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PFT’s Week 17 picks

Charles Tillman, Eddie Lacy AP

After a pathetic, season-worst 6-10 showing by yours truly and a four-game sweep by MDS, I was tempted to try to guess which team he’d pick for each of the 16 games to end the regular season, and then hope for the best.

But the spirit of this game is to try to get as many games right as possible, even if my outcome from last week would suggest that the better approach for me would be to select a winner — and then to do the opposite.

This week, we disagree on three games, which means MDS will win the regular-season competition by at least nine games.

For the year, MDS has generated a record of 157-83.  I’m 145-95.

The only good news is that it all resets to 0-0 for the postseason picks competition.

Panthers at Falcons

MDS’s take: Give the Falcons credit for playing competitive football against good teams, as they did on Monday night against the 49ers. This Atlanta team hasn’t quit. But the Panthers’ defense should shut down the Falcons’ offense as the Panthers clinch the NFC South.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Falcons 10.

Florio’s take:  The Panthers need a win to nail down the No. 2 seed.  An immature, undisciplined team would stumble in this spot.  If nothing else, the 2013 Panthers have proven that they are both mature and disciplined.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 27, Falcons 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: As of the time I’m making this pick I don’t know if Aaron Rodgers is playing, so this is a tough one. But I’ll go with the Bears to clinch the NFC North in a high-scoring affair.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Packers 27.

Florio’s take:  If Aaron Rodgers can play, the Packers have a chance to peak in January.  If they can get to January.  If Rodgers plays on Sunday, the Packers will get to January.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 34, Bears 30.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Ravens suffered a huge letdown last week against the Patriots, and I see the defending champions’ season ending on Sunday in Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  The Bengals need a win and some help in order to secure the No. 2 seed.  The Ravens need a win and some help to extend their streak of playoff appearances to six.  While the Bengals are unbeaten at home, the Ravens have the greater incentive and enough talent to capitalize.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Bengals 17.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: The Jaguars aren’t going down without a fight, but the Colts showed last week against the Chiefs that they’re real contenders. Indianapolis will win this one and head into the playoffs with a full head of steam for a likely rematch with Kansas City.

MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Jaguars 20.

Florio’s take:  Indy is building some momentum in the hopes of advancing beyond the wild-card round.  The Jaguars have shown enough progress to create plausible hope for 2014 — if they can find a decent quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Jaguars 20.

Jets at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Last week the Dolphins laid an egg, while the Jets kept fighting despite having no shot at the playoffs. This week, however, I think the Dolphins’ pass rush will get to Geno Smith and Miami will win a low-scoring game and the right to play in the first round of the playoffs, probably at Cincinnati.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.

Florio’s take:  After his first season as Jets coach, Rex Ryan gave the finger to a Miami MMA crowd.  On Sunday, in perhaps his final act as Jets coach, he can give a figurative finger to Fins fans by knocking the home team out of the playoffs.  Rex will pull out all the stops, and the Dolphins will follow two wins in games they should have lost with two losses in games they should have won.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 23, Dolphins 20.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: After appearing to be in control of the NFC North for much of the season, the Lions have gone into free fall. The fall will continue in Minnesota.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Lions 17.

Florio’s take:  The final game at the Metrodome coincides with what likely will be the final game of Jim Schwartz’s tenure and Lions coach.  Adrian Peterson won’t let his team exit its 31-year home with anything other than a victory to cap a lost season.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 31, Lions 23.

Bills at Patriots

MDS’s take: Buffalo isn’t going anywhere, but the Bills’ defense is a lot better than most people realize, as the Dolphins found out the hard way last week. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Bills pull off the upset, but I expect the Patriots’ defense to shut down the Bills’ offense to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 14, Bills 10.

Florio’s take:  The Pats still have a shot at securing the No. 1 seed — and also at having to play in the wild-card round.  Either way, a home loss wouldn’t be the best way to embark on a playoff run in a wide-open AFC.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 38, Bills 20.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints are a bad road team but a good home team. That’s a bad thing to be if you’re going to the playoffs as a wild card, but in New Orleans on Sunday, the Saints will clinch a playoff berth.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Saints could end the day as the No. 2 seed.  The Saints also could end the day out of the playoffs.  If Carolina wins earlier, forcing the Saints to leave the Superdome in the wild-card round, they may be tempted to not delay the inevitable.  Coach Sean Payton won’t let that happen.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Buccaneers 13.

