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PFT Live: Bills talk with Tim Graham, Week 12 picks

LOCAL SNOWVEMBER AERIAL GEE AP

The snow has been piling up in Buffalo all week and the Bills won’t be able to practice for the second straight day on Thursday because of a travel ban in effect on roads in the area.

As a result, there’s growing doubt about the ability for the Bills and Jets to play in Buffalo on Sunday. Tim Graham of the Buffalo News will join Mike Florio on Thursday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the latest developments on the weather front and what it will mean for Sunday’s game. They’ll discuss possible alternatives, including playing the game at a different date or in a different location, and the impact that the snowstorm will have on the team’s preparations whenever they play the game.

Florio and MDS will reveal their picks for that game later in the show, although we’d imagine they are somewhat contingent on the Bills actually getting a chance to prepare for the contest. They’ll have picks for all of the rest of the games as well, all of which are set to go off as originally planned.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Report: Colts, Cardinals also tried to claim Ben Tate

Andrew Hawkins, Ben Tate AP

The Vikings landed running back Ben Tate on waivers Wednesday to bolster their backfield with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon both missing practice because of injuries this week, but they weren’t the only ones reportedly interested in bringing the former Browns runner on board.

Teams that make unsuccessful waiver claims are not immediately disclosed by the league any longer, but Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that two other teams made bids to add Tate to their roster. Per Yates, the Colts and Cardinals were the other interested parties.

Neither names comes as much of a surprise. The Colts lost Ahmad Bradshaw to a fractured fibula in last week’s game and placed him on season-ending injured reserve this week, leaving Trent Richardson and Dan Herron as the only running backs on the team’s 53-man roster this season.

Arizona, meanwhile, hasn’t found a strong complement to Andre Ellington in their backfield this season. Jonathan Dwyer was set for that role, but he was released in the wake of a domestic violence arrest early in the season and neither Stepfan Taylor nor Marion Grice has done much in reserve the rest of the way.

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A five-win NFC South champion is a real possibility

Cam Newton, Tyson Jackson AP

If you’ve been following the NFL this year, you’re probably aware that the NFC South is terrible. But you might not realize how terrible.

Consider this: It’s entirely possible that a five-win team will win the NFC South, and therefore win a playoff game.

Using the ESPN Playoff Machine to simulate the rest of the season, I found a fairly plausible scenario in which the Panthers win the NFC South with a 5-10-1 record, with the Falcons and Saints tied for second at 5-11 and the Buccaneers last at 3-13. This isn’t the most likely scenario, but it didn’t require a lot of crazy upsets, either.

So what is the most likely scenario? Football Outsiders does a playoff projection for the rest of the season that says the Saints are the most likely team to win the division, and their most likely record is 7-9. But there’s still a decent chance of the Falcons winning the division, and the Panthers are definitely not out of it. Even the 2-8 Buccaneers are only two games out of first place and still have a 0.3 percent chance of winning the division, even though according to Football Outsiders stats the Bucs are actually the worst team in the league, even worse than the Raiders.

At the moment, the 4-6 Falcons are in first place even though they’re 0-6 outside the division. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Falcons lose their next four games to drop to 4-10, then win their remaining division games (against the Saints and Panthers in Weeks 16 and 17), and win the division with a record of 6-10, which would be 6-0 against the NFC South and 0-10 against the rest of the NFL.

So if a five-win team or a six-win team ends up winning the NFC South, what would the point spread be for their first-round playoff game? The last time a team with a losing record won its division was in January of 2011, when the 7-9 Seahawks hosted the wild card Saints, and the Saints opened as a 10.5-point favorite. At the moment, the Packers would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, and given the way the Packers have played lately, they could easily be favored by that much at Atlanta.

Realistically, however, if the Packers keep playing the way they’ve been playing, they won’t be a wild card team. In the Playoff Machine scenario I ran, the Lions were the wild card team heading to Carolina to play the 5-10-1 Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. And the Lions would not be huge favorites at Carolina, especially considering that the Panthers beat the Lions 24-7 in Week Two. It’s entirely possible that a 5-10-1 Panthers team could not only make the playoffs, but advance.

