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PFT’s Week 16 picks

AP

I entered the week eight games behind MDS.  I exited the week eight games behind MDS.

And now I have only 32 games left to make up an eight-game gap.

But it’s not time to surrender.  A sweep this week gets me halfway to a tie, since we disagree on four games.

We each went 9-7 in Week 15.  For the year, he’s 147-77.  I’m 139-85.

All picks appear below.  As they always do.

Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: Going to Buffalo in December won’t be an easy road trip for Miami, as the Bills’ defense is playing well. But it’s hard to pick a team with nothing to play for against a team that just needs to win out to make the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 20.

Florio’s take:  Buffalo already beat the Dolphins in Miami.  With Thad Lewis at quarterback.  Lewis is back at quarterback, and the rematch occurs in Buffalo.  But the weather won’t be all that frightful, and the Dolphins have come a long way since losing to the Bills in October.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 27, Bills 17.

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Saints looked lousy away from home last week, and I expect them to look lousy away from home again this week. That’s bad news in New Orleans, because losing this game likely means losing the division, which in turn means the Saints will spend the postseason on the road.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 23, Saints 17.

Florio’s take:  New Orleans squandered a chance to nail down the division and secure a bye by losing badly to the Rams.  The Panthers now get them outside in Charlotte for the biggest game at Bank of America Stadium in a long time.  A win puts Carolina in the driver’s seat that the Saints squandered, and the Panthers have the defense to disrupt Drew Brees’ timing.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Saints 20.

Vikings at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Vikings are actually looking like a decent team with Matt Cassel at quarterback, while the Bengals turned in a lousy effort last week against the Steelers. But with the Bengals suddenly in danger of missing the playoffs, Marvin Lewis will have his team ready for a big game.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Vikings 21.

Florio’s take:  Relegated to spoiler, the Vikings have played that role well, tying the Packers, beating the Bears, and upending the Eagles.  But Cincinnati hasn’t lost at home this year, and they are one of the best teams in the league when properly focused.  They’ll be focused on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 24, Vikings 13.

Broncos at Texans

MDS’s take: The Broncos are two wins away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans are two losses away from clinching the first overall pick in the NFL draft. Both teams will get halfway there on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Texans 10.

Florio’s take:  In 2012, Peyton Manning wanted to come to Houston.  But the Texans didn’t want him.  On Sunday, Houstonians will get to see what they’ve been missing.  A lot.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 42, Texans 20.

Titans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: This game is utterly meaningless unless you care who comes in second place in the AFC South. I’ll take the Titans to win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 21.

Florio’s take:  The Titans aren’t in the losing business.  In Jacksonville, they’ll be in the not winning business.  If they’re really lucky, they’ll be in the tying business.

Florio’s pick:  Jaguars 30, Titans 27.

Colts at Chiefs

MDS’s take: In this likely preview of a wild card playoff game in two weeks, the surging Chiefs will prove that they’re a whole lot better than the slumping Colts.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 35, Colts 17.

Florio’s take:   They seem to be locked in as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, but the Chiefs still have some incentive to play hard.  If they win and the Broncos stumble only once, the No. 1 seed remains within reach for a team that won only two games in 2012.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 28, Colts 20.

Browns at Jets

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is any good on offense, but the Jets are decidedly better on defense and special teams, and I’ll pick them on the strength of that.

MDS’s pick: Jets 17, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  The 2014 preseason has begun for both teams.  Flip a coin.  Throw a dart.  Light a match.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 17, Jets 10.

Bears at Eagles

MDS’s take: The NFC North leaders visit the NFC East leaders in a game that figures to showcase the weaknesses of Chicago’s defense. I expect Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy to have a huge game as the Eagles roll to a big win.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take:  Even with linebacker Lance Briggs expected to be back for the Bears, Chicago doesn’t have the defense to slow down LeSean McCoy and the rest of the Philly offense.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 31, Bears 24.

Buccaneers at Rams

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have shown more fight late in the season than I expected, so this game may be interesting to watch even though it doesn’t mean anything to the playoff race. I like the Rams, who are a last place team in the NFC West but would be contenders in the NFC North.

MDS’s pick: Rams 27, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take:  The consistently inconsistent Rams stunned the Saints last week.  And so it would be fitting for the Rams to stumble against the Bucs, especially with a trip to Seattle looming.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 24, Rams 21.

Cowboys at Redskins

MDS’s take: Dallas’s D is terrible, but Washington is terrible on offense, defense, and special teams. Advantage: Cowboys.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 34, Redskins 20.

Florio’s take:   The Cowboys are coming apart, and the Redskins have nothing to lose.  Especially since they’ve already lost their first-round draft, which pick belongs to the Rams.  Kirk Cousins riddles the Dallas defense and London Fletcher lifts the Washington defense in his final home game.

