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PFT’s Week 17 picks

Griffin Reuters

Well, it’s officially over.

With an eight-game gap and one week of games left, MDS and yours truly disagree on only five games.  Which means that, even if MDS sweeps, I’ll still be three games ahead.  (Math continues to be my strong suit.)

Of course, if I sweep I’ll finish with a 13-game lead.  And based on the five disagreements, I think I will.

Read on to see our picks and our takes for the final week of the regular season.  It all re-sets to 0-0 for the playoffs, at which time MDS will have a chance to exact revenge.  Or to fail again.

Last week, I was 11-5 and MDS went 10-6.  For the year, I’m now at 157-82-1, good for 65.4 percent.  MDS is 149-90-1, which keeps him at 62.0 percent.

Buccaneers at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but they say they’re playing to win in Week 17. They shouldn’t have much trouble winning against the Bucs, who have collapsed at the end of the season.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 34, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Bucs haven’t been the same team since they nearly beat the Falcons in Tampa.  The Falcons are still trying to prove that they’re one of the best teams in the league.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.

Jets at Bills

MDS’s take: Football fans, the Greg McElroyRyan Fitzpatrick quarterback matchup you’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Fitzpatrick will throw a couple of touchdown passes in what may be his final start in Buffalo.

MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  The Jets have folded the tents, even though the circus is still in town.  Buffalo celebrates the news of a new lease with a home win to end the season, just in time for plenty of changes.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 27, Jets 14.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: At first glance this might look like a big game, matching up two playoff teams. But with the Bengals locked into the No. 6 seed and the Ravens highly likely to end up with the No. 4 seed, neither of these teams has a lot to play for. I think the Ravens, however, will be a little more motivated to build on the momentum from last week’s win over the Giants and will take this one.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 14.

Florio’s take:  This meaningless game has plenty of meaning for the Bengals, who need to convince themselves that they can beat the Ravens, in order to obtain the confidence that they can do something else they haven’t done in an even longer time — win in the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Ravens 20.

Bears at Lions

MDS’s take: In 2000, the Lions were 9-6 heading into Week 17 and needed only to beat the 4-11 Bears to make the playoffs. Instead, the Bears pulled the upset and Lions owner William Clay Ford cleaned house and began the disastrous Matt Millen era. This year it’s the 9-6 Bears who need to beat the 4-11 Lions to have a shot at the playoffs. I’ll take the Lions to get their revenge in an upset.

MDS’s pick: Lions 28, Bears 24.

Florio’s take:  Rodney Harrison declared while watching the Lions lose to the Falcons that Detroit’s body language suggests the Lions have quit.  The Bears haven’t.  Sometimes, it’s that easy.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 24, Lions 10.

Texans at Colts

MDS’s take: The Texans are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts are already locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Houston has more to play for and is a better team and will win this one going away.

MDS’s pick: Texans 36, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:  The Texans have never won in Indianapolis.  They need it this time more than ever.  But the Colts will have coach Chuck Pagano back, and even if the Colts leave so much on the field that it will make it harder to win in the playoffs, they’ll leave it all on the field to beat the Texans.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 27, Texans 23.

Packers at Vikings

MDS’s take: This is the biggest game played in Minnesota since Brett Favre led the Vikings to a divisional playoff win over the Cowboys three years ago. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, they’re hosting a Packers team that’s peaking at the right time. I like Aaron Rodgers to lead the Packers to a high-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Packers 35, Vikings 27.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings are playing for a postseason berth.  The Packers are playing for a bye.  The Packers remain the better team, and they have every reason to demonstrate that on Sunday.  To the delight of the Bears.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Vikings 21.

Dolphins at Patriots

MDS’s take: A win probably won’t be enough to earn New England a first-round playoff bye, but the Patriots will be motivated to try — and to wash out the bad taste of back-to-back disappointing performances, in a loss to the 49ers and a close win over the Jaguars.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 41, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take:  The Pats still have a crack at a bye.  That’s all the incentive they need to take out the Dolphins for the second time this month.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Dolphins 17.

Panthers at Saints

MDS’s take: It’s a meaningless game for both teams, but that doesn’t make it a bad game: Both of these teams have been playing good football in recent weeks, despite falling short of the playoffs. I like the Panthers to keep their winning streak going and make a statement that they’re a team to keep an eye on in 2013.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 21.

Florio’s take:  New Orleans is trying to finish on a high note.  And they are succeeding.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, Panthers 10.

Eagles at Giants

MDS’s take: The Eagles quit on Andy Reid months ago. The Giants have looked in the last couple weeks like they quit on Tom Coughlin. Both of these teams are slouching toward the end of the season, but the Giants have more to play for.

