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PFT’s Week 15 picks

Peterson AP

Three weeks remain, and I’ve gradually built the lead back to four games.

But MDS has a chance to trim the gap down to one, if he’s right and I’m wrong on the three games on which we disagree.

And yes, Raiders fans, after four weeks of picking your team to lose, getting the exact score of two games right, missing a third exacta by one point, and correctly predicting the Raiders’ point total in all four games, MDS is picking your team to win this week.

Our picks on all Week 15 games appear below.  (Then again, where the hell else would they be?)

For last week, I eked out the win, 11-5 to 10-6.  For the year, I’m 134-73-1, a 64.4 percent accuracy rate.  MDS is 130-77-1, which keeps him at 62.5 percent.

Bengals at Eagles

MDS’s take: I’d been saying for weeks that the Eagles have given up on the season and wouldn’t win another game this year, and they proved me wrong with a spirited effort on Sunday, beating a Buccaneers team with playoff aspirations. So can they do that twice in a row? I don’t see it. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins will lead a defense that will make life miserable for Nick Foles.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles have now won more recently than the Phillies.  At least that can’t change until April.  Between now and then, the Eagles will change, plenty.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Eagles 17.

Giants at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons are still the favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but I think the Giants are the better team. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Giants win in Atlanta in December and then do it again in January.

MDS’s pick: Giants 30, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons need a win to prove they can win in the playoffs.  The Giants need a win to help ensure they’ll get to the playoffs.  This one feels like the NFC version of Texans-Patriots.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 31, Falcons 21.

Broncos at Ravens

MDS’s take: Baltimore’s decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron strikes me as a desperation move. The Ravens know they’re not as good as the three elite teams in the AFC, and the Broncos are going to demonstrate that on Sunday in Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens don’t match up well against Peyton Manning.  They never have.  Throw in a flat-tire offense that the Ravens are trying to change while the car is moving, and the late-season slide continues.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 28, Ravens 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, and I think they’ll do just that. Lovie Smith has said from his first day as the Bears’ coach that his No. 1 goal is to beat Green Bay, and Smith’s seat will get even hotter when he fails to do that on Sunday at Soldier Field.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Bears 13.

Florio’s take:  If Jay Cutler doesn’t play, who’ll shove J’Marcus Webb when this one starts to go south?

Florio’s pick:  Packers 24, Bears 13.

Redskins at Browns

MDS’s take: The Redskins have been red hot lately, but the Browns are better than people give them credit for. Whether it’s Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins, the Redskins’ quarterback is going to have a tough time against Cleveland’s defense, and I like the Browns to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Browns 13, Redskins 10.

Florio’s take:  With or without RG3, the Redskins have found their groove and they’ll continue to push for the playoffs.  Still, this one could be the toughest challenge yet, notwithstanding wins over the Ravens, Giants, and Cowboys.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Browns 21.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans don’t have much time to lick their wounds after the epic beating they took in New England, but Houston is a more complete team than Indianapolis and should put the Colts away and clinch the AFC South.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:  The Texans may have never won in Indy, but they’ve finally figured out how to beat Indy in Texas.  Besides, the Texans need the win to stay ahead of the Pats for the top seed — and the Colts for the division crown.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 28, Colts 17.

Jaguars at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is particularly good, but the Dolphins at least look like they’re going in the right direction, while the Jaguars look like they need to be torn apart and rebuilt from the ground up.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jaguars 7.

Florio’s take:  The Jags’ travel expenses will be low.  Their offensive output will be even lower.  And no one will notice.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 20, Jaguars 10.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: Drew Brees will turn in a big game against a depleted Buccaneers secondary, and the Saints will put together a solid win, too late for it to matter in the playoff race.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take:  Not long ago, both of these teams had a real shot at the postseason.  Now?  Not.  Though the Bucs have held their own in the Bayou in recent years, the Saints will be buoyed by their bounty victory.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Buccaneers 23.

Vikings at Rams

MDS’s take: Raise your hand if you actually predicted before the season that this Week 15 game would have playoff implications for both teams. I’m betting on both of these teams falling just short, but I’m impressed that Jeff Fisher and Leslie Frazier have their teams playing well into December. I see the Rams’ defense forcing Christian Ponder into three interceptions and the Rams ending the Vikings’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Vikings 16.

