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PFT’s Week 16 picks

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The proverbial pink champagne is on ice.

Yes, with a clean sweep in the three games on which we disagreed last weekend, I’ve now built a seven-game lead over MDS, with only 32 games to go.

The problem for MDS is that we probably won’t disagree on seven games in the final two weeks.  Even then, he needs to be right on all of them.

For Week 16, we disagree on three.  So I’ll lead by at least four and possibly by 10 by the time the fat man in the red suit breaks into my house, eats my cookies, and leaves behind a bunch of stuff for everyone but me.

For the week, I was 12-4 to a 9-7 from MDS.  On the year, I’m at 146-77-1, good for 65.1 percent.  MDS is 139-84-1, still at 62.0 percent.

Falcons at Lions

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have been severely inconsistent this season, with the Falcons consistently managing to pull out wins when they don’t play very well, and the Lions consistently managing to pull out losses when they play competitively. So after a week in which the Falcons blew out a good team and the Lions got blown out by a bad team, I’m picking both teams to revert to their inconsistent ways. Does this logic make sense? Maybe not, but I’m going to have to pick some upsets to catch Florio.  So what the heck?

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  It would be fitting for the Lions to close out a disappointing year with a pair of home wins over postseason contenders from Atlanta and Chicago.  It would be fitting, but after seeing the Lions lay an egg against the nine-eggs-in-a-row-laying Cardinals, it’s impossible for me to think the Lions can take down a Falcons team that put a goose egg on the Giants.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 31, Lions 17.

Giants at Ravens

MDS’s take: Both of these teams once looked like locks to win their divisions and now look desperate. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells liked to say that in games like this, you go with the more desperate team. That’s the Giants, who probably need to win out to make the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Ravens 13.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens are desperate for a win.  The Giants are more desperate for a win.  Even though Eli Manning’s Giants have lost to two teams that Peyton Manning’s Broncos played previously and beat, the third time needs to be a charm, or Eli will have no chance to chase his third ring.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Ravens 20.

Raiders at Panthers

MDS’s take: A couple weeks ago this looked like it could be a game to determine the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But the Panthers have won two in a row, and the Raiders won last week, and so now it looks merely like a game that could help shape the Top 10 of the draft. Which makes it an even less interesting game than it otherwise would have been.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Raiders 10.

Florio’s take:  Ron Rivera is making it very hard for the next G.M. to hire a new coach.  It will keep getting harder.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 31, Raiders 20.

Saints at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Dallas secondary is going to struggle mightily against the Saints’ passing attack, but with the season on the line I see Tony Romo having a big game against the Saints’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 34, Saints 31.

Florio’s take:  A loss to Dallas is a win for the Saints, since it makes it more likely that there won’t be a place with the Cowboys for Sean Payton.  Even though the Saints won big over the Bucs, the Cowboys are chasing a playoff berth no one thought they’d secure.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 30, Saints 24.

Titans at Packers

MDS’s take: Tennessee has actually played some reasonably good football in the five weeks since owner Bud Adams put the team on notice following a humiliating loss to the Bears: In those five weeks the Titans have blown out the Dolphins, ended the Jets’ playoff hopes and played a very close game against the playoff-bound Colts. But Green Bay in December is a tough place to play, and the Packers won’t have too much trouble putting the Titans away.

MDS’s pick: Packers 35, Titans 21.

Florio’s take:  Green Bay is reached for a No. 2 seed.  The Titans are reaching for a lower draft pick.  Advantage Packers.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 27, Titans 17.

Vikings at Texans

MDS’s take: It’s impressive that the Vikings are still playing meaningful games this deep in the season, but this is where it comes to an end.  The Texans will clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by spanking the Vikings, and the loss will severely damage the Vikings’ playoff hopes.

MDS’s pick: Texans 41, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take:  The Texans may not be able to stop Adrian Peterson, but they’ll likely come through in the most important statistical category — points scored versus points allowed.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 31, Vikings 20.

Patriots at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Patriots can’t be feeling good about themselves after Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers. They’ll take it out on the Jaguars in the day’s biggest blowout.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Jaguars 3.

Florio’s take:  Five years ago, these two teams squared off in the playoffs.  The closest the Jaguars ever get to returning comes from periodically losing to New England.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 41, Jaguars 14.

