Skip to content

Looking ahead at future Hall of Fame classes

gty_junior_seau_ll_120507_wg Getty Images

The seven members of the 2014 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame have received their busts in Canton, Ohio, and now that enshrinement weekend is behind us, let’s look ahead at the players, coaches and contributors who could comprise the next five Hall of Fame classes.


Junior Seau will be eligible for the first time next year, and he’s the one man who looks like a lock for the class of 2015. Seau’s enshrinement will bring up stories about his suicide and questions about whether brain damage on the football field could have led to his depression, but his enshrinement should also be a celebration of one of the greatest linebackers ever to play the game.

Paul Tagliabue, the former commissioner, may be the biggest beneficiary of the Hall of Fame’s new policy of voting on contributors separately from players and coaches. In past Hall of Fame votes, Tagliabue has lost out, but now that he’s no longer competing with players and coaches, there’s a good chance that he’ll be enshrined next year.

Steve Sabol would also be a good choice in 2015, when there will be two Hall of Fame finalists from the separate contributors category. Sabol’s father Ed is already in the Hall of Fame, but both Sabols deserve busts in Canton for building NFL Films.

Kurt Warner is, after Seau, the player with the best chance of being enshrined in his first year of eligibility next year. Some may say Warner’s greatness was too short-lived to merit Hall of Fame induction, but a player with two regular-season MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP award is probably going to end up in Canton.

Orlando Pace protected Warner’s blind side in St. Louis and was one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL for a decade, and he’ll also be eligible for the first time next year.

Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were the top two receivers on the Greatest Show on Turf, and they both retired after the 2009 season, making them eligible in 2015. (You can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten that Holt was in Jacksonville and Bruce was in San Francisco in 2009.) It would really be something if they were both inducted along with Warner and Pace. That, however, is awfully unlikely. Wide receivers have had a hard time getting into Canton in recent years, and Holt and Bruce may end up competing against each other and therefore hurting each other’s chances in much the same way that Steelers greats John Stallworth and Lynn Swann did for many years.

Jerry Kramer, the great Packers offensive lineman, would be a strong choice as a senior candidate. Next year will be a harder year for seniors to get in, as only one senior finalist will be nominated. But Kramer may be the most deserving senior candidate eligible.


Brett Favre is a sure thing to be inducted in 2016, and the Packers have already begun the process of turning the year before his induction into a long ceremony honoring Favre, who will have his number retired in 2015.

Terrell Owens also becomes eligible in 2016, but he’s a long shot. Owens is second only to Jerry Rice on the all-time receiving yards list and third behind Rice and Randy Moss in receiving touchdowns, but Owens acted like such a jerk, so often, that he’s remembered as much for becoming a disruptive force in the locker room as he is for being a dominant force on the field.

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former 49ers owner, may benefit from the new contributors category and be enshrined soon. The question is whether Hall of Fame voters will reward DeBartolo for his role in building the great 49ers teams of the 1980s and 1990s, and overlook the circumstances that led DeBartolo to be forced out of the NFL.

Jerome Bettis may finally get his bust in Canton in 2016, as a relatively weak crop of first-year eligible players will make room for those who have previously been passed over.

Will Shields, the great guard for the Chiefs, would also seem likely to benefit from a lack of first-year eligible players, although there have been so many great offensive linemen enshrined in Canton in recent years that it’s hard for any one to gain recognition over all the others.

Marvin Harrison was voted down this year, but he had so many great seasons as a receiver for the Colts that it seems like just a matter of time before he gets in, and 2016 may be the year.

Randy Gradishar and Ken Stabler are a couple of good senior candidates who may be enshrined in 2016, when two seniors will be eligible. (Only one senior is eligible in 2015, 2017 and 2019.)


LaDainian Tomlinson becomes eligible for the first time in 2017, and with 13,684 career rushing yards, Tomlinson looks like a good bet to make it. Only four players have more yards than Tomlinson (Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin) and all four are already in the Hall.

Jason Taylor becomes eligible in 2017 as well, and he has a good case, although he may be joining a crowded field of pass rushers, as we’ll detail momentarily.

