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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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Terron Armstead, Delvin Breaux out for Monday night

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes while tackle Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints blocks against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

As they try to get their first win of the season, the Saints will be missing a pair of starters on Monday night.

Tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (fibula) are both out.

Several other Saints are questionable: defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), tight end Josh Hill (ankle), defensive end Cameron Jordan (knee), receiver Willie Snead (toe), and safety Kenny Vaccaro (ankle).

Snead told reporters on Saturday that he’ll see how the toe injury feels on Monday.

“I just want to be healthy for the year,” Snead said. “I want it to be gone, and just make sure it’s taken care of.”

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18 games still not a consideration for NFLPA

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 7:    Jermaine Cunningham #96 and  Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots rough up  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after he released a pass during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s a belief in league circles that the NFL: (1) still wants to expand the regular season to 18 games; (2) knows it can’t ask the players to expand the regular season to 18 games because of the safety considerations involved; and (3) hopes to entice the players to offer an expansion to 18 games in order to secure other concessions, like neutral arbitrations and a bigger piece of the financial pie.

If that’s the plan, the NFL Players Association doesn’t seem to be inclined to take the bait.

“I just can’t imagine a world where you add two more regular season games at the end of a brutal season that we have,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live. “Certainly there’s been no proposal from the owners about increasing roster sizes or doing anything else to make sure that players’ health and safety is first and foremost. I mean look we are still in the middle of or the beginning of an investigation about how doctors handled the concussion protocol for the first game of the season and it seems to me that if you can’t successfully pull off a Hall of Fame game and you have what appears to be enough evidence to convince both parties to conduct an investigation of the concussion protocol, [it’s] probably not the right time to think about adding two regular season games.”

While hardly a kicking open of the door, Smith didn’t slam the door shut and barricade it with furniture. And that’s a smart play. If the NFL is willing to make major concessions and increase roster sizes and take other steps aimed at making the game safer for all players, maybe 18 games can happen. Smith’s point is that plenty of other issues need to be addressed before a two-game expansion of the regular season would be even a possibility.

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Julio Jones questionable, but he says he’ll play

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with Matt Ryan #2 after a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Officially, Falcons receiver Julio Jones is questionable for Monday night’s game at New Orleans with a calf injury. He didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday, and he participated on a limited basis on Saturday. He nevertheless says he’ll play.

Yes, yes I’ll play Monday night,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t chance it if I didn’t [feel like I was ready]. If I felt like I was going to overcompensate or something else was going to get tore up or it was going to get worse or anything like that. I’m good, I’ve been getting great treatment, therapy and rest — it’s the key.”

Out for the Falcons are linebacker Paul Worrilow (groin) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle). All other Falcons are good to go for Monday night.

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Patriots in limbo at quarterback position

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo has a shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett has a thumb injury. Tom Brady has one game remaining on his suspension.

So what will the Patriots do at quarterback in Week Four against the Bills?

For now, they’re not saying — as if they ever say anything. T.J. Yates had a workout last week and Sean Renfree visited; one of them could be added, either to serve as the backup next Sunday, or possibly to start.

Few other options exist, if neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can play. Unless they intend to give Julian Edelman a crash course in a position he hasn’t played since college at Kent State, they’ll need to add someone else, if there’s any doubt that either of the two quarterbacks currently on the roster will be ready in eight days.

Whatever they do, coach Bill Belichick will have a plan, and chances are it will work.

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Signs not pointing to Sammy Watkins playing

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills gets upended by  Calvin Pryor #25 of the New York Jets  during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

He’s listed as questionable, which currently means he’s at worst a 50-50 proposition to play. However, coach Rex Ryan made it sound like receiver Sammy Watkins is more doubtful than questionable.

Probably not real good,” Ryan said Friday regarding the likelihood Watkins will play, via Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News. “But we’ll see. If he feels good and he’s up to it, we’ll put him in there.”

Complicating matters is that someone stepped on Watkins’ injured foot during a walk-through this week. He had surgery on the foot during the offseason.

Watkins has six catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns in two games this season.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET: And within 15 minutes of this item being posted, Watkins tweeted that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

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With Antonio Gates doubtful, Chargers call up a tight end

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 28: Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings tackles Hunter Henry #86 of the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter of the game on August 28, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers  tight end Antonio Gates is doubtful for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, with a hamstring injury. In anticipation of Gates not playing, the Chargers have added another tight end to the active roster.

The Chargers promoted Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. To create a spot for Cleveland, the Chargers waived running back Andre Williams.

With Gates unlikely to play, rookie Hunter Henry should get plenty of reps and plenty of opportunities to catch passes from Philip Rivers.

Henry has only one catch in two targets. That likely will change on Sunday, if as it appears Gates doesn’t play.

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Lions cut Aaron Dobson to make room for a linebacker

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 27:   Aaron Dobson #17 of the New England Patriots makes a catch with pressure from  Peyton Thompson #25 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Dobson’s stint as a Lion was a short one.

The Lions, who signed Dobson on Tuesday, announced that they waived him today.

