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PFT's Week Five picks

For the second straight week, I held a one-game lead over Rosenthal entering the Monday night game.

And, for the second straight week, Rosenthal got the Monday night game right and I got it wrong, forcing a tie.

We both finished 9-5 in the first 14-game weekend.  Rosenthal won Week One and Week Two; in Week Three and Week Four, we tied.

Overall, Rosenthal is 43-19.  I’m two games back, at 41-21.

For this week’s picks and explanations, read on.


Jaguars at Bills

Florio’s take:  The Bills are bad, but in this season of parity they’re not bad enough to lose all 16.  Even with former Bills quarterback Trent Edwards feeding the Jags with the Buffalo state secrets, Jacksonville is prime for a letdown after unexpectedly toppling the Colts.  

Florio’s pick:  Bills 20, Jags 19.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bills have no chance to move the ball against superior defenses.  The Jaguars do not have a superior defense.  In fact, the Jaguars’ secondary is one of the few groups in the league struggling as much as Buffalo during their transition to the 3-4 defense.  The Bills aren’t going 0-16, and this looks like one of their most winnable games of the year.  Bad David Garrard shows up this week.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Bills 23, Jaguars 21.

Broncos at Ravens

Florio’s take:  The Broncos pulled off an unlikely road win against a one-loss team on Sunday, but the Ravens has a few more horses than the Titans.  Despite Baltimore’s so-so secondary, Denver quarterback Kyle Orton won’t have time to find an open receiver if he’s being chased and/or pummeled by the Ravens’ front seven.  Meanwhile, the Baltimore offense finally is emerging from its vegetative state, with Joe Flacco looking more like Joe Flacco and less like Stoney Case.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 24, Broncos 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The Ravens and Broncos both have the records you’d expect, but they’ve arrived there in surprising ways.  Kyle Orton and his band of hodgepodge receivers are racking up passing yards like the ’99 Rams.  Baltimore’s secondary has played great, but their run defense has been soft.  Luckily, the Broncos don’t try to run.  When they do, it doesn’t work.  Denver is a tough out, but asking for back-to-back wins in Tennessee and Baltimore is asking too much.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 28, Broncos 24.

Chiefs at Colts

Florio’s take:  Scratch a little at the word “Chiefs” and a faint “Patriots” emerges, with the presence of Scott Pioli, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Mike Vrabel, and Matt Cassel making this one a kinda-sorta renewal of one of the most compelling inter-division rivalries of the past decade.  The Chiefs have nothing to lose, and the Colts have no easy answers for their lackluster start.  It adds up to an upset.  In a PFTV video previewing what we regard to be the game of the week, I picked the Colts, but I left a little wiggle room.  I’m tempted to pick the Chiefs here, primarily because a win over the defending AFC champs would make this Chiefs team even more compelling.  (Besides, what’s the point of having wiggle room if you don’t, you know, wiggle?)  I’ll stick the home team, but I’ll gladly accept the “L” if I’m wrong.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Chiefs 20.

Rosenthal’s take:  Chiefs fans are making too much out of this game.  It’s not a litmus test for the rest of the season.  It’s Week Five. There aren’t many teams that could go into Lucas Oil Stadium and win against an angry Peyton Manning.  I’m most interested to see how Kansas City’s young secondary holds up.  They have potential to carry this team, because Matt Cassel isn’t going to.  A mismatch in special teams should keep the Chiefs close, but they will only get a moral victory here.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Colts 27, Chiefs 21.

Packers at Redskins

Florio’s take:  But for a fast start against the Eagles from quarterback Donovan McNabb, in no doubt fueled by the enthusiastic response that Philly fans gave to a guy about whom they had been ambivalent at best, the Redskins would be 1-3.  Though the Packers have yet to develop a killer instinct, they suddenly feel the hot, stinky breath of the Vikings on their necks — and so the Packers can’t afford to lose games that they easily should win.  

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Redskins 21.

Rosenthal’s take: No one knows how good the Packers are because they’ve faced one of the easiest schedules in the league.  No one knows how good the Redskins are because a wildly different team shows up every week.  I know this much:  The Redskins aren’t worse off with Ryan Torain starting at running back, but the Packers are much worse off without Nick Barnett at linebacker.  Washington doesn’t have the passing attack to take advantage, though.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Redskins 20.