Colts at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Let’s just stop and reflect for a moment on how important the quarterback position is in the NFL: In 2010, with Peyton Manning, the Colts were a playoff team. In 2011, with Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins, the Colts were the worst team in the league. In 2012, with Andrew Luck, the Colts will beat the Chiefs on Sunday and clinch a playoff berth.

MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Chiefs 14.

Florio’s take:  The team that lucked into the top pick in the 2012 draft faces the team that won’t have the same good fortune finding a quarterback with the first or second overall selection in 2013.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 24, Chiefs 13.

Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Amazingly, the Dolphins are still in playoff contention, although they would need a lot of help in order to get there, even if they win out. They’ll at least take care of their end by winning on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins are surprisingly still alive for the postseason.  The Bills unsurprisingly aren’t.  Edge to the home team and the team that still have something to play for, which in this case is the same team.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 20, Bills 17.

Redskins at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Redskins just need to win out and they win the NFC East. No way they get tripped up by the Eagles, who are just playing out the string. Who would have figured before the season that the Redskins would be playing for a division title while the Eagles would be long since eliminated from playoff contention?

MDS’s pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  It’s likely the final home game for Eagles coach Andy Reid.  And Reid surely would love to spoil Washington’s chances to get to the postseason.  Of course, Reid also would have loved to have had the kind of year that would have made Sunday’s game not his final home game.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Eagles 14.

Bengals at Steelers

MDS’s take: The game of the day is in Pittsburgh, where these two teams will be fighting for the one open playoff spot remaining after the Colts take care of business. I like the Steelers to summon everything they have left and put themselves in prime position to clinch in Week 17.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 21, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals are 0-9 in their last eight games against the Steelers and Ravens.  And the Steelers are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.  And the Steelers desperately need a win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.  This isn’t a game the Steelers lose.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 23, Bengals 13.

Rams at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: I was surprised the extent to which the Bucs looked on Sunday like they’ve given up on the season. Greg Schiano and Jeff Fisher both have rebuilding jobs on their hands, but Fisher’s Rams appear to be closer to getting that job done than Schiano’s Bucs.

MDS’s pick: Rams 17, Buccaneers 9.

Florio’s take:  The Bucs play their final home game of the season while in a full-blown free fall.  Since it’s potentially cornerback Ronde Barber’s final home game of his career, look for the Bucs to find a way to turn things around against a Rams team that saw its unlikely postseason run slam to a halt in Week 15.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 28, Rams 17.

Browns at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos just need to beat two bad teams, the Browns and Chiefs, in order to ensure that if they rematch the Patriots in the playoffs, that game takes place in Denver. Peyton Manning and Co. will take care of business.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Broncos are closing in on a bye.  The Browns are closing in on saying “bye” to their coach and G.M.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 27, Browns 14.

Bears at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Bears need to win out and get some help to make the playoffs. I’m not sure if they’ll get the help, but with only the Cardinals and Lions left on the schedule, they should win out.

MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Cardinals 9.

Florio’s take:  No one’s ass is getting crowned as a result of this one.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 20, Cardinals 10.

49ers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Sunday night game is a big one, matching the two teams that may be playing the best football in all of the NFL right now. On a neutral field I’d probably take the 49ers, but in Seattle I give the Seahawks the edge.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 21, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  The “what’s your deal?” rivalry suddenly has become one of the best in the game, making the frosty relationship between the two coaches an afterthought.  The Seahawks could have, and should have, won the last time these teams met.  This time, the Seahawks are even better.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 20, 49ers 17.

Chargers at Jets

MDS’s take: Greg McElroy may get the loudest ovation at home that a Jets quarterback has received since Joe Namath. I don’t think McElroy is the long-term answer, but I do think he’ll play competently, and the Jets’ defense will play well, and Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will stand together on the sideline awkwardly watching the McElroy-led Jets win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Jets 13, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take:  The McElroy era begins with a Bolt.  Or maybe a butt fumble.  There’s too much drama this week in the locker room for the Jets to come together and win.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 17, Jets 10.

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NFL may have to use pre-Ray Rice procedures for other Josh Brown violations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Brad Wing #9 of the New York Giants comforts teammate Josh Brown #3 as they take on the New Orleans Saints during the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the NFL reopens its investigation of Josh Brown, its hands could be tied by the policies that were in place at the time any other incidents of alleged domestic violence occurred.

