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Broncos Roll Past Raiders, Clinch 2 Seed in AFC

Broncos Roll Past Raiders, Clinch 2 Seed in AFC

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(DENVER) -- C.J. Anderson ran for three touchdowns to help the Denver Broncos earn a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs by knocking off the Oakland Raiders 47-14 Sunday.For the second time in four weeks Peyton Manning did not throw a touchdown pass, but it didn't stop the Broncos from clinching the AFC's No. 2 seed.The Broncos (12-4) were rolling from the beginning, scoring on their first two drives of the game and leading at halftime 20-7.The Broncos offense put up 451 total yards while holding the Raiders to 199 yards.Peyton Manning completed 21 of 37 passes for 273 yards before being taken out of the game for backup Brock Osweiler.Osweiler threw the first touchdown pass of his three-year career when he found Virgil Green for a one-yard score.Connor Barth kicked four field goals in the win.Derrick Carr completed 18 of 36 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Raiders (3-13) in the loss.

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Seahawks Hold Back Rams to Wrap Up Top Seed in NFC

Seahawks Hold Back Rams to Wrap Up Top Seed in NFC

Steve Dykes/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The Seattle Seahawks held the St. Louis Rams to 245 total yards of offense en route to a 20-6 win Sunday.The Seahawks (12-4) secure the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the second-straight season.The Rams (6-10) actually led 6-0 at halftime, but the Seahawks scored 20 unanswered points, topped off by a Bruce Irvin 49-yard interception return for a touchdown.Marshawn Lynch ran for 60 yards and a touchdown in the win.Seattle finishes the regular season on a six-game win streak, during which it held five of its six opponents to less than 10 points.

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49ers, Jim Harbaugh, Part Ways Following Win Over Cardinals

49ers, Jim Harbaugh, Part Ways Following Win Over Cardinals

Ralph Freso/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh parted ways after their 20-17 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

Harbaugh spent the last four years in San Francisco and led them to three NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance.

Harbaugh has an offer from Michigan on the table and could take the job, reports ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.

"Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions," said 49ers CEO Jed York. "We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best."

Harbaugh said during the post-game press conference that it has been the "time of my life" coaching the 49ers.

"For the last four seasons I have had the great privilege to coach one of the storied franchises in the history of football," said Harbaugh. "We accomplished many great things together as a team during this period, which is a tribute to the incredible efforts of some of the most dedicated players and coaches in the NFL. I will miss competing alongside this group of players and coaches, I have the utmost respect and admiration for their hard work and support. It has been my honor to share the sideline with these mighty men. I will always appreciate and remember fondly, the passion and support of our faithful fans, and want to express my particular thanks to them."

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Falcons Hold Off Browns 20-10, Clinch Playoff Berth

Falcons Hold Off Browns 20-10, Clinch Playoff Berth

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years after a 20-10 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Baltimore needed the Chiefs to beat the Chargers for them to get in and Kansas City handed San Diego a 19-7 loss.

Joe Flacco tossed two touchdown passes and threw for 312 yards in the victory.

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Report: Harbaugh Will Accept Michigan Job

Report: Harbaugh Will Accept Michigan Job

Ralph Freso/Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mi) -- Jim Harbaugh has decided to return to the college coaching ranks.

According to Dave Feldman of CSN Bay Area, Harbaugh will return to his alma mater to revive the University of Michigan football program.

Harbaugh is technically still the coach of the 49ers but after the relationship between the fiery head coach and General Manager Trent Baalke turned sour it has long been rumored that there would be a change.

Harbaugh was 43-19-1 while with the 49ers, including three NFC championship appearances and a 34-31 loss to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

Michigan has struggled over the past seven years under the leadership of Rich Rodriguez and most recently Brady Hoke, mounting a 46-42 record in that span. 

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Browns Suspend WR Gordon

Browns Suspend WR Gordon

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images(CLEVELAND, OH) -- The Cleveland Browns has suspended Josh Gordon for the regular season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

Gordon was placed on the reserve/suspended list Saturday after missing a team walkthrough.

Before the latest suspension, Gordon missed the first 11 games of the season after testing positive for marijuana under the NFL's substance abuse policy.

