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PFT’s Week 14 picks

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With four weeks to go, the lead is back to three.

And we disagree on three games.

In other words, MDS a/k/a the master of Raiders exacta, could catch me by 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Last week, I went 11-5.  MDS was 10-6.  For the season, I’m now at 123-68-1, a 64.0 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 120-71-1, which equates to 62.5 percent.

Broncos at Raiders

MDS’s take: My amazing run of accuracy in predicting Raiders scores has put a lot of pressure on me to get this one right. So here’s what it boils down to: The Broncos are good, the Raiders are not, and the score won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 13.

Florio’s takePeyton Manning has never lost in Oakland.  Then again, he has played there only twice.  Make it three on Thursday night.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 27, Raiders 13.

Rams at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense has turned things around recently, with Mario Williams getting five sacks in the last three games. I think Williams will bring the pressure to Sam Bradford, and the Bills will win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Rams 14.

Florio’s take:  The up-and-down Rams play very well inside the division and not so well outside of it.  The Bills sometimes play well at home, and sometimes they don’t.  The difference here is that the Rams have an arguably realistic shot at the postseason, and the Bills don’t.

Florio’s pick:  Rams 17, Bills 13.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Panthers are playing for the first overall pick in the draft. Advantage Atlanta.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Panthers 13.

Florio’s take:  Earlier this year, the Panthers nearly toppled the Falcons in Atlanta.  The rematch comes in Charlotte, with the Falcons chasing the top seed and the Panthers pursuing respect.  As they move closer to proving that they’re ready to hang with the big boys, the Falcons prove that their near-miss against Carolina was a fluke.

Florio’s pick:   Falcons 31, Panthers 20.

Cowboys at Bengals

MDS’s take: This is a close, competitive game, and I have a funny feeling the Bengals’ superior special teams could turn out to make the difference. The Bengals will bolster their own playoff hopes and deal a lethal blow to the Cowboys’ hopes.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Florio’s take:  Yes, the Cowboys won last week.  But they beat the Philly “B” team, barely.  The Bengals are moving in the right direction, and it’ll stay that way at least until they have to play the Steelers or Ravens again.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Cowboys 20.

Chiefs at Browns

MDS’s take: The weekend’s worst game will be in Cleveland, where the Browns will win an ugly one.

MDS’s pick: Browns 15, Chiefs 12.

Florio’s take:  A week after the biggest win of his career, Brady Quinn returns to the place where his career started.  Though the Browns probably will win this one, I can’t pick against Quinn and the Chiefs.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 23, Browns 20.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Colts stumble on their march to the playoffs here — this team could be ripe for an upset after gutting out a tough, physical, hard-fought game in Detroit last week. I also have major doubts about the ability of the Colts’ defense to keep them in big games down the stretch. The Titans, however, don’t have much offensive firepower, and so I’ll take the Colts in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Titans 17.

Florio’s takeAndrew Luck and the Colts move closer to one of the most unlikely playoff berths in recent history.  Meanwhile, Titans owner Bud Adams moved toward a series of pink slips and middle fingers fired at his employees.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 34, Titans 20.

Jets at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Rex Ryan gave Mark Sanchez what should be an easy win in Jacksonville. I’m not sold on Sanchez, but I am sold on the Jets’ ability to shut down the Jaguars’ offense.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  Whether it’s Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Tim Tebow, Vinny Testaverde, or Joe Namath at quarterback, the Jets have the defense to shut down the Jacksonville offense.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 10, Jaguars 6.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: After an amazing start to the season, Chicago’s defense has declined in recent weeks. Playing against the struggling Christian Ponder is just the thing to cure what ails the Bears.

MDS’s pick: Bears 17, Vikings 7.

Florio’s take:  It’s the last, best chance for the Vikings to remain in the playoff race.  And it’s the last, best chance for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to show that he realizes that, with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, there’s never a reason to pass the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Bears 16.

Chargers at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s win over the Ravens, while the Chargers showed what kind of team they are in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals: The talent gap between these two teams isn’t big, but the Steelers play their best in crunch time, and the Chargers play their worst in crunch time.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 23, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers haven’t won in Pittsburgh since somehow toppling the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium for the 1994 AFC title.  The 0-6 streak will continue on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 24, Chargers 13.

Eagles at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Greg Schiano’s guys are playing hard every week, win or lose, while Andy Reid’s guys have quit on the season. This is an easy one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 35, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Phillies have won more recently than the Eagles.  That fact should hold for another week, or longer.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 27, Eagles 17.

Ravens at Redskins

MDS’s take: The Ravens’ run defense is terrible, and the Redskins’ run offense is excellent. Washington will rush for 200 yards and win a tough, physical game.

MDS’s pick: Redskins 13, Ravens 10.