The NFL’s new six-game baseline suspension for first-offense domestic violence was adopted after the Ray Rice situation in 2014, as a response to the intense media and fan reaction to the decision to suspend Rice for only two games once video of his conduct finally surfaced. The new procedures don’t apply to anything that happened before the procedures were adopted.

As to Brown, the authorities in King County, Washington identified two potential incidents of domestic violence: One occurred in May 2015, and the other occurred in May 2014. Brown already has been suspended one game for the incident in 2015, which came with the new policies in place.

The other incident predated the changes to the rules, which would force the league to use the prior approach. For a first offense, Brown would be suspended two games.

The next question is whether other incidents of domestic violence could be proven by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely that not) based only on information from Josh Brown, the police report that finally has been issued, and the record and journals created by Brown. Possibly, separate acts of domestic violence could be stacked against Brown, the way they were for Greg Hardy.

At some point, the question becomes whether the NFL would attempt to impose enhanced discipline for the May 2015 incident, based on supposedly aggravating factors of past misconduct or the argument that the May 2015 incident was a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) offense. That will be harder for the league to pull off, because Brown already has been disciplined for the May 2015 incident.

Ultimately, none of it may matter. Josh Brown quickly has become synonymous with Ray Rice, and there are plenty of men who can do what Brown does. Whatever the official punishment eventually imposed by the NFL, Brown likely will become a pariah, with his only remaining NFL paychecks coming for however long he remains on the Commissioner-Exempt list.

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Brandon Marshall touts his maturity

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Wide receiver Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets reacts after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

If there’s a silver lining in the ongoing free fall of the New York Jets, it comes from receiver Brandon Marshall learning how to handle tough times.

I’m growing, man,” Marshall told on Friday. “I’m growing as an individual. Obviously, it hasn’t been perfect. But through adversity, character is built. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect throughout it, because it’s really difficult to handle.

“But that’s one of the positives from this start is, I love how I’m maturing and handling things better than I have in the past, when you’re in a losing locker room or when adversity hits. That’s been one of the things I’ve really focused on. I’ve got to continue to grow.”

Marshall added that his relationship with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is “good” after a Week Three run in.

“We have had our moments, whether it’s in practice or in meetings, had a lot of conversations. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and don’t always see things the right way,” Marshall said.

Richardson apparently doesn’t see why Marshall chose to talk about the situation.

“That’s Brandon, bro,” Richardson told “I’ve got nothing to talk about on that note. It’s locker room business. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Teammates aren’t supposed to fight with each other, either. But it definitely happens on losing teams. For the 2016 Jets, the fighting began in before the losing even started, with Marshall and cornerback Darrelle Revis getting into it during practice.

Frankly, Marshall’s maturity may be relative. The Broncos, Dolphins, and Bears each traded him.

With nine days left in this year’s trading window, maybe a fourth trade would be the best move for the team and for the player, who has still not yet played in a single postseason game.

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League is considering a developmental league

PHOENIX - JUNE 30:  Kicker Eric Houle #16 runs down field during a game against the Grand Rapids Rampage at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona on June 30, 2008.  (Photo by Gene Lower/Getty Images) Getty Images

With NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva long gone and the Arena Football League close to joining it in extinction, football players not yet ready for the NFL have limited options for developing their game. And so the NFL continues to discuss the possibility of launching a developmental league.

“We’ve talked about it,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters earlier this week. “Some of you may have heard we spent a fair amount of time at the [quarterly] meeting on what we call the 2020 plan, which is talking about how we plan for the future and the things we want to accomplish. One of them is obviously the game, and how do we improve the game? A developmental league could be something that we want to do to try to help develop players.

“We pick up on the rosters from the start of the season to the end of the season, probably three to four hundred players on average. Having those players ready to play as quickly as possible and developed so that their skill set’s furthered are all positive things about the long-term future of the game. I particularly have an interest in that and would like to make sure we’re evaluating that as something that can help improve the game and improve our players.”

A developmental league particularly is needed for the quarterback position, where not nearly enough players are good enough to play at the NFL level. But a developmental league also would be useful for all other positions, along with officiating, coaching, and scouting.

The question is whether the NFL could make money from a developmental league and, if not, the amount of losses the league would be willing to tolerate. NFL Europe wasn’t profitable, and the league eventually decided to stop the sangre.

Some owners may see no reason to give players not yet ready to earn a roster spot a chance to do so — and plenty of players with one of those roster spots may agree. Still, there’s a need for game-ready talent when injuries inevitably occur.

