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Week 13 Rankings (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:50:00 PST)
Patrick Daugherty breaks down all of Thanksgiving week's top plays, including Broncos RB1 C.J. Anderson.

Cardinals look to revive offense against Falcons (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:36:46 PST)
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Over the past seven quarters, the Arizona Cardinals have managed a whopping three points.

Rivera: Panthers have new life after last weekend (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:45:07 PST)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he feels like his team has new life following losses by the Falcons and Saints this past weekend.

The story behind the $11 million gift to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Shutdown Corner)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:04:23 PST)


Cardinals-Falcons Preview (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:03:35 PST)
The Arizona Cardinals defense is playing at a very high level. The offense is a different story, potentially putting the NFC West lead in jeopardy down the stretch.

Ryan has 2 highest pick totals against Cardinals (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:59:15 PST)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Matt Ryan cringed on Wednesday when remembering his most recent games against Arizona's defense.

Shutdown Corner's Playoff Projection: The NFL postseason format stinks (Shutdown Corner)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:54:28 PST)


Cardinals-Falcons Capsule (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:10:48 PST)
ARIZONA (9-2) at ATLANTA (4-7)

Panthers-Vikings Capsule (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:52:54 PST)
CAROLINA (3-7-1) at MINNESOTA (4-7)

Getting Defensive: Week 13 (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:48:00 PST)
Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the matchups for all 32 fantasy defenses in action and gives his top kicker plays for Week 13.

Browns-Bills Preview (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:06:15 PST)
Mike Pettine received the opportunity to coach the Cleveland Browns after one successful season running the Buffalo Bills' defense.

Week 12 Target Watch: NFC (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:29:00 PST)
Chat Gresham takes you through the Week 12 NFC targets and touches.

Here's how a 5-11 team can win the NFC South (Shutdown Corner)
(Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:40:40 PST)
It was a pretty big deal when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks made the playoffs at the end of the 2010 season. People still bring them up, as the only losing team to make the playoffs. Those Seahawks are memorable because they won a playoff game, too. So how many times would we cite this year's NFC South champion if it won the division at 5-11? It is still mathematically possible. And the scenario is not as crazy as you might think with five weeks left. [ Join FanDuel.com's $1.75M Week 13 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 14,530 teams paid ] Every team in the NFC South is 4-7 or worse. The Atlanta Falcons technically lead, and they are 0-7 in non-divisional games. Here are the remaining schedules, followed by the unbelievable "5-11 division champion" scenario: ATLANTA FALCONS (4-7) vs. Arizona, at Green Bay, vs. Pittsburgh, at New Orleans, vs. Carolina NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-7) at Pittsburgh, vs. Carolina, at Chicago, vs. Atlanta, at Tampa Bay CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-7-1) at