Florio’s pick:  Redskins 35, Cowboys 31.

Giants at Lions

MDS’s take: The Lions have choked away their NFC North lead, but they at least have a slight chance to get to the playoffs. The Giants, on the other hand, are playing like a team that just wants this bad season to be over with already.

MDS’s pick: Lions 34, Giants 20.

Florio’s take:  It would be fitting for the Lions to blow another game they need to win.  But they play the Giants.  And the Giants aren’t good.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 30, Giants 20.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Give Arizona a lot of credit for staying in the NFC playoff race a lot later into the season than most people expected, but the Seahawks will crush the Cardinals’ hopes on Sunday and ensure that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Cardinals 14.

Florio’s take:  The best team to not make the playoffs will give the Seahawks a great tuneup for their coming playoffs games.  While the Cardinals have done great things this year, no one will be beating Seattle in its own building.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Cardinals 10.

Steelers at Packers

MDS’s take: With the Packers now having a clear path to the NFC North title, they’ll take care of business against an inconsistent Steelers team.

MDS’s pick: Packers 24, Steelers 20.

Florio’s take:  The last time the Packers rallied for a playoff spot, they beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl.  While the Super Bowl is a long way away, a win over the Steelers could at least propel the Pack toward a fifth straight postseason berth.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Steelers 31.

Raiders at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chargers still have an outside shot at a wild card, and if they somehow get into the playoffs I think they’d be a dangerous team. It probably won’t happen, but they will take care of business against a Raiders team that has nothing left to play for.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 38, Raiders 20.

Florio’s take:  Even if the Chargers don’t make it to the playoffs (and they likely won’t), they’re laying the foundation for future competitiveness.  The Raiders aren’t.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Raiders 17.

Patriots at Ravens

MDS’s take: The Patriots have been the better team for most of this season, but the Ravens are playing their best football at the right time, while New England is struggling. I like the Ravens to win a tough, physical, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 14, Patriots 13.

Florio’s take:  The Ravens have won four in a row.  The Patriots have suffered one too many injuries to remain highly competitive.  Baltimore moves another big step closer to a sixth straight playoff appearance.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 22, Patriots 17.

Falcons at 49ers

MDS’s take: In the most lopsided game of the week, the 49ers will roll to an easy win, while the Falcons will wish this disaster of a season could end already.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 45, Falcons 7.

Florio’s take:  The last game at Candlestick Park comes against an opponent that is neither nimble nor quick.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 35, Falcons 21.

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Browns take Myles Garrett, as expected

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Warren Sapp be damned, the Browns took the consensus best player in the draft.

With the first overall selection, the Cleveland Browns selected Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. It’s hardly a surprise, despite the best efforts of some to inject doubt into the process regarding the possible selection of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Garrett has all the measurables, but some (including Sapp) have argued that he’s not sufficiently dominant to justify the selection. But if not him, then who?

That question was never fully answered. In a few minutes, it will be, as the 49ers Bears move into the driver’s seat.

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Coach of team in top 10 says it “could get crazy”

AP

You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts. Hopefully.

As the draft approaches, a coach of a team picking in the top 10 had this to say: “Could get nuts.”

Nearly every year, something happens that isn’t expected. Last year, it was a gas-mask bong video. This year, who knows?

Here’s what we do know: The Browns will be on the clock soon.

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Report: Chiefs “making most noise” about moving up in first round

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The start of the draft is almost upon us and we’ll find out the answers to a multitude of questions, including which teams will move up in the first round to grab a player they covet.

One team to watch may be the Chiefs. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that they are “making the most noise” about moving up from the No. 27 pick. Rapoport adds that they may be looking to move up as high as the top 10 to grab the apple of their eye.

Almost every time a team makes an aggressive move up, the thought is that they want to add a quarterback. The Chiefs have been mentioned as a landing spot for a quarterback and they were a stop on the rounds that this year’s top prospects made leading up to Thursday night.

A jump from No. 27 to the top 10 would likely carry a big price tag. The Chiefs currently have 10 picks at their disposal with four of them coming in the first three rounds.

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Look for Jarrad Davis to be gone by pick No. 22

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If linebacker Jarrad Davis is still on the board when the Dolphins go on the clock, chances are Davis won’t be on the board much longer. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the floor for Davis is believed to be pick No. 22, Miami.

The ceiling isn’t quite clear. The 2017 PFT Worst Mock Draft Ever has Davis going to Washington at No. 17. The Lions at No. 21 also are a possibility.

Davis, who played at Florida, is expected to compete immediately for the starting job as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

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Deshaun Watson: Mitchell Trubisky over me would be a slap in the face

AP

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson will not be happy if he’s not the first quarterback drafted tonight.

