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PFT’s Week 11 picks

AP

The good news?  I picked up two games on MDS last weekend.  The bad news?  I’m still behind by five.

The worst news?  Since we only disagree on two games this week, I don’t have much of a chance of narrowing the gap.

For the week, I was a measly 8-6.  Which means MDS was a pathetic 6-8.  (Almost as pathetic as my 5-8 from Week Nine.)

For the year, he’s 95-52 on the season, and I’m 90-57.

For all our picks — and based on our recent performances we suggest doing the opposite, for amusement purposes only — read on.

Colts at Titans

MDS’s take: The Colts and Titans had the two worst performances in the NFL on Sunday. Losing to the Rams by 30 is humiliating, and losing to the Jaguars by any amount is even worse. Now they have to shake it off on a short work week. The 4-5 Titans can pull to within a game of the Colts in the AFC South with a win, but I trust Indianapolis to rebound from last week more than I trust Tennessee.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Titans 20.

Florio’s take:  But for Gary Kubiak collapsing at halftime and the Texans plummeting into disarray with a 24-6 lead, the Colts would be 1-3 over the last four weeks.  Even worse, they lost by 30 at home to the Rams.  While that’s a lot to recover from on a short week, the Titans lost to the Jaguars — and they’ve lost their starting quarterback.  Again.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 20, Titans 17.

Jets at Bills

MDS’s take: I haven’t been able to figure out the Jets all season, so why should now be any different? On paper they look to me like a better team than the Bills, and yet I think the Buffalo defense can give Geno Smith fits and lead the Bills to a low-scoring win.

MDS’s pick: Bills 9, Jets 6.

Florio’s take:  The Jets break their win-one-lose-one trend by facing a team that has lost plenty, along with the interest of its fans.  Geno Smith moves to 2-0 against the only quarterback drafted in front of him.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 24, Bills 16.

Ravens at Bears

MDS’s take: The Bears’ playoff hopes took a huge hit with last week’s loss to the Lions, while the Ravens’ playoff hopes stayed alive with last week’s win over the Bengals. This week things will go in the other direction. The way to beat the Bears is to run the football, and the Ravens are terrible at running the football. The Bears will take this one.

MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take:  No more excuses for Joe Flacco.  While his weapons are diminished, so is the Chicago defense.  And the Bears have once again resorted to Josh McCown.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bears 17.

Browns at Bengals

MDS’s take: This is a big game in the AFC North. If the Browns win they’ll be just half a game behind the Bengals, and they’ll own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Browns are playing good football recently and the Bengals are struggling, and this has all the makings of a huge win for Cleveland and yet . . . I just can’t pick the Browns. A.J. Green will make enough big plays to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Browns 20.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals are unbeaten at home.  But they haven’t played at home since losing Geno Atkins for the year.  And the Browns finally have found a quarterback.  A Cleveland sweep would throw the AFC North into complete disarray, but it’s time for the Bengals to reverse the slide.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Browns 20.

Raiders at Texans

MDS’s take: This should be Sunday’s ugliest game, as neither team is particularly good in any phase. The one compelling aspect of this matchup is that both teams have young quarterbacks who have shown flashes of talent. I’ll trust a healthy Case Keenum to make a few more big plays than Terrelle Pryor on a bum knee, and that will be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Texans 27, Raiders 20.

Florio’s take:  It’s the Sam Rosen-Bill Maas game of the week.  And if the Texans can’t find a way to break a seven-game slide against a slumping team that is getting close to the point where Matt McGloin should get a tryout, the Texans may not win another game this year.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 24, Raiders 14.

Cardinals at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars turned in one good game against the Titans, but they won’t make it two in a row. The Cardinals’ defense is too good and the Jaguars’ offense is too bad for this game to be close.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 21, Jaguars 6.

Florio’s take:  The Jaguars surprised the Titans.  The Jaguars won’t be surprising anyone else this year.  Especially not the playoff contenders with great defenses.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 24, Jaguars 9.

Chargers at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The locker-room distractions are an issue for the Dolphins, but a bigger issue on Sunday is that the Dolphins just don’t have the kind of defense that matches up well with the Chargers’ passing attack. San Diego will put a lot of points on the board in Miami.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Dolphins 24.

Florio’s take:  The up-and-down Chargers face the down-and-out Dolphins.  If Miami can’t beat the Bucs, it’s hard to see them beating the Chargers.  Or pretty much anyone.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Dolphins 20.

