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Cal in the NFL: C.J. Anderson seals playoff spot for Denver Broncos

If your team is facing C.J. Anderson and the Denver Broncos in overtime, then you should be very afraid. Just ask the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals.

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Lorenzo Alexander: LB, Oakland Raiders (7-8)

Alexander contributed one tackle as the Raiders took down the San Diego Chargers 23-20 in overtime. Alexander has seven tackles in 15 games this season.

Looking ahead, the Raiders are gunning for just their third .500 season since 2003, but will have to beat the surging Kansas City Chiefs to do so.

Tyson Alualu: DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)

Alualu notched two tackles, one tackle for loss, one blocked field goal and three hits on Drew Brees as the Jaguars lost 38-27 to the New Orleans Saints.

Alualu has yet to miss a game during his career, but was seen wearing a walking boot after the matchup with the Saints. Here is more on the injury from Fox Sports:

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu was in a walking boot after being injured in the team's 38-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but said he has every intention of playing in the Jaguars' season finale this week.

Alualu suffered an ankle injury early in Sunday's loss, but was able to finish the game. On Monday, he was in a boot, but said it was more of a precaution than a necessity.

A six-year veteran, Alualu has never missed a game in his NFL career, having appeared in 95 straight contests.

"I’m playing Sunday," Alualu said. "I’m practicing Wednesday. I was walking around limping a little bit. They don’t want that. This (boot) is precautionary, making sure things don’t get worse – that I don’t tweak it walking to the car."

"I don’t care how many consecutive games I’ve played," Alualu said. "I was always taught that if you can go play and be out there with your teams, you do."

The Jaguars will close out the season against the Houston Texans. A victory would earn the Jaguars their best season since 2010 when they went 8-8.

C.J. Anderson: RB, Denver Broncos (10-4)

Anderson came up huge for the Broncos in overtime, just as he did against the New England Patriots earlier during the regular season.

While Anderson carried the ball just nine times, his total of 73 yards included a 39-yard touchdown run in overtime to help the Broncos grab a big win against the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17.

The Broncos will close out the season against the San Diego Chargers. A win would guarantee the Broncos a bye to the divisional round of the playoffs.

Bryan Anger: P, Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10)

Anger punted three times for an average of 50 yards per punt (49.7 net). Anger's longest punt, 53 yards, made it 14 out of 15 games this season during which Anger notched a punt of 50 yards or more.

Anger is a free agent following the season and houmatoday.com speculates that this could be his final season with the team.

Selected five spots ahead of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Anger is a pending free agent. His net average is at a career-low 39 yards this season, which is tied for 25th in the NFL. And although he's renowned for being a better-than-average holder and could kick field goals in a pinch, the Jaguars likely will go younger at the position.

"The challenging thing for him is we've asked him to be more directional and not just punt it right down the middle of the field but just try to be more of a directional punter," Bradley said. "I think there's a transition for that."

Deandre Coleman: DT, Miami Dolphins (5-10)

Coleman played in his fourth game of the season, but did not record any statistics as the Dolphins lost 18-12 to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Dolphins will finish their disappointing 2015 campaign against the New England Patriots. The Dolphins have not registered an above .500 record since winning the AFC East in 2008.

Chris Conte: S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9)

Conte missed out on his team's 26-21 loss to the Chicago Bears.

The Buccaneers end the season against the Carolina Panthers and will finish below .500 for a sixth consecutive season.

Brian de la Puente: Washington Redskins (8-7)

De la Puente did not play during the Redskins 38-24 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins clinched the NFC East with the win.

The Redskins close out the regular season against the Dallas Cowboys before going on the hunt for their first playoff victory since 2005.

The Washington Post has an interesting article about a segment of the Redskins' locker room which is obsessed with Lord of the Rings. Here is a snippet of the story featuring a quote from de la Puente.

