Skip to content

PFT’s Week 14 picks

Peterson Getty Images

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.

Permalink 72 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Nike pulls Adrian Peterson merchandise from Twin Cities stores

dontdoit

It’s one thing for government leaders and the media to bang on the Vikings for reinstating Adrian Peterson after a paid weekend off.

But now the guys with the money are starting to chime in.

According to the Associated Press, Nike has removed all of its Peterson merchandise from their stores in the Twin Cities.

They’re still willing to sell it to you online, but removing the most visible Viking from the shelves makes some degree of a statement.

It might not have the direct economic impact of Radisson pulling its sponsorship from the team, but it’s another clear sign that there are plenty of people unhappy with the way the team has handled this behind the mask of “due process.”

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Anheuser-Busch disappointed, concerned, dissatisfied with NFL

Goodell Getty Images

A major NFL sponsor has had enough with the misbehavior of NFL players and the response of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners he works for.

Anheuser-Busch, the beer maker that spends a fortune on NFL advertising and sponsorship, has released a strongly worded statement in response to the controversies that have unfolded over the last week regarding Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald.

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league,” the statement said.

Previous statements from the NFL’s corporate partners have generally shown confidence in the NFL’s ability to get a handle on the events that have contributed to the ugliest week in NFL history. The statement from Anheuser-Busch shows no such confidence. If the NFL can’t satisfy Anheuser-Busch, the NFL is at risk losing one of its most lucrative partners.

Which means Roger Goodell is at risk of losing his job. Make no mistake, the reason the NFL’s owners are supportive of Goodell is that the NFL’s owners have made a lot of money while Goodell has run the league. The day Goodell’s mismanagement of this issue costs the owners money is the day Goodell loses the support of the owners. Goodell has already mismanaged the Rice case. He had better figure out the right way to handle the cases of Peterson, Hardy and McDonald.

If Goodell can’t get the job done, the owners will find a commissioner who can.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Gerald McCoy on playing with broken hand: You want to be smart

Gerald McCoy, Everett Dawkins AP

Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been fitted with a cast for his left hand a couple of days after breaking it in a loss to the Rams.

There have been a lot of players who have played through similar injuries with the help of a cast, but McCoy said that the team is still weighing the best course of action to take for Thursday’s game against the Falcons.

“Obviously, it’s better if I’m out there but still a long season,” McCoy said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “It can always get worse. That’s the risk of going out there Thursday … time is very short this week, so not having a full week to recover is definitely working against me but I’m a fighter … Most of it is pain tolerance, but as much as you want to be out there, you also want to be smart.”

If McCoy was going to be better in Week Four because he skipped this week’s game, it would likely be an easy choice for the Bucs to sit him down. The injury is going to linger, however, and McCoy will be playing through it for some period of time if the Bucs want to have him in the lineup. That said, the short week provides little opportunity for him to get used to playing with a cast, in addition to the abbreviated recovery time, and that may make him an observer this week.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lions work out veteran kickers

Cleveland Browns v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Lions had Jason Hanson handle their kicking for two decades, but they’re having a harder time finding a permanent replacement now that he’s retired.

David Akers handled the gig in 2013, but the Lions opted not to re-sign him this year after he went 19-of-24 on field goals. Nate Freese won the kicking job after a camp competition with Giorgio Tavecchio, but he’s missed three field goals in the first two games of the regular season to put his job in some jeopardy.

The Lions turned up the heat on Freese Tuesday by working out a handful of veteran kickers. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the team had Garrett Hartley, Rob Bironas and Alex Henery in for a look.

Hartley was dropped by the Saints last December after making 22-of-30 field goal tries through that point in the season. Bironas was released in March as a cost-saving move by the Titans while Henery was cut by the Eagles last month in favor of Cody Parkey.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts sign Kelcy Quarles, drop Dion Lewis

Florida v South Carolina Getty Images

The Colts signed running back Dion Lewis last week to bolster a running back corps left thinner than they’d like by Vick Ballard’s season-ending injury, but it looks like another injury may be forcing the team to reallocate their resources.

Indianapolis announced Tuesday that they have waived Lewis and signed defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles off of the Patriots’ practice squad. Lewis did not play on Monday night.

The Colts saw defensive tackle Arthur Jones exit Monday night’s loss to the Eagles with a high ankle sprain and the addition of Quarles suggests that he’ll miss a bit of time while recovering from the injury. Quarles spent training camp with the Giants and was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots, who then signed him to their practice squad after dropping him from the 53-man roster a short time later.

