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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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Cardinals falter before half, hang onto 3-0 lead on Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) blocks against Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) during the first half of a football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

It’s not a high-scoring half of football, but it’s entertaining in its own way.

And the Cardinals have the only points, leading Seattle 3-0 after a hard-hitting first half.

The Cards are pressuring Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson into an ugly stat line. Wilson’s just 5-of-14 passing for 34 yards, and lost 2 yards on his only rushing attempt.

It’s not that Cardinals are lighting it up themselves, and their late push for another Chandler Catanzaro field goal could have really benefitted from the timeout Bruce Arians burned on a non-challengeable play (Bobby Wagner’s leap over the line when he blocked the field goal).

Instead, offsetting penalties after a sack-strip-fumble by Carson Palmer allowed the half to expire.

The way this game is progressing, there might not be much scoring. But it will still be good.

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Antonio Brown says he’ll be fine after taking a knee in the quad

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch in front of Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown spent some time on the sidelines during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, with a leg injury. After the game, Brown explained why he was absent.

He took a knee to the quad from a Patriots defender.

Brown added that he expects to be able to play in two weeks, when the Steelers emerge from their bye week.

For the game, Brown caught seven passes for 106 yards. It wasn’t enough to keep the Steelers from limping into the bye week at 4-3.

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LeSean McCoy: Hamstring felt fine heading into game

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills rushes with the ball against the Miami Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills saw their four-game winning streak come to an end in Miami on Sunday afternoon and they also saw running back LeSean McCoy leave the game early because of a hamstring injury.

McCoy’s status was a subject of discussion leading into the game with a report that he’d miss the game due to the hamstring injury getting rebuffed before he was listed as questionable for the game. He ran eight times for 11 yards while seeing the most snaps at running back into the third quarter of the game. McCoy said he “felt a little pain” in the hamstring during the game, but that all was well up until that point.

“I felt fine,” McCoy said, via the team. “Every day step by step I slowly progressed and things calmed down. It was a day to day decision. I felt great going into my cuts, warming up, running, cutting, I felt good. That was the only reason I would play if I was 100 percent.”

Coach Rex Ryan said that McCoy was cleared to play in the game and that he wouldn’t have played if the team didn’t think he was 100 percent.

McCoy said he doesn’t think the injury is a “major” one and feels hopeful he’ll be ready for next Sunday’s date with the Patriots. Based on the way the offense performed without McCoy having a big game, that would be as great for the Bills as it might be unlikely given how things went with McCoy’s hamstring this week.

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Who’s the best running back in the NFL?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Jay Ajayi #23 of the Miami Dolphins enters the field prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

With plenty of young running backs getting it done during the 2016 NFL season, it’s a good time to stick a finger in the wind regarding the best of the league’s current tailbacks.

That Monday’s question of the day on PFT Live. Vote for one of the choices in the poll appearing below, make your arguments in the comments, and tune in tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, or to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the simulcast.

Joining the show will be the head coach of one of the options listed below: Adam Gase, whose Dolphins have won two in a row and must be taken seriously down the stretch this season.

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Joe Flacco: My shoulder felt good today

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens lost for the fourth straight week on Sunday when the Jets turned a pair of Joe Flacco interceptions into 10 second half points for a 24-16 home victory.

Flacco had some success in the first half, but he and the entire Ravens offense flamed out after taking a 16-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. After the game, Flacco was asked if the right shoulder soreness that caused him to miss practice time was an issue during the game.

Flacco said he felt good on Sunday and will take it easy during the bye week in hopes of keeping the issue from lingering in the coming weeks.

“I hope not. I didn’t deal with it today,” Flacco said in his postgame press conference. “I felt good; my arm felt great. I was a little bit nervous early on in the week, just because I wasn’t sure what it was. I was having a little bit of trouble with it, so I was a little bit nervous early in the week, but when I went in on Thursday, I felt pretty good and I felt optimistic that I was going to be feeling ready to go. The last couple days have been great and I felt great coming in throwing the ball, so hopefully I won’t have to deal with it. I’m sure there will be a little bit, but the fact that we have a bye week this week, hopefully I can get over it.”

Flacco’s two interceptions were hardly the only thing wrong on offense that ran for six yards all day. Flacco summed up the unit’s work by saying “we’re not good right now” and the Ravens’ losing streak is likely to keep running as long as that’s the case.

The Ravens have plenty of players in need of healing over the bye week and perhaps a healthier team can be more successful than the one that’s been on display the last few weeks.

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Cardinals and Seahawks still scoreless after a quarter

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up prior to a football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

Some people see a scoreless quarter and see the glass as half-empty.

But the Seahawks and Cardinals have also played quality defense, and kept the pressure on opposing quarterbacks so far.