With two linebackers, DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams, ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Packers, the Lions had a bigger need at that position. So they signed linebacker Zaviar Gooden to the active roster from the practice squad and waived Dobson to create a roster spot for Gooden.

Dobson, the former Patriots receiver, could return to Detroit once the Lions have a spot for him on their roster.

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Twitter’s NFL stream won’t build momentum in Week Four

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Twitter scored an impressive 34-percent increase in average viewership for its live stream of Thursday Night Football from Week Two to Week Three.

For Week Four, count on a 100-percent drop.

The game between the Dolphins and Bengals will be televised only by NFL Network. As a result, it won’t be streamed on Twitter.

That was the arrangement from the get-go, with Twitter streaming only the games televised on NFLN and CBS or NBC.

The exclusivity of the broadcast relates directly to NFL Network’s arrangements with cable and satellite providers. The ability to charge the rate the NFL currently receives hinges on having a certain amount of game content.

This means that, during those weeks when games are televised by NFLN only, they won’t be available on Twitter. Which will make it hard to develop viewing habits on Twitter — and which undoubtedly will result in plenty of complaints from users who dial up Twitter on Thursday night in search of Dolphins-Bengals but can’t find it.

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Jeff Fisher won’t say which quarterback will be inactive

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams attends warm ups before the start of the home opening NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Prior to Week One against the 49ers, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said rookie quarterback Jared Goff would be inactive. Prior to Week Two against the Seahawks, Fisher said Goff would be active.

Prior to Week Three at Tampa, Fisher’s not saying anything.

“Don’t know yet,” Fisher told reporters on Friday. “Have to wait and see. . . . Come to the game.”

Fisher has decided that one of the quarterbacks will be inactive. It will be Goff or Sean Mannion.

The decision to suddenly be circumspect could be a sign that Fisher is thinking about using his second quarterback, if starter Case Keenum can’t get the offense into the end zone. Through two games, the Rams have yet to score a touchdown.

There’s no guarantee Goff would be the next man up. Mannion earned the No. 2 spot on the depth chart before the season began; if Fisher gets fed up with Keenum, Mannion could get a chance to play before Goff would be pressed into service. Once Goff is on the field, it will be hard to bench him for Mannion or Keenum, given the move the Rams made to the top of the draft to get him.

Regardless, if the Bucs are inclined to prepare for a second quarterback on Sunday, they won’t know who that will be until 90 minutes before kickoff.

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Cutler makes the trip, but Bears downgrade two

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Lions defeated the Bears 37-34 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Injured quarterback Jay Cutler made the trip, but the Bears announced Saturday that running back Kadeem Carey and nose tackle Eddie Goldman did not make the trip and will not play Sunday night at Dallas.

All three had been listed as doubtful. Cutler suffered a thumb injury in last Monday’s game vs. the Eagles and did not practice all week.

Brian Hoyer is the presumed starting quarterback vs. the Cowboys.

Goldman, the Bears’ starting nose tackle, is one of several players who was injured in last week’s game. The Bears still list nine players as questionable, including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, guard Josh Sitton, right tackle Bobby Massie, safety Adrian Amos and linebacker Willie Young.

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Elway on Osweiler: The deals you don’t make at times are the best

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans reacts during the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Brock Osweiler looked like anything but an $18 million per year quarterback on Thursday night as the Texans were shut out in New England, and the guy who nearly signed him for not much less than that noticed.

“A lot of times those deals you don’t make are the best ones,” Broncos executive V.P. of football operations and G.M. John Elway told Dave Logan and Susie Wargin of KOA radio on Friday.

Though Elway was responding to specific question and had a lighthearted tone, he said what he said, and it’ll be interesting to see what Osweiler and the Texans eventually have to say about that.

“Obviously it was a tough night for Houston last night and — but things move on,” Elway added. “You try to make the best decision when you have to make it. . . . Excluding last night, we really felt good with the way everything’s fallen, the way we went into camp, and we’re really excited with the guys who are playing the position for us now.”

Osweiler’s replacement, Trevor Siemian, has one touchdown pass and three interceptions in two games, both at home. On Sunday, the Broncos play a true road game for the first time since December 20, a stretch of seven games without having to entire hostile territory.

The Broncos will be in their own back yard on October 24, when Osweiler returns to town with the Texans. Elway’s comments likely will provide extra motivation; based, however, on what happened Thursday night, they’ll need a lot more than motivation to match up with the defending NFL champions.

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Clay Matthews ruled out as Packers downgrade four

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Inside linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers’ defense is ailing heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions.

Green Bay announced today that linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett have both been ruled out, after previously being listed as doubtful.

The Packers also downgraded two players who were previously listed as questionable — defensive tackle Letroy Guion and linebacker Datone Jones — to doubtful. Players listed as doubtful hardly ever play.

Packers cornerback Sam Shields was already ruled out with a concussion, so Green Bay’s defense is seriously depleted.