Kevin Greene was voted down as a Hall of Fame finalist last year, but with 160 sacks in his career, he seems sure to get in eventually: The only players with more career sacks than Greene were Bruce Smith and Reggie White, two of the greatest players in NFL history. The 2017 class may be the one that finally makes room for Greene.

Charles Haley also might finally get his Hall call in 2017. He’s been voted down five times already, but his contributions to Super Bowl winners in both San Francisco and Dallas should be enough to earn him a bust at some point.

Hines Ward was a great wide receiver and a Super Bowl MVP winner, and he’ll be eligible for the first time in 2017. But Ward’s career numbers (1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns) are dwarfed by those of some other recent receivers, and Ward may suffer by comparison.

Brian Dawkins was a nine-time Pro Bowl safety who also becomes eligible in 2017, but he seems unlikely to be selected in his first year of eligibility. Dawkins was a beloved player both on and off the field, and at some point the voters may put him in Canton, but that point probably won’t be until he’s on the ballot for at least a few years.

George Young, the former Giants general manager, is just the kind of person that the new “contributors” category is designed to recognize, and the 2017 class may be the year that the late Young gets his due.

Don Coryell would appear to be a likely choice as a senior candidate some day, and 2017 may be when that day comes. Coryell never won a championship as a coach, but he was such an innovator of the passing game that he’s a significant figure in the history of football.


Ray Lewis will be an easy choice as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. There’s no room for debate on that.

Randy Moss may leave some room for debate, as his numbers are comparable to those of Terrell Owens, who looks like a long shot. But Moss at his best was such a game-changer that he just feels like exactly the kind of player who belongs in Canton.

Brian Urlacher, who like Lewis and Moss becomes eligible in 2018, has a very good case for enshrinement as well. Although he’ll suffer in comparison to Lewis, there will probably be enough support for Urlacher to get him enshrined in his first year of eligibility.

Steve Hutchinson was a great guard and also becomes eligible in 2018, but he won’t get in on his first year of eligibility. Hutchinson may be a finalist many times, but getting the necessary 80 percent of the vote will be tough.

Tim Brown is a longtime finalist who feels like he accomplished enough in the NFL (usually while serving as the only decent threat in his teams’ passing games) that he should be recognized eventually. The 2018 class may be the year.

Art Modell has been voted down several times, and the opposition to his candidacy is strong from some who say that taking the Browns out of Cleveland was an unforgivable sin. But the new contributors category gives Modell a much better chance, and 2018 could be his year.

Bob Kuechenberg and Cliff Harris are among the best senior candidates who haven’t been selected yet.


Tony Gonzalez becomes eligible for the first time in 2019, and he’s just about a sure thing as one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the game.

Ed Reed also becomes eligible for the first time in 2019, and he also looks like a sure thing as one of the greatest safeties ever to play the game.

Tony Dungy was voted down in his first year of eligibility last year and may be voted down a few more times, but he’s likely to get in eventually, and 2019 could be the year.

Morten Andersen was also voted down this year in his first year as a Hall of Fame finalist, but he also has a good case to make it eventually. Andersen, the NFL’s all-time leader in points scored, would join Jan Stenerud and Ray Guy as the only kicking specialists in the Hall of Fame.

Permalink 165 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories

Hue Jackson points to Josh McCown as this week’s starter

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns passes during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns quarterback Josh McCown’s broken collarbone was deemed ready for a return to full practice this week and it looks like he’ll be jumping right back into the starting job.

Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol after getting hurt last Sunday, which hasn’t led coach Hue Jackson to rule the rookie out but does leave all signs pointing to McCown getting the nod to face the Jets.

“I feel really good that it’s heading that way,” Jackson said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But he’s had an injury too and things can change.”

McCown last played in Week Two when he went 20-of-33 for 260 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 25-20 loss to the Ravens. Kevin Hogan and Joe Callahan are also on Cleveland’s roster should the Browns be forced to do more improvising under center.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: C.J. Anderson having knee surgery

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Running back C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos rushes in the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson disputed a report on Thursday that had him telling people that his season is over due to a knee injury suffered in last Monday’s victory over the Texans, but it does appear he’s going to be out of the lineup for a fairly extended period of time.

