SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Buffalo's off-season defensive moves have yet to pay off

With its heightened emphasis on player safety, the NFL requires that players who suffer concussions be cleared by an independent neurologist before returning. Griffin didn't sit out any practices this week. Maybe he's fine. Here's betting that if he weren't such an essential player, the Redskins would have given him more time to ease back into action.

Family tradition

Like all NFL teams, the 49ers embrace the one-game-at-a-time philosophy, that no game is as important as the next one. But Eddie DeBartolo, the team's former owner, is thoroughly convinced San Francisco is going to win the Super Bowl.

"They're better than anybody they're going to play," DeBartolo said this week from his Montana ranch. "There's not a team out there that's better than San Francisco, and I think they're considerably better than the next team.

"Truthfully, I don't see a weakness. … I don't think there's any question that they're going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. And I don't think there's a team in the AFC — and that includes New England — that can stay with them for 60 minutes."

That sets the bar pretty high for 49ers Chief Executive Jed York, DeBartolo's nephew.

Then again, hey, what's family for?

A need for speed

The New England Patriots leaned heavily on their no-huddle offense in a 31-21 victory over Denver last Sunday, running 89 offensive plays, an especially high number when you consider the Patriots weren’t trying to come from behind. By way of comparison, the fastbreaking Oregon Ducks have averaged 82 plays over their last three games.

If the Patriots keep up this pace, don’t be surprised if opponents begin feigning injuries -- especially in the red zone -- just so they can get the right defensive personnel groupings on the field without burning timeouts.

Texas tall

No one is standing taller these days than 6-foot-5 J.J. Watt, defensive lineman for the 5-0 Houston Texans. More impressive than his AFC-leading 71/2 sacks are his eight pass deflections.

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