MDS’s pick: Giants 14, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take:  The Giants are playing for pride, along with a sliver of hope that they could make it to the playoffs if enough other teams lose.  If the Giants find a way in, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t lose again.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 27, Eagles 20.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: This game is meaningless, and I’m tempted to pick the Browns on the theory that the Steelers will be feeling a hangover from their disappointing Week 16 loss. But the Browns have gone in the tank over the last couple of weeks, and at this point I’m not sure I’d pick them to win on the road against anyone.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 9.

Florio’s take:  The Browns haven’t swept the Steelers since 1988, 11 years before the current edition of the Browns was born.  With rampant changes looming in Cleveland, the Steelers still have enough gas in the tank to avoid getting punked by the franchise they’ve owned since 1999 (even though the Browns are now technically owned by a guy who still owns a chunk of the Steelers).

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Browns 10.

Jaguars at Titans

MDS’s take: Last time the Titans suffered a humiliating blowout loss and were called out by their owner, they responded by winning the next game. I think they’ll do it again.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take:  Bud Adams isn’t happy with his coaching staff.  He’ll be slightly less unhappy after Sunday, but still unhappy enough to clean house.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 27, Jaguars 16.

Chiefs at Broncos

MDS’s take: Knowing they need to win in order to earn a first-round playoff bye, the Broncos will pound the Chiefs, who have nothing to play for other than the first pick in next year’s draft — which Kansas City will earn by losing.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Chiefs 10.

Florio’s take:  With 10 straight wins each by at least seven points, the Broncos could be the best team in the playoff field.  They’re definitely good enough to continue chasing a bye week.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 34, Chiefs 10.

Raiders at Chargers

MDS’s take: With Norv Turner virtually assured of being fired after the game, his team will send him out a winner in an AFC West contest that doesn’t really matter for much of anything.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Florio’s take:  Norv Turner has one last chance to change the owner’s mind.  It won’t matter.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 24, Raiders 10.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: San Francisco will shake off Sunday night’s thrashing in Seattle to clinch the NFC West.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Cardinals 3.

Florio’s take:  The Niners are on the brink of squandering the NFC West title that we were ready to hand them back in September.  If they can’t beat the Cardinals and Brian Hoyer at home, San Fran doesn’t even deserve to be in the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 31, Cardinals 13.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: No one wants to play the Seahawks right now. They’re destroying everything in their paths. The Rams will be no different.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 45, Rams 7.

Florio’s take:  The Seahawks, who lost their first round of NFC West games, have been exacting revenge in a big way.  They finish the job on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 41, Rams 17.

Cowboys at Redskins

MDS’s take: In the biggest game of the day, the Cowboys will ride Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to a high-scoring win. I suspect that Robert Griffin III is hurting more than he’s letting on and won’t be able to move as effectively as he did in the Redskins’ Thanksgiving win over the Cowboys. Dallas will take the NFC East crown.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Redskins 28.

Florio’s take:  For the second straight year, the NFC East title game returns to prime time in Week 17.  For the second straight year, the home team advances.  For the second straight year, the Cowboys come up short.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 24, Cowboys 21.

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Raiders’ defense holding up its end of the deal

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Wide receiver Amari Cooper #89 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled on a reception attempt by strong safety Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium during the first quarter of the game on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders started the third quarter by forcing two turnovers, and they feel they should be closer than they are.

Two turnovers only led to three points, and the Chiefs lead midway through the third quarter, 21-13. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 33-yard field goal after a T.J. Carrie interception to start the second half.

Raiders All-World linebacker Khalil Mack had a strip-sack of Alex Smith on the next possession, but the Raiders couldn’t generate any offense off of it. On the second field goal try it appeared there was a bad snap. By the time Raiders punter Marquette King gathered it, he was forced to try to run and he ended up going nowhere.

The Chiefs led, 21-3, midway through the second quarter. The Raiders closed it to 21-10 late in the second quarter on a Latavius Murray touchdown run.

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More big plays from Tyreek Hill spark Chiefs to lead

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 8: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs catches a pass on his way to a touchdown in front of cornerback David Amerson #29 of the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium during the second quarter of the game on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders showed some life late in the first half, and it’s a good thing they did. Thursday night’s game was on the verge of getting really ugly.

The Chiefs dominated for much of the first half, and at halftime they hold a 21-10 lead. The Raiders trimmed the lead on a Latavius Murray touchdown run with 14 seconds left in the half.

A 36-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill early in the second quarter gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead. After a quick stop the Chiefs drove again with big passes to Travis Kelce and Chris Conley to set up a Charcandrick West touchdown run and make it 14-3.

