Posts by Jason Butt

Ray Rice issues statement

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice issued a statement to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun where he apologized for his domestic violence incident and thanked the Ravens.

Here's the statement:

Dear Baltimore,

This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice issued a statement to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun where he apologized for his domestic violence incident and thanked the Ravens.

Here’s the statement:

Dear Baltimore,

This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have spent in Baltimore have by far been the best of our lives. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown my family and I throughout my football career. We’ll always be grateful for the love we’ve received from all of our fans and supporters, and for winning a Super Bowl. To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue. Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for all you have done for my family and I. I’m very grateful to Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and everyone at 1 Winning Drive. I love you all very much, and I’ll always be proud to say I played for the Baltimore Ravens. Thank you.

— Ray Rice

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Andrew Luck: I’m not playing against Peyton Manning

Following the Colts' 26-10 victory over the Bengals, attention quickly turned to the fact that Andrew Luck will be facing Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.

Of course, this is a natural storyline. Manning was the longtime face of the Colts before a neck injury put his career in doubt. With the Colts

Following the Colts’ 26-10 victory over the Bengals, attention quickly turned to the fact that Andrew Luck will be facing Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.

Of course, this is a natural storyline. Manning was the longtime face of the Colts before a neck injury put his career in doubt. With the Colts winding up with the first pick in the 2012 draft, they decided to part ways with Manning and take Luck with the selection.

Manning ended up in Denver and has continued his storied career. Now they’ll meet in the postseason.

However, Luck wanted to point out that Manning won’t be on his mind this week. He has to go against the Broncos defense, not Manning.

“It’s not the quarterback-versus-quarterback thing,” Luck told reporters after the win over the Bengals. “We’re not on the field at the same time. I have a lot of respect for him, what he does, what he still does is amazing. He’s a stud. I’ll worry about the Denver defense. That’s what I’ll worry about.”

Hey, good point and a good way to deflect attention on what will be talked about all week. It’s definitely a unique situation. But it’s just two quarterbacks of two teams. Neither will out-duel one another. Each will have to beat the opposing defense next Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Tony Romo proves clutch in fourth quarter

For whatever reason, Tony Romo has developed a reputation of being a choke-artist.

Yet the examples on the field of the opposite ring true far more often than when he's unable to come through late in games. Sunday's Wild Card win over Detroit, a 24-20 victory, was yet another example of this. The

For whatever reason, Tony Romo has developed a reputation of being a choke-artist.

Yet the examples on the field of the opposite ring true far more often than when he’s unable to come through late in games. Sunday’s Wild Card win over Detroit, a 24-20 victory, was yet another example of this. The Cowboys were down all game but got a great performance from Romo, who didn’t let the early 14-0 deficit get to him mentally.

Romo tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Terrance Williams, which gave the Cowboys the lead with under three minutes to go in the game. He finished the game 19-21 for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

This is the fifth time Romo has led the Cowboys to a game-winning drive this season, and it is the fourth fourth-quarter comeback he’s had. Though it’s popular for folks to criticize Romo, the numbers don’t lie. In regular-season games during his career, Romo has accounted for 24 fourth-quarter comebacks and 28 game-winning drives. Seventeen of those have occurred in the past four years.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Ron Rivera’s house caught fire early Monday morning

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was awakened early Monday morning to his house catching on fire, according to a report from NBC affiliate WCNC in Charlotte.

At around 4 a.m. Rivera woke up and got his family outside as the fire began doing damage to his home's attic and roof. No one was

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was awakened early Monday morning to his house catching on fire, according to a report from NBC affiliate WCNC in Charlotte.

At around 4 a.m. Rivera woke up and got his family outside as the fire began doing damage to his home’s attic and roof. No one was injured in the fire.

The fire appears to have been accidental and took an hour to put out.

Rivera was asked by an NBC Charlotte reporter about his status following the fire.

“I’m OK,” Rivera said. “Everyone is fine, thank you guys.”

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Lions hurt by controversial call in loss to Cowboys

For a moment it seemed the Detroit Lions were about to pick up a big-yardage play due to a defensive pass interference penalty on the Cowboys.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchins did appear to interfere at some level with Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, drawing a flag. After the penalty was announced — prior

For a moment it seemed the Detroit Lions were about to pick up a big-yardage play due to a defensive pass interference penalty on the Cowboys.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchins did appear to interfere at some level with Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, drawing a flag. After the penalty was announced — prior to referees meeting to discuss the flag — it was picked up and ruled a no-call.

This was about as bad as it gets on the officiating side of things. It sure didn’t seem like the flag sould be picked up.

Thing is, if the guys met before announcing a penalty, there wouldn’t be so much noise about it. But the fact that contact was made and a call was determined makes taking the penalty away that much worse. This crew is supposed to be among the better in the NFL.

And they blew it in an ever-important Wild Card game. At the moment, Detroit was leading and had the ball. They ended up having to punt, which gave Dallas the ball back. The Cowboys would go down the field and score the game-winning touchdown to advance with a 24-20 victory.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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John Harbaugh calls Joe Flacco ‘best quarterback in the NFL’

Opinions tend to vary widely when it comes to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

For whatever reason, Flacco has become the center of the elite conversation, with those claiming he belongs in that category and others saying he's not even close. Well, Flacco's coach is in the former camp. Following Baltimore's 30-17 win over

Opinions tend to vary widely when it comes to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

For whatever reason, Flacco has become the center of the elite conversation, with those claiming he belongs in that category and others saying he’s not even close. Well, Flacco’s coach is in the former camp. Following Baltimore’s 30-17 win over Pittsburgh, Ravens coach John Harbaugh sang Flacco’s praises to the highest level.

“Joe Flacco, what can you say,” Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “He’s the best quarterback in football. We’ll take him any day of the week, twice on Sunday or Saturday if that be the case.”

Plenty of folks will take issue with that. But at the end of the day, who cares? After all, Flacco has won a Super Bowl and has been to the AFC Championship three times. He’s 6-0 in playoff openers in seven years. It doesn’t matter how Flacco wins in the postseason, it only matters that he wins in the postseason.

Flacco and the Ravens will travel to New England next week for the Divisional Round.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Panthers defeat Cardinals 27-16

Twice in NFL history has a division winner reached the postseason with a sub-.500 record.

And both times the teams advanced to the Divisional Round. The Carolina Panthers, NFC South champs at 7-8-1 in the regular season, defeated the banged-up Arizona Cardinals 27-16 in the NFC's Wild Card round on Saturday.

The

Twice in NFL history has a division winner reached the postseason with a sub-.500 record.

