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PFT’s Week Eight picks

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It would be fair to call Week Eight the first unofficial lull of the 2013 season.  Six teams are off, including the defending Super Bowl champions.  The other Super Bowl team has been exiled to London, for a friendly against the Jaguars.

Of the 13 games on the slate, some of the worst teams will play in prime time.  Tonight, it’s the winless Bucs.  Sunday night, the hapless Vikings.  Monday night, the listless Rams.

Throw in recent Monday night game between Minnesota and the Giants and technically the evening kickoff in London and it’s as bad a five-game cluster of football under the lights that the NFL ever has seen.

But we’ll still watch, because it’s the NFL.  And it’s on TV.  And in three-and-a-half months it’ll be gone until next September.

I’ll be paying particular attention to two of the games, since MDS and I disagree on the outcomes.  Our full slate of Week Eight picks appears below.

Last week, I swept the two games on which we differed, finishing 10-5 to his 8-7.  For the year, he’s now 71-36, and I’m 67-40.

Panthers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Looking at the Buccaneers’ remaining schedule, this actually appears to be one of their more winnable games, at home on a short week against a .500 team. But the Panthers have been playing good football, and they’re not going to get tripped up in Tampa.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Buccaneers 6.

Florio’s take:  The Panthers have been taking care of business against bad teams.  They get another chance to do it on Thursday night, against one of the worst teams.  The next challenge for Carolina will be to beat a good team.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 17.

Cowboys at Lions

MDS’s take: This is a tough one. The Lions are favored and I rarely pick against a team with a winning record at home. But the Lions’ secondary was leaving receivers wide open all day against the Bengals, and Tony Romo and Dez Bryant should be able to put up big numbers in Detroit. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ defense looked outstanding last week against Philadelphia. I see the Cowboys winning a close game.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Lions 27.

Florio’s take:  A shootout could be coming at Ford Field, and the Lions know their margin for error is shrinking.  The Cowboys, at 4-3 and in the NFC East, won’t have a margin for error until late December.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 38, Cowboys 35.

49ers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: This is an easy one. The 49ers are playing tough, physical football on both sides of the ball, while the Jaguars are making mistakes all over the place. The fans in London are going to see the Jaguars and be horrified at the idea that this is the quality of football the NFL plans to send across the pond on a regular basis. (Next year the Jaguars “host” the Cowboys at Wembley Stadium, and we can already pencil in the Cowboys as 14-point favorites in that game.)

MDS’s pick: 49ers 34, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take:  The good news?  Folks in Jacksonville don’t have to witness this “home” game in person.  The bad news?  It’ll be on TV.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 40, Jaguars 13.

Browns at Chiefs

MDS’s take: I keep thinking the Chiefs are ripe for an upset, and then I keep looking at their schedule and thinking they’re a lot better than every team they’re going to play, at least until the Broncos come to town on November 17. Jason Campbell might be a better option than Brandon Weeden, but the Browns just aren’t good enough on offense to move the ball effectively against that tough Chiefs defense.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  The Chiefs continue their tour of backup quarterbacks.  A loss feels inevitable before the home-and-home showdowns with the Broncos, but it’s not likely to happen this week.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Browns 13.

Dolphins at Patriots

MDS’s take: With all their injuries, I don’t think the Patriots are any better than the Dolphins on either offense or defense. But I do think the Patriots are a lot better than the Dolphins on special teams, and I look for a big play in the kicking game to be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Dolphins 13.

Florio’s take:  The two teams that most (like us) assumed would be battling for supremacy in the division are now struggling to stay competitive.  The Dolphins don’t have the running game to take advantage of the Pats’ porous post-Wilfork run defense, or the offensive line to keep Patriots defenders off of Ryan Tannehill.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 24, Dolphins 20.

Bills at Saints

MDS’s take: Buffalo has a better defense than most people realize, and the Bills’ pass rush is going to give Drew Brees a tough time. But the Bills’ offense will struggle in front of a hostile New Orleans crowd, and the Saints will win in a closer game than most people are expecting.

MDS’s pick: Saints 23, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  With or without tight end (receiver) Jimmy Graham, the Saints are too tough to beat in their own building, even though the Bills are looking better than anyone thought they would.  As long as Drew Brees can avoid getting flattened by Mario Williams, the Saints should continue to strengthen their grip on the NFC South.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 35, Bills 20.

