The NFL notebook …
GREEN BAY ó The first step sometimes is the biggest for NFL teams: making the playoffs.
With that accomplished, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have much loftier goals.
Green Bay clinched the NFC North and San Francisco grabbed the NFC West last week with wins. For the Packers, thereís been nothing but victories, 12 of them, as they host Oakland today. The defending Super Bowl champions are concentrating on ensuring all their playoff games are held at Lambeau Field. And thereís that little challenge of going undefeated.
ěOh, I think itís way too early to even think about those things,î Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ěWe have 12 wins. Everybody knows what San Franciscoís record is. Itís important for us to stay focused and get ready for the Oakland Raiders. Itís way too early to think about those types of things.î
San Franciscoís record is 10-2 and the 49ers donít have the most challenging remaining schedule. They are at Arizona on Sunday ó the Niners are 4-1 on the road ó and also go to Seattle and St. Louis. The biggest test is a home game with the Steelers.
The Niners want, at worst, to finish second overall in the NFC and get a first-round playoff bye and a guaranteed home game. They also know NFC South leader New Orleans is just one game behind in the overall standings.
ěI think weíre still just kind of scratching at it, what we can become,î 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. ěAnd weíre doing some good things in the meantime, but still I think, still kind of forming and becoming what our potential is. Thatís encouraging as well that we just need to continue to keep getting better these last few weeks, each and every week taking a step …î
ST. LOUIS ó Quarterback Sam Bradford was back on the practice field Saturday for the St. Louis Rams in preparing the Rams for their game against the Seahawks on Monday.
Bradford, hampered by a high left ankle sprain, did not practice at all this week and missed last week’s game at San Francisco. He sustained the ankle injury Oct. 16 at Green Bay and missed two games.
PITTSBURGH ó The Steelers (10-3) have won eight out of nine to move a half-game ahead of Baltimore in the race for the AFC North title. Cleveland dropped to (4-9), losing for the 15th time in its last 16 meetings with the Steelers.
NEW YORK ó Green Bay’s Charles Woodson was fined $15,000 for hitting New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the head with his forearm.
ASHBURN, Va. ó Washington Redskins safety LaRon Landry will miss his second straight game today against New England because of a groin injury.