And both times the teams advanced to the Divisional Round. The Carolina Panthers, NFC South champs at 7-8-1 in the regular season, defeated the banged-up Arizona Cardinals 27-16 in the NFC’s Wild Card round on Saturday.

The Panthers got the job done with defense as they held Arizona to just 77 total yards. Of course, the Cardinals’ offensive depth dwindled as the season carried on, with starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton out at quarterback.

The Panthers got another inspired performance from running back Jonathan Stewart, who has been on a roll lately. Stewart rumbled for 123 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Carolina, as the No. 4 seed will wait and see which team it will play in the next round. If Dallas defeats Detroit, the Panthers will face top-seeded Seattle. If Detroit defeats Dallas, Carolina will take on Green Bay.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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A.J. Green doubtful for Wild Card round

The Cincinnati Bengals will more than likely be without their top offensive weapon this Sunday against the Colts.

Receiver A.J. Green has been designated as doubtful, meaning there's a 75 percent chance he does not play. Though there has been the occasional occurrence over the years, very rarely do players listed as doubtful

The Cincinnati Bengals will more than likely be without their top offensive weapon this Sunday against the Colts.

Receiver A.J. Green has been designated as doubtful, meaning there’s a 75 percent chance he does not play. Though there has been the occasional occurrence over the years, very rarely do players listed as doubtful participate in games.

Green sustained a concussion after taking a hit to the head in last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. He’s been in the NFL’s concussion protocol all week and has been unable to gain clearance.

Green will meet with a team doctor with hopes of being cleared. If that’s the case, he very well could see his game status upgraded before kickoff.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Ravens’ Eugene Monroe, Timmy Jernigan out for Wild Card game

The Ravens will once again work with a makeshift offensive line this week in the Wild Card round against the Steelers.

The Ravens announced that left tackle Eugene Monroe will miss his second consecutive game due to an ankle injury. He sustained the injury in Week 16 against the Texans. With Monroe out,

The Ravens will once again work with a makeshift offensive line this week in the Wild Card round against the Steelers.

The Ravens announced that left tackle Eugene Monroe will miss his second consecutive game due to an ankle injury. He sustained the injury in Week 16 against the Texans. With Monroe out, the Ravens will plug in undrafted rookie James Hurst at left tackle and kick out Marshal Yanda from right guard to right tackle. Rookie John Urschel will then step in at right guard.

In addition, Baltimore will also be without rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who suffered a foot/ankle injury a week ago. Jernigan was seeing additional minutes during the four-game suspension served by veteran Haloti Ngata. Though Jernigan can’t play this week, Ngata is back and able to go against Pittsburgh. He was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy by testing positive for the drug Adderall without the league’s approval.

On Friday, Ngata was activated to the 53-man roster from the suspended list, with the Ravens putting linebacker Arthur Brown (thigh) on injured reserve.

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Jonathan Stewart to remain Panthers starting RB

Though the Panthers ended the regular season 7-8-1 and won a horrible NFC South, they're not exactly a team others want to play right now.

Riding a four-game winning streak, Carolina demolished Atlanta in the regular-season finale to put itself in the postseason. A big reason of that goes to running back Jonathan

Though the Panthers ended the regular season 7-8-1 and won a horrible NFC South, they’re not exactly a team others want to play right now.

Riding a four-game winning streak, Carolina demolished Atlanta in the regular-season finale to put itself in the postseason. A big reason of that goes to running back Jonathan Stewart, who has emerged in recent weeks to carry more of a load with DeAngelo Williams out with a hand injury.

Over the past four weeks, Stewart has averaged 100 yards per game and has totaled five touchdowns on the ground. Therefore, according to The Charlotte Observer, Stewart will remain the No. 1 back, even with Williams cleared to go this week.

The Panthers are riding a lot of momentum and could be a dangerous team since they host Arizona at home. But keep in mind, their four wins have come against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta. It’s not like they were beating world beaters.

At the same time, getting hot at the right time in the NFL can do a lot for confidence. And the Panthers certainly have that going their way at the moment.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Bucs won’t be able to interview Mike Mularkey

Mike Mularkey will be staying put in Tennessee.

According to a report from NFL.com, the Buccaneers requested permission to interview Titans tight ends coach Mike Mularkey for their open offensive coordinator position. However, Tennessee declined that request, keeping Mularkey with the Titans.

Mularkey has had success as an offensive coordinator before,

Mike Mularkey will be staying put in Tennessee.

According to a report from NFL.com, the Buccaneers requested permission to interview Titans tight ends coach Mike Mularkey for their open offensive coordinator position. However, Tennessee declined that request, keeping Mularkey with the Titans.

Mularkey has had success as an offensive coordinator before, most recently in Atlanta. He’s known for a run-first, conservative style, though it did work with playoff appearances in 2009 and 2010 with the Falcons. He then took the head coaching job in Jacksonville, where he lasted only a year.

It’s clear Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to keep Mularkey around to hopefully right the ship of being one of the worst NFL teams in 2014.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Jets meeting with Dan Quinn, Tom Cable

The New York Jets are meeting with two head coaching candidates on Friday.

According to a report from NFL.com, the Jets will be interviewing Dan Quinn and Tom Cable for their open head coaching position. Quinn's name has garnered a lot of buzz over the past few years as the defensive coordinator

The New York Jets are meeting with two head coaching candidates on Friday.

According to a report from NFL.com, the Jets will be interviewing Dan Quinn and Tom Cable for their open head coaching position. Quinn’s name has garnered a lot of buzz over the past few years as the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks.

Cable was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2008-2010. Since 2011, Cable has been the assistant head coach/offensive line coach with the Seahawks.

This follows the Jets meeting with Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner on Thursday for their open general manager position.

It’s no surprise Seahawks employees are getting a ton of looks for open jobs. Seattle won the Super Bowl a year ago and are once again the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Seattle has been the envy of the league the last two years and have done a great job maximizing the talent they’ve drafted and acquired.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Teryl Austin expected to interview for head coaching jobs

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will be in the running for a head coaching gig it looks like.

Via the Lions' official site, Austin said that the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons have asked to interview him for their open head coaching positions. Austin has done a great job in his

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will be in the running for a head coaching gig it looks like.

Via the Lions’ official site, Austin said that the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons have asked to interview him for their open head coaching positions. Austin has done a great job in his first year as Detroit’s defensive coordinator, leading the unit to the NFL’s No. 2 overall ranking.

It appears to be a situation where the Lions themselves believe Austin will head elsewhere once their season is over.

