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NFL news and notes, Week 14

Quotable

"You want that to be outside. You want it to be in the weather. As long as (Toronto) gets a franchise, I'd love to see it, but I wouldn't want to see the Buffalo Bills turn into the Toronto Bills."

Former Bills QB Jim Kelly on the Bills-Dolphins game today being played in Toronto's Rogers Centre, Canada's first NFL regular-season game

Same old Schaub

Texans QB Matt Schaub is expected to reclaim his starting job today for the first time since tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Nov. 2.

And it didn't take long for teammates to rib him about the large knee brace's impact on his mobility.

"He looks like the same old Matt — slow," RT Eric Winston said. "So, there's nothing that's going to change about Matt. But, no, he's fine. He really looks good."

Dot … dot … dot

The Rams have scored just 159 points and allowed 360, a point differential (201) that is 11 points worse than winless Detroit's. … In their past six wins, the Ravens have outscored opponents 84-0 in the fourth quarter. … Dallas QB Tony Romo has thrown for 870 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in three games since returning from a broken right pinkie. … The Steelers have won 14 of the past 18 against the NFC. … The Patriots are 17-1 in games after a loss since 2003.

Super scenario

The picks of the moment for Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1 in Tampa:

Giants vs. Steelers

Even without WR Plaxico Burress, the Giants can remain the class of the NFC. The battle-tested Steelers have the defense to carry them in the playoffs.

Information from Times wires, Toronto Star, Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Houston Chronicle was used in this report.

Home not so sweet

Homefield advantage hasn't really been a factor this season, especially last week, when visiting teams won 11 of 16 games. That dropped home winning percentage in 2008 to .549, which, according to STATS, would tie the third-lowest number for an entire season during the past 20 years.

Why do some players revel in playing on the road?

"It's like going in somebody's house and taking their cake off the table and they're sitting right there looking at you and there's nothing they can do," Redskins WR Antwaan Randle El said.

Dubious movie debut

More than 150 people showed up at a San Diego library last week to view an 82-minute documentary on former NFL QB Ryan Leaf, below, who went from a No. 2 pick and supposed Chargers savior to one of the biggest busts in NFL history and a punch line for pundits. The movie, written and directed by Jim Carr (who plays Leaf), has facts from Leaf's fall from grace, including his November resignation as a coach at West Texas for "personal reasons."

"If I was (Leaf), I'd want to crawl under a rock after watching that movie," said David Bart, a 30-year-old San Diego resident. "He really looked like an a - -."

Believe it or not, the Cardinals can complete their impressive turnaround from perennial cellar-dwellers to champions today. With a win over the struggling Rams (2-10), Arizona (7-5) can clinch the NFC West, which would be its first division championship since 1975, the longest active title drought. The Cardinals would then pass the burden of longest streak to the Browns (15 seasons). A look at the three teams (besides the Cardinals) with the longest division drought, ranked in order of closest to ending the futility:

Bills | 12 seasons

When QB Jim Kelly, RB Thurman Thomas and DE Bruce Smith ruled, Buffalo won six AFC East titles in an eight-season stretch (1988-95). It hasn't sniffed a crown since.

Prognosis: A big reason for the drought has been the Patriots, who have owned the East lately. Stumbling after a 5-1 start, the Bills (6-6) still have a chance to take the title, though it will be a tough task with three of their four remaining games against rivals Miami (7-5), New England (7-5) and the division-leading Jets (8-4).

Browns | 15 seasons

To be fair, the streak includes three seasons in which the storied franchise was inactive (after owner Art Modell moved to Baltimore). Browns fans had to watch the Ravens win the Super Bowl after the 2000 season and witness a promising turnaround (10-6 in 2007) crumble this year.

Prognosis: With injuries to QBs Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, Cleveland is down to third-stringer Ken Dorsey, a former Miami standout. And there's speculation coach Romeo Crennel's days might be numbered. The Browns have good young talent (Quinn and WR Braylon Edwards, to name a few), but with the Steelers still strong, an AFC North crown still appears a ways away.

Lions | 14 seasons

While the 1990s were the franchise's most successful decade — thanks to the Barry Sanders show — the millennium (and Matt Millen era) has brought out the worst in the Lions. With Millen at GM (2001-08), the Lions were 31-84, and though he exited this season, Detroit is 0-12.

Prognosis: Before talking about winning a division title, they'll have to win a game — they are in danger of finishing winless. They still haven't figured out their quarterback situation, coach Rod Marinelli is hanging by a thread, and the gap between the Lions and their rivals (Packers, Vikings, Bears) is widening.

NFL news and notes, Week 14 12/06/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 6, 2008 7:17pm]

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