Quarles will join Ricky Jean-Francois, Montori Hughes and Zach Kerr as defensive line options to go with Josh Chapman and Cory Redding if Jones does wind up on the sideline.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Pouncey returns to practice for Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Getty Images

When Dolphins center Mike Pouncey had hip surgery, there were reports that he could miss as much as half the season while recovering.

Pouncey always said he’d be back sooner than that and avoided the regular season PUP list that would have kept him from practicing or playing for at least six weeks. Earlier this month, the center set a goal of playing by the end of September and took a step toward meeting it on Tuesday.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Pouncey was a participant in practice for the first time since having the operation.

Pouncey took part in drills during the portion of practice open to the media, but it’s not known the extent of his participation in the rest of the practice. Whatever his level of work, Salguero reports that the team still plans to start Samson Satele in Week Three with Week Four’s trip to London to face the Raiders looking like a better bet for Pouncey’s first game action of the regular season.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roddy White doesn’t practice on Tuesday

Roddy White,Quintin Mikell AP

The Falcons don’t have much time for aches and pains to heal up before facing the Buccaneers on Thursday and that might leave them without wide receiver Roddy White.

Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports White missed practice for the second straight day on Tuesday because of a hamstring injury. That casts serious doubt on his availability for the game against Tampa, especially when recent history is taken into account.

White missed a big chunk of time last summer with an ankle injury, but he suited up for the first five weeks of the regular season with poor returns before sitting out for three weeks after the Falcons were off in Week Six. His production increased from that point, which may help guide the Falcons’ ultimate decision for playing Thursday against taking the extended recovery before their Week Four game against the Vikings.

The Falcons did have Julio Jones at practice for the second straight day, so it doesn’t appear there’s much risk of the Falcons being without both of their starting wideouts. That should make for less of a “whole” in the lineup come Thursday night.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

How will NFL owners hear the music, if they won’t face it?

wilfs-e1338507474576 AP

Last Monday, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sent coach John Harbaugh to face the media after Ray Rice was cut in the wake of the notorious elevator video.  This Monday, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf gave G.M. Rick Spielman the short straw of facing tough, hostile questions from reporters who couldn’t reconcile the facts of the Adrian Peterson case with the convenient insistence on honoring the “due process” rights were designed to protect citizens from being incarcerated unfairly.

Bisciotti eventually spoke, in a less public context.  The Wilfs likely will, too, at some point.  But it’s one thing to face the music when it’s the loudest.  It’s quite another to carefully engineer the condition of a one-on-one interview once the dust begins to settle.

That’s the way it’s been for the past nine days.  Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t conduct a press conference; the league office hand-picked a pair of reporters for interviews, one on camera and one by phone.  Bisciotti likewise didn’t sit at a table or stand at a podium and answer whatever questions the assembled press had.

Look for Zygi Wilf, Mark Wilf, or both to eventually do the same, selecting the right person in the right situation to allow them to get the message out without having to confront the open-season fray into which they thrust Spielman on Monday.

And it’ll keep happening that way, as long as we fail to demand that owners be accountable for their decisions and actions not by sending letters to fans or having a conversation with a sympathetic or grateful ear but by walking to the microphone and inviting anyone and everyone to ask whatever question they have.

The decision of Goodell, Bisciotti, and the Wilfs to hide from the media confirms that the NFL currently is under siege.  Maybe if they decide to stop acting that way and to provide candid answers to all questions, the league will begin to emerge from its current hole.

Until then, the league just keeps digging.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Marcedes Lewis placed on IR/designated for return

Marcedes Lewis AP

The Jaguars need all the help they can get on offense, and now they’re short at tight end.

In addition to cutting starting right tackle Cameron Bradfield today, the Jaguars placed tight end Marcedes Lewis on injured reserve/designated for return.

That will keep Lewis out for at least eight weeks, though he can begin practicing after six.

That fits the time frame coach Gus Bradley announced earlier this week for Lewis, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to Washington.

The Jaguars better hope wideout Cecil Shorts gets back soon from his hamstring injury, or an already bad offense is just going to get worse.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaguars cut starting right tackle Cam Bradfield

cambradfield AP

Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne has been sacked 13 times this season, by far the most of any quarterback in the NFL. And Jacksonville has rushed for just 89 yards this season, by far the fewest of any team in the league.

Those stats indicate that the offensive line isn’t getting the job done. One member of the Jaguars’ offensive line has paid for that with his job.