Redskins at Giants

MDS’s take: Both of these teams stink, but Washington is a much lower level of stink. This game will be ugly, and the Giants will win.

MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Redskins 16.

Florio’s take:  The Giants hoped to finish their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in February.  They’ll have to settle for finishing their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in late December.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 28, Redskins 17.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers dug a deep hole for themselves with their lousy start to the season, but they’re playing good football now. They probably won’t get all the help they need to make the playoffs, but the Steelers will take care of business against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 34, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  If the Steelers get to the playoffs, they’ll be tough to beat.  But not as tough as they’ll be to beat in the game that can help get them to the playoffs.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 34, Browns 17.

Texans at Titans

MDS’s take: The Texans will clinch the first overall pick in the draft by losing to the Titans. And draft order is the only reason to pay any attention to this game.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Texans 13.

Florio’s take:  New Houston meets old Houston at a time when both Houstons have a problem too big for one meaningless game to fix.  If Mike Munchak is leaving after more than 30 years with the Oilers/Titans franchise, he’s going out with a win.

Florio’s pick:  Titans 24, Texans 17.

49ers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals have had an impressive season, and there’s a good team being assembled in Arizona. I think the Cardinals will make a big statement by defeating the playoff-bound 49ers, although Arizona won’t get the help it needs to make the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take:  Arizona finishes laying the foundation for a run at the top of the division in 2014.  The 49ers will be happy to get out of Arizona healthy enough to function the following weekend.

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

Broncos at Raiders

MDS’s take: With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, Denver will cruise to an easy win in Oakland.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Raiders 14.

Florio’s take:  With 265 yards passing on Sunday, Peyton Manning emerges from the 2013 season with the record for passing touchdowns and passing yards.  With more points than the Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos emerge from the 2013 season with the No. 1 seed, again.  What they do with it remains to be seen.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 41, Raiders 20.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC and are therefore the only playoff team with nothing to play for. As a result, I think they’ll take it easy on Sunday and the Chargers will cruise to a win.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  By the time this one starts, the Chargers will know whether a win gets them in the playoffs.  Chances are they’ll be done.  But with the Chiefs likely resting starters, the Chargers will finish on the right side of .500.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 31, Chiefs 21.

Rams at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Rams are playing competitively and this won’t be easy for the Seahawks, but Seattle will be highly motivated to win this one and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Rams 20.

Florio’s take:  Last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals gave the Seahawks a much-needed wake-up call.  They’ll answer the bell by roughing up the Rams and locking up the No. 1 seed.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 27, Rams 10.

Eagles at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Even with Tony Romo I’d lean toward the Eagles to take this one, but with Romo’s back injury this looks to me like a game the Eagles take to clinch the NFC East.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 17.

Florio’s take:  With or without Tony Romo, the Cowboys don’t have the defense to once again hold Philly to three points — especially without Sean Lee available.  Another year, another 8-8 finish, another loss in the de facto NFC East championship game.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Cowboys 23.

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Pitt’s James Conner declares for the draft

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 25: James Conner #24 of the Pittsburgh Panthers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the game at Heinz Field on October 25, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Panthers lost 56-28. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images) Getty Images

A year after disclosing a cancer diagnosis, Pitt running back James Conner has declared for the draft.

The redshirt junior, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns, announced his intentions on Twitter.

Conner became the ACC player of the year as a redshirt freshman in 2014. His 2015 season was derailed by a knee injury. Then came the news that Conner has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He’ll finish as No. 2 on the all-time rushing list at Pitt with 3,701 yards, behind only Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. (Making the accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that Pitt has enjoyed the likes of Curtis Martin, LeSean McCoy, and Craig Hayward over the years.) Also, Conner’s 56 touchdowns are an ACC record.

“When they talk about someone who made a positive impact on the program,” Conner said on Twitter, “I hope they mention my name.”

Conner’s college career will conclude later this month in the Pinstripe Bowl, when Pitt faces Northwestern at Yankee Stadium.

