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Week Four early inactives

LeSean McCoy AP

The Jets and Dolphins are already in action in London, so this list won’t have all the early Sunday inactives this week. We’ve got all the inactives from the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs for you in one post, though, constantly updated with the latest information. So check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Texans at Falcons

Texans: S Lonnie Ballentine, LB Akeem Dent, RB Jonathan Grimes, WR Jaelen Strong, WR Chandler Worthy, LB Kourtnei Brown, C Greg Mancz

Falcons: RB Tevin Coleman, S Ricardo Allen, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Devin Hester, WR Justin Hardy, C Gino Gradkowski, T Jake Long

Giants at Bills

Giants: WR Victor Cruz, DT Markus Kuhn, DE Robert Ayers, TE Jerome Cunningham, S Cooper Taylor, LB Jasper Brinkley, TE Daniel Fells

Bills: RB LeSean McCoy, WR Sammy Watkins, G John Miller, WR Marquise Goodwin, S Aaron Williams, DL Alex Carrington, LB Tony Steward

Raiders at Bears

Raiders: DE Benson Mayowa, CB Keith McGill, DE C.J. Wilson, RB Taiwan Jones, LB Ben Heeney, OL Jon Feliciano, OL Matt McCants

Bears: T Jermon Bushrod, WR Alshon Jeffery, QB David Fales, P Pat O’Donnell, RB Ka’Deem Carey, C Hroniss Grasu, DL Jeremiah Ratliff

Chiefs at Bengals

Chiefs: QB Aaron Murray, WR Albert Wilson, CB Steven Nelson, LB Dezman Moses, T Jah Reid, TE Brian Parker, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Bengals: WR Greg Little, WR Mario Alford, S George Iloka, TE C.J. Uzomah, DT Marcus Hardison, DT Brandon Thompson, DE Margus Hunt

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars: WR Marqise Lee, G Brandon Linder, TE Julius Thomas, RB Denard Robinson, DT Sen’Derrick Marks, DE Chris Smith, S Sergio Brown

Colts: QB Andrew Luck, RB Tyler Varga, CB Greg Toler, TE Dwayne Allen, DT T.Y. McGill, G Todd Herremans, T Denzelle Good

Panthers at Buccaneers

Panthers: LB Luke Kuechly, WR Jerricho Cotchery, G Amini Silatolu, T Daryl Williams, WR Kevin Norwood, RB Brandon Wegher, S Dean Marlowe

Buccaneers: QB Ryan Griffin, CB Johnthan Banks, S Major Wright, C Evan Smith, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Luke Stocker, WR Russell Shepard

Eagles at Redskins

Eagles: LB Kiko Alonso, DE Taylor Hart, DE Cedric Thornton, QB Thad Lewis, S Chris Maragos, OL Julian Vandervelde, LB Marcus Smith

Redskins: WR DeSean Jackson, CB DeAngelo Hall, LB Perry Riley, WR Andre Roberts, DE Kedric Golston, T Tom Compton, QB Robert Griffin III

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Week Four injury report roundup

Andrew Luck AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Four of the 2015 season.

Jets vs. Dolphins (in London)

The Jets will wait until Sunday to make a call on wide receiver Eric Decker (knee), but cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee) and running back Chris Ivory (groin) are both expected to play. Guard Willie Colon (knee) and tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion) are both out. Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert (hamstring) is expected to miss the game after being listed as doubtful. Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) is out and it will be game-time decisions for tight end Jordan Cameron (groin) and running back Jonas Gray (calf).

Texans at Falcons

The Texans will reveal Sunday whether left tackle Duane Brown (hand) and running back Arian Foster (groin) make it back to the lineup. Quarterback Ryan Mallett (chest) is probable after three limited practices and safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), linebacker Akeem Dent (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Grimes (knee) have all been ruled out. Safety Ricardo Allen (knee), running back Tevin Coleman (ribs), wide receiver Devin Hester (toe) and tight end Jacob Tamme (concussion) have been ruled out for Atlanta, but linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) is expected back in the lineup.

Giants at Bills

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) has a shot of returning to the lineup after getting a questionable tag. Defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) have all been ruled out. The Bills have several players ruled out as well. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs), running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), guard John Miller (groin), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and safety Aaron Williams (neck) will all miss this weekend’s action.

Raiders at Bears

Oakland will go into Soldier Field without defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee), cornerback Keith McGill (foot) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (calf). Safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) is questionable. Tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion, shoulder) has been ruled out by the Bears, who will wait to decide if quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) will play.

Chiefs at Bengals

The Chiefs are in good shape after playing on Monday night. Wide receiver Albert Wilson (shoulder) is questionable and four players are probable. The Bengals have decent health as well. Safety George Iloka (ankle) is doubtful while defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) and cornerback Adam Jones (elbow) are questionable.

Jaguars at Colts

Jacksonville continues to be banged up with wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), guard Brandon Linder (shoulder), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee), running back Denard Robinson (knee) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) all ruled out of the lineup. Safety Sergio Brown (calf) is doubtful to play, so the list will likely grow on Sunday. The Colts listed quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) as questionable after a week of limited practices and the arrival of Josh Johnson on the roster. Tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is questionable after missing last week and cornerback Greg Toler (neck) remains out.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) will miss his third straight game for the Panthers. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle), guard Amini Silatolu (ankle) and tackle Daryl Williams (knee) have also been ruled out, but running backs Jonathan Stewart (tibia) and Mike Tolbert (groin) are both probable to play. The Buccaneers didn’t rule out cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), center Evan Smith (ankle) or tight end Luke Stocker (hip), but all are doubtful to play. Running back Doug Martin (knee, quadricep) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) are both questionable after practicing on Friday.

Eagles at Redskins

Linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) was ruled out by the Eagles during the week and defensive linemen Taylor Hart (shoulder) and Cedric Thornton (hand) will join him on the sideline. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) and left tackle Jason Peters (quad) are all questionable to play. The Redskins ruled out cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and linebacker Perry Riley (calf), but they hold out hope that cornerback Chris Culliver (knee, questionable) will be able to play.

Browns at Chargers

Cleveland ruled out defensive end Desmond Bryant (shoulder), linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle), linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle), running back Robert Turbin (ankle) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (concussion) on Friday. Safety Tashaun Gipson (groin) is questionable and cornerback Joe Haden (ribs, finger) is probable for Week Four. Guard Orlando Franklin (ankle) is out, tackle King Dunlap (concussion) and center Chris Watt are doubtful and guard D.J. Fluker (ankle, chest) is questionable, so the Chargers are going to be scrambling on the offensive line. Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) are also out this week. Tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) and cornerback Jason Verrett (foot) have been listed as questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

Safety Maurice Alexander (groin) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) will miss the game for the Rams. Running back Chase Reynolds (knee, doubtful) is expected to join them. Running back Andre Ellington (knee) is questionable to return for the Cardinals, but wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) is out.

Vikings at Broncos

The Vikings will be without wide receiver Charles Johnson (ribs) and Jarius Wright (hand) may leave them even thinner at the position after being listed as questionable. Cornerback Jabari Price (shoulder), safety Andrew Sendejo (knee) and defensive end Justin Trattou (foot) have also been ruled out, but cornerback Xavier Rhodes (concussion) is expected to play. Rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) is out for Denver and tight end James Casey (knee) and linebacker Todd Davis (ankle) are both questionable.

Packers at 49ers

The Packers will be without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) again this week, and cornerback Demetri Goodson (hamstring) and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring) are likely to join him after drawing doubtful tags. Wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) are both questionable. The 49ers aren’t expected to have tight end Vernon Davis (knee, doubtful), but don’t have other pressing injuries on the active roster.

Cowboys at Saints

The Cowboys will remain without defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) again this week, but Jeremy Mincey (concussion) is expected back after missing last week’s game. Guard Ronald Leary (groin) is also expected back for Dallas. The Saints plan on starting quarterback Drew Brees (shoulder) and also listed safety Jairus Byrd (knee), linebacker Dannel Ellerbe (toe) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) as probable. Guard Jahri Evans (knee) was ruled out for the second straight week.

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PFT’s Week Four picks

Luke McCown, Ryan Griffin AP

Well, there really is a first time for everything.

MDS and I have been picking games against each other for four seasons now, and for the first time ever we agree on the outcome of every single game.

The question now is whether you agree. Check out the picks and point out which ones we’re most wrong about in the comments.

Last week, MDS got 13 of 16 right, and I was only 12-4. It has tightened the season-to-date competition to 31-17 for me (64.5 percent) and 30-18 (62.5 percent) for MDS.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: If Ben Roethlisberger were playing, I’d pick the Steelers in this game without hesitation. But with Michael Vick in at quarterback? I think the Steelers will have a tough time moving the ball, and the Ravens will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 14, Steelers 12.

Florio’s take: The Ravens last won a game in the 2014 wild-card round in Pittsburgh, against Ben Roethlisberger. Without Roethlisberger, the desperate Ravens should be able to break their streak of bad luck.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 15, Steelers 12.

Jets at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ offense has struggled all season, and the Jets may have the best defense in the NFL. English soccer fans will get just what they like, a game with plenty of kicking and not much scoring, and the Jets will win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Jets 12, Dolphins 6.

Florio’s take: The loser of this game is headed for the AFC East basement. The Jets have shown much more fight this season, and the Dolphins are teetering toward implosion. If Joe Philbin actually had someone on the staff worthy of the interim coaching gig, he’d possibly have to worry about getting whacked on the plane ride home.

Florio’s pick: Jets 27, Dolphins 17.

Texans at Falcons

MDS’s take: Julio Jones will run wild in a suspect Houston secondary, and the Falcons will improve to a surprising 4-0 on the season.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Texans 17.

Florio’s take: We’re getting closer to Correction Weekend, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Texans beat a Falcons team that perhaps suddenly thinks too much of itself. But then I remembered that: (1) the Falcons have Julio Jones; and (2) no one can stop him.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Texans 17.

Giants at Bills

MDS’s take: The amazing thing about the Bills this season is that they’re winning more with their offense than with their defense. Tyrod Taylor has been excellent, and he’ll continue to play well as the Bills move to 3-1.

MDS’s pick: Bills 31, Giants 21.

Florio’s take: A rematch of Super Bowl XXV comes at a time when the Bills shouldn’t need a last-second field goal to win. A 5-2 or 6-1 record at the bye becomes realistic, if they can take care of a Giants team that just isn’t all that good.

Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Giants 16.

Raiders at Bears

MDS’s take: It says something about how far the Bears have fallen that there’s been talk out of Oakland this week that the Raiders, of all teams, might be getting overconfident. They have reason to be confident, as they’ll win this one easily.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 21, Bears 10.

Florio’s take: The Raiders are suddenly the hunted. The Bears continue to be bad news. Sure, John Fox has won eight of his last nine games against the Raiders. But the Raiders have a pretty good team this year, surprising as that may sound. They could get caught looking ahead to Denver. Even if they do, the Raiders are good enough to pull this off.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Bears 20.

Chiefs at Bengals

MDS’s take: After the Patriots, the Bengals are probably the second-best team in the AFC. They’ve played well on both sides of the ball, and they’re going to improve to 4-0 while knocking the Chiefs down to 1-3.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs say they’re on to Cincinnati. It may not work out the same way it did when the Patriots went there a year ago.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 30, Chiefs 22.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: The Colts are still struggling on both sides of the ball, but with the Jaguars coming to town, they should get a relatively easy win to improve to 2-2 on the season.

MDS’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 23.

Florio’s take: The Colts can’t afford to look past the Jaguars with a pair of prime-time games looming, at Houston on a short week and at home against the Patriots. Indy should be 2-2 come Sunday night; the real question is whether they will be 2-4 two weeks later.

Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 20.

Panthers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: Jameis Winston has really struggled to adjust to the NFL game, and it’s not going to get any easier for him with a very good Panthers defense coming to town. The Bucs are in trouble in this one.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 9.

Florio’s take: A correction could be coming for the Panthers, who don’t feel like a 3-0 team. But the Bucs still don’t feel like a 1-2 team, and the Panthers have to keep pace with the Falcons.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, Buccaneers 13.

Eagles at Washington

MDS’s take: Chip Kelly’s offense still has a lot of work to do, but Kirk Cousins will throw a couple of interceptions and the Eagles will win their second straight, even if they’re still struggling to move the ball.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Washington 10.

Florio’s take: Philly played fairly well with their backs against the wall, but the passing game still needs work. With extra time to get ready, Washington could make this one interesting, but Chip Kelly and company should be able to slow down Matt Jones and Alfred Morris just enough to outscore the home team.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 20.

Browns at Chargers

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the Browns in an upset because Cleveland has such a big special teams advantage in this game, and I expect Travis Benjamin to have another big return. But I just don’t see the Browns’ offense getting anything going in San Diego, and as a result I’ll take the Chargers to win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 23, Browns 20.