So, those of us who enjoy crazy, chaotic stories in the NFL should perhaps root for everyone in the NFC South to keep losing — until January, when they turn things around. Perhaps we could see a Super Bowl featuring a team with a losing record.

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Bills won’t practice today because of blizzard driving ban

8a88c1d8919e0fca401d20a0e85bff27 AP

In the looking-less-and-less-likely event that they’re able to host the Jets Sunday, the Bills might not be quite as prepared.

According to Adam Benigni of WGRZ in Buffalo, the Bills aren’t going to practice today.

That’s because there’s still a driving ban in Orchard Park, and since only coaches are crazy enough to sleep in the office through a blizzard, there’s no one there available to practice.

With more snow on the way, it’s hard to imagine how they’re going to have Ralph Wilson Stadium available to play Sunday afternoon, no matter how many citizen shovelers take them up on their generous offer of $10 an hour and free tickets to clear the stadium.

Since they say it usually takes three days to clear a foot of snow, playing this one Monday (or Tuesday) seems like a far more feasible solution.

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Jeremy Hill “earned” more work even with Giovani Bernard back

Cincinnati Bengals v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Before running back Giovani Bernard was forced out of the lineup by hip and collarbone injuries, he was running ahead of rookie Jeremy Hill on the team’s depth chart.

Hill made the most of his opportunities with Bernard sidelined, however. Hill ran for 361 yards in the last three games, making a case for increased playing time even after Bernard was back in the mix.

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said that Hill’s case won him over. Jackson said Hill “deserves” a larger role than he was playing before Bernard got hurt and that he’ll give it to him while easing Bernard back into the lineup.

“Jeremy has done tremendous [work] and he has earned the right to play, there’s no question about that,” Jackson said, via ESPN.com.

Bernard and Hill complement each other well with Bernard well suited to work outside the tackles and in space while Hill fits the bill as a player who can plow his way to yards on the inside. The combination has the potential to be a potent one while also leaving the Bengals the option of riding the hotter player in a given week to give themselves their best chance to win.

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Like it or not, NFL’s media policy is clear

Lynch Getty Images

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch knew he’d be fined $100,000 if he failed to speak to reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs.  He failed to speak to reporters anyway.

While that infraction pales in comparison to other current problems that have been exacerbated by the league’s own bungling of them, the fine imposed on Lynch falls within the standard job description of professional football player in the National Football League.

The league’s media policy is clear:  “Players must be available to the media following every game and regularly during the practice week as required under league rules.  Star players, or other players with unusually heavy media demands, must be available to the media that regularly cover their teams at least once during the practice week in addition to their required post-game media availability. . . .  Each club will open its locker room during the normal practice week (based on a Sunday game) on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to all accredited media for player interviews for a minimum of 45 minutes.”

So “star” players — like Lynch, who is paid accordingly — have two required media availabilities per week.  Lynch consistently has declined to make himself available.  Sure, it’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things.  Yes, players and coaches routinely say nothing of value during these media availabilities.  But the NFL requires that the player show up and say something.

If they don’t or won’t, they suffer the consequences.  And if for some reason they can’t, due to social anxiety or some other mental or emotional condition, they need to go through the proper channels to request an accommodation to their discomfort.

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Peyton Manning says it’s time for Broncos to “Get on it”

Denver Broncos practice at Dove Valley Getty Images

Peyton Manning’s pretty good in a hurry up offense.

He wants to impart that same kind of urgency to his team as a whole.

After the Broncos lost two of their past three games, scratching up a single touchdown last week against the Rams, Manning said they need to get things going quickly to preserve a good playoff seed.