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Danny Amendola out, Martellus Bennett questionable for Pats

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 04:  Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots is tackled by T.J. McDonald #25 of the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of their game at Gillette Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Ravens prepare to face the Patriots on Monday night. They won’t have to worry about Danny Amendola. (Or, for that matter, Danny Woodhead.)

Amendola will miss his first game of the season, due to an ankle injury suffered last Sunday in a win over his former team, the Rams.

Questionable for the Patriots is tight end Martellus Bennett, with ankle and shoulder injuries. He became the team’s top option at the position after a season-ending back injury suffered by Rob Gronkowski.

Also questionable for the 10-2 Patriots are safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring), cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring), and receiver Matt Slater (foot).

The best news for the Patriots is that quarterback Tom Brady has been removed completely from the injury report. He practiced all week without being mentioned in any way on the report. Brady had missed practice time in recent weeks with a knee injury.

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Browns sign Jamar Taylor to three-year, $15 million extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Jamar Taylor #21 of the Cleveland Browns can't make a catch in front of Ladarius Green #89 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor will be sticking around for the rebuilding project in Cleveland.

The Browns and Taylor have agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.

Taylor arrived in Cleveland in April in a draft-day trade that was for basically nothing: The Browns sent the 223rd pick in the draft to the Dolphins for the 250th pick. For the Dolphins to give up Taylor for that little compensation suggests that they were planning to cut him and were happy to get anything for him.

But in Cleveland this season, Taylor has started 10 games and started to show the promise that the Dolphins thought he had when they drafted him in the second round in 2013. Now Taylor will get paid like a starter and try to help the Browns turn things around, not just this year, but for the coming years as well.

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Cowboys leave Lucky Whitehead home for violating team rules

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Lucky Whitehead #13 of the Dallas Cowboys runs during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys return man Lucky Whitehead won’t play tomorrow against the Giants, as the team has announced that he isn’t making the trip to New Jersey because of a violation of team rules.

It’s unknown what rule Whitehead violated and unclear whether the Cowboys are suspending him — which would mean he loses his weekly paycheck — or simply deactivating him.

Whitehead is the Cowboys’ primary kickoff returner, with 10 returns for 238 yards this season, and he’s the only player on the team who has returned a punt at all this season. It’s not immediately clear who will take his place on returns.

Whitehead also occasionally contributes as a runner and receiver and will be missed by the Cowboys in a big game in the NFC East race.

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Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from the 1950s

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bill Belichick became a football savant long before he was head coach of the Patriots. His education in football dates back to the 1950s, when Bill was just a tyke and his father, Steve Belichick, was an assistant coach at Navy.

For this year’s Army-Navy game, CBS brought together Bill Belichick and perhaps the best player his late father coached at Navy, Heisman Trophy-winning halfback Joe Bellino, and asked Belichick to diagram one of Bellino’s plays.

Although Belichick was 7 years old in 1959, he had no trouble diagramming a play from that season, 27 F Trap.

“I remember my dad sitting there going through the film, talking about if the tackle is split a little wider, if the back is in T formation, halfback-fullback-halfback, a lot of teams run it straight, if the back is tilted up run to that side, if the back is tilted back, run away. Teams ran the Power-I formation. He would show it on the film: On this play the back is split it’s going to be here. On this play he’s not split it’s going to be there. The same thing defensively: When the defensive lineman would stunt down he’d go outside, when he’d not stunt he’d play it straight. That’s where I started to learn to identify line splits, backfield alignments, wide receiver splits to run crossing routes from tight splits and things like that.”

Although the game has evolved a lot since the 1950s, Belichick said 27 F Trap isn’t much different from a handoff to LeGarrette Blount the Patriots could run in their 2016 offense.

“Football is football,” Belichick said. “Off tackle power? Every team in the league runs off tackle power.”

But not every team has a coach whose education in the off tackle power dates back quite that far.

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Ankle injury lands Jaelen Strong on IR

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Jaelen Strong #11 of the Houston Texans motions to his wrist after a 36 yard reception in overtime during the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Texans prepare for a playoff push, they won’t have one of the members of their receiver rotation, for the rest of the year.

The Texans have placed receiver Jaelen Strong on injured reserve, ending his season.