Rams at Lions

Florio’s take:  Last year, the Rams’ only win of the season came against the Lions, who eventually won only two.  This year, both teams are better, even though the Lions are 0-4.  In fact, the Lions are good enough to win, even though the Rams are good enough to win the NFC West.

Florio’s prediction:  Lions 20, Rams 16.

Rosenthal’s take:  Due to a forgiving schedule and a surprising pass rush from James Hall and Chris Long, the Rams defense has been impressive this year.  They haven’t allowed more than 17 points yet.  The Lions offense has played well with Shaun Hill, which makes you wonder what they’ll do with Matthew Stafford.  Detroit has lost three games by one score and played three games on the road. Like Cleveland last week, they are overdue for a victory.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Lions 21, Rams 14.

Bears at Panthers

Florio’s take:  A loss would send the Panthers to 0-5 at their bye, putting coach John Fox at risk of possible termination.  Last week, Carolina showed progress against the Saints, and the Panthers have a blueprint for turning the Jay Cutler (or, as it turns out, Todd Collins) black and blue, courtesy of Big Blue.  The correction for Chicago continues, and Carolina gets in the win column by sticking it former Panther and Tar Heel Julius Peppers.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 14, Bears 12.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of fun questions can be answered here.  What does the worst passing attack in football look like after Carolina loses Steve Smith?  How many forward passes will John Fox call with a rookie quarterback and three rookie wide receivers?   Would you rather have a wobbly Jay Cutler (or, as it turns out, Todd Collins) or a healthy Jimmy Clausen?  I’ll take Cutler (or, as it turns out, Todd Collins), especially since the Bears rush defense can stop Carolina’s one strength.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Bears 17, Panthers 10.

Buccaneers at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bucs beat the Browns and the Browns beat the Bengals so the Bucs should beat the Bengals, right?  Even though Tampa has had the benefit of the bye week, the Bengals are a better team at home than on the road and the Bucs are still learning how to become a good team anywhere.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 21, Buccaneers 13.

Rosenthal’s take:  When the Bengals win, they don’t seem happy.  When they lose, Carson Palmer keeps his fantasy owners happy.  It’s a wobbly team [editor's note:  Rosenthal uses "wobbly" almost as much as Steve Young uses "leaking oil"], which makes this a huge game for Cincinnati.  Despite all the offensive concerns, they can enter their bye week at 3-2, and then re-group.  In the end, the veteran Bengals defense should be the best unit in this game.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 17, Bucs 14.

Falcons at Browns

Florio’s take:  The Browns have been competitive in every game, and they’re riding the momentum of a big win over the Bengals.  The Falcons struggle

d with the 49ers last week, one game after stealing a win from the Saints.  These two teams are more evenly matched than their records suggest; as a result, I’m giving the edge to the home team.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 17, Falcons 16.

Rosenthal’s take:  Falcons coach Mike Smith raised a good point this week.  His team could be 1-3 just as easily as 3-1 after Garrett Hartley’s gaffe and Nate Clements’ fumble.  The Browns are similarly incapable of playing in a blowout.  These two teams have played eight games this year, with seven decided by an average of three points.  Jake Delhomme’s likely return breaks the tie.

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 23, Browns 21.

Giants at Texans

Florio’s take:  The Giants played well with their backs against the wall, and now that their backs are a little bit off the wall, the Giants can dial up another lackluster effort.  The Texans, though not dominant, have been solid, and they can sense that a playoff appearance could be coming.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 24, Giants 20.

Rosenthal’s take:  Outside of the embarrassment in Indianapolis, the Giants defense has shown steady improvement this year.  Of course, that game against the Colts was their only road test yet.  Houston’s wideouts are banged-up, but the offensive line is coming off its best performance of the year.  They won’t let Matt Schaub get assaulted like Jay Cutler was last week.

Rosenthal’s pick:  Texans 28, Giants 17.

Saints at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  The current Drew Brees meets up with the guy who eventually could be the next Drew Brees, Cardinals rookie Max Hall.  But Hall gets a tough draw in his first start, and it will likely be a long day for the 2008 NFC champs when the 2009 NFC champs come to town.  The only question is whether the Saints can display some of the same dominance from 2009, or whether they’ll continue to eke out narrow wins.  For one week at least, I envision dominance.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Cardinals 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Cardinals are the most depressed 2-2 team in the land because they’ve played worse than some 0-4 squads.  Derek Anderson has taken all the heat, but the offensive line is in shambles, there’s no running game, Larry Fitzgerald is hurt, Joey Porter looks his age, Darnell Dockett has been inconsistent, and they don’t have a second cornerback.  Other than that, they look great.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 28, Cardinals 14.