Florio’s take: The Browns blew their chance to get a second win against the Raiders on Sunday. The Chargers won’t blow their chance to get a second win against the Browns at home.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 34, Browns 20.

Rams at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals have been dominant in their first three games, and they’ll dominate again when the Rams come to town on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 38, Rams 14.

Florio’s take: This is the kind of game the Rams find a way to win, or at least to be competitive. But the Cardinals have looked too good this year, and the even the very best the Rams can do may not be good enough.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 23.

Vikings at Broncos

MDS’s take: This may be the most intriguing game of the week because of the chess match between Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. I think Phillips’s unit will get the better of that battle and the Broncos will win even without getting much from Peyton Manning and the offense.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 17, Vikings 10.

Florio’s take: If the Viking hope to truly contend in the NFC, they need to take advantage of the opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the AFC. To do so, they’ll need to pound Peyton Manning the same way the battered Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers, and they’ll need to soften up a stout defense with healthy doses of Adrian Peterson. If the game were being played in Minnesota, maybe that would work. In Denver, it’s hard to see the Broncos blowing this one.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Vikings 23.

Packers at 49ers

MDS’s take: Colin Kaepernick has traditionally played very well against the Packers, but Kaepernick doesn’t look like the same player this year. Green Bay’s defense will shut him down.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, 49ers 13.

Florio’s take: The 49ers beat the Packers twice in 2012 and twice in 2013. The Packers haven’t forgotten that. The 49ers will want to forget this one quickly.

Florio’s pick: Packers 38, 49ers 23.

Cowboys at Saints

MDS’s take: Surprisingly, Brandon Weeden and Luke McCown were both fine in place of the injured Tony Romo and Drew Brees last week. So when these two teams meet on Sunday night, I think it will be less about the quarterbacks and more about the defenses. The Saints’ defense has been a disaster this year, so I like the Cowboys to win.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Saints 24.

Florio’s take: The Saints played well against the Panthers, and the Saints have their backs pressed firmly against the wall, with America watching. And I’m tempted to pick the Saints to pull this one off. But Brandon Weeden wasn’t horrible against the Falcons, and it’s still not clear how healthy Drew Brees will be, even if he plays. If the Cowboys stick with what worked against the Falcons and bottle up whoever is carrying the ball, this should be a win.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 31, Saints 24.

Lions at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Lions have been a mess this season. The Seahawks will win their second straight blowout and get back on track.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Lions 10.

Florio’s take: Calvin Johnson isn’t who he once was. The Lions defense isn’t what it was a year ago. While Detroit won’t match their feat of 2008, they’ll be 25 percent of the way there come Tuesday.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 29, Lions 13.

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PFT’s Week Four Power Rankings

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1. Patriots (3-0; last week No. 1): The Tom Brady Eff You Tour is in midseason form.

2. Packers (3-0; No. 2): Yes, Aaron Rodgers is Michael Jordan. If each of those five touchdown passes from Monday night count as Super Bowl wins.

3. Broncos (3-0; No. 3): With the Minnesota defense coming to town, maybe Peyton Manning should move from shotgun formation to punt formation.

4. Cardinals (3-0; No. 5): Arizona’s defensive backs have become Colin Kaepernick’s favorite receivers.

5. Bengals (3-0; No. 6): Maybe the best way to win a playoff game is to avoid one with a bye.

6. Falcons (3-0; No. 11): Dan Quinn and company made great halftime adjustments. Or the Cowboys didn’t. Or both.

7. Bills (2-1; No. 7): The Dolphins may regret not trying to hire Rex Ryan this year.

8. Cowboys (2-1; No. 4): On Sunday night, The Walking Dead returns to prime time. Next week, that zombie show will be back on AMC.

9. Seahawks (1-2; No. 10): It doesn’t matter if the offense is struggling when the defense is giving up no points.

10. Panthers (3-0; No. 13): Is Jared Allen too old to draw roughing the passer penalties?

11. Steelers (2-1; No. 12): Can Mike Vick stay healthy for 4-6 weeks?

12. Chiefs (1-2; No. 8): They’re on to Cincinnati. Where they’ll also be on to 1-3.

13. Vikings (2-1; No. 19): Three weeks after a stinker against the 49ers, the Vikings can make a statement against the Broncos.

14. Jets (2-1; No. 14): The New York Jets, finding new and innovative ways to create dysfunction since 1999. If not much earlier than that.

15. Ravens (0-3; No. 9): Never before has one team been so unable to cover one receiver.

16. Dolphins (1-2; No. 15): Could the guy who replaced Tony Sparano get the same post-London treatment as the guy Sparano replaced last year?

17. Rams (1-2; No. 16): Based on Sunday’s crowd, Stan Kroenke possibly thought he’d built a new stadium in Pennsylvania.

18. Raiders (2-1; No. 25): Latavius Murray says the goal is to win the division, and that may not be all that far-fetched.

19. Chargers (1-2; No. 17): “At least we didn’t give up 300 yards to Adrian.”

20. Colts (1-2; No. 21): “Yeah! We came back from a double-digit deficit we deserved to be in to beat a team that won two games last year!”

21. Browns (1-2; No. 20): Glass half full assessment? They didn’t give up when they were down by 17.

22. Eagles (1-2; No. 30): Glass half empty assessment? They nearly gave up when they were up 24.

23. Texans (1-2; No. 22): Glass exactly at midpoint analysis? Folks hated the old field, and they hate the new one, too.

24. Titans (1-2; No. 23): Glass slipper shatters early.

25. Giants (1-2; No. 26): Victor Cruz’s return can make them better. If he’s going to play defense.

26. Jaguars (1-2; No. 24): A one-point loss counts the same in the standings as a blowout. And that’s the best thing that can be said about the Foxboro experience.

27. 49ers (1-2; No. 18): Which happens first — 49ers fans clamor for Blaine Gabbert or they become Raiders fans?

28. Lions (0-3; No. 27): “The best 0-3 team in NFL history” will soon be “the best 0-4 team in NFL history.”

29. Washington (1-2; No. 28): Crazy as it sounds, this team could still win the division.

29. Buccaneers (1-2; No. 29): Last year, a 1-2 start would have been promising in the NFC South. This year, with two of the teams at 3-0, the Bucs already are playing for third place.

31. Saints (0-3; No. 31): The reports and counter-reports regarding whether Drew Brees has a torn rotator cuff is almost as exciting as the team’s games.

32. Bears (0-3; No. 32): If the reward for stinking is being traded to a contender, count on a lot more stink in Chicago.

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NFL morning after: The Cardinals are for real

Larry Fitzgerald, Jaquiski Tartt AP

It’s a little hard to remember now, given their ugly performance in the playoffs, but there was a time last season when the Cardinals looked like the best team in the NFL. Maybe they were. And maybe they are.

The Cardinals improved to 3-0 with a dominant win over the 49ers yesterday, and they look like real Super Bowl contenders. They’re the best team in the NFC right now.

They were the best team in the NFC last year, too, until Carson Palmer got hurt. They were 6-0 last year in games started by Palmer, and they were still a very good team even when second-stringer Drew Stanton went down: At the time they lost Stanton for the season, they were 11-3. It was only when the disaster that was third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley was forced upon the Cardinals that they lost their last two regular-season games and got blown out in the playoffs.

If they’d had Palmer healthy for all of last season, the Cardinals might very well have been in the Super Bowl, and if Palmer stays healthy for all of this season, they could be headed there again.

It’s really incredible how well the 35-year-old Palmer and the 32-year-old Larry Fitzgerald are playing in the Cardinals’ passing game. Yesterday Palmer completed 20 of 32 passes for 311 yards, while Fitzgerald had nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. These old guys have found the fountain of youth.

But it goes well beyond Palmer and Fitzgerald. The Cardinals have three running backs who can make big plays with the ball in their hands in Chris Johnson, David Johnson and Andre Ellington. Michael Floyd, Jaron Brown and John Brown give the Cardinals one of the deepest receiver groups in the NFL. Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham are a good pair of tight ends. Arizona’s defense was outstanding yesterday against Colin Kaepernick & Co.

And, of course, the Cardinals have Bruce Arians, who is simply a great head coach. Arians only has three seasons of experience as an NFL head coach and he’s already won the Coach of the Year award twice. He could make it three times in four seasons if the Cardinals keep playing the way they’ve been playing.

At 3-0 in a division where everyone else is 1-2, the Cardinals already have a nice cushion in the NFC West. They’ll stay on top in that division all year, just as long as Palmer is healthy.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday in the NFL:

The NFL needs to improve its Sunday schedule. Yesterday the league gave us 10 kickoffs at 1 p.m. Eastern, and only three kickoffs at 4 p.m. That didn’t work out well at all. There was so much good football going on in the early window that it was impossible for anyone to follow all the games. And all three of the late games were blowouts, meaning that by the third quarter, fans had nothing interesting to watch. The league should never have 10 early games and three late games. Football should be spread out across the day. I’m looking forward to next weekend, when we get our first early-morning London kickoff of the season, followed by a more reasonable afternoon spread of seven early kickoffs and four late kickoffs. That’s the way it should be.

Darren Sproles shows no sign of slowing down. At 32, an age when most running backs are put out to pasture, Sproles just keeps going strong. Sproles had both a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Jets, the second time in his career that he’s done that. Sproles and Gale Sayers are the only players since the 1920s with multiple games of both a punt return touchdown and a rushing touchdown. With 27 receiving touchdowns, 18 rushing touchdowns and six punt return touchdowns in his career, Sproles is the only player in NFL history with at least 25 receiving touchdowns, 15 rushing touchdowns and five punt return touchdowns.

A bad team will win the AFC South. I know that because there’s nothing but bad teams in the AFC South, where all four teams are 1-2. The Colts are the reigning champions, entered the season as the favorites and will likely end up on top of the division again this year, but let’s be honest: Indianapolis is not a good football team. Andrew Luck has regressed this year, the rest of the offense isn’t helping him out, and the defense is a mess. Colts coach Chuck Pagano is widely believed to be in jeopardy of losing his job at the end of the year, but General Manager Ryan Grigson should be in trouble, too. Since drafting Luck, Grigson has done nothing to build a good team around him. The Colts may be a playoff team, but that’s because they’re in a bad division, not because they’re a good team.

Appreciate Charles Woodson while he’s still here. Woodson, who had a game-clinching interception for the Raiders on Sunday in Cleveland, is the oldest player in the NFL other than quarterbacks, kickers and punters. Woodson, at age 38, is the oldest player to intercept a pass in an NFL game since 41-year-old Darrell Green intercepted one in 2001. Woodson can’t last forever, so while we can, let’s appreciate one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

It’s time for Johnny Football. Browns coach Mike Pettine is adamant that Josh McCown is his starter. Pettine should reconsider. Johnny Manziel has played well enough this season that the Browns should take a longer look at him, if for no other reason than to see what they have. The Browns aren’t going anywhere with McCown. They should let Manziel try to get them going.

Lose DeMarco Murray, get better. It’s hard to believe you can lose the reigning Offensive Player of the Year and watch your offense get better, but that’s exactly what happened, both in Dallas and in Philadelphia. The Cowboys’ offense has been just fine this year without Murray (their defense was another story in yesterday’s loss to the Falcons), and the Eagles’ offense turned in its best effort of the season yesterday while Murray sat out with an injured hamstring. In today’s NFL offenses, running backs are so interchangeable that even the NFL’s leading rusher can leave a team without his team missing him.

The Patriots love to run up the score. New England hung 51 points on Jacksonville yesterday, and coach Bill Belichick left Tom Brady in the game, throwing passes, deep into the fourth quarter. It’s odd that Belichick is willing to risk an injury to Brady like that, but that’s the way Belichick has done it for years: Since 2007, the Patriots have scored more than 50 points in a game eight times, by far the most of any team in the league. The Patriots look like the best team in the NFL right now. But they’d have a tough game against the Cardinals.