Given the ongoing decline in TV ratings, the NFL also should be wary of potentially diluting the product by adding more football in presumably markets not currently served by the NFL. Would the fans in those markets support a minor league team? If so, would they be less likely to support a nearby NFL team?

As every other professional league has learned in the past 40 years, Americans love football — but only so much of it. Between high school, college, and the NFL, the saturation point possibly has been reached. Before the NFL adds even more football in the interests of developing better football, the NFL should be sure that the effort won’t fail miserably.

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Buccaneers make receiver swap

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 31:  Wide receiver Freddie Martino #16 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hauls in a pass from quarterback Ryan Griffin for a first down while being pressured by running back Keith Marshall #39 of the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game on August 31, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers made a wide receiver swap Saturday, promoting Freddie Martino from the practice squad and waiving Donteea Dye.

Martino has previously spent time this season on both the active roster and the practice squad. He’s played in two games.

Dye could land back on the practice squad next week.

Earlier this week the Bucs placed veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve.

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LeSean McCoy travels with Bills to Miami

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 16:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at New Era Field on October 16, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills running back LeSean McCoy still may not play in Sunday’s game at Miami with a hamstring injury, but he still hasn’t been ruled out.

McCoy has made the trip to South Florida, PFT confirms. The news was first reported by Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

While it’s possible a ruse aimed at making the Dolphins think they’ll be facing McCoy, if his hamstring injury is bad enough to keep him from playing, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to Miami.

This doesn’t mean McCoy will definitely play. But it means that he still could.

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Jets place Henderson on non-football injury list

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 22: Keith Mumphery #12 of the Houston Texans fumbles the ball while being hit by Erin Henderson #58 of the New York Jets in the fourth quarter on November 22, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Texans won 24 to 17. (Photo by Thomas Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets placed veteran linebacker Erin Henderson on the non-football injury/illness list Saturday.

Henderson had started four games this season and led the team in tackles in each of the last two games.

His absence creates another hole in the defensive lineup with first-round linebacker Darron Lee out for at least Sunday’s game vs. the Ravens with an ankle injury.

The Jets promoted two linebackers from the practice squad Saturday, Julian Stanford and Victor Ochi. Stanford has already played in three games for the Jets this season. Ochi is an undrafted rookie outside linebacker who spent the offseason with the Ravens before landing on the practice squad with the Jets.

The Jets also placed tight end Braedon Bowman on injured reserve.

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With Carlos Hyde out, 49ers promote DuJuan Harris

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 03:  DuJuan Harris #32 of the San Francisco 49ers runs for 47-yards to the nine-yard line against the St. Louis Rams during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers running back Carlos Hyde will miss Sunday’s game against the Bucs with a shoulder injury. That means more reps for Mike Davis and Shaun Draughn — and a roster spot for DuJuan Harris.

The 49ers have promoted Harris to the active roster. To create space for him, the team waived defensive tackle Taylor Hart.

In two games late last season, Harris generated 140 rushing yards and 97 receiving yards. He was inactive for the first two games of 2016, waived on October 1, and signed to the practice squad on October 3.

Davis, a fourth-round pick in 2015, had more snaps than Draughn a week ago. Davis has a career average of 1.7 yards per carry.

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Okung, Latimer await final clearance for Monday night

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:   Cody Latimer #14 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Broncos prepare to return to prime time, 11 days after a Week Six loss to the Chargers, two of the team’s players await final clearance to return from concussions.

Tackle Russell Okung and receiver Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against the Texans. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Saturday that the next step for each player is official and final medical clearance.

“They both practiced today and are doing well and obviously they have to be cleared,” Kubiak said. “That’s the key there.”

The clearance will come on Saturday, if at all.

Meanwhile, linebacker DeMarcus Ware continues to be out with a forearm injury. Kubiak said that a recent CT scan was encouraging, and that Ware is expected to return to practice this week.

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NFL’s TV ratings gains in the UK are overstated

Fans wait outside before a NFL Fan Rally at the NFL House in Victoria House, in London, Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. Los Angeles Rams are due to play the New York Giants at Twickenham stadium in London on Sunday in a regular season NFL game. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

We previously passed along a report about a supposed 80 percent increase in TV viewership for NFL games in the United Kingdom this season. But it turns out that report was spinning the NFL’s UK ratings in a more positive light than is warranted.

