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PFT’s Week 11 picks

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

That five-game lead over MDS has grown to seven, with seven weeks left.

If anyone is capable of blowing this lead, I am.

This week, we disagree on three games.  Last week, we were 10-3-1 and 8-5-1, respectively.  (I would have predicted the Rams-49ers would end in a tie, if I’d known games could end in ties.)

For the year, I’m now 93-52-1.  MDS is 86-59-1.

Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: NFL Network gets the week started with a pretty lousy game, with the Dolphins reeling and falling out of AFC wild-card contention, and the Bills even further behind in the AFC East. I’m expecting the difference in this one to be Bills running back C.J. Spiller, who will do to the Dolphins’ defense the same thing that Titans running back Chris Johnson did to the Dolphins’ defense last week. Spiller will have a big game and lead the way as the Bills win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins have cooled off.  The Bills were never hot.  It’ll be cold on Thursday night in Buffalo.  More importantly, it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins recovering  from Sunday’s debacle against the Titans in only four days.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are no longer undefeated and no longer viewed by many people as the best team in the league, but a home game against the Cardinals should be a nice way for Atlanta to get back in the W column. The Cardinals’ defense might be able to keep this game close, but Arizona’s offense won’t be able to do anything.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 16, Cardinals 9.

Florio’s take:  This is precisely the kind of game the Cardinals could steal.  The Falcons, fresh from their first loss, view Arizona as a show-up-and-win opponent — the puff-pastry appetizer to a two-pack of tough steaks in the form of the Bucs and Saints on a short week.  And the Cardinals have had two weeks to get ready for this one.  If I didn’t have a seven-game lead over MDS entering the week, I’d consider calling for the upset.  Instead, I’ll play a little prevent defense.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 35, Cardinals 21.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have talented young quarterbacks, but it’s Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman who has taken a big step forward recently, while Carolina’s Cam Newton is looking shaky. The Bucs are entering the NFC playoff conversation with a win in Carolina.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 28, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take:  When the Bucs beat the Panthers 10 weeks ago, it was regarded as a surprise.  When the Bucs beat the Panthers this time, it won’t be.  Tampa has gradually improved, and Greg Schiano could soon be getting some coach of the year buzz.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 24, Panthers 16.

Browns at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This is the first of three straight home games, all against teams with losing records, for the Cowboys. So their schedule is setting up for them to go on a nice little run. After saving their season against the Eagles, the Cowboys won’t blow their season against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Browns 16.

Florio’s take:  The Cowboys get ready for their Thanksgiving date with the Redskins by feasting on the team that is the color of sweet potatoes, both fresh and digested.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Browns 17.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: When the Lions get their passing game going, they’re as dangerous an offense as there is in the NFL.  The Vikings were doing all they could to stop Calvin Johnson on Sunday, and he still went over 200 receiving yards. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Lions usually don’t get their passing game going until their defense and special teams have already given up an early lead. And the Packers are not the kind of team the Lions want to be playing catchup against.

MDS’s pick: Packers 23, Lions 20.

Florio’s take:  The Packers are ready to make their move to the top of the division.  The Lions already have made their move to the bottom.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 27, Lions 14.

Jaguars at Texans

MDS’s take: Given that Florio is way ahead of me in our season picks contest, I’m tempted to take the Jaguars here because I’m going to need to hit on some big upsets if I’m going to have any chance of catching up. But even though I think the Texans might be due for a letdown after their big win in Chicago, the Jaguars are so bad that the Texans should beat them even if they turn in their worst effort of the season.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take:  Didn’t this used to be an actual rivalry?  It’s not anymore, thanks to the fact that one team has an 8-1 record, and the other is 1-8.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 41, Jaguars 17.

Bengals at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Cincinnati’s big win over the Giants could be the first step toward a surprise late-season run back to the playoffs, and there’s no way the Bengals will stumble against a terrible Chiefs team.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  Logic tells us that the winless-at-home Chiefs should fall to a Bengals team that found a way to knock off the defending NFL champions.  But the Chiefs are due to finally get that second pickle.  It won’t do much to make things better in Kansas City, but things won’t get worse — at least not this week.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Bengals 20.