He struggled to acclimate to the new offense in Cleveland and posted 24 catches for 303 touchdowns, with no touchdowns.  

In a corresponding move, the team promoted wide receiver Phil Bates from the practice squad.

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Report: Rex Ryan Preparing To Be Fired

Report: Rex Ryan Preparing To Be Fired

Nick Lahem/Getty Images(FLORHAM PARK, N.J.) -- Rex Ryan is cleaning out his office after the reported hiring of Charley Casserly as a consultant to the New York Jets.

According to NJ.com, Ryan is preparing to be fired on Monday after the Jets play their season finale against the Miami Dolphins. 

Additionally it is being reported that Casserly has begun contacting prospective head coaching candidates as well as several General Manager candidates to replace John Idzik.

Ryan is 45-50 in his six seasons with the Jets and also has four playoff victories in his tenure.  

The fault of the Ryan/ Idzik marriage can be placed squarely on owner Woody Johnson.  After firing General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, Johnson insisted that the next GM inherit Ryan. Johnson hired a search firm and chose Idzik to be the man in charge.  After two seasons in which Idzik continually failed to find impact players, the Jets appear to be starting back at square one; a familiar spot under Johnson's ownership.

Since purchasing the team Johnson will have cycled through four head coaches and three general managers.

 

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Colts Want to Build Momentum into the Playoffs

Colts Want to Build Momentum into the Playoffs

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The Indianapolis Colts are 4-3 on the road this year and would like to generate some steam against the Titans on Sunday as they head into the playoffs.

Indianapolis has already clinched their division, but is coming off a 42-7 beating by the Cowboys last weekend.

"We want to go out and win," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said.  "No matter what's at stake, we want to go out and play well, that's a priority."

The Titans have dropped their last nine in a row and are 1-6 at home this year.

"Nobody is giving up," Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said this week.  "You can see how hard we fight until the very end, and that locker room expects to win (Sunday). That's the way we've been all year and we just have not been able to put it all together yet."

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Chiefs Lose QB Smith to Lacerated Spleen

Chiefs Lose QB Smith to Lacerated Spleen

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has a lacerated spleen that will keep him out of Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.It's tough news for a Chiefs team that earns a playoff berth with a win and a Ravens loss coupled with a Texans loss or tie on Sunday.Apparently Smith suffered the injury in the third quarter of the team's game against Pittsburgh when he took a shot to his abdomen."Generally (lacerated spleens) take six weeks (to heal) but everybody is different,'' Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said. "He's a young, healthy guy that's got a high metabolism. If we're playing three, four weeks from now, we'll rescan him and see where he's at."With Smith out, Chase Daniel becomes the starter. This will only be Daniel's second start in five NFL seasons.

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Packers and Lions to Go Head-to-Head with NFC North on the Line

Packers and Lions to Go Head-to-Head with NFC North on the LineJonathan Daniel/Getty Images(GREEN BAY) -- The Green Bay Packers will host the Detroit Lions on Sunday with the NFC North on the line. Green Bay is 7-0 at Lambeau Field this year and understands the importance of getting a bye in the first week of the ...

NFL Fines Lynch After Touchdown Run

NFL Fines Lynch After Touchdown Run

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- While many football fans were impressed by Marshawn Lynch's 79-yard touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals; the NFL was not.

The NFL fined Lynch $11,050 for grabbing his groin as he flipped backwards into the end zone at the culmination of the impressive charge.

Many titled the latest run by Lynch as "Beast Quake 2" after his magnificent dash reminded fans of the famous moment in which he ran 67 yards and broke seven tackles in the 2011 wild card playoff game against the Saints.

Interestingly, Lynch grabbed his crotch after the 2001 run, but was not fined. This time, the NFL took notice.

ProFootballTalk first reported the fine.  

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Cardinals Change Course, Will Start Lindley Sunday

Cardinals Change Course, Will Start Lindley Sunday

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

(PHOENIX, Az.) -- As the week began, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians planned to start rookie Logan Thomas at quarterback against the 49ers. After a week of practice, Arians has had a change of heart and chosen Ryan Lindley to steer Arizona; a move he said would be a possibility when he first announced his thoughts about Thomas.

