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PFT’s Week One picks

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It’s a new year; everyone is 0-0.  That includes MDS and yours truly.  Which is good since he whipped my butt in 2013.

But this could be my year to do the whipping in the 256-game PFT Picks showdown.  We disagree on four of the first 16 games, so there’s a chance I’ll establish an early lead.

There’s probably an even better chance I’ll land in a pothole.

For all the picks, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last four paragraphs.

Packers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Seahawks have been so dominant at home that the NFL tries not to schedule prime time games in Seattle because the Seahawks jump out to such big leads that viewers turn off the games early and go to bed. I think the Packers’ offense is good enough to prevent that from happening and keep Green Bay in the game, but Seattle will win it.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Packers 20.

Florio’s take:  After the Super Bowl champion won every Thursday night opener since the format was adopted, the last two have lost.  The trend ends at CenturyLink Field.  Getcha Richter scale read; the Seahawks may be even better this year.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 27, Packers 20.

Saints at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Saints are my pick to win the NFC South, and they’ll take a big step toward that title by starting the season with a divisional road win.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  Losing the first game of the season doesn’t create a major problem unless the loss comes at home to a division rival.  The Falcons need to hold serve if they hope to rebound from a disastrous 2013.  But the Saints may be even better than last year.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, Falcons 24.

Vikings at Rams

MDS’s take: Shaun Hill is going to surprise a lot of people and turn in a solid season in place of Sam Bradford this year. I’m not picking another Kurt Warner/Trent Green situation, but I am picking the Rams to be better than anyone thinks, and to get it started with a win over a rebuilding Vikings team.

MDS’s pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take:  The Vikings finally will have balance on offense.  The Rams suddenly won’t.  Sometimes, it’s that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 16, Rams 10.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers are preparing to see both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel on Sunday. I think Pittsburgh’s defense will do just fine against both of them.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 10.

Florio’s take:  Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe, Otto Graham.  It won’t matter on Week One in the year the Steelers are honoring the late Chuck Noll.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 20, Browns 7.

Jaguars at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Jaguars have taken a bigger step forward this offseason than most people realize, and they won’t be pushovers anymore. But Philadelphia will be a tough place to play this year, and the Eagles will take this one.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Jaguars 23.

Florio’s take:  The Eagles ended the 2013 season with a disappointing loss at home.  They’ll start 2014 with one of their easier home dates, especially since the Jaguars have the wrong guy at quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Jaguars 20.

Raiders at Jets

MDS’s take: The Raiders made the right call by starting rookie Derek Carr at quarterback, and the Jets’ cornerback situation is bad enough that Carr should hit on some big plays in his first NFL game. However, Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes will pressure Carr into at least three turnovers, and that will be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take:  The Raiders haven’t won a game on the East Coast since December 2009.  Coming to town a few days early likely won’t change that.  Especially since the Raiders are breaking in a rookie quarterback and are featuring a bunch of veterans who were available this offseason for a reason.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 17, Raiders 10.

Bengals at Ravens

MDS’s take: All the offseason talk has been about Andy Dalton, but I expect the Bengals to have one of the NFL’s best defenses this season, and that’s why they’ll be the best team in the division, starting Sunday in Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Ravens 14.

Florio’s take:  Cincinnati is breaking in a pair of new offensive coordinators.  Baltimore is breaking in a new offense.  Steve Smith may break someone’s jaw.  Advantage home team.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 20, Bengals 17.

Bills at Bears

MDS’s take: In Marc Trestman’s second year as head coach, the Bears will have one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. The Bills just won’t be able to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Bills 13.

Florio’s takeEJ Manuel won’t be wearing a “C” on his jersey.  But he will be wearing a Jared Allen.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 28, Bills 13.

Washington at Texans

MDS’s take: J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will be chasing Robert Griffin III all over the field, and the Texans will get off to a 1-0 start after losing their last 14 games in 2013.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Washington 10.

Florio’s take:  A couple of new coaches of teams that combined for five wins last year square off.  Somehow, one of these two squads will emerge with a “W”.  While Washngton could have the better season, Houston will have the better day.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 17, Washington 10.

Titans at Chiefs

MDS’s take: I think the Chiefs will take a step backward this season after their surprising playoff berth last year, but starting at home against the Titans should be one of the easiest games on their schedule.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 21, Titans 13.