Giants at Eagles

MDS’s take: The NFC East is so bad that the Giants could get themselves into the division race with a win in Philadelphia. I don’t see it happening, though. Monday night’s win was about as ugly a win as an NFL team can earn, and the Giants still look like a lousy team.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 13.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles haven’t been much more this year than the best of some bad teams.  They’ll get another chance to do it on Sunday, and in the process snap a nine-game home losing streak.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Giants 17.

Steelers at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Steelers have a history of dropping games on the road against bad Raiders teams, but I don’t think it will happen this time. Pittsburgh looks like it’s turning things around and should roll against a Raiders team that isn’t playing particularly well in any phase of the game.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Raiders 10.

Florio’s take:  Another week, another once great rivalry that has lost its luster.  Pittsburgh is starting to get on a roll; the Raiders aren’t as bad as we thought they’d be but still not good enough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Raiders 13.

Jets at Bengals

MDS’s take: This doesn’t exactly have the feel of a huge game, but it’s one of only two this week matching up two teams with winning records. Give the Jets a lot of credit for getting to 4-3, but I’m still not convinced that they’re actually a good team. The Bengals should take this one and solidify their status as one of the top teams in the AFC.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 27, Jets 17.

Florio’s take:  The Jets have beaten the Bengals four straight times, and nine out of 10 dating back to 1992.  The trend gets reversed on Sunday, thanks to the fact that Cincinnati has the superior team on both sides of the ball.  Hopefully the locals will realize that, and buy up the remaining tickets.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Jets 13.

Falcons at Cardinals

MDS’s take: I think the Falcons are better than their 2-4 record suggests. And I don’t think the Cardinals are any better than their 3-4 record suggests. So I’m tempted to take Atlanta in a slight upset. But the Falcons’ injuries on offense, combined with the impressive way the Cardinals’ defense is playing, makes me believe Arizona will win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 14, Falcons 13.

Florio’s take:  At 1-4, the Falcons knew they weren’t dead yet.  At 3-4 after Sunday, they’ll be in position to chase a wild-card berth in the NFC.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 27, Cardinals 17.

Redskins at Broncos

MDS’s take: If Peyton Manning wants to shake off last week’s disappointing loss in Indianapolis, he could hardly have picked a better defense to do it against than Washington’s, which has struggled all season and will now be without suspended starting strong safety Brandon Meriweather. This won’t be close.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Redskins 17.

Florio’s take:  Mike Shanahan returns to Denver, the Mile High location of his mile-long house.  At least he’ll still have that after the game.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 48, Redskins 21.

Packers at Vikings

MDS’s take: Everyone is focusing so much on the Vikings’ problems at quarterback that hardly anyone has noticed how bad the Vikings’ defense is. Aaron Rodgers should have a field day, and the Vikings’ offense will continue to struggle no matter who’s playing quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Vikings 13.

Florio’s take:  Since 1992, the Packers have had three starting quarterbacks:  Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Flynn (twice).  In that same time, the Vikings have had Rich Gannon, Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman, Spergon Wynn, Gus Frerotte, Brad Johnson (again), Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte (again), Tarvaris Jackson, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, and Christian Ponder (again).  That pretty much sums up the state of this rivalry for the past 21 years.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Vikings 10.

Seahawks at Rams

MDS’s take: Pity Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens having to take on that nasty Seahawks defense in his first start in two years. It’s going to get ugly in St. Louis.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Rams 6.

Florio’s take:  After the Rams have moved and people in St. Louis are tempted to lament the fact that their NFL franchise is gone, they’ll be able to look back on this game, and it will make them feel a little bit better.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 38, Rams 13.

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Reports: Seahawks trying to trade Christine Michael; Robert Turbin to be waived/injured

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 14:  Running back Robert Turbin #32 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field on August 14, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The running back group for the Seattle Seahawks  appears to be undergoing a serious overhaul.

Marshawn Lynch is firmly set as the team’s starter, but the players behind him on the depth chart seem to be changing.

Former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is expected to sign with the team by the end of the weekend to serve as Lynch’s backup.

Robert Turbin, who had been Lynch’s backup each of the last three seasons, suffered a high-ankle sprain in last week’s preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Turbin will be waived/injured by Seattle as he is expected to miss around five weeks due to the ankle injury.