Just your sense of urgency has to increase,” Manning said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “Realizing there aren’t many games left and we better get on it, better get going. Need to play better, I need to play better, . . . You can say all you want, you can talk about doing it, but you’ve got to go and do it.”

The Broncos are now tied with the Chiefs for the AFC West lead at 7-3, a game behind 8-2 New England for the best record in the conference. With the Patriots holding a tiebreaker, it would be hard for them to secure home field advantage without a big swing.

“I think there is certainly a sense of urgency,” Manning said. “We’re not happy about last week’s game [against the Rams] by any means, with the way we played offensively, . . . You can want a lot of things, but you have to go and do it.

“We’re doing everything trying to improve and get better, we’d love nothing more than come out and play better.”

Much of that burden falls on Manning (cough, RG3, cough), who has thrown two interceptions in each of the last three games, and needs to clean that up if he wants to avoid being cast as a just a regular season quarterback again.

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Former Rams and Ravens center making special deliveries

Former NFL center Jason Brown shares his harvest Getty Images

Former Rams and Ravens center Jason Brown was already delivering food to the needy.

Tuesday, he delivered his own son.

Brown, who retired from football to run a farm which donates its crops to charity, had to become even more handy when his wife went into labor earlier than expected.

It was an incredible experience,” Brown said, via Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News and Observer. “It was unbelievable.”

So much about Brown’s story is, but this chapter adds to it.

When the Rams cut him after the 2011 season, Brown decided to take up farming despite having no experience. He bought a 1,000-acre farm in Eastern North Carolina, and grew crops to donate to local shelters, churches and food banks. This year, his First Fruits Farm distributed more than 10,000 pounds of cucumbers and 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes.

But nothing could top what came Tuesday. His wife Tay was expecting a midwife to be at their home for the  delivery of their fourth child, but things started happening fast.

“I was trying to hold on, but I told Jason, ‘This baby is coming now,’ ” Tay Brown said.

Their son, Lunsford Bernard Brown III (named for Jason’s brother who was killed in military action in Afghanistan), was born Tuesday, and is doing well, as is his mother.
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Todd Haley: We’ll give Le’Veon Bell all that he can take

Le'Veon Bell AP

The Steelers gave running back Le’Veon Bell 33 carries against the Titans last Monday night, a decision that LeGarrette Blount found distasteful enough that he left the team’s bench before the game was over.

That early exit led to Blount’s permanent exit from the team on Tuesday, which means that Bell’s next heavy workload will be less a matter of choice than one of necessity. Rookies Dri Archer and Josh Harris, who was promoted from the practice squad after Blount’s departure, are the backups for Bell and offensive coordinator Todd Haley said that the team would be riding Bell hard in the near future.

“We will take all he can give. We will give all he can take,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We had kind of already made the decision to go with Le’Veon, as you could see in the game, from the situational aspect, goal line, short yarder and some of those. We had already made the decision that he was going to be the guy.”

Bell’s workload was already on the heavy side — his 252 touches are second to DeMarco Murray among running backs — and the tailback said that he didn’t feel overly fatigued as the game against the Titans went on, so there doesn’t seem to be much beyond an injury standing in the way of heavy doses for Bell the rest of the may. Given the depth chart behind him, the Steelers would surely prefer that injury doesn’t strike.

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PFT’s Week 12 picks

Stanton Getty Images

Not long ago, MDS held a five-game lead in this year’s PFT picks battle.  Now, it’s three games.  In the other direction.

That eight-game swing could end up being a 12-game swing, based on the four disagreements we have for Week 12.

And I led with that because it wasn’t a great week for either of us.  I generated a so-so 9-5; MDS was a sluggish 6-8.

For the year, I’m at 105-56 (65.2 percent).  MDS stands at 102-59 (63.3 percent).

For this week’s 15-game slate of prediction, keep reading.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: I still don’t think the Raiders are going to go 0-16, but as the season wears on I’m finding it harder and harder to find a game they’ll win. I certainly don’t think they’ll beat the Chiefs, who can step into first place in the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  Oakland has completed the Raider Slam, losing 16 games in a row over two seasons.  They’ll now move a step closer to the Lion Slam.  Potentially finishing the year only four away from the Tampa Slam.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Raiders 10.

