NFL Rankings: Broncos take over top spot from 49ers

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NFL Rankings: Broncos take over top spot from 49ers

For the third straight week, there's a new No. 1 in our power rankings as the 49ers drop after their humbling experience in Seattle and the Raiders settle in among the bottom third of the league.
 

1 (2) Denver Broncos (12-3) Ten straight wins and a season-high in passing yards for Peyton Manning. Are the Broncos peaking too soon?
2 (3)  Atlanta Falcons (13-2) The previous two times they clinched the NFC's No. 1 overall seed, in 1980 and 2010, the Falcons lost their first playoff game.
3 (5) Seattle Seahawks (10-5) This is no misprint - the Seahawks have won their last three games by a combined score of 150-30.
4 (1) 49ers (10-4-1) Refit. Refocus. Reorganize. In any order. Got it? Good.
5 (6) Green Bay Packers (11-4) Dropping 55 points on Titans one thing, keeping it rolling in playoffs another challenge entirely.
6 (7) New England Patriots (11-4) Pat's hangover from Niners game nearly cost them against lowly Jags.
7 (4) Houston Texans (12-3) Anyone else getting that sinking feeling from the Texans as the postseason approaches?
8 (14) Baltimore Ravens (10-5) Shocking as it sounds, team revolves around Joe Flacco as Ravens are 12-1 when he throws for 300 yards.
9 (10) Minnesota Vikings (9-6) Bigger goal for Vikings - Adrian Peterson surpassing Eric Dickerson, or beating Packers?
10 (8) Indianapolis Colts (10-5) Interim coach Bruce Arians a legit NFL coach of the year candidate.
11 (9) Washington Redskins (9-6) Wait, didn’t Mike Shanahan throw in the towel back in October?
12 (12) Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) In last six wins, Bengals have given up an average of just 10.8 points per game.
13 (11) Dallas Cowboys (8-7) Dez Bryant, nine catches for 224 yards and two TDs, realizing his potential as top three WR.
14 (15) St. Louis Rams (7-7-1) Rookie CB Janoris Jenkins scores his fourth TD of the season, furthering his case for defensive ROY.
15 (16) Chicago Bears (9-6) Is pouncing the Cardinals a matter of too little, too late?
16 (13) New York Giants (8-7) About to join 2009 Steelers as last defending Super Bowl champ to miss playoffs.
17 (18) New Orleans Saints (7-8) Drew Brees first player in NFL history with three consecutive 4,500-yard passing seasons.
18 (20) Miami Dolphins (7-8) Real Hard Knocks - Fish have only been in playoffs once in past 11 seasons.
19 (21) Carolina Panthers (6-9) Kickin' and Bumpin' Icon and Entertainer Cam Newton flashes equal parts shiny smile and ugly true colors.
20 (17) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) Five of Steelers' losses by a mere three points.
21 (26) San Diego Chargers (6-9) Sunday just has to be Norv Turner's finale in San Diego, right? RIGHT?!?
22 (19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9) That nice feel-good midseason story replaced by five-game losing streak.
23 (22) Tennessee Titans (5-10) Bud Adams is not happy. Not by a longshot.
24 (23) New York Jets (6-9) NFL player most in need of a fresh start? Paging Mark Sanchez.
25 (24) Cleveland Browns (5-10) Here's a far-fetched theory - Nick Saban leaves Alabama for Cleveland then trades for Rolando McClain. Hey, a lonely Raider Nation can dream, right?
26 (25) Buffalo Bills (5-10) Canisius hoops a hotter commodity than Bills football? Say it ain't so, Joe Ferguson.
27 (27) Arizona Cardinals (5-10) Brian Hoyer. 'Nuff said. 
28 (29) Philadelphia Eagles (4-11) So, about that whole Dream Team thing again…
29 (30) Detroit Lions (4-11) Ndamukong Suh just HAD to like "Scam" Newton's excuse for kicking Tommy Kelly in the grill.
30 (28) Oakland Raiders (4-11) TP Time? Even if he only has a handful of plays, Terrelle Pryor should get some run in San Diego. Unless staff has already decided on position switch or to cut him in offseason.
31 (31) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) Are the locals waiting in joyful hope for the return of Tim Tebow next year, or is Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst a more favored prodigal son?
32 (32) Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) Lose to the Broncos Sunday and the Chiefs "clinch" the No. 1 draft pick.

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

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Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.