Redskins at Eagles

MDS’s take: Philadelphia is rolling with Nick Foles right now, and he should put up more big numbers against a bad Washington secondary. When these teams played in the Monday night opener Philadelphia jumped out to an early lead and Washington couldn’t catch up, and I see this game going the same way.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 30, Redskins 23.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles haven’t won at home since September 30, 2012.  And yet they’re 5-5.  The Redskins are 3-6 for the second straight year.  And yet they think they can once again turn things around.  More importantly, the third-round pick from 2012 is currently looking a lot better than the second overall selection from last year.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 30, Redskins 20.

Lions at Steelers

MDS’s take: This could be a trap game for Detroit, which is celebrating being in first place this late in the season for the first time since the pre-Matt Millen era. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, an old and slow defense can’t keep up with the Lions’ offense for four quarters. Look for the Lions to get off to a sluggish start but put the Steelers away late.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Steelers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Lions haven’t won in Pittsburgh since Bobby Layne was the quarterback.  Of the Lions.  A full 58 years and four days later, the Lions are good and the Steelers are bad and yes it’s that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Steelers 21.

Falcons at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Bucs are a bad team, but they’re not as bad as people think. There’s a lot of talent on that defense, and Mike Glennon is playing solid football as a rookie quarterback. The Falcons are on a path from first to worst in the NFC South, and a loss in Tampa Bay will show just how far Atlanta has fallen.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 21, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  It’s the Battle for the Basement, Part II.  The Falcons have done nothing to show that they’ll be able to beat the Bucs, or anyone, on the road.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 21, Falcons 13.

49ers at Saints

MDS’s take: The 49ers’ offense is struggling mightily, while the Saints’ offense is exploding. Hard for me to see the 49ers going to New Orleans and winning.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Last year, Colin Kaepernick cemented his grip on the starting quarterback job by beating the Saints in New Orleans.  This year, the questions regarding whether the Niners kept the wrong guy will intensify.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 34, 49ers 24.

Vikings at Seahawks

MDS’s take: This will be an easy win for the Seahawks, who continue their march to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. I’ll be surprised if the Vikings keep it close.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 41, Vikings 10.

Florio’s take:  Regardless of whether Percy Harvin plays (or doesn’t) for the Seahawks or whether he was playing for the Vikings, it won’t matter.  The Seahawks are far superior, and they’re playing where they never lose.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 27, Vikings 10.

Packers at Giants

MDS’s take: A couple weeks ago this looked like an easy win for the Packers. Now Aaron Rodgers is hurt, and Seneca Wallace is hurt too, and the Giants are playing better, and all of a sudden it looks like an easy win for the Giants.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Packers 13.

Florio’s take:  Scott Tolzein vs. non-Eli Eli Manning.  Is there anything else on TV then?

Florio’s pick:  Giants 24, Packers 17.

Chiefs at Broncos

MDS’s take: The pressure in this game is on the Broncos.  If the Chiefs, who already have a one-game lead in the division, were to win on the road at Denver, they’d establish themselves as the clear favorites to win the AFC West. But I expect the Broncos to turn in one of their best games of the season and win this one handily.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  The Colts provided the blueprint . . . for holding the Broncos to 33 points.  The Chiefs have the defense to do the same thing.  As long as they can score 34.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 33, Chiefs 27.

Patriots at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Patriots’ offense is getting better after a rough start to the season, but they’re running into a buzz saw in Carolina, where the Panthers’ defense has been outstanding. Carolina will win a tough, physical game.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Patriots 10.

Florio’s take:  The Panthers have the ability to do to Tom Brady what the Giants did to Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI.  And they will.  Repeatedly.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 20, Patriots 13.

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At age 40, Tom Brady may do what only Warren Moon has done before

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On August 3 Tom Brady will turn 40, an age at which NFL quarterbacks have rarely been able to keep playing. But if Brady plays in 2017 at anywhere close to the same level he played in 2016, he’ll be the best 40-year-old quarterback the league has ever seen.

So far, the list of quarterbacks who have entered a season at age 40 or older and played well that year consists of just one name: Warren Moon, who entered the 1997 season at age 40 (and turned 41 during the season), and that year he led the NFL with 245.2 passing yards per game and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

Other than Moon, the list of quarterbacks entering a season at age 40 and older is a list of players who were past their primes. Brett Favre entered the 2009 season at age 39 and played well after his 40th birthday, but by 2010, the season he entered at age 40, he had fallen off a cliff. Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde were still in the league after turning 40, but they didn’t play particularly well. Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Sonny Jurgensen played at age 40, but they were backups.