Colts at Patriots

MDS’s take: I’m a believer in the Colts, in the sense that I believe they are going to make the playoffs this season. But that’s largely because the Colts have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with four games remaining against teams that currently have losing records. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, this is one of the toughest games the Colts still have to play, and I just don’t think the Colts’ defense is good enough to keep Tom Brady and company in check. This game may be a first-round playoff preview, but it’s not a close game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Colts 10.

Florio’s take:  A year after the annual Colts-Patriots game lost its luster with the absence of Peyton Manning, the arrival of Andrew Luck could help restore the sizzle.  With the Colts better than folks realize and the Pats not quite as good as believed, the Colts could steal this one.  They likely won’t, but they could.

Florio’s pick:    Patriots 28, Colts 24.

Jets at Rams

MDS’s take: Neither one of these teams is very good, but the Rams have a lot of young guys who look like they’re hungry and playing as hard as they can in every game, while the Jets have a bunch of veterans who look like they give up when they fall behind and anonymously snipe at each other in the media. Advantage Rams.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Jets 17.

Florio’s take:  Last week, Pete Carroll got a little revenge against the team that once fired him as its head coach.  This week, Brian Schottenheimer gets a shot at revenge against the team that fired him without really firing him as its offensive coordinator.  The fact that the Rams currently are good and the Jets aren’t will make it easier.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 20, Jets 10.

Eagles at Redskins

MDS’s take: Stick a fork in the Eagles. They’re already on the first five-game losing streak of Andy Reid’s career, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that losing streak extend all the way to the end of the season.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 28, Eagles 13.

Florio’s take:  The struggling Philly offense finally finds an equally struggling defense.  And the struggling Philly defense finally finds digs deep and finds a way to avoid getting torched.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 24, Redskins 21.

Saints at Raiders

MDS’s take: There’s not much doubt after the Saints beat the Falcons that New Orleans has turned this thing around. It should be easy to keep things going against a Raiders team that looks like it has given up on the season.

MDS’s pick: Saints 38, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  Dennis Allen knows the Saints offense well, given the time he spent there as a defensive backs coach.  Unfortunately, he lacks the personnel to slow it down.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Raider 20.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos may be playing the best football in the league right now. Peyton Manning has the offense humming, of course, but Von Miller is a defensive player of the year candidate, and Trindon Holliday is one of the most dynamic special-teams players in the NFL — at least as long as he remembers that you’re supposed to cross the goal line before you start celebrating your touchdown. This is a complete football team, and the Broncos will all but wrap up the AFC West with an easy win over the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take:  This one will look a lot more like the second half of their last meeting, not the first half.  And it could be the final two halves of football for Norv Turner in San Diego.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 31, Chargers 17.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: Ben Roethlisberger’s injury came at the worst possible time for the Steelers.  Before Big Ben got hurt, I was expecting the Steelers to beat the Ravens both this week in Pittsburgh and two weeks from now in Baltimore, and to take the lead in the AFC North. But with Byron Leftwich in for Roethlisberger, I like the Ravens.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers have played the Ravens close without Ben Roethlisberger.  And that’s when the Ravens actually had a great defense.  If the Steelers can run the ball effectively and if Byron Leftwich can start his elongated throwing motion quickly enough to get the ball out before Terrell Suggs plants him into the ground, the Steelers can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 17, Ravens 13.

Bears at 49ers

MDS’s take: In a battle of teams that may be playing without their concussed starting quarterbacks, I have more faith in the 49ers’ ability to win by running the ball and playing good defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Bears 16.

Florio’s take:  Though the Bears likely won’t have another five-game free fall like they did last season, the losing streak will extend at least to two — regardless of who ends up playing quarterback for either team.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 20, Bears 13.

