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PFT’s Week Ten picks

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The lead is back to five.

Last week, we disagreed on one game:  Eagles at Saints.  I took the home team, MDS took the road team.  And I ended up 10-4 for the week to MDS’s 9-5.

This week, we disagree on twice as many games as last week.  Which sounds better than two.

For the year, I’m 83-49, and MDS is 78-54.  Yep, that’s a five-game lead.  Which definitely sounds better than two.

Colts at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The 5-3 Colts have an easy enough schedule the rest of the way that if they just win the games they should win, they’ll finish the season with a winning record. One of the games they should win is this one, and I think they will.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take:  The last time the Colts visited Jacksonville, a win by the home team ensured that Andrew Luck would head to Indy.  The Colts return as a playoff contender, intent on avenging a September home loss to the Jaguars.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 27, Jaguar 20.

Raiders at Ravens

MDS’s take: For a 6-2 team, the Ravens have a lot of question marks, especially on their aged and injured defense. But the Raiders have even more problems on defense, and I like Baltimore to win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 35, Raiders 31.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders aren’t as bad as you’d think, and the Ravens aren’t as good.  Look for Baltimore’s decimated run defense to thrive against Oakland’s decimated running game, and for the Ravens to do enough to fend off the Steelers as a pair of games against Pittsburgh loom on the schedule.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 31, Raiders 14.

Broncos at Panthers

MDS’s take: Broncos coach John Fox will win back at his old stomping grounds in Carolina, where Peyton Manning will pick apart the Panthers’ defense while Von Miller will make Cam Newton’s life miserable.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  John Fox returns to Charlotte with a quarterback far better than any he ever had when he coached the Panthers.  Against a team with plenty of guys Fox knows very well.  The Carolina winning streak ends at one.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 30, Panthers 20.

Giants at Bengals

MDS’s take: I could pick this game with confidence if I knew which Giants team was going to show up. Will it be the team that showed up for 60 minutes and pounded the 49ers, or the team that sleepwalked through long stretches of close wins against the Redskins and Cowboys, and a close loss to the Steelers? Given the way the Giants have played the last three weeks I’m tempted to go with the upset, but the Bengals’ defense has been so bad this season that Eli Manning simply has to have a good game.

MDS’s pick: Giants 29, Bengals 25.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals are in a free fall, and the Giants are caught in the early stages of their annual midseason swoon.  I’ve got more faith in the Giants getting it done, especially since Eli Manning will surely have the benefit of some insights from his big brother, who won four days ago in Cincinnati.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 31, Bengals 20.

Titans at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins missed a golden opportunity to establish themselves as the AFC wild-card frontrunners on Sunday against the Colts, but I still like the way this team is playing, especially on defense. The Titans got a tongue-lashing from their owner after another bad loss on Sunday against the Bears, but that won’t be enough to shake them out of their doldrums.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 35, Titans 17.

Florio’s takeJake Locker returns, his left shoulder coincidentally healing at the time Matt Hasselbeck lost his hot hand.  Locker will learn what everyone else has learned this year.  The Miami defense is pretty good.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 17, Titans 13.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: When these teams met in Week Four in Detroit, the Vikings were bolstered by two kick return touchdowns and won 20-13. But the Lions have shored up their special teams problems, Vikings kickoff returner Percy Harvin is hurt, and the Lions should earn their first NFC North victory of the season in the rematch in Minnesota.

MDS’s pick: Lions 23, Vikings 10.

Florio’s take:  With a brutal post-bye schedule, this game could determine whether the Vikings will finish 6-10 or 5-11.  I’ll pick the Vikings now, primarily because it’s the last time I’ll pick them all season.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 23, Lions 20.