Teams can claim Turbin off waivers despite the injury. If he goes unclaimed, he would revert to injured reserve with Seattle.

Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports the Seahawks are also attempting to trade third-string running back Christine Michael.

Michael has failed to earn substantial playing time with Seattle despite being a second round pick in 2013.

Undrafted free agents Thomas Rawls and Rod Smith have looked strong in preseason action for the Seahawks as well and could become beneficiaries of Seattle’s shuffling.

Rawls had 87 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in the team’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. He would be the favorite to land a third roster spot behind Lynch and Jackson if Turbin and Michael are gone.

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Tom Brady: “I am sorry our league had to endure this”

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In his first public comments since winning the legal battle to overturn his Deflategate suspension, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady expressed some regret.

Brady released a statement saying he’s sorry that the NFL went through Deflategate, and sorry “to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt.” Brady did not mention NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or anyone else by name.

“The regular season starts tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to fully commit my energy and emotion to focus on the challenges of the 2015 NFL season,” Brady said. “I want to thank my family, my friends, all of the fans, past and current players and my teammates for the support they have given me throughout this challenging experience. I also want to thank Judge Berman and his staff for their efforts to resolve this matter over the past five weeks. I am very grateful. My thanks also to the union’s legal team who has fought so hard right along with me.

“While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport – to a large degree, we have all lost. I am also sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt as I have tried to work to resolve this situation. I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud. I look forward to the competition on the playing field and I hope the attention of NFL fans can return to where it belongs – on the many great players and coaches who work so hard every week, and sacrifice so much, to make this game great. Most importantly, I look forward to representing the New England Patriots on Thursday night in our season opener. I hope to make all of our fans proud this year … and beyond!”

Brady has avoided answering questions from the media during the Deflategate investigation. By NFL rules, he will have to answer questions after the season-opening game on Thursday.

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Raiders trade LB Sio Moore to Colts

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The Colts are trading a late-round draft pick to the Raiders for linebacker Sio Moore, both teams announced Friday night.

Moore, a third-round pick in 2013, started 22 games in two seasons with the Raiders and should get an immediate chance to contribute with the Colts, who need help at linebacker and on defense in general.

Moore has never played in a 3-4 defense but he had 3 sacks last season and 4.5 as a rookie. It’s unclear which position he’ll play with the Colts or where he’ll fit in a linebacker corps that’s probably not settled.

The Colts added veteran Trent Cole in the offseason and hope to have Robert Mathis back soon but might not have seen enough from backup outside linebackers Bjoern Werner and Jonathan Newsome in the preseason. Werner, a first-round pick in 2013, had 4 sacks last year; Newsome had a strong rookie year getting after the quarterback and had 6.5 sacks.

Moore, who’s recovering from hip surgery, had fallen out of the rotation this summer with the Raiders.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the compensation the Raiders will receive for Moore is a sixth-round pick.

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Seahawks, Fred Jackson agree to one-year deal

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Fred Jackson’s career will march on to Seattle.

Jackson, the aging veteran running back who was cut by the Bills this week, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Seahawks, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The 34-year-old Jackson appears to have lost a step and is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-low 3.7 yards a carry. But he can still provide valuable depth behind Marshawn Lynch in the Seahawks’ backfield, and he’s also excellent at picking up the blitz, which will help keep Russell Wilson upright behind an unproven Seattle offensive line.

Lynch and Jackson were previously teammates in Buffalo, and they remain close friends. Now they’ll be the 1-2 punch in Seattle.

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McDaniels says Brady suspension never affected preparation

Tom Brady AP

Shortly after Tom Brady was suspended, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels vowed that any looming suspension wouldn’t affect how the offense prepared. Now that Brady has had his suspension rescinded, McDaniels says the Patriots never allowed it to become an issue.

“Quite honestly, it hadn’t changed a whole lot of what we had done up to this point, and our preparation for the Steeler game should be normal. That’s kind of how it had gone the last so-many months anyway, trying to get everybody prepared for the season,” McDaniels said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.

The Patriots’ mantra is “do your job,” and McDaniels says that’s exactly what Brady has done.