Florio’s take:  I broke from my vow to never pick the Vikings again this year after their Week 11 bye, and it turned out to be a smart move.  For a change.  So why not do it again?  The young Rams remain inconsistent, and they’re due to lay an egg like the one they popped out against the Jets last month.  Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is making a run at history.  What better way to take a big chunk out of the gap between A.P. and E.D. (that nickname isn’t as cool as it used to be) than to do it against the team with which he set the record?

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Rams 13.

Lions at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Neither team is playing particularly well, but at least the Lions are playing competitively. The Cardinals aren’t doing anything right.

MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Cardinals 6.

Florio’s take:  Something’s gotta give when a pair of crappy teams get together in Arizona.  The Lions are the lesser of two evils, thanks to the fact that they have the better of the two starting quarterbacks.  By far.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 31, Cardinals 17.

Seahawks at Bills

MDS’s take: Seattle catches a break here, as a bad road team is going not to Buffalo but to Toronto, where the pro-Bills crowd won’t be quite as raucous. The Seahawks strike me as a team peaking at the right time, and they’ll beat Buffalo handily.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Bills 17.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks are getting better on the road.  Especially when the road is more like the semi-neutral site that is Toronto.  The push continues for a playoff berth — and possibly the NFC West crown.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 33, Bills 20.

Panthers at Chargers

MDS’s take: Give credit to both of these teams: Late in a tough season, when it would be easy to mail it in, they’re both playing hard. So this should be a pretty good game, something you can’t often say about a December game when both teams have losing records. A big game from Philip Rivers will win it for the Chargers.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Panthers 28.

Florio’s take:  Ron Rivera returns to San Diego, with inside information about the Chargers’ offense and a quarterback who seems to be finding his stride, again.  Sunday’s upset by San Diego over the Steelers was an aberration; the Panthers’ unexpected win over Atlanta wasn’t.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Chargers 20.

Steelers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: This might be the best game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams are desperate. Then again, the Steelers were desperate last week, too, and they laid an egg. Pittsburgh looks like it’s fading down the stretch.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s a rematch of three prior Super Bowls, and each team’s ability to pursue another Super Bowl appearance rides on the outcome.  It’s hard to overlook that ugly home loss by the Steelers — and it’s even harder to ignore the sense that the Cowboys are finding a way to pull together after Saturday’s tragedy.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 27, Steelers 17.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: This might be the worst game on a great NFL Sunday because both teams have nothing to play for other than possibly getting the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. I like the Raiders to win and the Chiefs to take another step toward the top pick.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 21, Chiefs 13.

Florio’s take:  It’s the latest renewal of a once-great rivalry, and it continues to disintegrate.  If the Raiders can win at Arrowhead, they can hold serve at home.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 17, Chiefs 7.

49ers at Patriots

MDS’s take: In a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night, I think the Patriots will show they’re playing at another level from the rest of the league. Tom Brady will have a big game against a good 49ers defense, and Bill Belichick will have something up his sleeve for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Another prime-time home game against a playoff-caliber team, another big win for a Patriots team that is poised to make another assault on a championship.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, 49ers 24.

Jets at Titans

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Jets are particularly good, but none of the teams they’re playing in December are particularly good, either. So I like the Jets to win this one, and probably win out to earn a surprising 9-7 record and even an outside shot at an AFC wild card berth.

MDS’s pick: Jets 14, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  The Jets keep moving toward an unlikely playoff berth.  The Titans keep moving toward an inevitable house cleaning.  Mittens off for Bud Adams!

Florio’s pick:  Jets 14, Titans 10.

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Report: Florida grand jury investigating daily fantasy operators

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[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]

It’s one thing for a successful industry to face civil litigation; every large business inevitably gets sued. It’s quite another for a successful industry to face potential criminal liability.

According to Florida attorney Daniel Wallach, via Michael McCann of, the United States attorney’s office in Tampa currently is investigating daily fantasy sports operators for violation of the federal Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970 and Florida law.

