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Teams may be very thankful for the 2017 quarterback market

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up on the field prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Every year, a cluster of NFL teams tries in vain to upgrade at the quarterback position. In many cases, they’re required to roll the dice on a draft pick. This year, an unprecedented glut of quarterbacks with NFL experience may arise.

Here’s a full list of all veteran quarterbacks who may be available, with a quick explanation as to why they could be available.

And, yes, there are 20 of them.

Tyrod Taylor, Bills: The contract he signed earlier this year gave him a significant raise for 2016. It also gave the team an easy exit for 2017. If the Bills change coaches, will the successor to Rex Ryan want to commit $27.5 million to Taylor? Maybe, maybe not. If not, he’ll be released.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots: The Pats will face the Chandler Jones/Jamie Collins conundrum with Garoppolo in 2017. Do they keep him for the final year of his deal and allow his departure to factor in to the compensatory draft picks for 2019, or do they trade him for whatever they could get one or two years sooner? With Jacoby Brissett looking the part, don’t be shocked if the Pats part ways with Garoppolo.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets: No one may want him (especially not as a starter), but he’ll be available. For obvious reasons.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: The Dolphins have a $14.475 million decision to make on Tannehill in March. Earlier this year, it was a toss-up. Now, barring a meltdown, it’s a no-brainer. He’ll be a Dolphin.

A.J. McCarron, Bengals: Signed through 2017, the Bengals have to decide (like the Patriots do) whether to trade McCarron in 2017 or keep him for another year, let him walk in free agency, and get a compensatory pick in 2019.

Robert Griffin III, Browns: The perpetually injured, but now healthy, Griffin may get a chance to audition for his next job before the season ends. With supply matching demand (for a change), Griffin may have to accept a backup role in order to continue his career.

Josh McCown, Browns: He’s under contract for another year, but the Browns may decide there’s no spot for him on a potentially revamped depth chart. He has nevertheless proven to be a steadying presence for a team that needs a positive influence, and his staying power in pro football has been remarkable.

Landry Jones, Steelers: The looming free agent has some starting experience, and he has shown some flashes of ability.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars: The slumping would-be franchise quarterback could be looking for a new franchise if the next coaching staff in Jacksonville decides to look elsewhere. The real question is whether the Jaguars will sign him to a long-term deal after the season or, if not, whether they’ll pick up what would be a very sizable option for 2018. Absent either, a trade could be on the horizon — if anyone want to trade for him at this point.

Alex Smith, Chiefs: Will the Chiefs decide, given the various options on the market, to move on from Smith? Plenty of Kansas City fans will wish they would, given the perception that he has taken the team as far as he can.

Nick Foles, Chiefs: Technically signed through 2017, his contract balloons to eight figures next year. Which means that he’ll likely be cut, if his deal isn’t renegotiated. His best bet could be to stick around in Kansas City with the man who drafted him back when they both were with the Eagles in 2012.

Trevor Siemian, Broncos: If the Broncos decide either to give the job to Paxton Lynch or to sign or trade for someone else, they’d have to decide whether to bench Siemian for the third year of his four-year rookie deal or move on. They’d likely keep him, unless someone else makes the Broncos an offer they can’t refuse.

Tony Romo, Cowboys: If it wasn’t clear when he publicly surrendered the job to Dak Prescott 10 days ago, the last two games should make it obvious that Dak is the guy, indefinitely. Which means Romo will definitely be out. At $14 million for 2017, his contract is easily tradeable. The challenge will be setting the right compensation so that the team that trades for Romo is protected against another serious injury, and so that the Cowboys are protected against Romo playing 16 regular-season games.

Kirk Cousins, Washington: The team has three choices for Cousins, none of which are good. They can tag him at $23.94 million for 2017, sign him to a long-term deal with the tag amount for 2017 as the starting point, or let the market set his value. The problem with letting the market set his value is that he could then choose to sign with a new team on the open market, Brock Osweiler style.

