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Week Eight Power Rankings

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  A couple of fans holds up a Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots sign during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Patriots (6-1; last week No. 2): They may be here for a while, especially if they can avenge their only loss of the season to date.

2. Cowboys (5-1; No. 4): A return to glory is entirely possible.

3. Vikings (5-1; No. 1): They weren’t going to win them all. On Sunday, they wouldn’t have won against anyone.

4. Seahawks (4-1-1; No. 3): There’s a sense that the wheels could come off at any point for this team. There’s also a sense they’ll eventually mash on the gas pedal. It remains to be seen which one happens first.

5. Packers (4-2; No. 7): As long as they play inferior opponents, the offense will look just fine.

6. Broncos (5-2; No. 9): “This one’s for Brock.”

7. Falcons (4-3; No. 5): The Second Annual Collapse has begun. How long will it last?

8. Steelers (4-3; No. 8): Linebacker Ryan Shazier says the team is “garbage” right now. Plenty of teams would love to smell that bad.

9. Chiefs (4-2; No. 12): This may be the one team no one wants to play in January.

10. Raiders (5-2; No. 13): Maybe they should start their home games at 10:00 a.m. PT, too.

11. Lions (4-3; No. 18): Maybe Matthew Stafford will start getting the credit he deserves.

12. Washington (4-3; No. 6): The closest this team will come to No. 1 happened on the sideline of Sunday’s game in Detroit.

13. Eagles (4-2; No. 15): Shrugging off a couple of losses and three first-quarter turnovers from  Carson Wentz, the Eagles have re-established themselves as an unlikely postseason contender.

14. Giants (4-3; No. 17): Based on his interception return for a touchdown against the Rams, maybe Landon Collins should play running back.

15. Bills (4-3; No. 10): The Bills last swept the Patriots in the same year the Bills last went to the playoffs. Ending one streak on Sunday would go a long way toward ending the other one.

16. Texans (4-3; No. 11): They could have won the division and made a quick exit from the playoffs by spending a lot less than $18 million per year on a quarterback.

17. Cardinals (3-3-1; No. 14): They get a chance to exorcise their lingering 2015 demons with a trip back to Charlotte. And if the Cardinals lose this one, it could be over.

18. Buccaneers (3-3; No. 20): The next two games will tell us plenty about whether this team is ready to contend.

19. Bengals (3-4; No. 21): They’ll fly a long way to try to extend the winning streak against former Bengals offensive coordinators to two.

20. Dolphins (3-4; No. 25): At a time when plenty of NFL players are the last ones to realize it’s over, Arian Foster deserves credit for being quick to admit it.

21. Chargers (3-4; No. 26): Could this be the best team in the division?

22. Colts (3-4; No. 28): Could this be the best team in the division?

23. Titans (3-4; No. 16): This could have been the best team in the division.

24. Ravens (3-4; No. 19): This could be a problem for John Harbaugh, eventually.

25. Rams (3-4; No. 22): This could be the formula for 7-9.

26. Saints (2-4; No. 23): This could be a little awkward when Jimmy Graham returns to New Orleans on Sunday.

27. Panthers (1-5; No. 27): This could be the first step in a slow climb out of the basement.

28. Jaguars (2-4; No. 24): If they don’t win in the Star Trek uniforms, Gus Bradley could be teleported to a new job.

29. Jets (2-5; No. 29): “How dare you react to the fact that I wasn’t good at my job.”

30. 49ers (1-6; No. 30): Those “traffic problems” in Santa Clara that made the stadium seem sparsely attended for a Thursday night game are here to stay.

31. Bears (1-6; No. 31): The Cubs are providing the Bears with the cover they need to keep stinking.

32. Browns (0-7; No. 32): The Indians are providing the Browns with the cover they need to keep stinking.

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NFL morning after: The decline of Colin Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers has his helmet knocked off during a play in their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is the NFL’s most significant player off the field, a player whose simple act of declining to stand during the national anthem has led to wide-ranging discussions across America about race, police brutality, free speech and the role of sport in society. That has been the subject of thousands of commentaries.

But it’s not the subject of this commentary. Instead, I want to talk about why I also consider Kaepernick the most fascinating NFL player off the field. And the reason for that is simple: He has rapidly declined from a very good quarterback to a terrible quarterback, at an age when most quarterbacks are still getting better.

It was less than four years ago that Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith in the middle of the 2012 season and putting an absolute beating on the Bears in his first NFL start. Do you remember how good Kaepernick was that year? The game that sticks with me is when he went to New England in just his fifth NFL start. Everyone said Bill Belichick would have the key to stopping this upstart young quarterback. Instead Kaepernick threw for four touchdown passes as the 49ers put up 41 points in a win over the Patriots. Quarterbacks making career start No. 5 aren’t supposed to shred Belichick’s defense. Kaepernick did.

That year Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, with a ridiculous 263-yard passing, 181-yard rushing playoff win over the Packers along the way. In the Super Bowl he threw for 302 yards, ran for 62 yards and came up just short of delivering the game-winning touchdown. If the 49ers had beaten the Ravens, Kaepernick would have been the Super Bowl MVP.

In his second year as a starter Kaepernick was just as good, again leading the 49ers to the playoffs and this time coming up just short in an NFC Championship Game loss to the Seahawks. That was the year when Ron Jaworski famously said, “I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.”

People enjoy needling Jaworski for that hyperbole, but here’s the thing: At the time, everyone was saying Kaepernick had the potential to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s easy to find people who criticize Jaworski’s statement now; it’s hard to find people who disagreed with it on the merits at the time.

And then Kaepernick began to decline in 2014. In 2015, that decline reached such a depth that he was benched for Blaine Gabbert, of all people. This year Kaepernick. has finally taken the job back from Gabbert, but he isn’t very good: Yesterday he averaged a pathetic 4.2 yards per pass and completed less than 50 percent of his passes in an ugly loss to the Buccaneers.

So what happened to Kaepernick? I think it’s three things:

1. Jim Harbaugh left. Harbaugh is a singularly great coach, a coach who has proven everywhere he’s been that he can get the most out of his players. When 49ers owner Jed York and General Manager Trent Baalke foolishly decided they couldn’t get along with Harbaugh anymore, they lost a coach who could find ways to win with Kaepernick’s skill set.

2. Defenses figured him out. Kaepernick always had a strong arm, but he lacks touch on short passes. Defenses seem to be taking away the deep ball and forcing Kaepernick to throw short, and he just doesn’t do that very well. That’s why his average yards per pass has declined every season, from 8.3 in his first season as a starter, to 7.7 in his second year, 7.0 in his third year, 6.6 in his fourth year and now just 5.2 this year.

3. He doesn’t have a supporting cast. In Kaepernick’s first couple seasons, the 49ers were loaded. They’re now a worse team across the board: Worse receivers, worse offensive linemen, worse running backs and a worse defense, which means the 49ers’ offense often ends up having to throw more and run less.

4. He has physically declined. Just looking at Kaepernick, it’s obvious that he’s skinnier and less muscular than he used to be. He had three surgeries that severely limited his ability to work out this offseason, and he has also lost weight after radically changing his diet. He’s just not the big, imposing athlete he was three or four years ago.

Kaepernick may some day find himself playing with a better supporting cast, and it’s possible he’ll get bigger and stronger, but I’m skeptical that he’ll ever be the same player he once was. I don’t think he’s going to end up with another coach who understands his skill set as well as Harbaugh did, and I think the deficiencies opposing defenses have found in his game are going to follow him around. Far from becoming “one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” I don’t think Kaepernick is even going to be an above-average starter ever again. He had two incredible years, but the Colin Kaepernick of old isn’t coming back.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Smart move, Doug Pederson. After the Eagles scored a touchdown in the second quarter, they kicked the extra point. But the Vikings were flagged for roughing the kicker, and that’s when Pederson did something smart: Instead of declining the penalty and taking the extra point, Pederson accepted the penalty and went for two, from the 1-yard line after the half-the-distance penalty. Carson Wentz ran the ball in from a yard out, and the Eagles got an additional point. It surprises me how scared NFL coaches are of going for two. Pederson showed some guts, and it paid off.

Tom Brady is as great as ever. After Sunday’s win over the Steelers, Brady is currently leading the league with a whopping 132.6 psaser rating, a number that no quarterback has ever sustained for a full season. He’s showing no sign of age at 39, and he’s showing no sign of rust after his four-game Deflategate suspension.

This is a different Raiders team. We’ve become accustomed in the last decade or so to view the Raiders as an incompetent franchise, and so I think some people haven’t yet caught on to just how good the Raiders are. In Derek Carr they have one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, and they’re keeping him upright. You may remember that Carr’s big brother David was sacked an NFL-record 76 times as a rookie. Carr has now been in the NFL for two and a half seasons, and he still hasn’t been sacked 76 times: Carr has now been sacked 62 times in 39 NFL starts. There’s every reason to believe the Raiders will compete for a playoff spot this year, and for many years to come, with Carr as their leader.