Minnesota, at New Orleans, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Cleveland, at Atlanta TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-9) vs. Cincinnati, at Detroit, at Carolina, vs. Green Bay, vs. New Orleans To make a 5-11 champ happen, we need to give the Falcons and Saints losses in every non-divisional game. Not hard, since they might not be favored in any of them. That scenario would bring Atlanta to 10 losses and the Saints to nine losses. We need to make sure the Panthers have at least 11 losses too (that darn tie) to not push them above the 5-11 threshold. So give them losses at Minnesota and against the Browns. That's nine losses for them. The 5-11 plan rests on Tampa Bay winning some games (ha!). So of Tampa Bay's remaining games, they need to lose at least two against Cincinnati, Detroit and Green Bay. Really, really, really shouldn't be a problem. That accounts for the Buccaneers' 11 losses. If Tampa Bay then beats Carolina and New Orleans, we're up to 10 losses for the Panthers and Saints. Then if Carolina beats either Atlanta or New Orleans, and loses to the other (it can't sweep both or get swept by both), there's the Panthers' 11th loss.  Let's say Carolina beats New Orleans, and the rest that we outlined happens. That's 11 losses for the Saints. Then if the Saints beat Atlanta, that gives the Falcons 11 losses. Or if the Panthers lose to the Saints (Carolina's 11th loss), beat the Falcons (Atlanta's 11th loss), and the Falcons then beat the Saints (New Orleans' 11th loss), it accomplishes the same thing. For easier reference, let's look at one scenario in the schedule form: ATLANTA FALCONS (4-7) vs. Arizona (loss), at Green Bay (loss), vs. Pittsburgh (loss), at New Orleans ( 11th loss ), vs. Carolina (win) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-7) at Pittsburgh (loss), vs. Carolina (loss), at Chicago (loss), vs. Atlanta (win), at Tampa Bay ( 11th loss) CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-7-1) at Minnesota (loss), at New Orleans (win), vs. Tampa Bay (loss), vs. Cleveland (loss), at Atlanta ( 11th loss ) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-9) vs. Cincinnati (loss), at Detroit ( 11th loss ), at Carolina (win), vs. Green Bay (win or loss), vs. New Orleans (win) Or you just flip-flop the Panthers' results with the Saints and the Falcons, then change the Saints-Falcons result too. And voila, you have the biggest playoff-related embarrassment in NFL history, a 5-11 team hosting a playoff game. Would a 5-11 debacle be enough for the NFL to change its playoff structure? When you have four-team divisions, weird results like this become possible. The entire AFC North has at least seven wins. The NFC South might not get a team to seven wins at all. The 2-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still alive for the first pick of the draft and still alive for the NFC South title. That's terrible, and a horrible look for the league. A team six games under .500 should not be in the playoffs, and it definitely should not host a playoff game. Doesn't it seem like we're getting a lot closer to having a "2014 Saints rule" or a "2014 Falcons rule" passed by the NFL? It's almost Thanksgiving and we can present a fairly reasonable scenario in which the NFC South can have a 5-11 division champion. The 2014 NFC South is not just on its way to being crowned the worst division ever, it's pretty close to making sure nobody will ever take that distinction away. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Waiver Wire: Week 13 (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:40:00 PST)
The playoffs are on the horizon. Adam Levitan has notes on players to add for the final push.

