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Ravens confirm Joe Flacco tore both ACL and MCL

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 22: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens winces in pain on the final drive of the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 16-13. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Sunday’s win over the Rams, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that quarterback played the final three plays of the game after tearing his ACL and added that Flacco likely tore his MCL as well.

On Monday, Harbaugh confirmed that both ligaments have been torn and that he’ll have surgery once swelling has gone down in the knee. That doesn’t change the short-term outlook for Flacco as his season was over whether the MCL was torn or not, but it could make for a more difficult rehab as Flacco prepares for the 2016 season.

Harbaugh said, via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, that he hopes Flacco will be ready for the start of training camp, although he acknowledges that it is “way early” to make any guesses on that front.

For now, Harbaugh will have to focus on getting Matt Schaub ready to start. It’s the first time anyone other than Flacco will start for a Harbaugh-coached Ravens team.

“It’s been a great blessing,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how many coaches have had that kind of run with a quarterback. He’s been an iron man.”

Harbaugh also discussed the need to add a backup for Schaub. He said the team has made progress on that front and that they wouldn’t hold tryouts because they felt comfortable with what they know about the available options. One possibility could be Jimmy Clausen, who was waived by the Bears on Monday and played for Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman in Chicago last season. The team could also bring back Bryn Renner, who spent time with the team in the preseason.

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10-0 Panthers are underdogs, and their coach doesn’t like it

Ron Rivera AP

The Panthers have won every game they’ve played this year. On Thursday, they head to Dallas with a 10-record — and a 14-game regular-season winning streak. And yet the oddsmakers have installed the Cowboys as one-point favorites.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera doesn’t like that. Via Steve Reed of the Associated Press, Rivera told reporters that its “a little disrespectful” to his team.

He may be right, but betting lines typically aren’t about respect. They reflect an assessment of team performance and betting trends and all sorts of factors. In many cases, the goal is to encourage equal betting on both teams; the point spread in those cases is a reflection of the public’s assessment of the two teams.

Either way, the Cowboys has no responsibility for the betting line. But if there’s a way that the Panthers can use that perceived disrespect to guard against complacency and/or to give the team extra motivation to make the most of the national stage on which they’ll be playing, so be it.

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Peyton Manning has told teammates he wants to play in 2016

Peyton Manning AP

As major question remain regarding whether Peyton Manning will play again in 2015, a separate question has emerged regarding whether he will play in 2016.

As reported on Sunday night’s edition of NBC’s Football Night in America, Peyton currently intends to play next season, even if he’s not playing for the Broncos. And as a separate source told PFT on Monday, Manning has told teammates that he wants to play next year.

It’s not known whether Peyton has said to current Denver teammates that he’d play for another team in 2016. And it’s hardly a definite that he will play. The Broncos presumably won’t want to pay Manning the $19 million he’s due to make in the final season of his five-year deal.

Would they offer to pay less? Would someone else pay more than what the Broncos would offer?

How little would Manning be willing to take to play another year? Ten million? Eight? Six?

Then comes the question of whether another team would be willing to let him run whatever offense he wants to run; indeed, the new offense installed by Gary Kubiak seems to be one of the reasons for Manning’s struggles in 2015.

Much will need to be resolved after the current season ends. Regardless, the current plan is to play next year.

On Monday, Kubiak threw water on the report regarding Manning’s intentions for 2016.

“I can just tell you for there to be any rumors or anything he said that his mindset is anywhere other than getting healthy and helping this football team, I can tell you is totally false,” Kubiak said. “I visit with this guy on a regular basis and we talk all the time. I can tell you his mindset is a day at a time trying to get healthy and all those things and help his football [team]. That’s all he talks to me about. That’s all that’s important to him right now. That’s disappointing. There are going to be things out there and things said, but I know what’s going on. I know how hard he is working to get back and help his football team.”

Why would it be disappointing that a guy who is obsessed (and he is) with getting healthy enough to play in 2015 would be intent on playing in 2016? The normal human brain is capable of maintaining both desires simultaneously. Peyton’s advanced brain (not sarcasm) easily can handle those tasks.