Bills at Patriots

MDS’s take: In another rematch of a Week Four meeting, the Bills’ defense is in big trouble.  It probably won’t get quite as ugly for Buffalo as it did in the Patriots’ 52-28 win in September, but the Patriots will put plenty of points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  The Pats scored 45 points against the Rams in 60 minutes, and 45 against the Bills in 25.  New England needs to keep its foot on the gas in order to get ready for some tough challenges that are waiting in the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 38, Bills 21.

Falcons at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have won three out of four, and a win here would signal that New Orleans really has turned its season around. Unfortunately, there are just too many holes on the Saints’ defense for New Orleans to stop a Falcons team that can attack with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. This Falcons team just has too many weapons.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  Halfway to an unblemished regular season, the Falcons simply don’t have the feel of a 16-0 team.  With four games against the Saints and Bucs over the balance of the year, the Falcons most likely won’t be.  It starts now, with the Saints staking their claim for a wild-card berth by hanging loss No. 1 on Atlanta.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 28, Falcons 27.

Chargers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: With running back Doug Martin and a solid front seven on defense, the Bucs are becoming exactly the kind of team Greg Schiano wanted to build: A team that wins by running and stopping the run. Tampa Bay will do it again against a Chargers team that has yet to beat a good opponent all season.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 16, Chargers 14.

Florio’s take:  By playing last Thursday, the Chargers had some extra time to figure out how to stop the Muscle Hamster.  It won’t be enough.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Chargers 21.

Jets at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Seattle is a tough team to play for anyone, but I see Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his receiving corps having a particularly tough game against a good Seahawks secondary. Rex Ryan will have a good game plan to contain Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks’ defense will lead the way to a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 12, Jets 7.

Florio’s take:  The Pete Carroll-Mark Sanchez reunion provides a great story line.  But the bottom line is that it’s foolish to pick against the Seahawks at home.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 21, Jets 13.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: Until Monday night, I was still a believer in the Eagles’ ability to turn their season around. But Philly’s offensive line looked terrible, the defense looked like it has taken a step backward with the departure of coordinator Juan Castillo, and the Eagles look like they’re ready to pack it in for the season. The Cowboys may still make a run at the playoffs, but the Eagles are done.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 14.

Florio’s take:  It’s a early playoff game between two teams that are destined to miss the playoffs.  In the past two weeks, the Cowboys gave the Falcons a much better game in Atlanta than the Eagles gave the Falcons at home.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Eagles 21.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers’ defense has had a few letdowns, but when they’re on their game it’s just about impossible to score on them. And they’ll be on their game against a mediocre Rams offense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 20, Rams 3.

Florio’s take:  Lost in the success of the Falcons and the Bears, the resurgence of the Packers, and the collapse of the Eagles, the Niners are ready to remind everyone that they may be the best team in the conference.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 27, Rams 9.

Texans at Bears

MDS’s take: In the best game of the week, the Bears’ opportunistic defense will try to force turnovers against a Texans offense whose quarterback, Matt Schaub, has only four turnovers all season. I like the Bears to get the best of it.

MDS’s pick: Bears 17, Texans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Texans haven’t been stepping up in high-profile games, which doesn’t bode well for the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 19, Texans 13.

Chiefs at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers are on a three-game winning streak and the Chiefs are in a tailspin. The Monday night game will be over by halftime, and millions of Americans will go to bed early.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 34, Chiefs 9.

Florio’s take:  Todd Haley gets a crack at the Chiefs.  But the Chiefs also get a crack at Todd Haley.  If this one were being played in Kansas City, I’d take the upset.  But it’s hard to imagine a one-win team toppling the Steelers in their own building.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 24, Chiefs 16.

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Jags close gap on another Allen Robinson touchdown

Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson AP

Allen Robinson caught his second touchdown pass of the game and the Jaguars trail the Ravens, 16-14, at the start of the fourth quarter.

Robinson’s third quarter touchdown was initially ruled incomplete but overturned on a replay challenge. Robinson’s touchdown catches from Blake Bortles have covered 11 yards and 3 yards.

Justin Tucker has three field goals and Joe Flacco has a touchdown run for the Ravens.