Forsett leads Ravens past Saints, 34-27 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:41:00 PST)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- With a stutter step and shoulder fake to his right, Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett seemed to throw New Orleans' defense off balance for a moment.

Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Two conference favorites emerge (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:40:03 PST)
This season, in which nothing makes sense from week to week, we have something that seems like a safe proclamation. The New England Patriots are the clear favorite in the AFC. And the Green Bay Packers have established themselves as the favorite in the NFC. That's not to say these are going to be your two Super Bowl teams. We've had plenty of seasons in which the best team doesn't win the Super Bowl or even make it there. But if you don't live in Arizona or Colorado, these are probably the two teams you're betting on to make it to the end. The Patriots have lapped the field in the AFC, and they might be on the way to doing it twice. They've beaten three straight division leaders by at least three touchdowns. They’re 32-3 in the second halves of seasons since 2010, and have won 15 straight at home. This team isn’t the 2007 squad or anything, but it would be a major upset if they don’t win the AFC title. The Packers aren’t in the Patriots’ league yet. If the Packers beat the Patriots at Lambeau Field on Sunday, we can re-evaluate. But the Packers are the top team in the NFC. The Packers have won seven of eight. They are undefeated at home, winning there by an average of 26.8 points. They also have a schedule that could lead to them winning out. If they hold serve at home against New England, Atlanta and Detroit, and win at Buffalo and Tampa Bay, it’ll be a tough task for the Cardinals to hold off a 13-3 Packers team for home-field advantage (although the Cardinals have a two-game edge in the loss column and in the first tiebreaker, which is conference record). I’m not sure Drew Stanton and that offense could hold off Green Bay, even if it's in Arizona, though. The Packers have the highest point differential in the NFC by far, had the highest DVOA ( Football Outsiders’ per-play metric ) in the NFC by far going into last week’s games, and have a quarterback with a 119.2 rating in Aaron Rodgers. They’re not unbeatable, but nobody else in the NFC is either. Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field isn’t really a Super Bowl preview, because single-game elimination tournaments are unpredictable. But it's the best two teams in football on the same field. We’ll see if the Packers can make a legitimate claim to the top spot overall. Here are the post-Week 12 NFL power rankings: 32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10, LW: 31) They were feisty for a while against the Colts. And still lost by 20. 31. Oakland Raiders (1-10, Last Week: 32) Who would have thought the Raiders would give us one of the more entertaining games of the season? 30. New York Jets (2-9, LW: 28) The Jets probably hit rock bottom on Monday night, losing 38-3 against a Bills team that could barely practice before the game. Geno Smith replaced Michael Vick late when Vick was hurt. Really doesn't do much harm to start him the rest of the way.   29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9, LW: 30) I think Lovie Smith gets a huge bonus if Josh McCown makes a certain number of starts. It's the only way I can explain it. 28. Tennessee Titans (2-9, LW: 29) After 345 yards against a solid Eagles defense, Zack Mettenberger is your 2015 Titans starter. If it's anyone else, the Titans' organization has lost its mind. 27. Washington Redskins (3-8, LW: 27) Has to be tough to play that well, when a C-minus effort at quarterback would result in a win, and come away with the loss. 26. New York Giants (3-8, LW: 26) I'm still mesmerized by Odell Beckham. 25. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1, LW: 25) The best hope is that Cam Newton is healthier after the bye. Actually, that's their only hope. 24. Atlanta Falcons (4-7, LW: 24) My dream, in the name of chaos, is for a 10-loss Falcons team to win the NFC South and host a playoff game with an interim coach because Mike Smith has been fired. 23. New Orleans Saints (4-7, LW: 21) Well, if they can't win at home anymore, then they're just a bad team. 22. Minnesota Vikings (4-7, LW: 23) Cordarrelle Patterson has more than two catches in a game one time since Sept. 21. He has posted yardage totals of 8, 15, 9, 9, 24 and 18 in that stretch. Can't blame the coaches forever. Especially compared to this year's unbelievable rookie receiver class, it doesn't look good for Patterson. 