Browns at Falcons

MDS’s take: The 4-6 Falcons are currently the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoff race, while the 6-4 Browns are currently the No. 10 seed in the AFC playoff race. The Browns probably need this game more than the Falcons do, but I’ll pick the Falcons to pick up their fifth win and remain on top of the NFC South.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Browns 20.

Florio’s take:  The Browns play up and down to the level of the competition.  So the Browns need to think of the Falcons not as a 4-6 team, but as a division leader.  Throw in the return of receiver Josh Gordon and renewed doubts about quarterback Brian Hoyer, and that could be the recipe to send the Falcons to 4-7, but still only 1/2-game out of first place, pending Monday night’s game.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Falcons 21.

Jets at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills are probably out of the AFC playoff race after their loss to the Dolphins, but there’s definitely a wide gulf between the third-place Bills and the last-place Jets. Snow might affect the Bills’ preparation this week, but I still expect them to win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jets 16.

Florio’s take:  The Bills would be the obvious pick if they were able to, you know, practice in advance of the game.  A delay until Monday or Tuesday would make it a more fair arrangement.  Assuming the league will find a way to preserve competitive balance on this issue, the Bills become the obvious choice.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Jets 13.

Buccaneers at Bears

MDS’s take: Lovie Smith will have his new team playing hard against his old team, but the Bucs are still at least a year away from having the talent to compete week-in and week-out. The Bears will take this one.

MDS’s pick: Bears 30, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take:  Lovie Smith gets his shot at revenge against the team that fired him after a 10-6 season.  Another loss by the Bears confirms that Chicago won’t finish with a record that good in Marc Trestman’s second season.  A Tampa win may not be the smart pick (when has that ever stopped me?), but it would be a great story.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 24, Bears 20.

Bengals at Texans

MDS’s take: This was the toughest game of the week for me to pick. The Bengals looked awfully good last week against the Saints, but I think the Texans’ pass rush may be too much for Andy Dalton to handle, and Houston will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 14, Bengals 13.

Florio’s take:  It would be a lot easier to pick Bengals games if they played a little more consistently.  A week after shellacking the Saints in their own building, it’s time to take on a much less accomplished quarterback on a team with less overall talent.  But the Texans clobbered in Cleveland a Browns team that outscored the Bengals by 21 in the prior game.  Actually, it probably makes sense for the Bengals to complete the round-robin by beating the team that beat the team that blew out the Bengals, especially since Marvin Lewis has something the Browns didn’t — actual game tape on Mallett.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Texans 20.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: This was the easiest game of the week for me to pick. The Colts will shake off last week’s loss to the Patriots with a beatdown of the Jaguars.

MDS’s pick: Colts 33, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  Indy isn’t as good as we all thought they were.  But they’re good enough to use a game against the Jaguars to stay at least one game ahead of the Texans.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Jaguars 17.

Packers at Vikings

MDS’s take: The way the Packers have steamrolled everyone in their path recently, they look like the best team in the league right now. They certainly won’t struggle with the Vikings.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Vikings 14.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings are moving in the right direction, but they can’t hang with the Packers this year.  Or probably next year.  Or pretty much every year until Aaron Rodgers retires.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Vikings 21.

Lions at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots took over the top spot in the AFC last week, while the Lions lost an opportunity to take over the top spot in the NFC. Now New England will take another step toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Lions will take another step backwards.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 21, Lions 10.

Florio’s take:  The Patriots keep on rolling, regardless of the opponent or the location.  Until they have to go to Lambeau Field.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 30, Lions 20.

Titans at Eagles

MDS’s take: A matchup with the lousy Tennessee defense is just what Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez needs. Philadelphia’s offense will look a whole lot better on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Titans 20.