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Week Three early inactives

2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - Day 7 Getty Images

Every week we’ll bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. So check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Bengals at Ravens

Bengals: DT Pat Sims, WR Greg Little, WR Mario Alford, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, TE C.J. Uzomah, DL Marcus Hardison, DL Margus Hunt

Ravens: DE Chris Canty, T Eugene Monroe, WR Breshad Perriman, DB Tray Walker, DB Will Davis, DL Christo Bilukidi, LB Jason Babin

Saints at Panthers

Saints: QB Drew Brees, G Jahiri Evans, S Jairus Byrd, CB Keenan Lewis, DE Obum Gwacham LB Dannell Ellerbe DE Kaleb Eulls

Panthers: WR Jerricho Cotchery, RB Brandon Wegher, WR Kevin Norwood, T Daryl Williams, DL Colin Cole, LB Luke Kuechly, S Dean Marlowe

Raiders at Browns

Raiders: DT Justin Ellis, DE Benson Mayowa, CB Dexter McDonald, FB Jamize Olawale, OL Jon Feliciano, OL Matt McCants, WR Rod Streater

Browns: LB Scott Solomon, RB Robert Turbin, CB K’Waun Williams, QB Austin Davis, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE E.J. Biggs, DL Desmond Bryant

Falcons at Cowboys

Falcons: RB Tevin Coleman, WR Devin Hester, LB Brooks Reed, WR Justin Hardy, C Gino Gradkowski, T Bryce Harris, T Jake Long

Cowboys: WR Dez Bryant, DE Jeremy Mincey, DE Randy Gregory, QB Matt Cassel, RB Christine Michael, TE Geoff Swaim, G Ronald Leary

Buccaneers at Texans

Buccaneers: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, QB Ryan Griffin, WR Adam Humphries, RB Mike James, S Major Wright, C Evan Smith, OL Matthew Masifilo

Texans: S Lonnie Ballentine, T Duane Brown, RB Arian Foster, LB Mike Mohamed, OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, WR Jaelen Strong

Chargers at Vikings

Chargers: S Jahleel Addae, WR Jacoby Jones, G Johnnie Troutman, LB Tourek Williams, CB Brandon Flowers, TE Ladarius Green, RB Donald Brown

Vikings: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Stefon Diggs, DB Jabari Price, LB Edmond Robinson, C Zac Kerin, TE Chase Ford, DL Danielle Hunter

Jaguars at Patriots

Jaguars: DE Andre Branch, TE Julius Thomas, CB Dwayne Gratz, S Johnathan Cyprien, T Luke Joeckel, DT Sen’Derrick Marks, RB Denard Robinson

Patriots: OL Ryan Wendell, DL Trey Flowers, DL Rufus Johnson, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Tavon Wilson, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, RB Travaris Cadet

Eagles at Jets

Eagles: RB DeMarco Murray, LB Kiko Alonso, LB Mychal Kendricks, DE Cedric Thornton, DE Taylor Hart, QB Thad Lewis, WR Josh Huff

Jets: WR Eric Decker, WR Chris Owusu, LB Trevor Reilly, CB Darrin Walls, G Jarvis Harrison, T Ben Ijalana, DL Deon Simon

Steelers at Rams

Steelers: DT Daniel McCullers, LB Ryan Shazier, CB Cortez Allen, QB Landry Jones, G Chris Hubbard, TE Jesse James, DE Caushaud Lyons

Rams: QB Sean Mannion, RB Isaiah Pead, RB Chase Reynolds, OL Andrew Donnal, OL Cody Wichmann, WR Brian Quick, DE Eugene Sims

Colts at Titans

Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, CB Darius Butler, CB Greg Toler, LB Trent Cole, G Lance Louis, DL T.Y. McGill, OL Denzelle Good

Titans: DT Sammie Hill, G Chance Warmack, CB Cody Riggs, QB Charlie Whitehurst, DB Jason McCourty, RB Terrance West, TE Chase Coffman

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Week Three injury report roundup

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 20:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints picks up a fumbled ball in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 20, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Three of the 2015 season.

Bengals at Ravens

The Bengals will be short on the defensive line with Pat Sims (hip) out and Marcus Hardison (knee) doubtful. Wide receiver A.J. Green (knee) is good to go, though. It’s another week without left tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) for the Ravens, who also ruled out wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and defensive end Chris Canty (calf). Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) is questionable.

Saints at Panthers

Quarterback Drew Brees (shoulder) highlights the list of injured Saints players and he’ll be joined on the inactive list by safety Jairus Byrd (knee) and guard Jahiri Evans (knee). Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (toe) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) are questionable. The Panthers don’t expect to have linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion, doubtful) and definitely won’t have wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ankle). Defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) and running back Jonathan Stewart (knee) are both questionable with the expectation that they’ll be in the lineup.

Raiders at Browns

Defensive tackle Justin Ellis (ankle) and defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee) have been ruled out by the Raiders, who also listed defensive end Justin Tuck (knee) and safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) as probable. The Browns will play without linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle), running back Robert Turbin (ankle) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (concussion). Defensive end Desmond Bryant (shoulder) and cornerback Justin Gilbert (hamstring) are questionable.

Falcons at Cowboys

The Falcons ruled out running back Tevin Coleman (ribs), wide receiver Devin Hester (toe) and linebacker Brooks Reed (groin), but wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is probable after another limited week of practice. Tight end Jason Witten (ankle, knee) drew a probable tag from the Cowboys, who won’t have wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot), defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) or defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion). Guard Ron Leary (groin) has a chance to return after drawing a questionable tag.

Buccaneers at Texans

Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) is out this week and expected to miss several more. Center Evan Smith (ankle) and safety Major Wright (abdomen) are doubtful to play while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) is questionable after being limited in practice all week. Safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), left tackle Duane Brown (hand), running back Arian Foster (groin) and linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf) are all out for Houston. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (knee), running back Jonathan Grimes (knee) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf) are all questionable and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (concussion) is probable.

Chargers at Vikings

Ruling out safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), guard Johnnie Troutman (forearm) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) will take much of the guesswork out of the Chargers inactive list. The list could be rounded out by guard D.J. Fluker (ankle), tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) and cornerback Jason Verrett (foot) if they fall on the wrong side of their questionable tags. Vikings guard Brandon Fusco (concussion) is questionable after practicing on Thursday and Friday and is the only injury issue of note for the home team.

Jaguars at Patriots

Jacksonville won’t have defensive end Andre Branch (knee), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) as they try to win in New England. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and running back Denard Robinson (knee) are likely to miss the game as well after drawing questionable tags. Safety Johnathan Cyprien (calf), tackle Luke Joeckel (ankle) and guard Brandon Linder (knee) are all questionable. Patriots center Ryan Wendell (illness) remains out and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (hip) is questionable.

Eagles at Jets

The Eagles ruled out linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee), defensive end Taylor Hart (shoulder), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) and defensive end Cedric Thornton (hand). Running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) is questionable and expected to play. Jets coach Todd Bowles called wide receiver Eric Decker (knee), running back Chris Ivory (quadricep) and cornerback Darrelle Revis (groin) game-time decisions, although only Revis practiced this week. Wide receiver Chris Owusu (knee) and linebacker Trevor Reilly (finger) definitely won’t play and guard Willie Colon (groin) is also questionable. Quarterback Geno Smith (jaw) is probable, which may make him the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick come Sunday.

Steelers at Rams

The Steelers defense will go without defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (knee) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (shoulder) while cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) is questionable. Rams running back Todd Gurley (knee) is questionable to make his pro debut.

Colts at Titans

The Colts have ruled out cornerbacks Darius Butler (hip) and Greg Toler (neck) again this week, but they remain hopeful that Vontae Davis (concussion) will play. Tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is also out and linebacker Trent Cole (knee) joins Davis on the questionable pile. Titans cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) is questionable for what would be his 2015 debut, but defensive tackle Sammie Hill (knee), cornerback Cody Riggs (knee) and guard Chance Warmack (knee) have been ruled out.

49ers at Cardinals

Running back Reggie Bush (calf) is doubtful after missing the last 49ers game. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee) are both questionable. The other Ellington in this game, Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (knee), is doubtful while wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) has been ruled out. Guard Mike Iupati (knee) is questionable and has a good chance to play for the first time this season.

Bills at Dolphins 

Bills running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is probable, but wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs) and safety Aaron Williams (neck) have been ruled out. It doesn’t look good for Dolphins tackle Branden Albert (hamstring, doubtful) or tight end Dion Sims (concussion, doubtful) and we’ll wait to hear about questionable tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), running back Lamar Miller (ankle) and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back).

Bears at Seahawks

The Bears head to Seattle without quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring) or wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf). Linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle) is doubtful while defensive end Ego Ferguson (knee), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (back, hip) drew questionable tags. Cornerback Tharold Simon (toe) and safety Steven Terrell (hip) are out for Seattle, which should have safety Kam Chancellor in the lineup for the first time this year. Running back Marshawn Lynch (calf) and tight end Luke Willson (back) are both questionable.

Broncos at Lions

The Broncos don’t expect to have cornerback Kayvon Webster (ankle, doubtful) and they’ll make calls on defensive end Kenny Anunike (knee) and cornerback Omar Bolden (foot) come Sunday. The Lions ruled out tight end Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) and there’s no indication that linebacker DeAndre Levy (hip) will play despite the doubtful tag leaving open a sliver of hope. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (ribs) is set to start, however.

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PFT’s Week Three picks

GettyImages-488045604.0 Getty Images

Match play, it’s 2-0. Stroke play, I’m up two. Either way, we both stunk last week.

An upside-down Week Two landed me at 8-8 for the week, and MDS at 7-9. That puts us year-to-date at 19-13 and 17-15, respectively. Which stinks.

(The only thing that didn’t stink? In the one game where we disagreed, I picked the Falcons and for the first time in six years of doing this I guessed the exact score. Which I’ve now learned results in no spontaneous cannons of confetti or cash.)

We’ll try to un-stink starting tonight and continuing through Monday, with 16 picks featuring a trio of disagreements. All of the selections appear below.

For amusement purposes only. Because it’s amusing when we’re as wrong as we are right.

Washington at Giants

MDS’s take: The NFC East is wide open, and the winners of this game will have every reason to think they’re right in the thick of the divisional race. I think the Giants will finally figure out how to hold a fourth-quarter lead and win this one.

MDS’s pick: Giants 20, Washington 17.

Florio’s take: The Giants have shown that they can build a lead. They just can’t hold a lead. With a division rival coming to town, failing to hold a lead will lay the foundation for once again failing to make the playoffs.

Florio’s pick: Giants 27, Washington 20.

Bengals at Ravens

MDS’s take: Hard to believe the Ravens, a perennial playoff team, could start the season 0-3. But I like the way the Bengals are playing on both sides of the ball, and I think they’re going to make a statement in Baltimore.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take: When coach John Harbaugh called the Bengals the best team in the league, the intended audience was the Ravens, who were swept by Cincinnati a year ago.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 30, Bengals 26.

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Panthers’ defense is playing great and the Saints’ offense is a mess with an injured Drew Brees. New Orleans won’t put many points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Saints 7.

Florio’s take: Brees or no Brees, the Saints are struggling. And the Panthers have an early opportunity to make the NFC South a three-team race, at most.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 18.

Raiders at Browns

MDS’s take: The return of Josh McCown deprives us of what would have been an interesting second-year quarterback battle between Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel. But while Manziel makes things more interesting, McCown is the more steady player, and he’ll do enough to help the Browns top the Raiders.

MDS’s pick: Browns 23, Raiders 20.

Florio’s take: Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel, it may not matter. The Raiders have been in a funk for the past few years when traveling out of California, and the Browns seem to have the horses to move to 2-1 and right into the thick of things in the AFC North, at least for now.

Florio’s pick: Browns 23, Raiders 14.

Falcons at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I think the Cowboys can stay in contention without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but that’s mostly because I think the rest of the NFC East stinks. When they’re playing teams outside their division, the Cowboys will struggle, and the relentless Falcons pass rush will make life hard for Brandon Weeden.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 17, Cowboys 9.

Florio’s take: The unbeaten Falcons continue their tour of the NFC East, getting the Cowboys at the best possible time. Brandon Weeden flamed out of Cleveland for a reason, and the Falcons would be wise to go easy on the blitzes until Weeden proves he can find open men against maximum coverage. The Dallas defense has looked stout, but they haven’t had to contain someone like Julio Jones, who already has become the NFL’s new Charles Johnson.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 20, Cowboys 19.

Buccaneers at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans’ defense has struggled this season, but their impressive front should get to Jameis Winston and force him into at least a couple turnovers. Houston will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Buccaneers 10.

Florio’s take: Jameis Winston said in June he’s looking forward to facing J.J. Watt. He may feel differently about that by Sunday afternoon.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Buccaneers 17.

Chargers at Vikings

MDS’s take: I have a feeling the difference in this game will be special teams, where Cordarrelle Patterson will turn in some big returns and give the Vikings a close win.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Chargers 24.

Florio’s take: Eight years ago, Adrian Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record against the Chargers. That likely won’t happen again, but the Vikings likely won’t be deviating from the plan they should have used in Week One against the 49ers.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 23, Chargers 20.

Jaguars at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Jaguars deserve credit for turning in an impressive performance last week against the Dolphins, but they’ve got no chance in new England.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Jaguars 14.

Florio’s take: Six days after the Jets beat the Colts, a Jacksonville win would be a upset on par with the time the Jets beat the Colts 46 years ago.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 41, Jaguars 24.

Eagles at Jets

MDS’s take: The Eagles’ offense has been the NFL’s biggest disappointment this season. Things won’t get any easier when they visit the Jets, where new coach Todd Bowles has his players playing relentless defense. This one could get ugly for Chip Kelly’s crew.

MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Eagles 6.

Florio’s take: Todd Bowles and Chip Kelly split their two games in 2013 and 2014, when Bowles was running the defense in Arizona. In both games, the home team won. There’s not much else to go on in this one, given the changes both teams have made over the past year. (Other than the fact that the Eagles sort of stink.)

Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Eagles 20.

Steelers at Rams

MDS’s take: The Rams have a great defensive front, with defensive player of the year candidate Aaron Donald leading the way. But the running back committee of Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams will have a big game as the Steelers roll.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: The up-and-down Rams get up for the good teams. Throw in coach Jeff Fisher’s history with the Steelers from his time in Tennessee and this one has “good Rams” written all over it — especially with Todd Gurley no longer on the injury report.

Florio’s pick: Rams 30, Steelers 22.

Colts at Titans

MDS’s take: I just can’t believe the Colts are really as bad as they’ve looked in the first two weeks of the season. Things will turn around on Sunday, when Andrew Luck will finally have a good game, the Titans’ lousy special teams will make some mistakes, and the Colts will manage to win one.

MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Titans 17.

Florio’s take: The Colts’ 11-5 record in 2014 was bolstered by a 6-0 mark in the division. While they may not be able to duplicate an undefeated season in the AFC South, the quest starts with Indy going 1-0.

Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Titans 17.

49ers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals look like big favorites in the NFC West right now, and they’ll keep rolling around against a 49ers team that is probably closer to how they looked in Week Two (an ugly loss) than how they looked in Week One (a surprising win).

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 30, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: The Cardinals look to be every bit as good as they were a year ago, without all the injuries. The 49ers aren’t as bad as feared, but they’re likely not good enough to steal a win in Arizona.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 34, 49ers 24.

Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The beatdown at the hands of the Patriots is going to be tough for the Bills to get over. I’m expecting them to come out looking sluggish and the Dolphins to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bills 16.

Florio’s take: The two teams obsessed with the Patriots press pause on that rivalry to revisit their own. It’s the home opener for Miami, the road opener for Buffalo, and the edge goes to the team that has looked better overall in compiling a 1-1 record.

Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Dolphins 21.

Bears at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Seahawks are the NFL’s best 0-2 team. The Bears are the NFL’s worst 0-2 team.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 22, Bears 3.

Florio’s take: In Week Three a year ago, John Fox ventured into Seattle with Peyton Manning as his quarterback. This time, it likely will be Jimmy Clausen. Small children, pregnant women, and people with heart conditions should not watch.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 41, Bears 14.

Broncos at Lions

MDS’s take: The Lions have struggled to keep Matthew Stafford upright, and the Broncos have a ferocious pass rush. This one could get ugly for Stafford.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Lions 9.

Florio’s take: The two-offense approach should be embraced by the Broncos, giving them the opportunity to toggle back and forth whenever they need to or want to — and forcing opposing defenses to prepare for both approaches. Peyton Manning is still racing against Father Time, but this could give him a little extra spark as he tries to ward off the inevitable.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 30, Lions 20.

Chiefs at Packers

MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers has thrown 39 touchdowns at Lambeau Field since his last interception there. I wouldn’t pick anyone to win on the road at Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take: The similarities between Seattle and Kansas City allow for the Packers to use the same game plan from Week Two. Throw in the fact that it’s prime time, it’s at Lambeau Field, and Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game, and it’s a recipe for another Green Bay triumph.

Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Chiefs 23.

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PFT’s Week Three Power Rankings

Tom Brady AP

1. Patriots (2-0; last week No. 1): Tom Brady has obtained no apparent motivation from his offseason predicament. None whatsoever.

2. Packers (2-0; No. 2): If God wasn’t a Packers fan, He wouldn’t have given the world cheese.

3. Broncos (2-0; No. 3): They easily could be 0-2. They’re not. Deal with it.

4. Cowboys (2-0; No. 4): Glory interrupted.

5. Cardinals (2-0; No. 8): Some folks in Chicago may be starting to think the wrong team moved out of town.

6. Bengals (2-0; No. 10): The Bengals need to order 2016 calendars and rename the first month of the year “September.”

7. Bills (1-1; No. 5): It was fun while it lasted.

8. Chiefs (1-1; No. 7): It was fun while it lasted.

9. Ravens (0-2; No. 6): This can’t last, can it?

10. Seahawks (0-2; No. 9): This won’t last.

11. Falcons (2-0; No. 16): With the Julio Jones contract, Arthur Blank redefined buying low.

12. Steelers (1-1; No. 14): Could Todd Haley actually be earning another shot at becoming a head coach?

13. Panthers (2-0; No. 18): Methodical, consistent, effective.

14. Jets (2-0; No. 26): If they win it all, does IK Enemkpali get a ring?

15. Dolphins (1-1; No. 12): These Dolphins really are different. They usually lose games they should win in December.

16. Rams (1-1; No. 13): The Rams should petition to play all of their games against NFC West teams.

17. Chargers (1-1; No. 15): Any time they play in Cincinnati and it’s not 30 below zero, that’s a win.

18. 49ers (1-1; No. 17): Some of the 49ers apparently thought the team was still wearing black jerseys in Week Two.

19. Vikings (1-1; No. 20): Which Vikings team is the real Vikings team?

20. Browns (1-1; No. 29): For a team that has lost plenty of games without excitement, why not opt for excitement and see what happens?

21. Colts (0-2; No. 11): If Chuck Pagano means it when he says that this is his last job, here’s hoping his money lasts a long time.

22. Texans (0-2; No. 21): Maybe J.J. Watt should play quarterback.

23. Titans (1-1; No. 25): Those offseason rumors about the Browns wanting Marcus Mariota to start his career in Cleveland apparently inspired the defense to try to end it in Cleveland.

24. Jaguars (1-1; No. 27): Every coach looks for the moment that causes his players to fully buy in. Sunday against Miami, that moment may have arrived.

25. Raiders (1-1; No. 31): Fantasy experts who never face any actual accountability for dispensing bad advice were strongly advising me to use Baltimore’s defense against the Raiders, since the Raiders offense is so bad. (Fortunately, I stuck with Buffalo’s defense.)

26. Giants (0-2; No. 24): They know how to build a lead. Now they simply have to figure out how to hold a lead.

27. Lions (0-2; No. 22): Ready or not, prime time is coming to Detroit.

28. Washington (1-1; No. 30): Win Thursday night, and folks will start believing.

29. Buccaneers (1-1; No. 32): Why only 29? It’s still possible that the Bucs are just a little better than a really bad Saints team.

30. Eagles (0-2; No. 19): Those smoothies have turned the offensive line into a sieve.

31. Saints (0-2; No. 23): Unless Drew Brees can also play defense at a high level, whether he plays or not shouldn’t really matter much.

32. Bears (0-2; No. 28): Not that long ago, coach John Fox lost 43-8 to the Seahawks at a neutral site and with a much better team.

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NFL morning after: Brady silences Bills’ big talk

Tom Brady AP

It was the story of the week in the NFL: The Bills repeatedly made headlines by talking about the Patriots.

The Bills talked about how the whole league wanted them to win. The Bills’ fans were so excited that they filled up the Ralph Wilson Stadium RV lot the day before the game and talked about setting a Guinness record for crowd noise. The Bills’ team store sold air pumps to poke fun at Deflategate. The Bills players and coaches made no secret that they hate the Patriots.

And then Sunday came along, and the Patriots did what they always do: They took care of business on the field, without feeling the need to run their mouths.

Although the Bills went on a late rally to make the final score a relatively close 40-32, there was never any doubt that the Patriots were the better team. Tom Brady was outstanding, completing 38 of 59 passes for 466 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Those 466 passing yards were the most the Bills have ever allowed in franchise history. Sunday was Brady’s 100th game with at least one touchdown pass and no interceptions, making him the first quarterback ever to reach that milestone. Dion Lewis, the Patriots running back whom Rex Ryan dismissed by saying he’d never heard of him, totaled 138 yards and a touchdown. Rob Gronkowski, the tight end the Bills talked all week about stopping, caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

I’m all for players and coaches making headlines with their brash proclamations before a game, if for no other reason than it makes my job easier. But I’d urge Ryan and his team to quiet it down a notch after the events of Sunday: The Patriots showed that the simple Bill Belichick edict of “Do your job” means more than all the bold statements the Bills could muster.

New England’s performance was the most impressive thing I saw on Sunday. Here are my other observations.

The NFC East is wide open. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Washington might actually win that division. The Cowboys are 2-0, but with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant both out for perhaps half the season, how good can Dallas be? The Eagles and Giants are both 0-2 and look like messes. That leaves Washington, which turned in a very good defensive performance Sunday against St. Louis to improve to 1-1. Heading into Sunday’s games, estimated that Washington had less than a 1 percent chance of winning the division. But after Sunday, I think Washington has a real chance of winning that division.

I like the new extra point rule. When the Saints missed an extra point late in yesterday’s loss to the Bucs, it marked the ninth time this season that an NFL kicker had missed an extra point. Last season, there were only eight missed extra points in the entire year. Kickers are still making almost 95 percent of their extra point attempts, but last year they were making more than 99 percent of their kicks. Even a slight reduction in extra point success rate makes the extra point a more interesting play and encourages coaches to go for two more often. On Sunday Steelers coach Mike Tomlin went for two after the Steelers’ first two touchdowns, and it wouldn’t be surprising if some coach eventually decides to make going for two the default position, and only kick the one point when he needs one point to win a game. I’d be all for that. Two-point conversions are a lot more fun to watch than one-point kicks.

What was that Lions two-point conversion? I love two-point conversions. But I don’t understand how a team doesn’t have a well-designed play ready to run as a two-point conversion when it’s needed. The Lions’ two-point conversion attempt late in their loss to the Vikings was pathetic: A handoff to Joique Bell on which he didn’t have anywhere to run and the offensive line didn’t even seem to know who to block. It was one of the most poorly executed two-point conversion attempts I’ve ever seen. Never had a chance.

New NFL kickoff rules lead to many more long returns. When the NFL moved the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line in 2011, a lot of people didn’t like it because it led to more touchbacks. But the new kickoff rule has also led to more long touchdowns, because kickers can now kick the ball deeper into the end zone, and coverage units aren’t allowed to get as much of a running start as they used to. The latest return man to take advantage of the new rules was Arizona’s David Johnson, who took the opening kickoff in Chicago yesterday and ran it back 108 yards for a touchdown. There have now been nine kickoff returns in NFL history of 107 yards or longer, and eight of them have come since 2011, when the NFL changed the kickoff rules.

Marcus Mariota has a great shot at the rookie passing touchdown record. Although Mariota and his Titans lost on Sunday, he threw two more touchdown passes to give him six on the season — the first quarterback in NFL history to throw six touchdown passes in the first two games of his rookie year. If Mariota stays healthy, he’ll have an excellent shot of breaking the NFL rookie record of 26 touchdown passes, which was set by Peyton Manning in 1998 and equaled by Russell Wilson in 2012.

Travis Benjamin is an outstanding playmaker. Benjamin, the Browns’ young receiver and return man, had three catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns, plus six punt returns for 154 yards and one touchdown. Benjamin joined Steve Smith as just the second player in NFL history with 100 receiving yards and 150 punt return yards in the same game. Benjamin also had a 54-yard touchdown catch in Week One. There are few players in the league as exciting with the ball in their hands as Benjamin.

Remember when New Orleans was a tough place to play? The extent to which the Saints have fallen apart is stunning. It’s particularly shocking that New Orleans, which once had a great home environment, is now an easy place for a visiting team to get a win: The Saints lost their sixth consecutive home game as they fell to 0-2 on the season on Sunday. And it’s only going to get worse in New Orleans: They’re in terrible cap shape for 2016 and probably won’t be able to afford to keep Drew Brees next year. The Saints are in for a long rebuilding effort.

NFL draft rules are a bad deal for Leonard Fournette. This is more of a Saturday observation than a Sunday observation, but Fournette, LSU’s star running back, is a player who really ought to be playing on Sundays. Fournette absolutely dominated Auburn on Saturday, and he’s good enough to be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Except he won’t be in the 2016 draft because he’s only in his second year out of high school, and the NFL’s rules say a player has to be three years out of high school to play in the league. It’s easy to see why the NFL defends the status quo, because the NCAA serves as a ready-made minor league that develops talent for the NFL without costing the NFL any money. But it’s also easy to see how players like Fournette are getting a raw deal: He has to risk injury for two more seasons even though he’s good enough to be in the NFL right now.

Gronk may break Moss’s record. Gronkowski’s touchdown catch in Buffalo on Sunday gave him four already this season, and I have a feeling he’s going to keep producing at close to this level, as long as he can stay healthy this year. In fact, I think Gronk will threaten the NFL’s single-season record of 23 receiving touchdowns, set by Randy Moss in 2007. To break the record, Gronk needs 20 touchdown catches in the Patriots’ next 14 games. That’s doable. If Gronk does it, the two top receiving touchdown seasons in NFL history would both belong to Tom Brady targets. Other than Brady, the names of the Patriots’ key players change. But they keep winning.

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Week Two injury report roundup

Mike Evans AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week Two of the 2015 season.