Kubiak, for example, presumably is focused completely and entirely on coaching the team in 2015. He also presumably intends to coach in 2016, and that plan presumably doesn’t dilute his ability to focus on 2015.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick remains the Jets starter

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets helps up Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets after Fitzpatrick scored a touchdown against the Houston Texans in the second half on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 24 to 17. (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Sunday’s loss to the Texans, Jets coach Todd Bowles responded to questions about whether the team would consider changing their starting quarterback by saying “not at this time” although his followup that the team would discuss the possibility on Monday meant the door was left slightly ajar.

Bowles closed it the rest of the way on Monday when he announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain in the starting lineup for this week’s game against the Dolphins. Bowles said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, that there wasn’t much discussion about making a change, which doesn’t come as much surprise since the Jets didn’t waste much time after Fitzpatrick had left thumb surgery on November 13 before naming him their starter against Houston.

Bowles was asked if Fitzpatrick would have a shorter leash moving forward after turning in poor games against the Texans and Bills the last two weeks. Bowles responded by saying Fitzpatrick is “our starting quarterback,” but presumably more of the same from Fitzpatrick would lead the team to consider giving Geno Smith or Bryce Petty a look.

Fitzpatrick has had an up and down season for the Jets. He has thrown seven interceptions and six touchdowns in the team’s five losses while putting up nine touchdowns and four interceptions in their five wins. The sum total looks a lot like the seasons he turned in with the Bills and Titans and may slow talk of bringing him back from 2016 if consistency continues to be out of reach.

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Darqueze Dennard is indeed done for the year

Darqueze Dennard AP

The Bengals’ fears have been confirmed. Per a league source, cornerback Darqueze Dennard is done for the year.

Dennard suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday night’s loss to the Cardinals.

Per the source, the team has informed Dennard that he’ll need surgery to repair the damage sustained in the shoulder.

Dennard, a first-round pick in 2014, started on Sunday night in place of Pacman Jones. It was the former Michigan State defensive back’s first career start.

The absence of Dennard will cause the team to rely more heavily on the remaining depth in the secondary, which features names like Dre Kirkpatrick, Leon Hall, George Iloka, and Reggie Nelson.

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Manziel has no comment on latest party pictures

Johnny Manziel AP

The Browns didn’t play last weekend, and Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel told reporters Monday he had no comment about pictures and video of him partying during his time off because he hadn’t seen them.

Manziel was at a community event Monday afternoon at the Cleveland Food Bank. The Browns return to practice Tuesday.

The website Busted Coverage first posted about Manziel’s night out in Austin, Tex., on Monday afternoon. Busted Coverage had pictures and videos it says were taken last Friday.

Manziel, whose social media and off-field exploits have been well documented, vowed last week to not be a distraction or an embarrassment during his time off and said nobody in the Browns’ organization “[has] to worry about me this week.”

He was named the starter for the rest of the season last week after throwing for a career-best 373 yards in a 30-9 loss to the Steelers on Nov. 15. The No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has made five career starts, three this season.

Manziel spent almost three months in rehab for an undisclosed issue starting last January.

Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, posted a picture Saturday from Manziel’s visit to the Ohio State-Michigan State game. Manziel told reporters Monday he spent time in Texas and at that game before returning to Cleveland to prepare for next Monday’s game vs. the Ravens.

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Brian Hoyer set to start in Week 12

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 16:  Brian Hoyer #7 of the Houston Texans throws a pass during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans turned to T.J. Yates at quarterback after Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion in the second half of the team’s Week 10 game against the Bengals and Yates threw a game-winning touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.

Yates got the start again against the Jets on Sunday and went 16-of-34 for 229 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 victory that upped Houston’s record to 5-5 and improved their standing the race for playoff spots in the AFC. Yates will get a hearty pat on the back on his way back for a job well done on his way to the bench this week.

