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NFL notebook

Power rankings

1. Packers 2. Patriots

3. Saints 4. 49ers

5. Steelers 6. Ravens

Upset special

Chiefs (6-9) over Broncos (8-7)

Is Tim Tebow running out of magic? Denver has lost two straight, and Tebow threw three interceptions against the Bills last week.

Quote of the week

"There's nobody I'd rather have than Romo."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on quarterback Tony Romo in New York's Daily News

Milestone watch

If the Patriots win today, Bill Belichick becomes the first coach with at least 13 victories in five seasons (14 in 2003, 14 in 2004, 16 in 2007 and 14 in 2010).

Milestone watch 2

The Ravens' Ray Rice needs just 27 rushing yards and 4 receiving yards against the Bengals to join Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (four times) as the only players with 1,200 and 700, respectively in multiple seasons. Rice had 1,339 and 702 in 2009.

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

Tank or try?

The Colts are one loss away from securing the top pick in next year's draft, and the prize is a future franchise quarterback in Stanford's Andrew Luck. But if the Colts beat the Jaguars and the Rams lose to the 49ers, St. Louis would get top honors. So do the Colts take a dive? According to Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, there's no chance. "It would be the ultimate insult for anybody to be asked to give anything less than full effort and commitment," he wrote. Colts vice chairman Bill Polian's comments to SI.com's Peter King had similar sentiment: "How can you build an organization with a culture of winning and look players in the eye and tell them to give their best effort every day but this one?"

America's Team?

With the Cowboys and Giants playing today for the NFC East title (and NFC's final playoff berth), New York has a chance to make it another miserable offseason in Dallas. New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers argues it's about time the Cowboys' long-held title as "America's Team" expires. They haven't been to the Super Bowl since January 1996 and have won just two playoff games since. "If this is America's Team, America deserves better," Myers said. Always-opinionated Giants defensive end Justin Tuck took it another step. "I don't know if they ever deserved to be America's Team," he said. "I don't have a vote on that. The only people that it rubs the wrong way are the people who don't root for them."

Stomp squashed

The last time the Lions played the Packers, on Thanksgiving Day, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh made headlines for stomping on Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith after a play. He drew a two-game suspension. But both teams say they've moved past it. Suh spoke to Dietrich-Smith on the phone to patch up the relationship, saying afterward, "There's no hard feelings." Said Dietrich-Smith: "We talked. He said, 'Sorry.' And I said, 'No big deal.' That was about it. I think we've all moved past it."

For as much hype and praise quarterback Tim Tebow has received in helping turn around Denver's season, a familiar face can give the story a disappointing end. Kyle Orton, whom the Broncos benched for Tebow earlier this season then released, has a chance to lead the Chiefs past his former team today. A Broncos loss and Raiders win would crush the hopes of a division title and Denver's first playoff berth since 2005 for the "Mile High Messiah." The Broncos enter today with a two-game losing streak. Writes Dave Kreiger of the Denver Post: "If Kyle Orton and the Chiefs win Sunday, the Broncos' releasing of Orton on Nov. 22 will go down as one of the franchise's all-time boneheaded personnel moves."

NFL notebook 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:06pm]
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