Patriots at Bills

Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (illness) is out and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (hip) is doubtful. Running back LeSean McCoy is questionable after a hamstring setback in practice this week. Cornerback Corey Graham is expected to play after getting through the concussion protocol.

Texans at Panthers

Reports this week said that Texans tackle Duane Brown (hand) is unlikely to play, but the team listed him as questionable. Safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), running back Arian Foster (groin), linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf) have all been ruled out. It doesn’t look good for Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion) after he drew a doubtful tag, but the team is holding out hope that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (foot) can make his 2015 debut.

Cardinals at Bears

The Cardinals never expected to have running back Andre Ellington (knee) or guard Mike Iupati (knee) this week and ruled both out on Friday. A pair of safeties — Deone Bucannon (groin) and Tony Jefferson (hamstring) — are questionable for Arizona. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) is questionable for the Bears, as are defensive end Ego Ferguson (knee) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (wrist). Linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) are out for a second straight week.

Chargers at Bengals

Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle) and wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle) are listed as doubtful by the Chargers. Linebacker Kyle Emanuel (shoulder) is questionable. The Bengals listed safety George Iloka (ankle) and cornerback Josh Shaw (groin) as questionable while defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) is out.

Titans at Browns

Tight end Delanie Walker (hand) is questionable for Tennessee and cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) is doubtful after missing last week’s win. Quarterback Josh McCown (concussion), linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle) and running back Robert Turbin (ankle) are all out for Cleveland. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), linebacker Karlos Dansby (foot) and cornerback Justin Gilbert (hip) are all questionable.

Lions at Vikings

The Lions ruled out tight end Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) and linebacker DeAndre Levy (hip) is likely out after drawing a doubtful tag. Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (shoulder) and Caraun Reid (ankle) are questionable while cornerback Darius Slay (ankle) is probable after a week of limited practices. Both players on the Vikings injury report — running back Jerick McKinnon (ankle) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) — are probable.

Buccaneers at Saints

Tampa should have a good shot at getting wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) back after a full week of practice. He’s officially questionable along with linebacker Bruce Carter (ribs), cornerback Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and linebacker Danny Lansanah (ankle). The Saints aren’t offering hints about running back C.J. Spiller (knee) after listing him as questionable. Safety Jairus Byrd (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (toe) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) remain out.

Falcons at Giants

Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is probable, but the Falcons have ruled out defensive end Malliciah Goodman (elbow), wide receiver Devin Hester (toe) and linebacker Brooks Reed (groin). Giants linebacker Jon Beason (knee) is doubtful after missing last week’s game. Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), tight end Daniel Fells (foot), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot) are all out for the home team.

49ers at Steelers

A brief 49ers injury report rules out running back Reggie Bush (calf) and lists wide receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle) as questionable. Cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) is questionable for the Steelers, who are otherwise free of major injury concerns this week.

Rams at Redskins

It could be the week for Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley (knee) to make his debut after he was listed as questionable. Running back Tre Mason (hamstring) is also questionable, but defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) has been ruled out. Washington won’t have wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring), cornerback Justin Rogers (foot) or linebacker Martrell Spaight (concussion). Tight end Jordan Reed (quad) is questionable, but said he expects to play. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (ribs) is also questionable.

Dolphins at Jaguars

Safety Reshad Jones (hamstring), defensive end Derrick Shelby (eye) and defensive end Cameron Wake (hamstring) are all questionable for Miami and all of them practiced on Friday. Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) is out, however. There won’t be much intrigue to the list of Jaguars inactives. Defensive end Andre Branch (knee), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) were ruled out and safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger, calf) and running back Toby Gerhart (abdomen) are doubtful. Tackle Luke Joeckel (ankle) is questionable after missing practice all week.

Ravens at Raiders

Tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) remain out for the Ravens. Cornerback Rashaan Melvin (thigh) and wide receiver Darren Waller (ankle) will be game-time decisions. The Raiders will have quarterback Derek Carr (thumb), but safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) is questionable. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis (ankle), defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee) and running back Jamize Olawale (ankle) have been ruled out.

Cowboys at Eagles

We’ve known for several days that the Cowboys will play without wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot) and defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) and it looks like guard Ron Leary (groin, doubtful) will join them on the sideline. The Eagles had just two players on their injury report. Wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (concussion, elbow) is out and linebacker Marcus Smith (hamstring) is probable.

Seahawks at Packers

The Seahawks will wait to make final calls on tackle Garry Gilliam (rib), linebacker Bruce Irvin (rib), cornerback Tharold Simon (toe) and running back Will Tukuafu (foot) after listing them as questionable. Linebacker Michael Morgan (hamstring) definitely won’t play. The Packers ruled out tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) after a practice injury this week. Safety Morgan Burnett (calf) has a shot at playing after being listed as questionable.

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PFT’s Week Two picks

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If it were match play (and maybe it should be), I’d be up one hole with 16 to play. It’s officially stroke play, and I emerged from Week One with a one-shot lead, 11-5 to 10-6.

This week, we disagree on only one of 16 games. We’ll let you read through the picks and the analysis to see who we like, and where we differ.

Barring a tie in that one game on which we disagree, we’ll either be tied or I’ll be up two games with one-eighth of the season in the books. Which one of you care about, but which MDS and I care about in an unhealthy way.

Broncos at Chiefs

MDS’s take: With Peyton Manning’s arm no longer what it once was, he should look across the field to Alex Smith to see how to be an effective quarterback without great arm strength. Smith has shown that you can be a winning quarterback in the NFL on the strength of your brain, not your arm. I think Manning can be that kind of quarterback, too, but it’s going to take some time to adjust, and during that adjustment period the Chiefs are going to surge ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Broncos 17.

Florio’s take: It’s fitting in the year that celebrates the 30th anniversary of the ’85 Bears that the pendulum is swinging back to defensive football. The Chiefs have enough defense — and enough offense — to outscore a 39-year-old quarterback who already is being outscored by Father Time.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Broncos 20.

Patriots at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills made a major statement on Sunday that the AFC East isn’t the walk in the park for the Patriots that it once was. And yet I think the Patriots made an even bigger statement when they beat up on the Steelers in the Thursday opener: New England still stands as the best team in the NFL and will win a tough one in Buffalo.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 16, Bills 13.

Florio’s take: With all the talk on how the Bills will deal with Rob Gronkowski, the bigger question is whether Tyrod Taylor can deal with the New England defense. More specifically, can offensive coordinator Greg Roman crack Bill Belichick’s code? Roman did it three years ago with the 49ers on a Sunday night in Foxboro, and Belichick surely remembers that well. Look for Belichick to figure out what Roman did in 2012 and to take that away in 2015.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 20, Bills 17.

Texans at Panthers

MDS’s take: Bill O’Brien won’t name his quarterback until Sunday, but Ryan Mallett will apparently get the nod. I think he’ll struggle against the Panthers. Carolina will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 14, Texans 10.

Florio’s take: The revolving door already is spinning in Houston, and Ryan Mallett could end up back on the bench during his encounter with a Carolina defense that looked stouter than expected in Week One.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, Texans 17.

Cardinals at Bears

MDS’s take: The Bears gave the Packers a tougher test than most expected on Sunday, and Chicago may be a better team than most of us thought. But the Cardinals continue to show that when Carson Palmer is healthy, they’re one of the elite teams in the entire league. Arizona will win on the road and improve to 2-0.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 24, Bears 14.

Florio’s take: The Bears could have hired Bruce Arians in 2013. He hasn’t forgotten that. Bears fans won’t either after Sunday when the team that used to play in Chicago returns.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Bears 17.

Chargers at Bengals

MDS’s take: Both of these teams looked like AFC playoff contenders in Week One, and this has the feel of one of those early-season games that ends up affecting playoff seeding in 15 weeks. I like the Bengals’ defense to do a better job against Philip Rivers & Co. than the Lions’ defense did, and Cincinnati to win.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take: The Chargers return to Cincinnati for the first time since the 2013 postseason, when San Diego thumped the Bengals. This time around, the Bengals are poised to do the thumping, with a defense that can slow down Philip Rivers and company and an offense that can put up enough points.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Chargers 20.

Titans at Browns

MDS’s take: The Titans looked great in Week One and the Browns looked terrible. Sometimes there’s a temptation to pick a course correction in a Week Two game like this, but I don’t think so. Marcus Mariota will have another good game and the Titans will win.

MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: The Browns reportedly were interested in getting Marcus Mariota. They’ll now get a close look at him. They may regret not doing whatever they had to do to get him.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Browns 17.

Lions at Vikings

MDS’s take: Both of these teams disappointed in Week One, but the Vikings’ problems looked more correctable. The Lions’ problem is that they just don’t have the personnel on defense, and that means Teddy Bridgewater will come back nicely from his bad game against the 49ers.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 27, Lions 21.

Florio’s take: The Vikings limp home after getting their butts kicked 20-3 in San Francisco. The Lions limp to Minnesota after blowing a 21-3 lead. The edge in this battle of limping, butt-kicked teams goes to the host.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 20, Lions 17.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: This is probably the easiest pick on the board. The Bucs were the worst team in the NFL last year, and after Week One they look like the worst team in the NFL this year, too.

MDS’s pick: Saints 35, Buccaneers 14.

Florio’s take: Three years ago, the Saints opened their home slate with an unexpected coming-out party for RGIII. Lightning won’t be striking a second time for Jameis Winston.

Florio’s pick: Saints 24, Buccaneers 15.

Falcons at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants suffered a heartbreaking loss while the Falcons took a nail-biting win in Week One. In Week Two, it’s the Falcons who will come away disappointed, as the Giants correct some of their offensive problems and put a hurting on the Falcons’ secondary.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons last won in New York during Tom Coughlin’s first year as the Giants coach. In Dan Quinn’s first year as the Atlanta coach, maybe it’s time to do it again. Especially as the Giants try to recover from a squandered road win against the Cowboys and a week of dysfunction better suited to the other team in the stadium.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 24, Giants 20.

49ers at Steelers

MDS’s take: I was impressed with the way Jim Tomsula had his 49ers ready to play on Monday night, but I have a feeling we’re going to look back on this 49ers season and say Week One was the high point. The Steelers should win this one comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take: They have 11 Lombardis between them, but no one expects either team to seriously contend for another in 2015. New 49ers coach Jim Tomsula grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and he’s surely seen plenty of these Steelers home games that are plodding and methodical and smothering of the opposition. As long as the Steelers cover Vernon Davis.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 20, 49ers 13.

Rams at Washington

MDS’s take: The Rams’ defensive line is ferocious and will pressure Kirk Cousins into at least a couple of turnovers. Another quarterback controversy may be coming in Washington.

MDS’s pick: Rams 27, Washington 10.

Florio’s take: The Rams hoped to dominate with the picks acquired from Washington in the RG3 trade. They may not be ready to dominate the rest of the league, but they’re ready to dominate Washington, again.

Florio’s pick: Rams 27, Washington 10.

Dolphins at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Blake Bortles needs to get a lot better for the Jaguars, and so far I just don’t see it happening. The Dolphins’ defense will turn in a big game and improve Miami to 2-0.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jaguars 6.

Florio’s take: Quarterback Blake Bortles says that fans who question play calls are like kindergartners questioning college students. And Sunday’s game could look like college students playing grown-ass men.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 14.

Ravens at Raiders

MDS’s take: Nothing gets a team turned around after a rough start like a trip to Oakland. The Ravens didn’t play well in Week One, but they’re just a much better football team than the Raiders, who still have a lot of work to do.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 30, Raiders 17.

Florio’s take: The Ravens may not be as good as we thought they’d be. The Raiders definitely aren’t.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Raiders 14.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: This is about as close as it gets to a must-win game in Week Two for the Eagles: Lose, and Philadelphia falls two games behind Dallas already. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, I think their offense will struggle without Dez Bryant, and their secondary will struggle with the fast-paced attack of the Eagles. Philadelphia wins this one comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 16.

Florio’s take: There’s no such thing as a must-win game in the middle of September. For any team with designs on winning a division title, however, a visit from the defending division champion really is a must-win, because losing sets the stage for being swept. With Dez Bryant out, that task becomes easier.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24.

Seahawks at Packers

MDS’s take: Green Bay blew a golden opportunity to beat the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game, but they won’t blow their chance to show they’re the best team in the NFC this year. Aaron Rodgers will have a big game against a Seahawks defense that misses holdout safety Kam Chancellor.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Seahawks 20.

Florio’s take: The Packers claim they’re not thinking about the NFC title game. The truth could be that they’re just not talking about it in order to avoid stirring up  nest of Seahawks. Either way, the Packers get redemption — even if they say they’re not looking for it.

Florio’s pick: Packers 24, Seahawks 20.

Jets at Colts

MDS’s take: The Colts aren’t as bad as they looked against the Bills. The Jets aren’t as good as they looked against the Browns. Look for Andrew Luck to put up big numbers against the Jets.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jets 21.