“For all of us, for him, I think and his family, I think he’s deserving of it. and I think he’s going to get one,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “I think if, once they get an opportunity to see him and listen to him and watch what he’s been able to do, I think it’ll happen for him and I think it’ll be absolutely outstanding.”

Austin can’t interview for jobs until after the Wild Card weekend is over.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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A.J. Green still in concussion protocol

Based on what happened the last time Cincinnati played Indianapolis, the Bengals sure do need A.J. Green on the field this weekend

However, Green is still in the NFL's concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head in Sunday night's 27-17 loss to the Steelers. Green was unable to finish the game

Based on what happened the last time Cincinnati played Indianapolis, the Bengals sure do need A.J. Green on the field this weekend

However, Green is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head in Sunday night’s 27-17 loss to the Steelers. Green was unable to finish the game and was diagnosed with a concussion.

On Wednesday, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Green has yet to be cleared.

When the Bengals lost to the Colts 27-0 in a regular-season meeting this year, they were without Green. Without their top outside target, the Colts repeatedly blitzed Andy Dalton and got him off balance. It can be assumed the same would occur if Green can’t go Sunday night.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Ravens head of security on paid leave after sex crime allegation

Ravens head of security Darren Sanders has been placed on paid leave after being charged with a fourth-degree sexual assault offense, reports The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post's Aaron Wilson.

Sanders is not expected to travel with the Ravens to this Saturday's Wild Card round game against the Steelers.

The

Ravens head of security Darren Sanders has been placed on paid leave after being charged with a fourth-degree sexual assault offense, reports The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson.

Sanders is not expected to travel with the Ravens to this Saturday’s Wild Card round game against the Steelers.

The Baltimore Sun’s Justin Fenton was first to report the story of Sanders being charged. He’s since reported that a female accuser is alleging Sanders groped her at M&T Bank Stadium, and was reported following the Ravens game against the Jaguars. The claim was filed with Baltimore police on Dec. 14.

Sanders’ attorney Andrew Alperstein has denied these allegations.

“It does a disservice to real victims when people make things up like this,” Alperstein told The Sun. “People like [Sanders] are susceptible to made-up allegations. It puts you in a vulnerable position.”

The maximum punishment for a fourth-degree sex offense in Maryland is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Sanders was charged through a summons and has not been arrested. His court date is Feb. 9, 2015.

This development comes at the tail end of a Ravens season that began in turmoil due to Ray Rice’s legal issue. Rice was ultimately released from the organization after a videotape showed the former Pro Bowl running back punching his then-fiancee and now wife Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious.

The NFL has since instituted a new domestic abuse policy and has made amendments to its personal conduct policy.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Jim Harbaugh happy for ‘homecoming’ to Michigan

Calling it a "homecoming," Jim Harbaugh was introduced as the 20th head coach in the history of the University of Michigan football program on Tuesday in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh, one of the game's hottest coaching names, chose to coach his alma mater over potentially taking another job in the NFL. Harbaugh and

Calling it a “homecoming,” Jim Harbaugh was introduced as the 20th head coach in the history of the University of Michigan football program on Tuesday in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh, one of the game’s hottest coaching names, chose to coach his alma mater over potentially taking another job in the NFL. Harbaugh and the 49ers mutually parted ways shortly after Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

In four years with the 49ers, Harbaugh took San Francisco to three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearance in 2012. Harbaugh lost that game 34-31 to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.

Now Harbaugh will have the task of restoring glory to the school he quarterbacked from 1983-1986. Wearing a maize and blue striped tie, Harbaugh told reporters he was excited for the challenge.

“Michigan is about excellence, is about greatness, and you have my pledge that I will carry forward the tradition of excellence of the University of Michigan football program,” Harbaugh said at his introductory press conference.

Harbaugh replaces Brady Hoke, who progressively got worse during his time at Michigan. After going 11-2 his first season, Hoke led the Wolverines to 8-5, 7-6 and 5-7 seasons in consecutive years. Hoke was fired after losing to Ohio State for the third consecutive year.

Harbaugh’s deal is worth $35 million for seven years, though interim athletics director Jim Hackett said the deal will be reviewed for market value after his first season. According to Michigan insider and Wall Street Journal writer John U. Bacon, Harbaugh elected against an $8 million per year salary, which would make him the highest-paid football coach in college football history, so that he could have more money to spend on his assistants.

It’s not out of the realm to expect Harbaugh to return Michigan to college football prominence. Whether it was at the University of San Diego, Stanford or the 49ers, Harbaugh has won as a football coach. It can safely be assumed the same will follow with the Wolverines, a program in need of someone to turn the program around.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Bears targeting four for GM position

The Chicago Bears reportedly have at least four candidates they're looking at for their open general manager position.

Those four are Vince Newsome (Ravens director of pro personnel), Chris Ballard (Chiefs director of player personnel), Marc Ross (Giants vice president of player evaluation) and Lake Dawson (Titans vice president of player personnel),

The Chicago Bears reportedly have at least four candidates they’re looking at for their open general manager position.

Those four are Vince Newsome (Ravens director of pro personnel), Chris Ballard (Chiefs director of player personnel), Marc Ross (Giants vice president of player evaluation) and Lake Dawson (Titans vice president of player personnel), according to a report from NFL.com.

The Bears fired Phil Emery from the general manager position after the regular season ended.

Former NFL executive John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, confirmed Newsome’s candidacy to The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson.

“The Bears are doing it the right way, (director of Bears search committee) Ernie (Accorsi) is doing it the right way,” Wooten told Wilson. “They want to get the GM in place and then find their coach. It’s the right way to do things.”

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Todd Bowles, Gary Kubiak among Jets HC candidates

The New York Jets have at least five names in mind for their open head coaching job.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jets have requested interviews for Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, Seahawks assistant head coach Tom Cable, Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich and Seahawks defensive

The New York Jets have at least five names in mind for their open head coaching job.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets have requested interviews for Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, Seahawks assistant head coach Tom Cable, Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Of these candidates, Kubiak and Cable have previous head coaching experience. Kubiak coached the Texans from 2006-2013 and Cable coached the Raiders from 2008-2010.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Mike McCarthy calls Ndamukong Suh’s step on Aaron Rodgers ‘ridiculous’

What we know: Lions nose tackle Ndamukong Suh stepped on Aaron Rodgers' injured left calf during Green Bay's 30-20 victory over Detroit.

What we don't know: Was the act intentional?