Jay Cutler, Bears: Due to make only $12.5 million next year, Cutler becomes a bargain in 2017. Which means that the Bears should consider keeping him, unless they have an alternative that would represent a clear upgrade. Also, what if John Fox is fired and, say, Kyle Shanahan get the job? Kyle’s father drafted Cutler nearly 11 years ago.

Sam Bradford, Vikings: With a $4 million roster bonus due in March and a $13 million salary for 2017, the Vikings have a decision to make on Bradford. Their choice will depend upon Teddy Bridgewater’s health and prognosis. The team’s other options also will be a factor. Bradford could be traded for a third straight year — or cut outright.

Mike Glennon, Buccaneers: A free agent in 2017, Glennon made 18 starts in the two seasons before Jameis Winston arrived. Glennon’s 30 career touchdown passes against 15 interceptions surely will attract someone’s attention.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals: If the Cardinals find an upgrade, Palmer could be thrown overboard. Also, don’t rule out the possibility of Palmer quitting on the Cardinals. He’s done it both to the Bengals and the Raiders.

Case Keenum, Rams: Benched for Jared Goff and due to hit the open market, the question becomes whether a team will blame the problems with the team’s offense on Keenum, on the absence of talent around him, or on coaching.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: The Broncos tried to trade for him in March, but Kaepernick wasn’t willing to significantly cut his guaranteed salary. The market will be soft for Kaepernick in 2017, especially since plenty of owners will be inclined to shy away from Kaepernick due to his anthem protests — and will be able to do it because of the other options at the position.

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NFC playoff picture: Lions take control of the North

DETROIT.MI - NOVEMBER 24: Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions celebrates his end of the game field goal to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13 at Ford Field on November 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions play every year on Thanksgiving, but they’re rarely a first-place team. This year they are, and they’re going to be tough for the rest of the division to catch.

After Detroit beat Minnesota today, the Lions have both a one-game lead over the Vikings in the North and a season-sweep, ensuring them the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Lions win four of their five remaining games, they win the division no matter what any other team does.

Here’s how the playoff race in the NFC shapes up, starting with the other NFC team that won on Thanksgiving:

LEADERS
1. Cowboys (10-1): Dallas keeps rolling around toward home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

2. Seahawks (7-2-1): Seattle has all but clinched the NFC West.

3. Lions (7-4): The Lions’ lead in the NFC North makes them hard to catch.

4. Falcons (6-4): Atlanta has the lead in the division, but if there’s one NFC division leader that’s going to get caught, it’s probably the Falcons.

5. Giants (7-3): The Giants are two and a half games behind the Cowboys, but their head-to-head win over the Cowboys in Week One gives them at least some hope of catching the NFC East leaders.

6. Washington (6-4-1): Today’s loss probably guarantees that Washington will have to get into the playoffs as a wild card, if they’re getting in at all.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Vikings (6-5): Six weeks ago, the Vikings were the NFL’s only undefeated team. Now they’re not even a playoff team.

8. Buccaneers (5-5): Only a game back of the Falcons in the NFC South.

9. Eagles (5-5) : Philly is a good team, but in a good NFC East they’re also a last-place team.

10. Cardinals (4-5-1): They won’t catch the Seahawks in the NFC West and have a very uphill climb to get a wild card.

11. Saints (4-6): Catching both the Falcons and the Buccaneers in the NFC South will be a tall order.

12. Panthers (4-6): The reigning NFC champions don’t appear headed back to the playoffs.

13. Rams (4-6): The Rams aren’t mathematically out of it, but common sense says they have no chance.

14. Packers (4-6): Green Bay probably has to run the table, and even that may not be enough to pass the Vikings and Lions in the North.

15. Bears (2-8): Year 2 of the John Fox era has been a disaster.

16. 49ers (1-9): The only interesting question remaining for the 49ers is whether they’ll beat the Bears in Week 13 with last place in the NFC on the line.