A reader who tracks NFL viewership on UK television at contacted us to point out that the numbers being used to peddle a narrative of a significant ratings increase in the UK are misleading. Those ratings refer to the cumulative total number of viewers who watched all NFL programming in the UK this season as opposed to last season — but this season there’s more NFL programming available in the UK than there was last year, thanks to new highlight shows on BBC. So it’s no surprise that the cumulative total viewership is higher.

A better apples-to-apples comparison for TV viewership in the UK is how this year’s first London game, Colts-Jaguars, fared on BBC2 compared to last year’s Bills-Jaguars game in London. And on that score, the NFL isn’t growing in London: The Colts-Jaguars game drew 351,000 viewers on BBC2, a decrease compared to the 381,000 viewers for Bills-Jaguars last year on BBC2. This year’s Colts-Jaguars game did draw a larger audience than last year’s other early London game on BBC2, Jets-Dolphins, although that game’s ratings were lower because it aired at the same time as the Rugby World Cup.

Whether the NFL ever becomes appointment viewing for large numbers of UK fans remains to be seen. Right now, in a country of about 65 million people, less than 1 percent watch a typical NFL game.

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Texans place 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson on IR

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 16:  Kevin Johnson #30 of the Houston Texans congratulates Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans after intercepting a pass during the third quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson has been placed on injured reserve.

Johnson, the Texans’ first-round draft pick last season, suffered a broken foot on Sunday against the Colts.

Although it’s possible that Johnson could return in eight weeks, he is likely done for the season.

Johnson also suffered a foot injury as a rookie last year, although he was able to play through it and finish the season before having offseason surgery.

This year Johnson was beginning to emerge as one of the most important pieces in the Texans’ secondary, and he played every snap but one against the Colts despite the injury. Now the Texans will have to reconfigure their secondary without him.

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Jeff Fisher says Rams won’t bait Odell Beckham

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 21:  New York Giants receivers celebrate after a third quarter touchdown against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 21, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fans at a London rugby stadium could be treated to a different kind of scrum on Sunday, when the Rams and Giants play there.

With the often-chippy Odell Beckham Jr. squaring off against the usually-chippy L.A. defense, Nigel and his mates may learn a lot more about American football than they previously had known. After all, a game in December 2014 between the two teams featured a late hit on Beckham, a brawl that led to three ejections, and thousands in fines.

Beckham emerged from the melee with a $10,000 penalty for kicking at linebacker Alec Ogletree.

That happened a year before Beckham’s outburst against the Panthers resulted in a suspension. Now, only a few weeks after Beckham once again proved that he has skin thinner than a late-night-tweeting politician, the Rams get another chance to light his stubby fuse.

Surprisingly, coach Jeff Fisher says that won’t happen.

“We’re going to play between the snap and the whistle, and that’s it,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters, via “No, we’re not going there. Our guys are going to play hard and play fast, tackle, and have been instructed not to hurt the football team.”

It’s one thing to not do anything that would draw a flag. It’s quite another to constantly try to rattle and harass Beckham. The players are smart enough to know there’s a benefit to doing that — and Fisher is smart to stake out his “I ordered them not to touch Private William Santiago” territory before kickoff.

In other words, bollocks.

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NFL sees TV ratings increase in the UK

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27:  Flags advertising the NFL in London are seen on Regent Street prior to a Pittsburgh Steelers press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on September 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL hasn’t seen much good news on the television ratings front this season, with far fewer people watching this year than last year. But there is one place where NFL TV ratings are up.

According to the New York Daily News, TV ratings on Sky Sports and BBC networks in the United Kingdom are up 80 percent from last year.

There’s a feeling in some league circles that the NFL is already as popular as it’s ever going to get in the United States, and if the league is going to continue to grow it will have to do so overseas. London has been the focal point of the NFL’s international growth efforts, and those television numbers would suggest that the league is making inroads.

What remains to be seen is whether the league can become a consistently popular sport in London, and not just a passing fad. The NFL is committed to playing at least three games a year in London, which suggests that the league believes there are real opportunities for growth across the pond, at the same time as the NFL’s ratings tumble in the United States.

UPDATE 3:58 p.m. ET: It turns out that those TV ratings gains in the UK were overstated.