Why play Shady? Playing LeSean McCoy yesterday may turn out to be a huge, season-altering mistake by the Bills. McCoy suffered a hamstring injury in practice last week, and there were conflicting reports about whether he could play. McCoy ended up playing in the loss to the Dolphins but left the game early after another hamstring injury. If this hamstring becomes a chronic problem for McCoy, it would seriously damage the Bills’ offense. The 4-3 Bills are fighting for playoff position, and they can’t afford to be at less than full strength.

An ugly game for Sam Bradford. When the Vikings traded a first-round draft pick and a fourth-round draft pick for Bradford, my immediate reaction was that they overpaid. In his first four starts for the Vikings, Bradford played very well, and rewarded the Vikings’ faith in him. But yesterday’s performance in Philadelphia was awful: Bradford was sacked six times, fumbled four times and threw an interception. The Vikings are using the washed-up offensive tackle Jake Long because they don’t have anybody healthy to play the position, and Bradford looked incredibly uncomfortable behind a patchwork offensive line. The Vikings’ trade for Bradford only makes sense if he can lead them to the playoffs, and he can’t do that if he keeps playing Kaepernick-like games the way he did on Sunday.

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Week Seven early inactives

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.

This week got off to an earlier start than usual with the Giants and Rams in London, but eight other games kick off in the traditional early afternoon slot. Check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Ravens at Jets

Ravens: LB Elvis Dumervil, LB C.J. Mosley, CB Shareece Wright, LB Terrell Suggs, G Marshal Yanda, T Ronnie Stanley, WR Steve Smith

Jets: LB Darron Lee, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, OL Brent Qvale, DL Muhammad Wilkerson, QB Bryce Petty, QB Christian Hackenberg, WR Jeremy Butler

Browns at Bengals

Browns: WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, CB Marcus Burley, QB Josh McCown, CB Joe Haden, FB Dan Vitale, LB Corey Lemonier

Bengals: QB Jeff Driskel, WR Cody Core, CB KeiVarae Russell, CB Chykie Brown, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, G Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams

Redskins at Lions

Redskins: TE Jordan Reed, QB Nate Sudfeld, OL Vinston Painter, WR Rashard Ross, CB Dashaun Phillips, DE Anthony Lanier, S Josh Evans

Lions: TE Eric Ebron, LB DeAndre Levy, DT Haloti Ngata, RB Theo Riddick, T Corey Robinson, RB Dwayne Washington, CB Adarius Barnes

Raiders at Jaguars

Raiders: QB Connor Cook, RB Taiwan Jones, CB Dexter McDonald, S Brynden Trawick, T Menelik Watson, OL Vadal Alexander, TE Ryan O’Malley

Jaguars: QB Brandon Allen, CB Josh Johnson, RB Corey Grant, TE Neal Sterling, WR Bryan Walters, DE Chris Smith, OL Bryce Harris

Saints at Chiefs

Saints: LB Stephone Anthony, CB Delvin Breaux, RB Daniel Lasco, CB Sterling Moore, OL Andrus Peat, LB Dannell Ellerbe, RB Marcus Murphy

Chiefs: QB Tyler Bray, CB Phillip Gaines, CB Terrance Mitchell, LB Sio Moore, OL Jordan Devey, OL Bryan Witzmann, TE Ross Travis

Bills at Dolphins

Bills: T Seantrel Henderson, WR Robert Woods, DT Marcell Dareus, RB Jonathan Williams, T Michael Ola, C Patrick Lewis, QB Cardale Jones

Dolphins: TE Jordan Cameron, TE Dion Sims, CB Xavien Howard, CB Bene Benwikere, DT Terrance Fede, DL Nick Williams, DL Julian Warmsley

Vikings at Eagles

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, TE MyCole Pruitt, WR Jarius Wright, WR Laquon Treadwell, LB Kentrell Brothers, C Nick Easton, OL Willie Beavers

Eagles: DT Bennie Logan, WR Bryce Treggs, S Terrence Brooks, CB C.J. Smith, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Isaac Seumalo

Colts at Titans

Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, DT Henry Anderson, WR Phillip Dorsett, DT Zach Kerr, WR Donte Moncrief, G Jack Mewhort, LB Curt Maggitt

Titans: TE Jace Amaro, LB Aaron Wallace, CB Cody Riggs, DB Curtis Riley, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Harry Douglas, DL Austin Johnson

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Week Seven injury report roundup

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 22:  Tight end Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals hauls in a fourth quarter touchdown over strong safety Tony Jefferson #22 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Bengals 34-31.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week Six kicked off on Thursday night with a Packers win and it continues with 13 more games on Sunday, which means that the 26 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered in the lineup barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Giants vs. Rams (in London)

Giants S Nat Berhe (concussion), T Marshall Newhouse (calf) and S Darian Thompson (foot) have been ruled out. LS Zak DeOssie (ankle) is questionable.

The Rams won’t have DT Michael Brockers (thigh) or CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle) on Sunday. WR Nelson Spruce (calf) and G Jamon Brown (hand) are listed as doubtful while DE Robert Quinn (shoulder) and DE William Hayes (ankle) are questionable.

Browns at Bengals

CB Joe Haden (groin) is doubtful for the Browns. The team ruled out CB Marcus Burley (hamstring), WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee) and QB Josh McCown (left shoulder). DE Xavier Cooper (shoulder), WR Terrelle Pryor (hamstring) and TE Randall Telfer (ankle) are listed as questionable.

Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (back) is questionable to make his first appearance of the 2016 season and the only player with an injury designation this week.

Redskins at Lions

Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) is out again this week and WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is questionable.

TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee), LB DeAndre Levy (quadricep, knee), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), RB Theo Riddick (ankle) and T Corey Robinson (ankle) have been ruled out by the Lions. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), G Larry Warford (groin), RB Dwayne Washington (ankle) and LB Tahir Whitehead (abdomen) have been listed as questionable.

Raiders at Jaguars

The Raiders listed OL Vadal Alexander (ankle) as doubtful. They also listed OL Jon Feliciano (calf), C Rodney Hudson (knee), G Gabe Jackson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), S Brynden Trawick (shoulder) and T Menelik Watson (calf) as questionable.

Jaguars T Kelvin Beachum (ankle), TE Julius Thomas (ankle), WR Neal Sterling (foot) and DE Jared Odrick (hip) all got questionable tags.

Saints at Chiefs

Saints LB Stephone Anthony (hamstring), CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), RB Daniel Lasco (hamstring), CB Sterling Moore (abdomen) and T Andrus Peat (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday. DE Paul Kruger (back) and T Terron Armstead (knee) are listed as questionable.

RB Jamaal Charles (knee) is listed as questionable after a limited practice for the Chiefs on Friday. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) is also questionable.

Bills at Dolphins

Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is listed as questionable along with TE Charles Clay (ankle), RB Jerome Felton (back), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee), CB Kevon Seymour (shoulder) and DT Kyle Williams (neck). T Seantrel Henderson (back) is out while DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring) and WR Robert Woods (foot) are doubtful.

The Dolphins ruled out TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), CB Xavien Howard (knee) and TE Dion Sims (concussion). RB Arian Foster (hamstring), LB Jelani Jenkins (groin), CB Tony Lippett (hamstring) and LB Spencer Paysinger (hamstring, calf) have been listed as questionable.

Ravens at Jets

The Ravens are set to play without several starters on Sunday, although QB Joe Flacco (shoulder, questionable) looks in good shape after returning to practice Friday. LB Elvis Dumervil (foot) and LB C.J. Mosley (thigh) have been ruled out while S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), WR Steve Smith (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh) and G Marshal Yanda (shoulder) are unlikely to play after getting doubtful tags. WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), WR Devin Hester (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion) and T Ronnie Stanley (foot) are all listed as questionable.

T Ryan Clady (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (knee) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) were listed as questionable by the Jets. TE Braedon Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), T Brent Qvale (neck) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) have been ruled out.

Vikings at Eagles

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs (groin) and WR Laquon Treadwell (thumb) are both questionable to play and WR Jarius Wright (ankle) is doubtful. DT Sharrif Floyd (knee) and TE MyCole Pruitt (knee, back) have been ruled out.

The Eagles listed CB Ron Brooks (calf), LB Mychal Kendricks (ribs), DT Bennie Logan (groin) and CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) as questionable.

Colts at Titans

The Colts won’t have much work to do on an inactive list with TE Dwayne Allen (ankle), DT Henry Anderson (knee), WR Phillip Dorsett (foot, hamstring), DT Zach Kerr (ankle), LB Curt Maggitt (ankle), G Jack Mewhort (tricep) and WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder) ruled out already. CB Darius Butler (calf, hamstring), S T.J. Green (knee), C Jonotthan Harrison (illness) and WR T.Y. Hilton (hip) got designated as questionable.