It’s been hard for either side to get into much of a rhythm, but it’s not necessarily the fault of the offenses.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is clearly not himself as a runner, as was evidenced on an early read option. But his sprained left knee and his right ankle sprain from earlier this year haven’t kept him off the field, either.

The best play of the night so far was a punt by Arizona’s Ryan Quigley, who backed the Seahawks up at their own 1-yard line. You can look at that as a bad thing if you want, or you can savor a difficult job, well done.

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Matthew Stafford makes 100th-game history

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions celebrates on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Washington 20-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Sunday, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played in his 100th career game. And he has done more in 100 games than any player in league history.

Specifically, Stafford has more passing yards through his first 100 games, with 27,890.

That’s an average of 278.9 per game. He was under that amount on Sunday, with 266.

More importantly, the Lions managed their third straight win, fueled by a late-game drive allowed Detroit to beat Washington.

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Watch Seahawks-Cardinals online

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks talks with Seattle head coach Pete Carroll before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

You don’t need a TV to watch Sunday Night Football. But you do need an Internet connection, if you don’t have a TV.

With said Internet connection and a computer or a tablet, you can stream the game via or the NBC Sports app.

It all gets started soon, with the Seahawks trying to stretch their record to 5-1 and the Cardinals hoping to get above .500 for the first time this year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah the zombie show is on. So record it and watch it after the game.

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Chargers rally from 17-point deficit for overtime win

San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) picks off Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) AP

The Chargers don’t play boring games.

They rallied from a 17-point deficit Sunday to top the Falcons in overtime, 33-30, on a 42-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. The Chargers trailed 27-10 in the second quarter and twice trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter.

Philip Rivers threw for 371 yards and Melvin Gordon scored three touchdowns, but the Chargers also needed timely defensive plays. A Denzel Perryman interception in the fourth quarter set up the drive to tie it.

The Falcons went for it on fourth and one on their first overtime possession and got stopped. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.

With two rushing and one by passing, Gordon is up to 10 touchdowns on the season. He didn’t score a touchdown last year as a rookie.

The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the second quarter but scored just three points the rest of the way.

The Chargers keep playing close games and have now won two in a row for the first time for improve to 3-4. The Falcons are 4-3 after losing their second straight.

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught nine passes for 174 yards but the Chargers limited Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 273 yards and one touchdown pass and also sacked him three times.

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Aaron Williams rejoins Bills for flight back to Buffalo

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills leaves the field injured in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

A scary situation regarding Bills defensive back Aaron Williams has ended with good news.

After being taken to a Miami-area hospital by ambulance after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Williams has been released and will return to Buffalo with his teammates. According to the Bills, Williams had a precautionary MRI.

Dubbed as dealing with a head/neck injury, a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT that there was no concern regarding a head injury.

Williams absorbed a big hit from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry during Sunday’s game. Landry expressed regret regarding the outcome.

“Just playing football, man, just playing football,” Landry said, via the Palm Beach Post. “If I could take that hit back, I would. The guy has a family to feed and this is his livelihood. You never want to see that with anybody. You never want to see that happen to anybody. But it’s football. Injuries like that are not something that sit well.”

Landry was penalized for the block. Whether he’s fined is something that will be determined by the league office this week.

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No Kam Chancellor or John Brown on Sunday night

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown against strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals and Seahawks will be in action on Sunday night and the release of their inactive lists shows that there wasn’t any late good news for either John Brown or Kam Chancellor.

Brown is inactive for the Cardinals as a result of the leg issues that he’s been dealing with this week. The wide receiver learned that they are the result of a sickle cell trait and coach Bruce Arians said during the week that Brown and doctors were working to come up with a solution to the problem.

The Seahawks ruled out Chancellor for the second straight week. The safety has a groin injury and Kelcie McCray is expected to start in his place.

Running back C.J. Spiller, running back Thomas Rawls, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, guard Rees Odhiambo, tight end Luke Willson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson are also inactive for the Seahawks. The Cardinals will be without cornerback Brandon Williams, linebacker Gabe Martin, guard Cole Toner, defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, defensive tackle Ed Stinson and defensive tackle Xavier Williams.

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Patriots ride LeGarrette Blount, beat Steelers 27-16

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots reacts after rushing for a 3 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers made seven trips into Patriots territory over the course of Sunday’s game against the Patriots, including a pair of drives that started there after Patriots turnovers.

The Steelers didn’t get any points on either of those drives, however, and they only scored one touchdown over the course of the game. The Patriots got over midfield four times during the game and they scored touchdowns on all four of those possessions, which makes for a tidy way of explaining why they’re headed home from Pittsburgh with a 27-16 victory.