Florio’s take:  While the Chiefs likely will take a step back in 2014, it won’t begin against a team that has all the sizzle of a bowl of unflavored gelatin.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 27, Titans 17.

Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: We’ve heard a lot about how the Dolphins have changed their offense to run at a faster pace, but I just don’t think Miami has the personnel to match up with New England, which remains the best team in the AFC East.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take:  With a much better defense and a still-potent offense, the Patriots launch the 10-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl-winning season with a performance that could put them back there, again.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 34, Dolphins 24.

Panthers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Carolina got worse this offseason and Tampa Bay got better. The Lovie Smith era will start with a win that provides Tampa with some optimism, which was sorely lacking during the Greg Schiano era.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take:  Of all the divisions in the NFL, the NFC South has featured the most bottom-to-top turmoil.  It starts early this year, with last year’s basement dweller topping last year’s champion in a showdown between Panthers coach Ron Rivera and the guy who fired him in Chicago.

Florio’s pick:  Buccaneers 21, Panthers 17

49ers at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I think the Cowboys are going to be better than most people expect this year, with DeMarco Murray running behind a good offensive line and giving them a balanced attack on offense. And I think the 49ers are going to be worse than most people expect this year, with the absence of NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith at the start of the season hurting their defense. So I’m picking Dallas.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, 49ers 24.

Florio’s take:  It’s been a long time since these were the best two teams in the NFC.  The Cowboys could take a major step back from their perpetual 8-8 record, and the 49ers may be unable to get close to another NFC title game.  In fact, there’s a chance that the Cowboys could win this one.  I thought about making that pick.  And then I remembered how bad the defense is.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 24, Cowboys 20.

Colts at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Broncos’ offense won’t be quite as good this year as it was last year, but it will still be plenty good. And I see big holes on the Colts’ defense. Indianapolis won’t be able to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 30, Colts 20.

Florio’s take:  Last year, former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning returned to Indy and lost.  This year, the Colts travel to Denver and Manning gets a measure of revenge.  Along with a lot of yards and touchdowns.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 34, Colts 21.

Giants at Lions

MDS’s take: There are major concerns about the Lions’ secondary, and Eli Manning may be able to take advantage of Detroit’s cornerback situation. But Matthew Stafford has so many weapons that he’ll put up even bigger numbers than Manning, and the Lions will win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Lions 35, Giants 31.

Florio’s take:  New York’s new offense is a work in progress.  But it’s not making much progress, and it isn’t really working.  The Lions have the talent to score a lot more points than whatever the Giants can muster against a Detroit defense that still has plenty of question marks.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 30, Giants 20.

Chargers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Carson Palmer is going to have a better season than most people expect, and it starts in the late Monday night game against a Chargers defense that is going to have a rough year.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 33, Chargers 27.

Florio’s take:  Arizona has become a trendy pick for those willing to forget that Karlos Dansby, Darryl Washington, and Darnell Dockett are gone for the year.  The Chargers flew under radar for most of 2013.  They won’t in 2014.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 27, Cardinals 23.

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Bengals activate Burfict, cut Roach

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17:  Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bengals released linebacker Trevor Roach Thursday, officially clearing a spot for linebacker Vontaze Burfict to be activated and play in Thursday night’s game vs. the Dolphins.

Burfict was suspended for the first three games for repeated violations of on-field rules.

Though Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has said he isn’t sure how much Burfict will play right away and has hinted that he’ll be eased in slowly, Burfict said this week he’s “raring to go” and anxious to be back with his teammates.

Roach, a second-year player, had played in all three games this season.

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Garrett on Dez: He didn’t handle things the right way

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to 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

Word broke on Wednesday night that the Cowboys fined wide receiver Dez Bryant for missing an MRI on his injured knee and team meetings earlier this week and coach Jason Garrett confirmed that report on Thursday.

Garrett said that Bryant missed the MRI on Monday and meetings the next two days, leading to the decision to penalize him for not being where he was supposed to be. Garrett cited Bryant’s thought the results of the MRI would be worse than the hairline fracture that was ultimately diagnosed as the reason for the missed test.

“He’s a very, very passionate person,” Garrett said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “He’s an emotional person. He didn’t handle it the right way. I’m not excusing his behavior. There are repercussions for your actions.”