That's something only Suh knows, though his track record could prevent folks from giving him the benefit of the doubt in this

What we know: Lions nose tackle Ndamukong Suh stepped on Aaron Rodgers’ injured left calf during Green Bay’s 30-20 victory over Detroit.

What we don’t know: Was the act intentional?

That’s something only Suh knows, though his track record could prevent folks from giving him the benefit of the doubt in this instance. Suh does appear to look at Rodgers, down on the ground after throwing a pass, before taking a step backward on to his affected calf. Judge for yourself by watching th clip.

What Suh did wasn’t a vicious stomp. But given his history, Suh very well could have done his part to try and hide his intent by making it seem more innocent than it was.

One thing’s for sure, regardless of what it looked like, Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t pleased to find out Suh was stepping on his quarterback’s injured calf.

“I didn’t see it live, I didn’t see it on the (scoreboard), but from what I’m told, I’m told it was ridiculous,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, via The Detroit Free Press. “There’s no place for that. That’s where I’m at with it. I don’t understand it, frankly.”

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Kyle Orton retires from NFL

Quarterback Kyle Orton has announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons with five teams.

Orton spent the 2014 season with the Buffalo Bills after signing with them late in the preseason. He started 12 games and posted a 7-5 record after relieving E.J. Manuel, who got off to a poor start

Quarterback Kyle Orton has announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons with five teams.

Orton spent the 2014 season with the Buffalo Bills after signing with them late in the preseason. He started 12 games and posted a 7-5 record after relieving E.J. Manuel, who got off to a poor start to the year.

“I just have been going at it for 10 years and it’s just a family decision and I’ve decided to get home and be a dad and call it a day,” Orton said in a press release.

Orton was drafted by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. After four years with Chicago, Orton bounced around to the Broncos, Chiefs, Cowboys and Bills. He’ll conclude his career with 18,037 yards, 101 touchdowns and 69 interceptions.

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2014-15 NFL playoff schedule

The 2014 regular season has concluded and the playoff bracket is set.

Here is the full postseason schedule with all times EST:

Wild Card Round

AFC

No. 6 Baltimore Ravens at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (Saturday, Jan. 3, 8:15 p.m., NBC)

No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals at No. 4 Indianapolis

The 2014 regular season has concluded and the playoff bracket is set.

Here is the full postseason schedule with all times EST:

Wild Card Round

AFC

No. 6 Baltimore Ravens at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (Saturday, Jan. 3, 8:15 p.m., NBC)

No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, Jan. 4, 1:05 p.m., CBS)

NFC

No. 6 Detroit Lions at No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, Jan. 4, 4:40 p.m., FOX)

No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 Carolina Panthers (Saturday, Jan. 3, 4:35 p.m., ESPN)

Divisional Round

AFC

Lowest remaining seed at No. 1 New England Patriots (Saturday, Jan. 10, 4:35 p.m., NBC)

Highest remaining seed at No. 2 Denver Broncos (Sunday, Jan. 11, 4:40 p.m., CBS)

NFC

Lowest remaining seed at No. 1 Seattle Seahawks (Saturday, Jan. 10, 8:15 p.m., FOX)

Highest remaining seed at No. 2 Green Bay Packers (Sunday, Jan. 11 at 1:05 p.m., FOX)

Conference Championships

NFC Championship Game (Sunday, Jan. 18, 3:05 p.m., FOX)

AFC Championship Game (Sunday, Jan. 18, 6:05 p.m., CBS)

Super Bowl XLIX

Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Sunday, Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m., NBC)

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Steelers defeat Bengals, claim AFC North title

For a moment, it sure looked like Andy Dalton was going to come up huge in a Prime Time game.

With the Bengals down by three, Dalton was marching the Bengals down the field to potentially either tie or go ahead in the ballgame. But after a first-down completion to receiver A.J. Green

For a moment, it sure looked like Andy Dalton was going to come up huge in a Prime Time game.

With the Bengals down by three, Dalton was marching the Bengals down the field to potentially either tie or go ahead in the ballgame. But after a first-down completion to receiver A.J. Green at the Steelers 31-yard line with 3:51 remaining, Green was hit by Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake and fumbled the ball. Blake recovered and set the Steelers up for what would be the go-ahead score.

On a third-and-8, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a back shoulder fade to receiver Antonio Brown, which was taken the rest of the way for a 63-yard touchdown. This put Pittsburgh up 27-17, which would be the final score of the game.

WIth the win, Pittsburgh won the AFC North title for the 2014 season.

The Steelers win gives them the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and they’ll host Baltimore, the sixth-seed, this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. The fifth-seeded Bengals will visit the fourth-seeded Colts on Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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Panthers destroy Falcons, win NFC South

The Panthers didn't finish with a .500 record but they're still division winners.

On Sunday, Carolina blew out the Falcons 34-3 in what was a championship game for the NFC South. Both teams were guaranteed to finish without winning records, though the rules state that division winners are guaranteed home-field advantage in the

The Panthers didn’t finish with a .500 record but they’re still division winners.

On Sunday, Carolina blew out the Falcons 34-3 in what was a championship game for the NFC South. Both teams were guaranteed to finish without winning records, though the rules state that division winners are guaranteed home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Therefore the 7-8-1 Panthers will host a first-round game next week as the NFC’s No. 4 seed.

Against the Falcons, everything went right for the Panthers. The defense completely shut down what Atlanta wanted to do, forcing three turnovers, including two Matt Ryan interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Cam Newton wasn’t asked to throw much (10-16, 114 yards, 1 touchdown) as the Panthers ran for a combined 194 yards.

The last time — and first time — a sub-.500 team reached the playoffs was following the 2010 regular season when the Seahawks finished with a 7-9 record and won the NFC West. The Seahawks went on to defeat the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round.

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Ravens get No. 6 seed with victory and Chiefs win

The field of six is set for the AFC side of the NFL playoffs bracket.

The Ravens earned the final Wild Card spot on Sunday after getting a 20-10 victory over Cleveland, combined with the Chiefs defeating the Chargers 19-7. The Ravens received this fortune despite the Chiefs having to go with quarterback

The field of six is set for the AFC side of the NFL playoffs bracket.

The Ravens earned the final Wild Card spot on Sunday after getting a 20-10 victory over Cleveland, combined with the Chiefs defeating the Chargers 19-7. The Ravens received this fortune despite the Chiefs having to go with quarterback Chase Daniel instead of Alex Smith, who missed the game with a lacerated spleen.