Florio’s take:  Nothing helps erase the memories of an ugly game at Lambeau Field than a visit from one of the worst teams in the league.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 37, Titans 14.

Rams at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Rams showed last week that they can beat good teams, and although they’re in last place in the NFC West, they’d probably win the NFC South. I’m tempted to pick them to win a second straight upset over a good AFC West team, but I just can’t see them winning in San Diego, even though they’ll make it close.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Rams 17.

Florio’s take:  The Rams keep finding ways to play well against teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2013.  But they haven’t established true consistency.  The Chargers have been consistently mediocre since starting 5-1.  On this one, trust the team that’s playing at home with the better quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Rams 17.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: I’m a believer in the Cardinals — I expect them to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and be a very tough team to beat in January. But the Seahawks, who have a tough road to the playoffs ahead of them, still have a big game in them, and I think that game is coming Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take:  Sure, the Seahawks don’t often lose at home.  Yeah, they’ll have even more motivation to beat Arizona, since Arizona won in Seattle last year.  Right, the Seahawks can’t afford to fall four games behind the Cardinals with only five games to play.  Regardless, something is wrong with the Seahawks and plenty is right with the Cardinals.  Coach Bruce Arians will have them ready to play — and to secure a win that will be just as unlikely as their season so far.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 13, Seahawks 9.

Dolphins at Broncos

MDS’s take: If you’re a Broncos fan, you have to be nervous right now. They’ve basically played 20 minutes of good football (last five minutes before halftime and the third quarter against the Raiders) in the last three games. If Denver doesn’t turn things around in a hurry, Kansas City is going to steal the AFC West. But I expect Peyton Manning to bounce back with a huge game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Dolphins 21.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins wanted to sign Peyton Manning in 2012.  They’ll about to get a very good look at how things might have been.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 34, Dolphins 17.

Washington at 49ers

MDS’s take: Robert Griffin III is “focused on San Francisco.” But no matter how much he focuses, Washington isn’t beating the red-hot 49ers.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Washington 10.

Florio’s take:  With Trent Williams injured, Aldon Smith may end up injuring Robert Griffin III.  Given the way Griffin has played, the 49ers may not want to knock Griffin out of the game.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 30, Washington 10.

Cowboys at Giants

MDS’s take: Tony Romo should be healthier after the bye week, and Eli Manning is playing some lousy football right now. That adds up to a Cowboys win in what could be another Sunday night blowout.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Giants 17.

Florio’s take:  Even if the Giants make good on safety Antrel Rolle’s vow to run the table, it may not be good enough to get an invitation to the playoff party.  It would be fitting for a team that has looked so bad to find a way to turn it around, but the Cowboys are good enough to overpower the team with the worst rush defense in the league — and a quarterback who threw five interceptions last Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Giants 13.

Ravens at Saints

MDS’s take: I’m about to give up on figuring out the Saints. The way the played the Packers, I’d think no one would go to New Orleans and beat them. The way they played the Bengals, I’d think they’re one of the worst teams in the league. It’s a close call with the Ravens coming to town, but I’ll pick the Saints to have a big game with their backs against the wall.

MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take:  The Saints haven’t lost three straight games at the Superdome since 2001, and it won’t be easy to avoid falling for a third time in 15 days, given that the Ravens have had 15 days to prepare for this one.  The Saints remain too good to let it happen.  I think.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Ravens 17.

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Could Gruden be one and done in Washington?

Gruden Getty Images

The ongoing dysfunction in D.C. (dysfunction completely unrelated to the government, surprisingly) seems to be getting worse, not better.  From Robert Griffin III’s way-too-smiley Bill Belichick homage to coach Jay Gruden acknowledging he went too far by calling out his quarterback for calling out teammates and for playing poorly, the stuff playing out in the public eye suggests that plenty of fireworks are flying behind the scenes.

The biggest question percolating behind the scenes relates to the future status of Griffin, and Gruden.