Hill had a 78-yard punt return to make it 21-3. It was the ninth touchdown the speedy rookie has posted this season.

Smith was over 200 yards passing a little over 20 minutes into the game. Midway through the second quarter the Raiders had 35 yards of offense, and three Chiefs receivers had more than 35 receiving yards.

At halftime, Smith has 202 passing yards vs. just 77 for his counterpart, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Hill has three catches for 53 yards in addition to his punt return.

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson left in the second quarter with what the team announced as an Achilles injury. He won’t return.

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Chiefs dominating, hold 14-3 lead

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter of the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

A 36-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill early in the second quarter gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead on the Raiders. After a quick stop the Chiefs drove again with big passes to Travis Kelce and Chris Conley to set up a Charcandrick West touchdown run and make it 14-3.

Smith is over 200 yards passing a little over 20 minutes into the game.

Hill’s touchdown capped a five-play, 70-yard touchdown drive for the Chiefs, who are dominating the yardage and time of possession. Hill has eight total touchdowns this season.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is off to a 3-of-9 start for 10 yards.

The 10-2 Raiders have won six straight. Dating back to last season, the 9-3 Chiefs have won eight straight AFC West games.

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Raiders get early turnover, big defensive stand

Khalil Mack, Sio Moore AP

It’s cold in Kansas City, and Thursday night’s Chiefs-Raiders game is off to a strange start.

After a puzzling challenge by the Chiefs and then an automatic turnover review two plays later, the Raiders kept the ball — the original call was a catch and fumble by Amari Cooper — and then got a 44-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski to take 3-0 lead.

The Chiefs came right back, getting a 39-yard pass to Chris Conley to move into Raiders’ territory, but then turned the ball over on downs following two rather lame and predictable runs right into the middle on third and fourth downs.

The Raiders went three and out to open the game, but Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill fumbled the ensuing punt and Raiders backup linebacker James Cowser recovered at the Chiefs’ 38-yard line.

Janikowski has not missed from under 45 yards this season.

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Kelechi Osemele won’t play due to illness

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 16:  Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele #70 of the Oakland Raiders blocks against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter on October 16, 2016 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Chiefs won 26-10.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele will not play Thursday night at Kansas City due to an illness.

Osemele, who’s in his first year with the Raiders after signing as a free agent last March, has been a key player for one of the league’s best offensive lines. He had been listed on the injury report as questionable due to a knee injury, not an illnes.

Osemele has not missed a game this season. Jon Feliciano, a second-year player, is listed as the No. 2 left guard on the Raiders’ unofficial depth chart, but the team is listing Vadal Alexander as the unofficial starter in his place.

The Raiders had previously ruled safety Karl Joseph, outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun and defensive tackle Stacy McGee as out due to injuries.

The Chiefs are healthy and have no injury-related inactives. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin returns, as expected, from a three-game absence.

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Jordan Reed thinks he can deal with the pain, play Sunday

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Tight end Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins reacts to a play against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was again a limited practice participant Thursday, and after practice Reed told reporters he’s “optimistic” about his chances of playing Sunday at Philadelphia.

Reed suffered an AC joint separation in his left shoulder at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Though he returned and finished the game, he didn’t play last week.

Reed, who shares the team lead with 59 receptions, told reporters he’s feeling better and hopes he’ll get the go-ahead to play Sunday as the Redskins need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

It’s painful but something I can deal with,” Reed said.

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Rams have no comment on report of dysfunction

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams stands on the sidelines during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 11, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thursday began with a bit of a bombshell from Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com regarding the extent of the dysfunction in the Rams organization. Recent comments from coach Jeff Fisher deemed critical of the team’s personnel function became the catalyst for anonymous quotes from an unnamed Rams source criticizing Fisher for an apparent effort to shift blame.

The Rams have no comment regarding the report, pointing out that Fisher likely would address the situation at his next press conference. It’s scheduled for Friday at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET.

Fisher, who faced repeated questions last week regarding Eric Dickerson’s relentless effort to get Fisher fired, surely will be pressed for his reaction to the news that someone in the organization criticized him without attaching a name to it.

“It pissed me off because I knew it was meant as a shot,” the unnamed Rams source told Breer regarding Fisher’s apparent attempt to shirk blame for the quality of the roster. “You see it under that umbrella — ‘We need to do a better job in personnel.’ OK, but you want everyone to think that you have full control. You can’t have it both ways, and it can’t always be the talent. Look at the roster, 2012 to now. In ’12, Jeff did a masterful job with what he was given. But we’ve gotten more talent, and we’ve gotten worse.”