The Titans are in better shape than their AFC South rivals as they have no players with injury designations.

Chargers at Falcons

The Chargers will play without S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), LB Jeremiah Attaochu (ankle) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion). WR Travis Benjamin (knee) is questionable.

WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion) and CB C.J. Goodwin (hamstring) are out for the otherwise healthy Falcons.

Buccaneers at 49ers

The bye week wasn’t enough time for Buccaneers DE Robert Ayers (ankle), RB Doug Martin (hamstring) and DT Clinton McDonald (hamstring) to get healthy. They’re out for Sunday and CB Jude Adjei-Barimah (knee), C Joe Hawley (knee), DT Gerald McCoy (calf), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle) are listed as questionable.

RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder) is out for the 49ers. DT Glenn Dorsey (knee), CB Rashard Robinson (concussion) and WR Torrey Smith (back) are questionable.

Patriots at Steelers

TE Martellus Bennett (ankle), RB Brandon Bolden (knee), LB Jamie Collins (hip), WR Julian Edelman (foot), DT Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder), LB Shea McClellin (concussion), WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring), LB Elandon Roberts (ankle) and DT Vincent Valentine (back) were this week’s recipients of questionable designations from the Patriots.

The Steelers ruled out QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee), RB DeAngelo Williams (knee), WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Cam Heyward (hamstring), S Shamarko Thomas (groin) and C Cody Wallace (knee).

Seahawks at Cardinals

S Kam Chancellor (groin) is doubtful to play after missing last week’s Seahawks win. DE Quinton Jefferson (knee), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle), RB Thomas Rawls (fibula) and TE Luke Willson (knee) will not play.

Arizona QB Carson Palmer (hamstring) is listed as questionable, but got in a full practice on Friday. WR Jaron Brown (knee) is also questionable while WR John Brown (leg) and LB Gabe Martin (knee) are doubtful. DT Ed Stinson (toe) is out.

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Full text of NFL’s letter to Josh Brown regarding Commissioner’s exempt list

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28: Roger Goodell announces a draft pick during the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theater on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL announced on Friday that Giants kicker Josh Brown has been placed on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt list pending their review of material relased by the King County (WA) Sheriff’s Office regarding their investigation into allegations that Brown abused his ex-wife.

The full text of the letter from NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy and League Affairs Adolpho Birch informing Brown of the decision appears below.

“Dear Mr. Brown:

On October 19, the King County (WA) Sheriff’s Office announced publicly that it had closed its investigation in connection with the May 22, 2015 altercation between you and your former wife, Molly Brown. As part of its report, the Sheriff’s Office released a volume of documents from its investigation, including in particular a transcript of Ms. Brown’s interview with law enforcement investigators and numerous e-mails, journal entries and other materials, many of which were reportedly authored by you.

As you may be aware, the NFL made multiple requests of the Sheriff’s Office for any and all pertinent information developed through its investigation. Because the Sheriff’s Office was treating its investigation as an open matter, however, the NFL’s requests were rejected and the materials first became known and available to us at the same time they were released publicly. The released materials appear to contain information regarding other incidents of abuse separate from the May 22, 2015 incident for which you were disciplined under the Personal Conduct Policy. As a result, further investigation by the league into those separate incidents is needed.

Accordingly, this will advise that, pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy, Commissioner Goodell has placed you on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt list on a limited and temporary basis to permit the league fully to review the materials and determine whether further action is necessary. We expect to conduct this review expeditiously and make any appropriate adjustments to your roster status in a timely manner.

Your placement on Commissioner Exempt does not represent a finding that you have violated the Personal Conduct Policy. Prior to any determination in that respect, you will be given an opportunity to review our investigatory report, meet with the league, and/or present relevant information on your behalf as provided for by the Policy.

While on Commissioner Exempt, you may not practice or attend games, but with club permission you may be present at the club’s facility for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities. You will be paid your salary pursuant to the terms of your contract and will continue to participate in all applicable benefit plans for which you otherwise qualify under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You also will continue to accrue free agency and pension credit pursuant to the terms of the CBA.

You may appeal this decision to place you on Commissioner Exempt by providing written notice to or by fax to xxx xxx xxxx within three business days of receiving this letter. If you appeal, a hearing will be held promptly before the Commissioner or his designee pursuant to Article 46 of the CBA.

The league will soon contact you regarding the other incidents and any additional investigatory steps that must be taken. The NFLPA will be fully advised and your full cooperation is expected and appreciated. In the interim, if you have any questions concerning this matter, you or your representative may contact me at the address or number below.”

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What’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers?

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Packers prepare to host the 1-5 Bears in a game the home team should win, questions persist regarding the struggles of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

On Thursday’s PFT Live, I addressed 10 potential explanations, harvested not from film review or hot-take short-order cooks but from people in position to know what’s going on.

Here are the 10 possible explanations, all or some of which are causing the guy who not long ago was the clear-cut best quarterback in the NFL to experience a sharp decline while still in his prime.

1. Too many hits.

Although it doesn’t account for the full range of Rodgers’ struggles, which began with a 77-yard performance against the Broncos last October, recent issues may have something to do with the pounding he took against the Vikings five weeks ago. While never on the wrong end of a huge hit, Rodgers was constantly peppered with shots from an aggressive Vikings pass rush.

This has created a belief that he’s paying too much attention to the blocking and the rush, and not enough to watching which of his receivers is or will be open.

2. Defenses are keeping him in the pocket.

As noted recently by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, whose assessments of the situation are regarded in league circles as completely accurate, Rodgers throws much better when he escapes the pocket. By keeping him inside the pocket, Rodgers is simply less effective than he otherwise could be.

3. Free plays aren’t happening.

Rodgers had become very good at using the hard count to get a defensive lineman to jump in the neutral zone, quickly call for the snap, and fire a nothing-to-lose ball down the field, often resulting in a big play.

Per McGinn, last year Rodgers turned neutral-zone infractions into gains of 52, 34, 29, 27, and 22 yards — along with a 52-yard pass interference penalty — in the first six weeks of the season. Since then, none.

4. Receivers aren’t getting open.

As noted both by McGinn and future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, the receivers aren’t getting open quickly enough. Whether that’s due to the offensive design, which requires receivers to beat man coverage without a bunch of gimmicks and tricks (like bunch formations), or the limitations of the receivers, if they’re not open, it’s hard to get them the ball.

5. Rodgers isn’t trusting what he sees.

Rodgers may be partially responsible for the receivers not being open because he’s not trusting what he sees when receivers are trying to get open.

By not anticipating that the receivers will get open and waiting until they are, the delay in the process of seeing them open and delivering the ball results in them not being open by the time the ball arrives. Or it results in Rodgers holding the ball too long and missing the window completely.

6. Rodgers lacks a high-end pass-catching tight end.

Every since the retirement of Jermichael Finley, the Packers have struggled to replace the production of the tight end position in the passing game. Without that presence putting pressure on the middle of the defense, it’s easier to account for the pass-catchers on the outside.

7. Sitton’s departure.

Some think the absence of Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton is a factor in the regression of Rodgers. But the problems began while Sitton was still there.

Put simply, the belief is that the issues would still exist, even if Sitton was still a Packer.

8. Impaired running game.

It’s no secret that a potent running game makes it easier to throw the ball, especially via play-action. The Packers haven’t had a potent running game in recent months, which has allowed defenses to skew toward stopping the pass.

9. Rodgers may be freelancing.

It’s impossible to know this unless someone publicly or privately breaks ranks, but there’s a theory from some in the know that Rodgers has developed a habit of ignoring the plays that have been communicated to him from the sideline. Apart from creating extra tension with the coaching staff (regardless of whether Rodgers’ efforts are successful), it’s possible that Rodgers is changing the play from something that would have worked to something that doesn’t.

“My guess is that Rodgers, after 12 years as a pro, would be a hard man to coach,” McGinn recently wrote. That can manifest itself in many ways, including Rodgers thinking he knows what works better than the men paid a lot of money to decide on what will and won’t.

10. Personal issues.

Last year, Rob Demovsky of threw a rock into the hornet’s nest by suggesting that Rodgers may be having issues with girlfriend Olivia Munn. For that reason and plenty of others, I won’t be nearly that specific.

But the reality is that personal issues can indeed make it harder to be successful at work for anyone. It can be even more of an issue for NFL franchise quarterbacks, who carry their work pretty much everywhere they go.

Regardless of what the issues may be or how they may have arisen or who they may involve, when trying to identify the potential reasons for a consistent dip in the play of a short-list franchise quarterback, it’s fair to wonder whether something unrelated to football is affecting his football performance.

This isn’t about intruding on his privacy or pouring salt into any wounds. It’s about trying to understand why, at a time when his remaining physical skills and ever-accumulating experiences should be causing him to enter the mid-30s sweet spot where he essentially becomes a coach on the field, Rodgers isn’t playing like he did in his 20s.