The Illegal Gambling Business Act defines an illegal gambling business as one that: (1) violates the laws of a state where its business is conducted; (2) involves five or more persons who manage, operate, or own the business; and (3) has been in operation for more than 30 continuous days or has gross revenue of $2,000 in any one day.

Section 894.14 of the Florida statutes provides that “[w]hoever stakes, bets or wagers any money or other thing of value upon the result of any trial or contest of skill, speed or power or endurance of human or beast” shall be guilty of a crime. So if DFS violates Florida gambling law, an operation with five or more persons running the business violates the Illegal Gambling Business Act.

That’s where the express permission for daily fantasy provided by Congress (and reportedly lobbied for by the NFL) in 2006 potentially intersects with state law that still considers daily fantasy gambling, even if federal law doesn’t. It’s the “B” side of the current national marijuana conundrum, where some states have made it legal and federal law still hasn’t. For daily fantasy, it’s not a federal crime standing alone, but where it’s a violation of state law it can become a federal crime based on the size of the operation.

In English, this means that the industry needs to tread lightly in states where the law conflicts with the federal finding that daily fantasy isn’t gambling because it’s premised not on chance but on skill.  Currently, the daily fantasy industry does not operate in Montana, Louisiana, Arizona, Washington, and Iowa. (Montana has the only clear, specific ban on fantasy sports.)

“[S]tates are the ones that make the determinations about whether something is legal or not legal,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Wednesday when discussing the DFS phenomenon. “We follow the law and we will do that.”

Daily fantasy companies are and have been operating in Florida. The language of the Florida anti-gambling law cited by Wallach specifically encompasses games of skill. As noted in this excellent legal primer from Professor Marc Edelman, a 1991 advisory opinion from the Florida Attorney General concluded that it is illegal to participate “‘in a fantasy sports league whereby contestants pay a fee for the opportunity to select actual professional sports players.'”

The mere existence of a federal grand jury exploring violations of the Illegal Gambling Business Act and Section 894.14 of the Florida statutes means that the U.S. attorney in Tampa already believes that: (1) Florida law prohibits DFS; and (2) federal law imposes criminal liability on any five-person-or-more DFS operation doing business in Florida. At some point, a federal judge may have to decide whether that interpretation is accurate.

Regardless of whether DFS is gambling in Florida, betting that it isn’t instantly has become a high-stakes game of chance for the DFS companies, with federal penalties of up to five years in prison and forfeiture of all money used in whatever is determined to be an illegal gambling operation in Florida.

The U.S. attorney in Florida may end up being flat-out wrong. And, ultimately, I continue to believe that people should be allowed to risk their money on any and all games of chance, games of skill, and/or the game of Risk. But it’s human nature for folks to push back against the perception of unregulated windfalls, and whether it’s class-action lawsuits or grand-jury investigations, the accelerated life cycle of the DFS industry already has reached the point where it has become a very large target for its enemies.

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Lane Johnson says the line is to blame for the Eagles’ problems

Jeremy Mincey, Lane Johnson, Mark Sanchez AP

Everyone agrees that the Eagles’ offense has been a major disappointment this season, but there’s disagreement about who deserves most of the blame: Coach Chip Kelly? Quarterback Sam Bradford? Running back DeMarco Murray?

According to Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson, the correct answer is none of the above.

Johnson says that the offensive line deserves the bulk of the blame, and that the problems in both the running game and the passing game stem from the problems up front.

“The line has dug a very deep hole and pretty much put everybody else in it,” Johnson said, via ESPN. “So we’ve got to find a way to get everybody else out and find a way out of this mess. A quarter of the way through this season, we’re not where we want to be, but there’s still a lot of games left to be played.”

It’s classy of Johnson to admit that Kelly, Bradford and Murray would all look a lot better if he and his fellow linemen would play better. But the line shouldn’t take all of the blame, either. In Philadelphia, there’s enough blame to go around.

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Mike Shanahan continues to heap praise on Kirk Cousins

Robert Griffin, Kirk Cousins AP

In 2012, former Washington coach Mike Shanahan took a fourth-round flier on quarterback Kirk Cousins, in the same year the team gave up three ones and a two to get Robert Griffin III. And it’s possible that Shanahan is laying the foundation to swoop back into the NFL with Cousins as his quarterback.