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Bills keep making big plays, blowing out the Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is sacked by Buffalo Bills outside linebackers Jerry Hughes (55) and Lorenzo Alexander during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert) AP

Clearly it was all Greg Roman’s fault.

After firing their former offensive coordinator last week, the Bills are coming up with big plays on defensive and special teams as well, blowing the doors off the Cardinals.

A high snap on a Cardinals field goal attempt was recovered by Bills safety Aaron Williams and returned for a touchdown, giving Buffalo a 30-7 lead.

They’ve kept the clamps on the Cardinals offense all day, holding Arizona to 86 yards in the first half and taking advantage of their mistakes at opportune times.

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Brandon Marshall in lineup for Jets in Kansas City

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:   Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets celebrates a touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall had more than a week to recover from the knee injury he suffered against the Bills in Week Two, which may have helped him wind up on the right side of a questionable tag this Sunday.

Marshall is active for the Jets as they face the Chiefs in a matchup of 1-1 teams. How much Marshall will be able to do on a bad wheel remains to be seen, especially since he said he wasn’t feeling quite himself as the practice week came to an end.

“I’m not where I want to be,” Marshall said. “I’ve just got to make sure I’m not hurting the team when I’m out there.”

Third-round linebacker Jordan Jenkins is active for the first time for the Jets. Linebacker David Harris is active after being listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, but things went the other way for Erin Henderson as he deals with a foot problem.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, quarterback Bryce Petty, running back Troymaine Pope, cornerback Darryl Roberts, linebacker Mike Catapano and tackle Brandon Shell are also inactive. Offensive lineman Jah Reid, offensive lineman Parker Ehinger, linebacker Sam Barrington, quarterback Tyler Bray, running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and cornerback Kenneth Acker are inactive for the home team.

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Titans show a little life in second half

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota passes against the Oakland Raiders in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

Tennessee is without tight end Delanie Walker today because of a hamstring injury, and it looked like their offense didn’t know what to do without him.

But after a faltering first half, they answered with an impressive touchdown drive to cut the Raiders’ lead to 17-10.

Running back DeMarco Murray scored his first rushing touchdown for the Titans, to cap a seven-play, 93-yard touchdown drive.

It was a welcome reprieve for an offense which turned it over twice (a fumble and an interception by Marcus Mariota) and was just flat in the first half, as they forced the Raiders to burn a couple of timeouts.

The Raiders also have to worry about line injuries cropping up again, as Menelik Watson was ruled out for the rest of the game with a leg injury. The Raiders have had plenty of injuries up front, and now they have a game on their hands.

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Dolphins grab lead back on Landry touchdown

Miami Dolphins v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Dolphins have taken the lead back, 17-13, on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Jarvis Landry.

Tannehill had been struggling since throwing an early touchdown pass to DeVante Parker. He threw an interception in the second quarter than Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun returned for a touchdown.

New Browns kicker Cody Parkey missed his second field goal of the game on the series prior to the Landry touchdown.

The Browns have continued to have Terrelle Pryor take snaps at quarterback to take pressure off of rookie quarterback Cody Kessler. Pryor has also caught five passes for 70 yards in the game’s first 40 minutes.

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Kirk Cousins holds ball too long, Giants hold onto lead

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants were up 21-9 at one point in the first half, but a DeSean Jackson touchdown catch and a strong drive following Shane Vereen’s second fumble in as many weeks left the Redskins with a chance to take a halftime lead.

At the very least, they were in position to cut the Giants lead to two points, but they remained down 21-16 at the whistle after a mental blunder by quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins took a snap with six seconds left on the clock and the half ended with him being stripped of the ball on a sack by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Cousins recovered the ball, but it did the team no good after he failed to throw the ball away and preserve the field goal opportunity. Some may choose to add some blame to coach Jay Gruden for not choosing to kick the field goal and guarantee some points with the ball coming their way to start the third quarter.