Cam Bradfield, who started the first two games at right tackle, has been released, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Bradfield was expected to be a backup this season, but he was forced into the starting lineup when Austin Pasztor suffered a broken hand. It’s not clear whether Pasztor will be able to play in Week Three, but if he can’t the Jags will go with Sam Young, who replaced Bradfield after he was benched in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

If Bradfield was the problem, the Jaguars’ offensive line should improve in Week Three. It could hardly get any worse.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Vernon Davis avoids serious ankle injury, back soon

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Vernon Davis left Sunday night’s game on crutches, but he could be back on his feet soon.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Davis avoided a serious ankle injury and could be back as soon as Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

An MRI yesterday revealed a deep bruise, but no structural damage.

Davis wasn’t able to return to the game after being rolled by Bears linebacker Jon Bostic. That left them thin, with backup tight end Vance McDonald suffering a knee injury and Derek Carrier is the only healthy tight end on the roster.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Josh Gordon escapes new drug policy by pleading guilty to DUI charges

Gordon AP

Some portions of the new drug policy will be retroactive.  Some won’t.

Browns receiver Josh Gordon has pleaded guilty to driving while impaired.  Under the new drug policy, a first offense will trigger a two-game suspension.  Under the old drug policy, a first offense ordinaily results in no suspension and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Gordon pleaded guilty now to ensure that he will not receive an automatic, mandatory two-game suspension for the DUI charges.  (Under the old drug policy, a suspension is possible for first-offense DUI, if a player has had other issues under the substance-abuse policy.)

The guilty plea was submitted by Gordon’s lawyer; he was not required to appear personally in court.  In exchange for the plea, Gordon received a 60-day suspended sentence.  He also must pay a $100 fine. His driver’s license has been suspended.

Gordon is expected to be suspended a total of 10 games under the new substance-abuse policy.  Previously, he had been suspended for the entire 2014 season.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ben Roethlisberger “still very sore” after Courtney Upshaw hit

Ben Roethlisberger, Courtney Upshaw AP

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of hits in his career.

But he said Tuesday he’s “still very sore” after a shot to the chest from Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw last Thursday.

Upshaw was flagged for roughing the passer on the play, after drilling Roethlisberger on a clean run.

I’m hurting today as much as I was at any point I can think of in the last year,” Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com.

Roethlisberger said it was the hardest he’s been hit since Bart Scott leveled him in 2006.

“This is easily right there with a close second,” Roethlisberger said. “I lost my breath instantly and remember hitting the ground thinking, ‘Boy, that hurt a lot.’ I kind of pride myself on not taking those big hits, but I sure as heck didn’t see it coming.”

He clearly didn’t see his own play falling off this way either. He was 22-of-37 for 217 yards and an interception, and the Steelers have scored just three field goals in their last six quarters.

It won’t get any easier for him Sunday night, against a Panthers defense which is top-five in both yards and points allowed.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Minnesota governor calls on Vikings to suspend Peterson

San Diego Chargers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

The governor of Minnesota is calling on the Vikings to change course and suspend Adrian Peterson for abusing his son.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says Peterson — who admits that he whipped his son and caused cuts and bruises — should not be playing until he has gone through the legal process.

It is an awful situation,” Dayton said in a statement. “Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.”

Dayton said he remains a Vikings fan, even as he feels disappointment toward the team.

“I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans,” Dayton said.

Given the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice case, it’s almost impossible to trust Goodell to handle the Peterson case appropriately. Which is one reason that many are calling on the Vikings to take it upon themselves to bench Peterson. Something they’re refusing to do amid severe public pressure.

Permalink 170 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

CBS decides to exclude Rihanna from all pre-games

Fashion Alexander Wang Spring 2015 AP

This is the part of the story where I’d make a pop culture reference about Rihanna using one of her song titles.

But I did that already once today, so I’m pretty much out of Rihanna material.

After the pop singer told the NFL “F— you,” on Twitter this morning, the league has returned the favor.

A CBS spokesman said any plans to re-introduce her song “Run This Town” to their Thursday Night Football open had changed, and she won’t be involved in any further broadcasts.

“Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our Thursday Night Football open,” CBS senior vice president of communications Jen Sabatelle said, via USA Today. “We will be using our newly created Thursday Night Football theme music to open our game broadcast.”

The league pulled the song of the famous domestic violence victim as part of an effort to adopt a more serious tone to the Ravens-Steelers pre-game in light of the Ray Rice news of the week.

She apparently woke up this morning and realized she didn’t like it, so we await her next reaction.

Permalink 57 Comments Feed for comments Back to top