That said, he still has the skills and the brains to turn it around. If/when it happens, the Packers will be a dangerous presence down the stretch and in the postseason.

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PFT’s Week Seven picks

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 16:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants sticks his head through the kicking net after scoring the go ahead touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 16, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the first time this year, I’m in the lead over MDS. And only MDS and I care about it.

After pulling off a 4-1 margin in the five games on which we disagreed, I’m now up by two games.

We disagree by two games this week. So maybe we’ll be tied next week at this time. Or maybe I’ll be doubling him up.

For the week, I was 11-4. MDS went 8-7. For the year, well, we’ll calculate those numbers when they aren’t as pathetic as they currently are.

Bears at Packers

MDS’s take: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing the worst football of his career. Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer is actually playing pretty well. Could I see an upset? Not really. The Packers have been disappointing this season, but the Bears are among the worst teams in the NFL.

MDS’s pick: Packers 27, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: The Packers have a fever. And the only prescription is more cow-crap opponents.

Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Bears 17.

Giants at Rams

MDS’s take: With the Giants and Rams both at 3-3, this is one of the better games the NFL has sent to London, which usually hosts absolute dogs. I think the same Rams defense that allowed Golden Tate to get loose in the secondary last week is going to let Odell Beckham have a big game this week, and the Giants will win.

MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Rams 20.

Florio’s take: If/when the L.A. defense and Odell Beckham mix it up, even the English soccer hooligans may blush.

Florio’s pick: Rams 27, Giants 24.

Saints at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Last week’s win over the Raiders was a statement game for the Chiefs’ defense. They’ll keep it going with a better than expected day against Drew Brees & Co.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Saints 13.

Florio’s take: The Saints have turned it around, but it won’t be easy to win at Arrowhead Stadium. It never is.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Saints 24.

Colts at Titans

MDS’s take: As hard as it is to believe, the Titans have a real chance of winning the AFC South. Their running attack is going to be tough for the Colts to stop.

MDS’s pick: Titans 17, Colts 12.

Florio’s take: The Colts have beaten the Titans nine straight times and 14 of 15. Never bet on a streak to end, they say. I say all streaks eventually do.

 Florio’s pick: Titans 28, Colts 21.

Vikings at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles got off to a great start this season, but they did it against a fairly easy schedule. Now the schedule is getting tougher, and the Eagles are struggling. It won’t get any easier against the stout Vikings defense.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take: Forget about Carson Wentz vs. the Vikings defense; Sam Bradford’s return to Philly is the headline here. And Jim Schwartz will have something cooked up for Bradford. It may not be enough — unless Bradford ends up knocked out of the game.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Eagles 20.

Browns at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Browns will win a game at some point this season, and the Bengals haven’t been playing well, but I just can’t see it happening. Marvin Lewis will have his players ready to stop his old offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s attack.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 20, Browns 7.

Florio’s take: Hue Jackson returns to Cincinnati, and don’t be shocked if this one is close. A loss for the Bengals could guarantee major changes after the season.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 34, Browns 20.

Washington at Lions

MDS’s take: This is pretty much a toss-up game, but I’ll say the Lions get a late field goal and win.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Washington 23.

Florio’s take: The Lions are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their last team that actually won a playoff game. That team was blown out by Washington in the NFC title game. The 2016 Lions get their chance to vindicate them.

Florio’s pick: Lions 23, Washington 17.

Raiders at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Jaguars found a way to beat the Bears last week, and an easy schedule may make Jacksonville a contender in the AFC South. But I think the Jaguars’ offense is an absolute mess, and the Raiders should take this one in a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 17, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take: Based on the way the Raiders have been playing at 1:00 p.m. ET, maybe they should move from Oakland to Orlando.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 28, Jaguars 24.

Bills at Dolphins

MDS’s take: I was skeptical of Rex Ryan when he fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman after two games, but the results are the results: Ryan’s players are playing hard for him, the offense is improved, and the Bills have won four in a row. Buffalo will make it five in a row on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take: The Bills are soaring, but the Dolphins have finally found a formula for winning. Let’s see if they can combine the ingredients properly for two straight weeks.

Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Dolphins 23.

Ravens at Jets

MDS’s take: The Jets look like the worst team in the NFL, with glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball. Baltimore should dominate this game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 31, Jets 13.

Florio’s take: John Harbaugh will spend the next three days praying no one else punches Geno Smith in the jaw.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Jets 17.

Buccaneers at 49ers

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is going anywhere, but I’ll say Colin Kaepernick makes some plays with his legs and gets his first win as the 49ers’ starter in more than a year.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 21, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take: The Bucs are rested, the 49ers are reeling — and the defense already is spent.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, 49ers 17.

Chargers at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons’ passing game is outstanding, and I don’t think the Chargers’ secondary will be able to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take: The Chargers won’t have to worry about blowing a fourth-quarter lead in this one.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Chargers 21.

Patriots at Steelers

MDS’s take: Timing is everything in the NFL. If these teams had med a few weeks ago and it was Jacoby Brissett vs. Ben Roethlisberger, I’d take the Steelers easily. But it’s Tom Brady vs. Landy Jones, so I’m taking the Patriots easily.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Steelers 14.

Florio’s take: The team that scratched and clawed its way through four games without the starting quarterback now get a break when going to one of the few places where they could have lost.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Steelers 20.

Seahawks at Cardinals

MDS’s take: The Cardinals are a much better team than they showed early this season, but the Seahawks’ defense is outstanding, and I think Carson Palmer is going to struggle on Sunday night.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 14.

Florio’s take: The Cardinals have won two in a row against one-win teams. They still have a long way to go to become what they were last year. The Seahawks likewise aren’t quite what they were last year, but they’re closer than Arizona is.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 30, Cardinals 23.

Texans at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Brock Osweiler Bowl could get ugly for the Texans’ quarterback, who is going to struggle mightily against his old team. Denver should dominate.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 23, Texans 10.

Florio’s take: The Broncos won’t kill Brock Osweiler literally, but they may help kill his career in Houston figuratively.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Texans 17.

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Week Seven Power Rankings


1. Vikings (5-0; last week No. 1): This weekend on FOX, the Vikings and Sammy Bradfridgewater visit the Eagles.

2. Patriots (5-1; No. 2): They weren’t necessarily crisp or dominant, and they still beat the Bengals by 18. In other words, it could be time to clear another spot in the trophy case.

3. Seahawks (4-1; No. 3): They haven’t been necessarily crisp or dominant all year, and they still keep winning. In other words, it could be time to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, again.

4. Cowboys (5-1; No. 10): America’s Team faces a decision almost as difficult as the one America faces.

5. Falcons (4-2; No. 6): A game-deciding non-call could end up deciding the fate of a team that now may be more likely to have to go back to Seattle in the playoffs.

6. Washington (4-2; No. 11): Where did the “Kirk Cousins can’t win without Jordan Reed” crowd go?

7. Packers (3-2; No. 3): Good news . . . the Packers traded for Knile Davis. Bad news . . . he doesn’t play quarterback.

8. Steelers (4-2; No. 5): A potentially special season is going to be derailed by an inability to beat not-so-special teams on the road.

9. Broncos (4-2; No. 7): The defense is somehow better. The offense is somehow worse.

10. Bills (4-2; No. 14): Are the Bills for real? They next two games (at Miami, vs. New England) will provide the answer.

11. Texans (4-2; No. 12): Winning games they should win will get them to the playoffs. Winning games they shouldn’t will get them to the Super Bowl.

12. Chiefs (3-2; No. 15): “Hungry Pig Right” isn’t just a barnyard warning.

13. Raiders (4-2; No. 8): Every time it looks like the Raiders are ready to be the Raiders again, they remind us that they’re not.

14. Cardinals (3-3; No. 18): David Johnson will soon be the best running back in the NFL. And by soon I mean right now.

15. Eagles (3-2; No. 9): The bye week was the equivalent of Samson getting a flattop.

16. Titans (3-3; No. 21): Kendall Wright has given the passing game a new dynamic, and the Titans are moving toward relevance, and the playoffs.

17. Giants (3-3; No. 22): With Odell Beckham Jr., the good outweighs the bad. But the corny outweighs both.

18. Lions (3-3; No. 23): The fact that the offense hasn’t missed a beat without Calvin Johnson needs to be remembered when it’s time to consider him for the Hall of Fame.

19. Ravens (3-3; No. 13): They’re performing well despite plenty of injuries, but the injuries are doing just enough to keep them from winning.

20. Buccaneers (2-3; No. 19): With three straight home games on the horizon and an 0-2 record in Tampa, the stands may soon be more full during a lightning delay.

21. Bengals (2-4; No. 16): Hue Jackson returns to Cincinnati with a team sufficiently talented to drop the Bengals even farther down this list.