While Bryant was wrong to take the no news is good news approach to finding out what was going on with his knee, the better-case scenario doesn’t mean he’ll be able to face the 49ers this weekend.

A report indicates Bryant could miss up to three weeks as a result of the injury, although Garrett would only say that the team doesn’t expect him to practice on Thursday and that he’s “moving better and better.”

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Dirk Koetter won’t be getting involved in the Tampa defense

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the sideline during the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Most NFL head coaches get their jobs after becoming proficient as coordinators on offense or defense. Those coaches typically continue to focus on what they know, and to hand the other side of the ball to a skilled coordinator.

That’s what Andy Reid has done for nearly 20 years, in Philadelphia and Kansas City. It’s what Doug Pederson is now doing in Philly. It’s also what Dirk Koetter is doing in Tampa. Even though the Buccaneers’ defense is struggling a bit, Koetter has no plans to get involved in it, with the Broncos coming to town.

“[Defensive coordinator Mike Smith] and the defensive staff, they know what they’re doing,” Koetter told JoeBucsFan.com. “If I go in there, I’ll just screw ’em up. . . . As far as scheme, those guys know what they’re doing.”

It’s somewhat surprising that so many head coaches take a hands off approach to an entire side of the ball, especially since offensive gurus surely know a thing or two about what does and doesn’t work defensively, and vice versa. Still, if it works, it doesn’t matter. If, however, the person to whom half the fate of the team is delegated can’t get it done, it will be hard for the head coach to avoid returning to his coordinator role, with another team.

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Jets bring back kick returner Jeremy Ross

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Jeremy Ross #11 of the New York Jets in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars quarter of an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets won’t have rookie Jalin Marshall for at least the next couple of weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury and that means they need someone else to serve as their kick returner.

They addressed that need on Thursday by re-signing Jeremy Ross, who spent training camp and the preseason with the club before being released. Ross had four punt returns for 48 yards and two kickoff returns for 66 yards during the preseason.

Marshall has flashed potential as a kick returner, but he’s also had issues holding onto the ball in the first three weeks. He has had fumbles returned for touchdowns in each of the last two weeks, including one on a kickoff against the Chiefs last week that helped send the Jets to a 24-3 loss.

Ross has played for the Packers, Lions, Raiders and Ravens over the last four seasons and returned a kickoff for a touchdown while with Detroit in 2013.

The Jets placed defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas on injured reserve to make room for Ross on the roster.

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PFT’s Week Four picks

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs onto the field before the game against the Baltimore Ravens  at EverBank Field on September 25, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s harder then ever to predict the outcome of NFL games. Or maybe we just stink.

Regardless, MDS and I had a do-the-opposite 7-9 showing in Week Three. The putrid performances put MDS at 25-23 for the season, and yours truly at 24-24.

We’ll try to improve (and likely fail) in Week Four, where we disagree on four of the 15 games. So check out the picks below. And assume that, as to each game, the opposite outcome is guaranteed.

Dolphins at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Dolphins finally got a win on Sunday, but needing overtime at home to beat the Browns isn’t inspiring. The Bengals should win comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take: An early-season desperation game for a pair of teams trying to avoid falling to 1-3. Miami has played well enough to be undefeated. They play up and down to the level of competition, and with coach Adam Gase starting to strongly assert himself, the Dolphins could be ready to get everyone’s attention, only a few days after nearly blowing it at home against the Browns.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Bengals 20.

Colts at Jaguars

MDS’s take: How does the NFL always manage to find bad games to send to London? The 1-2 Colts aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, but the 0-3 Jaguars might be the worst team in the league through three weeks.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: The NFL keeps exporting race-to-the-bottom matchups to England, even if this one wasn’t supposed to be an early-season battle for the AFC South basement. The Jaguars scored 51 against the Colts last year, but that was against an Indy team that lacked Andrew Luck. So it’ll be closer this time, but Blake Bortles and company should be able to find a way to get their first win of the season.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 31, Colts 27.

Titans at Texans

MDS’s take: As bad as the Texans looked last week against the Patriots, and even without J.J. Watt, I still think their defense is good enough to shut down the Titans’ “exotic smash mouth” attack.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Titans 10.

Florio’s take: The Texans can overcome not having J.J. Watt, at least against Tennessee. Against other teams, that may not be the case.

Florio’s pick: Texans 24, Titans 17.

