- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner38 mins ago
You can generally count on NFL teams to play hard all season, although there are varying degrees of motivation.
It's human nature. If you're out of the playoffs, or have a spot wrapped up, you're not going to be as engaged as the team fighting for its playoff life.
So if there's a spot for someone to make Seattle look even a little vulnerable at home, it's Arizona this week.
The Cardinals are 9-5 but face a tough road to the playoffs if they lose this week. They could be eliminated this week, but only if they lose. A win at Seattle means they'll be alive going into Week 17 no matter what else happens.
Seattle still needs to clinch the division and the first seed in the NFC playoffs, but the Seahawks have a two-game cushion for both. They'd probably like to take care of that this week, but it isn't necessary. If they let down at all, it's going to come against a Cardinals team that isn't that bad, and will have to treat this like a playoff game. The Cardinals are 10.5-point underdogs, but they're going to give the Seahawks a tough game. It should be close, at very least.
Here are the rest of this week's picks:
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber landed on injured reserve with a broken jaw and cracked vertebrae because of a vicious hit he incurred on a first-quarter block last Sunday night.
But he hasn't lost his spirit while recuperating from his serious injuries. Huber has been active the past few days on Twitter, taking about his upcoming dietary options in good humor.
The toughest decision I have to make over the next several weeks... What color to go with! pic.twitter.com/v4hoi5n22F
— Kevin Huber (@khuber10) December 19, 2013
Huber even cracked that he might have a new selfie to feature on his dating website profile.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
A warning to the Cincinnati Bengals: It sure looks like you're getting an angry Adrian Peterson this Sunday.
Peterson is listed as questionable for the Minnesota Vikings' game on Sunday with a sprained foot but told the Twin Cities media that he'll be "ready to roll." Head coach Leslie Frazier agreed that Peterson was likely to play even though he only practiced on a limited basis on Friday.
Peterson also said missing Week 15's game against the Philadelphia Eagles was very tough to stomach.
Adrian Peterson on not playing last week after lobbying: "I was hot. I was devastated. ... I didn’t get my way that day.” #Vikings
— VikingUpdate.com (@VikingUpdate) December 20, 2013
Without Peterson and third-string running back Toby Gerhart, who also was out, the Vikings rolled to a 48-30 victory — one of the high points of a tough season — with Matt Asiata rushing for three touchdowns.Sun, Dec 2210:00 AM PSTMinnesota at CincinnatiPreview Game
- Kristian Dyer at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – In the face of criticism that his addition to the New York Jets secondary has been anything but the savior the team needed, future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed took exception with the New York media on Friday and questioned its understanding of football.
During his only availability of the week, Reed spent the first half of his comments lashing out at the media for a lack of understanding of the game and for what he saw as unfair criticism of his play. The 37-year old has at times shown his age and a lack of mobility on the field, which played a role in his ouster from Houston. Now with the Jets, his play has been marked by missed tackles and bad mistakes.
So Reed bristled when the first question directed to him on Friday was about his play.
“This is football man. We in this locker room have been playing football for a long time. Nobody is perfect out here on the football field. You guys job is to critique, be critics,” Reed said. “That's what you do. That's why you ask the controversial questions, try to make it controversial and then trash people in the media. I could care less about that. Missed tackles happen. Nobody is perfect."Sun, Dec 2210:00 AM PSTCleveland at NY JetsPreview Game
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner3 hrs ago
The savior won't be back this week, Packers fans.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been ruled out of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. It will be Green Bay's seventh straight game without Rodgers, who has a broken collarbone. Green Bay, which would be eliminated from the playoff race with a loss and a Bears win, will go with Matt Flynn at quarterback.
Final injury report: Rodgers out
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 20, 2013
The week unfolded just like the past few have in Green Bay. Rodgers has practiced on a limited basis, all reports are that he looks good, but the Packers' doctors won't clear him for action. That is probably the smart move, even if Rodgers' return might make the difference between a playoff berth or being at home in January.