Mike Klis of KUSA reports that Anderson will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Klis also reports that Anderson is likely headed for injured reserve as a result and Anderson has deleted his previous tweets calling it false that he’d miss the rest of the year.

That move would not automatically end Anderson’s season as the Broncos can wait six weeks and then designate Anderson as their player eligible to return from injured reserve. He could not be reactivated until eight weeks have passed, which means he’d be out through at least Week 15 if he does go on I.R.

Rookie Devontae Booker will step into the lead back role for however long Anderson is out of the lineup. The Broncos also have Kapri Bibbs on the active roster and could bring Juwan Thompson up from the practice squad if they feel a need for more depth in the backfield.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Derek Newton injury underscores the risks, realities of pro football

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 16:  Derek Newton #75 of the Houston Texans walks the sidelines during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens won 29-14.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Far too many football fans have grown numb over the years to the very real physical toll that life in the NFL inflicts on the men who participate in the sport.

“So-and-so had surgery. It was a success. And he’s already ahead of schedule in his rehab efforts.”

It’s not nearly that simple for the people who find their bodies invaded by surgical tools, repaired, and closed up again. From risk of infection to other complications in the recovery process to the pain and discomfort that often entails the use of potent narcotics to an arduous rehab process that can consume months, it’s a difficult aspect of football that happens to dozens of players every year.

While serious injuries don’t happen on a regular basis, they happen often enough that every player who steps onto a football field accepts the very real risk that they won’t be stepping off the field without partial or complete assistance. Consider the case of Texans right tackle Derek Newton. He’ll spend WEEKS in a wheelchair after rupturing both patella tendons on Monday night, and that’s just the beginning.

From a wheelchair to crutches to learning how to walk to learning how to run to trying to once again have a normal life long before the question of whether he can play football again will even be remotely relevant.

“He gets paid millions,” some will say with a shrug. Sure, he does. But his ability to continue to be paid those millions is now in jeopardy.

Besides, he’s about to go through a major hardship in an effort to recover from his injuries. How many would take the money if doing so meant dealing with a pair of ruptured patella tendons at the same time?

Even if you truly would, the risks and realities of injuries bad enough to require surgery should never be disregarded when “next man up” causes fans and media to treat the last guy in as out of sight and out of mind.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jordan Reed declares himself 100 percent after latest concussion

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

Washington tight end Jordan Reed has missed the last two games with a concussion, but he says he’ll be good to go for Sunday’s game in London against the Bengals.

I’m feeling 100 percent,” Reed said. “I feel symptom-free. I feel back to normal.”

Reed still needs to be cleared by an independent doctor as part of the league’s concussion protocol, but he sounds confident that he’s going to play on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Reed has already been diagnosed with five concussions in his NFL career, leading to concerns about his long-term health. Given those concerns, the team would be wise to play it safe with Reed and err on the side of giving him more time off, even if he’s insisting that he’s ready to go.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Devonta Freeman back to full participation for Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons should have at least one of their top running backs available when they play the Packers Sunday.

Coach Dan Quin told reporters that running back Devonta Freeman would be a full participant in today’s practice, after he was held out of contact yesterday.

Freeman was listed with a hip injury, but that has seemingly cleared up overnight.

The Falcons held running back Tevin Coleman (hamstring) and pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (quadriceps, old) out of practice again Thursday. The Falcons seem to expect that Coleman won’t be ready this week, when they signed two running backs to the active roster.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tony Romo in helmet, uniform at Cowboys practice

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02:   Injured quarterback Tony Romo #8 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after defeating the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw the ball at Wednesday’s practice, which marked a step forward in his return from a broken bone in his back albeit one that took place without Romo wearing a helmet, jersey or any of the other pieces of equipment that would have allowed him to be an official participant in the session.

Romo is throwing again at Thursday’s practice, although he’s doing so in a different outfit. Romo is wearing a helmet and jersey for the first time since getting hurt in the preseason.