Strong had been ruled out for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis with an ankle injury. To fill his spot on the roster, the Texans elevated cornerback Denzel Rice from the practice squad.

A third-round pick in 2015, Strong faced stiff competition on the depth chart, when the Texans added receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in the 2016 draft. Strong caught 14 passes in his second season, matching his total for 2015.

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Luke Kuechly will miss his third straight game on Sunday

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:   Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is still not cleared from the league’s concussion protocol and will not play on Sunday against the Chargers.

The Panthers announced today that Kuechly, who returned to practice this week, still hasn’t been given the medical go-ahead to play.

Kuechly suffered the concussion in Week 11 against the Saints and was carted off the field. He hasn’t played since.

The 25-year-old Kuechly also missed three games with a concussion last season. Given that the 4-8 Panthers will almost certainly not make the playoffs this season, it might make sense for Carolina to shut Kuechly down for the season even if he does gain medical clearance next week. This has already been a miserable year in Carolina, and lingering concussions for Kuechly could make this year even worse.

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Bucs activate Charles Sims

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Charles Sims lll #34 sprints 60 yards ahead of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill #32 during the second half of their NFL football game at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers are getting running back Charles Sims back on the field in time for a push to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay is activating Sims from the injured reserve list to the active roster, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

Sims played in the first four games of the season and started two before suffering a knee injury that has kept him out the last eight games. He was not off to a very good start, with just 116 yards on 41 carries, but Sims has shown promise in the past and could be an important part of the Bucs’ offense down the stretch.

The Bucs are also promoting receiver Donteea Dye from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and waiving offensive lineman Josh Allen and defensive tackle John Hughes to make room for Sims and Dye on the 53-man roster.

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Saturday one-liners

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30: Brandon Marshall #15 of the New York Jets runs with the ball while playing the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets WR Brandon Marshall could return punts this weekend at San Francisco.

Is Bills coach Rex Ryan sliding back toward the hot seat?

When Dolphins DE Cameron Wake heard defensive coordinator Vance Joseph talking about the challenge of covering Arizona slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Wake said, “I can play nickel. What’s up?

The Patriots could be playing a game in London or Mexico next year.

The Ravens know that one guy grabbing RB LeGarrette Blount won’t get him down.

In 35 games played against Cleveland since the team returned to the NFL, the Bengals have had an 100-yard rusher 18 different times.

Browns players want to get a win on Sunday for coach Hue Jackson.

Rex Ryan realizes that Steelers LB James Harrison has “whipped a lot of players, but he whipped Father Time as well.”

Texans DE J.J. Watt seemed happy to be wearing Penn State colors and logos after the Nittany Lions beat his alma mater.

Get to know Colts WR Donte Moncrief.

Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith, who will be inducted to the team’s Ring of Honor on Sunday, discusses his battle with drug addiction.

The Titans will announce the replacement for now-cut starting CB Perrish Cox on Sunday.

Broncos RB Justin Forsett is ready for whatever his new team wants him to do.

The Epstein’s mother-style note from Chiefs coach Andy Reid had mixed results.

The Raiders are catching heat for their play calling on third and one from the Kansas City 14.

CB Brandon Flowers has had four concussions since joining the Chargers in 2014.

The Cowboys received a motivational speech this week from Ray Lewis.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo is hoping for snow on Sunday night against Dallas.

While playing in Buffalo, Eagles CB Leodis McKelvin once returned home to find testicles spray painted n his lawn.

Should Washington keep WR Pierre Garςon or WR DeSean Jackson?

Young Bears players remain fully engaged, despite the team’s 3-9 record.

With Quandre Diggs out for the year, Lions CB Adairius Barnes is about to go from obscure undrafted rookie to key member of the defense.

For Packers OT Bryan Bulaga, losing only 10 pounds has made a big difference.

Vikings WR Adam Thielen has proven he’s not a joke.

Should the Falcons give WR Julio Jones some time off due to turf toe?

Panthers QB Cam Newton knows that the search for reasons for his subpar performance in 2016 starts with him.

LB Travis Freeney, previously on the Pittsburgh practice squad, didn’t expect the phone call that made him a Saint.

WR Josh Huff could be a key figure for the Buccaneers against New Orleans.

Cardinals CB Tyrann Mathieu eventually may need shoulder surgery.