“Tom’s a veteran player with a lot of experience, and he’s had to deal with different types of adversities and distractions in the past, whether it be injuries or personnel or something else,” McDaniels said. “I thought he went out and practiced and improved, tried to do his job, worked at his craft and put in a lot of hard work in different areas of playing the position of quarterback. He was prepared, studied hard for practice and games, the OTAs, and all those things we’ve done. That’s the best way to try to go about — control the things you can control — and I thought he did a good job of that.”

Brady did not play well in the preseason, completing just 10 of 22 passes for 107 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. But if McDaniels is to be believed, that’s not a cause for concern in New England. Brady is as ready for this season as he has been for any other.

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Patriots work out DE Lawrence Okoye

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The Patriots worked out nine players Friday, per a league source, including defensive end Lawrence Okoye.

Cut by the 49ers earlier this week, Okoye is a former Olympic discus thrower and rugby player from England. He spent the previous two seasons on the 49ers practice squad while trying to transition to American football.

At 6’6, 304, he’s the kind of project Patriots coach Bill Belichick has taken on before.

The Patriots also worked out running backs Joe Don Duncan and Joey Iosefa, wide receivers Nathan Palmer and Marquez Clark, defensive linemen Derrick Lott and Jimmy Staten, quarterback Jeff Tuel and defensive back Justin Coleman.

Coleman signed with the Patriots after his workout. He’s an undrafted rookie who was cut by the Vikings earlier in the week.

Tuel started two games for the Bills in 2013. The Patriots released quarterback Ryan Lindley Friday, a day after a federal judge overturned Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in time for Brady to start next Thursday’s season opener.

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Matt Cassel: Every indication is that Bills will keep three QBs

Matt Cassel AP

The Bills parted ways with Matt Simms on Friday, leaving them with three quarterbacks on the roster with Saturday’s deadline to set a 53-man roster fast approaching.

We know the plan is for Tyrod Taylor to start Week One, which makes him highly unlikely to wind up on the waiver wire. How EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel fit is less clear and coach Rex Ryan cited “strategic purposes” as the reason he wasn’t willing to discuss the team’s plans for them on Friday.

Cassel was a bit more forthcoming.

“I don’t know if they want to go into depth about what the conversation was about, who’s going to be No. 2 or No. 3,” Cassel said, via ESPN.com. “But every indication was made that we’re probably gonna keep three quarterbacks, and that’s all I can go off of right now.”

Indications don’t mean anything until the moves are submitted to the league, obviously, and the team could decide to move forward with just two quarterbacks or bring in a different player to hold the No. 3 job if someone they like shakes loose from another team. For now, though, Cassel thinks he’ll be spending the next few months in Buffalo along with Manuel and Taylor.

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Patriots cut Ryan Lindley and nine others

Devon Kennard, Ryan Lindley AP

It’s not every year that a team cuts a quarterback that started a playoff game the previous year, but, then, it’s not every year that events conspire to allow a quarterback like Ryan Lindley to start a playoff game.

Lindley was forced into action with the Cardinals late last season and led the offense in their playoff loss to the Panthers before hitting the ranks of the unemployed this offseason. The Patriots signed him last month and he started Thursday’s preseason finale, but there wasn’t much need for him on the 53-man roster now that the team is assured of having Tom Brady in the lineup next week.

Lindley will be joined by running back Tony Creecy, wide receiver Zach D’Orazio, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, guard Ryan Groy, tackle Caylin Hauptmann, tackle Chris Martin, linebacker James Morris, defensive tackle A.J. Pataiali’i and defensive tackle Casey Walker on the list of former Patriots.

The Patriots signed cornerback Justin Coleman, who was dropped by the Vikings last weekend. The moves leave them with 66 players and 13 moves to go before Saturday’s deadline to set a 53-man roster.

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Jets work out Brandon Bostick, four receivers

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Brandon Bostick, the tight end best known for not recovering the onside kick in last year’s NFC Championship Game that allowed the Seahawks to complete an improbable comeback, worked out for the Jets Friday.

Per a league source, the Jets also worked out four wide receivers — Shane Wynn, DeAndre Carter, Vernon Johnson and Alan Bonner — and quarterback Matt Blanchard.

Bostick, 26, was released earlier this week by the Vikings. He caught nine passes over the last two seasons with the Packers.