When the third quarter does start, the Redskins will be dealing with several injuries. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland went out with an ankle injury early in the first quarter and safety DeAngelo Hall joined him after a knee injury late in the second. Hall’s injury came after the two minute warning, so it also cost the Redskins a timeout they could have used before Cousins’ fumble.

The secondary will be stretched thin, which is an issue as they’ve had a hard time covering rookie Sterling Shepard on Sunday. Odell Beckham has two catches for 44 yards and Josh Norman nearly picked off another pass in his direction during a fireworks-free matchup between the two players.

The Redskins also saw wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has three catches for 84 yards and touchdown, leave with knee and ankle injuries in the second quarter. He was limited by both injuries during the practice week as well. The Giants have fewer injury issues, although rookie corner Eli Apple is done for the day with a hamstring injury.

UPDATE 2:55 p.m. ET: Jackson returned to start the second half.

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Emmanuel Sanders puts Broncos up before half

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25:  Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos breaks a tackle by Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders admitted to some frustrated by his lack of opportunities in the first two weeks of the season, but said it was hard to get too upset when the team had wins both weeks.

Their chances of getting a third straight victory are being helped by Sanders in Cincinnati on Sunday. Sanders scored his second touchdown of the game on a seven-yard pass from Trevor Siemian with 28 seconds to play in the half to put the Broncos up 16-14. They took that lead to the halftime after Brandon McManus‘ extra point was blocked and the Bengals opted to take a knee.

Sanders was targeted 11 times overall in the first half and scored a 41-yard touchdown earlier in the proceedings. He has seven catches for 89 yards, which represents a healthy number of the 171 total yards that Denver had in the first 30 minutes.

The Bengals defense had a few shots to pick off Siemian, but couldn’t come away with any of them. The only turnover of the half came when Adam Jones fumbled on a punt return just before Sanders’ first touchdown of the afternoon. It looked like Jones’ knee might have been down before the ball came loose, but the call on the field was upheld after a review.

That turnover looms large because the Bengals offense has been good when Jeremy Hill and ineffective under other circumstances. Hill has 85 yards on 11 carries and the team’s two touchdowns of the day, but the rest of the group only managed 81 yards in the first two quarters.

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Jaguars’ penalty gives Ravens another shot

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 27:  Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after hitting a field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Justin Tucker missed a 57-yard field goal as the first half expired, but Dante Fowler of the Jaguars was flagged 15 yards for hurdling a blocker.

Tucker made the second kick, giving the Ravens a 13-7 lead.

It’s been ugly as both offenses have struggled to sustain drives. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is 18-of-22 passing for 141 yards and opened the scoring with the Ravens’ first rushing touchdown of the season.

Blake Bortles is 10-of-19 for 78 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson.

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Vikings’ special teams chips in with a touchdown

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 11:  Marcus Sherels #35 of the Minnesota Vikings plays against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Vikings’ offense can’t do much of anything. But they trail only by two points.

A 54-yard punt return from Marcus Sherels for a touchdown narrowed the gap to 10-8. The gap stayed at 10-8 after kicker Blair Walsh shanked the extra point.

It may be even harder for the Minnesota to score in the second half; guard Alex Boone has been carted off with a hip injury.

The Vikings have 35 net yards in the first half.

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Tempers flaring on Redskins defense, but DeSean Jackson keeps them close

DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts AP

The Redskins offense had to settle for field goals on their first three drives, but their defense hasn’t been able to have the same effect on the Giants offense.

Orleans Darkwa ran for a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Giants a 21-9 lead at MetLife Stadium. After the score, FOX cameras caught defensive lineman Chris Baker yelling at defensive coordinator Joe Barry on his way off the field. Barry turned to return something in Baker’s direction as teammates pushed Baker away from the coach.