Shanahan has continuously praised Cousins, at a time when Shanahan has made it clear he wants what would be a fourth NFL head-coaching opportunity. His latest remarks were the most over-the-top yet.

“I think he’s a guy that can take your team and win a Super Bowl,” Shanahan told ESPN 980, via Clinton Yates of the Washington Post. “And that’s the biggest compliment I can give somebody. Does this person have the ability, the ingredients, that if he has the right supporting cast on offense/defense and special teams, can he win you a Super Bowl? And I believe that Kirk Cousins has that ability.”

More immediately, Kirk Cousins may have the ability to get Shanahan what he really wants. Because when teams that inevitably will be looking for new coaches because they invariably have bad quarterback situations will be hiring in January, Shanahan’s plan for any interviews he gets will include getting Cousins to be the team’s quarterback.

Yes, Cousins will be a free agent after the season. And Washington would have to devote nearly $20 million in cash and cap space to keep Cousins off the market for 2016. Which means, unless Washington gets to the Super Bowl or close to it, Cousins is likely to hit the open market. Which will make it easy for Shanahan to recruit Cousins to Shanahan’s new team, if he can land one.

Ultimately, it’s the money that talks. But Shanahan’s chatter surely will make it easier to lure Cousins when the time comes to pick a new team.

For Shanahan’s purposes, landing Cousins is one thing. Using the possibility of landing Cousins to secure an NFL job two months before Cousins becomes a free agent is another. And the only way for Washington to block that will be to sign Cousins to a new contract before the end of the season.

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A Greg Hardy rap video emerges

free-agent-defensive-end-greg-hardy Getty Images

One day after the first Sunday of the 2014 season, TMZ published a Ray Rice video that shook the NFL to its foundation. One day before Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy plays his first game of the 2015 season, TMZ has published another video that won’t have nearly the same impact.

It’s a rap video from Hardy, made during the 2014 season while he was being paid to not play football pending the resolution of his domestic violence charges.

According to TMZ, the song includes these Dr. Seuss-style words of wisdom from Hardy: “What you see is what you get. I’m just me, I’m just real, and that’s what I do.”

The video also reportedly includes the sound of gunfire, because of course it would. It likewise objectifies women, because of course it would.

The video, standing alone, violates no league policies. But it won’t make many in the league office thrilled about the situation, and it will make some primed to pounce with another suspension if/when Hardy gets into real trouble again.

And while the video was created months before Hardy became a Cowboy, it won’t make coach Jason Garrett, who recently told Hardy to watch what he says about guns and women, any happier with Hardy.

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Texans expect Clowney to play next week despite ankle injury

Jadeveon Clowney AP

When Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney was spotted in a walking boot on Friday, it was cause for concern: Clowney missed most of his rookie year with a knee injury, and the Texans would hate to lose the 2014 No. 1 overall pick for significant time again.

But Texans coach Bill O’Brien says the walking boot is not a sign of a serious injury, and the Texans expect Clowney to play next week.

“I just saw him just now before I walked in here, and he seemed to be doing well,” O’Brien said, via ESPN. “I think you guys probably saw he had a boot on, but that’s just precautionary. He likes to go play pick-up hoop and things like that. Going to try to avoid doing that this weekend.”

Clowney has shown flashes of the raw talent that made him one of the most exciting defensive prospects ever to enter the draft, including a great tackle on Frank Gore on Thursday night. But he still hasn’t recorded a single sack in his NFL career, which is a huge disappointment for a pass rusher drafted first overall. Perhaps he can do it next Sunday in Jacksonville.

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Antonio Cromartie dubs Odell Beckham Jr. a “one-year wonder”

Odell Beckham AP

Later this year, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie will get a chance to battle Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the field. For now, Cromartie will have to settle for throwing darts at Beckham off it.

Right now he’s a one-year wonder,” Cromartie said Friday on ESPN, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “I’m just being honest. It’s just one year. I need to see it on an every-game basis, not him getting penalties or something like that or sucker-punching somebody. I think it’s all about how you carry yourself throughout your whole entire career.”