Florio’s take: Joe Namath knows not to guarantee a Jets win in this rematch of Super Bowl III.

Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jets 20.

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PFT’s Week Two Power Rankings

Rob Gronkowski AP

1. Patriots (1-0; last week No. 1): If the plan for covering Rob Gronkowski is to not cover Rob Gronkowski, the Pats will be in this spot for a while.

2. Packers (1-0; No. 3): Who’s this Jordy Nelson you’re talking about?

3. Broncos (1-0; No. 4): They’ve gone from the 1999 Rams to the 2000 Ravens in the blink of an eye.

4. Cowboys (1-0; No. 6): They’re winning games the way they used to lose them, which lays the foundation for long-lost glory.

5. Bills (1-0; No. 9): No matter how it ends this year in Buffalo, no one can take away how it started.

6. Ravens (0-1; No. 2): They’d be higher if you-know-who was elite.

7. Chiefs (1-0; No. 10): That “receivers aren’t catching touchdown passes” thing is a lot less meaningful after a road win.

8. Cardinals (1-0; No. 11): Maybe if they keep winning they can afford to re-sod the whole field and not just the middle of it.

9. Seahawks (0-1; No. 5): They should have thrown it.

10. Bengals (1-0; No. 12): Maybe Pacman Jones simply wanted Amari Cooper to experience how other teams treat the Bengals in the playoffs every year.

11. Colts (0-1; No. 7): Everyone in the organization needs to get on the same page quickly or this could implode.

12. Dolphins (1-0; No. 16): Cue Dean Martin from deck of the Stu Gots. “Like the league office said, that ain’t a kick in the head.” (Unless it was.)

13. Rams (1-0; No. 21): Those 21,000 empty seats have a memory they can share with their grandchildren.

14. Steelers (0-1; No. 8): Steel Curtain? A shower curtain would have provided more resistance to Gronk.

15. Chargers (1-0; No. 18): Imagine what that offense will be able to do once Antonio Gates is back.

16. Falcons (1-0; No. 22): Fake crowd noise isn’t necessary when the opponent is potentially a fraud.

17. 49ers (1-0; No. 25): Who’s got it better than us? (They can still use that, right?)

18. Panthers (1-0; No. 19): Even Petite Randy Moss has better hands than Ted Ginn.

19. Eagles (0-1; No. 14): People are surprised that the Ringo Starr of the Legion of Boom didn’t perform like Paul McCartney?

20. Vikings (0-1; No. 15): The Vikings aren’t ready for prime time. Or pretty much anything else.

21. Texans (0-1; No. 13): Maybe they should have jumped on Matt Cassel, after all.

22. Lions (0-1; No. 17): Aaron Donald looked great on Sunday. It’s a good thing the Lions didn’t draft a tight end instead of him. Oh.

23. Saints (0-1; No. 20): It’s going to be a lot harder to contend for the division crown on the wrong side of .500 this year.

24. Giants (0-1; No. 23): All the criticism of Eli and Coughlin gives G.M. Jerry Reese perfect cover for handing James Jones to the Packers.

25. Titans (1-0; No. 30): For the second straight year, the Titans managed a big road win to start the year. They’re hoping the rest of the season turns out a little better than 1-14.

26. Jets (1-0; No. 27): No, they won’t be playing the Browns every week.

27. Jaguars (0-1; No. 28): The “we have swimming pools!” distraction may not work much longer.

28. Bears (0-1; No. 29): It’s wasn’t a win, but it also wasn’t a disaster.

29. Browns (0-1; No. 24): At least the uniforms are an improvement.

30. Washington (0-1; No. 32): If only they had a better scout team safety, maybe they could have pulled out the win.

31. Raiders (0-1; No. 26): At this rate, Oakland taxpayers will indeed help fund a new stadium. With one condition: It must be built in any city other than Oakland.

32. Buccaneers (0-1; No. 31): Maybe the Bucs should add a “no blocking” and “no tackling” clause to the “no baseball” provision in Jameis Winston’s contract.

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NFL morning after: Reactions and Overreactions in Week One

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Whether your team won or lost on Sunday, the best advice I can give you is this: Don’t overreact to Week One.

Here’s a little story about how wrong our perceptions can be after Week One of the NFL season: The best defense I’ve ever seen was that of the 1985 Chicago Bears. Do you know what the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about after the Bears’ Week One victory over the Buccaneers? It was about how the Bears’ pass rush wasn’t up to par, and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was concerned that his players weren’t getting to the quarterback enough.

If the ’85 Bears’ defense wasn’t obviously great in Week One, then that should tell us all we need to know about how hard it is to judge a player or a team after just one game of the season. The sample size is so small that the conclusions we can draw are little more than guesswork.

Think back to last year. The Patriots got blown out by the Dolphins in Week One. The Titans blew out the Chiefs in Week One. If you were a member of the Week One Overreactors Society, you never would have guessed that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl and the Titans would go 2-14.

So as I review Week One, I’ll be careful to separate the reactions that that will still look reasonable in Week 17 with the overreactions that will look foolish by the end of the year.

Reaction: Peyton Manning doesn’t have the arm he used to. It’s just not debatable anymore: At age 39, Manning doesn’t have the same kind of zip on his passes he once did. Although the Broncos won on Sunday, Manning struggled, completing 24 of 40 passes for 175 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. He’s not the player he once was.
Overreaction: The Broncos can’t win with Peyton’s dead arm. For most of his career, Manning was the reason his team was winning. He won’t be the reason Denver wins this year, but that doesn’t mean Denver won’t win this year. The Broncos have a very good defense, and that can take them far. Manning may not be able to beat teams with his arm, but he can still beat teams with his brain, and with Manning as an effective game manager, the Broncos can be a Super Bowl team.

Reaction: The Bills’ defense is great. When you take a defense that was already among the best in the league and you add Rex Ryan as coach, you can bet that you’re going to see something special. That’s what we saw in Buffalo yesterday, where the Bills absolutely shut down Andrew Luck & Co. on their way to a dominant victory. I don’t know how good the Bills as a team are going to be, but I know their defense is going to be good.
Overreaction: Tyrod Taylor is great. The reason I don’t know how good the Bills as a team will be is that I don’t know how good a quarterback Taylor is. He was outstanding on Sunday, his first NFL start, completing 14 of 19 passes for 195 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, plus 41 rushing yards. But when NFL defenses get more time to study his limitations as a passer and prepare for his abilities as a runner, will they figure out how to stop him? Until we know the answer to that question, any assessment of Taylor based on his Week One performance is an overreaction.

Reaction: J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL. Watt was the best defensive player in the NFL last year, the year before that and the year before that. (He only won the Defensive Player of the Year award twice, but he should have won it all three years.) Yesterday against the Chiefs, Watt had nine solo tackles, two sacks, six tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He dominated the game as much as any defensive lineman ever can, although unfortunately for Watt and the Texans there’s only so much a defensive lineman can do to take over a game. Houston lost because the Texans’ defense left too many open receivers underneath, and because the offense couldn’t get going.
Overreaction: Bill O’Brien chose wrong when he named Brian Hoyer the starter. It doesn’t look good for Hoyer after he struggled early and was benched for Ryan Mallett, who played pretty well after coming in off the bench late in the game. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Mallett is the answer for the Texans. If O’Brien was confident after spending months watching Hoyer and Mallett in practice that Hoyer was the better quarterback, he shouldn’t allow one game to change his mind.

Reaction: The Cleveland Browns stink. The Browns are a mess. They’ve been a mess for more than a decade, having last been to the playoffs in 2002. It’s one thing to lose in Week One, but to get blown out by a bad team like the Jets? To have your running backs combine for 20 carries for 46 yards? Cleveland is a bad football team. I say that confidently after one game.
Overreaction: Johnny Manziel stinks. Manziel didn’t play well in relief of an injured Josh McCown, but it would be unfair to suggest that it’s proof that he can’t make it as an NFL quarterback. Manziel didn’t get much practice time with the first-string offense during training camp, and he hadn’t been practicing at all recently because of elbow tendinitis. His bad game Sunday wasn’t proof that he’s unable to become a good NFL quarterback.

Reaction: NFL kickers are no longer automatic on extra points. There’s no doubt that the extra point is harder now that the NFL has moved it 13 yards back. Last season, only eight extra points were missed all year. Yesterday afternoon, four extra points were missed. NFL kickers will still make more than 90 percent of their extra points, and probably more than 95 percent. But they’re no longer automatic like they used to be.
Overreaction: Broncos kicker Brandon McManus is automatic from anywhere. Only five kickers made a field goal of 56 yards or longer last season. On Sunday, McManus kicked a 56-yard field goal and a 57-yard field goal — in the first quarter. That’s an impressive feat, but we shouldn’t overreact to it. The reality is that at Denver’s altitude, where a kicked football will typically travel about five yards farther than it would at sea level, every NFL kicker can hit a 57-yard field goal. McManus had a good game, going four-for-four, but get back to me when he hits a 57-yard field goal away from Denver.

Reaction: Ameer Abdullah is for real. Abdullah, the Lions’ rookie running back, was outstanding in his NFL debut, with 50 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards and 105 kickoff return yards. That made him the first player since at least 1960 to have reach 50 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards and 100 kickoff returns in his NFL debut. I don’t know what kind of career Abdullah will have, but there’s no question that he’s a special talent.
Overreaction: Marcus Mariota is great and Jameis Winston is terrible. In the battle of the first and second picks in the NFL draft, Winston struggled mightily while Mariota was brilliant. But success at the quarterback position requires so many different traits that it’s really impossible to say with any certainty after one game what kind of career a quarterback is going to have. Mariota will have some down days, and Winston will have some up days. By Week 17, we may have largely forgotten how much better Mariota was than Winston on Sunday — and we may forget just about everything else that’s making us overreact in Week One.

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Week One early inactives

Robert Mathis AP

Every week we’ll bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. So check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Colts at Bills

Colts: CB Greg Toler, RB Vick Ballard, LB Robert Mathis, CB D’Joun Smith, OL Hugh Thornton, OL Denzelle Good, DL Billy Winn

Bills: WR Marquise Goodwin, QB EJ Manuel, RB Bryce Brown, LB Tony Steward, C Gabe Ikard, TE Chris Gragg, DT Andre Fluellen

Packers at Bears

Packers: QB Brett Hundley CB Ladarius Gunter S Morgan Burnett RB Alonzo Harris LB Andy Mulumba G Lane Taylor TE Kennard Backman

Bears: QB David Fales, CB Tracy Porter, RB Ka’Deem Carey, LB Jon Bostic, C Hroniss Grasu, T Tayo Fabuluje, WR Cameron Meredith

Chiefs at Texans

Chiefs: QB Aaron Murray, DB Steven Nelson, CB Marcus Cooper, OL Jeff Allen, WR Frankie Hammond Jr., DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, TE Brian Parker

Texans: RB Arian Foster, CB Jumal Rolle, S Lonnie Ballentine, LB Carlos Thompson, LB Mike Mohamed, OL Kendall Lamm, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo

Panthers at Jaguars 

Panthers: DT Star Lotulelei, S Dean Marlowe, RB Brandon Wegher, TE Richie Brockel, LB David Mayo, OL Nate Chandler, WR Kevin Norwood

Jaguars: WR Marqise Lee, RB Toby Gerhart, OL A.J. Cann, OL Luke Bowanko, TE Julius Thomas, DE Andre Branch, DT Sen’Derrick Marks

Browns at Jets

Browns: WR Dwayne Bowe, CB Justin Gilbert, QB Austin Davis, RB Robert Turbin, LB Nate Orchard, TE E.J. Bibbs, DL Xavier Cooper

Jets: QB Geno Smith, WR Devin Smith, CB Dexter McDougle, RB Zac Stacy, OL Jarvis Harrison, OL Ben Ijalana, DL Deon Simon

Seahawks at Rams

Seahawks: WR B.J. Daniels, CB Tharold Simon, FB Will Tukuafu, LB Mike Morgan, G Mark Glowinski, G Kritjan Sokoli, DT David King

Rams: RB Todd Gurley, RB Tre Mason, WR Brian Quick, T Andrew Donnal, T Darrell Williams, LB Daren Bates, QB Sean Mannion

Dolphins at Redskins

Dolphins: CB Will Davis, CB Tony Lippett, RB Jonas Gray, LB Chris McCain, T Jason Fox, WR Matt Hazel, DT A.J. Francis

Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III, WR Rashad Ross, LB Jackson Jeffcoat, G Spencer Long, T Tom Compton, G Arie Kouandjio, TE Anthony McCoy

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Week One injury report roundup

Todd Gurley AP

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week One of the 2015 season.

Colts at Bills 

The Colts ruled out running back Vick Ballard (hamstring) and cornerback Greg Toler (neck). Linebacker Robert Mathis (Achilles) is questionable to make his return from missing all of last season. Cornerback D’Joun Smith (knee) is also questionable.  Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs) and linebacker Tony Steward (knee) are out for Buffalo, but running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is probable.

