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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win.  It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong.  I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35.  I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks. 

Maybe he should apply for a job there.  They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.


Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take:  When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice.  The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve.  Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two.  The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are.  The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009.  This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches.  I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less.  Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose.  One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired.  The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough.  But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take:  Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary.  The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance.  If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece.  At least the Jaguars seem like they care. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take:  From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals.  Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins.  More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3.  Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph.  Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up.  The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team.  Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money.  Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is.  Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin’; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take:  I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens.  514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows.  He’s a great runner and seems to like contact.  And he has a red beard.  The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take:  For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit.  In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points.  In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins.  Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done.  Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way:  (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take:  Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road.  This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives.  This time around, the Rams simply have the better team — which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving.  The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way.  Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take:  The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense.  Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack.  The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye.  Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1.  All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.)  All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him.  But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers.  And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests.  Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes.  The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors.  The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers.  The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC.  Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take:  Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately.  A lot.  His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine.  His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago.  Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly.  Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Vikings 13. 

Rosenthal’s take:  After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.”   Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach.  The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference.  This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.  

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC.  Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC.  Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium.  And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season.  If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away.  Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better.  It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different.  And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Here’s the toughest call of the week.  Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC.  Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL.  The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago.  Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner.  Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time.  The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take:  At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league.  It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance.  Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now.  A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take:  A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers.  Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups.  At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take:  The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off.  Since then, the Texans have been roughly average.  They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing.  But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home.  Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans — and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 33, Texans 27. 

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense.  The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk.  At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.

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Luck, Allen post big numbers; Colts overwhelming Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Dwayne Allen #83 celebrates his second touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Jets with teammate  Phillip Dorsett #15 of the Indianapolis Colts during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets were no match for Colts in the first half Monday night.

Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes to tight end Dwayne Allen — yes, three — and the Colts have a 24-3 halftime lead.

Luck and Allen connected for touchdowns on the Colts’ first two drives. The Colts thought they had another touchdown late in the half but tight end Jack Doyle was ruled to have fumbled into and through the end zone for a touchback.

That is about all that went right for the Jets, who had three personal foul penalties in the first 20 minutes.

At halftime, Luck has 179 yards passing. Allen has three catches for 51 yards and T.Y. Hilton has six catches for 98 yards. The Jets have managed just 116 total yards and five first downs.

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Frank Gore becomes NFL’s 8th all-time leading rusher

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 04:  Frank Gore #23 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts running back Frank Gore has passed Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for eighth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

Dorsett posted 12,739 rushing yards in his career. Gore surpassed that in the second quarter Monday night vs. the Jets when he got loose into the Jets’ secondary for a 19-yard run that led to a field goal.

Gore, 33, has played in 176 games over his 12-year career. He’s in his second year with the Colts.

Gore went over 1,000 yards rushing in seven of his 10 seasons with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He has 74 career rushing touchdowns, which ties him for 24th in league history.

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Approaching all-time loss record, Jeff Fisher opts for optimism

Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

On Sunday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher celebrated a new contract. As soon as next Sunday, he could be celebrating a new record.

Fisher, will one more loss, ties the record for the most in NFL history. He’ll match Dan Reeves with 165.

Is it tough to be one game away from the record?

“No, I actually don’t look at that,” Fisher told reporters on Monday. “I’ve had a few wins in my career, as well. I’ve also been able to be very, very fortunate and have a long career. You can look at it as is the glass half full or half empty – I look at it as half full. I’m just honored that I still have an opportunity to coach in this league.”

His opportunity will continue for a couple more years, if he is permitted to work the full extent of his extension.

“The players were, by and large, really, really excited,” Fisher said regarding the news of the new deal. “But I think a lot of players knew that this had been done previously. So, it didn’t appear to be a big deal. I spoke candidly about it yesterday. I don’t think I need to go into it again. We’re moving on.”

As the franchise moves on, Fisher was asked to explain where the franchise currently is.

