may play after being listed as questionable. It’s another week without cornerback Justin Gilbert (concussion), cornerback Joe Haden (concussion) and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (concussion) for the Browns. They’ll decide on tight end Gary Barnidge (ankle), wide receiver Travis Benjamin (shoulder), wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), wide receiver Brian Hartline (hip) and wide receiver Marlon Moore (ribs) closer to game time.

Colts at Jaguars

The Colts ruled out left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee), linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring, ribs) and quarterback Andrew Luck (abdomen, kidney). Linebacker Daniel Adongo (not injury related) will also miss the game. Linebacker Erik Walden (foot) is doubtful while safety Colt Anderson (ankle), center Khaled Holmes (fibula), linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (quadricep) and cornerback Greg Toler (knee) all were listed as questionable. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (ankle) is probable to return to the lineup after an extended absence. Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny (hand) is out after having surgery this week, but wide receiver Allen Hurns (thigh, concussion) is expected back.

Chargers at Chiefs

The injury bug continues to bite the Chargers with cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee), wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (neck), wide receiver Steve Johnson (groin) and defensive tackle Corey Liuget (foot) all out this week. Guard D.J. Fluker (concussion) is questionable. The Chiefs ruled out safety Husain Abdullah (concussion), defensive end Mike DeVito (concussion, shoulder), linebacker Justin Houston (knee) and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (concussion). Guard Jeff Allen (ankle) is questionable.

Titans at Jets

Linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (knee), defensive tackle Mike Martin (knee), linebacker Derrick Morgan (shoulder) and wide receiver Kendall Wright (ribs) won’t be in the lineup for the Titans. Wide receiver Tre McBride (abdomen) is questionable. Cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion, probable) is expected back for the Jets and they will make a game-time decision on cornerback Marcus Williams (knee, questionable).

Bills at Eagles

Bills running back Karlos Williams (shoulder), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (shoulder), cornerback Ron Brooks (concussion/neck) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle) have been ruled out. Right guard John Miller (knee) is questionable, but coach Rex Ryan said he’ll play. The Eagles don’t have anyone listed as out, doubtful or questionable and everyone practiced on Friday. Let’s hear it for sports science!

Lions at Rams

The Lions went the questionable route with defensive end Ziggy Ansah (hamstring, elbow), wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), linebacker Travis Lewis (ankle), wide receiver Lance Moore (ankle), tackle Michael Ola (knee), safety Glover Quin (ankle), defensive tackle Caraun Reid (ankle) and center Travis Swanson (ankle). That makes up their entire injury report. The Rams ruled out tackle Andrew Donnal (knee) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (concussion) is expected to be out as well after drawing a doubtful tag. Safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve Friday and defensive end Robert Quinn (back) will be joining him at some point.

Saints at Buccaneers

Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (concussion) was cleared and is probable to play. Guard Jahri Evans (ankle) and defensive tackle John Jenkins (concussion) have been ruled out, though. The Bucs are banged up on defense. Defensive end Jacquies Smith (hamstring) is out, defensive end George Johnson (calf) is doubtful and linebacker Lavonte David (ankle) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) are questionable.

Raiders at Broncos

The Raiders ruled out safety Nate Allen (knee) and linebacker Neiron Ball (knee), but linebacker Khalil Mack (knee), center Rodney Hudson (ankle) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot) are all probable to play. Linebacker Danny Trevathan (concussion) and safety T.J. Ward (ankle) will join quarterback Peyton Manning (foot) on the inactive list this week. Running back C.J. Anderson (ankle), safety Omar Bolden (hamstring), safety David Bruton (knee), wide receiver Andre Caldwell (quadricep), tight end Vernon Davis (concussion), wide receiver Bennie Fowler (ankle) and running back Ronnie Hillman (foot) are all questionable, although Hillman is expected to play and start on Sunday. Twelve Broncos are probable, including linebacker DeMarcus Ware (back).

Cowboys at Packers

The only player ruled out for the Cowboys is quarterback Tony Romo (left shoulder), but this season has shown that to be plenty. Everyone else is good to go for Dallas. The Packers don’t expect to have center Corey Linsley (ankle, doubtful) and listed right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), wide receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle) and linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) as questionable to play.

Patriots at Texans

Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) practiced with the Patriots Friday, but his game return won’t come this weekend. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) also practiced this week and drew a questionable tag. Wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee), tight end Scott Chandler (knee), safety Patrick Chung (foot), cornerback Justin Coleman (hand), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee), guard Josh Kline (shoulder) and wide receiver Matt Slater (stinger) are also questionable. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt broke his hand this week in practice, but is probable along with 15 other Texans players.

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Iger says biggest obstacle to Chargers/Raiders stadium is NFL approval

Bob Iger AP

Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger recently agreed to join the effort to build an L.A.-area football stadium that would be shared by the Chargers and Raiders if the NFL approves the project.

At this point, Iger sees formal NFL approval as the biggest remaining obstacle to getting the stadium built.

“The path to building the stadium and playing the first game there is very smooth,” Iger told PFT during a 10-minute phone conversation on Thursday evening from his office at Disney headquarters in Burbank.

Although Iger has yet to officially join the project (because the project has yet to be approved), Iger is taking an active role in lining up the votes. Iger said he has had conversations with specific owners to provide his perspective on the ability of the Chargers and Raiders to thrive in Los Angeles, based on the fact that Iger has lived most of his adult life in L.A. and that he runs a large business there.

So how certain is Iger that at least 24 owners will approve the Carson project?

“I don’t want to give you odds or throw numbers around in terms of possibilities,” Iger said. “I believe there’s real momentum in the NFL to get something done on a more timely basis.”

Iger said the stadium would be ready to go in 2019, and he declined to provide details on where the teams would play from 2016 through 2018. He said that both teams would carry the name “Los Angeles”; some (i.e., me) had speculated that the Chargers might adopt the label “Southern California” in an effort to capture San Diego within the regional reach of the team. Iger said he has considered alternatives to L.A., but that it would be both the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Raiders playing in Carson.

As to the question of whether both teams would remain in the AFC West, Iger said that would be up to the NFL. When word of the proposed Chargers/Raiders project first emerged earlier this year, the thinking was that one team would move to the NFC West. The challenge becomes finding a team to move from the NFC West to the AFC West.

Iger said the Chargers and Raiders realize that the league could decide to move one of the teams to the NFC. Both are willing to go along with whatever the league decides; they do not currently have an agreement between them regarding which franchise would change conferences.

Regardless of the division to which they are assigned, the Chargers and Raiders would be vying for eyeballs and dollars in the same market. Iger compared the looming competition in L.A. to the Giants and Jets in New York.

“I never had a sense they were competing in a negative way,” Iger said regarding the two New York teams, calling it a “healthy competition” that builds fan interest. Iger also pointed to the “huge unsatisfied demand” for NFL football in L.A., and that the return of the league after two decades would have a “very theatrical” impact, even if two teams play there.

Soon, the owners will likely decide on an L.A. solution. What if the Chargers and Raiders secure permission to leave their current markets but fail to get the 24 votes needed to relocate to L.A.?

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Iger said.

That bridge could be coming as soon as January 13.

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