Florio’s take:  The Redskins currently look more like the potential Super Bowl team, beating every other team in the NFC East in a three-game stretch.  Though it remains to be seen whether God really is on the Redskins’ side, He’s definitely not on the Ravens’ this year.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 23, Ravens 21.

Dolphins at 49ers

MDS’s take: Colin Kaepernick may have taken a step backward last week against the Rams, but he’ll show against the Dolphins that Jim Harbaugh made the right decision. And even if Kaepernick has a bad game, it’s not like the Dolphins are putting many points on the board against San Francisco’s defense.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Dolphins 6.

Florio’s take:  This game has considerably less hype than their Super Bowl XIX rendezvous.  But the outcome will be similar.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 38, Dolphins 16.

Saints at Giants

MDS’s take: The Saints are out of the playoff race, but they’re still a dangerous team, and I’m tempted to pick them against the Giants, coming off a tough loss on a short week. But the Giants know their backs are against the wall, and that’s when this team usually plays its best football.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Saints 27.

Florio’s take:  New York’s margin for error has, for now, shrunk to zero.  Which matches the Saints’ chances of getting to the postseason.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 28, Saints 17.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: With the Cardinals’ horrendous offense playing in a tough environment in Seattle, this game could get ugly. Looks to me like the biggest mismatch of the week in the NFL.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Cardinals 3.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks don’t lose at home.  The Cardinals don’t win anywhere.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, Cardinals 10.

Lions at Packers

MDS’s take: The Lions have a knack for playing well enough against good teams to keep it close, and then losing. That’s what they’ll do in Green Bay, where Calvin Johnson will have another big-time performance but Aaron Rodgers will pick apart Detroit’s secondary.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Lions 27.

Florio’s take:  The Packers need to keep winning.  For the Lions, it’s too late.  At this point, they’re playing only for Calvin Johnson to break Jerry Rice’s record.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 31, Lions 20.

Texans at Patriots

MDS’s take: Now this is a great Monday Night Football game. If the Texans win, the race for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs is pretty much over. But I think the Patriots are a better football team right now, and they’re going to take this one and make a big statement that they’re the favorites to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC, even if they have to win a rematch in Houston in January to get there.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Texans 14.

Florio’s take:  The Pats make their move toward the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff field.  It’s a great game on paper, but it’s got the potential to be a snooze-fest.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Texans 24.

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Mark Davis: Could stay in Oakland through 2019 season

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Mark Davis was just given permission to move his team to Las Vegas, but said he could see staying in Oakland longer than his lease dictates.

The Raiders have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said Monday they could even stay beyond then while their building in Las Vegas is under construction.

While not everyone is going to be happy about those prospects, Davis said he’d be willing to offer refunds to angry fans who had already put down deposits for season tickets.

“Not happy, but we will do that,” he said.

But mostly, Davis seemed relieved to have the process finalized and to have a home, after so many years of negotiating in vain with the city of Oakland.

He said his father Al Davis “would be proud,” that he had taken the team to “the entertainment capital of the world.”

But for at least the next two seasons, and perhaps three, he’s going to ask his old fans in Oakland to support him.

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Seahawks “disappointed” by Trevone Boykin arrest

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Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested in Dallas on Monday morning after a car he was riding in backed into a bar.

Five people were injured and the driver of the car was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. Boykin was arrested on marijuana possession and public intoxication charges, leading the team to make a statement about the incident.

“We are aware of the situation involving Trevone Boykin,” a team spokesman said on Twitter. “We are still gathering information and are disappointed.”

Boykin was also arrested in December 2015 while still at TCU after an incident at a bar before the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, which may have contributed to him going undrafted before the Seahawks signed him during the offseason. He eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest.

If the Seahawks’ disappointment level is high enough, the team may be in the market for a new backup to Russell Wilson in the later stages of free agency and/or the draft.

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Roger Goodell: Tough call, but no choice but to move

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still says the league doesn’t want teams to move.

But he said Monday the league had no choice.

For the third time in a year.

“You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league,” he said as he began his remarks on the “overwhelming” vote. “We’re all disappointed for Oakland and their fans.”

Goodell said all the right things about the effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, and he brought Texans owner Bob McNair and Steelers president Art Rooney II to bolster his efforts, with Rooney saying it was good to have a stable home “for the long-term.”

After moving the Rams to Los Angeles and then sending the Chargers to join them, it’s a period of upheaval for the league, which has now abandoned a pair of California cities which couldn’t find stadium deals.

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Raiders’ move to Las Vegas approved

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The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

NFL owners today approved the move of the team from Oakland (where they’re playing in a rickety old stadium) to Las Vegas (where taxpayers will foot a large portion of the bill for a shiny new stadium). According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the vote was 31-1, with only the Dolphins objecting.