“Coaches, we don’t like making excuses, we just move on from week to week to week,” Fisher said. “We didn’t have [defensive end] Rob Quinn yesterday, we didn’t have [receiver] Tavon Austin, we didn’t have [offensive lineman] Rodger Saffold yesterday and we played the New England Patriots. If you’re going to have a chance to beat them, you need to go in there with all hands on deck. We’re building this team, we’ve extended players, we’re building this team for the future, we’ve made a commitment to our young quarterback and he’s playing now. In my opinion, I think there’s a lot of things to be excited about.”

Fans may disagree, especially those who are following a certain pied piper named Eric Dickerson.

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Luck hits Allen, again, as Colts go up 14-0

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:   Dwayne Allen #83 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Bacarri Rambo #30 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 13, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dwayne Allen was wide open. Again.

The Jets can’t cover Allen — or anyone else in a Colts jersey — and the Colts are out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of Andrew Luck touchdown passes to Allen.

Luck is 6-of-6 passing for 93 yards and two touchdowns on two drives. Not many Jets fans showed up to MetLife Stadium, but the ones who did aren’t happy. And there’s a lot of game left.

If the Colts win they’ll move to 6-6 and force a three-way tie with the Texans and Titans atop the AFC South.

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Jets not doing much right early

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets provided little resistance as the Colts took their first possession Monday night for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.

Andrew Luck threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dwayne Allen as the Colts took the lead. Luck froze the defense — first with a play-fake, then with his eyes — on the touchdown pass.

Luck targeted Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and twice completed passes to T.Y. Hilton on the drive.

The Jets went three and out on their first two possessions to start the game. The few fans at MetLife Stadium aren’t happy.

If the Colts win they’ll move to 6-6 and force a three-way tie with the Texans and Titans atop the AFC South.

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One day later, Earl Thomas still unsure about his football future

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 04:  Teammates help free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks off the field after getting injured against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field on December 4, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Sunday night’s 40-7 win over the Panthers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson learned that safety Earl Thomas had broken his leg during the game. Wilson also learned that Thomas already had mused on Twitter about retiring.

Wilson brushed off the retirement talk as Thomas reacting in the heat of the moment. A day later, however, Thomas is singing the same tune.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Thomas told Ed Werder of ESPN. “I still feel the same way I felt last night.”

Thomas also said that he doesn’t plan to have surgery, and that he doesn’t want to take away from what his team is trying to do.

“You have to remember my team is still fighting I don’t want to become a distraction,” Thomas said.

Thomas may feel differently as days become weeks and weeks become months. By the time the offseason program begins, he may be itching for more action.

If Thomas retires, he’d owe the Seahawks $3.8 million in bonus money previously paid, if they’d be inclined to pursue it.

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Bears officially place Cutler on IR

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 26:  Quarterback  Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after the Bears scored against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears on Monday officially placed quarterback Jay Cutler on the season-ending injured-reserve list.

Cutler has been out since Nov. 20, when he suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. With Brian Hoyer also out, Matt Barkley has started the last two games at quarterback.

Placing Cutler on IR opened a roster spot for cornerback Johnthan Banks, who was claimed via waivers from the Lions.

The Bears also waived linebacker Lamin Barrow from IR and made a practice squad swap, adding wide receiver Bralon Addison and releasing quarterback Josh Woodrum from the practice squad.

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Catapano, Miles to start as injury replacements for Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Marqise Lee #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled by Rontez Miles #45 and Marcus Williams #20 of the New York Jets in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Safety Rontez Miles and linebacker Mike Catapano are in the starting lineup for the Jets Monday night vs. the Colts.

Miles replaces Calvin Pryor, who has a concussion, and Catapano replaces Lorenzo Mauldin, who is out with an ankle injury. The Jets had also previously listed wide receiver and return man Jalin Marshall as out with a concussion. Jeremy Ross, who just signed with the Jets last week, is expected to handle the return duties.

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, both of whom had been listed as questionable, are active and in the starting lineup.