Before the practice got underway on Thursday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Romo looked good on Wednesday and deemed his status as “day-to-day” in terms of when he might be able to move to a fuller workload.

There’s no reason for the Cowboys to officially make it known if they’re sticking with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback until that happens, although it does appear the day that call will have to be made is drawing closer.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

LeSean McCoy out of practice again on Thursday

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) watches the game from the sidelines, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. McCoy was held to 11 yards and had to leave during the third quarter after he aggravated his left hamstring.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) AP

The Bills kept running back LeSean McCoy in the lineup last weekend despite a hamstring injury that led to several reports that he’d miss the game.

McCoy didn’t produce much against the Dolphins and then had to leave the game when the hamstring flared up over the course of the game. McCoy said he felt good heading into the game and Bills coach Rex Ryan defended the decision to play along those lines, but there might not be as much reason to take things all the way to kickoff against the Patriots this week.

McCoy missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday and that suggests that the results of playing him against New England wouldn’t look that different than they looked against Miami last Sunday. The Bills have said they’ll see how things progress over the course of the week, but the nature of hamstring injuries in general and McCoy’s specific history with such issues make it hard to say pushing it is the right decision.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, safety Aaron Williams, left tackle Cordy Glenn and linebacker Zach Brown also missed their second practice of the week. Chris Brown of the team’s website reports that left guard Richie Incognito is also out for Thursday’s practice, although doesn’t supply a reason for his absence.

Permalink 19 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks still focused on recovery after last week’s overtime tie


The Seahawks as a whole played five quarters Sunday night, but the members of their defense were forced to carry most of the load.

And as a result of guys playing 100 snaps or more in a game, the Seahawks are focusing this week on recovery.

Via Sheil Kapadia of, coach Pete Carroll has ordered his players to get eight or nine hours of sleep, hydrate often, and load up on carbohydrates after last week’s marathon against the Cardinals. His work this week is in conjunction with director of player health and performance Sam Ramsden, who is bringing the sports science and the holiday side dishes.

I’ve been big on sweet potatoes,” Seahawks cornerback Deshawn Shead said. “I love sweet potatoes, so it’s been easy. You don’t have to tell me to carb up on sweet potatoes.”

Shead played 95 snaps in last week’s game, and the alarming part is he was sixth on the team in that category.

Safety Kelcie McCray played 108 snaps, including 95 on defense and 13 on special teams. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright played 102 each. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas played 99.

Sherman said he couldn’t make it from the showers to the locker room by himself, and needed Wagner’s help to get there. He received two bags of intravenous fluid after the game, but said he wasn’t himself on the trip home.

“They didn’t let me lose consciousness, but I definitely wasn’t focused,” Sherman said. “That’s why they wouldn’t let me go for a long time until I got my focus back, and they looked me in the eye, and they just kept saying I wasn’t right and I was looking clammy and stuff like that. But after a while, you get some energy, you get some food in you, you get your stuff back.

“I was too tired to be that concerned. I think other people were more concerned than I was, but I was just trying to get cooled down and get some energy back in me. It was just a blur. I don’t remember being too concerned. I remember them saying something about a stretcher and paramedics, and I was like, ‘Yeah that’s not how we’re going to end this today.'”

That kind of reaction makes you wonder how much they’ll have in the tank when they fly across country again this week, to play at New Orleans in a 1 p.m. start.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

After fateful PSI report, NFL declined to give real numbers to Chris Mortensen

2012 Jaws Cigar Party Hosted By Ron Jaworski Getty Images

The #DeflateGate saga went from an eyebrow-raiser to a finger-pointer the moment ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots measured at least two pounds below the 12.5 PSI minimum.

Like the AP report that the NFL received the Ray Rice elevator video before TMZ published it, the Mortensen report of gross underinflation made the retention of  “independent” investigator Ted Wells something that the public not simply would support, but also would demand.

Regardless of how the false information made it to Mortensen (and it undoubtedly came from the league office), the league office refused to correct the record — despite moving swiftly to correct false information in many other contexts, as the New York Times now knows.