If Brady can do anything close to what he did last year, when he threw 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, it will be by far the best season of any quarterback who entered a season age 40 or older. And even if Brady takes a significant step backward, he’d almost certainly be the second-best 40-year-old quarterback behind Moon.

Brady is going to get old eventually, because everyone does. But he’s poised to be the best old quarterback ever.

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Robert Mathis regrets winning only one ring in Indianapolis

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Robert Mathis retired this year after a 14-year NFL career, all with the Colts. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl ring. But only one.

As Mathis looks back on his career, he sees a lot of accomplishment, but also regret, for the fact that a Colts team that came close many times only won one Super Bowl.

“Looking back on that team, I feel a mix of pride, and I’ll admit, the slightest bit of disappointment,” Mathis wrote at the Players’ Tribune. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished during our era of Colts football, but I think every person, down to the last man, would tell you that he expected to win more than one ring in Indy. If there’s any regret I have from my career, it’s that.”

The Colts made the playoffs in each of Mathis’s first eight seasons, then missed the playoffs in the year of Peyton Manning’s neck injury and returned to the playoffs for three more consecutive years with Andrew Luck at quarterback. They were consistently among the best teams in the league, and yet they only ended the year on top once. It’s hard not to look at those Colts teams and think that as good as they were, they could have done even more in the postseason.

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Al Saunders: I’ll be shocked if Terrelle Pryor isn’t in the Pro Bowl

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Browns receivers coach Al Saunders thinks his team let a Pro Bowl wide receiver get away this offseason.

Saunders told ESPN that he believes Terrelle Pryor, who left Cleveland for Washington in free agency, is going to be a Pro Bowler at the end of the season.

“I will be shocked if he isn’t in the Pro Bowl,” Saunders said. “He’s going to have that kind of year.”

That raises an obvious question: Why didn’t the Browns keep Pryor, who left for a one-year, $6 million contract that Cleveland easily could have afforded under its salary cap? If Saunders seriously believes Pryor is a Pro Bowler, and the Browns’ front office let him walk anyway, that would suggest that the coaches and the personnel department aren’t on the same page.

Despite playing in a bad offense last season in his first year as a wide receiver after switching from quarterback, Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards. In a better offense in Washington, it won’t be surprising at all to see Saunders proven right. In which case Pryor was a bargain for Washington, and letting him leave was a mistake for Cleveland.

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Eric Dickerson: Sean Mannion should start over Jared Goff

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Eric Dickerson isn’t done offering his opinions about the Rams.

Dickerson, the Hall of Fame former Rams running back who routinely ripped Jeff Fisher before he was fired as the Rams’ coach last year, is now weighing in on the Rams’ quarterback situation. And in Dickerson’s view, last year’s first overall pick Jared Goff showed last year that he’s not as good a passer as 2015 third-round pick Sean Mannion.

“The offense was terrible. The offense looked like a high school offense,” Dickerson said on FS1. “My guy that I would start the season with would be Sean Mannion. I’ve been saying that since last year. Give him a shot.”

Dickerson said he attended a Rams practice last year where someone whose name he did not divulge told him that Mannion was good enough to start, but that Goff got the nod because of the money invested in him as a first overall pick.

“I was at practice early last year, before I got kicked off the sidelines, and I was standing next to some of the guys. I said, ‘Man, he can throw,'” Dickerson recalled. “He said, ‘He can throw it. He can really throw it.’ I said, ‘Why won’t they play him?’ He said, ‘You know. The money. We’ve got a No. 1 draft pick. We’ve got all this money to him.'”

Mannion has never started a game and has thrown just 13 passes in his two years as a Ram, but Dickerson thinks Mannion should be the man.

“It’s all about winning football games,” Dickerson said. “You have a better chance of winning with Sean Mannion.”

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O.J. Simpson will be welcome at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame invites every Hall of Famer to its annual enshrinement ceremony every year, and that will include O.J. Simpson in 2018.

Asked whether Simpson will be welcome once he’s paroled, the Hall of Fame told ESPN, “All Hall of Famers are invited to attend the annual enshrinement.”

Simpson has been a pariah in NFL circles since he was accused of double murder in 1994. But he was granted parole this week for a 2008 armed robbery conviction and is expected to be released in October, so he could attend next year’s enshrinement ceremony.

The Hall of Fame has kept Simpson’s bust in place despite his off-field issues. Simpson has not attended a Hall of Fame ceremony since his own enshrinement in 1985.