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Rooney says he, Mara, Mueller “understand the scrutiny” of investigation

ArtRooney AP

When the NFL opted to hire former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate the league’s handling of the Ray Rice case and the NFL appointed Giants co-owner John Mara and Steelers owner Art Rooney II to oversee the investigation, legitimate questions were raised about the true independence of the so-called independent investigation.

While Commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the independence of the investigation, the investigation lacks the appearance of independence, which prevents it from being regarded as truly independent.

Nevertheless, the principals intend that the investigation will be independent.

Rooney told Michele Tafoya of NBC’s Sunday Night Football from tonight’s game at Charlotte that he, Mara, and Mueller “understand the scrutiny” they’ll be under, and that none of them wants to be part of a “whitewash” or a P.R. exercise.

Rooney also said that he believes Goodell still has the support of the owners, and that one mistake should not jeopardize an otherwise stellar career.  Still, it’s possible that Mueller will reach a conclusion that justifies if not requires a change in Commissioner.  By making such broad declarations before the investigation is over, Rooney potentially undermines even more the appearance of independence.

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Chiefs earn first win, knock off Miami 34-15

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

In a performance highlighted by three TD passes from quarterback Alex Smith and 132 yards rushing from Knile Davis, the Chiefs pulled away for a 34-15 victory on Sunday afternoon in Miami.

Two of Smith’s TD passes went to running back Joe McKnight, who had never scored a regular season offensive touchdown before Sunday. But McKnight, the former celebrated USC recruit and Jets tailback, was a key cog in the Chiefs’ victory, catching six passes for 64 yards, including a four-yard score that extended the Kansas City lead to 27-15 with 4:35 left.

From there, the Chiefs’ defense closed it out, forcing a pair of fourth-down stops. The final points came on tailback Cyrus Gray’s six-yard TD score with 13 seconds left and the outcome no longer in doubt.

Davis, who filled in for the injured Jamaal Charles, handled a heavy workload well, carrying 32 times. He did fumble twice, losing one, though it didn’t cost Kansas City any points.

Smith, meanwhile, was tough and sharp, completing 19-of-25 passes for 186 yards. He was sacked five times, including once on a safety, and the Chiefs’ ability to protect him over the course of the season is something to watch.

But on Sunday, Smith came up big for his team, which notched its first win of the season.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, have now lost two games in a row after a Week One win vs. New England. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was just 21-of-43 passing for 205 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, and he was sacked four times. The Miami defense has had better days, too; the Chiefs converted 9-of-16 third downs in victory.

The loss drops the Dolphins one game behind the Patriots and Bills in the AFC East. Miami (1-2) plays Oakland (0-3) in London next Sunday. The Chiefs will host the Pats on Monday night.

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Seahawks beat Broncos in Super Bowl rematch

lockette AP

It was a lot more competitive than the Super Bowl, but the end result was the same: The Seahawks beat the Broncos.

In today’s rematch of February’s Super Bowl blowout, the Seahawks once again jumped out to an early lead and were up 17-3 at halftime. But this time around the Broncos were poised and collected, and they worked their way back into the game, forcing overtime with a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, Russell Wilson, who had a big game, engineered a 13-play, 80-yard drive in overtime, culminating with a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run, and the Seahawks won 26-20. Wilson also threw a beautiful 39-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Lockette early in the game, used his feet to make plays all day, and even caught a pass on a trick play. It was a big game on a big game for Wilson, a young quarterback who has already led a whole lot of big wins.

But the Broncos’ defense played well, and new additions including Demarcus Ware and T.J. Ward — who weren’t with the Broncos in the Super Bowl — have made Denver better. That’s a positive step for the Broncos.

And it’s also positive that Peyton Manning, even when it appeared he was beaten, found a way to hit Jacob Tamme on a beautiful touchdown pass to send the game into overtime. Manning found holes in the Seahawks’ secondary, it just took him until the fourth quarter to find them.