22. Rams (3-3; No. 17): With the Rams in London, blue and yellow spotlights will be directed at Big Ben each night this week between the hours of 7-9.

23. Saints (2-3; No. 25): However this season turns out, Drew Brees is cementing his case for Canton.

24. Jaguars (2-3; No. 26): When the Raiders come to town, Jack Del Rio finally will get a chance to take a swim in a Jacksonville pool without paying the water bill.

25. Dolphins (2-4; No. 28): Most quarterbacks will perform well with good blocking, and most won’t without it.

26. Chargers (2-4; No. 31): Mike McCoy may have saved his job on Thursday night, but with games at Atlanta and Denver coming, the reprieve may be temporary.

27. Panthers (1-5; No. 20): A 10-game season starts after the bye, and the Panthers are still good enough to win most of them.

28. Colts (2-4; No. 24): Coach Chuck Pagano is “encouraged” by the team’s performance on Sunday night, which makes sense only if he’s hoping for a three-year buyout.

29. Jets (1-5; No. 27): If the Jets are going to use Geno Smith as a relief pitcher, they should consider firing up the bullpen before it’s 28-3.

30. 49ers (1-5; No. 29): Has any franchise gone from perennial contender to perennial laughingstock more quickly?

31. Bears (1-5; No. 30): Another week, another one-win team heads to prime-time.

32. Browns (0-6; No. 32): The Cavs and Indians have given the Browns perfect cover for a full-season tank.

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NFL morning after: Let them celebrate

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won 27-23. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) AP

The NFL is facing some problems. TV ratings are down. There’s a general sense that this year’s slate of games has been unexciting. There’s a constant tension between concerns about player safety and concerns that tough, physical play is being legislated out of the sport. Distrust between the owners and the players is at an all-time high.

So what has the NFL decided to crack down on? Celebrations.

Specifically, players celebrating after touchdowns, which for some reason the league has decided is a great offense that must be stopped.

All season long, NFL referees have been cracking down on “excessive” celebrations, and those stupid penalties reared their ugly heads again yesterday.

The first player busted by the league’s fun police was Washington tight end Vernon Davis, who picked up a 15-yard penalty because he mimicked shooting a basketball after scoring a touchdown. He didn’t taunt anybody, didn’t do anything vulgar, didn’t put on an elaborate dance, he just pretended to shoot a basketball, and for that he was penalized 15 yards. That is stupid. And to make matters worse for Washington, that 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff led to Philadelphia returning that kickoff for a touchdown. Is that really how we want NFL games decided? On touchdowns set up by celebration penalties?

Davis’s teammate, cornerback Josh Norman, spoke out last week about the crackdown on celebrations after he was penalized for mimmicking the use of a bow and arrow.

Why can’t we have fun within the game?” Norman said. “It don’t even make any sense. It’s stupid in a way to a point where … like, who is running the ship? And why are we allowing things to happen like that that shouldn’t be? That’s kind of how I feel.”

Washington wasn’t the only team affected by celebration penalties, however. After scoring the game-winning touchdown for the Giants, Odell Beckham got a 15-yard penalty for taking off his helmet in celebration. That penalty nearly cost the Giants the game, as the additional 15 yards gave the Ravens good field position in the final minute. Fortunately for Beckham, the Ravens came up short, and the game ended with Baltimore throwing incomplete into the end zone.

Should Beckham know better than to take his helmet off in celebration? Sure. But why is that a 15-yard penalty? Who is it hurting?

NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said earlier this season that the league has to crack down on celebrations or else players will take them too far. “Believe me, if we let this go, it will continue to grow and certain players will continue to try to outdo each other, and then it leads to other things,” Blandino said.

The NFL’s officiating department should have better things to worry about, and the league should allow players to have a little fun and celebrate after a touchdown. The rule should be that if a celebration delays the game, the player is penalized five yards for delay of game. If it doesn’t delay the game, a player should be free to celebrate. A 15-yard penalty for a mild celebration is ridiculous. Football is supposed to be fun, and the NFL forgets that at its peril.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday’s games:

What’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers? Although Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer, the facts are the facts: He just isn’t playing well. He entered Sunday’s games dead last among the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks in completion percentage, and he turned in an ugly performance yesterday against the Cowboys. There haven’t been many times in Rodgers’ career that I’ve watched one of his passes and thought, “What the hell was he looking at?” But that’s exactly what I wondered when he threw an interception directly into the hands of Cowboys linebacker Barry Church yesterday. Rodgers’ completion percentage, yards per pass and passer rating last year were all career lows, and he’s even worse in all three statistical categories this year. Rodgers is simply not the player he used to be.

You can’t bench Dak Prescott. You just can’t. The flip side of Rodgers’ disappointing performance yesterday in Green Bay is that Prescott, the Cowboys’ rookie quarterback, remains outstanding. I wrote last week that Prescott is better than Tony Romo, and if anything I feel more strongly after watching the way Prescott carved up the Packers’ defense yesterday, even without the injured receiver Dez Bryant. The Cowboys claim Romo will return to the starting lineup when he’s healthy, but I simply can’t believe that. Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Brett Favre both said during the TV broadcast of Cowboys-Packers that Prescott is too good to bench, and I agree with them.

Marcus Peters can intercept a football like no one else in the NFL. Last week, as he prepared to face Peters, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made a special point of saying he would avoid throwing in Peters’ direction. And yet Peters, the Chiefs’ second-year cornerback, managed to get an interception off Carr anyway. Peters now leads the NFL with five interceptions this year, after leading the NFL with eight interceptions as a rookie last year. Peters now has 13 career interceptions in 21 career games. That’s incredible.

Case Keenum is actually not bad. Keenum, the Rams’ starting quarterback and placeholder for No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, had the best game of his career in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. Keenum completed 27 of 32 passes for 321 yards, with three touchdowns. Keenum may never be a great starting quarterback, or even a good starting quarterback. But he’s playing fairly well. The Rams have their share of problems, but Keenum is not one of them.

The Falcons got jobbed. On fourth-and-10 with less than two minutes to play and Seattle leading 26-24, Atlanta had one last chance. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw a deep ball to Julio Jones, who had a step on cornerback Richard Sherman but had to come back for the slightly underthrown ball. As Jones went to catch the pass, Sherman grabbed his arm. Jones wasn’t able to catch the ball, but it was clear pass interference. The Falcons should have had the ball, first-and-10 at the Seahawks’ 36-yard line, already in range for what could have been a long game-winning field goal. Unfortunately, the officials missed the clear penalty, and the Seahawks won the game. That was a terrible non-call by the officials, one that has the potential to affect playoff seeding for the Falcons and Seahawks. The NFL’s officiating department should start worrying about why pass interference is called so inconsistently, and stop worrying about celebrations.

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Week Six early inactives

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 09: Theo Riddick #25 of the Detroit Lions gives a stiff arm to Rodney McLeod #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles during first half action at Ford Field on October 9, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.

Seven games kick off at 1 p.m. ET and the teams taking part are announcing the players they’ll have available on Sunday. Check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

49ers at Bills

49ers: CB Jimmie Ward, QB Christian Ponder, DB Jaquiski Tartt, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, OL John Theus, TE Blake Bell, DT Taylor Hart

Bills: DT Marcell Dareus, QB Cardale Jones, OL Seantrel Henderson, OL Gabe Ikard, C Patrick Lewis, T Cyrus Kouandjio, TE Gerald Christian

Jaguars at Bears

Jaguars: WR Rashad Greene, RB Corey Grant, WR Neal Sterling, QB Brandon Allen, CB Josh Johnson, DE Chris Smith, OL Bryce Harris.