Beckham can show Cromartie that the second-year player is something more than a one-year wonder when the Jets and Giants get together on December 6. Unless, of course, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis exclusively covers Beckham.

“He’s very young. Has he had production in 16 games? Yes, I give him the utmost [credit] for that,” Cromartie said. “He’s had the most production out of any receiver I’ve seen in [his first] 16 games since Randy Moss. But you have to do it week-in and week-out and depend on that person. No matter if you’re getting double or triple-teamed. Randy Moss didn’t complain when he [was] triple and double-teamed, and people went after him, also.”

Beckham has had to adjust to teammates ribbing him and opponents targeting him. After scoring an average of one touchdown per game in his 12 appearances from 2014, Beckham has two touchdown receptions in four games this season.

Still, that gives him 14 touchdowns in 16 career games. Which is a strong start. By the time December 6 rolls around, it’ll be interesting to see whether Beckham’s production supports Cromartie’s theory.

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Trent Robinson not fined for hits on defenseless players

Trenton+Robinson+uC6np5l57jcm Getty Images

During Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Washington lost 30 yards of field position on a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties called against defensive back Trent Robinson.

According to the NFL (and as Washington safety Dashon Goldson suggested during a recent appearance on PFT Live), Robinson was fined for neither hit.

The first foul, arising from a hit on Philadelphia receiver Jordan Matthews in the third quarter, appeared to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The second foul, occurring on the first play of the fourth quarter, happened when Eagles tight end Zach Ertz caught a past and lowered his head into Robinson’s chest.

The lack of fines suggests that the flags were thrown in error, which is more evidence that these fouls should be subject to replay review. With 15 yards given to the offense whenever one of these penalties is called, the defense should have a way to obtain a more deliberate review of what often occurs on a bang-bang basis.

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Jarvis Landry fined for abusive language to official

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Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes wasn’t the only player from the AFC East who was fined for directing abusive language to an official. Per multiple reports, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry was fined, too.

The standard fine for a first offense under the 2015 fine schedule is $23,152. For a second offense committed this season, the amount doubles.

Landry drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct late in Miami’s 27-14 loss to the Jets in London. The defeat sparked the termination of Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

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Seahawks decided to give Marshawn Lynch more time to heal

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Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will miss a second straight game with a hamstring strain. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday that Lynch possibly could have played.

“It’s just two weeks now,” Carroll said. “He’s just getting over it. We’ve seen some guys around the league try to come back. He could try to come back and play, but we think he’d be vulnerable. He needs another weekend to get through it. Then by next week, by Wednesday or something, we think we can get him going again. He’s just about over the hump. He’s worked very diligently, like I’ve said, to get it done. So we just have to wait a couple more days.”

Carroll makes a good point about the importance of resting a hamstring injury. The Bills rushed running back LeSean McCoy back too quickly, and now he’s out for another month or so.

“You’ve just got to wait it out,” Carroll said of Lynch. “He’s very close, but we can’t guarantee that he can make it through the game. That means we could get set back again, so we’re just going to wait it out and see if we can get him right next week.”

The Seahawks host the Panthers next Sunday. Seattle then has a Thursday night game against the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Without Lynch, it’ll be Thomas Rawls and perhaps Fred Jackson carrying the load; Jackson is questionable for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.

Carroll also said that the Seahawks may add a running back before Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Rod Smith, and undrafted free agent from Ohio State, is on the practice squad. Also, the Seahawks worked out running back Cyrus Gray on Friday, per a league source.

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Colts trumpet their ability to neutralize “Justin James” Watt

J.J. Watt AP

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was frustrated after last night’s loss to the Colts. He may be feeling a different emotion after seeing what the Colts had to say about his performance.

The Colts trumpeted via “daily notes” distributed to the media their ability to “neutralize” Watt, holding him to no sacks and no solo tackles for only the second time in his NFL career. Also, tight end Dwayne Allen has opted to refer to Watt by only his first and middle names.

“Justin James is arguably the greatest defensive player in this league and for him to have a quiet night, attributed [sic] to a short week and great coaching,” Allen said. “He’s definitely a guy we have to game plan for as a game wrecker. We tried our best to keep him from affecting plays.”