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PFT’s Week 12 picks

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford signals during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez) AP

For anyone who cares (i.e., only MDS and me), the picks contest is getting interesting.

My lead has fallen to three, by virtue of MDS having a 2-1 edge in the the games on which we disagreed last week. He went 11-3 overall; I was 10-4.

This week, we disagree on only two of 16 games, starting with the first game of the weekend. For all of the picks, do the thing you always do when you decide that you’re curious to see how poorly we’ll do when it comes to picking games.

Vikings at Lions

MDS’s take: The winner of this one is the favorite in the NFC North with five games to go. Last time they met the Lions came back to win in overtime, and this time I think the Lions will again win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Vikings 23.

Florio’s take: The NFC North title could be on the line — unless the Packers can finally find the gas pedal. Detroit’s habit of cutting it close isn’t sustainable, and the streaky Vikings are back on the right track, at least for now.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Lions 24.

Washington at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott may be the best combination of quarterback and running back in the league. They should put up some big yardage against Washington’s defense.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 20.

Florio’s take: The Cowboys haven’t played a team currently above .500 since beating Washington in Week Two. They’ll do it again, completing the sweep and holding the Giants at arm’s length, for now.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 24.

Steelers at Colts

MDS’s take: Even if Andrew Luck were healthy, I’d pick the Steelers. With Luck in the concussion protocol, I’ll pick the Steelers in a blowout.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, Colts 14.

Florio’s take: Attention restaurant customers. Scott Tolzien. That is all.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 33, Colts 17.

Titans at Bears

MDS’s take: Even if Jay Cutler were healthy, I’d pick the Titans. With Cutler suffering a shoulder injury, I’ll pick the Titans in a blowout.

MDS’s pick: Titans 35, Bears 13.

Florio’s take: Attention restaurant customers. Matt Barkley. That is all.

Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Bears 13.

Jaguars at Bills

MDS’s take: Gus Bradley is doomed in Jacksonville, and his team is just playing out the string. I don’t think the Bills are going anywhere, either, but I think Rex Ryan will have them playing hard down the stretch with his job on the line.

MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take: The best two-win team Rex Ryan has seen could be just good enough to get a third win. But with LeSean McCoy expected to play, Buffalo will remain on the fringe of a playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 20.

Bengals at Ravens

MDS’s take: Without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, the Bengals don’t have much in the way of big-play threats on offense. Against a good defense like Baltimore’s, that’s a problem.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Bengals 9.

Florio’s take: The Bengals are falling apart; the Ravens are treading just enough water to still be alive and relevant.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Bengals 10.

Cardinals at Falcons

MDS’s take: I see this game as a statement for both teams, as the Falcons will show they’re the clear frontrunners in the NFC South, while the Cardinals will show they’re officially out of it.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 34, Cardinals 20.

Florio’s take: Atlanta had extra time and now has every incentive to keep their distance from the Bucs — and to deliver a potential death blow to Arizona’s playoff chances.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Cardinals 26.

Giants at Browns

MDS’s take: As the Browns continue their march to 0-16, the Giants should pick up an easy win to help them march to the playoffs.

MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Browns 7.

Florio’s take: With an ultra-late bye, the Browns will have two weeks to enjoy being 0-12.

Florio’s pick: Giants 30, Browns 17.

Rams at Saints

MDS’s take: The Rams’ collapse against the Dolphins feels like it could be the kind of game that sends a team into a nosedive. I have a feeling the Rams are heading into a long losing streak.

MDS’s pick: Saints 20, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: Bounty scandal architect Gregg Williams returns to New Orleans. When he leaves, he’ll be one step closer to leaving L.A.

Florio’s pick: Saints 24, Rams 14.

49ers at Dolphins

MDS’s take: I’m not totally sold that the Dolphins are a good team, but they have a fairly easy schedule that should keep them in playoff contention. It doesn’t get much easier than a home game against the 49ers.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, 49ers 12.