Bears: CB Deiondre’ Hall, QB Jay Cutler, LB Leonard Floyd, RB Jeremy Langford, DL Eddie Goldman, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, C Eric Kush

Rams at Lions

Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Pharoh Cooper, QB Sean Mannion, T Pace Murphy, TE Temarrick Hemingway, WR Nelson Spruce, DE Robert Quinn

Lions: TE Eric Ebron, LB DeAndre Levy, RB Theo Riddick, DT Haloti Ngata, RB Dwayne Washington, G Larry Warford, CB Adairius Barnes

Steelers at Dolphins

Steelers: DE Cam Heyward, T Marcus Gilbert, LB Ryan Shazier, S Shamarko Thomas, C Cody Wallace, WR Markus Wheaton, QB Zach Mettenberger

Dolphins: TE Jordan Cameron, CB Xavien Howard, CB Bene Benwikere, CB Walt Aikens, DT Julius Warmsley, T Sam Young, DL Terrence Fede

Bengals at Patriots

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert, QB Jeff Driskel, WR Cody Core, DB Chykie Brown, DB KeiVarae Russell, OL Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams

Patriots: LB Shea McClellin, LB Jamie Collins, RB Brandon Bolden, CB Cyrus Jones, DT Vincent Valentine, T LaAdrian Waddle, CB Justin Coleman

Panthers at Saints

Panthers: CB James Bradberry, DT Vernon Butler, CB Robert McClain, DT Paul Soliai, T Michael Oher, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, LB Jeremy Cash

Saints: T Terron Armstead, CB Delvin Breaux, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Paul Kruger, QB Joe Callahan, CB De’Vante Harris, RB Marcus Murphy

Ravens at Giants

Ravens: LB Elvis Dumervil, KR Devin Hester, LB C.J. Mosley, DT Willie Henry, G Marshal Yanda, T Ronnie Stanley WR Steve Smith

Giants: S Nat Berhe, S Darian Thompson, T Marshall Newhouse, CB Eli Apple, QB Josh Johnson, WR Tavarres King, LB Deontae Skinner

Browns at Titans

Browns: WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, TE Randall Telfer, QB Josh McCown, CB Joe Haden, RB Dan Vitale, DL Xavier Cooper

Titans: DT Al Woods, CB Cody Riggs, DB Curtis Riley, LB Aaron Wallace, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Harry Douglas, TE Jace Amaro

Eagles at Redskins

Eagles: CB Leodis McKelvin,WR Bryce Treggs, DE Steven Means, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Isaac Seumalo, CB C.J. Smith

Redskins: WR Josh Doctson, TE Jordan Reed, CB Dashaun Phillips, QB Nate Sudfeld, S Su’a Cravens, OL Vinston Painter, DL Anthony Lanier

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Week Six injury report roundup

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after intercepting a pass against wide receiver Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Steelers 39-30.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week Six kicked off on Thursday night with a Chargers win and it continues with 13 more games on Sunday, which means that the 26 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered in the lineup barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

49ers at Bills

CB Jimmie Ward (quadricep) remains out for the 49ers, who gave questionable tags to LB Ahmad Brooks (groin), DT DeForest Buckner (foot), DT Glenn Dorsey (knee) and S Jaquiski Tartt (quadricep).

DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring) will likely miss another game for the Bills after being listed as doubtful. LB Zach Brown (foot), DT Corbin Bryant (ankle), TE Charles Clay (knee), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee), P Colton Schmidt (right quadricep), CB Corey White (shoulder) and S Aaron Williams (ankle) landed in the questionable column.

Jaguars at Bears

The Jaguars haven’t ruled anyone out, but RB Corey Grant (toe), WR Rashad Greene (achilles) and TE Neal Sterling (foot) are questionable.

Bears QB Jay Cutler (right thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle) and RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) are likely to miss another game after drawing doubtful tags. CB Deiondre’ Hall (ankle) is definitely out. LB Sam Acho (ribs), CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring), RB Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), LB Leonard Floyd (calf), LB Jerrell Freeman (wrist), WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), G Kyle Long (shoulder), T Bobby Massie (ankle), TE Zach Miller (ribs), CB Tracy Porter (knee), WR Eddie Royal (calf), G Josh Sitton (shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee, elbow) make up the long list of Bears listed as questionable.

Rams at Lions

CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle) won’t be in the lineup for the Rams. DT Michael Brockers (hip), DE William Hayes (ankle), WR Brian Quick (calf), DE Robert Quinn (shoulder) and G Cody Wichmann (ankle) are all questionable. Brockers, Hayes and Quinn all missed last week’s loss.

The Lions ruled out four regulars in TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee), LB DeAndre Levy (quadricep, knee), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder) and RB Theo Riddick (ankle). They put questionable tags on DE Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), WR Anquan Boldin (ankle), S Don Carey (ribs), DT A’Shawn Robinson (shoulder), G Laken Tomlinson (neck), G Larry Warford (hip) and RB Dwayne Washington (ankle).

Steelers at Dolphins

The Steelers will play without T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring), LB Ryan Shazier (knee), S Shamarko Thomas (groin), C Cody Wallace (knee) and WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) in Miami. WR Sammie Coates (finger) is listed as questionable.

Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) and CB Xavien Howard (knee) will miss another game. S Isa Abdul-Quddus (knee), RB Arian Foster (hamstring), WR Jakeem Grant (ankle), TE MarQueis Gray (calf), LB Jelani Jenkins (groin), S Reshad Jones (groin), G Anthony Steen (ankle) and T Laremy Tunsil (ankle). Tunsil and Foster didn’t play last week.

Bengals at Patriots

The Bengals have one player on their injury report this week. TE Tyler Eifert (back, ankle) has been ruled out for the sixth straight week.

A typically long list of Patriots listed as questionable includes TE Martellus Bennett (ankle), RB LeGarrette Blount (hip), RB Brandon Bolden (knee), T Marcus Cannon (calf), LB Jamie Collins (hip), WR Julian Edelman (foot), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring, illness), LB Shea McClellin (concussion), WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring), G Joe Thuney (shoulder) and DT Vincent Valentine (back). LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder) and TE Greg Scruggs (knee) have been ruled out.

Panthers at Saints

Five Panthers — CB James Bradberry (foot), DT Vernon Butler (ankle), CB Robert McClain (hamstring), T Michael Oher (concussion), DT Paul Soliai (foot) — are out for Sunday’s game. WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee), DE Charles Johnson (quadricep), QB Cam Newton (concussion) and RB Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) were listed as questionable.

T Terron Armstead (knee), CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) and LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep) remain out for the Saints. TE Josh Hill (ankle), C Senio Kelemete (hamstring), DE Paul Kruger (back) and LB James Laurinaitis (quadricep) got questionable designations.

Ravens at Giants

The Ravens ruled out LB Elvis Dumervil (foot) and listed WR Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), WR Steve Smith (ankle), T Ronnie Stanley (foot) and G Marshal Yanda (shoulder) as doubtful. S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (calf), T Rick Wagner (thigh), WR Mike Wallace (chest) and CB Shareece Wright (back) all drew questionable tags.

Giants S Nat Berhe (concussion), T Marshall Newhouse (calf) and S Darian Thompson (foot) will miss the game. CB Eli Apple (groin), WR Dwayne Harris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (thumb), LB Devon Kennard (concussion), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) are listed as questionable.

Browns at Titans

The Browns put G Joel Bitonio (foot) on injured reserve Friday while ruling out WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee), QB Josh McCown (left shoulder) and TE Randall Telfer (ankle). TE Gary Barnidge (forearm, hip), DE Xavier Cooper (shoulder), CB Joe Haden (groin) and CB Tramon Williams (shoulder) are questionable.

Titans DT Al Woods (calf) is out and CB Cody Riggs (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

Eagles at Redskins

DT Fletcher Cox (ankle) and CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) are listed as questionable by the Eagles.

WR Josh Doctson (achilles) will miss another game for the Redskins. CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), S Su’a Cravens (concussion), CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) and TE Jordan Reed (concussion) got questionable designations.

Chiefs at Raiders

The Chiefs return from their bye with a clean injury report.

G Vadal Alexander (ankle), RB Latavius Murray (toe) and T Menelik Watson (calf) won’t play for the Raiders. S Nate Allen (quadricep), G Jon Feliciano (calf), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), T Matt McCants (knee), LB Malcolm Smith (quadricep) and TE Clive Walford (knee) are questionable.

Cowboys at Packers

K Dan Bailey (back), WR Dez Bryant (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (ankle), RB Lance Dunbar (knee), DE David Irving (concussion), DT Terrell McClain (shoulder), T Tyron Smith (back), LB Kyle Wilber (neck), WR Terrance Williams (shoulder) and TE Jason Witten (chest) are questionable for the Cowboys, although word from Dallas Friday suggested Bryant will miss a third straight game. T Chaz Green (foot), QB Tony Romo (back) and CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring) are out.

The Packers ruled out S Chris Banjo (hamstring), TE Jared Cook (ankle) and CB Sam Shields (concussion). RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), CB Damarious Randall (groin) and RB James Starks (knee) are questionable on the injury report.

Falcons at Seahawks

LB Paul Worrilow (groin) is out for the otherwise healthy Falcons.

The Seahawks return from their bye without DE Quinton Jefferson (thumb) and RB Thomas Rawls (fibula). S Kam Chancellor (groin) is questionable after a Friday addition to the injury report. DE Frank Clark (hamstring), RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) and DT Garrison Smith (oblique) are also questionable.

Colts at Texans

The Colts won’t have C Jonotthan Harrison (illness), DT Zach Kerr (ankle) and WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder) on Sunday night. They are holding out hope for WR Quan Bray (shin), CB Darius Butler (hand), WR T.Y. Hilton (hip) and CB Patrick Robinson (knee, hip) after listing them as questionable.

G Jeff Allen (concussion), TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring), S Quintin Demps (calf), RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) and LB Brian Peters (quadricep) are out for the Texans. WR Will Fuller (hamstring), CB Kareem Jackson (hamstring) and T Derek Newton (ankle) drew questionable tags.