Watson says that if North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky is the first quarterback off the board, he’ll take it as a personal affront.

“It’s like a slap in the face, to be honest,” Watson told Josina Anderson of ESPN. “You see all the things I’ve accomplished, it’s a long list, and they want to talk about the little negatives I have and bring somebody else up? It’s a little disrespectful.”

No one would dispute that Watson had the superior college career to Trubisky, but some would argue that Trubisky has more of the tools that NFL teams look for in pro-style passers. That’s not necessarily a knock on Watson, but if he takes it that way, it’s hard to blame him.

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Cowboys make sense for Gareon Conley, for one specific reason

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The sudden cloud that emerged over cornerback Gareon Conley’s draft stock earlier this week seemed to instantly knock him out of round one. As the hours have passed, however, teams have had time to learn more about the situation. Most have the resources to talk to the witnesses and/or to have off-the-record conversations with law enforcement in Cleveland to find out what’s really going on.

Still, the risk for any team that considers Conley in round one, where he definitely would have been drafted but for this incident, flows from the possibility that he’ll eventually be charged with rape. If that happens, the G.M. that made the recommendation to ownership would instantly have a major, major problem.

Except in Dallas, where the G.M. and the owner are the same person.

It should surprise no one if the Cowboys put Conley’s name on a draft card tonight. Jerry Jones is riding a wave of acclimations and influence, a Hall of Famer and a relocation dealmaker who has been dubbed the “shadow commissioner” by ESPN The Magazine. The dice have been fairly hot for him lately, starting with the chance he took two years ago on La’El Collins as an undrafted free agent.

OK, it hasn’t been an unblemished run. Greg Hardy was a mistake, as was Randy Gregory. But Jones has the urgency to get back to the Super Bowl and win it with a team he can claim credit for building (even if others in the building and/or family deserve a lot of the credit, too), and if Jones can get a guy who would have been gone by the middle of the round at No. 28, that’s a major bonus.

Given that the team had two key cornerbacks leave during free agency (along with other defensive defections), the need is there. And the fear of repercussions won’t be, because Jones the owner ain’t firing Jones the G.M., no matter what.

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Gareon Conley to give DNA sample, interview with police Monday

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Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley will speak to Cleveland police about the sexual assault allegations made against him on Monday.

That was the word from Conley’s attorney Kevin Spellacy on Thursday, a few hours ahead of the start of the first round of the NFL Draft. Conley, who has not been charged with any crime, was considered to be a likely pick during that round before the allegations surfaced, but the uncertainty could leave him on the board until Friday.

Spellacy also told Cleveland.com that his client will provide a DNA sample to authorities and that he is trying to get video footage from the hotel where the alleged incident took place. Conley called the allegations “untrue, wrongful and malicious” in a statement released on Wednesday.

Conley was initially scheduled to attend the draft in Philadelphia, but changed those plans after the allegations went public earlier this week.

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Report: Browns will pick Myles Garrett first overall

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With the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns will select Myles Garrett, defensive end from Texas A&M.

That’s the word from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, who reports that the Browns’ decision makers had one last meeting this afternoon and solidified the decision to draft Garrett.

Garrett has been the favorite to be the first overall pick for months, but in the last couple of days a slew of reports have suggested that the Browns could go with North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky instead.

It’s still possible that Trubisky could land in Cleveland, as the Browns also own the 12th overall pick and might move up to get the quarterback they want. But with the first pick, they’re going with Garrett, just as everyone thought they would all along.

And with that, the San Francisco 49ers are on the clock at No. 2.

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Cowboys waive suspended wideout Shaquelle Evans

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Wide receiver Shaquelle Evans will serve a four-game suspension to start the 2017 season, but he won’t have a chance to show the Cowboys he’s worth keeping around until he’s eligible to play.

The Cowboys announced Thursday that they have waived Evans off of their 90-man roster. The league announced Evans was suspended for violating the substance-abuse policy last Friday.

Evans was drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, but spent his rookie year on injured reserve and was waived coming out of the preseason in 2015. He spent time on the Jaguars and Patriots practice squads before landing with the Cowboys and has never seen any regular season action.

The Cowboys already had enough space on their roster to fit in all of their draft picks, but Evans’ departure opens up a spot they can fill with an undrafted free agent when that signing frenzy takes place after the end of the seventh round on Saturday.

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Cowboys still showing interest in Gareon Conley

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Two years ago, the Cowboys signed La’El Collins after he fell all the way from the first round to undrafted when he was falsely suspected of being involved in the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Now the Cowboys may think they can get another bargain on a prospect who is under criminal investigation.