“I remember asking people in the league office, ‘Is there stuff we need to clarify?’” Mortensen told Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. “Basically, it was like, ‘Hey, let Ted Wells do his job.'”

That’s a damning indictment of the league’s role in creating the monster and then declining to kill it. Regardless of the work of Ted Wells, the NFL at all times had the PSI measurements at its disposal. The league could have, and should have, told the truth about the PSI numbers.

To his credit, Mortensen never reacted to the fact that the NFL lied to him and then stonewalled him with the kind of anger and outcry that others (e.g., me) would have expressed if burned so badly by a source. Still, to the extent that Patriots fans or anyone else harbor any lingering resentment toward Mortensen regarding the fateful 11-of-12 football report, keep in mind that someone employed at 345 Park Avenue leaked clearly false information to Mortensen, and that someone employed at 345 Park Avenue refused to correct clearly false information at Mortensen’s request.

And so instead of a witch-hunt aimed at proving that the real PSI numbers showed cheating in connection with the 2014 AFC title game when, in reality, they don’t, maybe the league should have hired another “independent” investigator to figure out who breathed fraudulent life into #DeflateGate by lying to Chris Mortensen and then refusing to disclose the truth to him.

No matter how hard anyone tries to downplay the impact of the false PSI numbers on the overall case, #DeflateGate never would have happened without the disclosure of false numbers. If the true numbers had been reported before the work of Ted Wells was concluded, anyone who understands the Ideal Gas Law would have quickly and loudly explained that those numbers fall within the general range of measurements that would have been generated by the natural decline in air pressure after the football were exposed to more than 90 minutes to January air in Massachusetts.

Common sense suggests that the Ideal Gas Law and the deliberate release of air pressure would have combined to create far lower PSI numbers than those actually measured. You know, something like two pounds or more below the 12.5 PSI minimum.

Permalink 84 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers left tackle Michael Oher still out with concussion

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Offensive Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers looks on while taking a drink of water during practice prior to Super Bowl 50 at San Jose State University on February 5, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers are getting healthier in the secondary, which will help fix their biggest problem at the moment.

But they’re still running short at one key position, which is pretty important in its own right.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Panthers left tackle Michael Oher is still out of practice because of a concussion.

Oher has been out since coming up with concussion symptoms after their Week Three loss to the Vikings, and hasn’t played since. The fact he’s now out a month is a much bigger concern for Oher himself.

But to take the football view, it’s bad news for Cam Newton, as right tackle Mike Remmers has been miscast on the left and Daryl Williams is filling in at right tackle in Oher’s absence. Against a Cardinals defense which was able to keep Russell Wilson off-balance last week, that could be a major issue.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

C.J. Anderson denies telling people he’s done for the year

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball as he is followed by  Caraun Reid #91 of the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter of a 21-13 Charger win at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson went for a second opinion on a knee injury this week amid reports that he was going to miss multiple weeks while dealing with the issue.

On Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Anderson has told people that he will miss the rest of the season. A source with first-hand knowledge of Anderson’s status has denied that’s the case, however.

That source would be Anderson himself, who replied to Rapoport’s report on Twitter shortly after it came out.

Anderson added that “we would know later today what’s going on,” so there still seems to be some uncertainty about what the immediate future holds for the running back. For now, though, Anderson isn’t pulling the curtain on his season.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Four Cowboys rank in top 11 of player merchandise sales

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on before a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the NFLPA released sales figures of player merchandise from March through May, three members of the Cowboys took the top three spots on the list.

The NFLPA has released the list for the period from June through August and the Cowboys no longer rank 1-2-3, but they are still well represented at the top of the list. Wide receiver Dez Bryant still ranks first with quarterback Tony Romo in sixth, tight end Jason Witten at No. 10 and running back Ezekiel Elliott right behind Witten. The period covered in the latest report comes before quarterback Dak Prescott took off in the regular season, so there may be even more representation in the next set of figures.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went from No. 7 to No. 2 in the latest round with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham rounding out the top five. The Seahawks placed five players in the top 50 while the Packers join the Cowboys with four players in that group.