Of course, the Lions won’t have any sympathy, as three of their key defensive players are out as well in defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebackers DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams.
For the

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Kubiak on Siemian: “He’s made some poor decisions”

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) thaws as Los Angeles Rams defensive end Eugene Sims (97) pursues during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney) AP

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian has three interceptions in his first two starts, and coach Gary Kubiak says those passes showed that Siemian has a long way to go in his decision-making.

Kubiak noted that Siemian still sometimes makes throws as if he thinks the opposing defenders have college speed. NFL defenders can intercept a pass that would have been out of a college defender’s range, and Siemian needs to learn that.

“He’s made some poor decisions,” Kubiak said, via ESPN. “I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it’s just learning that, ‘Trevor, That guy can make that play. You’re not in college anymore. You’re not going to throw that ball through that guy.’ I think some of the speed of the game factors that he’s beginning to understand a little bit is going to make him better each week.”

Kubiak is blunt, but he’s got a point: The Broncos are 2-0, but Siemian needs to make better decisions if they’re going to keep winning.

If Siemian doesn’t make better decisions, Kubiak may turn to rookie first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch. Kubiak showed last year that he wasn’t afraid to make changes at quarterback, from Peyton Manning to Brock Osweiler and back again. The Broncos also showed last year that to win with their defense, they don’t need great quarterback play, just adequate quarterback play. Siemian will have to cut down the mistakes if he wants Kubiak to view him as adequate enough to keep the job.

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Giants make roster swap, promote a safety

IRVING, TX - JANUARY 13:  A New York Giants helmet sits on the field before the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on January 13, 2008 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants promoted safety Andrew Adams from the practice squad on Saturday.

Cornerback Michael Hunter, who’d been promoted earlier in the week, was waived to make room for Adams on the roster.

Adams, an undrafted rookie, becomes the team’s third safety for Sunday’s game vs. the Redskins. Starter Darian Thompson will miss the game with a foot injury, and Nat Berhe will take his spot in the starting lineup.

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Saturday one-liners

UNITED STATES - MAY 15:  May 15, 1955, California, Los Angeles, On The Honeymooners TV show Jackie Gleason.  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) Getty Images

The honeymoon is definitely over between Bills fans and Rex Ryan.

With RB Arian Foster out, the Dolphins will use a committee approach at the position.

Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount is becoming a second-half force, with 92 yards and a touchdown in the final two quarters against Miami and 94 yards and two scores in the final two quarters against Houston.

Jets RB Bilal Powell says he’s not worried about a lack of opportunities in the first two games.

The Ravens will wear a helmet decal for the rest of the season to honor defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, who recently passed after fighting stomach and esophageal cancer.

Bengals OT Cedric Ogbuehi is ready to face Von Miller; “He’s probably the best player right now,” Ogbuehi said. “It’s exciting for me. This is why they drafted me. To block guys like him.”

The Browns are dealing with plenty of injuries.

Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams may revisit his position regarding references to his age if he becomes the the oldest running back in NFL history to gain 300 or more yards in the first three games of a season.

Texans WR Jaelen Strong had a rough night in New England.

If you’re curious to know the names of some of the Colts’ new cornerbacks, don’t ask their teammates.

Opponents likely will pick on Jaguars CB Dwayne Gratz until he irons out the mistakes.

The 9/11 cleats worn in Week One by Titans LB Avery Williamson raised $6,600 at auction.

With Donald Stephenson out, the Broncos will rotate Michael Schofield, Ty Sambrailo, and Darrion Weems at right guard and right tackle.

The Chiefs have done well without RB Jamaal Charles; they’ll be even better with him.

Raiders WR Amari Cooper has gotten off to a great start in his second season.

Chargers TE Hunter Henry is in line for plenty of catches this week, and possibly beyond.

Cowboys LT Tyron Smith didn’t finish practice on Friday after his back tightened.

Despite listing RB Rashad Jennings as questionable, the Giants aren’t concerned about his ability to play with a thumb injury.

Eagles DT Destiny Vaeao has made the most of limited playing time.

Washington WR DeSean Jackson will be “ready to roll” despite knee and ankle injuries.

Are the Bears destined for mediocrity unless and until the team is sold?

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin knows his unit has “faded” in both games.

The Packers have been putting WR Randall Cobb in the backfield at times, but it hasn’t worked yet.

CB Xavier Rhodes could be a difference-maker for the Vikings on Sunday at Carolina.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan won’t commit to using the no-huddle offense on a regular basis, despite its success last week in Oakland.

Panthers RB Cameron Artis-Payne will get the start on Sunday, but the team will use a committee approach.

Saints LB Dannell Ellerbe continues to work his way back to full health.

The Buccaneers will unveil stadium upgrades for Sunday’s home opener; they could be a useful distraction if the team plays like it did at Arizona.

The first time Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald played in Buffalo, he didn’t catch a single pass; it’s the only time in his career that he hasn’t.

Rams RB Benny Cunningham had a 102-yard kickoff return against Tampa last season, but didn’t score; this time, he wants to finish the job.

The 49ers haven’t won in Seattle since Christmas Eve 2011.

With three sacks in two games, Seahawks DE Frank Clark already has matched his total for all of 2015.

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