“Justin James” will next get a chance to affect plays on December 20, when the Texans travel to Indianapolis in the hopes of beating the Colts there for the first time in franchise history.

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Week Five injury report roundup

Joe Haden, DeAndre Hopkins AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Five of the 2015 season.

Redskins at Falcons

Four Redskins — cornerback Chris Culliver (knee), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring), and tight end Jordan Reed (concussion, knee, ankle) — have been ruled out for this Sunday. Linebacker Perry Riley (calf) is questionable to return to the lineup. Running back Tevin Coleman (ribs) is probable to return for the Falcons, who ruled out linebacker Justin Durant (elbow). Wide receiver Julio Jones (toe, hamstring) is questionable, although there’s been nothing to suggest he’ll be anywhere but on the field come Sunday.

Browns at Ravens

Browns cornerback Joe Haden (ribs, finger) is questionable after unexpectedly missing last week’s game and safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) has been ruled out. Linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle) is out as well and running back Shaun Draughn (back) is doubtful. It doesn’t look like Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (back, doubtful) will play, which would leave him on the sideline with defensive end Chris Canty (calf), tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee). Tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) is probable to play for the first time since the opener.

Seahawks at Bengals

It will be another week without running back Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) for the Seahawks, who also ruled out cornerbacks Tharold Simon (toe) and Marcus Burley (hand). Running back Fred Jackson (ankle) is questionable and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday that he’s hopeful the veteran can play. The Bengals are healthy with three probables to go with the questionable defensive end Wallace Gilberry (calf) and safety George Iloka (ankle).

Rams at Packers

Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree (ankle) is going to be out for multiple weeks and safety Maurice Alexander (groin) is doubtful. The Packers look like they’ll have tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) in the lineup, although they listed him as questionable along with wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle), safety Morgan Burnett (calf) and cornerback Demetri Goodson (hamstring). Safety Sean Richardson (neck) is out and reportedly will miss the rest of the season.

Bears at Chiefs

The Bears will have plenty of decisions to make on Sunday. They listed 13 players as questionable, including quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (shoulder). They were a bit more definitive about safety Antrel Rolle (ankle, doubtful) and were willing to rule out tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion). Tight end Travis Kelce (groin, thumb) is probable for the Chiefs, who won’t have linebacker Josh Mauga (groin, Achilles).

Saints at Eagles

The Saints ruled out tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and punter Thomas Morstead (quadricep), but hope to have guard Jahri Evans (knee) back in the lineup after listing him as questionable. Eagles tackle Jason Peters (quadricep) is questionable, but said he expects to play. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) is out after getting hurt last week.

Jaguars at Buccaneers

Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), linebacker John Lotulelei (concussion) and running back Denard Robinson (knee) are all out for Jacksonville and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) is expected to join them after being listed as questionable. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and linebacker Paul Posluszny (ankle) are also questionable. The Bucs don’t expect to have cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), wide receiver Russell Shepard (hamstring) or center Evan Smith (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. Guard Logan Mankins (groin), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) and tight end Luke Stocker (hip) are all questionable.

Bills at Titans

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) is questionable after missing last week’s game. Tight end MarQueis Gray (forearm), running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), safety Bacarri Rambo (quadricep) and running back Karlos Williams (concussion) are all going to miss the game and safety Aaron Williams (neck) is probable to return to the lineup. Cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) should play for the first time this season, but the Titans will likely be without defensive tackle Sammie Hill (knee). Guard Chance Warmack (knee) is questionable.

Cardinals at Lions

Running back Andre Ellington (knee) is one of seven probable Cardinals, tight end Darren Fells (hip) and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) are questionable and coach Bruce Arians said Friday he anticipates everyone being healthy enough to play. The Lions ruled out running back Joique Bell (ankle), tight end Eric Ebron (knee) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) for this Sunday. Safety James Ihedigbo (quadricep) and guard Larry Warford (ankle) are questionable.

Patriots at Cowboys

The Patriots return from their bye in good shape. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (hamstring) and defensive end Trey Flowers (knee, shoulder) are questionable and the rest of the injury report is made up of probable players. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (concussion) is probable to return, but wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot), wide receiver Brice Butler (hamstring) and defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) are all out of the lineup.

