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Seven things you need to know about this weekend.

The rookies are out of control. Three of the top four rushing performances were from rookies or first-year players: New England’s Jonas Gray (38 carries, 199 yards), Houston’s Alfred Blue (36 carries, 156 yards) and Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill (27 carries, 152 yards). Three of the top 10 receiving performances were by rookies: Tampa’s Mike Evans (seven catches, 209 years), Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin (nine catches, 109 yards), and Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews (five catches, 107 yards).

Chris Borland has 47 tackles over the last three games. Speaking of rookies, Borland also had two interceptions of Eli Manning. The 77th pick in the May draft is wedging his way into the Defensive Rookie of the Year sweepstakes.

The NFL needs to curtail law enforcement officials moonlighting for teams. It was evident in the Ray McDonald case that San Jose police officers were too buddy-buddy with the Niners. Now, in Steve Eder’s excellent New York Times investigation of allegedly abusive former Miami defensive lineman Phillip Merling, local officers who had a cozy relationship with the Dolphins favored Merling over the fiancée he was accused of striking and harassing.

Teams have relationships with local police departments because it’s convenient for them to hire trained law enforcement officers on their off time to work on their security detail. But because there have been incidents such as these, when police favor players on the teams they work for, the NFL should draw a line and, at the very least, institute standards of behavior for any officers who moonlight as club employees.

Today is a big day for Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson deserves to be removed from the Commissioner’s Exempt List. He deserved that right when his case was adjudicated in Texas earlier this month. But he wasn’t, because the league believes that Peterson needs to be disciplined under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy and not immediately reinstated to play. This is where the case is going to get more contentious than it already is—and that’s saying something. As I said on Football Night in America on NBC last night, the league doesn’t view the nine games Peterson has missed as any sort of “time served” punishment because he was paid during this period; the league maintains it is clearly not a disciplinary sanction. But Peterson, just as clearly, will claim that whatever the league called his enforced paid absence, it should be over now because he’s been sidelined for more than half the season. In any case, I expect the league to issue discipline in the Peterson case today, and I expect Peterson to appeal the sanction immediately. It’s possible (probable, I’d say) that Peterson will appeal whatever punishment he gets and petition to play this weekend, at home against Green Bay.

The Packers are playing ridiculous football. Aaron Rodgers, in 2013 and 2014, has not thrown an interception at home. In nine games (he missed four home starts last year with a broken collarbone), he has 26 touchdowns and zero picks. What may help him the most this year—other than the other-worldly play of receivers Jordy Nelson (on whom The MMQB’s Greg Bedard will have more later today) and Randall Cobb, who have combined for 19 touchdowns catches—is a more opportunistic defense. Green Bay’s D has forced six fumbles and four interceptions in the last two games. Julius Peppers is making a real difference, as is Clay Matthews’ playing both inside and outside linebacker.

Jay Cutler stood and delivered Sunday. Say what you will about the Chicago quarterback. (What? Has he been in the news?) But after two horrendous Bears losses, Cutler made a Brett Favre-like 44-yard touchdown throw to Brandon Marshall against Minnesota at Soldier Field Sunday and played well enough to get a sloppy, 21-13 win over Minnesota.

Marshawn Lynch might get fined $100,000 by the league, or he might not. Two years ago, because he refused to talk to the press in violation of league-mandated duties, Lynch was fined $20,000. Last year he repeated his press boycott and was fined $50,000 more; but that fine was held in abeyance upon appeal, and Lynch was told it would be collected and another $50,000 would be added if he had any further violations. He refused to talk to the media Sunday after Seattle’s loss in Kansas City—but when he left the building, he called two media members, former Seattle fullback Michael Robinson and Mike Silver of NFL Network. Lynch thinks that level of media cooperation should suffice. The league will decide if it does. It shouldn’t, of course.


1. New England (8-2). Think the Pats are in the Colts’ heads? They’ve played three times since Andrew Luck walked on campus with the Colts. Scores: Pats 59-24, Pats 43-22, Pats 42-20.

2. Arizona (9-1). Beginning to think there is a player on the Cards named Nextmanup.

3. Green Bay (7-3). The Packers have been playing football since 1921. Playing rather well most years, I might add. In their 94th season, in the past two weeks, they scored 50 points or more in succession for the first time in their history.

4. Denver (7-3). Last week it was Jets beat Steelers. This week, Rams beat Broncos. The reason you can’t overreact about this loss, decisive though it was, is because Julius Thomas (sprained ankle) was gone early in the game, and Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) was lost 90 seconds into the second half. If those two are back Sunday at home against Miami, all will be right with Denver. If either is missing, the Dolphins could mess up the best-laid plans of John Elway.

5. Kansas City (7-3). Chiefs are 7-1 in the past two calendar months. The one loss: Niners 22, Chiefs 17, and K.C. led in the fourth quarter.

6. Indianapolis (6-4). Worrisome: Indy has lost to the best four teams it has played—Denver, Philly, Pittsburgh, New England.

7. Detroit (7-3). Strange, strange group. Lions are 3-1 in their last four, but have been outscored 74-72 in those games. Nice little roadie they’re on: at Arizona yesterday, at New England next Sunday.

8. Philadelphia (7-3). Hard to know what to do with a team that got smashed into a million tiny pieces at The Tundra. I guess I’m passing it off as the Packers will score 50 on anybody these days. Move on, nothing to see here.

9. Dallas (7-3). No body parts needed a bye more than the two small bones in Tony Romo’s back that are fractured. They’ll get a workout next week: Dallas has the unenviable task of playing a Sunday night roadie (at the Giants) and a Thursday afternoon home game (Thanksgiving, against the Eagles).

10. San Francisco (6-4). Totally different defense with Aldon Smith involved. The pressure he put on Eli Manning, consistently, helped Manning (six picks before Sunday) throw five in New Jersey.

11. Seattle (6-4). Strangest thing Marshawn Lynch told Mike Silver on Sunday: He didn’t go into the locker room at halftime. He stayed out on the field. Said he was too sore to make the walk into and back out of the locker room in Kansas City. That is just plain bizarre.

12. Miami (6-4). Still in show-me mode about Ryan Tannehill, particularly in completing throws downfield to a good trio—neither Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry nor Brian Hartline has a 60-yard receiving game in the last five weeks—but at least Tannehill’s not making the big mistake. Two picks in those last five games.

13. Cincinnati (6-3-1). Freud would have had fun with Andy Dalton. “I cannot figure this man out!’’ Sigmund would say after five sessions with him.

14. Pittsburgh (6-4). Tonight marks the seventh straight year the Steelers and Titans have met. First straight year Jason McCourty has to figure out a way to cover touchdown machine Martavis Bryant.

15. Baltimore (6-4). Bye, and an extra day to heal before playing next Monday at New Orleans.



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