Browns at Washington

MDS’s take: In the preseason, this game was circled as the return of Robert Griffin III. Now there’s nothing much interesting about it, other than a good opportunity for Washington to improve to 2-2.

MDS’s pick: Washington 21, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: Left for dead at 0-2, Washington scratches and claws its way back to .500 against a Browns team that won’t be a pushover.

Florio’s pick: Washington 31, Browns 23.

Seahawks at Jets

MDS’s take: The Seahawks’ defense is great, as usual. The Jets’ offense is a mess, with Ryan Fitzpatrick looking nothing like the solid passer he was last year. Seattle should win this easily.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Jets 10.

Florio’s take: The Jets had a “come to Jesus” meeting, but it’s the Seahawks who are returning to their Garden of Eden, where they won Super Bowl XLVIII.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 23, Jets 20.

Bills at Patriots

MDS’s take: Although I was impressed with the way Rex Ryan had his guys ready to play last week against the Cardinals, I wouldn’t pick them to win at New England whether it’s Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett or Julian Edelman at quarterback.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 22, Bills 9.

Florio’s take: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, Julian Edelman, A.J. Derby, Drew Bledsoe, Tony Eason, Steve Grogan. It doesn’t matter. With 10 days to get ready for the last game of the #DeflateGate suspension, Bill Belichick would win even with Stephen Gostkowski at quarterback.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Bills 10.

Panthers at Falcons

MDS’s take: My eyes tell me the Falcons have been a better team than the Panthers this year. But my head tells me the Panthers are the better team, even if they haven’t shown it. This feels like one of those games where I’m going to kick myself no matter which team I pick.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take: The Panthers have faced two championship-caliber defenses in three games. After Sunday, they will have faced two in four games.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 37, Falcons 28.

Raiders at Ravens

MDS’s take: The Ravens have a good defense and bad offense. The Raiders have a good offense and bad defense. Who wins? I’ll go with the team with the better special teams.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Raiders 21.

Florio’s take: The Ravens keep on finding ways to win, thanks to a very good defense and a good-enough offense. It won’t be a Siragusa-on-Gannon flattening, but the Ravens will do just enough to emerge with the win.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 17, Raiders 14.

Lions at Bears

MDS’s take: The Lions have been fairly disappointing through three games, but the Bears are at a whole different level of disappointing.

MDS’s pick: Lions 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: This old-school black-and-blue division showdown will leave anyone who watches it needing a punch to the jaw to wake up.

Florio’s pick: Bears 16, Lions 13.

Broncos at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: That great Week One showing from Jameis Winston feels like a long time ago. The Broncos’ defense is going to give Winston another rough game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Buccaneers 14.

Florio’s take: The first overall pick in 2015 squares off against a seventh-rounder. The seventh-rounder has a far better defense. Advantage, seventh-rounder.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 28, Buccaneers 21.

Rams at Cardinals

MDS’s take: This feels almost like a must-win game for the Cardinals, who would find themselves two games back and down a tiebreaker with a loss. I think Bruce Arians will have his team ready for a big game.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: The up-and-down Cardinals find their groove for a week, until they lose it again for another week, as the Rams get back on their 7-9 pace.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 34, Rams 20.

Saints at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Saints’ defense remains a mess, and things won’t get any easier against a Chargers offense that has looked pretty good with Philip Rivers throwing and Melvin Gordon running.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Saints 20.

Florio’s take: Drew Brees returns to San Diego for likely the last time, regardless of whether the team moves. The spirit will be willing, but the defense will continue to be weak.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 34, Saints 27.

Cowboys at 49ers

MDS’s take: That 28-0 49ers win in Week One feels like it was from some alternate universe, because in the two weeks since then the 49ers have looked like they’d struggle to beat a college team by 28 points.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: No Romo, no Dez. No problem, for the 49ers — especially since coach Chip Kelly knows the Cowboys well after playing them six times in three years with the Eagles.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 20, Cowboys 17.

Chiefs at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers took a serious beating in Philadelphia on Sunday but I don’t think they can possibly look that bad two weeks in a row. They’ll bounce back in a big way this week.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Chiefs 21.

Florio’s take:  Doug Pederson figured out how to shut down the Steelers. His mentor, Andy Reid, may not be thrilled about that, since Pittsburgh now has even greater reason to figure out how to get back on the right track.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 31, Chiefs 21.