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PFT’s Week Six picks

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks on from the sidelines during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week, MDS and yours truly disagreed on none of the 14 games played. Maybe we should have.

We both went 7-7, continuing a not-so-stellar showing when it comes to prognosticating outcomes in 2016.

The only good news? I managed to accomplish a rare hole-in-one, accurately predicting the final score of the Jets-Steelers game, which Pittsburgh won, 31-13.

Beyond that, we both stunk. To see how badly we’ll stink this week, scroll on.

Broncos at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chargers are a better team than their 1-4 record suggests, having been outscored by a total of just five points this season. So I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat the Broncos. But I think Denver’s defense will rebound from a subpar game last week and the Broncos will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 13, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take: The short week and the absence of Gary Kubiak could be just the kick the Chargers need to build a lead and, for a change, to hold a lead.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Broncos 21.

49ers at Bills

MDS’s take: Colin Kaepernick returns as the 49ers’ starting quarterback on Sunday against a Bills defense that will be ready to pressure him. I think it’s going to be a long day for the 49ers’ offense.

MDS’s pick: Bills 20, 49ers 7.

Florio’s take: Chris Beman’s annual Super Bowl prediction that never was arrives again, with the Bills the better team and Colin Kaepernick getting a chance to resurrect his career. It’s likely time for a correction by an overachieving Bills team, but the 49ers don’t have the horses to pull it off.

Florio’s pick: Bills 31, 49ers 21.

Eagles at Washington

MDS’s take: The Eagles started slowly and had two late turnovers in Sunday’s loss at Detroit, but I still like the way they’re playing, on both sides of the ball. This looks like a playoff team to me.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Washington 20.

Florio’s take: How will the Eagles deal with adversity? We’re about to find out.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 21.

Browns at Titans

MDS’s take: I think Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is starting to come on after a slow start to the season, and I love the way DeMarco Murray is playing. The Titans should put a lot of points on the board against the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Titans 31, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: When the dust settles in the AFC South, the team with the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense could be hanging a banner.

Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Browns 17.

Ravens at Giants

MDS’s take: These two teams are about evenly matched, so I’m taking the home team. And that’s what we call “analysis.”

MDS’s pick: Giants 20, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take: Two teams that started the season a combined 5-0 are now a combined 0-5. Give the edge to the team that: (1) is playing at home; and (2) didn’t just make Marty Mornhinweg its offensive coordinator.

Florio’s pick: Giants 27, Ravens 20.

Panthers at Saints

MDS’s take: As ugly as the start to the season has been for the Panthers, I’m still not ready to say they can’t turn things around and make a late-season push for the playoffs. I think they’re going to get that push started on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Saints 24.

Florio’s take: The Saints are rested, the Panthers are reeling. The Panthers need to put 2015 behind them, and that won’t happen until after the bye. At the earliest.

Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Panthers 27.

Jaguars at Bears

MDS’s take: These are two of the worst teams in the league, but the way Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer is playing, I figure Chicago should put some points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Bears 30, Jaguars 20.

Florio’s take: The Jaguars typically get better after playing in England, and the Bears are one of the best teams for launching a post-London bump.

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 27, Bears 24.

Rams at Lions

MDS’s take: The Lions have been one of the hardest teams for me to pick this year: I thought they’d lose to the Colts and Eagles, but they won. I thought they’d beat the Titans and Bears, but they lost. So it’s probably bad news for Lions fans that I think they’re going to beat the Rams.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Rams 14.

Florio’s take: The team that could have had Aaron Donald gets a look at him. It may be too close for comfort for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Lions 21.

Steelers at Dolphins

MDS’s take: After an ugly performance last week, the Dolphins cut a couple offensive linemen this week. The problem is, cutting guys in the middle of the season only helps if you have better players ready to replace them. I think the Dolphins’ offense will remain ugly.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Dolphins 10.

Florio’s take: Hopefully, the upgrades at Hard Rock Stadium included a third digit for the scoreboard.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 42, Dolphins 24.

Bengals at Patriots

MDS’s take: Tom Brady had no trouble shaking off the rust last week and should turn in a big performance this week as well. The Bengals are falling into a deep hole in the AFC playoff race.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take: The Patriots once again are on to Cincinnati. Once again, they’ll be all over Cincinnati.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 41, Bengals 26.

Chiefs at Raiders

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Raiders are quite as good as their 4-1 record suggests, but I don’t know if Kansas City has the weapons to take advantage of Oakland’s problems on defense. I’ll take Oakland in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 21, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take: One of the best rivalries in the NFL resumes, and the problem for the Raiders is that Chiefs coach Andy Reid typically does very well after a bye week.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Raiders 27.

Falcons at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Falcons have played some great football this season, but I love the way the Seahawks’ defense matches up with Matt Ryan, who I’m expecting will have his worst game of the season on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Falcons 14.

Florio’s take: Few expected the Falcons to beat the Panthers. Fewer expected the Falcons to beat the Broncos. No one expects the Falcons to beat the Seahawks. If they do, pencil them in for Houston in February.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Falcons 24.

Cowboys at Packers

MDS’s take: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are playing outstanding football behind the Cowboys’ stellar offensive line. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their defense isn’t going to keep up with Aaron Rodgers & Co.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Cowboys 28.

Florio’s take: The good news for Dallas is that the Dak-versus-Tony debate is about to be suspended. Green Bay’ offense has plenty of lapses, but the defense is better.

Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Cowboys 20.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: The AFC South is a mess, but if the Texans can win this game they’ll be the favorites to win the division. I think they’ll do just that.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Colts 17.

Florio’s take: The Texans continue to be good enough to lose in one of the first two rounds of the playoffs and, before that, to get there by winning the games they should.

Florio’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 20.

Jets at Cardinals

MDS’s take: It’s another bad Monday night game. We’ve had a lot of those this year. I think Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald will have a big game against a Jets secondary that has given up a lot of big plays this season.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 34, Jets 20.

Florio’s take: Todd Bowles is back in Arizona. He possibly is starting to wish he’d never left.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Jets 17.

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Week Six Power Rankings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9:  Marcus Sherels #35 of the Minnesota Vikings returns a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against the Houston Texans on October 9, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Vikings (5-0; last week No. 2): They’re averaging one win per injured offensive starter.

2. Patriots (4-1; No. 4): If #Tommy throws for 406 yards when he’s rusty, what will he do when he’s not?

3. Packers (3-1; No. 3): Defensive improvements are making up for an inconsistent offense.

4. Seahawks (3-1; No. 6): Soon, they’ll be vying for the top spot.

5. Steelers (4-1; No. 7): Soon, they’ll be vying for the top spot.

6. Falcons (4-1; No. 8): Soon, they’ll be vying for the top spot.

7. Broncos (4-1; No. 1): Soon, they could be in third place in their own division.

8. Raiders (4-1; No. 11): Soon, they could be holding another Super Bowl trophy.

9. Eagles (3-1; No. 5): The next hurdle for the new-look Eagles will be to learn how to win close games.

10. Cowboys (4-1; No. 12): Dak or Romo? With Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys arguably can’t go wrong.

11. Washington (3-2; No. 17): Those two losses to start the season got everyone to write them off, which is when they tend to play their best.

12. Texans (3-2; No. 10): Another year, another postseason berth with an early exit.

13. Ravens (3-2; No. 13): If you’re a failed former NFC North coach, you may be on the short list to be the next offensive coordinator.

14. Bills (3-2; No. 21): With wins over Arizona and L.A., the Bills may be the best team in the NFC West.

15. Chiefs (2-2; No. 16): Andy Reid takes his excellent post-bye record to Oakland for a revival of one of the great rivalries in the NFL.

16. Bengals (2-3; No. 14): Being the best team in Ohio will take the Bengals only so far.

17. Rams (3-2; No. 15): “Maybe we should have announced the double-secret Jeff Fisher extension before the Bills game.”

18. Cardinals (2-3; No. 19): It’s not over, but it still feels like it hasn’t gotten started.

19. Buccaneers (2-3; No. 23): 4-for-8 is acceptable for Roberto — but only if his last name was Clemente.

20. Panthers (1-4; No. 9): It’s officially time to panic.

21. Titans (2-3; No. 24): Don’t go to sleep on the Titans, even though watching their games may put you there.

22. Giants (2-3; No. 18): Yep, it was all Tom Coughlin’s fault.

23. Lions (2-3; No. 30): A much-needed win for Jim Caldwell could be the spark of confidence this team needs. To get to 7-9.

24. Colts (2-3; No. 28): Sunday’s win delays the inevitable implosion, and when it happens it will be everyone’s fault except the front office’s.

25. Saints (1-3; No. 25): Not long ago, they fought the Panthers for division supremacy. Now, they’ll be battling with them for the basement.