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Jim Irsay: Colts could be 6-0 if the ball bounced our way

Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay AP

Why is Colts owner Jim Irsay standing by G.M. Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano despite the team’s 2-4 record? Because he doesn’t think they’re as bad as 2-4 suggests.

According to Irsay, the Colts could easily have won every game this season if only they had caught a few breaks.

We could be 6-0 right now if the ball bounced our way,” Irsay told USA Today.

It’s true that the Colts have lost some close games: Three of their four losses were one-score games, and even their 34-20 loss to the Broncos was a one-score game until the final minute. Of course, the Colts’ two wins were one-score games as well. By Irsay’s logic, they’re only a couple good bounces from being 0-6.

The reality is that basically every bad team in the NFL can say it’s a few good bounces away from having a good season. The good teams are the ones that find a way to win even when the bounces don’t go their way.

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Saturday one-liners

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets reacts after his first down reception against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New York Jets 23-22.  (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Getty Images

With hip and shoulder injuries on deck, Jets WR Eric Decker insists that he’ll be good to go for 2017.

If RB LeSean McCoy and WR Robert Woods can’t go at Miami, a couple of former Miami players will be called upon to fill the void.

The Dolphins will use a couple of little-known tight ends on Sunday.

Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount will return to Pittsburgh for the first time since snaking his way out of town.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco had “good zip” and “good velocity” on his throws at practice on Friday, after missing two days with a shoulder injury.

The Bengals may be 2-4, but QB Andy Dalton apparently is improving.

Undrafted rookie Tracy Howard, who moved from safety to corner at the suggestion of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, will make his first career start on Sunday.

The Steelers have a plan for covering Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett on Sunday — which hopefully will go better than last year’s periodic zero-man approach to Gronk.

Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has praised the leadership of LB Brian Cushing.

The Colts have been trying to build a dominant defense for five years — and failing.

Jaguars TE Julius Thomas is tied for 28th at his position with 13 receptions.

A collection of paintings and artifacts previously owned by deceased Titans founder Bud Adams will be displayed in Indianapolis on November 12.

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson isn’t worried about his job security.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid will work his 300th game on Sunday.

A blend of rookies and free agents is making it harder for the Raiders defense to excel.

The Chargers think/hope/pray RB Melvin Gordon’s 48-yard run from Week Six is a sign of things to come.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says it’s “absurd” to suggest trading WR Dez Bryant.

Giants DL Damon Harrison would have no interest in playing for a team permanently headquartered in London.

Eagles CB Leodis McKelvin has guaranteed a win over Minnesota, sort of; “We’re going to go out there this week, play as a team, win as a team,” he said.

Washington’s defense knows it will have its hands full against Detroit.

The Bears have nine more days to figure out whether QB Jay Cutler can return to action, for a Monday night date with the Vikings.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford will play his 100th career game on Sunday.

Four days after having a tough outing against Dallas, Packers CB Ladarius Gunter held Alshon Jeffery to 33 yards on three receptions.

33-year-old Vikings DE Brian Robison has been moving around a lot this year.

The Falcons offense is getting better and better under Kyle Shanahan.

Chancellor Lee Adams, the son that former Panthers WR Rae Carruth hoped would be killed along with his mother, will be waiting outside the prison the day Carruth is released.

Former Tulane DE Royce LaFrance hopes to make the most of his latest chance with the Saints’ practice squad.

The Buccaneers will be leaning heavily on RB Jacquizz Rodgers, again.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was healthy enough to participate in the weekly bucket challenge, which likely means he’ll be healthy enough to play.

The Rams have been let down by the offense and the defense in successive weeks.

Seahawks LS Nolan Frese knows that the less he’s known, the better he’s doing.

ESPN ranks all American pro sports teams, and the 49ers landed at No. 122.

Out of 122.

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Ravens activate Taliaferro

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lorenzo Taliaferro #34 of the Baltimore Ravens in action against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on September 20, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens activated running back Lorenzo Taliaferro from the physically unable to perform list Saturday.

Taliaferro missed all of the offseason and the start of the season while recovering from a foot injury he suffered last October. A third-year player, Taliaferro has five career rushing touchdowns. Terrance West has emerged as the Ravens’ No. 1 running back, but Taliaferro should get some opportunities.

The Ravens also announced some other moves. Cornerback Robertson Daniel was promoted from the practice squad, while tight end Daniel Brown was waived and safety Kendrick Lewis was placed on injured reserve.

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