Giants at Vikings

MDS’s take: If the Vikings’ defense keeps playing the way it has through three weeks, they have a chance to be this year’s Broncos, a team that can win a Super Bowl no matter who plays quarterback. The Vikings should improve to 4-0 on Monday night.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Giants 7.

Florio’s take: Last year, the Vikings developed a reputation for failing to get it done in prime time. This year, with a great defense and excellent coaching, the Vikings will get it done no matter what time of day the games start.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Giants 20.

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Dirk Koetter: We’re throwing the ball too much

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The Rams defeated the Bucs 37-32.   (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Getty Images

Through the first three weeks of the season, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston leads the NFL with 142 pass attempts and has been throwing the ball more often than any first- or second-year quarterback other than Drew Bledsoe.

Winston has also been sacked five times, scrambled three times and had other pass attempts wiped out by penalties to create further imbalance for a team that’s run the ball 71 times. Head coach Dirk Koetter believes that needs to change in the coming weeks.

“In the last two games, we’ve thrown too much,” Koetter said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We’ve got to quit getting behind by two scores, and we need to run the ball better.”

As Koetter noted, the Bucs have fallen behind in each of their last two games and gone to a pass-heavy attack as they tried to get back into losses to the Cardinals and Rams. They were more balanced in a Week One victory over the Falcons, lending support to the idea that more running will go hand in hand with better results for the team.

Getting that done would be easier with a healthy Doug Martin, who hurt his hamstring in Week Two and didn’t play in Week Three. Martin didn’t practice Wednesday, so the Bucs may need to find a way to get the run game working without him against a Broncos defense that’s not easy to move the ball against under any circumstances.

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Dustin Hopkins adds to weekly honors with monthly special teams award

Washington Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins (3) boots a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) AP

Dustin Hopkins‘ last week was good enough, but being perfect for the season was enough for a bigger honor.

The Washington kicker was named NFC special teams player of the month, hitting 11-of-11 field goals in September.

He was player of the week after going 5-of-5 against the Giants last week, but was deserving over the two games before that as well.

His 11 field goals are the most in the league, and he’s second in the league with 15 touchbacks. He’s also hit all five of his extra points.

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First-round prospect Tim Williams arrested on gun charge

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 3: Tim Williams #56 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates against the USC Trojans in the first half during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Alabama linebacker Tim Williams, a likely first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, has been arrested on a gun charge.

Williams was arrested at 2 a.m. today on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a pistol without a license.

Police say they found the gun after approaching a vehicle in a parking lot because they could smell marijuana smoke coming out of it. According to police, Williams admitted that the gun is his. Another person in the car, not a football player, claimed responsibility for the marijuana.

Williams had 10.5 sacks last season and emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the country. He decided to return to Alabama for his senior season this year even though he said he was told he would have been a late first or early second-round pick if he had entered the 2016 draft. So far this season he has 1.5 sacks.

After he was released on $300 bond, Williams posted on Twitter, “Thank god a mistake worth learning from.”

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Carson Wentz wins rookie of the month honors

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback  Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is seen on the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

One month ago, the Eagles expected to keep quarterback Carson Wentz on the bench at least for September, if not longer. Then, Teddy Bridgewater suffered a knee injury, the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford, and Wentz became the starter.

He has made more than the most out of his opportunities, leading the Eagles to a 3-0 record and winning the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month award for September.

Wentz has thrown 102 passes without an interception, and he’s averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. His best game by far came against the Steelers, with a 74.2 completion percentage, 301 yards passing, and a passer rating of 125.9.

The Eagles traded up to draft Wentz, the player they hope will become their next franchise quarterback. The Browns have faced plenty of criticism after trading the pick that became Wentz, and the Rams have faced plenty of questions about the decision to trade up and take not Wentz but Jared Goff.

It’s still too early to declare Wentz the next Donovan McNabb in Philly, but Wentz has passed every test he has faced, with the only knock being a propensity to get knocked around a little too much.

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Deion Jones named September’s top defensive rookie

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Deion Jones (45) intercepts a pass from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, not pictured, and returns it for a touchdown, in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

Linebacker Deion Jones played his college ball at LSU before being drafted by the Falcons in the second round of this year’s draft and the New Orleans native made the most of his homecoming last Monday night.