Thomas, a fourth round pick out of Virginia Tech, has all the physical tools sought after in a quarterback. The trouble for the 6'6", 260-pound signal caller has been consistency, footwork and accuracy. 

Lindley, got the start for the Cardinals last week in the 35-6 drubbing at the hands of Seattle. The third-year pro from San Diego State struggled mightily against the Seahawks completing 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards and one interception. He was also sacked four times.

Monday, at the time of the initial quarterback decision, Arians defended the play of Lindley stating that, "the stadium wasn't too big for him. He just missed some throws."

Lindley will have the chance to reward his head coaches’ faith Sunday against a reeling 49ers team. 

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Nationals Pitcher Fister Buys Everyone Free Starbucks Coffee

Nationals Pitcher Fister Buys Everyone Free Starbucks Coffee

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister creatively embraced the Christmas Spirit.

On Christmas Eve, Fister posted a barcode on his Twitter page offering his followers a free cup of coffee from Starbucks -- his treat. 

He also requested that people not rob from Santa's Sleigh, so to speak, and use the barcode only once. 

Fister earned $7.2 million in 2014 with Washington. He also has over 24,000 Twitter followers. 

There's no word on how many coffees ended up on his bill.

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Jaguars’ Sen’Derrick Marks Rips the Pro Bowl Voting Process

Jaguars’ Sen’Derrick Marks Rips the Pro Bowl Voting Process

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks is one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL, which is why he's left questioning the NFL as to why he wasn't named to the Pro Bowl.

Now in his sixth season, Marks is having a career year. In 15 games, Marks has 42 tackles and 8.5 sacks, the second-most by an interior lineman in the NFL.

Even though Marks was voted in as an alternate, he feels it still taints the process for him.

"I won't hold it in high regards like I used to," he said. "I don't get it. I don't understand it. It's more reputation than based on what you did on the field that season. It's a political thing. It shows that the NFL is all about money. It's not about players and their performances."

It could be possible that Marks was held back due to the fact that he plays for a 3-12 Jaguars, and fan voting makes up one-third of the ballot.

Marks did add if he does wound up getting invited to the game, he would participate.

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49ers’ Michael Crabtree Looking Forward to Free Agency

49ers’ Michael Crabtree Looking Forward to Free Agency

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There could be massive changes to the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff and roster, and that could include wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

After six seasons with the team, Crabtree is set to become a free agent. With the future of head coach Jim Harbaugh in doubt as well as other members of the team, he's looking forward to testing the free agent market.

"I’ve grown a lot, seen a lot,” Crabtree said, via CSNBayArea.com. “I feel like we’ve done a lot as a team. I feel like I’ve contributed a lot to the team. Feel like the sky’s the limit for me, and I’m taking it one day at a time. I can’t wait to see what's next, the next chapter in my career. I’m going to go hard every day. I’m going to go hard every year, try to get better. Try to maximize my talent.”

Crabtree was the 10th overall pick by the 49ers back in 2009. While he's been a solid player, he never quite lived up to the expectations put on him after a stellar career at Texas Tech.

In 15 games this season, Crabtree has 64 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns.

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Browns’ QB Johnny Manziel Admits He Needs Take Job More Seriously

Browns’ QB Johnny Manziel Admits He Needs Take Job More Seriously

Elsa/Getty Images(BEREA, Ohio) -- With Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel's rookie season over, he admits that this year has taught him he needs to put in more time to become a successful player in the NFL.

Manziel struggled mightily in limited action this season, including his one and only start where he completed just 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

"It's been a year of growing up for me," Manziel said. "It's a job for me now. I have to take it a lot more seriously than maybe I did at first."

A hamstring injury in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers will keep him out this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Manziel came into the NFL with plenty of hype, but failed to live up to it. He seems to know the root of his struggles.

"I haven't painted the greatest picture of me being in here and staying on top of my stuff," Manziel said. "I'm sure the stuff off the field has negatively affected that. But I know, and what matters to me the most, is that guys in this locker room see that I'm working...This is my life and my job and I'm 100 percent committed to that."

The Browns traded back into the first round of the draft to select Manziel 22nd overall.

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NFL Pro Bowl Selections Announced

NFL Pro Bowl Selections Announced

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The NFL has announced its annual list of all-star players who will participate in the Pro Bowl.

