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NFL notes

Upset special

Chargers (4-3) over Packers (7-0)

Philip Rivers bounces back from some struggles to help San Diego squeak one out.

Advice of the week

With Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh getting in a highly publicized back-and-forth with the Falcons, former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp offered his advice to the second-year star: Shut up.

Atlanta players accused Suh of taunting quarterback Matt Ryan after his ankle was stepped on by one of his offensive linemen. He briefly left the game. Suh said the injury was "karma" for alleged dirty play by Atlanta's offensive line.

"Absolutely shut up," said Sapp, an NFL Network analyst speaking on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday. "I'm really trying to find the karma. The quarterback missed two plays, came back in and torched you for the rest of the game. And you don't get him on the ground — and now it's karma?"

Say what?

Jets coach Rex Ryan certainly isn't shy of being on camera for news conferences and beyond, including a cameo on an episode of CSI: New York. Now Ryan is taking his talents to the big stage as he'll play an unexpected role — a Patriots fan — for Adam Sandler's next movie.

Sandler revealed the news during a podcast with the NFL Network's Rich Eisen on Thursday. Ryan will play Sandler's inexpensive Boston lawyer in I Hate You, Dad, which was filmed in Massachusetts last summer.

"We wrote it in the script," Sandler told Eisen of Ryan's Patriots allegiance. "He was great enough to be loose and funny about it. He talks about (Tom) Brady. He talks about Coach (Bill) Belichick. He's really cool."

As New York Daily News writer Manish Mehta cleverly put it: "Maybe Rex Ryan will get to kiss Bill Belichick's Super Bowl rings after all."

Times wires,, New York Daily News contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at

Power rankings

1. Packers 2. Steelers 3. 49ers 4. Patriots 5. Giants 6. Bills

For as little action as there was during a lockout-shortened offseason, the season's first half has supplied plenty of story lines. There are the surprising turnaround teams such as Lions, 49ers and Bills (to name a few) and stunning collapse of the Peyton Manning-less Colts. The league lost a legend when longtime Raiders owner Al Davis died and was forced to talk about trivial topics such as the heated handshake between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz. Several teams shuffled starting quarterbacks with the most controversial, former Gators star Tim Tebow, becoming a lightning rod in Denver.

MVP Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

This is a no-brainer. Rodgers has picked up where he left off last season, when he earned Super Bowl MVP honors, by leading the league's only unbeaten team. Rodgers has racked up 2,372 passing yards, which ranks third in the league, but his quarterback rating (125.7) is 21.3 higher than the next best, the Patriots' Tom Brady. He also has just three interceptions (tied for second) against 20 touchdowns (first).

Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh, 49ers

Harbaugh is intense (just ask Schwartz). But his passion has invigorated the 49ers, who have won six of their first seven (after winning only six games last season) and are well on their way to winning the NFC West. And consider this: San Francisco has played only one division game, so it has five left against the league's weakest division. Meanwhile, it has beaten the Lions, Eagles and, of course, the Bucs 48-3 last month.

Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

The top overall pick in April has left no doubt he was ready to start right away. The Panthers have won only two games, but Newton has been electrifying in keeping his team in games (four losses by seven points or fewer, including by three to the Saints). Newton's unique blend of size (6 feet 5, 248 pounds) and athleticism has helped him throw for 2,393 yards, run for 319 and make Carolina fun to watch each week.

Biggest disappointment Chris Johnson, RB, Titans

Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher just two years ago, held out for most of training camp in a contract battle. But after signing a $53.5 million deal ($30 million guaranteed), Johnson hasn't backed it up, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry (which ranks him 50th among the qualifying backs). With backup Javon Ringer impressing, it's just a question of how long the Titans use the three-time NFL leading rusher as their primary back. "Basically this is a situation where it can get no worse, really," Johnson said last week. "So it can't do nothing but go up."

NFL notes 11/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 3:18pm]
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