Jones picked off a Drew Brees pass and returned it for 90 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The play came with the Falcons up 38-25 and the Saints driving for a score that would have made for a tight game headed into the stretch. The Falcons went on to win 45-32 to move to 2-1 on the season.

Jones has also made 25 tackles in his first three games, which ranks at the top of all rookies in the league this season. All of that was enough to make Jones the choice as the NFL’s top defensive rookie for September.

Jones’ current teammates Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are the only other Falcons to be named a rookie of the month. Ryan was also named the NFC’s offensive player of the month on Thursday.

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Justin Tucker takes AFC special teamer of the month

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens looks up after kicking the winning field goal in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars during an NFL game on September 25, 2016 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Ravens defeated the Jaguars 19-17. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker got a four-year contract extension in July and he spent the first month of the 2016 season showing why the Ravens wanted to keep him around.

Tucker has been named the AFC special teams player of the month after making every kick he took in Baltimore’s three wins. Tucker was 9-of-9 on field goals and 4-of-4 on extra points.

One of those field goals was a 53-yarder with 1:07 to play against the Jaguars in Week Three that lifted the Ravens to a 19-17 win over Jacksonville. His two field goals also loomed large in a 13-7 win over the Bills to open the season and he hit three as the Ravens came back from 20-0 down to beat the Browns in Week Two.

It’s the third time in his career that Tucker has been honored as the conference’s top special teams player of the month. That suggests there’s a good chance he’ll win some more over the life of his new deal.

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Fletcher Cox named NFC defensive player of the month

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Von Miller isn’t the only player to cash in this offseason, then continue to pay dividends for his team.

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was named NFC defensive player of the month, for being one of the non-Carson Wentz reasons his team has gotten off to a 3-0 start.

Cox has three sacks and a forced fumble, but his contributions go beyond the simple counting stats.

He’s the centerpiece of new coordinator Jim Schwartz’s defense, and by being back in a 4-3 defense, has the ability to collapse pockets and make the jobs of other players easier. The Eagles lead the league in scoring defense, having given up just 27 points in three games.

The Eagles gave him a seven-year, $110.79 million contract this offseason, on the heels of a 9.5-sack season in 2015.

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Dez Bryant could be out three weeks

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett didn’t rule out receiver Dez Bryant for Sunday’s game at San Francisco. Then again, Garrett didn’t initially rule out quarterback Tony Romo for Week One, even though he had a broken back.

But Bryant, like Romo, likely will be out for the Week Four game against the 49ers. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Bryant could miss up to three weeks with a hairline fracture in his knee.

With Romo and likely Bryant out for Sunday, that’s bad news for the Cowboys. As noted by Gil Brandt of NFL.com, the Cowboys are 0-6 since 2014 when they don’t have Romo or Bryant.

In other words, it’s a great opportunity for quarterback Dak Prescott to show that he deserves to be the team’s starter, regardless of whether Romo is healthy.

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Von Miller named AFC defensive player of the month

FILE- In this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller celebrates after a win over the Indianapolis Colts in an NFL football game in Denver.  The Broncos' star pass rusher has four sacks already, including the game-sealing strip of Andrew Luck that was reminiscent of his mammoth hits in the Super Bowl when he snatched the football and the Lombardi Trophy from Cam Newton's grasp. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney, File) AP

It might not be a Super Bowl MVP or a giant contract, but Von Miller keeps stacking up the honors.

The Broncos outside linebacker was named AFC defensive player of the month, after another strong start to the season.

Miller has a league-high five sacks in the Broncos’ first three games.

But four of those sacks have come in fourth quarters, adding to his reputation as a game-changer.

Of course, that was pretty well established already, and the reason the Broncos gave him a six-year, $114.5 million contract this offseason.

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Matt Ryan named NFC offensive player of the month

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons runs out on the field prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

There are still questions about whether the Falcons have enough defense to contend in the NFC South.

But their offense is back on track, thanks to quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ryan was named NFC offensive player of the month for September, a strong bounce-back month for a team that collapsed after a 5-0 start in 2015.

Ryan completed 73-of-103 passes in September, for 970 yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception. His 119.0 rating is highest among all NFC quarterbacks.

Things will get tougher for them as they host the Panthers this weekend, but Ryan has been on a bit of a roll leading the Falcons to back-to-back wins over the Raiders and Saints.

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