They won’t become the Las Vegas Raiders immediately, as the team plans to continue playing in Oakland at least for the 2017 season and probably for 2018 as well, while the new stadium is built. That will create an awkward situation where the home fans are cheering for a team that is about to pack up and leave.

But that has happened before in the NFL, and it will now happen again, and the reason is always the same: money. Raiders owner Mark Davis can make more green in Vegas than he could in Oakland, and so the Silver and Black is moving.

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Brandon Marshall: Vegas could overwhelm young players

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The NFL is expected to have a foothold in Las Vegas after a Monday vote on the Raiders’ bid to relocate to the city, so any concerns raised about putting a team there are likely moot at this point.

Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall still raised one after speaking to NFL owners about building relationships with players at the league meetings in Arizona. Marshall said that he thinks Las Vegas is a great city, but that the things that gave it the nickname of Sin City could prove problematic for young players.

“It can be a tough place for a player coming out of college,” Marshall said, via the Palm Beach Post. “It can be overwhelming for a young player.”

Marshall had his own difficulties in his early years in the league and there’s a no shortage of other players with similar stories, so trouble can obviously be found in every city if a player is looking for it. The potential for it in Vegas may be more front and center, however, and that’s something the Raiders may be weighing when they start acquiring players to play for them in their new home.

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$400 million swing likely cements Vegas deal

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As the league’s owners prepare to rubber stamp the eventual relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas, the deal in Nevada coincidentally became a lot sweeter only one day before the vote.

In addition to the stadium suddenly costing $200 million less (which never happens), word emerged on Sunday that another $200 million in public money will be available. That’s a $400 million swing, and it makes an already attractive package even more attractive, since it reduces dramatically the money the Raiders will need to borrow in order to get the deal done.

And so the conveniently-timed release of the information about the $400 million sweetener makes it even more likely that the Raiders will be getting the green light to go to the city where plenty of the suckers born every minute lose some of their own green every second.

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Report: Giants have some interest in former Jet Nick Mangold

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There could me a little more traffic moving from one side of MetLife Stadium to the other.

According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the Giants have expressed interest in bringing former Jets center Nick Mangold to the blue side of the stadium.

The 33-year-old center was released last month, after spending his entire career with the Jets.

And while he’s not as young as he used to be, Mangold would be an interesting addition to a line that is in some degree of flux. How they’d use him and incumbent center Weston Richburg would be interesting, but Mangold’s toughness and leadership might be what the Giants line needs most.

They’ve also brought in former first-rounder D.J. Fluker this offseason, which probably prevents them from moving Erick Flowers to right tackle as some have suspected might be the best plan.

The Giants have also dragged former Jets quarterback Geno Smith in as a backup, and spent heavily last offseason on heavy defensive tackle Damon Harrison.

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Jack Del Rio’s solution to speeding up games: Don’t throw so many flags

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The Raiders were flagged for an NFL-high 147 penalties last season, so Raiders coach Jack Del Rio may be slightly biased when he offers his solution to the league’s problem with slower-paced games.

Del Rio told Steve Wyche of NFL Network that he supports the NFL’s efforts to speed up games, and he thinks the best way to do it would be for the officials to let the players play.

“For them to try to move along the game, I’m all for it,” Del Rio said. “I have one suggestion:
Just don’t throw so many flags. We saw so many flags last year in Oakland, I’d like to see a lot less flags thrown. So hopefully we get that flow of the game issue.”

Del Rio believes penalty delays are a real issue for the NFL’s fans, especially younger fans.

“With the millennials and people nowadays, you’re not going to keep their attention if you have too many pauses and delays,” Del Rio said. “They want things right now. So for us to speed up the game, I think that’s smart.”

Throwing fewer flags might be smart. And it might benefit Del Rio’s team.

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Should Seahawks sign Kaepernick?

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The Seahawks have a backup to Russell Wilson in Trevone Boykin. Now that Boykin has been arrested, could the Seahawks be looking for another quarterback to serve as Wilson’s understudy?

If they are, there’s one available quarterback who would make a lot of sense — if he’s willing to suspend for a year his desire to be a starter.

Colin Kaepernick, as one source explained it to PFT, has very high regard for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. And we know that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has high regard for Kaepernick; Sherman recently opined that Kaepernick is better than 20 of the current starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

While that may be an exaggeration, the Seahawks have seen first-hand what Kaepernick can do with the right coaching and game planning. If/when Wilson gets injured, Kaepernick would definitely be a better option than Boykin, especially if Boykin’s arrest results in the team moving on from him the same way it moved on from Tarvaris Jackson following an arrest a year ago.

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Chargers announce 2017 season tickets are sold out

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The Chargers were on their way to a sellout of their season tickets for the 2017 season last week and they finished the job in the last few days.