It wasn’t easy for Baltimore, which didn’t turn things on offensively until the fourth quarter. Down 10-6 in the final period, Joe Flacco threw a jump ball deep down the field to Torrey Smith, who was in man coverage against Joe Haden. Smith came down with the ball for a 53-yard gain. On the next play, Flacco threw a 16-yard strike over the middle to Smith for a touchdown.

From there, the Ravens rolled and capped the day with a 2-yard touchdown to receiver Kamar Aiken and a game-clinching interception from Lardarius Webb.

The Ravens’ first-round opponent has yet to be decided, and will be following Sunday’s Broncos-Raiders and Bengals-Steelers games.

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Important players out in Chiefs-Chargers game

As expected, the Chiefs and Chargers are both down two important players each in Sunday's season-finale with playoff implications.

For the Chargers, running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) and receiver Keenan Allen (broken collarbone) will miss the game. On the Chiefs side, quarterback Alex Smith (lacerated spleen) is inactive as Chase Daniel is expected

As expected, the Chiefs and Chargers are both down two important players each in Sunday’s season-finale with playoff implications.

For the Chargers, running back Ryan Mathews (ankle) and receiver Keenan Allen (broken collarbone) will miss the game. On the Chiefs side, quarterback Alex Smith (lacerated spleen) is inactive as Chase Daniel is expected to start in his place.

Both teams also have key players playing hurt, too. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is dealing with chest and back injuries but will suit up. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has a hamstring injury that he’ll continue to gut out.

If the Chargers win, they’re in the playoffs. If the Chiefs win, they need the Ravens to lose to the Browns and for the Texans to lose to the Jaguars to continue their season.

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Patriots resting key starters against Bills

With the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs set for the New England Patriots, they've taken the approach to rest their key starters against the Bills.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Julian Edelman are inactive for Sunday's game, along with cornerback Brandon Browner and running back Jonas Gray.

Tom

With the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs set for the New England Patriots, they’ve taken the approach to rest their key starters against the Bills.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Julian Edelman are inactive for Sunday’s game, along with cornerback Brandon Browner and running back Jonas Gray.

Tom Brady is active but is not expected to play much. Plus, it’s good to have all of the quarterbacks available in case of injury.

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Chris Canty inactive against Browns

The Ravens, in need of a win against the Browns to keep their playoff hopes alive, will be without the services of defensive end Chris Canty.

Canty has been ruled inactive with an ankle injury. Canty missed the entire week of practice as he was unable to get his ankle in enough shape

The Ravens, in need of a win against the Browns to keep their playoff hopes alive, will be without the services of defensive end Chris Canty.

Canty has been ruled inactive with an ankle injury. Canty missed the entire week of practice as he was unable to get his ankle in enough shape for the ever-important season-finale. With Canty out, DeAngelo Tyson will be expected to step in and help out at the position.

As expected, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe is also inactive for this game with an ankle injury of his own. With Monroe out, undrafted rookie James Hurst is expected to step in at left tackle.

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Looks like Jim Harbaugh will be next Michigan coach

The University of Michigan has been patiently waiting for its first coaching option for quite some time.

Ever since the Wolverines fired Brady Hoke shortly after the season-finale against Ohio State, cementing a 5-7 season, the university hasn't been in a rush to hire a head coach. That can be attributed to Michigan

The University of Michigan has been patiently waiting for its first coaching option for quite some time.

Ever since the Wolverines fired Brady Hoke shortly after the season-finale against Ohio State, cementing a 5-7 season, the university hasn’t been in a rush to hire a head coach. That can be attributed to Michigan waiting out 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, with hopes that he’ll return to coach his alma mater.

The stars appear to be aligning for that to happen, as NFL.com is reporting that Michigan officials believe Harbaugh is going to accept the job after he and the 49ers part ways following Sunday’s Week 17 game against the Cardinals.

The Raiders are reportedly still hopeful they can get Harbaugh but there has been a lot of buzz building for Harbaugh to Michigan over the past week. It would seem Harabugh will head back to the college ranks barring a complete change of heart over the next couple of days.

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Todd Gurley declares for 2015 NFL draft

No surprise here. Todd Gurley is declaring for the 2015 NFL draft.

The star running back at the University of Georgia began his junior campaign as a clear Heisman front-runner. But after his hot start, he was suspended four games for being paid for signing autographs and then tore his ACL in a

No surprise here. Todd Gurley is declaring for the 2015 NFL draft.

The star running back at the University of Georgia began his junior campaign as a clear Heisman front-runner. But after his hot start, he was suspended four games for being paid for signing autographs and then tore his ACL in a 34-7 win over Auburn.

Even so, Gurley will enter the draft as one of the top two running backs, alongside Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gurley finished his junior season with 911 yards and nine touchdowns in just six games.

The torn ACL could cause Gurley’s stock to drop some. Before the injury Gurley was a sure-fire first-round draft pick, and potentially a top 10 guy at a position that’s trending the opposite way in the NFL. According to The Macon Telegraph, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Gurley’s rehab is going “beautifully” after announcing his decision.

Gurley’s potential at the next level, despite the current situation with the injury, may be too much to pass up, especially in the late first round by a team that has an established but aging runner on their team. Gurley could be someone to invest in and work into the rotation in year one, with hopes of letting him loose as a healthy second-year player.

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Connor Shaw to start against Ravens

The Cleveland Browns will be forced to trot out a green quarterback in their season-finale.

On Saturday, the Browns will officially activate Connor Shaw to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and he will start against the Ravens on Sunday. Shaw has been on the practice squad since the beginning of the

The Cleveland Browns will be forced to trot out a green quarterback in their season-finale.

On Saturday, the Browns will officially activate Connor Shaw to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and he will start against the Ravens on Sunday. Shaw has been on the practice squad since the beginning of the season, with Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel being the top two quarterbacks on the team.

Shaw did get some game action in the preseason, highlighted by a Hail Mary touchdown against Washington. He was an undrafted free agent signee out of South Carolina.

Shaw tweeted “#22” earlier Friday in reference to being the 22nd quarterback to start a game for the Browns in the past 16 years.

Shaw’s getting the start as Hoyer has a shoulder injury and Manziel has a hamstring ailment.

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Falcons release James Anderson

'Tis the season to remember that the NFL is still a brutal business.

On Christmas Eve, the Falcons announced that linebcaker James Anderson has been released. Hey, that's the way it goes sometime in the multi-billion dollar league the NFL has become. At any moment, your contract can end if the team wants

‘Tis the season to remember that the NFL is still a brutal business.