The Broncos can feel good about the fact that they went to the toughest place to play in the NFL and stood toe-to-toe with the Seahawks, rather than wilting as they did in the Super Bowl. But the Broncos aren’t yet in the Seahawks’ class.

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Peterson hopes to resolve charges in 2014, return to action

Peterson AP

Last week, lawyer Rusty Hardin said that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will stand trial on Texas child-abuse charges in 2015.  That plan could be changing.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, an effort will be made to accelerated the trial date, with the goal of getting it set for 2014.  The broader goal will be to resolve the charges in time for Peterson to return to action for the Vikings this year.

Of course, Peterson would need to resolve the charges in a way that doesn’t expose him to a potential suspension without pay under the personal-conduct policy.  Currently, he’s suspended as a practical matter with pay, until the legal process is resolved.

More information is expected this week regarding the anticipated trial date.  If exonerated, it would suddenly becomes easier for the Vikings to keep Peterson beyond the 2014 season.

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Broncos storm back to force overtime in Seattle

peyton AP

In a game that appeared to be lost, Peyton Manning and the Broncos have stormed back to force overtime in Seattle.

The Super Bowl rematch has lived up to the billing, with the Seahawks jumping out to a big early lead, the Broncos hanging around, the Seahawks appearing to take the game over with an interception on what looked like it could be the Broncos’ final chance, and then Peyton Manning leading his team back with a sensational touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme.

The Broncos have scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to make the score 20-20.

Overtime is going to be fun.

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Jason Peters: I didn’t think, I just reacted

Jason Peters, Chris Baker AP

Eagles tackle Jason Peters was ejected from Sunday’s victory over the Redskins for throwing punches at Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and other members of the Washington team during a scrum in the fourth quarter.

Peters went after Baker after Baker laid out Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with a block during an interception return that ultimately never happened because the pick was overturned on a replay. Peters said standing up for his quarterback was the only thing going through his mind as things escalated near the sideline.

“I wasn’t having it,” Peters said, via CSNPhilly.com. “That’s just a cheap shot. You’re taking on the smallest guy on the field and you’re cheap-shotting him, and he’s not even trying to make the play. I just reacted. I shouldn’t have did what I did, but I was just trying to protect my quarterback. I really wasn’t thinking. I seen him hit him, and I just reacted.”

Baker said he thought he made a “legal football move,” which wasn’t the ruling by the officials who ejected him for the hit.

“I was doing what I was taught,” Baker said. “And that’s to go get a block. I didn’t look to see if it was the quarterback. All I saw was someone going toward the ball, and I got my head in front and lowered my shoulder, which is a legal football move. Doing what I was taught to do, and I get punched in my face on the sideline, and the next thing you know I’m ejected for a block.”

Both Peters and Baker are expected to be fined by the league this week along with several other combatants in Sunday’s melee.

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No DeAngelo Williams for Panthers tonight

Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The Panthers are trying to get their running game fixed — against a Steelers defense which is amenable — but they have their own problems.

Starting running back DeAngelo Williams is inactive again with a hamstring injury.

That leaves the Panthers in the hands of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert tonight, but the Steelers have been soft up the middle against the run so far this year.

The Panthers will also be without veteran wideout Jerricho Cotchery, which will test their scant depth at that position.

Also inactive for the Panthers are quarterback Joe Webb, running back Fozzy Whittaker, offensive linemen David Foucault and Andrew Norwell and safety Tre Boston.

The Steelers deactivated quarterback Landry Jones, running back Dri Archer, wide receiver Martavis Bryant, nose tackle Daniel McCullers, offensive linemen Wesley Johnson and Ramon Foster and cornerback B.W. Webb.

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Cardinals improve to 3-0 with comeback win over 49ers

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

The Cardinals have lost a slew of defenders from last year’s unit and played the last two games without their starting quarterback, so they’d have plenty of excuses to point to if they got off to a slow start this season.

