Players, owners remain at standoff on mediation

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Players, owners remain at standoff on mediation

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

So where do things stand with the NFL lockout one day after the two sides appeared in federal court? Back-to-back, arms crossed, refusing to budge. Chiefs linebacker and former Patriot Mike Vrabel told me via e-mail Thursday morning that he was "very impressed with our lead counsel Jim Quinn as well as Jeff Kessler who assisted him."He added, "Judge Nelson was extremely prepared to hear the case and we look forward, as the court suggested, to resume settlement talks under federal mediation."Later in the day, the players released a similar statement.
The key here is that the players want to meet with a mediator to settle their lawsuit, not to reach agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Once the lawsuit is settled, then they want to negotiate a new CBA.
The owners, meanwhile, want the lawsuit to go away so the sides can resume CBA negotiations. They want mediation, too, but their recommendation is to get back with federal mediator George Cohen and work towards a new contract agreement. And neither will likely budge too soon unless Judge Nelson forces both sides into mediation under her jurisdiction. Absent that, they'll stand back-to-back, arms crossed, as they wait for her ruling on the players' anti-trust lawsuit. And then they'll wait until the losing side's appeal is decided. All of which could drag out for months, into the summer.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled lockout. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.