The team announced on Monday that “all season tickets currently available” for their first season in Los Angeles have been sold. The Chargers began offering seats to existing season ticket holders in late February and opened sales to the general public on March 9.

The team will be playing at the StubHub Center, which will have the NFL’s smallest capacity at 30,000 seats.

In their announcement, the Chargers said that some tickets are being held back for players’ families, visiting teams and “promotional purposes.” They added that they could put more seats up for sale in the future if some of those seats are freed up as well as “from additional improvements at StubHub Center.”

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Oakland mayor asks for last-minute delay on vote

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NFL owners just walked into another round of meetings, and their decision on the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas seems imminent.

But Oakland mayor Libby Schaff is asking for a last-minute reprieve.

According to the Associated Press, Schaaf is asking the league for more time to negotiate for a stadium deal which would keep the Raiders in Oakland.

“Never that we know of has the NFL voted to displace a team from its established market when there is a fully financed option before them with all the issues addressed,” Schaaf said in a statement. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t do everything in my power to make the case for Oakland up until the very end.”

Unless she can make her way to the Arizona Biltmore Resort in the next few minutes, she might be too late. The league is expected to vote on the measure this morning, and everyone anticipates having well more than the 24 votes needed to approve the move.

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Browns to have Mitchell Trubisky in for workout on Friday

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The Browns didn’t send coach Hue Jackson or executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown to North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s pro day workout earlier this month because they planned to hold a private workout with him at another time.

They won’t be traveling to North Carolina for that workout either. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that Trubisky will work out for the Browns at their facility on Friday.

Players typically aren’t allowed to work out during their visits to teams leading up to the draft, but there’s an exception for prospects who went to college or grew up nearby. Teams have a day set aside for those players to visit each year and Trubisky, who grew up in Ohio, will be part of the contingent in Berea on Friday.

The exception for local prospects also means that Trubisky’s visit doesn’t count against the limit of 30 that the team is allowed before the draft.

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Panthers say Jerry Richardson isn’t selling team

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Panthers owner Jerry Richardson isn’t attending the league meetings in Arizona this week and a six-person group will be representing the team in his place.

Per the team, they won’t be there to discuss the possible sale of the team. A report from Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports suggested that the future of the franchise “could become more of a front-burner issue” this year with “many other owners” anticipating that the team will be sold before Richardson dies.

Richardson is 80 and has dealt with health issues in the past, but the plan has been that the team won’t be sold until after he passes away.

“Mr. Richardson is healthy, vigorous, happy and fully engaged in the business of the Carolina Panthers. The team is absolutely not for sale,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said, via the Charlotte Observer. “These reports are based on the misinterpretation of an agenda item. No owner is more committed to his team than Mr. Richardson.”

The agenda item Drummond refers to is the team’s move to buy back a four percent interest in the team that was held by the late Donald Keough. That move requires the approval of other owners.

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Raiders vote coming soon

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With plenty of momentum building toward a vote that would allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, the league apparently plans to cram the proposal through quickly. Before anyone realizes that dropping a franchise into a city synonymous with gambling: (1) could create real temptations, problems, and consequences for players who find themselves living in and around casinos; (2) is inconsitent with the league’s opposition to sports betting; and (3) could — will — invite speculation about corruption when officiating and/or player and/or coaching errors occur.

Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Daily, the ballots are expected to be cast by 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday. The approval would be conditioned upon the Raiders getting a lease and finding a developer for the new stadium in Nevada.

Following the vote, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis, Texans owner Bob McNair, the chairman of the league’s finance commitee, and Steelers President Art Rooney II, the chairman of the league’s stadium committee, will speak to the media. Which underscores the widespread expectation that there won’t be nine “no” votes in the room.

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Carson Palmer: “I’m pretty good” at mentoring a young QB

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If the Cardinals weren’t already thinking about life after Carson Palmer, the brief uncertainty about whether he’d return for the 2017 season likely forced the issue squarely onto their radar heading into the offseason.

They’re looking at the top prospects in this year’s draft and General Manager Steve Keim told us on PFT Live recently that Palmer is down with serving as a mentor to a rookie that they bring into the fold. Over the weekend, Palmer said that Jon Kitna played that role for him when he arrived in the NFL with the Bengals and that he feels he’ll be able to play it as well as Kitna did.

“Not to float my own boat, but I think I’m pretty good at it,” Palmer said, via ArizonaSports.com. “I know I’ve had many great mentors and role models and guys to look up to; guys I’ve learned a lot from so I know how to approach being that guy and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

It’s easier to be a mentor when you’re not wondering if the younger player will be supplanting you in the lineup. Kitna didn’t have to worry about that with Palmer because he knew the first overall pick in the draft would be starting when ready and Palmer knows that whoever he mentors will be succeeding him rather than forcing him out of the lineup in Arizona.

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