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The NFL Buddy System: How One Team Helps Another Make the Playoffs «
The final two weeks of the NFL season make for strange bedfellows. We’re at the point at which every team that still has competitive football to play has a pretty clear path to either improving its playoff stock or ensuring that it gets to January. And no squad has its seed totally locked up. Five teams can come away with the top spot in the NFC. Four of those teams can still miss the playoffs altogether. The Cardinals, the lone team in the conference to clinch, will start third-stringer Ryan Lindley at quarterback on Sunday. It’s a wacky year.

Greg Cosell analysis: Johnny Manziel's first start revealed a lot | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo Sports
We learned a lot about Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel in his first NFL start. And we saw how much he has to work on.

Steelers Are Our Only Hope for Breaking the AFC's Patriots-Broncos Logjam | Bleacher Report
We all know that AFC stands for American Football Conference. It might as well also stand for Another Foregone Conclusion.

First Down/Fourth Down: Wagner a vital part of Seahawks' resurgence |
During the five weeks that linebacker Bobby Wagner was out of action with a toe injury, the Seahawks went 2-3 and narrowly sidestepped upset attempts by Carolina and Oakland.

Weekend flashback | National Football Post
With this past weekend's games, some division races as well as the direction of some franchises, changed dramatically.

Brady on Knighton SB guarantee: 'Well done is better than well said' -
"It doesn't matter what happens. At the end of the year, we're hoisting that trophy. I don't care if New England doesn't lose again," Knighton told the Denver Post. "I don't care where we have to play. I don't care who our opponent is. We're not going to be satisfied until we hoist that trophy. So if we've got to go to New England [in the playoffs] and win somewhere we're not used to winning, we're going to make it happen. Write that. And put a big period after that one."

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Clutch Encounters: Week 15
After several weeks of close-game drought, Week 15 featured 10 games with fourth-quarter comeback opportunities. However, the only two successes came from overcoming one-point deficits. Sunday was highlighted by failure, especially from a few playoff contenders.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Week 15 DVOA Ratings
The New England Patriots have finally risen past the Denver Broncos and into the No. 1 spot in our weighted DVOA ratings.

NFL refs on pace for 4,139 penalties in 2014, up 2.1 per game vs. 2013 -
NFL fans are not happy about the growing number of penalties being called in games this season. And, after analyzing the numbers, they have a point.

Agent's Take: The real highest-paid NFL players of 2014 -
Who is the NFL's highest-paid player in 2014? You might be surprised when salary deferrals and state income taxes are factored in. We do the math.

NFL Mock Drafts - -
2014 NFL mock drafts by and, including pick-by-pick analysis by NFL Draft experts Rob Rang, Dane Brugler, Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan.

The Week in Overreactions: R-E-L-A-X, the Packers are still fine -
New storylines emerge every week. Some are reasonable, most are not. 'The Week in Overreactions' focuses on the latter.

Tyrann Mathieu plans to play for Cardinals vs. 'Hawks -
Tyrann Mathieu plans to return when the Arizona Cardinals face the Seattle Seahawks with the NFC West on the line. The safety missed the past two games with a broken thumb.

NFC Playoff Picture: Packers loss adds intrigue at No. 1 -
Aaron Rodgers showed he is mortal when the Packers stumbled against the Bills on Sunday, opening the door for the Seahawks to snag the No. 1 seed. The fight is a long way from over, however.

Russell Wilson tactic to counter swarming Cardinals: Throw it before they get there | Seahawks Insider - The News Tribune
The Seahawks have been working on an antidote to their sickly pass protection.

A couple more thoughts on Seattle's playoff odds | Seahawks Blog | Seattle Times
The point may be obvious now — Seattle pretty much needs to win just one more game to get a playoff spot, and with two will get a first-round bye and has a great chance at getting home field advantage through the playoffs.

Seahawks prepare for unproven Arizona QBs - NFC West Blog - ESPN
"We have to figure that out," Carroll said. "It's too early to assess that for us. We know of [Lindley]. We studied him hard when he was coming out [of San Diego State], watched him in college and all of that. And Logan, as well, so we have background on those guys. "Not a lot of film on them, but Bruce is a terrific quarterback coach and he knows what he's doing. He'll get the most out of these guys. It sounds like they want to play both of them, so that will be interesting to see how they want to do it. We'll have to figure out how to adjust to what they're doing."

With Chris Borland's season in doubt, 49ers sign LB Desmond Bishop - ESPN
The injury bug that has decimated the San Francisco 49ers' linebacker corps has now taken a bite out of the most heralded backup. Rookie Chris Borland, who has flourished as Patrick Willis' replacement, is now also possibly lost for the season with an injury to his left ankle suffered in the Niners' 17-7 loss at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Baldwin on Lynch: "There's nobody in the league like him" - Seattle Seahawks | 710 ESPN Seattle
Marshawn Lynch's performance wasn't one of the leading stories from Seattle's win over San Francisco, but it had teammate Doug Baldwin marveling afterward. - Blog - 710 ESPN Seattle

Hawk Talk highlights: Justin Britt and the Seahawks' pass protection - Seattle Seahawks | 710 ESPN Seattle
Highlights from the latest edition of 'Hawk Talk' with Danny O'Neil, which included thoughts about the play of Seahawks rookie right tackle Justin Britt. - Blog - 710 ESPN Seattle

Up next: Arizona Cardinals
The 10-4 Seahawks travel to Arizona this weekend for a Sunday night matchup against the NFC West-leading and 11-3 Cardinals with a chance to pull into a tie for the division lead.

Can the Cardinals run the ball against the Seahawks?
It's coming, it's going to happen, and the Cardinals know it.

Jerry Brewer’s Seahawks Morning After: Monstrous defense now playing for its legacy | Jerry Brewer | The Seattle Times
The Seahawks’ frightening defense is without a weakness as it drives the team toward the playoffs with a four-game win streak. Even scarier, it’s playing for something bigger than contracts and Pro Bowls.

Hugh Millen’s Seahawks analysis: How Seattle stopped 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick | Seahawks | The Seattle Times
Seahawks’ excellent game plan shut down Colin Kaepernick’s traditional ‘read-zone runs early and used ‘key-dog’ schemes to unleash Seattle’s pass rush.

Greg Cosell: Johnny Manziel has almost no pocket skills -
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel didn't have the best of NFL debuts. See why NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock and NFL Films' Greg Cosell ripped Johnny Football's first start against the Bengals.

Chris Borland (ankle) likely done for the season -
Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday that "it would be a stretch" if rookie linebacker Chris Borland played again this season after suffering an ankle injury on Sunday in Seattle.

Grading first-round draft picks: Defense -
After grading this year's first-round picks on offense, it's time to move to defense. Rookie Watch hands out marks for Raiders pass rusher Khalil Mack and Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, among others.

Grading first-round draft picks: Offense -
It's time to grade this year's first-round picks. Starting on offense, Rookie Watch hands out marks for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., among others.