Tagliabue vacates suspensions; Vilma defamation suit to continue

Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has affirmed the league's findings regarding the Saints bounty scandal, but has vacated all player suspensions. Makes total sense, right?

Tagliabue's statement, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:

Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects. My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization.

Having reviewed the testimony very carefully, including documentary evidence that is at the center of the conflict, and having assessed the credibility of the four central witnesses on these matters, I find there is more than enough evidence to support Commissioner Goodell's findings that Mr. Vilma offered such a bounty (on Brett Favre).

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Broncos need to run table Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, we probably should have seen this one coming.

Entering last night's game, New England's three losses were by a combined four points, with five of their nine wins coming by more than three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Texans had been blown out by Green Bay in their one loss, and in November had barely squeaked by the Bears, Jaguars, and Lions. Houston had won four blowouts, but none since Week 7.

We're admittedly using hindsight here, but what happened last night doesn't seem so shocking when framed by those facts - especially considering that the game took place in Foxboro, in the cold.

New England (10-3) jumped all over Houston (11-2) with three touchdowns on their first three drives, and things never got closer in a 42-14 rout which made the Texans look like frauds, and the Patriots like prohibitive SB favorites.

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Open Thread and Pre-game Lard: MNF Week 14 - Texans @ Patriots

Andy BenoitBucky Brooks, and Steve Palazzolo break down the matchup. Enjoy the game, and Go Texans*!

* Although a Houston win would immediately place Denver ahead of New England in the race for playoff seeding, and their destiny in their own hands, a Pats victory wouldn't be the end of the world, either. Indy is still very much alive for the AFCS title, although if the Colts were to win their division and end up with 12 wins along with Denver, it appears (by consulting ESPN's Playoff Machine) Indy would tiebreakers over the Broncos and thus gain a higher seeding.

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Broncos add Cornick to practice squad

The Broncos have added tackle Paul Cornick to their practice squad; he replaces Darrion Weems, who had been signed to Dallas's active roster five days ago.

Cornick had signed with the LOLJets as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, where he was named an All-American following his senior season.

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Coach Manning?

Tony Dungy explains why Peyton Manning could never be a coach
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

Tony Dungy coached Peyton Manning for seven seasons in Indianapolis and gave him wide leeway to call the plays, run the offense and generally act like a coach on the field. But Dungy doesn’t think Manning could ever be a coach on the sideline…

“No, absolutely not, because he would expect that from everybody, and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said. “Everybody doesn’t work that hard, everybody can’t be at that level all the time. It would frustrate him to death.”

Of course Peyton Manning isn't going to be a coach.  He's got pizzas to sell--a lot of them.

Ravens in turmoil as they prepare for Broncos

Cam Cameron fired by Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator
www.baltimoresun.com

Tired with the offense’s inconsistency and the lack of significant progression from quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens today let go much-maligned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, according to team sources.

Clearly not an ideal way to head into the stretch run of a season, and while preparing for a game the magnitude of Sunday's looming visit from the Broncos.

The Sun's writers offer their reactions; Kevin Cowherd calls it a panic move, while Peter Schmuck says it was time for a change.

Jason Cole says the inability of Cameron and QB Joe Flacco to coexist necessitated the switch, while Jamison Hensley says the firing of Cameron - who had been on a one-year deal - is sure to please Baltimore's offensive players.

Updated 2:01pm ET

Bring on the Ravens Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's upcoming trip to Baltimore has loomed as a big game since the moment the 2012 schedule was released, but the showdown has become more crucial by the day.

Although the matchup will likely go a long way to determining who the AFC's number-two seed is, things have suddenly gotten desperate for the Ravens (9-4), who remain stuck on nine wins after yesterday's 31-28 loss to Washington (7-6). It was Baltimore's second consecutive loss, and things won't get any easier for them; after the Broncos, they'll host the Giants and then head to Cincinnati to close out the regular season.

Adding to the pain of having lost two straight nailbiters, the already banged-up Ravens lost two more of their best players to injury yesterday - an ankle sprain left Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda on crutches after the game, and Jeff Legwold says it could be a season-ending injury for the Pro Bowler. LB Jameel McClain suffered a neck injury that had him in serious pain, although X-rays were negative.

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Open Thread: Sunday Week 14

Here are the day's inactive lists. Enjoy the games - Washington knocked off Baltimore in overtime, handing the Ravens their fourth loss of the season, and putting them a full game behind Denver in the AFC playoff race. Thank you, Shanny!

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How good are the 2012 Broncos in short yardage?

Readers of this site are well aware that we collectively favor aggression on fourth down.

One or two yards to gain, anywhere from near midfield to the opposing goal line? Go for it.

Third-and-short from within that same area? Call your play with the intent to go for it on fourth if you fail, barring a loss of yardage on third.

Peyton Manning scores touchdowns--that's all he does. Putting the ball in the hands of your punter, or at the foot of your placekicker, provides said touchdown-scorer with fewer opportunities with which to score touchdowns.

It really is that simple.

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Broncos seeking assists from Shanny, Kubes Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. Sadly, tragedy has struck the NFL for the second weekend in a row.

25-year-old Dallas practice squad LB Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident early Saturday morning, and his teammate Josh Brent, the Cowboys' starting nose tackle, has been charged with intoxicated manslaughter.

According to reports, Brent was speeding on a service road and hit a curb, causing the car to flip and skid on its roof approximatedly 900 feet. Police arrived to find the car afire, with Brent attempting to pull his roommate, college (Illinois) and pro teammate from the wreckage.

The players had apparently been out with a group of about a dozen teammates on Friday night; Brent had pleaded guilty to DWI while a sophomore at Illinois, and was suspended from the football team as a result. Obviously, he didn't learn his lesson, and we're again forced by football to ponder an important societal issue, even if so many like to think sports and life are so easy separated.

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