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins have won five in a row. The 49ers have lost nine in a row. It won’t make up for Super Bowl XIX, but it will nudge the Dolphins closer to a possible playoff berth.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 35, 49ers 14.

Chargers at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans are a first-place team, the Chargers are a last-place team. Put them in each other’s divisions, and the Chargers would be in first place while the Texans would be in last place. I think the Chargers will show in Houston that they’re a better team.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Texans 20.

Florio’s take: The Texans keep winning when they should, losing when they should.

Florio’s pick: Texans 30, Chargers 23.

Seahawks at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Buccaneers are playing better football than I thought they’d be playing at the end of November, but the Seahawks look to me like they’re not going to lose another game this season.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Buccaneers 21.

Florio’s take: The Bucs are 1-4 at home, 4-1 on the road. This one would be a tough test regardless of where they play it, given how well the Seahawks are performing.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Buccaneers 20.

Panthers at Raiders

MDS’s take: A win by the Raiders here keeps them atop the AFC West and ends the Panthers’ playoff hopes. It’s over for the reigning NFC champions.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 23, Panthers 17.

Florio’s take: This is the kind of game the Raiders could blow, but the Panthers are simply too banged up to take advantage of the possibility that the Raiders will be primed to step in a pothole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Panthers 17.

Patriots at Jets

MDS’s take: New England shouldn’t have any trouble against a Jets team that has nothing to play for.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Jets 10.

Florio’s take: The Jets stink. The Patriots don’t. #analysis.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 31, Jets 13.

Chiefs at Broncos

MDS’s take: The AFC West is the best division in football, and this game will go a long way toward determining who wins it. I think the Broncos will pull out a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 14, Chiefs 13.

Florio’s take: The game of the day allows the loser to chase the Raiders, the winner to worry about being caught by the Dolphins. Advantage, team that has extra rest.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 23, Chiefs 20.

Packers at Eagles

MDS’s take: I’m not totally sure what is wrong with the Packers, but they look like a team in need of a major overhaul. The Eagles, on the other hand, are a better team than their record suggests. They’ll show that with a big win on Monday night.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Packers 17.

Florio’s take: It’s another prime-time elimination game. I continue to think the Packers will turn things around, but I’m no longer willing to ignore how poorly they’re playing when the time comes to make picks.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 35, Packers 23.

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Week 12 Power Rankings

24scullyweb3-blog427 Getty Images

1. Cowboys (9-1; last week No. 1): The only thing that could make their Thanksgiving game against Washington better would be the return of Pat Summerall and John Madden to call it.

2. Raiders (8-2; No. 2): The logo should have traded the eye patch for a ski mask, given the way they stole the Monday night game from the Texans.

3. Seahawks (7-2-1; No. 3): From pretending to poop a football to giving his sideline the middle finger, Doug Baldwin is only a mimed urination away from completing the trifecta.

4. Patriots (8-2; No. 4): The Patriots left Jabaal Sheard on the other side of the country; the 49ers would like to send their entire defense to the other side of the planet.

5. Giants (7-3; No. 9): This is the last team the Cowboys want to see in the playoffs.

6. Broncos (7-3; No. 6): This is the last team the Raiders want to see in the playoffs.

7. Falcons (6-4; No. 7): This is a team that may be playing its last game at the Georgia Dome in the playoffs.

8. Chiefs (7-3; No. 5): If this team keeps playing like it did against Tampa, it may not last long in the playoffs.

9. Washington (6-3-1; No. 11): “You like that you like me now.”

10. Lions (6-4; No. 8): Go ahead and complain about the drop, Lions fans, but your team nearly lost to the Jaguars.

11. Dolphins (6-4; No. 12): The last time the Dolphins saw a fourth-quarter comeback like that, they were on the wrong end of the birth of Tebowmania.