When Brian de la Puente had to finish a game for the injured Josh Leribeus, teammates told him he was like Gandalf, coming in on the white stag to save the day. On hard days at practice, Long will turn to Cousins and say "Kirk, I think we’re taking the ring up to Mordor right now." In fact, when de la Puente arrived midway through the season, he was startled by the locker room conversation.

"I guess he heard a couple Lord of the Rings discussions, and he was like ‘You guys are just straight-up nerds in here,’ " Lichtensteiger said.

"I mean, everybody has their quirks, you know?" de la Puente said. "I was a little bit on the outside looking in. I feel like it might be a prerequisite to fitting in with a certain group on the team, because they know it, inside and out. So I kind of had to brush up on my Lord of the Rings movie quotes and references, because it was kind of over my head on the bus. … I think it’s funny, and I don’t even know what the hell they’re talking about."

Chris Harper: WR, New England Patriots (12-3)

Harper made a return to the active roster for the Patriots, but did not have any statistics during their 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets.

The Patriots need a win against the Dolphins to seal home-field advantage

DeSean Jackson: WR, Washington Redskins (8-7)

Jackson hauled in four passes for 40 yards to help the Redskins beat the Eagles and win the NFC East. This victory had to be especially satisfying for Jackson, considering how his tenure in Philadelphia ended.

ESPN had a story which touched on the chemistry between Jackson and Kirk Cousins:

But those weapons also enhance Cousins’ game. Jackson’s return in particular has helped and the more he plays, the better those two have clicked. In the last four games, Cousins has a 98.5 QBR and 154.0 passer rating when throwing to Jackson.

"We’re in a good place," Cousins said. "It can grow quite a bit. It’s going to grow over time. The more reps we’re able to have together, the more time we’re able to have together, the better we’ll be. He’s a very talented player."

On passes that have traveled 20 yards or longer in the air, Cousins has completed nine-of-14 throws to Jackson -- and eight-of-37 to everyone else.

"It’s just really been building trust and just knowing where I’m going to be at when I’m coming out of my breaks and depending on the routes or the play call and things like that or that ability," Jackson said. "I’m just doing my job, he’s doing his job, and we’re having fun doing it and winning at the same time. So we’re just trying to do something special here."

Marvin Jones: WR, Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

Jones caught three passes for 33 yards during their loss to the Broncos. This was a critical loss for the Bengals as they lead by multiple touchdowns in a game which could have essentially sealed a first-round bye for the team.

The Bengals face the Baltimore Ravens to end the regular season. This season will mark the fifth consecutive playoff appearance for the Bengals, who are seeking their first postseason victory since 1990.

Cameron Jordan: DE, New Orleans Saints (6-9)

Jordan tallied just one tackle during their loss to the Jaguars.

The Saints end the season against the Atlanta Falcons having already sealed a third sub-.500 season in the last four.

Mychal Kendricks: LB, Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)

Kendricks notched four tackles and two pass breakups during their loss to the Redskins, which turned out to be Chip Kelly's final game in charge of the Eagles.

Interim coach Pat Shurmur will take control of the team for their matchup with the New York Giants. The Eagles will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

L.P. Ladouceur: LS, Dallas Cowboys (4-11)

Ladouceur has now played in 172 consecutive games for the Cowboys, who lost 16-6 to the Buffalo Bills.

The Cowboys end their disappointing campaign against the Redskins.

Marshawn Lynch: RB, Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

Lynch was inactive for a sixth consecutive game due to injury. The Seahawks lost 23-17 at home against the St. Louis Rams, who seem to be a lot better at beating the Seahawks than any other team.

The Seahawks are now optimistic that Lynch can return for their first playoff game (from The News Tribune).

The likelihood that Marshawn Lynch will return to the Seahawks for the start of the playoffs has increased.

The Seahawks aren’t saying that. The star running back’s trainers in San Francisco, the ones determining whether or not Lynch returns, are telling the Seahawks that.

Asked on Wednesday if he expects Lynch to play in Seattle’s playoff opener — on Jan. 9 or Jan. 10 — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Tareq Azim, Lynch’s trainer across San Francisco Bay from Lynch’s hometown of Oakland, California.

