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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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Lack of HGH testing could contribute to Gordon suspension

marijuana-justi-sullivan-getty Getty Images

A difference of reporting exists as to whether an agreement on HGH testing would or wouldn’t result in a relaxed marijuana testing threshold for NFL players.  While no tentative agreement to use a higher limit for marijuana metabolites has been reached, it’s clear that the NFL would listen, if the NFLPA makes a request along those lines in an effort to break the lingering logjam arising from the authority of the Commissioner in PED/HGH appeals.

Regardless, the NFL’s current limit of 15 ng/ml needs to change, especially since (as pointed out by ESPN’s Bomani Jones) the World Anti-Doping Agency raised its limit by an order or magnitude in 2013, from 15 to 150 ng/ml.

A low limit of 15 ng/ml can be reached via second-hand smoke.  As pointed out by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gordon’s appeal also will advance that argument.

No matter how or why or when the NFL adopts a higher limit, it will be grossly overdue and any positive tests or suspensions based on anything lower than the WADA limits will be grossly unfair — especially since the NFL has been consistently pointing to WADA to support its proposed HGH testing protocol.

Under the current policy as previously negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA, arguments based on the disparity between Gordon’s “A” bottle and “B” bottle and whether the average concentration (based on the split sample) of 14.8 ng/ml in the two bottles came from second-hand smoke won’t matter.  A strict, literal application of the policy will result in Gordon being suspended for a full year, during which time he’ll be completely banished from his team and required to continue to pass up to 10 tests per months, or he won’t be reinstated.

If any notion of fairness and common sense is applied to the appeal process, Gordon won’t be suspended at all.  Especially since the NFL apparently hasn’t and won’t subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to the same kind of rigorous testing for an admitted addiction that, if it’s not cured, eventually would result in Irsay being kicked out of the league for at least a year, too.

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Report: Cardinals, Patrick Peterson close to extension

Patrick Peterson AP

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has gone a few rounds with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman this offseason about which of them is the best cornerback in the NFL and Peterson may soon have a new contract to use as further ammunition for his case.

Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reports that the Cardinals and Peterson are close to an agreement on a contract extension that would keep Peterson in Arizona for the near future. Per Getlin, there are still some hurdles to cross but there’s a “good chance” something gets done shortly.

It’s unclear if one of the hurdles is structuring the deal so that it puts him above Sherman and Browns cornerback Joe Haden in the league’s pecking order. Sherman signed a four-year deal this year that includes $40 million in guaranteed money while Haden signed his name on a five-year deal that has $45 million in guarantees, although some of those guarantees are against injury only.

Peterson is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal, which is set to pay him more than $2.8 million, and the Cardinals exercised their fifth-year option on the 2011 first-round pick’s pact earlier this offseason.

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David Wilson sent to hospital for battery of tests

David Wilson AP

After suffering a “burner” in practice Tuesday, the Giants are going to take no chances with running back David Wilson.

The team announced that Wilson was being taken to the Hospital for Special Surgery for a battery of tests and a complete workup. Wilson had neck surgery this offseason, so it’s an obvious concern.

They don’t know much at this point, but any injury anywhere near his neck is worrisome for the Giants.

We were all praying that it would be not an issue,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Tom Rock of Newsday

Rock also points out, the other name for a burner is “transient neurapraxia,” which doesn’t fit as neatly into the world of fantasy football.

Given what Wilson has gone through already, lending some gravity to the situation isn’t the worst idea.

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Steelers seize on Ben saying, “I want to be here”

Ben AP

The not-so-subtle media tug-of-war continues between the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger regarding his future with the team, which will depend in large part on the size of the dollars the Steelers plan to pay him on his next contract.  If Ben leaves, his legacy in Pittsburgh will be adversely affected — especially if he leaves after repeatedly saying he never wants to leave.

And so it’s no surprise that Roethlisberger saying he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh became a headline on the team’s official website.

I want to be here,” Roethlisberger said Monday, after G.M. Kevin Colbert declared that he doesn’t envision a set of circumstances in which Roethlisberger plays for another team.  And Steelers.com pounced.