21. Chicago Bears (5-6, LW: 22) Totaling 204 yards and 12 first downs at home against one of the worst defenses in football. I'm convinced Marc Trestman's play card this year is just "MATT FORTE CHECKDOWN" in 300-point type and that's it. 20. St. Louis Rams (4-7, LW: 20) What about this for a great full-circle scenario: The Rams send a late-round pick to Washington for Robert Griffin III? 19. Houston Texans (5-6, LW: 19) I didn't really think the Texans were going anywhere this season with or without Ryan Mallett, but his injury cost them the chance to evaluate Mallett for next year, which is a blow. 18. Buffalo Bills (6-5, LW: 18) Great, professional effort by the Bills to win after their issues leading up to the game. "Great, professional effort" doesn't apply to their opponent on Monday, but still a nice win. And a fun celebration by tight end Scott Chandler after a touchdown, too. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, LW: 16) Not hard to envision them finishing 4-1, given how the schedule looks. Not hard to envision them going 2-3 or worse, given how bad they look on their worst days, either. 16. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1, LW: 17) Four wins in five games is pretty impressive. I'm not quite ready to put them back in the circle of trust, because their bad days were incredibly awful and burned in my brain forever, but it's a start. 15. San Diego Chargers (7-4, LW: 14) Ryan Mathews is back, plays great and ... wait, he's back in the locker room with a shoulder injury? It stinks for him that his body hasn't cooperated. Hopefully he can change that reputation. 14. Cleveland Browns (7-4, LW: 15) Josh Gordon is obviously their most important player down the stretch, but Isaiah Crowell might be a close second. He hasn't had more than 14 carries in a game, although he's averaging five yards per carry. The Browns might be ready to unleash him down the stretch. 13. Detroit Lions (7-4, LW: 10) A couple of good teams will miss the playoffs in the NFC. How about the team with the offense that hasn't even scored 200 points (only the Jets, Raiders, Jaguars and Titans are in that group, and they're all in the bottom five of these power rankings) and has a point differential of just plus-7 this season? 12. San Francisco 49ers (7-4, LW: 13) I'm not sure there has been a tougher receiver than Anquan Boldin, ever. Maybe Hines Ward. Maybe. Definitely haven't seen another receiver get hit as hard as Boldin was by Ryan Clark, have the defensive player get an unnecessary roughness penalty, and the receiver runs off while the safety is injured. Incredible play. 11. Miami Dolphins (6-5, LW: 12) This is a really good team. They might not make the playoffs, but they're good. 10. Baltimore Ravens (7-4, LW: 11) Justin Tucker is a legitimate playmaker for the Ravens. It's hard to make a 55-yard field goal look like an extra point, which he did on Monday night. 9. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, LW: 6) Prayers go out for Eric Berry for a full recovery. 8. Seattle Seahawks (7-4, LW: 9) For either the Seahawks or 49ers to really get to where they want to go, they'll probably have to sweep the other. That's what makes this Thanksgiving matchup so good. 7. Dallas Cowboys (8-3, LW: 8) Tony Romo since fracturing the transverse process in his back: 38-of-53 for 521 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and one last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive. Someday more people will appreciate how good he is. 6. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, LW: 7) The Colts' games against the AFC South should just get skipped due to lack of interest. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3, LW: 5) The Eagles are tremendous at destroying awful teams. One potential problem might be the lack of awful teams in the playoffs, outside of the NFC South champ. 4. Denver Broncos (8-3, LW: 4) A lot can change before January. But right now, this doesn't look like a team that can beat New England. 3. Arizona Cardinals (9-2, LW: 3) Not much reason to downgrade them for the loss at Seattle. It was a desperate Seahawks team, which is still really tough at home, and the Cardinals' offense was shorthanded without Larry Fitzgerald. Nice win for Seattle, but not really a bad loss for Arizona. 2. Green Bay Packers (8-3, LW: 2) If you want to argue the Packers' defense isn't good enough to win the NFC, you must also point out the NFC team without a flaw to me. 1. New England Patriots (9-2, LW: 1) In 1996, the Jaguars cut controversial receiver Andre Rison during the season. He was immediately picked up by the Packers, who had lost Robert Brooks to a season-ending knee injury. It was a gift from the Jaguars to the Packers, already the best team in the NFL that season. The Packers won the Super Bowl. About 18 years from now, someone might retell the same story, replacing Jaguars with Steelers, Brooks with Stevan Ridley, and Rison with LeGarrette Blount. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Browns QB Manziel involved in hotel scuffle (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:00:09 PST)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- A Browns fan who says he wanted to give Johnny Manziel ''a hug'' was struck by the rookie quarterback's entourage at a downtown hotel and was left with a swollen eye and lip, police said.