They got those touchdowns by riding LeGarrette Blount to the tune of 24 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Blount, who was cut by the Steelers before returning to the Patriots in 2014, kept the chains and the clock moving all afternoon and the Steelers run defense has now been gashed in two straight losses. The Patriots generally kept things on the short side when they did put the ball in the air, although Tom Brady used play action to hit a couple of big gains to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

One of those was a 36-yard touchdown that gave Gronkowski 68 touchdowns on his career. That ties former wide receiver Stanley Morgan for the most in Patriots history.

Landry Jones threw an interception in the end zone on the first of those failed forays into Patriots territory and the inability to get in the end zone will burn, but he didn’t play badly as a replacement for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Jones finished the day 29-of-47 for 281 yards and may have had more luck if Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates didn’t miss chunks of the game as the latest additions to the lengthy injury list in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers go into a bye week now and they’ll hope to have Roethlisberger back in the lineup when they return to work. The Patriots will head to Buffalo to try for a 7-1 record and a little bit of payback for their 16-0 home loss to the Bills earlier this season.

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Trade winds blow regarding Joe Thomas . . . again

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns cools off during the 4th quarter against the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

A year after the Browns nearly traded tackle Joe Thomas to the Broncos (unless they didn’t), the question of whether the long-time fixture on the team’s offensive line will be shipped to a contender will once again land in the middle of the league’s radar screen.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a trade is possible this year. However, real obstacles exist to getting a deal done.

The Vikings, for example, would be very interested in Thomas. However, with a first-round pick and more already shipped to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford and little cap space remaining, it’s a long shot that he’d go to Minnesota. The Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks have varying degrees of interest in Thomas as well; the challenge would be coming up with what the Browns want (the source says it’s a second-round pick) and the cap space.

If a deal happens, it likely would come at the deadline, after the Browns pay Thomas another $488,000 for Week Eight. And if the Browns opt for a take-what-they-can-get fire sale for Thomas, the Patriots would be interested in providing the landing spot.

Ultimately, the Browns could simply decide to keep Thomas for the rest of the year and then trade Thomas after the season ends and before the draft.

The chances of a trade happening this year currently are regarded as smaller than the chances of a trade were a year ago. With the Browns skewing younger and determined to stockpile draft picks, an eventual trade of Thomas would hardly be regarded as surprising.

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Buccaneers get to .500 with easy win over 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

This season has been rocky at times for the Buccaneers, but a trip to San Francisco can make any team look good.

The Bucs took on the 49ers today and beat them easily, earning a 34-17 win that improved the Bucs to 3-3 on the season.

It was a particularly big game for Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who carried 26 times for 154 yards. Backup running back Peyton Barber added seven carries for 67 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. Jameis Winston was solid as well, completing 21 of 30 passes for 269 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

The Bucs were aided, of course, by a lousy 49ers defense that sometimes looked like it was playing two-hand touch. The 49ers’ offense wasn’t much better, with Colin Kaepernick making some big plays with his feet but failing to do much of anything with his arm.

At 3-3, the Bucs can still harbor realistic hopes that they could compete for an NFC playoff spot. Tampa might be a year away from real playoff contention, but the Bucs will be playing meaningful games down the stretch.

The 49ers, on the other hand, are 1-6 and may be the worst team in football. San Francisco is a mess.

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League, union dispute whether NFLPA pressed for Josh Brown ruling

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants kicks the game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 16-13.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

One lingering question regarding the NFL’s badly unforced error in the Josh Brown case arises from the league’s decision to impose discipline on the Giants kicker before the authorities in King County, Washington concluded their investigation.

Making that question more legitimate is the fact that Brown was arrested in May 2015, and that Brown’s one-game suspension was finalized more than 14 months later. With the media nor the public aware of the arrest, no one was clamoring for a resolution of a coldish case that could have grown a little colder, with no one objecting.

Well, not no one, according to the NFL. Per a source with knowledge of the league’s position on the matter, the league contends that it was receiving pressure from the NFL Players Association to finalize Brown’s case.

The NFLPA strongly disagrees with that characterization, according to a source with knowledge of the union’s approach to the case. Moreover, the NFLPA scoffs at the suggestion that pressure would have even mattered, given that the league has full control over the application of the Personal Conduct Policy, with unfettered ability to take as much time as the league believes it needs to take to reach a reliable, responsible, and complete decision.

In this case, the league waited 14 months to finalize the case. It could have waited another two months to obtain the final police report. It chose not to, opting for a half measure that has created a perception of gross incompetence at best and a bungled cover up at worst.

A true cover up would be incomprehensible in this case, given that it involved a kicker. But the perception exists, and the league’s efforts to control the damage have done little to alter that sense.

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