On Christmas Eve, the Falcons announced that linebcaker James Anderson has been released. Hey, that’s the way it goes sometime in the multi-billion dollar league the NFL has become. At any moment, your contract can end if the team wants to move in a new direction.

By that token, it’s hard to sympathize with players cut on Christmas Eve based on the money they receive during the season. Anderson got a month’s worth of NFL pay out of the Falcons, which is likely more than a lot of people receive in an entire year.

With Anderson being Scrooged, the Falcons gave a Christmas miracle to running back Jerome Smith, who has been promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

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Good chance Drew Stanton starts first playoff game

Drew Stanton won't play in Arizona's season-finale against the 49ers this Sunday.

However, the Cardinals are anticipating the second-string quarterback being available for the team's first playoff game. Speaking to reporters, coach Bruce Arians said Stanton had an 85 percent chance of playing once the postseason begins.

"He's going to practice some

Drew Stanton won’t play in Arizona’s season-finale against the 49ers this Sunday.

However, the Cardinals are anticipating the second-string quarterback being available for the team’s first playoff game. Speaking to reporters, coach Bruce Arians said Stanton had an 85 percent chance of playing once the postseason begins.

“He’s going to practice some this week, and we’ll see how he goes,” Arians said, via ESPN.com. “Do not plan on playing him this week unless it was absolutely necessary.”

Stanton took over starting quarterback duties after Carson Palmer tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Stanton has thrown for 1,711 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions this season.

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49ers hope to bring Frank Gore back

Frank Gore has been a staple of the San Francisco 49ers organization. But following the conclusion of the league year, Gore will be a free agent and can sign with any team that wants the 31-year-old.

Gore hasn't had as productive of a season as he's had in years past, but is just

Frank Gore has been a staple of the San Francisco 49ers organization. But following the conclusion of the league year, Gore will be a free agent and can sign with any team that wants the 31-year-old.

Gore hasn’t had as productive of a season as he’s had in years past, but is just 38 yards away from his eighth 1,000-yard season. Of course, the 49ers are in a position whether to try and bring him back or hand the reigns over to Carlos Hyde for seasons to come.

General manager Trent Baalke, via CSNBayArea.com, said the 49ers want Gore back in 2015.

“He understands what he means to this organization,” Baalke said. “He would certainly like to be back, and we would certainly like to have him back. Now, whether we can make that a reality or not, time will tell.”

Of course, at Gore’s age, he probably won’t be able to make the kind of money he’d be hopeful of earning. And with the aforementioned Hyde, he’d probably see a lesser role on offense too. Both of those will be contributing factors as to whether Gore is actually in San Francisco in 2015, despite what the team may wish.

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NFL releases Pro Bowl roster

The NFL released its Pro Bowl roster, which will be in the unconferenced format for the second year in a row.

The Broncos led the NFL with nine Pro Bowl players selected, though Emmanuel Sanders was a noticeable name left off the list. The game will take place on Jan. 25, 2015 and

The NFL released its Pro Bowl roster, which will be in the unconferenced format for the second year in a row.

The Broncos led the NFL with nine Pro Bowl players selected, though Emmanuel Sanders was a noticeable name left off the list. The game will take place on Jan. 25, 2015 and air on ESPN at 8 p.m.

Here’s the roster:

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Patriots; Andrew Luck, Colts; Peyton Manning, Broncos; Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers; Tony Romo, Cowboys

Wide receivers: Antonio Brown, Steelers; Dez Bryant, Cowboys; A.J. Green, Bengals; T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Calvin Johnson, Lions; Julio Jones, Falcons; Jordy Nelson, Packers; Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

Tackles: Ryan Clady, Broncos; Jason Peters, Eagles; Tyron Smith, Cowboys; Joe Staley, 49ers; Joe Thomas, Browns; Trent Williams, Redskins

Guards: Jahri Evans, Saints; Mike Iupati, 49ers; Kyle Long, Bears; Zack Martin, Cowboys; Josh Sitton, Packers; Marshal Yanda, Ravens

Centers: Travis Frederick, Cowboys; Jason Kelce, Eagles; Nick Mangold, Jets; Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers

Tight ends: Jimmy Graham, Saints; Rob Gronkowski, Patriots; Greg Olsen, Panthers; Julius Thomas, Broncos

Running backs: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers; Jamaal Charles, Chiefs; Arian Foster, Texans; Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks; LeSean McCoy, Eagles; DeMarco Murray, Cowboys

Fullbacks: John Kuhn, Packers; Marcel Reece, Raiders

Defensive ends: Calais Campbell, Cardinals; Robert Quinn, Rams; Cameron Wake, Dolphins; DeMarcus Ware, Broncos; J.J. Watt, Texans; Mario Williams, Bills

Interior linemen: Marcell Dareus, Bills; Aaron Donald, Rams; Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers; Dontari Poe, Chiefs; Ndamukong Suh, Lions; Kyle Williams, Bills

Outside linebackers: Connor Barwin, Eagles; Elvis Dumervil, Ravens; Tamba Hali, Chiefs; Justin Houston, Chiefs; Clay Matthews, Packers; Von Miller, Broncos

Inside linebackers: Luke Kuechly, Panthers; C.J. Mosley, Ravens; Lawrence Timmons, Steelers; Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

Cornerbacks: Vontae Davis, Colts; Brent Grimes, Dolphins; Joe Haden, Browns; Chris Harris, Broncos; Patrick Peterson, Cardinals; Darrelle Revis, Patriots; Richard Sherman, Seahawks; Aqib Talib, Broncos

Free safeties: Tashaun Gipson, Browns; Glover Quin, Lions; Earl Thomas, Seahawks; Eric Weddle, Chargers

Strong safeties: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks; T.J. Ward, Broncos

Punters: Kevin Huber, Bengals; Pat McAfee, Colts

Kickers: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots; Adam Vinatieri, Colts

Punt returners: Devin Hester, Falcons; Darren Sproles, Eagles

Utility: Justin Bethel, Cardinals; Matthew Slater, Patriots

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Jimmy Clausen diagnosed with concussion

Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen will not play in the season-finale against Minnesota after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Clausen took a hit to the head from Lions defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah but was cleared to resume playing. However, the Bears announced he was experiencing delayed symptoms, which caused the team to reverse the

Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen will not play in the season-finale against Minnesota after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Clausen took a hit to the head from Lions defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah but was cleared to resume playing. However, the Bears announced he was experiencing delayed symptoms, which caused the team to reverse the original diagnosis.

With Clausen out, this means the Bears will turn back to Jay Cutler, who was benched after ineffective play over the second half of the season, for the last game of the regular season.