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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey to have hip examined next week

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Dolphins center Mike Pouncey will have his left hip examined next week with hopes of being cleared to join his teammates for the start of training camp July 27, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. But the Dolphins won’t make a decision on whether to place Pouncey on the physically unable to perform list until after the exam.

Pouncey has not practiced since last November, playing only five games last season.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase has joked this offseason about placing Pouncey in “bubble wrap” to protect the offensive lineman from injury. To that end, according to Salguero, Pouncey will not practice much in training camp or even the regular season as the Dolphins protect him against injury.

Pouncey has not played a full, 16-game season since 2012, his second season. He has required surgery on both hips.

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Is Simeon Rice a Hall of Famer?

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Warren Sapp long has campaigned for Hall of Fame selectors to recognize his former teammate Simeon Rice, whom Sapp has said is better than Michael Strahan. Now, the Buccaneers’ website has made a case for Rice to join Sapp and Strahan in Canton.

There is no doubt Simeon Rice should be a Hall-of-Famer,” former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, told Scott Smith. “Anyone that puts up 122 sacks and has eight double-digit sack seasons during a 12-year career deserves to be in the conversation. And he did this while going against the best offensive linemen—the left tackles. Sim is one of the best pass rushers of his time, and he played a big part in making us the dominant defense that we were in the early 2000s. Go talk to some of the great Hall-of-Fame left tackles that had to go up against Sim on a regular basis, and all you’ll hear is how hard he was to get in front of and slow down. For a left tackle out there on an island, he was their worst nightmare.”

Of the defensive linemen voted into the Hall since 1981, only five played all or most of their careers at right end as Rice did.

Selectors have never voted Rice — now in his fifth year of eligibility — a finalist. The top-11 all-time sack leaders have made the Hall of Fame. Leslie O’Neal, who ranks 12th with 132.5 career sacks, and Rice, who ranks 13th with 122, have the most career sacks without a bust in Canton. (Sacks became an official statistic in 1982.)

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who was Rice’s position coach in Tampa, long has pushed to get Rice in Canton.

“Simeon was always big in the big games from the Super Bowl to all the playoff games,” Marinelli told Smith. “He was the missing piece for our defense because he was a guy that could take the game over. Some of the biggest games he had were against the very best players. He helped drive us to our Super Bowl championship. To me, that is what the Hall of Fame is all about. It’s not just the numbers. It’s about the guys that can get you to a world championship and that’s what Simeon did.”

The problem for Rice is that he played on a defense that already has two Hall of Famers in Sapp and Brooks. Safety John Lynch has been a finalist. Cornerback Ronde Barber becomes eligible in the Class of 2018. As great as the Bucs defense was, they won one Super Bowl. (Yes, I realize who the Bucs quarterbacks were as I covered the team then.) With Lynch, Barber and Rice likely among nominees this year, the question for selectors becomes: Who was the next most important part of that defense?

Rice can take solace in Charles Haley’s journey to Canton. It took Haley, who had 100.5 sacks and five Super Bowl rings, six years to become a finalist and 11 to earn election.

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David Irving a no-show as Cowboys report

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Defensive lineman David Irving was a no-show as the Cowboys reported to training camp Friday, sources confirmed. ESPN’s Todd Archer first reported Irving’s unexcused absence.

The Cowboys held a conditioning run and physicals at their training complex in Frisco, a day before leaving for Oxnard, Calif.

Receiver Dez Bryant arrived late, and the Cowboys are expected to fine him. Irving, though, is subject to a $40,000 fine for missing the reporting date, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Last month, the NFL suspended Irving for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He had four sacks and four forced fumbles last season and was expected to play a big role as a pass-rusher this season.

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Agent: Adam Jones considering options after receiving one-game suspension

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The agent for Adam Jones said they are considering “all options” after the league suspended the Bengals cornerback for one game for violating the personal conduct penalty. Jones has three days to appeal.

“We are reviewing the ruling and assessing all options,” agent Peter Schaffer said, via Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal. “Any decision we make will be in the best interest of Adam, the Bengals and the NFL.”

Jones pleaded guilty to obstructing official business after a January incident in which he spat on a jailhouse nurse.

In the league’s letter to Jones, they said the “extensive video documentation of the tone, tenor and nature of your interactions with law enforcement at the site of your arrest, during transportation to the jail, and during the booking process. As you acknowledged, your post-arrest words and actions reflected poorly on you and your family, the Cincinnati Bengals football club, and the NFL. While it is our understanding that appropriate apologies have been publicly extended, they do not completely negate your behavior and admission of culpability for the underlying conduct.”