12. Texans (6-4; No. 10): They win the games they should, they lose the games they should, lather, rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat.

13. Vikings (6-4; No. 16): That six weeks between victories felt like six years. With six games left, this team can still be dangerous in the postseason — if it gets there.

14. Bills (5-5; No. 17): Rex Ryan thinks the Jaguars are a great two-win team; many would say that the Bills are an average-at-best five-win team.

15. Packers (4-6; No. 13): With 153 points allowed in four games, some Packers employees may soon be gathering their belongings and placing them into luggage and other receptacles for clothing and other personal effects.

16. Eagles (5-5; No. 14): A year ago, 5-5 would have put them in contention for the division title. Now, it puts them firmly in the basement.

17. Ravens (5-5; No. 15): Even Ray Lewis trolling Joe Flacco wasn’t enough to get the Ravens over the hump in Dallas.

18. Steelers (5-5; No. 19): On Thanksgiving night, the Steelers will be giving thanks for not having to face Andrew Luck.

19. Colts (5-5; No. 24): “We Won On Thanksgiving With Scott Tolzien At Quarterback” is likely a banner that won’t be raised in Indianapolis.

20. Buccaneers (5-5; No. 23): If this team could play at home like it plays on the road, it would be running away with the division.

21. Titans (5-6; No. 18): If this team could play in the division like it plays out of the division, it would be running away with the division.

22. Bengals (3-6-1; No. 20): The easiest way to not lose in the playoffs is to not play in the playoffs.

23. Cardinals (4-5-1; No. 22): “Next on Season Two of All or Nothing, more nothing.”

24. Panthers (4-6; No. 27): The Black Hole is both the next place the Panthers will play and a fitting description for the current location of the version of the team that went 15-1 a year ago.

25. Chargers (4-6; No. 25): The only major item left on the docket is to avoid becoming the only team to lose to the Browns.

26. Saints (4-6; No. 21): Of all the teams in the division, this is the one that could go the deepest into the postseason — if it can get there.

27. Rams (4-6; No. 26): Well, at least they won’t be 7-9 again.

28. Jets (3-7; No. 28): Ryan Fitzpatrick remains the starting quarterback. They must really hate him.

29. Bears (2-8; No. 29): Charles Barkley would be a better option at quarterback.

30. Jaguars (2-8; No. 30): It feels like Gus Bradley is a blowout away from being blown out of his job.

31. 49ers (1-9; No. 31): Patriots fans have somehow figured out how to deal with those traffic problems in Santa Clara.

32. Browns (0-11; No. 32): They say they’re not focused on wins and losses. It’s probably safe to go ahead and focus on losses.

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AFC playoff picture: Mexico City matchup looms large

FILE - In this June 11, 2013, file photo, a fan waves Mexico's national flag during Mexico's World Cup qualifying soccer match with Costa Rica in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to play an NFL football game at the stadium Monday night. (AP Photo/Ivan Pierre Aguirre, File) AP

The Raiders and Texans will close out Week 11 from Mexico City on Monday night and there will be plenty of teams in the AFC keeping a close eye on the result of that game.

Both teams head into the game in first place in their respective divisions, but the loser of the matchup will find themselves in a tight race for the top spot with six weeks left in the season. The Broncos and Chiefs are both 7-3, which is where the Raiders would find themselves with a loss, while the Colts improved to 5-5 with a win over the Titans on Sunday. Tennessee is 5-6 after that game, so they’d still be in striking distance if Houston ends the night at 6-4.

Here’s a look at the overall playoff picture in the AFC heading into Monday night’s game.

1. Patriots (8-2): The Patriots have two games left against teams with winning records, which makes them a good bet to get home field advantage in the AFC again this season.

2. Raiders (7-2): They head home for two games after facing the Texans, before taking trips to all three of their AFC West foes in a closing stretch that will likely determine the winner of the division.