The Colts had previously listed three defensive starters — defensive end Robert Mathis, safety Clayton Geathers and cornerback Patrick Robinson — as out. The Jets had also previously ruled nose tackle Steve McLendon out.

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Eli on Odell: He needs to kill officials with kindness

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Don Wright) AP

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham proposed that referee Terry McAulay and his crew be banned from ever working games played by the Giants after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, which you probably won’t be surprised to learn was not the approach head coach Ben McAdoo endorsed on Monday.

McAdoo seemed to agree with Beckham that Sunday’s crew missed some calls on the Steelers, who still wound up with 12 accepted penalties against them to four for the Giants, but said he planned to use the usual avenue of requesting clarification from the league office about them.

“I would say that I thought there were a few times yesterday where he may have been interfered with,” McAdoo said on a conference call. “But that’s part of the process. We’re going to send it in to New York and to the officials, and let them take a look at it, and get some feedback from it, some clarification.”

While the Giants are trying to get more information from the league, Beckham’s quarterback offered his thoughts on another avenue that the wideout might take. Eli Manning believes a spoonful of sugar would be a good route.

“He’s got to be careful. With officials, you want to kill them with kindness,” Manning said with Mike Francesa on WFAN, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “He’s gotta learn to be a good guy and warm up to those guys to get some calls.”

We’ll see if Beckham decides to use a smile as an umbrella the next time he feels caught in an officiating storm.

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NFL reverses course, will allow Titans and Browns players to wear special cleats

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23:  A view of the cleats worn by Mohamed Sanu #12 of the Atlanta Falcons during pregame warmups prior to facing the San Diego Chargers at Georgia Dome on October 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Titans and Browns didn’t play in Week 13, so they didn’t get to participate in the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” weekend. Players across the league were allowed to wear special cleats that didn’t conform to the league’s usual uniform rules in support of various causes and endeavors.

The NFL has come to its senses and reversed course regarding the Browns and Titans. NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Natalie Ravitz said Monday that the league reached out to both teams to confirm they could participate in Week 14, when the Browns host the Bengals and the Titans host the Broncos.

The NFL originally said that players from those teams wouldn’t be exempt from the usual uniform rules, and at least two Titans players had reportedly planned to risk the fine and wear their special cleats anyway.

So, this solution seems best. And makes you wonder why it took so long to get here.

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Carroll confirms Thomas done for season

Earl Thomas Getty Images

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday that safety Earl Thomas will miss the rest of the season with a fractured tibia.

Carroll said the injury was confirmed Monday and that any timetable for a potential return extends past the remaining weeks this season. Thomas was injured in a collision with teammate Kam Chancellor during Sunday night’s win over the Panthers and tweeted from the locker room that he was contemplating retirement.

Thomas, who’s one of the NFL’s best at his position, had played in 106 consecutive games before a hamstring injury kept him out two weeks ago.

Steven Terrell came in to replace Thomas following the injury. Carroll said Monday that Tyvis Powell, Kelcie McCray and Dewey McDonald are all in the mix at safety behind Terrell.

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Two Titans plan to risk NFL fines and wear special cleats

Delanie Walker, D'Qwell Jackson AP

The NFL allowed players around the NFL to wear special cleats with personal messages on them on Sunday, but players on the Browns and Titans were excluded because they’re on their bye this week. And the NFL told players on those two teams that they won’t be allowed to wear special cleats on a different day.

Two Titans players say they’re going to go ahead and promote their causes with their cleats, no matter what the NFL thinks.

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Delanie Walker both told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN that they will wear their cleats for this week’s game. McCourty will wear the same shoe design that his brother, Patriots safety Devin McCourty, wore on Sunday to promote awareness of sickle cell disease.

“I believe you should be [allowed], so I’ll be wearing mine for the game,” McCourty said.