Broncos at Raiders

Broncos tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) will miss a second straight game and guard Evan Mathis (hamstring) is questionable to play. Wide receiver Cory Latimer (groin) has also been ruled out. The Raiders will play without defensive tackle Denico Autry (concussion), cornerback T.J. Carrie (chest), defensive tackle Justin Ellis (ankle) and running back Taiwan Jones (foot).

49ers at Giants

Word on Friday was that linebacker Ahmad Brooks will miss Sunday’s game following the death of his sister, but the 49ers listed him as doubtful. Tight end Vernon Davis (knee) definitely won’t play and tackle Joe Staley (knee) is questionable. The Giants ruled out defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive end George Selvie (calf). Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (calf), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) and cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) are all questionable.

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Eric Ebron out for Lions on Sunday

Eric Ebron AP

As the Lions try to get their first win of the season, they’ll have to do it without a key piece of their passing game. Tight end Eric Ebron is out for the game with a knee injury.

Ebron reportedly suffered no structural damage to his knee as a result of a Monday night injury in Seattle. Ebron did not practice at all this week.

Regarded as a disappointment during his rookie season, which included only 25 receptions for 248 yards and one touchdown, Ebron already has generated 15 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in four games this year.

The good news for the Lions is that tight end Brandon Pettigrew is on track to return to action. He injured a hamstring in Week One, and he hasn’t played since then. Pettigrew is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Cardinals.

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Prop rule comes from desire to “prevent things from escalating”

Josh Norman AP

The Week Four games contained a pair of touchdown celebrations that included the use of the ball as a prop. One of them (Panthers cornerback Josh Norman pretending to ride a horse with the ball apparently serving as the horse) drew a flag. One of them (Rams receiver Stedman Bailey taking a nap with the ball as a pillow) didn’t.

In the league’s weekly officiating video, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained the purpose for the rule.

‘This is a rule that was put in place to prevent things from escalating,” Blandino said. “We had situations where players were using the ball as a prop. It was getting elaborate, it was getting extensive. And we were creating this animosity with the team that scored and then the team that got scored upon, and we were ending up with altercations, and this got out of control.”

Norman’s use of the ball as a prop definitely triggered animosity from the crowd in Tampa; at 8:16 of the video, a hand showing a middle finger to Norman appears in the foreground of the video.

Blandino acknowledged that Bailey’s conduct, like Norman’s, should have been penalized.

“We have continue to work to be consistent, in not just this area but every area, so we want both of these to be called,” Blandino said. “We certainly don’t want to take the fun out of the game. Players can celebrate, they can high five, they can fist bump, whatever it is. But they cannot use the football as a prop, they can’t do anything that would be considered in poor taste, something that would be mimicking a violent gesture, whether that’s a throat slash, whether that’s . . . a six shooter. Using the ball as a prop is a foul, and officials are being directed to call it when they recognize it.”

It’s unclear why the officials didn’t recognize Bailey using the ball as a prop. Then again, it’s still unclear why the back judge in the Lions-Seahawks game didn’t recognize the illegal bat that occurred right in front of him.

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NFL fines Xavier Rhodes $17,363 for a horse collar tackle

Mike Evans, Xavier Rhodes AP

Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is lighter in the wallet after committing a horse collar tackle on Sunday.

Rhodes was fined $17,363 for the foul, the NFL has confirmed.

On the NFL fine schedule, horse collar tackles are considered in the second-tier of seriousness, along with roughing the passer and leg whips, all of which result in a $17,363 fine for a first offense. Less serious infractions like facemasking and chop blocks result in fines of $8,681, while more serious offenses like spearing, hitting a defenseless player and blindside blocks result in a fine of $23,152. Fines typically double for a second offense.

Rhodes also cost the Vikings 15 yards for the penalty, which he committed while tackling Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

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Report: Sean Richardson out for season with neck injury

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18:  Sean Richardson #28 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Packers intercept a pass in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers safety Sean Richardson missed a lot of time after having fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck during the 2012 season and he reportedly suffered the same injury.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Richardson will not play again this season and that his career may be at risk. Richardson missed the first 10 weeks of the 2013 season while recovering from the first neck surgery, but played down the stretch that year and saw action in all 16 games last season.