As to Griffin, it’s becoming more clear that the franchise will be inclined not to pick up the fifth-year option on its erstwhile franchise quarterback.  Based on current cap numbers, the team would be committing $18.4 million to Griffin for 2016.  Currently, he’s not anywhere close to being an $18.4 million quarterback.

But with Washington already on the hook for $3.2 million in fully guaranteed base salary for 2015 under the final year of his rookie contract, it won’t be a surprise if Griffin remains on the roster — just as Jake Locker did in Tennessee and Christian Ponder did in Minnesota after their respective fifth-year options weren’t exercised earlier this year.  A trade is possible, but a release makes a lot less sense, given that Griffin will be paid next year whether he’s on the team or not.

As to the coach, a one-and-done arrangement would seem stunning on the surface.  But it would be the fourth straight year and the fifth time in six seasons that an NFL coach loses his job after one year.

In 2013, the Browns gave Rob Chudzinski the heave-ho after one year.  In 2012, the Jaguars fired Mike Mularkey after one season.  In 2011, the Raiders ran off Hue Jackson following one season as the non-interim coach.  The Seahawks fired Jim Mora after the 2009 season, his only year as head coach.

It also happened to former Dolphins coach Cam Cameron in 2007.

Other one-and-out coaches since 1980 include Art Shell (Raiders, 2006), Al Groh (Jets, 2000), Ray Rhodes (Green Bay, 1999), Joe Bugel (Raiders, 1997), Pete Carroll (Jets, 1994), Richie Petitbon (Washington, 1993), Rod Rust (Patriots, 1990), and Les Steckel (Vikings, 1984).

And it has happened in Washington under owner Daniel Snyder.  In 2001, Snyder gave the keys to Marty Schottenheimer.  After only one season, Snyder kicked Schottenheimer out of the front seat.  And out of the car.

With the franchise no better, and arguably even worse, than it was in 2013 under Mike Shanahan and in light of the glaring disconnect between Griffin and Gruden, Snyder could decide to extend the streak of NFL coaches fired after one year to four years.

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Report: LeGarrette Blount expected to sign with Patriots

LeGarrette Blount AP

The Patriots got 201 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns from Jonas Gray against the Colts last week, but that doesn’t appear to have convinced them that they have all they need at running back.

Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that LeGarrette Blount is at the Patriots facility on Thursday and that he is expected to sign with the team. Blount was waived by the Steelers on Tuesday, a day after he left the team’s bench before the end of their game against the Titans, and passed through waivers unclaimed.

Blount is a familiar face to the Patriots after spending last season on their roster following a trade with the Buccaneers. Blount proved to be a good fit for the offense, running for 772 yards while gaining five yards a carry in the regular season and then adding a four-touchdown game of his own in the team’s playoff victory over the Colts.

Blount’s return would give the Patriots several options to choose from in the backfield despite the loss of Stevan Ridley for the season because of a torn ACL. Blount would join Gray, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James Develin and rookie James White (although one could depart to make room for Blount) to form a group that gives the Patriots an opportunity to tailor their game plan to their specific needs at running back for that week.

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Marrone praises Buffalo residents for response to snow emergency

Marrone Getty Images

Even if the Bills don’t play the Jets as scheduled on Sunday or if they aren’t able to practice much, or at all, before the game, coach Doug Marrone realizes that the events of this week extend far beyond the question of whether a game intended to be played in the elements has found a set of elements in which it can’t be played.

Via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, Marrone discussed his experiences in trying to get from his home to the team’s facility when the snow was at its worst on Tuesday.

I was right outside Mercy Hospital,” Marrone told Carucci. “It was tough. You see people trying to get to the hospital. You see emergency employees, nurses and doctors trying to get to the hospital. I can’t say enough about the people of Buffalo. It’s a really unbelievable experience. People were helping each other. People were helping get people to the hospital. People from the hospital were going out. The people were trying to plow snow from the streets.