The rankings are based on sales of all officially licensed merchandise, a category that includes clothes, toys, photos and other items emblazoned with the images of NFL players.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

PFT’s Week Eight picks


The good news is that MDS and I both stayed on the right side of .500 last week. The bad news is that it we weren’t very far above.

With 15 Week Seven games, we each went 8-7, splitting the two games on which we disagreed. This week, we disagree on three games.

Hopefully, we’ll be more that slightly above .500.

And by the way I’m still up by two games on the season. Which is all that really matters to me.

Jaguars at Titans

MDS’s take: It’s the annual Thursday night Jaguars-Titans game. That’s sure to bolster the NFL’s ratings. The Titans are actually a better team than most people thought, and the Jaguars are worse.

MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: With the Mr. Spock/Captain Kirk Color Rush debacle returning on Thursday night and in light of the growing discontent of Jacksonville’s owner, it really will be Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 16.

Washington at Cincinnati

MDS’s take: The Bengals’ defense and special teams have been a disappointment, but I like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to have a big game with Josh Norman in the concussion protocol.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 31, Washington 28.

Florio’s take: Marvin Lewis just beat his most recent offensive coordinator. And now he gets a chance to beat the guy Hue Jackson replaced. The Bengals quietly are putting the pieces together after a slow start; the process continues in England.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Washington 17.

Chiefs at Colts

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck is playing well, but he’s been getting very little support, and no quarterback can do it himself. The Colts’ defense is terrible, and the Chiefs should rack up plenty of points on them.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Colts 21.

Florio’s take: One of the great moments in Colts franchise history came not long ago in a playoff game against the Chiefs. Sunday will prove just how long gone those days are.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Colts 21.

Raiders at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Raiders are quite as good as their 5-2 record suggests, and I think the Buccaneers showed last week that they can take advantage of a bad defense. Tampa Bay wins a close one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 23.

Florio’s take: The Raiders are 4-0 at 1:00 p.m. ET this year. Their biggest regret should be that, after Sunday’s game in Tampa, Oakland won’t have another.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 31, Buccaneers 28.

Seahawks at Saints

MDS’s take: The Seahawks’ offense hasn’t been playing well, but a meeting with the weak Saints’ defense could be just what the doctor ordered.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: Seattle’s gaudy record conceals deeper concerns about the offense, which hasn’t been the same since Russell Wilson suffered a pair of injuries. The Saints have the offense to outpace Wilson and company.

Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Seahawks 20.

Lions at Texans

MDS’s take: Detroit’s defense is bad, but Brock Osweiler is worse. The Lions will manage to hold Osweiler in check and win what could be an ugly game.

MDS’s pick: Lions 17, Texans 16.

Florio’s take: The Texans win the games they’re supposed to win, and they lose the games they’re supposed to lose. It’s harder to categorize this one, but the home-field advantage gives them the edge.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Lions 24.

Jets at Browns

MDS’s take: These may be the two worst teams in the league right now, and if Cody Kessler or Josh McCown were completely healthy I’d pick the Browns to get their first win of the season. But with Kessler suffering from a concussion and McCown still recovering from a broken collarbone, I’ll take the Jets.

MDS’s pick: Jets 17, Browns 10.

Florio’s take: It could be the last, best chance for the Browns to win a game. But for Geno Smith’s torn ACL, maybe they would.

Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Browns 13.

Patriots at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills dominated their first meeting, but that was with Tom Brady suspended. Now that Brady is back, I’d expect the Patriots to win this game and take total control of the AFC East.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: The Bills haven’t swept the Patriots during the Brady-Belichick era. That streak continues.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Bills 20.