Hoyer's confidence has given Browns belief (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:51:36 PST)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The mistakes were inexcusable. Brian Hoyer didn't need anyone to tell him that.

Falcons coach admits mistakes in final minute (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:49:44 PST)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- In a rare admission for a coach, Atlanta's Mike Smith conceded Monday that his decisions in the final minute cost the Falcons a chance to beat the Cleveland Browns.

Browns' Gipson could miss rest of season (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:56:23 PST)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Browns starting safety Tashaun Gipson's season could be over after he sustained a severe sprain to his right knee in Sunday's win over Atlanta.

Mike Smith on loss to Browns: 'I would have done things differently' (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:42:31 PST)
We beat up Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith for his clock-management issues at the end of the London loss to the Detroit Lions a few weeks back, and some old problems re-emerged in Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns that dropped the Falcons to 4-7. Down 23-21, the Falcons faced a 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 35-yard line, which was just on the outside of kicker Matt Bryant's range. Smith called a timeout prior to the play, with 55 seconds on the clock. [ Join FanDuel.com's $1.75M Week 13 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 14,530 teams paid ] Umm, OK ... “Well, we wanted to get our best play for third and two, to try and earn the first down," Smith said on Sunday. "That was our thought. We were right on the edge, in terms of where we wanted to be, in terms of field goal. We wanted to get a first down. The look that they gave us said to throw the ball; we did, and we didn’t convert it.” Apparently, the look said throw a deep fade to Devin Hester, the Falcons' fourth-best wide receiver; the pass, predictably, fell incomplete. Quarterback Matt Ryan hadn't really been all that sharp in the game, and Browns rookie corner Justin Gilbert made a nice play on the ball along the sideline. The timeout might not have looked as bad had the Falcons run a higher-percentage play on third down to try to get a first. The Browns had all three timeouts and — inexplicably — the Falcons failed to force the Browns to use any of them until they got the ball back on the ensuing drive.  “Again, you can definitely ask that question," Smith said. "The 53-yarder was definitely outside the range we set prior to the game. We wanted to get a first down, and we felt like we had a play that’s why we called the timeout. We came over and used it. They would’ve used the timeout probably if we hadn’t.” Exactly, coach! Let them use their timeouts. Don't do it for them. Yikes. That's basic stuff. Armed with all three stoppages, the Browns' entire playbook was in effect, and they rolled down the field (with enough time for an incomplete pass and a spike) to set up a relatively easy 37-yard game-winning kick. That was Smith on Sunday, right after the game (with owner Arthur Blank in attendence of the press conference , a highly unusal move). On Monday, Smith expressed regret at how he handled some of the situations in the Browns game, per ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure . "Before I open up for questions, I would like to address the last 55 seconds of the game. After reflecting and analyzing on how that played out, I would have done some things differently, given the opportunity to think about it through the night and doing some analyzing," Smith said. "I didn't do the things that needed to be done to put our guys in the best position to win the game. There's lot of plays in a football game that can affect the outcome, and I didn't do my best to help us win yesterday." So how difficult was it for Smith to recognize his mistake — perhaps with some prodding from media, fans and a conversation we can assume happened between Smith and Blank, either Sunday night or Monday morning. "Again, you go through it and you make decisions and they're made on the fly, and it was a decision that didn't give us the best opportunity to win," Smith responded. "And as a coach, it is your intention to always put your players in the best position to win. There were a lot of plays in that game, and it usually comes down to a handful of plays. And I didn't put the guys in the best position." Smith's excuse for the timeout was wanting to get the best play possible. Teams go into games with plans that include situational football (two-minute drill, two-point plays, end of half/game), do they not? "Again guys, we wanted to get the best, what we felt like was the best play for us," Smith said. "Again, as I mentioned, I didn't do my job as the head football coach and put our guys in the best position that they possibly could be in in that situation. And it's my responsibility as the head coach to make sure that that happens." Smith rightfully took the blame here. It's amazing to think that his team still could land a playoff spot — and host said opening-round game — even with such a poor record. And it's perhaps no coincidence that the three contending teams in the NFC South — the Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints — all have had their respective head coaches be roundly questioned for critical game-management issues in losses (and a tie) this season. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Seahawks rebound vs. Cards; Pats improve to 9-2 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:25:30 PST)
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks did some soul searching before their showdown with the Arizona Cardinals.

Hoyer recovers, leads Browns past Falcons, 26-24 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:49:44 PST)
ATLANTA (AP) -- Brian Hoyer didn't have the demeanor of a quarterback who just led his team to a last-second victory.

ICYMI: Beckham's 1-handed grab; Pats-Pack on tap (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:44:27 PST)
If you have not seen the backward-falling, fingers-extended, one-handed grab made by New York Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr., do yourself a favor and go search for the video on the web.

NFL Today, Week 12 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 21:12:00 PST)
Monday, Nov. 24