"As an organization we feel we're not ready for him to play," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at his press conference on Friday.Sun, Dec 221:25 PM PSTPittsburgh at Green BayPreview Game
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner4 hrs ago
If you have a football-coaching job open, there's a good chance some dimwit has started a rumor that Jon Gruden is atop the team's coaching wishlist or that Gruden would be "willing to listen" to their offer.
The only entities who lose (and win) in this deal are ESPN and Disney, who keep writing checks to Gruden to stay at the mothership. He signed a five-year extension in 2011 (rumored to include a salary north of $4 million annually) and recently said he plans to stay with the network for the 2014 season.
But if there's one team — with actual Gruden connections — we can't immediately dismiss, it might be the Oakland Raiders.
Gruden's former quarterback, Rich Gannon, seemed to suggest in a recent radio interview with 95.7 The Game radio in San Francisco, that a return to Oakland for Gruden wouldn't be a totally crazy notion.
“I’ve had conversations with Jon in the past,” Gannon said. “I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities.”Sun, Dec 221:25 PM PSTOakland at San DiegoPreview Game
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
Just about everyone has taken blame for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's late-game interception in the loss to the Green Bay Packers: Romo himself, Jerry Jones, Cole Beasley, Miley Cyrus, Mike Woodson, and the dude from Duck Dynasty.
Add Bill Callahan to the list.
The Cowboys' offensive coordinator — who shunned media Sunday night after the loss and let his players take accountability first — said Thursday that killer Romo pick, which was a pass audible from a called run play, was just standard operating procedure based on the defense the Packers showed, per the San Antonio Express.
“That’s the option,” Callahan said of the play. “It’s not so much a check as it is an option he has to [throw] to a receiver who is being covered man-to-man when the box gets loaded up. He has that option, per se.”
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
Jim Harbaugh has said all the right things since his name has come up in connection with the University of Texas head-coaching job. Harbaugh stated Thursday that he "absolutely" wants to stay in San Francisco.
But given the high-profile nature of the Longhorns job and the fact that Harbaugh cut his teeth coaching at the college level — and did so successfully at San Diego and Stanford — the rumors persist.
Plus, the university's eight-man panel to pick the coach is, at least, bound to cause more leaks (more talking heads talking to more media members) until this thing is resolved. And as we know, Texas has some of the deepest pockets around, even able to play with the NFL's big boys in terms of coaching salaries.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
One thing we've learned as we have become more enlightened on concussions is that sometimes it's tough to predict how long they will linger.
That's what has to make receiver Wes Welker's latest concussion so concerning for the Denver Broncos.
Welker suffered a concussion, his second of the season, against Tennessee on Dec. 8. He didn't play Dec. 12 against San Diego, but that wasn't a surprise considering it was a Thursday night game. But he hasn't practiced this week, reports started to trickle in that he would miss this week's game against the Texans, and then ESPN reported he's expected miss Denver's last two regular season games.
BREAKING: Wes Welker expected to miss final 2 regular-season games after suffering 2 concussions.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 20, 2013
Hopefully Welker can get healthy and the Broncos are just being extra cautious, giving Welker extra rest before the postseason. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said that a Week 17 determination hasn't been made.Sun, Dec 2210:00 AM PSTDenver at HoustonPreview Game
- Kristian Dyer at Shutdown Corner22 hrs ago
The numbers for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon this season have been sensational. The league's leader with 1,467 receiving yards, Gordon has scored a touchdown in five straight games. He is arguably the best receiver in the NFL over the last half of the season.
It has been an amazing 2013 for a player who started the season on suspension.
A positive drug test cost him the first two games of this year with a league-mandated suspension. Another positive test and he would be suspended for a full year. There were rumors during the season that the Browns were trying to trade Gordon.
Gordon explained that the positive test that cost him a two-game suspension was for codeine in some cough medicine he took during the offseason. That explanation drew some rolled eyes from fans and certainly the media.
But he is answering every question on the field. There are no more eyes rolling when his name is brought up.
“Definitely from the point I got back, I definitely decided to try to make as big of an impact as I could for the team, for the offense and being the biggest playmaker possible for this team," Gordon said.