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Deone Bucannon only Cardinals player on PUP

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Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Coach Bruce Arians said Friday, after the team’s conditioning run, that Bucannon is the only player on PUP.

Bucannon had surgery on his right ankle in May after a lingering problem caused him to miss the final three games of last season.

The Cardinals hope Bucannon can return in time for the season opener.

Deone is close,” Arians said, via Darren Urban of the team website. “He’s getting there. I think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule. We have our fingers crossed. The first game is his due date, so to speak. Hopefully we’ll have him ready to play.”

Haason Reddick, the team’s first-round pick, has taken first-team reps in Bucannon’s spot next to veteran Karlos Dansby.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones tweaked a quadriceps muscle during the conditioning run Friday, Arians said, and could miss a few days of work.

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Dez Bryant arrives late to conditioning test, physicals

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Dez Bryant threw a free barbeque for his hometown of Lufkin on Thursday, but he likely earned a fine from the Cowboys after showing up late to the team facility Friday.

Bryant told Jane Slater of the NFL Network that he had a sinus infection and headache, so he spent the night in Lufkin, which is 175 miles from Frisco. Per Slater, Bryant said he should have informed the coaching staff earlier, but that he has talked to coaches, takes full responsibility and is prepared for the consequences.

Bryant arrived three hours late for physicals and the team’s conditioning test. Bryant told Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan that he wasn’t scheduled to run because of the sinus infection.

Although Bryant has a history of tardiness, he reminded Slater that he has “laid low” this offseason.

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Falcons still hoping to sell out their PSLs

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As the Falcons prepare to open their swanky new stadium in Atlanta, the bad news is that they still have nearly 6,000 PSLs to sell. The good news is that they’ve sold more than 55,000.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons have sold 55,113 Personal Seat Licenses. The PSLs have generated $256.3 million.

Roughly 10,000 seats are excluded from the PSL process. The PSLs range from $500 to $45,000 per seat.

So, basically, the food at the stadium will be cheap. But not much else will be.

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Dolphins place two undrafted rookies on PUP

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The Dolphins placed running back De’Veon Smith and tackle Eric Smith on the physically unable to perform list.

Miami signed De’Veon Smith as an undrafted college free agent on May 5. A two-year starter at Michigan, he played 49 career games with 26 starts. Smith had 495 carries for 2,235 yards and 22 touchdowns, while catching 38 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown.

The Dolphins signed Eric Smith as an undrafted college free agent on May 5. He started all four years at Virginia, playing in 45 career games. He was the team’s starting right tackle for every game from 2014-16.

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Michael Oher sued by Uber driver for assault

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Michael Oher’s bad week keeps getting worse.

According to the Associated Press, the former Panthers left tackle — who was released Thursday — has now been sued in connection with the Nashville incident in which he was accused of assaulting an Uber driver.

Oher faces misdemeanor charges from the April incident. The lawsuit, filed by driver Girma Berkessa said that Oher was “extremely intoxicated.” The suit also contends Oher pushed the driver to the ground, kicked him and called him a homophobic slur several times.

Oher was released with a failed physical designation. He’s been in the league’s concussion protocol since Week Three of last season, and visited a concussion specialist earlier this week.

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Malik Jackson predicts Super Bowl title for Jaguars

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The Jaguars’ 80-1 Super Bowl odds are better than only five other teams. But if Malik Jackson is to be believed, Jacksonville is a good bet.

Jackson, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos before leaving for the Jaguars’ six-year, $85.5 million offer last offseason, expects Jacksonville to win Super Bowl LII.

That’s what I believe and, until we lose, that’s when I’ll believe different,” Jackson told The Simms and Lefkoe Podcast, via NFL.com.
“The Panthers did it. If the Panthers can do it after the season they had [in going 7-8-1 in 2014]. . . But we’re going to win the Super Bowl. If they can do it, why can’t we?”

The Jaguars were a trendy darkhorse playoff pick this time a year ago, but after last year’s 3-13 season, few are willing to venture out on that limb again. Jacksonville has not made the playoffs since 2007 despite several high draft picks and high-profile free agent signings.

“I’m very confident,” Jackson said. “It truly feels different. . . .I think it’s a lot of guys coming in here and coming to Jacksonville saying, ‘I’m going to change this. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that,'” Jackson said. “We have leaders. We have a lot of great players. We just need to be consistent, and that’s on all three sides of the ball: offense, defense and special teams.”

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