“I don’t think words can describe it, whether it was different people from different areas, everyone was just trying to help each other. It was really an amazing sight to see . . . .

“I was just trying to do my part, but my part was very limited compared to other people and how brave they were getting people to and from the hospital,” Marrone said regarding his own efforts to help dig out a car that was stuck. “I would say, with my experience [Tuesday,] my greater concern is with the people trying to get to and from the hospital. After what I saw, that’s my concern first.”

The safety of all residents — and the ability of those who need to get to the hospital or to get medications they need from local pharmacies — is the biggest concern.  Football will provide, as it always does, a diversion for those who can get to the game.  Hopefully, the game will be played on a day and a time when Buffalo residents once again can get out and about after one of the worst snowstorms that region ever seen.

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NBA nails it on domestic violence ruling while NFL struggles

Adam Silver AP

As the NFL stumbles through the dark trying to find a way to get out of several current legal messes, there’s a pretty good platform being established by the NBA, if the NFL cares to look and learn.

The NFL has tripped over its own feet regarding the cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy, leading to suggestions that they’re making it up as they go.

Meanwhile, the NBA has issued a quick, clear, thorough, and reasonable ruling on the matter of one of their players charged with domestic violence.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor 24 games stemming from his arrest on Sept. 25 on charges from a fight with a woman in a Michigan hotel.

The Hornets had already suspended Taylor with pay during the investigation (sounds familiar), and the league is giving him credit for time served (sounds unfamiliar). Taylor will miss another 13 games, and be fined an amount equivalent to 24 game checks.

But it isn’t just the suspension that draws a clear line between one league’s handling of a mess and another’s.

The statement from Silver is a thorough piece of literature, documenting exactly what happened, exactly who knew about it, exactly how the league proceeded. It includes evidence and expertise from actual women, which seems like a good idea, rather than just having the victim testify in front of her abuser’s bosses and superiors.

It contains the usual condemnation of vile acts, as well:

“The NBA is committed to vigilance with respect to domestic violence,” it said in closing. “We will continue to work closely with the Players Association to provide education, awareness training, and appropriate resources to NBA players and their families. We recognize our responsibility to do all that we can to prevent this destructive and unacceptable conduct from happening in the future.”

In short, it’s a solid piece of work, generated in an expeditious manner, which seems to have fairly dealt with a contentious topic.

It probably wouldn’t seem so novel, if the NFL hadn’t failed to meet those same criteria, so spectacularly.

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Josh Gordon hopes to “find a productive spot” in Browns offense

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Former Browns wide receiver Nate Burleson said that Josh Gordon plans to tear up the league now that he’s returned from a 10-game suspension, but Gordon wasn’t sending the same message during a Wednesday meeting with the media after he finished his first practice with the team.

Gordon joked that Burleson “might have a misquote” because Gordon only talked about outworking everyone on the field in order to show that he’s still the player who lit up the league last season. While Gordon feels that he’s capable of having a big game right out of the gate, he said he agreed with General Manager Ray Farmer’s belief that the team has to figure out how to fit Gordon into their scheme without disrupting their entire offense.

“Well, he’s correct,” Gordon said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’ve never played a game in this offense. So, yeah, I guess right now, I’ve never fit in in a game, so we have to figure that out come this Sunday and as we progress, hopefully get me more involved and find a productive spot to put me in.”

Gordon knows he faces doubts about his ability to stay out of trouble off the field, but says he isn’t going to try to convince people otherwise with words.

“The only thing I can do is just do it through action, just leading a life that people — to them it might seem appropriate,” Gordon said. “I just want to control what I can control, and that’s playing my hardest and working my hardest for 16 weeks next season and these last six games this season, however long I’m in Cleveland. That’s just what I want to do. Most people do doubt me, but in regards to football, I think that’s the easy part for me.”

Gordon made football look very easy last season and it won’t take the Browns long to figure out his fit if he’s able to do the same upon his return to the lineup.

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