Richardson practiced on Wednesday and was listed as a limited participant in Thursday’s session. Per Silverstein, he began experiencing pain on Thursday and went for an MRI.

The Packers have a lot of recent history with neck injuries bringing careers to a premature end. Tight end Jermichael Finley, safety Nick Collins and running back Johnathan Franklin all saw their playing days end after similar injuries.

Green Bay has only ruled Richardson out for this week at this point. They’re also expected to be without safety Morgan Burnett, who is listed as questionable with a calf injury, when they face the Rams.

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Saints left tackle Terron Armstead out, Andrus Peat to start

Terron Armstead, Brett Ingalls AP

If the Saints are going to double their win total for the season, they’re going to have to do it with a rookie at left tackle.

Terron Armstead is listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Eagles with a knee injury picked up last week.

That leaves Drew Brees‘ blind side and recently sore shoulder in the hands of first-rounder Andrus Peat, who failed to win a starting job from either Armstead or Zach Strife in the preseason.

Guard Jahri Evans is listed as questionable, but worked on a limited basis Friday.

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Vernon Davis will miss another game

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The 49ers announced Friday that tight end Vernon Davis will miss a second straight game Sunday due to a knee injury.

Davis had been able to participate in practice on a limited basis earlier in the week, but he’s been ruled out for Sunday night’s game at the Giants. Garrett Celek was the primary tight end target with Davis out last week.

The team listed linebacker Ahmad Brooks as doubtful. His absence from practice this week has been listed as family leave following the death of his sister.

Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier will start at outside linebacker.

Starting tackle Joe Staley (knee) and backup wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) are listed as questionable.

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Marshawn Lynch to miss second straight game

Marshawn Lynch AP

Marshawn Lynch returned to practice for the Seahawks on Thursday, but his hamstring isn’t ready for him to return to game action when they face the Bengals on Sunday.

The Seahawks have ruled Lynch out for the second straight week, the first time that’s ever happened during his time in Seattle. Thomas Rawls ran 17 times for 48 yards against the Lions last Monday and may be in for an even heavier workload this weekend.

Fred Jackson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice for the last two days. The Seahawks had not completed Friday’s practice before releasing their injury report, so there’s no word on whether Jackson was able to do something during the final session of the week. Rawls is the only other running back on the 53-man roster with Rod Smith available from the practice squad if the Seahawks make a roster move.

Cornerbacks Tharold Simon and Marcus Burley are also out for Seattle while cornerback Tye Smith, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis are all doubtful.

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Julio Jones questionable, but expected to play against Washington

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The Falcons might list Julio Jones as questionable, but there’s no indication the Falcons are going to have to put their 4-0 record on the line without him.

According to Vaughn McClure of, Jones went through drills Friday and gave no indication he wouldn’t be able to go against Washington.

He’s been limited this week with toe and hamstring issues, though they don’t think it’s serious or related to previous issues.

The Falcons are also getting rookie running back Tevin Coleman back after a rib injury in Week Two, though it’s unclear how often he’ll get the ball behind Devonta Freeman, who leads the NFL with seven touchdowns.

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Josh Norman fined $8,681 for TD celebration

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the New Orleans Saints 27-22 at Bank of America Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers cornerback Josh Norman didn’t expect to draw a penalty flag for riding the football like a horse after returning an interception for a touchdown last Sunday, but he should have been expecting a fine from the league once he did.

Norman got that fine, which Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports is for $8,681. Norman said that he spoke to Hall of Fame linebacker and NFL/NFLPA fine appeal officer Derrick Brooks about the celebration before kickoff and that Brooks said Norman “was fine.”

That may help him if he tries to appeal, unless a Three’s Company-style misunderstanding resulted from Brooks telling Norman that he would be fined. It was still a good week for Norman, who followed up his NFC defensive player of the month honors for September by being named the conference’s top defender of the week.

Person reports that defensive end Ryan Delaire was fined $8,681 as well for a late hit on Buccaneers running back Doug Martin during the Panthers victory.

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