Coach Bill O’Brien announced Monday, via the Houston Chronicle, that Hoyer has cleared the concussion protocol and will return to the starting lineup for the team’s Week 12 game against the Saints. Unless New Orleans has been able to pull off some serious bye week magic with their defense, it should be a good matchup for Hoyer, Hopkins and the rest of the Texans passing game as they try to pull themselves above .500.

O’Brien also said that cornerback Kareem Jackson is expected to practice on Wednesday after missing the last four games with a sprained ankle.

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Tom Brady appeal hearing set for March 3

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The story of the 2015 offseason could be the story of the 2016 offseason, at least for the early portions of it.

Via Reuters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has scheduled oral argument in the Tom Brady case for March 3.

The NFL’s lawyer for the appeal, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, requested that the argument be set for March 3 or 4 based on a potential conflict with a case he has pending before the United States Supreme Court.

The Brady case eventually could end in the U.S. Supreme Court, too. Whoever loses before the Second Circuit will have appeal rights. However, the Supreme Court first must agree to accept an appeal before resolving it.

Considering the fact that the judge who scrapped the four-game suspension stopped short of resolving all issues raised by the case, a chance remains that the litigation won’t be fully resolved until Brady retires — even if he makes good on his plans to play another 10 years.

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Jay Gruden: Refs aren’t why we lost

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins  watches his team play against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Sunday’s 44-16 loss to the Panthers, Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher shared his belief that the team’s nickname was behind officiating decisions that have gone against the team this season.

The numbers don’t support a claim that the team is being penalized more often (or as often, for that matter) than others in the league and coach Jay Gruden said Monday that it didn’t make much sense to complain about the guys in the striped shirts after a game you lost by 30 points.

“The refs aren’t an excuse,” Gruden said, via John Keim of “It’s not why we lost. Missed tackles, five sacks, five turnovers. We can point directly to that.”

One call that might have impacted the game came in the second quarter when a Chris Culliver interception return for a touchdown was wiped out by a personal foul for Culliver hitting Panthers tight end Greg Olson when Olson was deemed a defenseless receiver. The call drew criticism from Redskins radio analyst Chris Cooley at the time and Gruden said Monday that it was a confusing call he wishes he could have challenged, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the NFL believes it was the correct ruling.

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Peyton Manning visiting foot specialist for second opinion

Denver Broncos v Houston Texans Getty Images

Whether Peyton Manning is trying to get himself back for next week or next year, he’s visiting a specialist to see what his next step is.

According to Lindsay Jones of USA Today, the injured Broncos quarterback is in Charlotte, getting a second opinion on his injured foot.

That’s where foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson’s based, and that’s the guy he needs to see about the plantar fascia injury that kept him off the field last week.

The Broncos have already said that Brock Osweiler will start this week against the Patriots, and Manning has effectively been apart from the team trying to get himself well. He didn’t travel to Chicago for yesterday’s game against the Bears.

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Ravens make wide receiver swap

Joe Morgan AP

The Ravens made a wide receiver swap Monday, promoting Chuck Jacobs from the practice squad and releasing Joe Morgan.

Jacobs, 25, has also spent time with the 49ers but has never played in an NFL game. Morgan spent a little less than three weeks with the Ravens. He had previously been with the Saints.

The Ravens will make more moves once quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Justin Forsett are placed on injured reserve, but the Ravens don’t play until next Monday so there’s no urgency. Given the lack of available players at those positions, the Ravens might also scan the waiver wire and other teams’ practice squads before making any roster decisions.

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Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates say sideline spat was no big deal

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptyymde4odvmyjljmzc0ndm0odqwmti1yjhjmdfmztqy AP

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates were seen yelling at each other on the sideline during Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, but Rivers said afterward that it wasn’t what it seemed.

