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.

Redick got 'break-up call,' can't put finger on why Clippers didn't have fun

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AP

Redick got 'break-up call,' can't put finger on why Clippers didn't have fun

J.J. Redick no longer plays for the Clippers.

After four seasons in Los Angeles, Redick will suit up for the 76ers next season.

"Going back to the Clippers was honestly just not an option," he explained on The Chronicles of Redick podcast. "I kind of figured last summer when they signed Austin (Rivers) and Jamal (Crawford) back, they basically had guaranteed $25 million in salary for this upcoming season.

"And I knew they weren't gonna really be able to commit financially long-term to having a third shooting guard at a high rate. That's just unrealistic.

"June 29th -- Lawrence Frank was nice enough and professional enough to give me a call. I call it my 'break-up call.' He basically said 'You know, we're not gonna bring you back.'

"But like I said, I have a great relationships there and am very appreciative of my time."

Redick was joined on his inaugural Uninterrupted podcast by Maverick Carter -- LeBron James' business manager.

The two had the following exchange:

Carter: "Win, lose, or draw, you gotta have fun going to work. The worst place a person -- not just an athlete -- if you're not getting up every day and going, 'Oh, I can't wait to get in to work. I'm gonna have some fun today. At least I'm gonna see some people I like.'

"And I think that's important, too. Finding that right fit ... you talked about it on the Clippers -- you guys lost fun. Everyone watching the Clippers could tell that. None of you guys were saying it, but everybody watching the Clippers would go, 'This team isn't having fun. They're a really good team, really talented, a collection of great players. but they're just not having fun.'

"You watch the teams who are having fun -- you watch their bench, you watch how everyone reacts -- anyone who knows sport could watch you guys and go, 'they're not having fun.'"

Redick: "The natural follow-up question to that statement would be: 'Why not? Why are you guys not having fun? You're playing for Doc, you're in LA, you've got talent, you should be having fun.' And at least for the four years that I was there, you try to put your finger on it ... and I could never do that.

"Leaving there, I don't have any ill will towards anyone certainly. Certainly no one to blame or anything like that ... we just couldn't get it done in the postseason."

Perhaps the Clippers weren't having much fun because...

Redick, who turned 33 years old in June, signed a one-year deal with Philly worth $23 million.

He wanted a multi-year deal but didn't get it.

"I wanted stability," Redick explained. "And so the one year with Philly -- I wanted stability more than anything -- and there's all these reports going back to last season saying, 'J.J. wants $16 to $18 (million), and then after the season there was a report in the LA Times from Brad Turner (saying) J.J. wants $18 to $20 (million) a year.'

"First of all, I didn't want any of that. I don't even care. I wanted more years. That was the most important thing to me ... I just wanted to be on a longer deal ... I was more than willing to take less than whatever number was reported."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

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USATI

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.