Titans at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Two weeks after beating the team that currently plays in Houston, the Cowboys host the team that used to play in Houston.  With a bye week to prepare and the Titans simply not as good as initially believed, the Cowboys will welcome the Titans back to the Lone Star State with a Texas-sized butt whipping.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 35, Titans 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  I picked both these teams to win their division in the PFT Season Preview.  One of them will fall into a major hole after this game.  Tennessee may be getting called dirty, but where’s the toughness on offense?  Their run-blocking has been abysmal.  Chris Johnson is often breaking two tackles to get back to the line of scrimmage.  The Titans need to air it out more, especially to Kenny Britt.  The Cowboys are a tough defense to play when you are searching for answers.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 23, Titans 17. 

Chargers at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Chargers are continuing to dig out of their funk, just as the Raiders are settling in to theirs.  The only question about this one is whether it will be the last one of Tom Cable’s career.  

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 35, Raiders 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Where did all that offseason optimism about the Raiders go?  This looks like the same old team.  The defense was supposed to carry the day, but they’ve been among the league’s worst.  Bruce Gradkowski has improved the passing attack, but the offensive line still struggles.  This is a game Oakland desperately needs to stay relevant, and they usually play the Chargers tough at home.  They also usually find a way to lose.  Mike Tolbert Fever: Catch it!

Rosenthal’s pick:  Chargers 24, Raiders 20.

Eagles at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Though 0-4, the 49ers remain in contention to win the NFC West, especially since the three teams in front of them are 2-2 each.  The 2-2 Eagles enter the game without the NFC’s offensive player of the month for September, and there are real concerns that quarterback Kevin Kolb won’t be able to perform as well as he can, given the problems with the team’s offensive line.  With a national audience, an increasingly restless home crowd, and the ability to put together a string of four wins before their bye (the next opponents are the Raiders, Panthers, and Broncos), the 49ers have every incentive to put together a powerful performance.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 28, Eagles 22.

Rosenthal’s take: How little respect is there for Kevin Kolb nationwide?  The winless 49ers are favored in this game by 3.5.  With Oakland and Carolina on the schedule next, San Francisco has a real opportunity to turn their season around. There’s just very little reason to believe they’ll do so.  I’m taking the Eagles, if only for organizational superiority.  They are a team that finds ways to win over the years, while Mike Singletary’s squad searches for new and painful ways to lose each week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 24, 49ers 21.

Vikings at Jets

Florio’s take:  Suddenly, the Monday night game at the New Meadowlands Stadium becomes as compelling as the Thursday night season opener.  The Jets have won three in a row since losing on their home field to open the season, and the Vikings are desperately trying to keep pace with the Packers and the Bears.  The Jets are 7-1 against the Vikings; even with Randy Moss, win No. 2 isn’t likely to come on Monday night.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 23, Vikings 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  Randy Moss can’t pass protect.  He can’t make Brett Favre turn back the clock a year, and Moss definitely can’t re-arrange a challenging schedule that even the ’09 Vikings would struggle to win 11 games against.  The Jets have lived up to the hype so far. The offense is playing better than the defense.  Don’t expect that to continue with Calvin Pace and Darrelle Revis likely returning Monday night.

Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Vikings 13.

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Jeremy Maclin: “I think we’ll be fine” without DeSean Jackson

Jeremy+Maclin+Washington+Redskins+v+Philadelphia+xDgP1gWiIrul Getty Images

The Eagles’ decision to part ways with DeSean Jackson put a little bit more pressure on wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin in the 2014 season.

Jackson led the Eagles in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season, leaving a lot of production to replace on offense. It won’t all come down to those two players and the Eagles will likely draft a receiver, all of which leaves Maclin feeling confident that the team can still thrive with Jackson wearing a Redskins uniform.

“I think we’ll be fine, man. Obviously DeSean is one of the better playmakers in this league but we’re moving forward and I think we’ll be just fine,” Maclin said, via Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com. “I have faith in the offense and I have faith in the guys that we have in the locker room and on the football field. Chip said it himself: the offense is not built around one guy. We have multiple guys that go out there and make plays, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.”