NFL Winners and Losers: Denver Broncos maybe saved their season (Shutdown Corner)
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 20:17:54 PST)
Always remember this about the 2014 Denver Broncos: They will be graded on an unfair curve. A 39-36 win against a sneaky good Miami Dolphins team would be fine for most teams. It wasn’t bad for the Broncos. But the warts matter because these Broncos have just one goal.  The Broncos’ season won’t be a success if it falls short of a Super Bowl championship. Fair? Not really. But they have nowhere else to go after the past two seasons, and they’re built to win now. Before stars like outside linebacker Von Miller, receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas break the bank with their next contracts, and before quarterback Peyton Manning finally declines, it’s Super Bowl or bust. And when the Broncos were trailing 28-17 after three quarters, they didn’t look like a future Super Bowl champion. They really didn’t look like a Super Bowl champion when you compare them to what the New England Patriots did in destroying the Detroit Lions earlier in the day – or when you compare anything about the Broncos and Patriots the past few weeks. The Broncos came alive in the fourth quarter and won. C.J. Anderson finished with 167 rushing yards, Demaryius Thomas scored three touchdowns, and Emmanuel Sanders was clutch on a go-ahead drive. It might be too much to say the fourth quarter saved the Broncos' season, after losing two of their previous three, but the bar is so high for these Broncos that it might be accurate. Still, there are issues. Manning missed more throws than we’re used to seeing, and that can be said about him over the past few weeks. He is 38 years old, so it bears watching. The defense gave up 36 points at home. The special teams made some big errors, including a fumbled punt and a missed 33-yard field goal by Brandon McManus (who can’t feel too secure about his job with the struggles he has had) that led to this reaction from the Broncos bench: Looks like a pretty tightly wound team, but for good reason. The Broncos play at the Kansas City Chiefs next week, and while the Chiefs did the Broncos a huge favor by losing at Oakland on Thursday, the AFC West is still up for grabs. The Broncos, at 8-3, lead the Chiefs by just a game. But an AFC West title isn’t that big of a deal for the Broncos. Neither is an AFC title, for that matter. There’s one goal in Denver. Over the past month, including for three quarters Sunday, it looked like they’re far behind the Patriots in chasing that goal. They need to hope the fourth quarter Sunday was a sign they’re turning it back around. The Broncos land in winners and losers this week, the latter for their various struggles the first three quarters. Nobody said they're being evaluated fairly. The bar for them is as high as it can get. Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 12 of the NFL season: WINNERS Cleveland Browns’ coaches: There was a lot of talk before the Browns played at the Atlanta Falcons that receiver Josh Gordon would be limited in his return from a 10-game suspension. Maybe he’d get 20-30 snaps. That made no sense. Gordon was a 2013 All-Pro, and the Browns need his playmaking ability desperately. Whether it was a smoke screen or the Browns had a change of heart once the game started, Gordon played 51 of 74 snaps, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal , and he had eight catches for 120 yards , including a huge catch on Cleveland’s game-winning drive. The Browns needed every bit of what Gordon gave them. And now they can go forward with full confidence that one of the NFL’s best receivers can play as normal the rest of the way. The Browns have pushed a lot of right buttons this season. Brian Hoyer, who the Browns stuck with at quarterback even with first-round pick Johnny Manziel on the roster, threw a couple bad fourth-quarter interceptions on Sunday, but when the Browns took over with 44 seconds left on their own 20, he led them to the game-winning field goal. The Browns cut Ben Tate this week, and their two rookie running backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West combined for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. The Browns have benefited from a friendly schedule to get to 7-4. But they’re here and they’re going to get only better with Gordon and the presumptive return of tight end Jordan Cameron from a concussion. There are some tough games left, but maybe the Browns’ coaches will keep pushing the right buttons down the stretch and get them to the playoffs. Eddie Lacy: With Aaron Rodgers playing at such a high level (he had a 109.7 rating on Sunday … and his season rating dropped. It’s 119.2 now), we’ve forgotten that the Packers also have a heck of a running back. Lacy had his best game of the season on Sunday. He had 138 total yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in Green Bay’s 24-21 win. Lacy is coming on after a slow start to the season. He looks like the player who was offensive rookie of the year last season. If Lacy is running like that, and Rodgers is as great as ever, how is anyone going to stop Green Bay’s offense?   