Packers at Bears

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder) is expected to play while linebacker Sam Barrington (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) are questionable. Bears wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf), Eddie Royal (hip) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring) are all questionable along with linebacker Jon Bostic (ankle). Linebacker Sam Acho (illness) and cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring) are out.

Chiefs at Texans

Chiefs offensive linemen Jeff Allen (knee) and Eric Fisher (ankle) are both questionable for the opener. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe (back) is probable after making his practice return this week. Texans tackle Duane Brown (hand) is probable while safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), running back Arian Foster (groin), linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf), guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf) and linebacker Carlos Thompson (concussion) have been ruled out.

Panthers at Jaguars

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (foot) is out for Carolina along with tight end Richie Brockel (shoulder) and tackle Nate Chandler (knee). Center Ryan Kalil (knee) and cornerback Josh Norman (concussion) are both probable. The Jaguars have ruled out defensive end Andre Branch (knee), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and tight end Julius Thomas (hand). Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) is doubtful and running back Toby Gerhart (abdomen) is questionable.

Browns at Jets

The Browns listed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (hamstring), cornerback Justin Gilbert (hip), linebacker Barkevious Mingo (knee), linebacker Nate Orchard (back) and cornerback K’Waun Williams (abdomen) as questionable. Running back Robert Turbin (ankle) won’t play, but running back Duke Johnson (concussion) and quarterback Johnny Manziel (elbow) are probable. Jets quarterback Geno Smith remains out with a broken jaw, but the team is otherwise short on injury concerns in Week One.

Seahawks at Rams

Linebacker Michael Morgan (hamstring) is out for the otherwise healthy Seahawks. Todd Gurley (knee) is out for the Rams and Tre Mason (hamstring) is questionable, which could leave Benny Cunningham as the starter.

Dolphins at Redskins

Tackle Branden Albert (knee) is probable for the Dolphins while his backup Jason Fox (concussion) is doubtful. Wide receiver DeVante Parker (foot) is also probable. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (concussion) is probable after getting cleared on Thursday night. Tackle Tom Compton (calf) and linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat (thigh) are questionable.

Saints at Cardinals

The Saints will play without safety Jairus Byrd (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (toe), cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip), running back C.J. Spiller (knee) and linebacker Davis Tull (shoulder). Guard Mike Iupati (knee) is out for Arizona and the team is waiting to make final calls on wide receiver Michael Floyd (fingers), tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) and tight end Troy Niklas (hamstring).

Lions at Chargers

Reports are that linebacker DeAndre Levy (hip) won’t play, but he’s listed as doubtful. Defensive tackle Caraun Reid (ankle) and guard Larry Warford (ankle) are definitely out. Chargers guard Johnnie Troutman (forearm) and linebacker Tourek Williams (foot) are out. Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) and cornerback Craig Mager (hamstring) are all questionable.

Ravens at Broncos

Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro are both out with knee injuries.

Bengals at Raiders

The Bengals won’t have defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (knee) and cornerback Josh Shaw (groin) is questionable. Defensive end Benson Mayowa (knee) is out for the Raiders, but rookie tight end Clive Walford (knee) and defensive end Justin Tuck (calf) are questionable.

Titans at Buccaneers

Titans defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill (knee) is out and cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) is doubtful. Cornerback Perrish Cox (hip) is questionable, so the Titans may be down two men in the secondary. Wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) is questionable for the Bucs after returning to practice Friday. Defensive end T.J. Fatinikun (shoulder) has been ruled out.

Giants at Cowboys

The Giants will open their season without linebacker Jon Beason (knee) and wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf). The Cowboys only have players listed as probable, including wide receiver Dez Bryant (hamstring) and guard Zack Martin (neck).

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PFT’s Week One picks

Rex Ryan AP

The new season begins tonight. Everyone is 0-0. Including MDS and yours truly.

For each team, it’s a 16-game sprint. For the PFT annual in-house picks competition, it’s a 256-game marathon.

We start with 16 games for Week One and, more importantly, three disagreements.

Hopefully, MDS enjoys being tied with me while he can.

Steelers at Patriots

MDS’s take: The defending champions will be energized by the return of Tom Brady, and ready for a statement game like last year’s “On to Cincinnati” blowout of the Bengals. The Steelers will struggle just to keep this one close.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Steelers 20.

Florio’s take: The Steelers have too many key players missing on offense and not enough key players on defense to disrupt the Patriots’ pent-up frustration party.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 36, Steelers 25.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: John Fox will make the Bears a more physical and more disciplined team than they were under Marc Trestman, but it will take him another year to make them a good team. Right now Chicago just doesn’t have the talent on the roster to keep pace with Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: My gut is telling me the Bears can win. My head is telling me, “You’d be crazy to pick the Bears.” In Week One, I’ll stick with my head.

Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Bears 20.

Chiefs at Texans

MDS’s take: If Brian Hoyer proves himself to be a good quarterback, the Texans can be a playoff team. I’m a little higher on Hoyer than most, and I’ll pick the Texans to start the season 1-0.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Chiefs 17.

Florio’s take: Last year, the Chiefs were flat in Week One and spent all year recovering from it. The coaching staff likely spent the full offseason ensuring that the Chiefs won’t be flat to start 2015.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Texans 22.

Browns at Jets

MDS’s take: It was smart of the NFL’s schedulers to put these two teams against each other in Week One. They’re both going to have bad seasons, but you might as well give one fan base a reason for excitement after a 1-0 start. I’ll take the Jets to win a close and ugly game.

MDS’s pick: Jets 12, Browns 9.

Florio’s take: I always say that teams shouldn’t get too excited about a Week One win because there’s a chance that the victory came against the worst team in the league. In unrelated news, the Jets are just a little bit better right now than the Browns, especially after the abrupt suspension of the team’s offensive line coach.

Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Browns 15.

Colts at Bills

MDS’s take: There’s a lot to like about the Bills this year. Rex Ryan will have the defense playing great, and the running game should be strong. But in a game matching Andrew Luck and Tyrod Taylor, I have to take Luck’s team.

MDS’s pick: Colts 21, Bills 17.

Florio’s take: Is it really an upset for a team that was 9-7 and improved in the offseason to beat a team that dominated a weak division, caught a limping Denver team at the right time, got blown out in the AFC title game, and then did nothing to address its most glaring weakness?

Florio’s pick: Bills 23, Colts 20.

Dolphins at Washington

MDS’s take: New Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is going to make Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins wish Jay Gruden had given the job to Robert Griffin III.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Washington 7.

Florio’s take: After starting the season with visits from the Dolphins and the Rams, it may not be Kirk Cousins’ team by Week Three.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 30, Washington 19.

Panthers at Jaguars

MDS’s take: Cam Newton is going to have to do it himself a lot this year, as the Panthers’ receiving corps is weak. I’m not sure that bodes well for Carolina’s season, but in Jacksonville, Newton doing it himself is enough to eke out a close win against a bad team.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Jaguars 20.

Florio’s take: While the outcome won’t mean that the winner is a contender or that the loser isn’t, the perpetually-downtrodden Jags start the season off right for fans that have been far more loyal than recent performances would warrant.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Panthers 17.

Seahawks at Rams

MDS’s take: I think the Rams will be better this year, and they could make a huge statement if they can beat Seattle in the opener. They could, but they won’t. The Seahawks will manage to hold off a tough challenge and beat the Rams.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 16, Rams 13.

Florio’s take: The Seahawks return to the field for the first time since the enduring one of the greatest disappointments in NFL history. And they apparently won’t have Kam Chancellor. And their offensive line is struggling. And the Rams have a great defense. And Nick Foles seems confident and loose. And it’s still too early in the year to be picking a team like Seattle to lose to a perpetual also-ran, even though the Rams could easily win this one.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 22, Rams 13.

Saints at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals were as good as anyone last year before Carson Palmer got hurt. I’m not sure if Palmer can stay healthy for 16 games this year, but he’s healthy for now, and he’ll lead Arizona to a win over New Orleans.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 28, Saints 24.

Florio’s take: The Saints have made plenty of changes as part of a calculated effort to improve. And they improvements could be immediate. And it likely won’t matter when the first game out of the gates is played against the Cardinals on the road.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Saints 21.

Lions at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Lions’ defense is going to take a big step backward this season, and Philip Rivers & Co. will take advantage on Sunday. The Chargers will win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 35, Lions 31.

Florio’s take: The post-Suh blues arrive for the Lions, who will have a hard time defending against the San Diego offense, and whose own offense will have a hard time doing what it needs to do.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 26, Lions 18.

Titans at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: It’s not Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston, it’s Mariota vs. the Buccaneers’ defense and Winston vs. the Titans’ defense. I like Lovie Smith to have his defense ready to shut Mariota down thoroughly, and as a result I like the Bucs to win the opener.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 14, Titans 6.

Florio’s take: The Bucs and the Titans both earned their potential franchise quarterbacks by being awful in 2014. The Bucs have the tools to be a little less awful to start the new season.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Titans 16.

Bengals at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Raiders are trending in the right direction with good young players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but they’re not ready to compete in the AFC just yet. Oakland will keep it close for most of the game but wilt down the stretch against the Bengals.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Raiders 21.

Florio’s take: The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since destroying Bo Jackson’s hip in a postseason game against the Raiders after the 1990 season. This could be the best way to begin the process of finally exorcising that demon.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Raiders 17.

Ravens at Broncos

MDS’s take: We’ll get our first look at Peyton Manning in Gary Kubiak’s offense, and although I’m expecting some growing pains, I have a feeling Manning will look a lot better early this season than he did late last season.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Ravens 21.

Florio’s take: The Broncos have no issues with starting strong. The challenge is how they finish. While it won’t be nearly as bad as the blowout to start the season from two years ago, Peyton Manning staves off Father Time and the Denver defense under Wade Phillips shows it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Ravens 20.

Giants at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys’ running game won’t be quite what it was last year without DeMarco Murray, but the combination of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and a great offensive line gives them one of the best passing attacks in the NFL. They’ll put plenty of points on the board against the Giants.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 35, Giants 24.

Florio’s take: The Cowboys have much more talent and much more skill and much more everything than the Giants, who seem to think every year that they’re on the verge of turning things around but they never quite can.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 34, Giants 20.

Eagles at Falcons

MDS’s take: For as long as Sam Bradford is healthy, he’ll be a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. For now, at least, Bradford is healthy.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Falcons 21.

Florio’s take: With all the talk about whether the Eagles can get it done offensively, most have forgotten that they have a surprisingly good defense. Good enough to outscore a work-in-progress revamping of the Falcons.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Falcons 20.

Vikings at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Vikings will be one of the NFL’s most improved teams, while no team has lost more this offseason than the 49ers. The late Monday night game could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 34, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: Adrian Peterson won’t be a decoy, but look for the offensive coordinator Norv Turner to take full advantage of the home team’s obsession with stopping Peterson.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, 49ers 21.

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PFT’s Week One Power Rankings

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm1nzewowqwodfmodmyyjnkzjcxmmu0nzuxyjqyzjmy1 AP

1. Patriots (0-0): Winning the Super Bowl comes with two benefits: Hosting the game that opens the season (unless the local baseball team has a game and refuses to change it . . . we’re still looking at you, Orioles) and occupying the top spot in the next year’s initial power rankings. Barring an Elway-to-Brister-style change at quarterback, the Super Bowl champ always lands here.

2. Ravens (0-0): Bears fans will be shocked to learn that any team that employs Marc Trestman would be regarded so highly, but the latest example of the NFL’s Peter Principle will do well now that he has fallen one spot below the level of his incompetence.

3. Packers (0-0): Ted Thompson showed the patience of Teddy KGB (sans Oreos) while waiting for the Giants to set James Jones free. They’ll still miss Jordy Nelson, but not nearly as much.

4. Broncos (0-0): A little less Manning plus a little more defense could be the key to replicating what the team did nearly 20 years ago with a little less Elway and a little more everything else.

5. Seahawks (0-0): Even with two straight years of playing into February, the worst hangover of the Super Bowl era, and a bizarre contract impasse with one of the most important players in the locker room, the Seahawks remain one of the best teams in all of football.

6. Cowboys (0-0): Jerry Jones has said he’d write a huge check to win a Super Bowl. His refusal to write a big check to DeMarco Murray shows that plenty of guys can move the chains at the NFL level.

7. Colts (0-0): Coach Chuck Pagano and G.M. Ryan Grigson need to start treating this year’s marathon like a three-legged race. Otherwise, a two-legged Alabama coach could be trading crimson for the four-leaf clover of a franchise quarterback.

8. Steelers (0-0): With the Steel Curtain becoming tin foil, many see the Steelers taking a step back. But that’s when this franchise usually finds a way to overachieve. Having a great offense doesn’t hurt, either.