3. Texans (6-3): The Texans will be on the road against the Colts in Week 14, so any distance they can create between now and then will be much appreciated.

4. Ravens (5-5): They hold a tiebreaker edge over the Steelers right now, but the rematch will be at Heinz Field as part of three road games in the final four weeks.

5. Broncos (7-3): They got the result they needed when the Chiefs lost and coach Gary Kubiak will be rooting for his former team on Monday night.

6. Chiefs (7-3): Sunday was a bad time for their first home loss of the season and next Sunday brings a monumental trip to Denver.

7. Dolphins (6-4): Five straight wins have changed everything for the Dolphins and the interdivisional matchups in the West have them in good shape if they keep winning.

8. Colts (5-5): If they’re giving thanks for a win over the Steelers on Thursday night, their chances will look a lot better.

9. Bills (5-5): Sunday’s win and a home game against the Jaguars next week keep hope alive in Buffalo.

10. Steelers (5-5): It’s probably the division or bust for the Steelers.

11. Titans (5-6): A slow start against the Colts doomed the Titans on Sunday and leaves them with little margin for error.

12. Chargers (4-6): The Chargers may be better off focusing on their stadium issues than their flagging playoff hopes.

13. Bengals (3-6-1): Sunday’s game against the Bills served as a de facto playoff elimination game even before A.J. Green’s injury further dimmed Cincinnati’s hopes.

14. Jets (3-7): Last year’s 10-6 record feels like a distant memory.

15. Jaguars (2-8): Gus Bradley Watch is a lot more realistic than a playoff watch.

16. Browns (0-11): Officially eliminated 11 weeks after being unofficially eliminated.

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NFC playoff picture: Packers all but out of it

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers walks off of the field after the Green Bay Packers were defeated by the Washington Redskins 24-42 at FedExField on November 20, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s almost impossible to find a realistic path to the playoffs for the Green Bay Packers.

As we begin this week’s look at the NFC playoff picture, Green Bay is 14th in the conference — ahead of only the Bears and 49ers. With both the Vikings and Lions two games ahead of the Packers in the NFC North, it’s hard to see Green Bay winning the division. And it’s even harder to see Green Bay winning the wild card, given that the Packers are 2.5 games behind the current No. 6 seed, Washington.

So after making the playoffs for seven straight seasons, the Packers are an extreme long shot to make it eight in a row.

Here’s our look at the rest of the playoff picture:

1. Cowboys (9-1): Dallas has a commanding lead for home-field advantage.

2. Seahawks (7-2-1): Seattle sure looks like it’s going to earn a bye week.

3. Lions (6-4): Going for a season sweep of the Vikings on Thanksgiving.

4. Falcons (6-4): After taking a big lead in the NFC South early in the season, they’ve now got the Bucs breathing down their necks.

5. Giants (7-3): Ben McAdoo has his team in playoff position.

6. Washington (6-3-1): Last night’s win over the Packers was a big one.

7. Vikings (6-4): They can take over the NFC North with a win at Detroit on Thursday.

8. Buccaneers (5-5): Only a game back of the Falcons in the division.

9. Eagles (5-5): Philly is a good team, but in a tough division it’s an uphill battle to the playoffs.

10. Cardinals (4-5-1): Catching the Seahawks looks all but impossible.

11. Saints (4-6): They might catch either the Falcons or Bucs, but it’s hard to see them catching both.

12. Panthers (4-6): Last year’s NFC champion is now in last place.

13. Rams (4-6): Jeff Fisher will be lucky to get some 7-9 B.S. this year.

14. Packers (4-6): It’s all but over.

15. Bears (2-8): It’s over.

16. 49ers (1-9): It’s over.

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NFL morning after: Coaches should learn from missed extra points

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Jason Myers #2 of the Jacksonville Jaguars kicks an extra point held by teammate Brad Nortman #3 during an NFL game at Ford Field on November 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Getty Images

It was the Sunday of the missed extra point, and I loved it. Even though I hope we never see another one like it.