Cardinals at Panthers

MDS’s take: This may be the Panthers’ last chance to turn their season around, as a loss here would essentially mean there’s no hope of making the playoffs. I think they’ll rally with a big win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: It’s a rematch of the NFC title game; the loser has little chance to get back there. The winner doesn’t have much more of a shot. It’s the last stand for the Panthers, who played 75 minutes less football than the Cardinals in Week Seven.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 28, Cardinals 23.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chargers’ offense is playing well, but playing well in Denver is a tall order for any offense. I see a low-scoring game with the Broncos coming out on top.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 14, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take: The Chargers have an excellent opportunity to legitimize their season, shove the Broncos against the ropes, shake up the AFC West, and maybe nail down some votes for their futile stadium effort. They’ll nearly pull it off.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 24, Chargers 23.

Packers at Falcons

MDS’s take: Stopping Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is going to be too much to ask of the Packers’ secondary. The Falcons will put a lot of points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 35, Packers 28.

Florio’s take: Six years ago, the sixth-seeded Packers took down the top-seeded Falcons, 48-20. That was a long time ago, and the Falcons have new urgency to get things back on track against a still-flawed Packers team.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Packers 23.

Eagles at Cowboys

MDS’s take: In one of this year’s better prime time games, the Cowboys should beat the Eagles and take control of the NFC East.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Eagles 21.

Florio’s take: Has a game this consequential ever had three rookies in such key roles? This one does, and the team with two of the key rookies has the edge.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Eagles 24.

Vikings at Bears

MDS’s take: Jay Cutler is back, and he’s about to get a rude awakening against the Vikings’ defense. This could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 3.

Florio’s take: The Vikings have a tough five-game stretch coming up; if they stub their toe in Chicago, things could quickly fall apart.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Bears 17.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Aldon Smith has applied to the NFL for reinstatement

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders stands on the field before their game against the Baltimore Ravens at Coliseum on September 20, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders have gotten off to a 5-2 start, despite a defense which has been spotty at times.

They could potentially be getting a big boost for that side for the last month and a half of the season.

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said outside linebacker Aldon Smith has applied to the NFL for reinstatement. His one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy ends Nov. 17.

Sources said Smith is out of rehab, and McKenzie said he was working in an effort to coming back to the team.

‘Aldon is doing well,” McKenzie said. “That situation is going to be totally up to the league because he’s been in the program and they’ve monitored him. It’s up to [Roger] Goodell to say yah, nay or when. And he could say no to everything, . . . that part is out of our hands.

“The league will take everything into consideration and Aldon will have to meet with Goodell at some point.”

The Raiders can’t have direct contact with him, but they can keep tabs on him through his agent and other intermediaries.

If the 27-year-old Smith comes back, he’d add an immediate threat to a defense that could use him. In nine games with the Raiders before his suspension, he had 3.5 sacks, but he had 44.5 sacks in 50 games with the 49ers.

Permalink 21 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

With a loss tonight, will the Jaguars make a coaching change?

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on after the game against the Oakland Raiders at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Kirk-and-Spock uniforms that the Jaguars and Titans will wear for the second time are appropriate, given that the aftermath of Thursday’s game could be a remake of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan has made it clear that, after several years of bad football, he expects improvement this year. Earlier this week, he popped in to the team facility to get answers regarding the team’s unexpected struggles in 2016.

And so it’s reasonable to ask whether a prime-time loss on Thursday night in Nashville will result in Khan making a change at the coaching position. With the bye week gone, the mini-bye that comes after the annual short-week game is the next best opportunity to give an interim head coach extra time to adjust.

While Khan may indeed opt to stay the course for the balance of the season, PFT Planet has spoken loudly in response to the simple up-or-down question of whether Khan should make a change in the event of a loss. The primary in-house option is former Bills coach Doug Marrone, who currently serves as offensive line coach and assistant head coach.

For 2017, the most intriguing option would be former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, who led the team to a far more significant date with the Titans, nearly a generation ago. In 1999, the 14-2 Jaguars hosted the 13-3 Titans in the AFC title game, with Tennessee scoring the upset and nearly winning the Super Bowl.

The rivalry, which started in the AFC Central and migrated to the AFC South in 2002, has deteriorated into a punchline. Khan may soon decide to give at least one half of that twice-per-year series some pop.

The decision could come as soon as tonight.

Permalink 55 Comments Feed for comments Back to top