The Rams are waiting for QB Jared Goff to begin to approach his potential.

49ers RB Carlos Hyde needs 78.5 yards per game to get to 1,000.

When it comes to Seahawks C Justin Britt, Russell Wilson is figuratively kissing the area where he literally puts his hands.

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Adam Jones doesn’t think much of Terrelle Pryor

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 4:  Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals congratulate each other while walking off of the field after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 32-14 at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Browns try to get their first win in nearly a full calendar year and the Bengals try to avoid becoming the first team to lose to the Browns in a full calendar year, one of the skirmishes that will determine the outcome involves the ability of the Cincinnati cornerbacks to slow down the Cleveland passing game.

So what does Bengals cornerback Adam Jones think of one of the best parts of the opposing passing game, Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor?

Initially, Jones declined to speak about Pryor, as explained by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Then, Jones decided to talk a blue streak, Jack.

“He pushes off, every route. He’s an OK receiver,” Jones said. “They do feature him a little bit so he does get more looks than a guy who would be in his situation. He’s just a guy to me.”

Jones went on to explain that Pryor won’t be able to push off at the top of his route, “so you’ve just got to be in good position.” And it apparently worked the last time the Bengals played the Browns.

“We played him last game and he didn’t do sh-t,” Jones said.

Specifically, Pryor caught two passes for 18 yards.

“Yeah,” Jones said. “I don’t like him. You can put that in there.”

So, basically, there’s now a reason to watch the game beyond the question of whether the Browns can turn perhaps their last, best chance for a victory into something other than another loss.

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Raiders-Chiefs generates 17.4 million viewers

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 08:  Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after the Chiefs gained a crucial first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 8, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders and the Chiefs don’t draw like the Cowboys, but it’s close.

Thursday night’s game between the AFC West arch-rivals delivered 17.4 million TV viewers, according to NBC. It’s the first time this year that an audience of more than 17 million tuned in for back-to-back Thursday night games. (Last week, more than 21 million watched the Cowboys beat the Vikings.)

Because last year’s Week 14 Thursday night game was televised only on NFL Network, there’s no apples-to-apples comparison to be made from one year to the next.

Next week, the Rams face the Seahawks on Thursday night in Seattle. The struggles of the L.A. franchise will make it hard to match the 17-million mark, but the Seahawks have developed a strong national following in recent years.

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League has no comment about Kelechi Osemele surprise scratch

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12:  Kelechi Osemele #70 of the Oakland Raiders gets ready to pass block against Ed Stinson #91 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Raiders won 31-10. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Thursday morning, Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele became sufficiently ill to get treatment at a Kansas City-area hospital. But the Raiders didn’t disclose that development, as required by league rules.

Then, 90 minutes before kickoff, Osemele appeared on the inactive list, and news of the illness emerged for the first time.

The NFL tells PFT  that it has no comment on the situation. The same thing happened a year ago, when Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen became ill before a Sunday afternoon game with the Chiefs but the illness wasn’t revealed. The league reportedly planned to investigate the matter, but no resolution ever was reported or announced.

The dilemma for the league office in these situation arises from the importance of enforcing the rules on one hand and a desire on the other to not unnecessarily expose the fact that liberties were taken with rules aimed at eliminating a window of opportunity for gamblers to acquire inside information.

On Thursday, that window was wide open. Osemele was sick, and he was in jeopardy or not playing. At some point before the moment at which the Raiders were required to submit their list of inactive players, they decided he wouldn’t be able to play.

The information about Osemele, their most important offensive lineman, was there to be had. And the Chiefs, favored by three points, eventually covered the spread.

Now, fast forward by a few years and imagine the reaction if this had happened not with the Oakland Raiders but the Las Vegas Raiders.

If nothing else, it should give the owners something to chew on this week when they hear from the league office a report aimed at persuading them to give Oakland a chance to keep the team.

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Former Browns, Patriots exec sees a Garoppolo trade to Cleveland

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) Getty Images

A former Browns and Patriots executive is talking up the possibility that the Browns and Patriots will make a trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason.

Mike Lombardi, a longtime friend and colleague of Patriots coach Bill Belichick who also served as G.M. of the Browns in 2013, said on FS1 that he thinks the trade would make sense for both teams.

