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Texans beat Bengals, Packers rout Vikings

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Texans beat Bengals, Packers rout Vikings

More rematches ahead.

After Green Bay routed Minnesota 24-10 Saturday night, it set up a trip to San Francisco. The 49ers beat the Packers at Lambeau Field to open the season.

The Packers didn't let 2,000-yard rusher Adrian Peterson run over them again. Indeed, Packers fullback John Kuhn had a bigger impact with two touchdowns.

And the Houston Texans are heading back to New England, where their season began to unravel. A 19-13 win over Cincinnati on Saturday in the wild-card round means the Texans have a date next Sunday in Foxborough. Arian Foster, the catalyst in the victory against the Bengals, isn't fazed by facing the AFC East champions, who routed Houston 42-14 last month.

Houston (13-4) lost three of its last four games to blow home-field advantage in the conference, slipping to third overall.

New England (12-4) is a 9 1/2-point favorite.

``I'm not a big believer in momentum,'' Foster said. ``Every Sunday you have to come out and bring your best or you can get beat on any day.''

Adrian Peterson and the Vikings didn't bring their best to Green Bay. One week after Peterson rushed for 199 yards to lift Minnesota into the playoffs, the 2,000-yard runner was held to 99. And Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was sidelined by an elbow injury; backup Joe Webb couldn't manufacture much offense.

On Sunday, the Beltway will be buzzing. First, AFC North champion Baltimore hosts Indianapolis. Then NFC East winner Washington plays Seattle.

While Houston heads to Foxborough next weekend, AFC West winner Denver (13-3) will host either Baltimore or Indianapolis next Saturday. NFC South champ Atlanta (13-3) gets either the Redskins or Seahawks next Sunday.

Packers 24, Vikings 10

Ten receivers caught passes from Aaron Rodgers, tying a playoff record, with Kuhn scoring on a 9-yarder. DeJuan Harris also had a 9-yard TD run, and Green Bay kept Peterson in check. It was a turnaround from what the star running back did in his last trip to Lambeau, when he rushed for 210 yards.

It was Rodgers' first home playoff victory.

Minnesota's late touchdown was a 50-yard pass to Michael Jenkins.

Next, the Packers get the Niners (11-4-1), who won 30-22 at Lambeau to start the season. San Francisco is a 3-point favorite.

``They're different as well,'' Rodgers said. ``They're a great defense. Very talented offense as well. It's going to be a very tough challenge for us.''

Texans 19, Bengals 13

Foster gained 140 yards, becoming the first player with at least 100 yards rushing in his first three postseason games. He scored on a 1-yard run and also had eight receptions.

``It only takes one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that,'' said Foster, whose team lost to Minnesota and Indianapolis to slip to the AFC's third seed.

Cincinnati (10-7) gained only 198 yards and had 12 first downs. Its touchdown came on Leon Hall's interception return.

``It's hard to put it into words,'' Hall said. ``It's disappointing. I mean, we had a good year, but it didn't end how we wanted it to and how we planned it to. At the end of the day, they made the plays that won the game for them.''

With a second straight wild-card loss in Houston, the Bengals extended one of the NFL's longest playoff droughts. They haven't won a postseason game since the 1990 season.

They got two field goals from Josh Brown, and Andy Dalton overthrew an open A.J. Green in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

Along with Foster's touchdown, the Texans got four field goals from Shayne Graham.

Colts (11-5) at Ravens (10-6)

From Ray Lewis' pending retirement to Chuck Pagano's return to Baltimore to the history of these two franchises, this game has all kinds of intriguing story lines.

Lewis announced this week he will end his 17-year career as one of the NFL's premier players, let alone linebackers, after the playoffs. He's hoping for a long run duplicating the 2000 season, when he was Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP.

``That moment I walk out of that tunnel Sunday, every person that was a Ravens fan - 1996 to this day - we will all enjoy that moment,'' he said. ``It will probably be one of the glorious moments in my life.''

Pagano spent four seasons coaching defense in Baltimore, then landed the head coaching job in Indy. He missed 12 games while undergoing treatments for leukemia and came back last week in a win over Houston.

Now he's back in Baltimore.

And he knows all about the history of the Colts leaving for Indianapolis in Mayflower moving vans in the middle of the night in 1984.

``Yeah, because when this opportunity presented itself, I remember seeing the paper when I left town,'' Pagano joked. ``I was driving a Mayflower out of town, so I fully understand. They had me in the cab, if I remember right.''

Seahawks (11-5) at Redskins (10-6)

Two streaking teams with sensational rookie quarterbacks, making it three such starters in action Sunday; Andrew Luck leads the Colts.

Washington took its final seven games to grab its division title. QB Robert Griffin III (102.4) had the best single-season rookie passer rating in NFL history; Seattle's Russell Wilson was next at 100.0. Griffin also set a league mark for yards rushing by a rookie QB (815).

Wilson threw 26 TD passes, tying Peyton Manning's NFL rookie record set in 1998.

``He's a playmaker. He's a football player. He makes plays running around, like a video game, buying time for the receivers, taking off with the football himself,'' Redskins veteran linebacker London Fletcher said.

He was talking about Wilson; could have been about Griffin, as well.

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It's Friday and the Ravens still haven't announced who their starting quarterback is for Sunday

It's Friday and the Ravens still haven't announced who their starting quarterback is for Sunday

The suspense is killing us.

Will it be Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III or actually Joe Flacco starting for the Baltimore Ravens Sunday in the most important game of the season, in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals?

Well, it's almost time for happy hour on a Friday and we still don't have a definite answer.

Flacco, who is nursing a right hip injury, did not practice this week and was listed as doubtful on the team's Friday injury report.

But the good news is that Jackson, who missed Thursday's practice with an illness, was a full participant Friday. When asked whether Jackson missing the most crucial day of practice is concerning, head coach John Harbaugh had us scratching our heads.

“It’s not ideal,” Harbaugh said. “Was it part of the plan? Apparently, it was.”

Jackson admitted that the possibility of his first NFL start Sunday would bring on a few butterflies but that once the ball was snapped,"it's on."

"You have to have trust with your guys," Jackson said Wednesday. "You have to have them believing in you to put points on the board. So, that’ll be my job if I’m out there.”

And in the latest version of 'The NFL is wild,' Robert Griffin III was the only Ravens quarterback who participated in a full week of practice.

The 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year hasn't started an NFL game since January 1, 2017, but has stayed up to speed in case a moment like this occurred. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Prior to this week, Flacco had only been on the team's injury report eight times and had missed only three regular-season practices. In 11 years, Flacco has missed just six games, starting the last 41. 

Guard/tackle James Hurst (back) has been ruled out for the fourth week as well as Tim Williams (ankle).

Cornerback Tavon Young (ankle), tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and safety Tony Jefferson (thigh) are listed as questionable. 

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player were seen plundering his locker Wednesday in front of reporters. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow. 

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