It will help if Maclin’s fully recovered from last year’s torn ACL and he says he feels that he’d be fully cleared if training camp started right now. He’s participating in all of the workouts right now and doesn’t plan on wearing a knee brace when he does get back on the field, which are both good signs for the Eagles offense as it moves forward without Jackson.

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Jim Caldwell uncertain about Chris Houston’s ability to return to form

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Getty Images

In February, Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew said that he was “very confident” that cornerback Chris Houston would bounce back from a poor 2013 season.

Coach Jim Caldwell isn’t so sure. Caldwell said Thursday that Houston has a clean slate with the new coaching staff after a season that saw him deal with a toe injury and his father’s name coming up during former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd’s drug trafficking trial, but pointed out that a rebound is far from certain after such a sharp drop in productivity.

“I’m not certain,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “You’re never 100 percent certain about anything. I can’t be certain if I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning. Tomorrow’s not promised to me, so I’m not certain. We’ll see. He’s a young man, and typically, they heal pretty quickly, unlike old guys like me. We anticipate that he’ll come along, but we’ll have to just wait and see.”

Caldwell said Houston’s toe problem is still affecting him and the uncertainty about Houston’s future could lead the Lions to look for help at corner during the draft. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert visited on Thursday and could be a possibility with the 10th pick in the first round. That wouldn’t make a Houston rebound unnecessary, but it would give the team another option in the event Houston can’t recover his old form.

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Report: Preseason extra points to be snapped from the 15, not the 20

Kai Forbath, Sav Rocca AP

The NFL will have its kickers try longer extra points in the first two weeks of the preseason.

However, the attempts will be shorter than first announced in March.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Thursday that the longer preseason extra points will be snapped from the 15-yard-line, not the 20-yard-line, Bob Glauber of Newsday reported.

According to Glauber, Blandino said the NFL’s Competition Committee suggested the change. Glauber also reported that some teams believed extra points snapped from the 20 would be exceedingly challenging.

In March, NFL owners tabled a proposal to move extra points to the 25-yard-line. However, the league did agree to try the extra points from the 20 in the preseason.

Now, the line of scrimmage has been moved five yards closer for those early-preseason extra points. For those looking for a serious, lasting shakeup to the staid extra point, today’s news is a downer.

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L.A. district attorney refers Aldon Smith case to city attorney

Aldon Smith AP

The case of Aldon Smith’s fake bomb threat is being passed around like a real hot potato.

First, LAX police gave the file to the LAPD Criminal Conspiracy Unit.  Now, the L.A. County district attorney’s office has punted the prosecution to the L.A. city attorney.

According to the Associated Press, the case has been sent from the county D.A. to the city D.A. for “misdemeanor consideration.”  That’s good news for Smith, who previously was facing a potential felony charge.

There’s a chance Smith ultimately faces no prosecution at all, if the powers-that-be decide he was making a really dumb joke.  But if they decide to deter non-celebrities from making similarly dumb jokes in an airport security line, they should consider pushing the issue.

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Draft delay not good for the NFL

nfl-draft1 Getty Images

Mark Cuban may have been right.

It took me a while to type that.  I don’t want Mark Cuban to be right, for various reasons.  Including, you know, Mark Cuban.

But I’ve come to wonder whether Cuban may be on to something when he talks about the NFL getting too big for its own good.  Of the league getting so big that the audience becomes taken for granted.

Whatever the motivation — the given excuse was a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall for an event that eventually was canceled due to lack of interest — the NFL’s decision to bump back the draft by two weeks has been as much of a dud as the NFL-sanctioned film Draft Day.  A palpable fatigue has emerged regarding the draft.  We sense it, and we (or at least I) currently have it.

While the league reportedly would like to space out the three major offseason tent poles (Scouting Combine, free agency, and draft) to March, April, and May, respectively, moving the draft to May while leaving the other two in place has created the worst thing any media-driven industry can have:  A lull.

No one likes the lull.  Also, agents don’t like the fact that teams have more times to ask players to engage in private workouts.  Teams don’t like having more time to evaluate and obsess and think and re-think.

As one G.M. said via text on Wednesday night, “Remind me again why the draft is not tomorrow? Is it so we can see another two weeks of mock drafts?”