9. Bills (0-0): Same defense, better coach, better running back, better receivers, plus a quarterback that can’t be any worse than Kyle Orton gives the Bills an edge entering the season. The challenge will be keeping the new coach and the pre-existing G.M. on the same page.

10. Chiefs (0-0): Written off last year after a disastrous Week One home loss to the Titans (yes, the Titans), the Chiefs nearly turned it around. This year, their talent on both sides of the ball isn’t getting nearly the credit it deserves.

11. Cardinals (0-0): The more things change, the more coach Bruce Arians keeps things on the right track. His toughest test comes this year, with a new defensive coordinator, a quarterback who holds the ball just long enough to get himself injured, and an unsettled running game.

12. Bengals (0-0): How many years can a team go to the postseason without winning a game there? There’s a good chance that the limit is four.

13: Texans (0-0): This feels like a team that will remain on the fringes of the postseason until it finds a long-term replacement for Arian Foster and a year-in, year-out answer at quarterback.

14. Eagles (0-0): The defense is better than advertised, the offense is full of question marks. This season, Chip Kelly will either cement his genius or be exposed as a fraud.

15. Vikings (0-0): On paper, this Vikings should be a lot better than they were last year. Now they have to prove it. At a time when many presume they will, there’s still a chance they won’t.

16. Dolphins (0-0): Even with the addition of Ndamukong Suh, the franchise feels like a middle-of-the-pack team. It’s on Suh and Ryan Tannehill to make the Dolphins something more than mediocre.

17. Lions (0-0): They can say they won’t miss Ndamukong Suh because what other choice do they have? With solid Packers and Vikings teams and a strong out-of-division schedule, the chances of two straight playoff berths aren’t great.

18. Chargers (0-0): Teams that could be moving claim they aren’t distracted. They are. And when it’s time to summon that extra something to win key games that will become the difference between playing in January or packing the bags for L.A., the unsettled issues regarding the team’s home in 2016 could become a ball and chain.

19. Panthers (0-0): Last year, coaching overcame a so-so roster. It wasn’t good enough to get to 8-8, but it was good enough to get to the playoffs and win a game there. This year, it feels like the rest of the division is on the verge of catching up.

20. Saints (0-0): Of all the offseason experiments, none was as significant as giving up on Jimmy Graham in the hopes of pumping up a paltry defense. The ability of coach Sean Payton and G.M. Mickey Loomis to stay on the same page despite more than a few roster misfires is a strong example for all other NFL teams, and their partnership could produce another playoff berth against competitors whose top two non-playing employees are more concerned about pointing fingers than solving problems.

21. Rams (0-0): The pieces seem to be in place for a playoff run. Will the looming run to L.A. derail it?

22. Falcons (0-0): Two straight horrible seasons after a half-decade of above-.500 performances makes their placement entering the season deserved. But with a franchise quarterback, a great receiver, and a defensive-minded coach with experience in a gold-standard franchise, the Falcons could climb the ladder, quickly.

23. Giants (0-0): The team’s refusal to spend significant cash on good players has caught up with the roster, leaving only a sprinkling of greatness and not nearly enough help for Eli Manning. The offensive line and defensive line — key components of both Super Bowl runs under Manning and coach Tom Coughlin — aren’t anywhere close to what they used to be.

24. Browns (0-0): Every time it seems like the Browns are ready to emerge from 16 years of dysfunction, something happens to pull them back into the quicksand. At least the new uniforms look good.

25. 49ers (0-0): Has an elite team ever fallen so far, so quickly? Then again, has any team ever undergone so much turnover and turmoil in one offseason? Anything better than 6-10 should make Jim Tomsula a candidate for coach of the year.

26. Raiders (0-0): Last year at this time, I said that the Raiders were the only team in the NFL that had no chance at making it to the playoffs. This year, they at least have a chance. Especially if Khalil Mack and Derek Carr continue to improve in their second seasons.

27. Jets (0-0): The clouds could be parting soon. At some point, they have to. For now, suspensions and sucker punches and a lingering sense of malaise will make it hard to compete with the Patriots, Bills, and Dolphins.

28. Jaguars (0-0): G.M. Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley continue to dig out of the mess that was left for them. The only question is whether the owner will give them the time they need to get there.

29. Bears (0-0): The blunders of Phil Emery, who tied the team to Jay Cutler for at least 2015 and maybe 2016, can’t easily be erased. While new coach John Fox has done plenty with lesser quarterbacks, the transition to a 3-4 defense and real questions about the quality of the offense and the ability of former Bronco offensive coordinator Adam Gase to do the job without Peyton Manning to run the show keeps this team low, for now.

30. Titans (0-0): They made the smart move in drafting a guy who can become the face of a franchise that had become irrelevant nationally. Now they need to use him the right way. Otherwise, someone like Chip Kelly could be the guy using Marcus Mariota the right way as coach of the Titans in 2016.

31. Buccaneers (0-0): They earned the ability to get Jameis Winston by being the worst team in football a year ago. They could be a lot better than that this year (especially with an actual offensive coordinator) but it’s going to take time.

32. Washington (0-0): Glass half full outlook? Securing the first overall pick will eliminate all temptation to trade up for the next potential franchise quarterback.

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Hard Knocks recap: Tough cuts, harsh realities

Charles James AP

The finale of Hard Knocks: Houston Texans dealt with the team’s final cuts from last weekend, following some of the players spotlighted over the previous four episodes on their long walks through the hallway and into the office of coach Bill O’Brien.

The series started in mid-August with O’Brien delivering a motivational speech laced with F-bombs to the entire team, which was then 90 players. It ended Tuesday night with O’Brien telling the remaining 53 Texans players, “You have to compete, you have to understand your role and you have to earn it every f—–g day.”

The rare and generally unfiltered access is part of what makes Hard Knocks so good — and made this one of the best. Though a lot of the drama in the finale was tempered by the actual cuts having taken place three or four days before the finale aired, the cameras were in the car with Uzoma “EZ” Nwachukwu as he drove to officially receive his walking papers, when Kourtnei Brown was too distraught to speak in the office of general manager Rick Smith and in the locker room when Charles James playfully hid behind a t-shirt in hopes he couldn’t be found and summoned to O’Brien’s office.

Besides J.J. Watt, James was probably the biggest player star of this Hard Knocks season. In the first episode he was introduced as an undrafted underdog with an affinity for colorful socks, and from there James was portrayed as a locker-room favorite who was guaranteed nothing.

In the last episode the cameras caught O’Brien and Smith having their final conversation about James and his dead heat for the final cornerback spot with Jumal Rolle. In the end, Rolle had a stronger finish to the preseason and was taller than James, who’s just 5’9.

“This will be a tough one because this kid, he gave us everything he had,” O’Brien told Smith.

James revealed that he cried and struggled to eat after being cut by the Giants in 2013 and again last year, but by the time the call came this year he thanked O’Brien for the opportunity and later took a call from Smith, who told James he’d bought him some socks and didn’t know what to do with them.

“Yes, I feel like I should have made the team,” James said. “It hurts. Especially being an undrafted free agent, this s–t, it is hard every day.”

James has since signed with the Ravens’ practice squad.

The finale also spotlighted Arian Foster, who’s aiming for an October return after an early-camp injury; third-round pick Christian Covington, who struggled but eventually made the team; and a scene in which veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork held a field-goal kicking competition with Women’s World Cup hero Carli Lloyd.

Wilfork made field goals from 25 and 35 yards. At 325 pounds.

His biggest Hard Knocks hit was still showing up for work in nothing but overalls, but the kicks were impressive, too.

O’Brien played the lead role well in the series. Though there’s clearly a little of bit of his former boss, Bill Belichick, in his coaching style, O’Brien came across as personable, driven and funny. When he caught himself screaming at a team employee in a practice scene in the finale and then discovered he was wrong about the situation, O’Brien dropped and did pushups as punishment.

“You can tell me to go screw myself,” he yelled back to the sideline.

There were lots of F-bombs in the series. There was plenty of Watt, too, and in a memorable scene from the finale O’Brien practically salivates while watching practice film of Watt and Jadeveon Clowney playing on the same defense. The Texans are interesting — Hard Knocks probably helped that — even if they’re a little less colorful without James on the roster.

O’Brien joked with reporters in Houston earlier this week that the Hard Knocks cameras leaving the facilty marked one of the best days of his life. For five weeks, though, those cameras and O’Brien made for some really good television.

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PFT’s 2015 season predictions

Super Bowl Football AP

Here it is, your annual opportunity to tell the PFT staff that we’re idiots who hate your favorite team.

These are our predictions for the 2015 NFL season, where we’ll tell you our picks for the six playoff seeds from each conference, how we see the playoffs playing out, and our pick for Super Bowl 50.

Will we get these picks right? Well, probably not. Last year at this time, no one on the PFT staff picked the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. But we did all pick the Patriots to win the AFC East and the Seahawks to win the NFC West, and we all correctly predicted the Broncos, Colts and Packers to win their divisions as well. So it’s not like we’re making these picks by throwing darts at a list of teams.

But if you think your picks are better than ours, well, that’s what the comments section is for. Any commenter who correctly predicts the winner of Super Bowl 50 gets to read PFT for free all through 2016.

Josh Alper


1. Patriots; 2. Colts; 3. Broncos; 4. Ravens; 5. Dolphins; 6. Chiefs.

Wild card: Dolphins over Ravens, Broncos over Chiefs.

Divisional round: Broncos over Colts, Patriots over Dolphins.

Conference championship: Patriots over Broncos.


1. Packers; 2. Seahawks; 3. Eagles; 4. Saints; 5. Cowboys; 6. Vikings.

Wild card: Eagles over Vikings, Cowboys over Saints.

Divisional round: Packers over Cowboys, Eagles over Seahawks.

Conference championship: Packers over Eagles.

Super Bowl: Packers over Patriots.

Curtis Crabtree


1. Colts; 2. Broncos; 3. Patriots; 4. Ravens; 5. Dolphins; 6. Steelers.

Wild card: Patriots over Steelers, Ravens over Dolphins.

Divisional round: Patriots over Broncos, Colts over Ravens.

Conference championship: Colts over Patriots.


1. Packers; 2. Seahawks; 3. Cowboys; 4. Falcons; 5. Eagles; 6. Vikings

Wild card: Cowboys over Vikings, Eagles over Falcons.

Divisional round: Seahawks over Cowboys, Packers over Eagles.

Conference championship: Packers over Seahawks.

Super Bowl: Packers over Colts.

Darin Gantt


1. Colts; 2. Ravens; 3. Patriots; 4. Broncos; 5. Dolphins; 6. Steelers.

Wild card: Patriots over Steelers, Dolphins over Broncos.

Divisional round: Dolphins over Colts, Ravens over Patriots.

Conference Championship: Ravens over Dolphins.


1. Packers; 2. Eagles; 3. Cardinals; 4. Falcons; 5. Seahawks; 6. Cowboys.

Wild card: Cardinals over Cowboys, Seahawks over Falcons.

Divisional round: Cardinals over Eagles, Packers over Seahawks.

Conference championship: Packers over Cardinals.

Super Bowl: Ravens over Packers.

Zac Jackson


1. Patriots; 2. Colts; 3. Chargers; 4. Steelers; 5; Broncos; 6. Texans

Wild card: Chargers over Texans; Steelers over Broncos.

Divisional round: Steelers over Patriots; Chargers over Colts.

Conference championship: Chargers over Steelers.


1. Packers; 2. Eagles; 3. Seahawks; 4. Falcons; 5. Cardinals; 6. Lions.

Wild card: Seahawks over Lions; Cardinals over Falcons.

Divisional round: Packers over Cardinals; Seahawks over Eagles.

Conference championship: Packers over Seahawks.

Super Bowl: Packers over Chargers.

Michael David Smith


1. Patriots; 2. Colts; 3. Broncos; 4. Ravens; 5. Steelers; 6. Chiefs.

Wild card: Broncos over Chiefs, Ravens over Steelers.

Divisional round: Ravens over Patriots, Broncos over Colts.

Conference championship: Broncos over Ravens.


1. Seahawks; 2. Packers; 3. Eagles; 4. Falcons; 5. Vikings; 6. Rams.

Wild card: Eagles over Rams, Vikings over Falcons.

Divisional round: Seahawks over Vikings, Eagles over Packers.

Conference championship: Seahawks over Eagles.

Super Bowl: Seahawks over Broncos.

Mike Florio


1. Patriots; 2. Colts; 3. Ravens; 4. Broncos; 5. Chiefs; 6. Steelers.

Wild card: Ravens over Steelers, Broncos over Chiefs.

Divisional round: Ravens over Colts; Patriots over Broncos.

Conference championship: Patriots over Ravens.


1. Packers; 2. Seahawks; 3. Cowboys; 4. Saints; 5. Vikings; 6. Eagles.

Wild card: Cowboys over Eagles; Vikings over Saints.

Divisional round: Seahawks over Cowboys; Packers over Vikings.

Conference championship: Packers over Seahawks.

Super Bowl: Patriots over Packers.

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