“Really, what he said doesn’t matter,” Rivers said when asked what had Gates hot. “Brothers fuss and fight, if any of you have brothers. I love Antonio and I think he’ll tell you the same thing. It’s two of probably the most competitive guys on the team, been here long as anybody. I think we’re kinda at our last straw, you know? You’re sitting at 2-8 and he and I both, from being together so long, we’re like ‘C’mon, we gotta figure this out!’ I think it’s more that than anything. It’s kinda . . . whatever. We argued for a second. I don’t think either of us thought about it twice. Obviously, the cameras do. It’s no big deal.”

Gates agreed, saying both of them are frustrated by their 2-8 record but neither of them has a problem with the other.

“It’s just the losing,” Gates said. “We’re two guys who love each other, out there competing. Things over the last six weeks, the struggling. That’s what it comes down to. Don’t nobody want it as bad as we do. We’ve tried so hard for so long. We both are in position to help the team. He saw something one way. I saw it the other way.”

So there are no problems between Gates and Rivers. Except that both are unhappy with having the worst record in the NFL.

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Panthers plan to activate Charles Johnson on Tuesday

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Charles Johnson #95 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers will be in Dallas on Thursday, which means they’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with their former pass rushing defensive end Greg Hardy.

It looks like they’ll have one of Hardy’s teammate from his time with the team back from injured reserve for the game. Coach Ron Rivera said Monday that the team plans to activate defensive end Charles Johnson on Tuesday.

“Pretty excited about that,” Rivera said, via the team.

Johnson was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in September due to a hamstring injury and this week’s game is the first that he’s eligible to play in after spending eight weeks on the list. Johnson had a sack and five tackles in the first three games of the year.

He’ll likely take the roster spot of guard Amini Silatolu, who Rivera announced tore his ACL on Sunday. Silatolu was filling in at left guard for the injured Andrew Norwell, who the team hopes to have back for Thursday’s game.

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NFL began immediate investigation of failure to remove Case Keenum from play

Case Keenum

It was obvious to everyone (except the officials and the ATC spotter) that Rams quarterback Case Keenum should have been removed from play and checked for a concussion after hitting his helmet on the turf late in Sunday’s game at Baltimore. It also was obvious to the league office.

“Promptly after the conclusion of yesterday’s game, we began a review to determine the facts of the injury to St. Louis quarterback Case Keenum and why he was not removed from the game for the necessary evaluation by a team physician or the unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant as required by our concussion protocols,” the NFL said in a statement issued on Monday. “We are continuing that review today, which includes discussions with the Rams and their medical staff, the ATC spotter, the game officials, our medical advisors and the NFLPA.  In the meantime, prior to this week’s games, we will reinforce with all involved the need to ensure that these injuries are properly identified and addressed in a manner consistent with our protocols.”

On Sunday, all responsible parties failed to protect Keenum. The fact that the ATC spotter has the ultimate power to stop the game from a vantage point no one on the field possesses means that the ATC spotter had the ultimate responsibility to act. If the ATC spotter can’t or won’t do the job the way it needs to be done, the NFL needs to relieve that ATC spotter of his or her duties and hire someone else.

And if the NFL has any hesitation about removing a player who appears to be in distress but who actually doesn’t have a concussion for five or 10 minutes of real time during crunch time due to competitive advantage, the NFL needs to admit that to itself, and to everyone else.

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Broncos will start Brock Osweiler vs. Patriots

Brock Osweiler AP

After a solid game in his debut, Brock Osweiler will remain the Broncos’ starting quarterback for at least another week.

Osweiler will start in place of Peyton Manning for Sunday night’s game against the Patriots, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports.

The question now facing the Broncos is whether Manning will ever get the starting job back. Although the official word coming out of Denver has been that Manning sat out Sunday because of rib and foot injuries, the reality is that Osweiler looked better on Sunday than Manning has at any point all season. And if Osweiler keeps playing that way, why would he ever give the job back to Manning?

It’s a delicate situation in Denver. Gary Kubiak doesn’t want to say or do anything that would show a lack of respect for his first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. But Kubiak’s job is to play his best players, and right now his best quarterback is Osweiler.

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