The collection of players who were voted on by current players, fans and league executives contained a few surprises and a couple notable snubs -- particularly New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Continuing with last season's format change, players no longer represent their conference, but instead are chosen by notable former players. This season Hall-of-Fame wide receivers Chris Carter and Michael Irvin are the captains who will choose from the Pro Bowl roster to create the two teams.

The list of players below are listed by position grouping.

Quarterback: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo Running back: LeVeon Bell, Jamal Charles, Arian Foster, John Kuhn, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Marcel Reese Wide Receiver: Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, T.Y Hilton, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas Tight End: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Julius Thomas Offensive lineman: Ryan Clady, Jahri Evans, Travis Frederick, Mike Iupati, Jason Kelce, Kyle Long, Nick Mangold, Zach Martin, Jason Peters, Maurkice Pouncey, Josh Sitton, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas, Trent Williams, Marshal Yanda Defensive lineman: Calais Campbell, Marcel Dareus, Aaron Donald, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Robert Quinn, Ndamokung Suh, Cameron Wake, DeMarcus Ware, J.J. Watt, Kyle Williams, Mario Williams Linebackers: Connor Barwin, Elvis Dumervil, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Luke Kuechley, Clay Matthews, C.J. Mosley, Von Miller, Lawrence Timmons, Bobby Wagner Defensive backs: Kam Channcellor, Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes, Tashaun Gipson, Joe Haden, Chris Harris, Patrick Peterson, Glover Quin, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib, Earl Thoms, T.J Ward, Eric Weddle Special Teamers: Justin Bethel, Stephen Gostkowski, Devin Hester, Kevin Huber, Pat McAfee, Matthew Slater, Darren Sproles Adam Vinatieri.

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QB Geno Smith Thinks Jets Could Benefit from Coaching Change

QB Geno Smith Thinks Jets Could Benefit from Coaching Change

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rex Ryan's tenure as the head coach of the New York Jets could be in its final week, and quarterback Geno Smith doesn't necessarily think that would be the worst thing for the franchise.

"To reset and re-adjust is a tough thing to do, but we're professionals and we have to do it," Smith said. "A change could be good for us all, so if it happens -- when it happens -- then we'll see."

In 13 games this season, Smith has thrown for 2,167 yards with 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Ryan made the AFC Championship game his first two seasons with the team, but the Jets have gone 25-38 since. At 3-12, the Jets will miss the postseason for the third-straight season.

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Bengals Take Down Broncos, 37-28

Bengals Take Down Broncos, 37-28

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- The Cincinnati Bengals heard all week about their struggles in primetime games in recent years, but they atoned themselves after defeating the Denver Broncos 37-28 on Monday Night Football.

Rookie running back Jeremy Hill dominated for the Bengals once again. He ran for 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, putting him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season. He's the 3rd rookie in NFL history with four games of at least 140 yards rushing.

With the win, the Bengals clinched a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season, a franchise record.

"I know a lot of guys are never fortunate enough to make the playoffs," said Hill. "In college, I wanted to play for a national championship but never got the chance."

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning struggled on Monday night. While he did throw for 311 yards and two touchdowns, he threw a season-high four interceptions, including a pick-six to cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

With the loss, the New England Patriots clinched the top record in the AFC.

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NFL Suspends Lions Center Dominic Raiola for Final Game of Season

NFL Suspends Lions Center Dominic Raiola for Final Game of Season

Scott Boehm/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The Detroit Lions will be without one of their most vital veteran lineman Sunday when the team takes on the Green Bay Packers in their most important game of the season.

After stomping on Chicago Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson's ankle in the team's Week 16 game, the NFL suspended Dominic Raiola for the regular season finale. 

Raiola was suspended as much for the stomp, supported by visual evidence, as he was for being a repeat offender.

Merton Hanks, the NFL's vice president of football operations was the one who handed down the suspension.  According to the league, this is Raiola's sixth "safety-related rules violation since 2010."

Rookie Travis Swanson will likely get the nod to start in Raiola's absence.

The Lions (11-4) and Packers (11-4) will face off in Green Bay for the NFC North title this week.  The Lions could potentially lock up the No.1 seed in the NFC playoffs with a win and a Seattle loss.

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