“That’s always been what I’ve said, too,” Roethlisberger said. “I said it last year when the erroneous NFL Network reports came out.”

The “erroneous” reports from NFL Network, partially owned by the Steelers, were attributed to unnamed Steelers sources.  And those leaks may have been calculated to provoke Ben to declare that he doesn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, making it easier for the Steelers to low ball Big Ben and persuade him to accept whatever their best offer is — even if it doesn’t come close to reflecting his market value or making up for the hometown discount he believes he’s already giving the team.

If it all falls apart, the team will blame the player and the player will be the team and more leaks undoubtedly will flow to NFLN and others aimed at ensuring the fans agree with the organization’s position that Ben abandoned Pittsburgh.

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Rueben Randle skips practice with sore hamstring

Rueben Randle AP

The Giants trainers have been busier than they might like in the early part of training camp.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham has been out since last week with a hamstring problem, running back David Wilson’s return from neck surgery was hampered by a burner on Tuesday and wide receiver Rueben Randle didn’t take part in Tuesday’s practice because of a hamstring issue of his own.

“He was sore in the hamstring, so we held him,” Coughlin said, via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

Graziano reports that it didn’t sound like something the Giants think is a serious problem, but they need only look to Beckham for an example of how a seemingly minor hamstring injury can turn into something more if it doesn’t get the proper time to heal.

The team is off on Wednesday before getting back to work ahead of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game against the Bills. There’s no word now on Randle’s status for that contest, but the larger goal of having Randle on the field come the regular season could lead the team to hold off on Randle’s preseason debut a little while longer.

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Cowboys giving Tony Romo a day off, say no setbacks

Tony Romo AP

It’s been so far, so good as Tony Romo comes back from back surgery.

So the Cowboys don’t feel compelled to push it.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo won’t practice today, as the team installs its two-minute offense.

He hasn’t had any setback but the biggest thing that we talked to Tony about and really all of our players about, is honest feedback,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We recognize that you’re a tough player, I saw what you did against the Redskins last year. You just got to tell us how you’re doing, how it’s going and make sure we handle it the right way each and every day.

“There’s an old adage in football, a day off can be really valuable. Two days off can be life changing, so when you get in this kind of a situation, we had yesterday off, got some good work this morning in the walk-through, some mental work of some of the different situations we’re working on. Off this afternoon and hopefully back as it tomorrow.”

Romo didn’t practice last Friday either, as the team handles him with the utmost care. It also gives them a chance to give new backup Brandon Weeden more reps, in case he’s ever needed.

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Seahawks fear another torn Achilles for Anthony McCoy

Anthony+Mccoy+Arizona+Cardinals+v+Seattle+CvKeg9kADkhl Getty Images

Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a torn left Achilles in the offseason. Now the Seahawks fear McCoy has torn his right Achilles.

PFT’s Curtis Crabtree is at Seahawks camp and reports that McCoy collapsed to the ground during full team drills and laid face down on the turf for a few minutes before he was carted off the field. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed afterward that it appears serious.

“Early indications are he hurt his other Achilles,” Carroll said. “If it is what they think it is, it’s just a real heartbreaker. He worked so hard to get back and all. If it was the same Achilles you might understand it but we think it’s the other one. So we’ll see what happens.”

McCoy played for Carroll at USC and was a sixth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2010. After not seeing much playing time early in his career, McCoy started to come on in 2012, when he caught 18 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. But now it appears that he’s about to miss his second season in a row.

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Browns happy to see scuffles at practice

Mike Pettine AP

Practice scuffles are a training camp inevitability and we’ve seen them break out at several camps already this summer.

It was the Browns’ turn on Tuesday and their practice featured a big blowup. NFL.com has video of the incident, which seemed to involve a good number of players from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After things cooled down, Browns coach Mike Pettine opted against the tried and true coach response of saying that he wants to see his charges show more control over themselves when working among teammates.

“When we talk about the kind of team we want to be, you have to practice that way and that is hard, that’s difficult,” Pettine said. “I can’t tell that lie that we can be a certain way on a practice field and carry it over on the game field. There are going to be times when it does boil over. And you don’t want one side of the ball to get bullied by the other. There has to be some push back….You look at that and it’s the price of doing business.”