There can be little doubt that Fisher wanted, and acquired, full control in 2012. After Fisher picked the Rams over the Dolphins, he told Michael Silver (then of Yahoo! Sports) that Fisher wanted to be able to run the show.

“At the end of the day I wanted the ability to have final say, with a General Manager I could build something with,” Fisher said.

So, basically, all roads lead back to Fisher, both as to coaching and as to personnel. If there’s a problem with coaching, it’s ultimately on him. If there’s a problem with personnel, it’s ultimately on him.

On Friday, it’ll be interesting to see how questions from reporters about these realities ultimately are answered.

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Cam Newton: I’m not above the law

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cam Newton doesn’t mind taking the criticism, he’s used to that.

But what the Panthers quarterback couldn’t handle were reports that his benching in Seattle Sunday night was related to something more nefarious than not wearing a tie on the team’s flight from San Jose to Seattle.

I violated the wardrobe [policy] and that’s it,” Newton said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “You don’t have to dig into certain stories that [I] violated curfew, was out at a club, somebody was caught in the room.”

For his part, Newton has owned the fact he broke Ron Rivera’s ties-on-a-plane policy, and hasn’t rebelled against his coach’s punishment. Rivera has said throughout that he was simply being consistent in his enforcement of his dress code, whether it was the reigning MVP or a special teamer.

And Newton seems to understand that.

“That’s just a warning for everybody,” Newton said. “And at no point in time or even still do I think I’m above the law. I never thought that. I’m not that type of player. A lot of people might think that from the outside looking in. It doesn’t bother me because they don’t know me.

“For anybody’s who’s ever known me or was on my team, they would know this situation could have been prevented because of my decision.”

With a little luck, that should put a bow on TieGate for the Panthers, who have knot quite reached their goals this season.

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Report: Patriots signing Griff Whalen

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Griff Whalen #83 reacts with  Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers after Gates' touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of a game  at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is out with a high-ankle sprain and the hope is that he’ll be well enough to rejoin the team for the postseason, but his absence at present may have spurred a roster move on Thursday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the team is signing wide receiver Griff Whalen after he worked out for the team. According to a report from ESPN, former Packers wideout Jared Abbrederis also worked out.

Whalen caught two passes in eight appearances for the Chargers earlier this season. He spent the previous three years with the Colts and caught 45 passes, although Patriots fans may remember him best for his role on the snapper on the Colts’ ill-fated swinging gate fake punt from last season.

Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan are the healthy Patriots wideouts at the moment with both Edelman and Hogan absent from the injury report this week after making frequent appearances over the course of the season.

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Brandon Marshall: Pain pills mask my memory of 3-TD game

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Wide receiver Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after a touchdown during the third quarter of their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

In 2014, Brandon Marshall had a three-touchdown game against the 49ers. As Marshall and the Jets prepare to play the 49ers on Sunday, he was asked what he remembers about that game. The answer? Not much.

That’s because, Marshall says, he was using so many painkillers to play through an ankle injury that he was in a fog mentally, even as he was able to perform well physically.

“I don’t really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle — well, I don’t want to go there. Um, well, I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills. I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn’t supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don’t really remember much about that game. I just remember catching those balls and that was pretty much it,” Marshall said.

With the NFL facing a lawsuit related to painkillers, that’s the type of story that the league would prefer not to hear. It’s also the kind of story that raises questions about why the league is so adamant that players not use marijuana, when many players view it as a safer way to manage pain than the painkillers that team doctors prescribe.

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Eric Berry moves toward another payday

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field after their 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Berry returned an interception from a failed two-point conversion for two points and the go-ahead score.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eric Berry’s big year is laying the foundation for another big payday.

The Chiefs safety, to whom the team applied the franchise tag after his prior contract expired, didn’t sign a long-term deal before July 15. It means that the Chiefs soon will have to decide whether to apply the tag to Berry again, or to sign Berry to a long-term deal.

The tag won’t be cheap. At $10.806 million for 2016, Berry will be owed a 20-percent raise under the tag for 2017. That’s $12.96 million for one season at the safety position, nearly $500,000 more per year than safety Tyrann Mathieu is getting under his top-of-the-market deal.

It becomes even harder to negotiate a long-term deal, since Berry can force his way to the market in 2018, unless the Chiefs plan to give him the quarterback version of the franchise tag to keep him in place for another year.

Berry, who turns 28 later this month, showed on Sunday how important he is to the Chiefs defense. Apart from his contributions on the field, his leadership and personal story of overcoming serious adversity make him even more valuable.

The challenge becomes attaching the right value to his contract, and ultimately finding a way to bridge the gap between what he wants and what the Chiefs will pay.