Wynn caught a touchdown pass from Johnny Manziel in the second preseason game but was waived earlier this week, mostly because the Browns already have a bunch of smaller wide receivers. Bonner was a sixth-round pick of the Texans in 2013 and was also let go earlier this week.

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Jaguars cut 18, including two 2015 draft picks

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The Jaguars are down to 57 players after saying farewell to 18 members of their roster, including four players drafted by General Manager Dave Caldwell in the seventh round in last three years.

Running back Storm Johnson was a seventh-round pick last year and ran for 86 yards on 29 carries as a rookie, but the arrival of T.J. Yeldon and Bernard Pierce this offseason likely pushed him off the roster. Cornerback Jeremy Harris, a 2013 seventh-rounder, was also axed.

Wide receiver Neal Sterling and tight end Ben Koyack have both been waived after arriving in the final round of the draft this year. Both could be candidates for the practice squad if they don’t catch on somewhere else in the roster shuffling that will go on this weekend.

The Jags also waived quarterback Stephen Morris, which leaves them with Blake Bortles and Chad Henne as the only quarterbacks currently on the roster.

Jacksonville rounded out this wave of cuts by parting ways with defensive tackle Richard Ash, defensive end Camaron Beard, defensive end Cap Capi, wide receiver Kasey Closs, guard Will Corbin, tight end Connor Hamlett, defensive end Ike Igbinosun, wide receiver Erik Lora, guard Chris Reed, cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, linebacker Todd Thomas, cornerback Peyton Thompson and wide receiver Tony Washington.

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Dolphins cut Josh Freeman

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After throwing a pair of interceptions in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Buccaneers, quarterback Josh Freeman vowed to “exhaust every option” available to him before giving up on his hopes of resuming his NFL career.

That didn’t sound like a man who was confident in his chances of making the Dolphins’ 53-man roster and it looks like he’ll have to find his next chance somewhere other than Miami. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reports that the Dolphins have released the former Buccaneers first-round pick.

It’s the second time that the Dolphins have released Freeman since initially signing him in April, but they came into the cut to 53 players with three quarterbacks already on the roster and it’s hard to imagine that they would let Freeman go free at this point if they had their hearts set on having him on the team in 2015.

Freeman, who last played in a regular season game with the Vikings in 2013, was 23-of-48 for 332 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions with the Dolphins in the preseason. Those aren’t numbers that would seem to make anyone else’s heart set on having him on their roster, but one can never predict how often the quarterback carousel will spin in a given season.

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League office must find a way to restore credibility

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The dictionary (do they even make dictionaries anymore?) defines credibility as “the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.”

Based on that definition, and on the topic of discipline imposed for violations of the Personal Conduct Policy or for conduct detrimental to the game, the National Football League currently has no credibility.

Harsh? Possibly. True? Absolutely.

Moving forward, who will believe the league office or accept as true, real, or honest anything the NFL has to say regarding investigations conducted or discipline imposed under policies that give Commissioner Roger Goodell final say? I sure won’t. And no one else should, either, not without reading all documents with a skeptical eye, asking tough questions, doing independent research, and contemplating whether someone possibly is embellishing, exaggerating, or fabricating facts.

The NFL has earned the inherent lack of trust since 2012, from: (1) imposing cap penalties on Dallas and Washington for contracts executed in the uncapped year that were approved when filed to (2) trumping up “bounty” charges against the Saints based on players getting a modest amount of cash for the application of clean, legal hits that they already had an incentive to apply to (3) ignoring the fact that other teams had been using “bounties” for years (including teams coached by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the mastermind of the bounty scandal) to (4) hiring an outside lawyer to provide the patina of legitimacy to an investigation which found in part that Anthony Hargrove shouted “Bobby, give me my money!” when closer inspection of the audio and video is conclusive at best to (5) a second suspension of Ray Rice that clearly violated his rights under the CBA to (6) the manipulation of league policies to keep Adrian Peterson off the field for the 2014 stretch run against the Vikings because someone apparently had decided in September that Peterson wouldn’t be playing again this year to (7) the sudden abandonment of a 95-year history of not paying any attention to the air pressure in footballs in the apparent hopes of catching the Patriots cheating to (8) the complete lack of any understanding that the air pressure in footballs decreases on cold days to (9) the leak of grossly false air-pressure information to a pair of prominent journalists in order to create a national presumption of cheating to (10) the failure to correct that blatantly false information to (11) the hiring of a lawyer for an “independent” investigation that clearly wasn’t independent to (12) the review of the “independent” investigator’s report by the league’s general counsel to (13) the refusal to make the league’s general counsel answer questions about his role to (14) suspending Tom Brady for “general awareness” of an equipment violation, in violation of the CBA and the “law of the shop” to (15) expressing righteous indignation over Brady “destroying” his phone in the hopes of swaying public opinion against him to (16) attempting to suspend Brady for obstructing an investigation even though no player had ever been suspended for obstructing an investigation, the findings and conclusions of the league office as currently constructed on matters of discipline cannot be accepted at face value.