Safety Donte Whitner echoed the coach, saying that you want “nasty guys” on both defense and the offensive line as a way of explaining how things boiled over on the field on Tuesday. It’s hard to argue with that assessment or the explanation that players getting ready to play a rough game will sometimes wind up crossing the line during a practice session, but it’s a fine line given the possibility of injuries when things go off the way they did on Tuesday.

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Colts sign a pair, including running back Phillip Tanner

Minnesota Vikings v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Colts added a pair of free agents today, as they continue to look for depth in the wake of losing running back Vick Ballard to a torn Achilles.

The team announced they had signed linebacker Jonathon Sharpe and running back Phillip Tanner.

Tanner spent the last three years with the Cowboys, mostly as a special teamer. He has 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Sharpe is an undrafted rookie who came through the super regional combine setup after two years at North Greenville University. He also played Wofford College before transferring.

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David Wilson suffers burner in Giants practice

David Wilson AP

The Giants took their time clearing running back David Wilson for a return to the lineup after last year’s neck injury and surgery, but that didn’t make take it any longer before there was a reminder of why there was so much uncertainty about Wilson’s future.

Wilson left Giants practice early on Tuesday and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, that he left the session because he suffered a burner. Burners, sometimes called stingers, are nerve injuries to the neck that can cause muscle weakness and pain down an arm.

They don’t tend to be long-lasting injuries, but Wilson’s history with his neck makes it something of a setback in his return to action that the Giants are likely to take seriously in the coming days. Coughlin didn’t offer any timeline for Wilson’s return, which leaves his availability for the Hall of Fame Game, at the very least, in doubt.

Rashad Jennings, Peyton Hillis, fourth-round pick Andre Williams and Michael Cox round out a Giants running back group that could find itself back to hoping Wilson can contribute this season rather than expecting it.

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The Ravens are just trolling you at this point

erniemccracken

It is no longer fair to accuse the Ravens of being tone-deaf when it comes to their presentation of suspended wife-beater Ray Rice.

Because that would presume they’re not doing it on purpose.

The Ravens continue to make a martyr out of the guy who dragged his unconscious wife out of an elevator, posting a story and a video of last night’s practice, when he was given a standing ovation by Ravens fans.

They even found an apparent woman, Debbie Lindling of Baltimore, to voice her support in the story.

“I’m wearing his jersey because he is still a good man,” she said. “I’m happy to support Ray Rice, just like he has always supported our community.”

“I have on number 27 to show the fans, and the world, that I am supportive of Ray Rice,” added Jerra Byrd of Randallstown, Md, who we think would probably be female as well. “He has been forgiven by his wife. He is moving on with his life. He didn’t ask for the two-game suspension.”

Yes, at this point they’re going over the top with the unpopular opinion, putting on the black hat and happily playing the role of heel.

They’ve become the Big Ern McCracken of the NFL, and they don’t care if you have a uterus or otherwise don’t like it.

Now, if you’ll bring them another Tanqueray and Tab, and if you don’t mind, wash that perfume off before you come back to their table.

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Lyle Sendlein to miss three weeks with calf injury

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein started all 16 games last season after tearing his MCL in 2012, but he’s going to miss some time in training camp.

The good news for the Cardinals is that Sendlein’s absence from the practice field isn’t another torn knee ligament. The bad news is that he’s being bothered by a calf injury that will keep him out of the lineup for three weeks.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made the announcement about Sendlein’s injury on Tuesday and said that Ted Larsen, who started 31 games in Tampa over the last four years, would step into the starting lineup while Sendlein recovers. Sendlein’s experienced enough that he should be okay to pick up where he left off, even if it means missing multiple preseason games although creating harmony on the offensive line should be a focus for the Cardinals after adding left tackle Jared Veldheer and getting left guard Jonathan Cooper back from last year’s broken leg.

Sendlein has started the last 91 games he’s played for the Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007.

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PFT on NBCSN looks at Bills, Cowboys, more

Romo AP

Tuesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN continues to take a tour through NFL training camps, with a closer look at a couple of teams that squared off in a couple of consecutive Super Bowls.