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Report: 49ers, Jim Harbaugh to part ways quickly after season-finale

The 49ers are expected to end their relationship with coach Jim Harbaugh in some fashion shortly after the season ends, according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer.

It's been known for some time that Harbaugh wouldn't be back with the 49ers. But the questions left unanswered, to this point, have been when and

The 49ers are expected to end their relationship with coach Jim Harbaugh in some fashion shortly after the season ends, according to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer.

It’s been known for some time that Harbaugh wouldn’t be back with the 49ers. But the questions left unanswered, to this point, have been when and where will he go? It appears those answers are coming into form.

Glazer reports that the 49ers are expected to be done with Harbaugh —whether he quits or is fired — within 24 to 48 hours of San Francisco’s final game against the Cardinals. Given this scenario, the chances of trading Harbaugh to another NFL team appear extremely unlikely, since the 49ers would want to hold onto him longer to see if they could work something out.

That means the chances of Harbaugh returning to his alma mater Michigan appear greater than they’ve ever been. It seems crazy for a coach that’s been to three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl to go back to coaching in college. But recent reports have linked Harbaugh returning to Michigan, which appears to have even more traction at this time.

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Johnny Manziel injures hamstring

Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel injured his hamstring and was unable to finish the game in a 17-13 loss against the Carolina Panthers.

Manziel was playing in only his second career NFL game and was once again disappointing, considering he was a first-round selection by the Browns this past May.

Following the

Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel injured his hamstring and was unable to finish the game in a 17-13 loss against the Carolina Panthers.

Manziel was playing in only his second career NFL game and was once again disappointing, considering he was a first-round selection by the Browns this past May.

Following the game, Manziel told reporters that he tweaked his hamstring early and then proceeded to aggravate it further after staying in the game. Brian Hoyer filled in for Manziel in relief but was unable to lead the Browns to a victory.

It remains to be seen whether Manziel will be able to give it ago in the season-finale against the Ravens next Sunday.

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Marshawn Lynch has amazing TD run in win

It will be a shame if running back Marshawn Lynch isn't with Seattle in 2015.

While the front office might be tiring of Lynch's behavior for one reason or the other, according to previous reports, what Lynch has done on the field for the Seahawks has been incredible. Battling what's been described as

It will be a shame if running back Marshawn Lynch isn’t with Seattle in 2015.

While the front office might be tiring of Lynch’s behavior for one reason or the other, according to previous reports, what Lynch has done on the field for the Seahawks has been incredible. Battling what’s been described as a stomach illness, Lynch was able to get in the game and carry the ball 10 times in Seattle’s 35-6 win. He made the most of his carries, which included an incredible 79-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Lynch burst through a hole and moved to right sideline before shaking off two Cardinals defenders. He then ran down the field, avoided another tackle and jumped into the end zone. He finished the game with 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Reporters had plenty of questions for Lynch after the stellar performance while ill. Lynch, who has made it no secret that he’s uncomfortable in media settings, answered each question with a variation of the phrase, “Thanks for asking.”

Never change, Marshawn.

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Falcons, Panthers win and will play for NFC South title

Two teams with losing records will face off next week for a playoff spot.

It seems almost dirty that the Falcons and Panthers are playing for a postseason spot, as well as the NFC South title. But it's not either team's fault that Atlanta (6-9) and Carolina (6-8-1) are in this position. Blame

Two teams with losing records will face off next week for a playoff spot.

It seems almost dirty that the Falcons and Panthers are playing for a postseason spot, as well as the NFC South title. But it’s not either team’s fault that Atlanta (6-9) and Carolina (6-8-1) are in this position. Blame the NFL for simply having a system in place that allows division winners to get in the postseason regardless of record.

The same thing happened in 2010 playoffs when the 7-9 Seahawks reached the postseason. They got a home game and ended up beatng New Orleans in the Wild Card round. Don’t underestimate the same thing happening with whoever Atlanta or Carolina get in the first round either. A home playoff game goes a long way.

Both teams will play each other for the NFC South championship after getting wins on Sunday. Atlanta eliminated the Saints from postseason contention with a 30-14 win and Carolina defeated the Browns 17-13.

With either the Falcons or Panthers getting in the postseason, the Eagles are out, despite the fact they could get their 10th win of the season next Sunday against the Giants.

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Steelers clinch playoff spot

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading to the 2014 postseason.

By defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 20-12, the Steelers guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. At 10-5, a loss to Cincinnati in the season-finale won't matter in terms of the team's postseason fate.

Regardless if Cincinnati loses to Denver Monday night or not,

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading to the 2014 postseason.

By defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 20-12, the Steelers guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. At 10-5, a loss to Cincinnati in the season-finale won’t matter in terms of the team’s postseason fate.

Regardless if Cincinnati loses to Denver Monday night or not, the Steelers and Bengals will be playing for the AFC North title. If the Bengals win Monday night, a playoff spot is clinched. If Denver wins, Cincinnati will need to beat Pittsburgh to not only win the AFC North, but to get a playoff spot. Otherwise, things could actually get murky for the Bengals.

As a result, the Steelers-Bengals game has been flexed to the Sunday night slot since it’s the de facto AFC North championship game.

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Bills blow playoff opportunity with loss to Raiders

In hindsight, the Bills had a golden opportunity on Sunday. With the Ravens and Chiefs losing, Buffalo could have been a much better position for the postseason with a win over Oakland.

Instead, the Raiders, one of the worst teams all season, upset the Bills 26-24 behind a balanced offensive attack and opportunistic

In hindsight, the Bills had a golden opportunity on Sunday. With the Ravens and Chiefs losing, Buffalo could have been a much better position for the postseason with a win over Oakland.

Instead, the Raiders, one of the worst teams all season, upset the Bills 26-24 behind a balanced offensive attack and opportunistic defense. Derek Car threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns with Latavius Murray and Darren McFadden combining for 140 rushing yards.

The Raiders sacked Kyle Orton two times and picked Kyle Orton off two times, almost getting another one as well. It was a disappointing day for the Bills, as their 2014 season came to an end against a team that recorded just its third win of the season over them.

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DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Johnson both active

The Texans will have both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins available for Sunday's game against the Ravens.

Johnson was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a huge hit from Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith two weeks ago. Johnson was unable to play last week and was cleared in the NFL's protocol just a few

The Texans will have both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins available for Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

Johnson was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a huge hit from Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith two weeks ago. Johnson was unable to play last week and was cleared in the NFL’s protocol just a few days ago.