So how can that change? Taking final say from the Commissioner in all matters of player discipline would be a good start. But even for teams, coaches, and other non-players who aren’t protected by a union, the Commissioner should no longer have final say. Earlier this year, the Missouri Supreme Court found that the Commissioner can never be objective when handling an arbitration involving a former employee of one of the NFL’s 32 teams and one of the 32 teams that employs the Commissioner.

The Missouri Supreme Court is right. And the fans, media, and players finally have figured it out. No matter how or why it got to this point, the best interests of the NFL aren’t served by the Commissioner having final say, because the NFL has abused final say enough times in recent years to make any exercise of final say subject to skepticism, criticism, and derision.

The NFL likes to say that final say is exercised to protect the integrity of and public confidence in the sport of professional football. Over the last three years, however, has any one thing done more damage to the integrity of and public confidence in the sport of professional football than the way the league office has exercised this power?

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Falcons clearing the decks at QB, cutting Rex Grossman and T.J. Yates

T.J. Yates AP

On a day when Tim Tebow appears to have sewn up a job in Philadelphia, all the news about iconic quarterbacks is not so happy.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the Falcons have released veteran quarterback Rex Grossman.

The Falcons signed him just over a week ago, so he clearly didn’t have a chance to establish himself there. That leaves just Sean Renfree behind starter Matt Ryan, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that they’re also cutting T.J. Yates.

Grossman hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2011 in Washington. He did appear in last night’s preseason finale, going 4-of-9 passing for 41 yards.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

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Browns will name acting GM by Saturday

Ray Farmer, Jimmy Haslam AP

Like 31 other teams, the Browns are busy trimming their roster and exploring options to bolster it through the weekend as teams explore trades and rosters are trimmed to 53.

The work won’t end across the league after the initial round of waiver claims and practice squad additions this weekend, but it will end for Browns general manager Ray Farmer for 30 days, starting at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 7.

That’s when Farmer begins serving a 30-day suspension for breaking the NFL’s rules on gameday communication last year. It’s hard to call what Farmer did a “scandal” — and it’s even worse to call it TextGate — but Farmer admitted to sending texts to the sideline during games last season. He later cooperated with the NFL by turning over his phone during the investigation, unlike some other guy who’s been in the news lately.

Friday, Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters on a conference call that the team would release a statement on Saturday announcing who will serve as acting general manager during Farmer’s absence. The acting GM will likely be either Bill Kuharich, who came to the team when Farmer was hired and carries the title of executive chief of staff, or Morocco Brown, the team’s vice president of player personnel.

We’re talking about the Browns, though, so anybody from the team president to a guy on the sidewalk or even Sonny Weaver could end up with the job while Farmer serves his suspension.

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Eagles ship Matt Barkley to Arizona for conditional draft pick

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley lost the third-string quarterback job to Tim Tebow on Thursday night, and now Barkley is heading to Arizona.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Cardinals are sending a conditional draft pick to Philadelphia to acquire Barkley. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Eagles get a seventh-round pick from the Cardinals if Barkley is on the Cardinals roster for six games.

A fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2013, Barkley has played sparingly in Philadelphia. With Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez firmly ahead of Barkley on the quarterback depth chart and Tebow out-playing Barkley in the preseason as well, it appeared that Barkley was on the verge of getting cut.

But the Cardinals, whose season fell apart last year after injuries to starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton, have decided that it’s worth giving a late-round pick up to acquire a third-string quarterback with some potential. And the Eagles get something out of a player who was going to give them nothing.

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