“The next quarterback that’ll be the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback perhaps is Jimmy Garoppolo in New England,” Lombardi said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “I think Cleveland understands, [coach] Hue Jackson specifically understands he needs a quarterback. I think they’ll be very aggressive. I think Jimmy Garoppolo’s on top of their list, and I think they’ll go hard after him.”

Lombardi didn’t work with the current brass in Cleveland, and when he was last with the Patriots Garoppolo had never started a regular-season game, so he may not have a lot of insight into the teams’ current thinking about Garoppolo’s worth. The trade could make sense, though. The Browns still need to find a franchise quarterback, and most draft analysts don’t think there’s a franchise quarterback available in the 2017 NFL draft. And the Patriots, who are set at quarterback with Tom Brady, may think that there’s no reason not to acquire something of value for Garoppolo.

Garoppolo is under contract next year at just $820,000 before hitting free agency in 2018. That means the Patriots are under no salary cap pressure to trade him and can drive a hard bargain. The Browns, with two first-round picks and two second-round picks in the 2017 NFL draft, may be the team best suited to putting together a package that would pry Garoppolo out of New England.

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Aikman again details the time he almost became an Eagle

2012 NFL Honors - Arrivals Getty Images

Hall of Fame former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman again drew the interest of NFL fans this week when he detailed the time he considered — for a day — an offer to come out of retirement and play for the Eagles.

Although Aikman has told the story before, his comments this week suggested that he was more seriously considering the offer during the 2002 season than he has previously let on.

“I retired, got into broadcasting. Then it was two years later when I got a call from Andy Reid in the middle of a game that I was broadcasting after Donovan McNabb had broken his leg,” Aikman said, via the Dallas Morning News. “He wanted me to sign with Philadelphia and come out of retirement right then and go to work for them. And I gave it some consideration – actually I told Andy I was going to sleep on it and call him in the morning. I called my producer at FOX and asked him what he thought my career was long-term in television. Then I called [former Cowboys offensive coordinator] Norv Turner and talked to him about it from the football perspective. And I woke up the next morning and I just thought, ‘Man, is this something I really want to do?’ And I decided against it. So I called Andy and said, ‘Look. I appreciate the interest, but I’m going to stay put and best of luck.’ And they ended up going on and having success with A.J. Feely. And ultimately they made it to the NFC Championship Game that year.”

The Cowboys actually released Aikman before he retired, so there was nothing contractual stopping him from signing with any team thereafter. But Aikman was 36 years old, hadn’t played in two years, and hadn’t played very well the last year he did play. It’s highly unlikely the Eagles would have been as good with a rusty, old Aikman at the helm as they were with Feely, a backup who helped the Eagles go 4-1 in the five games he started that season. Aikman did Reid a favor by turning him down.

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Chargers not saying if Mike McCoy’s job is safe

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Head Coach Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers runs off the field after his team's 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins in a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers coach Mike McCoy has just one year left on his contract, and his team is 5-7 and in last place. That’s raising questions about McCoy’s job security, and they’re questions the Chargers don’t want to answer.

San Diego G.M. Tom Telesco was asked on 1360-AM in San Diego whether McCoy will be back in 2017, and Telesco declined to give a direct answer.

“Contrary to public opinion, we don’t sit around here daily preoccupied with job status,” Telesco said, via ESPN. “It’s just not how it works. I’m not worried about next year right now. To be honest with you, I’m not worried about next week. I’m worried about this week and playing Carolina. We’ll worry about next year, next year. We’re 100 percent committed to this season. We only have 16 games to play, and we’ve got four games to go here, and that’s what we’re worried about. We’re not even looking toward 2017 yet.”

Telesco’s contract runs through the 2019 season, so his job appears to be safe. But with McCoy now missing the playoffs three years in a row, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him given the axe.

The decision may come down to what the Chargers’ ownership thinks is the best way to get support from its fan base. With the possibility that the Chargers will move to Los Angeles this offseason and share a stadium with the Rams, the Chargers may decide they need continuity on the field while they make a big move off the field. On the other hand, they may decide that a new coach is what they need to generate excitement in Los Angeles. McCoy’s job could hinge on off-field concerns.

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