Cardinals defense: You can’t tell from the 19-3 final score, but the Cardinals’ defense had a heck of a game. It was the only reason the Seahawks didn’t turn it into a blowout. Calais Campbell had a great game with three sacks, and he deserves to go to an elusive first Pro Bowl. The Seahawks didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter. The Cardinals’ offense provided next to nothing, but the Cardinals' defense tried valiantly to keep the team in the game. This might be how it goes for the Cardinals the rest of the season. The defense is going to have to play very well to overcome an offense that lost quarterback Carson Palmer. The Cardinals will play better on offense than they did on Sunday, when they ran up against a tough opponent with Larry Fitzgerald out, but the onus will be on the defense to carry them as far as they’ll go. The Cardinals looked up to it against the Seahawks, even if the offense didn’t cooperate. Odell Beckham’s catch: Best NFL catch I’ve ever seen. The one-handed touchdown looked ridiculous from every angle, and that was before the shot that showed he caught it WITH THREE FINGERS. Zoomed in picture of Odell Beckham Jr.'s catch via @bencelestino pic.twitter.com/HEwjVtRo13 — Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) November 24, 2014 It just doesn’t get any better   LOSERS Shaun Hill’s interception: No interception is good, really. Some are worse than others. Very few picks in the NFL this season will be worse than the one Hill threw at the end of the St. Louis Rams’ loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Rams were at San Diego’s 4-yard line, down 27-24 with about a minute to go. In that situation, the Rams either win with a touchdown or at least tie the game and go to overtime. So you’d think. Kenny Britt ran a crossing route at the goal line and had no separation from the man covering him. And somehow, the longtime veteran Hill never saw safety Marcus Gilchrist. Gilchrist read Hill, jumped in front of his pass to Britt, and picked it off to finish the game. The Rams weren’t going anywhere at 4-6 coming in, but it was still a crushing way to lose.   The overpaid NFC North quarterbacks: Here are the combined numbers of a pair of NFC North rival quarterbacks on Sunday – 35-of-73, 394 yards, one touchdown … $34.3 million 2014 salary cap number. It’s not that Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford are bad or anything. They are what they are: Average or maybe slightly above average starting quarterbacks who are being paid to be superstars. At least Cutler’s Bears overcame his 130-yard day against the NFL’s 30 th ranked pass defense coming in (hint: that’s bad) and beat the Buccaneers. The Lions were blown out by the Patriots, and have now gone 22 straight possessions without a touchdown. They employ Calvin Johnson, one of the three greatest receivers of all time, by the way. They’re one of five teams in the NFL with fewer than 200 points this season. The others are the Raiders, Jets, Titans and Jaguars, four of the worst teams in the NFL. This is why the Bears and Lions will continue to chase the Green Bay Packers. They’re paying those guys like they’re Aaron Rodgers, but they aren’t in Rodgers’ class. In a salary cap sport, that’s a big obstacle to overcome.   Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden: The story with the Washington Redskins on Sunday morning was that Gruden had the green light to keep Griffin on a short leash and bench him if he struggled at San Francisco. Griffin struggled. And he never came out. Griffin went 11-of-19 for 106 yards. He was sacked five times, and many of them were because he held the ball too long. He wasn’t very good, and as it turns out, even a mediocre performance at quarterback would have beaten a flat San Francisco 49ers team. As it was, Washington led until 49ers rookie Carlos Hyde’s 4-yard touchdown with 2:59 to go. After that the Redskins had six plays on two possessions: three Griffin incompletions, two sacks and one Griffin run for 6 yards. The second sack forced a fumble that the 49ers recovered to finish the game. If Gruden really could have changed quarterbacks, and didn’t, he probably regrets it now. But this relationship is about more than winning one game in a lost season. We can say whatever we want about Griffin’s regression, but the fact is that Washington has to give Griffin every chance to succeed. The Redskins have invested way too much into him to turn back after three seasons (one of which was a rookie of the year campaign). Gruden needs to make this work, somehow. Griffin does too. Maybe that’s why he didn’t come out on Sunday when it was clear he was struggling again. Perhaps Gruden feels like there’s no turning back if he benches Griffin. Maybe leaving him in will help the franchise down the road. It hurt Washington on Sunday though. Bill O’Brien: The Houston Texans coach won’t like ending up on the losers section of the list. Here’s how I know:   The Texans have done a fine job after a 2-14 season last year, but Sunday was a big blow. Against an inconsistent Bengals team, the Texans lost 22-13, and that was with a pick-six off Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. The offense, without Arian Foster again, couldn’t replicate what it did at Cleveland last week. It couldn’t do anything, really. Quarterback Ryan Mallett struggled, with just 189 yards on 45 attempts. The Texans held the ball for just 20:50. It was a disheartening performance that drops them to 5-6 and probably in need of five straight wins to get to the playoffs in the AFC. No wonder O’Brien wasn’t in a good mood. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Seahawks shut down Cardinals, 49ers stay in contention
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:37:02 PST)
By Simon Evans (Reuters) - Defending Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks handed the Arizona Cardinals just their second loss of the season with a 19-3 win in their NFC West clash on Sunday despite quarterback Russell Wilson being sacked seven times. The win keeps alive the slim hopes of Seattle (7-4) of catching the Cardinals (9-2) while the San Francisco 49ers kept themselves in contention with a 17-13 win over the Washington Redskins. ...

NFL interception leader Gipson hurts right knee (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:28:57 PST)
It was a tough day for defensive backs.

Seahawks Crush Cardinals, 19-3 (Automated Insights)
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:48:33 PST)
The Seahawks controlled the Cardinals, 19-3, at home.

Cardinals Blasted by Seahawks, 19-3 (Automated Insights)
(Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:48:31 PST)
The Cardinals were held in check by the Seahawks, 19-3, at CenturyLink Field.

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