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Injury ends Joe Flacco's streak

They came together in the NFL, John Harbaugh as a rookie head coach after serving as an Eagles assistant for 10 seasons and Joe Flacco, then a first-year quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.

They came together in the NFL, John Harbaugh as a rookie head coach after serving as an Eagles assistant for 10 seasons and Joe Flacco, then a first-year quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.

The two enjoyed remarkable success together. and when the Ravens visit Cleveland on Monday, it will be the first time Harbaugh will coach with a different starter at quarterback.

Flacco, the star from Audubon High in Camden County and the University of Delaware, suffered a season-ending knee injury during Sunday's 16-13 win over St. Louis.

He had started 122 consecutive regular-season games and another 15 in the postseason, and was MVP in the Ravens' Super Bowl win over San Francisco after the 2012 season.

"It's been a blessing," Harbaugh said during a news conference this past week. "I don't know how many coaches have had that kind of run with their quarterback."

Flacco was 75-47 in the regular season and the Ravens went to the playoffs in six of his eight years. This season the injury-plagued Ravens have fallen to 3-7.

During the postseason Flacco is 10-5. He won at least one playoff game in each of the six seasons the Ravens qualified.

Harbaugh said he expected that Flacco would be ready by training camp.

Texans turnaround

Several teams that were counted out are making serious playoff runs. One of them is the Houston Texans, who began 1-4 and 2-5 but, with three wins in a row are in contention for the AFC South title and a wild-card berth.

"We are feeling great about things," Texans running back Jonathan Grimes, a graduate of South Jersey's Paul VI High, said in a phone interview. "Even early on when we weren't playing well, you sometimes have to give the other team credit."

The Texans won last week with T.J. Yates at quarterback in place of Brian Hoyer, who was out with a concussion. Hoyer is back against visiting New Orleans.

Grimes, who is fifth on the team with 17 receptions, said that coach Bill O'Brien, the former Penn State coach, kept a steady ship during the losing.

"You can imagine he wasn't happy we weren't wining, but he is relentless and finds a way to win and keep things positive," Grimes said.

Chiefs soaring

Another team that has come back is Kansas City, which is 5-5 heading into Sunday's game with Buffalo after a 1-5 start.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Chip Kelly have almost similar records since Kelly (24-19) replaced Reid (25-17) as Eagles coach, although their teams are going in opposite directions. The Eagles (4-7) have lost three in a row and Kelly's future is in question.

This week's opponent, Buffalo (5-5), is the only team left on the Chiefs schedule with even a .500 record. Former Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has been a solid addition with 49 receptions for 612 yards and two touchdowns.


The NFL recently announced three games to be played next season in London. One of those games has St. Louis being the "host" team against an NFC East team that finishes in the same spot in the division as the Rams do in the NFC West. That game is slated for Oct. 23.

The Eagles are third in the NFC East and St. Louis (4-6) is third in the NFC West.

Another NFC East team, Washington, will play in London Oct. 30 against the "host" Cincinnati Bengals.

An NFL spokesman that if Washington finished in the same spot as St. Louis, the Redskins will play in London two weeks in a row.

Trading picks?

It appears NFL teams will get the chance this year to trade compensatory picks that teams receive for a net loss of free agents this year. In the past those picks couldn't be dealt. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the decision wasn't final.

"The Competition Committee supports the change to allow teams to trade compensatory draft picks, but the clubs must approve it, which could happen at the Dec. 2 league meeting in Dallas," Aiello said in an email. "The impetus for the change is to give clubs more flexibility in preparing for the draft."


N.Y. Giants at Washington

If Washington wins, these two teams will be tied for first in the NFC East at 5-6 and the Eagles (4-7) will be only a game behind. New York won the first meeting, 32-21. Giants QB Eli Manning has thrown 21 TD passes and six interceptions, and his 96.9 passer rating is the best of his career.


Pittsburgh at Seattle

The banged-up Steelers (6-4) desperately needed their bye week. Look for plenty of running by both teams. The Steelers lead the NFL with 4.9 yards per carry, while Seattle (5-5) is third at 4.8. With Marshawn Lynch out, Thomas Rawls, who rushed for 209 yards last week, becomes the focus of Seattle's ground game.


New England at Denver

No Peyton Manning for the Broncos (8-2), which might not be so bad these days. Making his first start for the injured great, Brock Osweiler threw for 250 yards and two TDs in a 17-15 win over Chicago. Tom Brady has thrown 25 TD passes and four interceptions and has a 107.4 passer rating for the undefeated Pats.


Baltimore at Cleveland

These teams have combined for a 5-15 record. West Chester East product Matt Schaub gets the start for the Ravens after Joe Flacco's season-ending knee injury. Josh McCown will start at quarterback for Cleveland in place of Johnny Manziel.

Thumbs up: The Dallas Cowboys were a trendy pick to hand the Carolina Panthers their first loss of the year. The Panthers never looked back in a 33-14 win. Quarterback Cam Newton is an MVP candidate, Luke Kuechly is playing as well as any linebacker, and Greg Olsen might be the best tight end not named Gronkowski.

Thumbs down: Instead of making a run during the supposedly soft part of their schedule, the Eagles went 0-3 against Miami, Tampa Bay, and Detroit, who were a combined 10-17 when they faced the Birds. The Eagles allowed 90 points and 10 TD passes in the routs by Tampa Bay and Detroit.