We’ve yet to hear from anyone who likes the two-week delay, and the extended vacuum that it creates in the offseason.

By the time the draft begins, nearly two months will have passed since the start of free agency.  And while the schedule release provided a temporary oasis from the lagging of the offseason calendar, a feeling remains that too much time is elapsing between major offseason events.

Here’s hoping the NFL, in its admirable desire to always improve the product, recognizes and admits that the effort to improve the product by delaying the draft by two weeks hasn’t.  Here’s hoping that the NFL moves the draft back to what would have been tonight, keeping it there unless and until the other two major offseason events move deeper into the calendar as well.

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Should the Vikings draft a first-round quarterback?

Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel AP

Will the Vikings draft a quarterback with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft? That’s the big question as we examine the Vikings’ draft needs.

Three years ago, the Vikings used their first-round pick on a quarterback, Christian Ponder. Although Ponder remains on the roster, no one thinks he’s the franchise quarterback of the future. That raises the question of whether the Vikings will use this year’s first-round pick on a quarterback. If they do, Blake Bortles of Central Florida, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M are all candidates.

But quarterback is far from the only need for a team that also has question marks at several other positions and is coming off a very disappointing 2013 season. The Vikings may be better off turning elsewhere at No. 8.

Tell us what you think the Vikings should do, and check out our look at the Vikings’ draft needs here.

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Ravens agree to deal with WR LaQuan Williams

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Ravens have reportedly reached a deal with wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who played 23 regular season games for the club from 2011 through 2012.

Williams indicated he would be returning to Baltimore on his verified Twitter account. The Baltimore Sun and WNST-AM in Baltimore also reported Williams’ agreement with the Ravens. According to Aaron Wilson of the Sun, Williams will receive a one-year contract.

The 25-year-old Williams notched nine special teams tackles and caught four passes for 46 yards in his two seasons with the Ravens. The club waived him in September 2013. After his departure from Baltimore, Williams had a 10-day stint with the Patriots during the 2013 regular season.

A University of Maryland product, Williams seems likely to compete for the reserve wideout and special teams coverage roles he had in his previous stint in Baltimore.

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Bears worked out Darius Reynaud on Wednesday

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The Bears, who signed tailback Shaun Draughn on Wednesday, also took a look another veteran running back with kick-returning experience yesterday.

According to Howard Balzer of The Sports Xchange, the Bears tried out Darius Reynaud, who had stints with the Jets and Titans a season ago. Other media outlets have also reported Reynaud’s workout for Chicago.

The 29-year-old Reynaud has made his biggest impact as a kickoff and punt returner on the NFL level. The sixth-year pro from West Virginia has returned 104 kickoffs for 2,347 yards, and he has brought back 102 punts for 985 yards. He has three career return touchdowns: two on punts and one on a kickoff.

The Bears allowed Devin Hester to leave in free agency, leaving the club a little more unsettled at the returner positions than it’s been in some time. However, the Bears do have multiple players with return experience on the roster, with Draughn, Eric Weems and Josh Morgan among the potential candidates to return kicks.

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Goodell: Playoff expansion to be discussed at next owners meeting

Goodell AP

An expanded NFL playoff field is probably inevitable, even if it’s not imminent.

But don’t tell that to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell told Bob Glauber of Newsday that owners would discuss the proposal at their May 20 meeting in Atlanta, with a vote possible.

Of course, even the owners involved aren’t sure it can be fast-tracked for the 2014 season, with Giants president John Mara saying this week he wasn’t sure there was time to implement such a plan for the coming season.

Then there’s also the matter of getting the players to sign off.

Mara noted “my guess is that it’s going to pass at some point,” and that’s probably the right approach to take. Even if some believe the NFL risks oversaturation by fiddling with a good product, the move to 14 teams looks like something that’s happening, and the only real discussion is the when.

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No holes in Vikings schedule, despite presence of Gophers

Minnesota v Indiana Getty Images

Making an NFL schedule is complicated enough, but with the Vikings in someone else’s building, it added a layer to the proceedings.

According to Master Tesfatsion of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the league had to work around a number of requests from the University of Minnesota while the Vikings are using TCF Bank Stadium.

The agreement between the Vikings and the school said that the Vikings could only have one weeknight game when class was in session (which they avoided by playing their Thursday night game on the road).