Walker, whose aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver in New Orleans hours after they watched him play in Super Bowl XLVII, will wear cleats that promote Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In the NFL, players who refuse to follow uniform policy always risk fines. In this case, the NFL would be wise to give the players a break. And next year, it would make more sense to do “My Cause, My Cleats” in a week when every team plays.

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Chargers, Raiders geographic futures likely to be decided soon

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12:  Fans practice during 2016 World Chess Championship at Fulton Market Building on November 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Agon Limited) Getty Images

As the Chargers flirt with the possibility of moving to Los Angeles and the Raiders flirt with the probability of moving to Las Vegas, the future geographic locations of the two teams will quickly become, as one source with knowledge of the dynamics recently told PFT, a “game of four-dimensional chess.”

The Chargers have the more immediate deadline, given their ability through January 15 to strike a deal with the Rams to share space in Inglewood. Previously, Commissioner Roger Goodell was believed to be “fixated” on keeping the Chargers in San Diego. In recent weeks, however, there’s a sense his stance is softening.

His stance may be softening due to the realities of the situation. With no public money available in San Diego and no chance of even trying to change that until the elections of 2018 or 2020, the Chargers will be spinning their wheels if they stay put.

The Chargers also will likely lose money if they don’t move. In 2015, the uncertainty over a potential relocation helped the team have its best year ever in local revenue, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The renewed embrace of the team came from the uncertainty regarding a move. In 2016, the numbers are down — and the team expects the trend to continue if the franchise adopts year-to-year status in San Diego.

The possibility floated here last week of Rams owner Stan Kroenke kicking in cash to keep the Chargers out of L.A. and to help them build a new stadium in San Diego ultimately isn’t practical, for two reasons. First, it would take about $500 million to bridge the gap between the contribution from the Chargers and the NFL and the full stadium costs. Second, if the Chargers decide to stay in San Diego, the Raiders then would acquire the right to go to Los Angeles.

Yes, Raiders owner Mark Davis wants to move to Las Vegas. But, as one source explained it, the Los Angeles deal actually would be better for the Raiders than the Las Vegas deal. It also would potentially make the Raiders the prime draw in L.A., relegating the Rams to red-headed stepchild status.

These dynamics make it more likely the Chargers will move to L.A. As one source explained it, Kroenke has offered a fair deal to the Chargers. While the upside from local revenues are limited, the Chargers also aren’t required to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to build their own stadium, along with assuming the risks of cost overruns. Coupled with the increased value of the franchise after the move, an L.A. relocation makes a lot of sense.

So if the Chargers go to L.A., the Raiders will be left with staying in Oakland or moving to Las Vegas. Oakland won’t be a viable option unless and until there’s a real proposal that doesn’t entail Davis selling any of the team. Even then, his mind seems to be firmly made up — and it won’t be easy to change it at this point.

However it plays out, it’s all going to play out soon, with a seismic shift potentially coming to California’s NFL teams very, very soon.

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Bears claim Johnthan Banks

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Wide receiver Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers catches a pass over defender cornerback Johnthan Banks #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears claimed cornerback Johnthan Banks via waivers on Monday.

The Lions waived Banks over the weekend. A second-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2013, Banks was traded by the Bucs to the Lions in early November.

Banks, 27, had played in two games for the Lions. He was a starter for his first two seasons with the Bucs but had fallen out of the rotation last season and did not start a game this season before the trade.

Banks had seven interceptions over his first two seasons with the Bucs. He’s started 37 of 52 career games.

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Redskins cut Dashaun Phillips

Washington Redskins defensive back Dashaun Phillips (35) picks up the fumble by Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) AP

A few days after calling him up from the practice squad, the Redskins cut cornerback Dashaun Phillips on Monday.

Phillips started two games in September and opened the season as the team’s top nickel cornerback but he was benched, then released in mid-November before being added back to the practice squad.

Phillips also played in six games last year for the Redskins. This season, he hadn’t played in a game since September and was inactive for Sunday’s game at Arizona.

No corresponding roster move was announced, but offensive tackle Trent Williams is eligible to return this week from suspension.

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