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Around the NFL

Fab five

1. Texans 2. Falcons

3. 49ers 4. Broncos

5. Ravens

Best bet

Cowboys (5-6) over Eagles (3-8)

The Eagles are in a free fall, and Andy Reid might be in his swan song as their coach.

Number of the week

95 Games, among 176, decided by eight points or fewer, the most through 12 weeks in NFL history.

Record watch

With a win today over the Lions, the Colts' Andrew Luck, above, will become the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era to win eight games as a rookie. The Rams' Sam Bradford won seven games in 2010.

Say what?

It is odd enough that Adderall is all the rage in the NFL, with cornerback Eric Wright the second Buc this season to say he got suspended four games by the NFL for using the performance-enhancing drug. Since the start of last season, more than 10 players have publicly blamed their suspensions on the stimulant.

But Bears receiver Brandon Marshall went a step further, saying athletes might be using a certain blue pill for an energy boost.

"I've heard of guys using Viagra. Seriously," Marshall told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Because the blood is supposedly thin; some crazy stuff. So it's kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things. So you have to be careful."

Sliding Steelers

Coming off consecutive losses, the Steelers are suddenly seeing their playoff hopes slipping away. And as they travel to play first-place Baltimore today, that slope gets a little steeper as the team, again, will be without QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has a sprained throwing shoulder, a dislocated rib and a torn tendon that protects the rib, which makes for a dangerous situation. And even though he is throwing again, he has been ruled out of today's game.

Pittsburgh needs Big Ben badly, having seen Charlie Batch struggle last week. The Steelers are 0-5 against the Ravens without Roethlisberger and have committed 11 turnovers over the past two games after just nine over the first nine.

"He's one of the best quarterbacks in the game," Steelers receiver Mike Wallace said. "So obviously, when he's not in there, things are going to be different."

The 'hot hand'

Turns out, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is making coach Jim Harbaugh, left, look like a savant. Kaepernick, in his second NFL start last week, continued to be the talk of the NFL after leading a 31-21 win over the red-hot Saints — in the Superdome.

Harbaugh's much-debated — and sometimes-criticized — decision to start the second-year pro over a medically cleared Alex Smith worked out perfectly. Harbaugh will go with the "hot hand" today and start Kaepernick, and we wonder if Smith will ever get his spot back.

As SI.com's Jim Trotter writes, "If Kaepernick's first two starts are the floor, it begs the question of where the ceiling is with him. Get ready, we're about to find out."

Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.



Enough already

Believe him or not, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, left, says he didn't intentionally kick Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving. The league still fined him $30,000. Suh's reputation — he has been voted the NFL's dirtiest player two years in a row by his peers — doesn't earn him much benefit of the doubt. And Schaub made it clear that as talented as Suh is, he wouldn't want him on his team. "The stuff that he stands for and the type of player he is, that's not Houston Texan worthy," Schaub told 610-AM in Houston. "That's not what we're about." Responded irked Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham: "What is a Texan, anyhow?"

Hail to the Redskins

Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, right, is approaching uncharted territory.

On Thanksgiving, the ex-Baylor star probably became the first opponent to hear his name chanted at a Cowboys stadium.

The No. 2 overall pick already has made a name for himself in D.C. Teammates recently voted him captain, the first time coach Mike Shanahan can remember a rookie earning such an honor.

Now Griffin has gotten into the head — and bed — of Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.

"Until I exit stage right, it seems like he's going to be a fixture in my dreams and nightmares," Tuck said.

That's because the Giants are charged with stopping Griffin on Monday. Don't look now, but Washington, seemingly ready to throw in the towel a few weeks ago, has won two straight and is in prime position to make a run at the NFC East title.

"I feel as if something is building," Griffin said.

The Redskins beat division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas in a five-day stretch and can pull within one game of the Giants with a win Monday in the nation's capital.

Considering it took an Eli Manning 77-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes to beat Washington on Oct. 21, the defending Super Bowl champions know they're in for another fight.

"(Griffin) is one of the best dual threats in our game today," Tuck said. "And we're going to have our hands full trying to stop that guy."

The Giants also have a tougher schedule with matchups against New Orleans and Philadelphia and trips to Atlanta and Baltimore. The Redskins, meanwhile, have matchups against Baltimore and Dallas and trips to Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Several teams battling for the wild card, including the Bucs, have a better record. So the Redskins' playoff ticket might need to be punched with a division title.

But that possibility — a long shot a few weeks ago — is within reach.

Around the NFL 12/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 10:34pm]
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