Here’s the simple reality: If the Chiefs won’t pay him what he wants, someone else possibly will. Like, for example, the team in his home state of Georgia that Berry singlehandedly defeated with a pick six and a game-winning pick two.

Berry gets another chance to demonstrate his value to the Chiefs tonight, in a prime-time matchup with the Raiders. Which only happens to have the AFC West crown essentially hanging in the balance.

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Trevor Siemian practices, “progressing in the right way”

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos is pressured by Chris Jones #95 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos didn’t hold a full practice on Wednesday, opting for a walkthrough and estimated participation levels on the injury report instead.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian, who missed last Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars with a foot injury, was estimated to be a limited participant in that non-existent practice and he was listed the same way after the Broncos actually got on the field Thursday. Coach Gary Kubiak said that Siemian did everything the team asked of him on Thursday.

“He’s progressing the right way,” Kubiak said, via the Denver Post. “A big test today. He had this orthotics in, so we’ll see how he comes in here tomorrow morning. … It’s very encouraging. We’re where we thought we would be today. We didn’t do much [Wednesday] and our expectation [Thursday] was for him to take half of what was going on and we were able to do that.”

Siemian split reps with rookie Paxton Lynch, who started in his place against Jacksonville and went 12-of-24 for 104 yards. Friday’s injury report should give more of an idea about which one will play against the Titans.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall and long snapper Casey Kreiter did not practice for the Broncos.

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Mathis, Geathers still absent from Colts’ practice

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 27: T.Y. McGill #67 and Robert Mathis #98 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrate sacking Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts defensive end Robert Mathis and safety Clayton Geathers missed practice again Thursday and could miss a second consecutive game Sunday.

Geathers has a neck inury and Mathis has a bicep injury. Those two and starting cornerback Patrick Robinson missed last Monday’s rout of the Jets. Robinson has been a limited participant this week due to the same groin injury that kept him out of the Jets game.

If Robinson returns Sunday against the Texans but Geathers doesn’t, the Colts could be free to use cornerback Darius Butler at safety in some situations. The defense will again be shorthanded with usual signal-caller and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson serving a four-game suspension.

That suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy was announced earlier this week. Jackson would be eligible to return for the postseason if the Colts qualify.

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Raiders likely will focus on Derek Carr before Khalil Mack

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12:  Derek Carr #4, Khalil Mack #52 and Marquette King #7 of the Oakland Raiders and teammates get ready to run onto the field prior to the start of a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Raiders won 31-10. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders emerged from the 2014 draft with great selections in round one and round two. By rule, both players (Khalil Mack and Derek Carr) are eligible for new contracts after the 2016 regular season ends.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Raiders are currently expected to focus on signing Carr before Mack.

The reason is simple; the Raiders have the ability to extend Mack’s four-year deal to five, given that he was a first-round pick. And they surely will do so before the May 3 deadline for exercising the fifth-year option.

Carr, as a second-round pick, has only one year remaining on his rookie contract. And so, without a new deal, the Raiders would be required to use the franchise tag on Carr to keep him off the open market in 2018.

So what will it take to sign Carr? Much of it depends on the outcome of the season, including the team’s playoff success and whether Carr, a league MVP candidate, wins the award. He could be able to leverage a top-of-the-market deal, which would represent an investment of the kind the Raiders haven’t had to make in the salary-cap era.

As for Mack, it’s currently believed he has no problem with waiting in line, in part because there’s really nothing he can do. Holding out technically is an option, but the daily fines and bonus forfeitures make it financially unwise.

The broader question is whether Mack eventually becomes frustrated with Carr, if Mack believes Carr is unreasonably refusing to sign a new deal so that the Raiders can then focus on Mack.

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Mario Williams out of practice on Thursday

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is pressured by Miami Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams (94) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Orlando, Fla. After racking up 38 sacks between 2012-14, Williams had just five sacks in 909 snaps last season. He was released by the Bills following a disappointing year playing linebacker in Rex Ryan's 3-4 system. Miami is banking on Williams being more comfortable in the 4-3, but Williams' best days could be in the past.    (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) AP

Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams has been dealing with an ankle injury for some time and he was listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice due to the issue.

Thursday’s practice saw Williams take a step in the wrong direction. He didn’t practice at all as the team continued their preparations for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

Williams has missed one game this season and has seen limited playing time in several other games. He played on 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last weekend and has picked up 1.5 sacks on the year with the full sack coming in the season opener.

Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins were also out of practice for Miami. Alonso is dealing with a broken thumb and hamstring injury with the hamstring injury thought to be the bigger stumbling block to his presence in the lineup. Alonso said on Thursday, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, that he feels good, but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play.

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