NFL Rankings: 49ers still chasing Cards; Raiders slipping


NFL Rankings: 49ers still chasing Cards; Raiders slipping

Were at the quarter-pole of the NFL season and teams are beginning to separate from the pack. But whats more realistic at this point a Texans vs. Falcons Super Bowl, or a Ravens-49ers Harbaugh Bowl? The power rankings are all about head-to-head results at this point in time...

1 (1) Houston Texans (4-0) The most complete team in the league right now. 2 (2) Atlanta Falcons (4-0) Dirty Birds Version IOS 6.0? 3 (3) Arizona Cardinals (4-0) Kevin Kolb must be living right. 4 (4) Baltimore Ravens (3-1) Quietly, waiting in the weeds to strike. 5 (8) Minnesota Vikings (3-1) Somewhere, Tommy Kramer is smiling. 6 (9) San Francisco 49ers (3-1) How do the Youngstown Niners grab ya? 7 (12) Chicago Bears (3-1) Not quite the 1985 demolition of the Cowboys, but almost as complete . 8 (10) New England Patriots (2-2) A three-game losing streak? Brady would never hear of it. 9 (14) San Diego Chargers (3-1) Is this the year Norv-a-caine numbs the rest of football to sleep? 10 (16) Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) Dalton and Green making like Anderson and Collinsworth. Too soon? 11 (17) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) Two missed field goals mean Andy Reid can exhale twice. 12 (5) Seattle Seahawks (2-2) The ugliest uniforms this side of the USFL. 13 (11) Green Bay Packers (2-2) Something's just not clickingyet. 14 (6) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) A five-pick game on national TV is no way for Romo to endear himself. 15 (7) New York Giants (2-2) Now the G-Men know how Scott Norwood feltkinda. 16 (18) Denver Broncos (2-2) The Mile High Lovefest for Manning is reaching Tebow-ian levels. 17 (13) New York Jets (2-2) Speaking of Tim Tebow, is it that time yet? 18 (15) Buffalo Bills (2-2) Wait, weren't the Bills handing Brady and the Pat's their lunch in the first half? 19 (22) St. Louis Rams (2-2) Time for Ice Cube to wistfully rap, Eric Dickerson, come back home. 20 (24) Washington Redskins (2-2) Cundiff atones for sin of three missed field goals and makes Shanahan look smart again. 21 (21) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) Mundy's wallet is 21,000 lighter. 22 (19) Miami Dolphins (1-3) Tannehill's learning curve is going better than expected. 23 (23) Detroit Lions (1-3) Lions say they're a "different" 1-3. Meaning what, exactly? 24 (26) Indianapolis Colts (1-2) Now comes the hard part for Luck after his first career bye. 25 (25) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) MJD and not much else at this time. 26 (27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) Yes, they should go back to the orangecicle unis, just to curry up interest. 27 (28) Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) Routt Tweets, Another day, another dollar. He must have meant another deflating loss. 28 (30) Carolina Panthers (1-3) All of those stats mean little without W's. 29 (20) Oakland Raiders (1-3) Bye comes at a perfect time to soothe physical and psychological wounds. 30 (29) Tennessee Titans (1-3) Seriously, how did this outfit win a game? 31 (32) New Orleans Saints (0-4) Not as bad as their record suggests, but you are what your record says, right? 32 (31) Cleveland Browns (0-4) And with the first pick of the 2013 draft...

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the All-Star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced in last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4