There’s no need to pull them out, though. The Cardinals scored 17 points in the second half as the 49ers short-circuited in the final 30 minutes for the second straight week in a 23-14 Arizona victory. That win leaves Arizona at 3-0 on the season and 13-6 since Bruce Arians took over as the team’s head coach before last season, a mark that leaves the Cardinals right next to any teams outside Seattle and Denver in terms of performance since the start of the 2013 season.

The Cardinals haven’t shied away from letting it rip with Drew Stanton playing instead of Carson Palmer and Stanton made Arians look smart for doing so by completing 18-of-33 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Stanton hit on several big plays in the second half and the team looked like they were driving for another touchdown when Larry Fitzgerald fumbled inside the 49ers’ five-yard line.

San Francisco had the ball after that fumble with a chance to drive and win the game, but their offense continued to sputter in the back end of games. The 49ers have not scored a touchdown in the second half yet this season and their one scoring chance on Sunday ended when Phil Dawson’s field goal was blocked. San Francisco had to settle for that kick because Anquan Boldin was flagged for head butting Tony Jefferson (Carolina fans are free to wonder why that’s a penalty all of sudden) and pushed the Niners too far back to get six points.

Boldin’s penalty was one of several personal foul and pass interference calls in the second half that helped seal the 49ers’ fate. Not all of them were good calls and a couple were worse than that, but the Niners did plenty to shoot themselves in the foot all by themselves over the course of the second half. The lack of discipline and the second half fades need to be sorted out if the Niners are going to make another trip to the playoffs.

There are fewer pressing matters in Arizona, where Arians has put together an opportunistic, aggressive team that turns almost every mistake by the opposition into a positive for themselves. Unlike San Francisco, they also finish well as evidenced by their 30-0 edge in the fourth quarter. Those are the kinds of traits that serve you well when you’ve been dealt a tough hand by injuries and they’ve been played perfectly by Arians so far this season.

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Brian Hartline’s putt draws a penalty

Brian Hartline AP

Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline capped his one-yard third quarter TD catch vs. Kansas City on Sunday by imitating a golfer attempting a successful putt as the gallery — a group comprising several of his teammates, including Mike Wallace — looked on.

As post-TD celebrations go, it was a creative one.

However, it was a costly one, as it drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, for it was an orchestrated group celebration.

The Dolphins then had to kick off from their 20, and the Chiefs capitalized with a 25-yard return to the Kansas City 34, earning good field position. And the Chiefs’ offense would go on to a 10-play, 66-yard drive ending in Joe McKnight’s 11-yard TD catch.

That, of course, can’t be pinned on Hartline. But the celebration did turn a kickoff that would have landed in the endzone into one that landed on the nine-yard line.

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Bell still has time to resolve DUI charge and avoid two-game suspension

Bell AP

Last week, Browns receiver Josh Gordon pleaded guilty to pending DUI charges in order to avoid the mandatory two-game suspension under the new substance-abuse policy.  (Gordon may still be suspended, based on his history of substance-abuse policy violations.)

But Gordon apparently didn’t need to move so quickly.  Per multiple league sources, the new substance-abuse policy contains a grace period that allows players with pending DUI charges to resolve them under the terms of the old policy.

Bell has until November 1 to resolve the charge.

Most prominently, that includes Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who was cited both for marijuana possession and DUI in August.  While the marijuana possession charge could result in a one-game suspension, the mandatory two-game suspension for the DUI charge could be avoided — if Bell gets the case resolved ASAP.

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Dolphins cut into Chiefs’ lead

Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Big plays on defense and special teams have helped the Dolphins narrow the Chiefs’ lead to 21-15 after three quarters.

On the third offensive play of the quarter, Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick forced Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to fumble, with defensive end Derrick Shelby recovering for Miami, setting up a one-yard TD reception by Brian Hartline. Later, Jarvis Landry’s 74-yard kickoff return set up a 51-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal for Miami. And then, near the end of the third, Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks sacked Smith in the endzone for a safety.