The Bills and the Cowboys get the deep-dive treatment during the one-hour show, co-hosted by Russ Thaler and featuring Kevin Gilbride, Brian Westbrook, and Ross Tucker in the stuio.  We’ll also look at the news of the day, do the whiparound thing, and more.

And since the Cowboys are one of the two teams and given that owner Jerry Jones claims none of the key figures (including him) are in danger this year, we’ll ask PFT Planet to decide which seat is hotter between the quarterback and the coach.

Tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET for the results.

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Aaron Rodgers: NFL, Packers better off with Jermichael Finley playing

Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley AP

Jermichael Finley’s football future remains cloudy, but the man who used to throw him passes hopes he’ll be back in Green Bay.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers assumed the starting role in 2008, the same year that Finley joined the team, and Finley has 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns for Green Bay since then. Rodgers has spoken to Finley, who is reportedly weighing a decision to return against trying to cash in a $10 million insurance policy after last year’s serious neck injury, and says that the tight end looks great while adding that the Packers (and the entire NFL) would be a better with Finley back on the field.

“This league is better with Jermichael in it and this team is better with him in it,” Rodgers said, via FOXSports.com. “I have had a couple of conversations with him; he looks incredible. If you follow him on Twitter, he looks pretty amazing, and he’s worked his tail off. For him, it’s a matter of getting cleared.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has also said that he’d like to see Finley back with the team throughout the offseason, but things have been in a holding pattern and there’s no sign that a change in the situation is imminent. Until that comes, the discussions about Finley’s impact on the league, the Packers and anything else having to do with football will remain hypotheticals.

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Gordon’s appeal focuses on disparity between “A” and “B” bottle tests

LA8917-001 Getty Images

With the Josh Gordon appeal hearing set for Friday and with Gordon hiring (as Adam Schefter reported last night) the same lawyer who helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman avoid a four-game suspension for violation of the PED policy in 2012, Gordon presumably has a case that holds more water than the average bong.

Gordon possibly does, especially if the same spirit of lenience that helped Ray Rice receive a suspension of only two games for knocking out his fiancée applies in any way to Gordon.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon landed in Stage III of the program last year as part of a negotiated two-game suspension for the use of cough syrup that contained codeine.  Once in Stage III, a player never leaves.  And he must pass up to 10 drug tests per month.

According to the source, Gordon has passed at least 70 drug tests.  One test barely generated a positive.  And but for the 50-50 luck of the draw, it would have been a negative.

Urine samples routinely are split into two bottles, the “A” bottle and the “B” bottle.  If the “A” bottle generates a positive result, the “B” bottle is tested.  Amazingly, the “B” bottle doesn’t have to independently show a violation.  Instead, the substance abuse policy states that the “‘B’ bottle Test need only show that the substance, revealed in the ‘A’ bottle Test, is evident to the ‘limits of detection’ to confirm the results of the ‘A’ bottle Test.”

In English, close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and “B” bottles.

For Gordon, the “A” bottle showed a concentration of 16 ng/ml, only one nanogram per milliliter above the limits of 15.  The “B” bottle showed a concentration of 13.6 ng/ml — less than the threshold.

But because the “A” bottle was labeled “A” and not “B” and because the “B” bottle was labeled “B” and not “A”, the end result is a positive and a minimum one-year banishment from the NFL.  Flip the bottles when it’s time to apply the labels, and Gordon isn’t facing a suspension.

Setting aside (for now) my lingering concerns about the NFL policing the use of marijuana by players, the Draconian provisions of a program that subjects a player to up to 10 tests per month and will remove a Stage III player from the workforce for at least a full year if he failed a single test over the balance of his career, and the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to subject Colts owner Jim Irsay to this same testing protocol and standard, Josh Gordon will be treated extremely unfairly if the policy is strictly applied to him as it is written.

All because the bottle that tested at 16 ng/ml was labeled with an “A and the bottle that tested at 13.6 ng/ml was labeled with a “B”.

The NFL clearly got it wrong with Ray Rice.  The NFL has a chance to get it right with Josh Gordon.

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