"I would think he can make it back. That’s what we hear," Carroll said. "It’s really up to that day-to-day kind of progression that he’s making. There’s a lot of days between next week starting up. "We'll see what happens."


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/nfl/seattle-seahawks/article52406130.html#storylink=cpy

Alex Mack: C, Cleveland Browns (3-12)

Mack started for the 15th time this season in what was his 100th game since entering the NFL. The Browns lost 17-13 to the Chiefs.

The Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers to end yet another season without a playoff berth. The Browns have now missed the playoffs 16 times in 17 seasons since the franchise returned to the NFL. Making things worse is that the Browns have finished below .500 in 15 of those 17 seasons.

Brandon Mebane: DT, Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

Mebane tallied four tackles during their loss to the Rams.

The Seahawks need to beat the Arizona Cardinals and have the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings to earn the fifth seed in the NFC. Any other scenario ends up with the Seahawks as the six seed.

Ron Rivera (HC) and Richard Rodgers Sr. (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach): Carolina Panthers (14-1)

The Panthers suffered their first loss of the season 20-13 against the Falcons.

A victory against the Bucs in the regular seaosn finale would clinch the number one seed for the Panthers.

Here is video of the postgame press conference.

Aaron Rodgers: QB, Green Bay Packers (10-5)

Rodgers had perhaps the toughest day of his career during a 38-8 loss to the Cardinals. Rodgers went 15-28 for 151 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He rushed three times for 19 yards while taking eight sacks and losing two out of three fumbles.

The Packers take on the Vikings in a game that will determine the winner of the NFC North.

Here is what Rodgers had to say following the game against the Cardinals (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

In the wake of an ugly performance against one of the NFC's best teams, a sense of calm returned to the voice of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Gone were the terse, snippy remarks muttered one week prior after a win over the Oakland Raiders, when Rodgers said the offense lacked a "clear-cut direction" and he seemed to question coach Mike McCarthy's decision to reclaim play-calling duties.

In their place were a series of soothing, confident answers that spoke of belief both in himself and the teammates around him. That the 38-8 thrashing at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals was simply "being on the wrong side" of something that happens in the National Football League. That the Green Bay Packers were certainly capable of returning to either Arizona or Carolina and knocking off the two best teams on this half of the playoff bracket.

"This was a playoff-style game for us and we obviously played terrible," Rodgers said. "But we’ve won a lot of games here. When you play long enough you’re going to be on the wrong side of this sometimes. But I have confidence in those guys and myself that when it matters for all of the marbles we’re going to show up."

This is what the Packers were reduced to in the wake of a 30-point loss near the tail end of an unexplainable season. A team picked by many to reach and win the Super Bowl is left to hope that, when the playoff drama finally arrives, their offense will rise up from the dust and win the season's most important games.

Richard Rodgers: TE, Green Bay Packers (10-5)

Rodgers caught just one pass for two yards during a frustrating game against the Cardinals.

Jeremy Ross: WR/RET, Oakland Raiders (7-8)

Ross returned one kick for 15 yards and two punts for nine yards.

Mitchell Schwartz: T, Cleveland Browns (3-12)

Schwartz started for the 63rd consecutive game to begin his career.

Craig Stevens: TE, Tennessee Titans (3-12)

Stevens caught one pass for eight yards as the Titans took a disastrous 34-6 loss to the Texans.

The Titans end the season against the Colts and have a great chance at sealing the number one pick in the NFL Draft for a second consecutive season.

Nick Sundberg: LS, Washington Redskin (8-7)

Sunbderg performed the long snapper duties again for the Redskins against the Eagles.

Shane Vereen: RB, New York Giants (6-9)

Vereen returned seven kicks for 142 yards -- a career high -- while also adding three catches for 21 yards and one rush for three yards as the Giants lost 49-17 to the Vikings.

Steve Williams: CB, San Diego Chargers (4-11)

Williams was inactive due to injury.