They also have to work preseason games around move-in week in August, and finals in December. The Vikings play at Detroit while Minnesota students are studying for finals.

The Vikings and Gophers will only have one shared weekend of home games, when the University plays Northwestern on Oct. 11 and the Vikings host the Lions the next day.  (So much purple in Minneapolis that weekend, even Prince will be confused.)

Perhaps most importantly, they were able to avoid conflicts with the Minnesota State Fair (Aug. 21-Sept. 1).

For the sake of the enthusiasts of walleye-on-a-stick and rhubarb pie contests, we can all breathe a sigh of relief for that.

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Report: Bucs would seriously consider Manziel at No. 7

Manziel Getty Images

Since the draft should be today but won’t be today because the NFL moved it to two weeks from today, we’ll spend today and the next 13 tomorrows wondering what will happen when draft day finally is today.

The guy about which everyone wonders the most is quarterback Johnny Manziel.  Though some continue to insist Manziel won’t be taken in round one, we’d be shocked if he’s on the board when Thursday night ends.

We won’t be shocked if Manziel hears his name called in the top 10.  The latest team to join the list of potential top-10 teams that could take Manziel is the Buccaneers.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that the Buccaneers would “seriously consider” taking Manziel, if he’s on the board at No. 7.  The Bucs see Manziel as being “very unique,” having a “good arm and accuracy,” and generally being a “great athlete.”

That all may be true, but we can’t help but “seriously consider” whether the Bucs would like to see someone cut the line in front of the Buccaneers and take Manziel, pushing down the board a player the Bucs actually prefer.  There’s otherwise no reason to let it be known that the Bucs would take Manziel.

But since we’ve got two more weeks to go, get ready for more smokescreens and obfuscations (hey, watch your mouth) before the time comes to pick the players.

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Paul McCartney to perform at final concert at Candlestick Park

Paul McCartney AP

The headliner at Candlestick’s Park final concert is a legendary musical performer who has some experience playing at the soon-to-be closed stadium.

Via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Paul McCartney will play the closing show at Candlestick Park on Thursday, August 14, a website dedicated to the artist’s work announced Thursday.

The show, according to PaulMcCartney.com, has been tabbed “Farewell to Candlestick: The Final Concert.”

PaulMcCartney.com bills itself as the “Official Website” of the 72-year-old performer.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle had reported that the 49ers had wanted McCartney to perform the first show at Levi’s Stadium.

According to McCartney’s website, The Beatles’ final concert was at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

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Spurrier thinks the Texans “have to” take Clowney

Steve Spurrier AP

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says the Houston Texans have only one option with the first overall pick in the NFL draft: Select former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

“Yeah, I think you have to,” Spurrier said when asked by Dan Patrick if the Texans should take Clowney.

Spurrier said if there was a franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck in this draft, it might be a different story. But Spurrier doesn’t believe any of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft is that kind of elite talent, and as a result he says CLowney is the clear choice.

“He’s a really good football player, and obviously pass rushing is what he does best,” Spurrier said. “He’s a pass rusher like nobody I think I’ve ever seen in college football.”

Spurrier has been candid about Clowney not always having the best work ethic, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no question about who the most talented player in this draft is. That’s Clowney.

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Report: Patriots sign Josh Hull

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Linebacker Josh Hull was released by the Redskins earlier this month, but it looks like he’s landed a new job.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Patriots have signed Hull to a one-year deal.

No financial terms were disclosed, but it is unlikely that Hull got more than the minimum salary for a player with four years in the league. Hull had 14 tackles in 11 games for the Redskins last year in a special teams role. The 2010 seventh-round pick also played 28 games for the Rams before they cut him at the end of the summer.

His work in St. Louis was mostly on special teams as well, so you’d expect that New England will be asking him to compete for a role on those units in 2014.

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More physicals in Indy for some top prospects

Scott Crichton AP

It seems like the Scouting Combine was forever ago, but some prospects are heading back to Indianapolis for one of the final steps in the pre-draft process.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton is among a group of players going back to Indy for a medical re-check.

Players are given vigorous and thorough examinations at the Combine, and teams view those checks as the main benefit of the event. Any players with red flags then are brought back in for a re-check later.

Crichton had a stinger, which was the reason he has to head back, but said he had no serious neck issues.

Assuming the physical confirms that, Crichton could be a second-round selection.

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