Hopkins has had an ankle injury that kept him out of practice all week. However, he’s ready to go and should be a top target for either quarterback Case Keenum or Thad Lewis.

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LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman won’t play against Jets

The Patriots will be without running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Julian Edelman on Sunday against the Jets.

Blount has a shoulder injury that's keeping him out of the lineup. Jonas Gray will likely step in to receive more carries with Blount out. Shane Vereen's workload could increase too.

With Edelman out,

The Patriots will be without running back LeGarrette Blount and receiver Julian Edelman on Sunday against the Jets.

Blount has a shoulder injury that’s keeping him out of the lineup. Jonas Gray will likely step in to receive more carries with Blount out. Shane Vereen’s workload could increase too.

With Edelman out, additional reps could go to receiver Danny Amendola. Edelman was diagnosed with a concussion and hasn’t passed the NFL’s protocol yet.

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Julio Jones active, will play against Saints

The Falcons need all hands on deck for an ever-important NFC South battle against the New Orleans Saints.

And the good news for Atlanta is that receiver Julio Jones will be active and able to play. Jones suffered a hip injury two weeks ago against Green Bay and was forced to sit out

The Falcons need all hands on deck for an ever-important NFC South battle against the New Orleans Saints.

And the good news for Atlanta is that receiver Julio Jones will be active and able to play. Jones suffered a hip injury two weeks ago against Green Bay and was forced to sit out a week ago.

The Falcons need a win to keep their hopes of an NFC South title alive. Having Jones available certainly helps the situtation.

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Chris Canty active for Ravens

The Ravens will have Chris Canty available to them despite the fact he missed a full week of practice.

Canty is among Baltimore's 53 active players and will give it a go against the Texans. He has an ankle injury which kept him out of practice this past week.

Canty was listed

The Ravens will have Chris Canty available to them despite the fact he missed a full week of practice.

Canty is among Baltimore’s 53 active players and will give it a go against the Texans. He has an ankle injury which kept him out of practice this past week.

Canty was listed as questionable heading into Sunday’s game.

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T.Y. Hilton questionable for Sunday’s game

There's a chance the Indianapolis Colts are without one of their top playmakers against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton has been ruled questionable with a hamstring injury sustained last week against Houston. Hilton has been a terror for defenses to go against this year, so not having him this week could

There’s a chance the Indianapolis Colts are without one of their top playmakers against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton has been ruled questionable with a hamstring injury sustained last week against Houston. Hilton has been a terror for defenses to go against this year, so not having him this week could be problematic for the Colts offense.

If Hilton is unable to go, the Colts will be relying on Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks at wideout, especially with Reggie Wayne still nursing a triceps injury.

Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener will also be counted on in the receiving game too.

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Sen’Derrick Marks $600K richer after reaching sack goal

Much like a traveling salesperson, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks had an incentive on working toward a year-end goal.

Against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-13 win Thursday night, Marks surpassed the eight-sack threshold written in his contract, which triggered a $600,000 escalator. Marks sacked Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst late in the game,

Much like a traveling salesperson, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks had an incentive on working toward a year-end goal.

Against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-13 win Thursday night, Marks surpassed the eight-sack threshold written in his contract, which triggered a $600,000 escalator. Marks sacked Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst late in the game, giving him 8.5 for the season.

Marks has been a bright spot on a Jaguars team that only has three wins this season. His 8.5 sacks during his sixth NFL season is a single-season best for him and he still has one game to go.

Following the money-making sack, Marks did a celebration to Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel’s, where he rubbed his fingers together. On Thursday, that dance had a different meaning, as a lot of money truly is coming Marks’ way soon.

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Jay Cutler wants to remain with Bears

It wouldn't be a reach to suggest that Jay Cutler has been a top-five worst quarterback in the NFL this season.

With Brandon Marshall (until his injury), Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte around him, Cutler has managed to make mistake after mistake, en route to throwing 18 interceptions this season. Six

It wouldn’t be a reach to suggest that Jay Cutler has been a top-five worst quarterback in the NFL this season.

With Brandon Marshall (until his injury), Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte around him, Cutler has managed to make mistake after mistake, en route to throwing 18 interceptions this season. Six interceptions have come in the past three weeks. He’s had seven games where he’s thrown multiple interceptions and only four games where he’s been pick free.

That’s led to a lot of speculation on what the Bears will do with Cutler following the season. After handing Cutler a lucrative contract, the Bears could do their part to try and trade him, though a partner to take on the remainder of a seven-year, $126.7 million contract could be difficult.

For his part, Cutler hopes he’s back in Chicago in 2015.

“I would like to stay here,” Cutler told reporters. “I really like it here. I love the guys in the locker room. This is where I’d like to be.”

Ultimately, it won’t be Cutler’s call. His performance this year has removed himself from having much of a say in the process.

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Jaguars favored for first time in 42 games

STOP THE PRESSES!

The Jacksonville Jaguars are actually favored to win a football game. The website OddsShark.com, which provides odds on NFL games to many major websites, has listed the Jaguars as a four-point favorite for this Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

Forty-two games have passed since the last time the

STOP THE PRESSES!

The Jacksonville Jaguars are actually favored to win a football game. The website OddsShark.com, which provides odds on NFL games to many major websites, has listed the Jaguars as a four-point favorite for this Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Forty-two games have passed since the last time the Jaguars were favored to win by the major odds-maker.

The Jaguars have been a dreary bunch with not a lot of winning taking place in recent years. However, this Titans group is also about as bad as it gets, relatively speaking of course.

It’s certainly a game no one outside of Jacksonville and Nashville, and the bettors, will be interested in. But a lot of people will probably watch since it’s Thursday night’s game. Both teams will be battling for their third win of the season.

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Ron Rivera says Cam Newton probably starts Sunday

Cam Newton was forced to miss last week's game after being in an automobile accident that left him with two traverse fractures in his back.

However, after the one week layoff, which saw the Panthers defeat the Buccaneers, Newton appears ready to go for this week's important game against the Browns. Despite being

Cam Newton was forced to miss last week’s game after being in an automobile accident that left him with two traverse fractures in his back.

However, after the one week layoff, which saw the Panthers defeat the Buccaneers, Newton appears ready to go for this week’s important game against the Browns. Despite being 5-8-1, the Panthers are very much alive for the NFC South title.

Speaking to reporters, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he “probably” expects Newton to start on Sunday, via the Associated Press.

That’s good news for the Panthers, which need all hands on deck to ensure a win against Cleveland. Then again, Cleveland has started to fumble its season away, losing its last three games.

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