The Darkwa touchdown was set up by an 18-yard completion to wide receiver Sterling Shepard that came after Eli Manning called for a quick snap with the Redskins trying to get a 12th player off the field. Trent Murphy was also flagged for roughing Manning on the play, which added 15 yards to Shepard’s gain.

Washington found the end zone for the first time two plays later as Kirk Cousins hit DeSean Jackson for a 44-yard touchdown. Jackson gained 31 yards on the previous play as the Redskins offense finally found the big plays they were missing for the first 25 minutes of the game. It’s 21-16 with 3:35 to play in the first half.

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Raiders with early lead over Titans

Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) gets away from Tennessee Titans cornerback Cody Riggs (24) as Murray runs 22 yards for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

The Raiders did what you’re supposed to do after a turnover, throwing straight into the opponents’ end zone.

But even though a Derek Carr touchdown on the play after a Titans fumble was called back for a holding penalty, the Raiders were still able to take advantage of the Marcus Mariota turnover to pad their lead.

They’re up 10-3 on the Titans in the second quarter, on a 22-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray and a 52-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.

Other than the turnover, the Titans are playing them fairly evenly, but the Raiders have shown more ability to create yardage in chunks.

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Defensive touchdown gives Browns the lead

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the first half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is struggling against the depleted Browns defense, and that defense delivered a touchdown.

Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun returned an interception 27 yards to put the Browns up 10-7. Boddy-Calhoun is a rookie the Browns claimed via waivers earlier this month.

Two Browns defenders were closing in on Tannehill as he released the interception and it appeared his arm may have been hit by Tyrone Holmes.

The Browns have used Terrelle Pryor at both quarterback and wide receiver in an effort to keep the Dolphins guessing and take pressure off of rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, who’s making his first NFL start.

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Broncos take 10-7 lead after Adam Jones fumble

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals returns the kickoff against the New York Jets during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New York Jets 23-22.  (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bengals defense did a good job of stopping the Broncos at the end of the first quarter, but a special teams miscue has helped them lose an early lead at home.

Adam Jones fumbled on a hit by Broncos linebacker Zaire Anderson while returning a punt after the defense forced a three-and-out and Shiloh Keo recovered to give Denver the ball in Cincinnati territory. Trevor Siemian hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 41-yard touchdown a few plays later for the first Broncos touchdown of the day and a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Sanders’ score came with Jones in coverage, so it wasn’t the best stretch for the Bengals cornerback. On the negative side for the Broncos, left tackle Russell Okung left with a back injury. Michael Schofield is at left tackle while Ty Sambrailo plays on the right with Donald Stephenson ruled out before the game due to a calf injury.

The Bengals grabbed an early lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Hill that he set up with a 50-yard sprint through the Broncos defense. Hill was quiet in the first two weeks of the season, but has 76 yards on eight carries so far on Sunday.

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Cardinals keep up their trend of slow starts on offense

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is pressured by Buffalo Bills linebacker Lerentee McCray (56) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) AP

The Cardinals have deferred to the second quarter, if not the second half, all season.

They trail the Bills 10-0 at the end of the first, their third straight first quarter without a point this season.

The Bills outgained them 142-2 in first quarter yards, with a 24-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy padding their early lead.

Quarterback Carson Palmer is 1-of-9 passing for 3 yards so far.

Granted, the Cards scored 24 in the second quarter last week, en route to a 40-7 win over the Buccaneers. So it’s probably too soon to panic. Wait, who are we kidding? It’s never too early to panic.

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Vikings notch a safety

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) AP

The Vikings have scored, but not because of their offense.

A sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the end zone by defensive end Danielle Hunter gave the Vikings their first two points of the game.

FOX said it was the first Vikings safety since December 2001. However, as several of you have pointed out, the Vikings got two points when Dan Orlovsky ran out of the end zone in 2008.

The play came two snaps after a 20-yard run by Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne was wiped out by a holding call.

Minnesota offense is still trying to chip in with 3, 6, 7, or 8 points, as the Vikings trail 10-2.

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