26. Jaguars (1-3; No. 26): Another post-London surge won’t be easy, with five of the next seven games on the road.

27. Jets (1-4; No. 20): How long until Woody Johnson hits the reset button, again?

28. Dolphins (1-4; No. 22): At least those new chairs in the refurbished stadium won’t be absorbing much wear and tear.

29. 49ers (1-4; No. 27): “Traffic problems” will plague the first quarter of every home game. And the second. And the third. And the fourth.

30. Bears (1-4; No. 29): The Bears have no plan at quarterback. Or at any other level or aspect of the organization.

31. Chargers (1-4; No. 31): With a stadium election looming, the Chargers are doing their best to attract the pity demographic.

32. Browns (0-5; No. 32): They’re gradually proving Brian Billick right.

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NFL morning after: No debate, Dak is better than Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass as guard Ronald Leary (65) blocks against pressure from Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) AP

Dak Prescott is a better quarterback than Tony Romo.

I’m not saying the 23-year-old Prescott is going to be better than the 36-year-old Romo some day, and so the Cowboys should be thrilled to have Prescott take over for Romo down the road. I’m saying Prescott is better than Romo right now, and should remain the Cowboys’ starting quarterback even after Romo recovers from the broken bone he suffered in his back in the preseason.

Prescott completed 18 of 24 passes for 227 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions, as the Cowboys whipped the Bengals on Sunday for their fourth straight win. For the season, Prescott has completed 107 of 155 passes for 1,239 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 101.5 is better than Romo’s career passer rating of 97.1, and much better than Romo’s passer rating last year, which was 79.4. (Even when he was healthy, Romo didn’t play particularly well last year.)

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL in rushing, obviously deserves plenty of the credit for the Cowboys’ four-game winning streak as well. But you can’t separate Elliott’s success from Prescott’s. On Elliott’s 60-yard touchdown run Sunday, Prescott faked a bootleg, and it was the threat of Prescott running that kept the Bengals from closing to the middle of the field, where Elliott ran free. Romo doesn’t have the same running threat as Prescott, and I would expect Elliott’s production to decline if Romo returns.

The Cowboys, from all indications, disagree with my assessment: Head coach Jason Garrett, owner/G.M. Jerry Jones and his son and right hand man Stephen Jones have all said that Romo remains the franchise quarterback and will start as soon as he’s healthy again.

I think that’s a mistake. Prescott is an outstanding young player who’s only going to get better. When you have a quarterback playing the way Prescott is playing, you don’t bench him.

After the Cowboys scored a touchdown to go up 28-0 in the third quarter, Romo could be seen celebrating on the sideline and saying, “It’s over.” He meant the Cowboys’ game against the Bengals. But he also could have been talking about his tenure as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. Romo has had a fine career in Dallas, but there’s now a younger, better player ready to replace him.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Speed up the game, refs. One of the real issues the NFL needs to address is the pace of its games. The best way to improve the pace would be for the officials to speed up their rulings, which often take way too long. It reached a ridiculous level yesterday in Oakland, when the officials talked and talked and talked some more after initially ruling that the Raiders had caught a touchdown pass in the end zone. After the officials got together and debated it for what seemed like longer than Hillary Clinton debated Donald Trump, referee Gene Steratore finally announced a penalty. I re-watched the whole thing on my DVR and timed it. Three and a half minutes elapsed between the end of the play and Steratore announcing, “After a brief conversation, we have pass interference.” But it wasn’t over there. Steratore then went to the sideline to talk to Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. By the time Del Rio decided to challenge the play, four and a half minutes had elapsed. At that point, CBS went to a commercial while Steratore reviewed the replay. But when CBS came from the commercial, Steratore still hadn’t made a decision. By the time Steratore announced that the ruling on the field would stand, and the Raiders lined up for their next play, nine minutes had passed. If the NFL is wondering why TV ratings are declining, perhaps it should consider how many fans turned off the TV during that nine-minute delay.

Sammie Coates is something special. Coates, the Steelers’ second-year receiver, got things started for Pittsburgh yesterday with a 72-yard touchdown pass. Coates now has six catches of 40 yards or longer this season, more than any other receiver in the NFL. (Only three players had more than six 40-yard catches all of last season; Coates already has six in Week Five.) Coates finished the game with six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

The Colts better fix something soon, or Andrew Luck will break. Luck was sacked five times in yesterday’s win over the Bears, bringing his season total of sacks to an NFL-high 20 — and putting him on pace to get sacked 64 times this season, by far the most of any season of his career. “It’s obviously a big concern for all of us,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said after the game. “You never want to get your quarterback hit and sacked.” The Colts better do something about that big concern soon, or else they’re not going to have Luck on the field much longer.

Another good game for Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer. Although the Bears lost to the Colts and Hoyer missed an open receiver on his last pass of the game, the reality is Hoyer has played well in his three games as Chicago’s starting quarterback: He has 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in all three of his starts for the Bears. Jay Cutler has only had 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in two of his 99 starts for the Bears. Hoyer should remain the Bears’ starter even after Cutler gets healthy. Hoyer is also playing better than Brock Osweiler, who usurped Hoyer as the Texans’ starting quarterback. The Texans could have kept Hoyer for $5 million this year but instead chose to cut Hoyer and give Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract. That’s not looking like such a good idea.

Why did Jets coach Todd Bowles punt? Midway through the fourth quarter, the Jets trailed 24-13 and had the ball at midfield. On fourth-and-2, Bowles decided to punt. That is a preposterous decision. According to Pro Football Reference, no team has ever won a game when it punted on fourth-and-1 or fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter while trailing by 11 or more points. Punting in that situation is essentially giving up. Why do it?

Brady’s back. Tom Brady was outstanding for the Patriots on Sunday, showing no rust from his four-game Deflategate suspension and playing a nearly flawless game against the Browns. “The team played really well,” Brady said. “It’s been a fun week getting ready to play and doing what I love to do. I’m proud of the way the guys played. The line played great.” Some day the Patriots may want to replace Brady with Jimmy Garoppolo, but there’s no doubt that Brady is still the starter in New England. Save the quarterback controversies for Dallas.

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Week Five early inactives

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets reacts in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.

Seven games kick off at 1 p.m. ET and the teams taking part are announcing the players they’ll have available on Sunday. Check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Redskins at Ravens

Redskins: CB Bashaud Breeland, S Su’a Cravens, WR Josh Doctson, CB Dashaun Phillips, QB Nate Sudfeld, OL Vinston Painter, DE Anthony Lanier

Ravens: T Ronnie Stanley, CB Shareece Wright, WR Chris Moore, S Marqueston Huff, LB Kamalei Correa, DT Willie Henry, LB Matt Judon

Patriots at Browns

Patriots: RB Brandon Bolden, LB Shea McClellin, DT Vincent Valentine, TE Greg Scruggs, CB Justin Coleman, CB Eric Rowe, T Marcus Cannon

Browns: WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, C Cameron Erving, QB Josh McCown, C Austin Reiter, TE Randall Telfer, DB Tramon Williams

Jets at Steelers

Jets: WR Eric Decker, QB Bryce Petty, TE Braedon Bowman, G Brian Winters, CB Darrelle Revis, WR Jalin Marshall, QB Christian Hackenberg

Steelers: LB Ryan Shazier, CB Justin Gilbert, T Marcus Gilbert, C Cody Wallace, FB Roosevelt Nix, WR Eli Rogers, S Robert Golden

Eagles at Lions

Eagles: WR Bryce Treggs, S Terrance Brooks, DE Steven Means, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OL Isaac Seumalo

Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah, LB DeAndre Levy, TE Eric Ebron, RB Dwayne Washington, OL Joe Dahl, T Cornelius Lucas, DT Stefan Charles

Bears at Colts

Bears: LB Leonard Floyd, QB Jay Cutler, RB Jeremy Langford, DT Eddie Goldman, S Deon Bush, CB Deiondre Hall, C Eric Kush

Colts: C Jonotthan Harrison, WR Donte Moncrief, RB Robert Turbin, OL Le’Raven Clark, OL Jeremy Vujnovich, WR Devin Street, DT Art Jones

Titans at Dolphins

Titans: CB Cody Riggs, S Da’Norris Searcy, DT Al Woods, LB Nate Palmer, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Harry Douglas, TE Jace Amaro

Dolphins: TE Jordan Cameron, LB Koa Misi, CB Xavien Howard, RB Arian Foster, T Branden Albert, G Laremy Tunsil

Texans at Vikings

Texans: TE Stephen Anderson, RB Jonathan Grimes, CB Kareem Jackson, QB Brandon Weeden, OL Oday Aboushi, DL Brandon Dunn, WR Keith Mumphery

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, T Andre Smith, TE David Morgan, WR Stefon Diggs, RB Ronnie Hillman, LB Kentrell Brothers, TE Rhett Ellison

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