The Chiefs did put together a scoring drive of their own in the third, with Smith hitting Joe McKnight for an 11-yard TD. But now, the Chiefs must hold off Miami’s second-half charge.

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HGH testing could start in early October

BloodTest Getty Images

But for a variety of other big stories, the biggest story in the NFL would be the efforts to keep players from getting artificially bigger.

After more than three years of negotiation, impasse, and other delays, the NFL and NFL Players Association have struck an agreement on HGH testing.

The Friday release from the NFL and NFLPA said that HGH testing, which will entail the drawing of blood from players, will commence by the end of September.  Per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the more realistic target is early October, at the earliest.

Currently, there’s nothing further to negotiate.  The deals are done and signed.  Players will be subject to random testing, with the exception that no testing may occur on game days.

Positive tests will be appealed to an independent arbitrator jointly hired and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA.  For a first offense, players will be suspended six games without pay.

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Antonio Cromartie to locker room, Cardinals to lead

Frank Gore, Antonio Cromartie AP

The injuries just keep coming for the Cardinals.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has gone to the locker room for Arizona after suffering an injury to his left leg in the third quarter of the team’s game against the 49ers. Trainers examined Cromartie on the sideline after he exited the game and he was able to walk back to the locker room on his own power, but it’s a big loss for a team that’s already missing Darnell Dockett, Carson Palmer and John Abraham on Sunday afternoon.

The injury came shortly after the Cardinals had drawn within one point of the visitors. After forcing a three-and-out to open the half, Drew Stanton hit Michael Floyd for a 45-yard gain into 49ers territory and followed it up with a pass to John Brown for a touchdown that cut San Francisco’s lead to 14-13.

The defense was able to stop the 49ers without Cromartie, however, and the Cardinals were able to drive for another Brown touchdown. They got there with the help of two questionable personal foul calls for hits on Stanton by Dan Skuta and Patrick Willis that appeared to be far less egregious than the officials throwing the flags believed.

The second half was a problem for San Francisco last week as well and the team’s now been outscored 49-3 in the final 30 minutes of games so far this season. That has to change if the Niners want to avoid a 1-2 start to the season.

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Report: Dislocated hip for Dennis Pitta

Dennis Pitta AP

The Ravens lost tight end Dennis Pitta during Sunday’s victory over the Browns and they’ll likely be without him in the coming weeks as well.

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that Pitta has been diagnosed with a dislocated right hip. That’s the same hip he had surgery on last year to repair a dislocation and fracture. Per Wilson, another fracture hasn’t been ruled out and Pitta’s status for the rest of the season will be up in the air until the doctors have come to a conclusion about the extent of the damage.

“When you’re in the middle of a game you don’t think too much about that stuff, but, yeah, it’s not easy,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Dennis is a good friend. He’s a good teammate and he’s a hell of a player. No matter who it is, it’s tough to see that happen especially when it looks like it might be what it is or it might be serious.”

Owen Daniels would take on a more important role with Pitta out of the lineup, but, as the Ravens learned last season, replacing Pitta isn’t all that easy given Flacco’s comfort level with the tight end.

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Seahawks take halftime lead

sherman AP

The Seahawks are picking up where they left off in the Super Bowl and outplaying the Broncos, but they may have suffered a significant loss in the process.

Seattle, which took a lead into the locker room at halftime, also had to finish the half without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who walked off the field after what appeared to be an injury to his shoulder. The team later said he was questionable to return.

Okung was blocking Broncos defensive end Demarcus Ware and went down appearing to be in a lot of pain. He got up holding his left arm gingerly. Okung is the player most responsible for protecting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and losing Okung for any period of time would hurt.

But the Seahawks appear to be rolling today against the Broncos. Wilson has completed 11 of 13 passes for 145 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and although Peyton Manning has completed 11 of 16 passes and avoided any turnovers, he has just 87 yards through the air. The Seahawks may just have the Broncos’ number.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m. ET: Okung has returned.

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