The Cowboys are still showing interest in Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and called him yesterday, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Conley previously took a pre-draft visit to Dallas.

Conley, the Ohio State cornerback who was expected to be drafted in the first round, was named this week as a suspect in a rape investigation. He has professed his innocence and has not been charged.

Unlike Collins, Conley is still expected to be drafted, and there is still an outside chance he could be drafted tonight.

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Report: Falcons could trade up in first round

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We’ve heard a lot this week about teams drafting early that would like to trade down in the first round and the lack of interest from buyers, but there are some teams that are reportedly open to such a move.

The Broncos are reportedly looking to move up from No. 20 and the 2016 NFC champions may be joining them in that pursuit. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Falcons are “plotting a potential move” during the first round on Thursday.

Any move up wouldn’t be done just for the sake of picking earlier in the process, so any deal will almost certainly be contingent on a player the Falcons want being available at the right spot. It’s not clear who that player would be, but pass rusher and guard would be two spots where an addition would make sense.

Unless they are planning something similar to the trade that netted them the pick they used to select Julio Jones, that would seem likely to be somewhere near the end of the round as moving way up from No. 31 would cost Atlanta a lot.

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Report: Broncos looking to trade up

AP

At a time when plenty of teams in the first round would like to trade down, there’s not an overabundance looking to trade up. One franchise exploring it, according to Adam “Stella Liebeck” Schefter of ESPN is the Broncos.

Denver currently sits at No. 20. If they’re looking to move up, it’s not because they generally want a higher position; it’s because they have a specific player or two in mind.

One could be local product Christian McCaffrey, the son of former Broncos receiver Ed. Earlier this week, Broncos G.M. John Elway laughed off the team’s pre-draft meeting with McCaffrey.

“He was close and it was free,” Elway said, laughing. “And we wanted to meet with him. He’s a great kid. We like Christian a lot and we wanted to bring him in. It was one of those [where] he was in the area, so we wanted to take advantage of that to get to see him again. He’s a great kid.”

With McCaffrey expected to go between No. 5 and No. 15, the Broncos could possibly get him without having to go up very far.

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Carson Wentz had laser eye surgery

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Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz should be able to see downfield better this season.

Wentz revealed that he had laser eye surgery this offseason after playing with contact lenses during his rookie year.

“I had PRK done, so it was very helpful,” Wentz said on WIP. “It’s pretty cool to wake up in the morning and not have to throw contacts in. It’s been very beneficial.”

Wentz isn’t the only NFC East quarterback who’s had laser eye surgery. Washington’s Kirk Cousins said the surgery left him with vision that was better than 20/20.

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Morgan Moses signs five-year contract extension

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Morgan Moses had to wait until the third round of the 2014 draft before he heard his name called, but he won’t have to wait for the expiration of his rookie contract before he signs another one.

According to multiple reports, Moses has signed a five-year extension with the Redskins. Full financial details haven’t been reported, but Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the deal will leave Moses as the second highest-paid right tackle in the league. Lane Johnson of the Eagles is currently at the top of that list with a deal that averages $11.25 million a year.

Moses, who wound up as the 66th pick of that draft, has started every game for Washington over the last two seasons. He has shown steady improvement over that span and it’s a good bet that the Redskins see more of that in his future to lock him up at this point.

Left tackle Trent Williams is signed through the 2020 season, so the team has their tackles under contract for a good long time as a result of Moses’ agreement.

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Why does the Commissioner keep calling out player names at the draft?

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Here’s a question that usually emerges during or after the first night of the draft: Why does Commissioner Roger Goodell continue to subject himself to this?

He’ll be booed tonight. Relentlessly. And not just because the draft is being held in Philadelphia. (He’d get booed in Fargo, too. Albeit politely.)

It’s become a given for Goodell. Loud boos. Long boos. Boos that last well beyond the first day of the draft. So why do it? From Goodell’s perspective, he can view it as a cost of doing business. And the business includes getting paid a lot of money to be a gigantic pin cushion for the owners.

But the owners surely don’t like having the scene undermined by open displays of derision. At what point do they intervene and say, “Look, we need to hire Morgan Freeman or Sam Elliott or someone else with a distinctive voice, a commanding presence, and no other connection to the league to call out these names”?

It doesn’t have to be the Commissioner. And, really, it shouldn’t be the Commissioner. Unless the goal is to keep as much reality as possible in the ultimate reality show, the NFL should realize that the event has grown to the point where the guy in charge doesn’t have to be the guy who saunters to the microphone and calls out the pick.

Of course, change could be viewed as capitulation to the masses. Goodell likely isn’t interested in doing that. Which means he’ll continue to bite his lip, fill his ears with cotton (if he isn’t doing that he should), and get through it.

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