Let me explain: Yesterday there were 12 missed extra points, more extra points missed than ever before in any week in NFL history. That is an extraordinary outcome of the NFL’s year-and-a-half-old rule, which made extra points harder by pushing them back 13 yards farther. I love the fact that an extra point is no longer a gimme that you don’t even bother to watch.

But here’s why I hope we never see another day like yesterday in the NFL: Because I hope coaches finally learn from all these missed extra points and start going for two as the rule, not the exception. I’d love to see some weekend in the NFL when teams don’t even attempt, let alone miss, 11 extra points, because two-point conversions are a far more entertaining play. And what do we watch football for, if not to be entertained?

Now that extra points aren’t gimmes, going for two is the mathematically smart play: Two-point conversions are made about 50 percent of the time, and extra point kicks are made about 94 percent of the time. So the average expected value of a two-point conversion is 1 point, while the expected value of an extra point kick is 0.94 points. Obviously, it’s a small difference, but it’s still a difference. Coaches do all kinds of things to try to give their team the slightest of edges. So why not go for two more often, when it will give their team a slight edge?

The answer is that football coaches are conservative traditionalists by nature, and a lot of the time the reason they do things is because, “We’ve always done it that way.”

But that’s a bad reason to do things. “We’ve always done it that way” comes from a time when teams could always count on their kickers to make extra points. As we saw across the NFL yesterday, that’s no longer the case. Now, kickers miss more extra points on one Sunday than they missed in an entire season before last year’s rule change.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has begun going for two more often than most coaches do, but even Tomlin kicks more often than he goes for two. It’s past time for coaches to not only emulate Tomlin, but go beyond what Tomlin has done, and make going for two the default option. Some day some coach is going to do it, and when his team wins a game by a point, he’ll be hailed as a genius. I won’t even take credit for it.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s action:

Sen’Derrick Marks made the bonehead play of the year. Marks, a Jaguars defensive tackle, jumped offside on a fourth-and-2 hard count by the Lions that was so obviously just an attempt to draw them offside that the Lions might as well have announced it on the Ford Field jumbotron. There was never any chance that the Lions were going for it on the play, but their offense lined up and Matthew Stafford started barking out signals. Amazingly, Marks jumped offside, handing the Lions a new set of downs that they used to put the game away in a hard-fought win. Players hardly ever jump offside in that situation because players know that the fourth-down hard count is the oldest trick in the book. But apparently Marks didn’t know.

Ben Roethlisberger, Cleveland nemesis. I know I wrote last week that I don’t like quarterback wins, but I’m going to share this stat anyway: Yesterday the Steelers won their 10th game started by Ben Roethlisberger in Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. That’s as many wins as any Browns quarterback has in the stadium — and the Browns have been playing there since 1999. Think about that: The Browns have quarterbacks starting in that stadium eight times a year, for 17 years. They’ve played there 133 times. Roethlisberger has played there 12 times. And Roethlisberger has won as many starts as any Browns quarterback. That’s an ugly demonstration of just how bad the Browns have been since re-joining the league.

No, the Cowboys’ offensive line isn’t the MVP. Whenever a great player bursts onto the scene, there’s an inevitable backlash of people who want to claim that player isn’t really so great. This year, there’s been a backlash against both of the Cowboys’ great rookies, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. And the backlash has taken the form of claiming that the Cowboys’ offensive line really deserves the credit that Prescott and Elliott are getting. I’ve even seen arguments that the Cowboys’ offensive line deserves to be the MVP of the league, a bizarre claim that defies the very idea of what an MVP is. (It’s a most valuable player, singular, not a most valuable group of players, and you can’t give it to a whole offensive line just like you can’t make an entire secondary the Defensive Player of the Year.) But if you watched Elliott and Prescott play yesterday against a very good Ravens defense, I hope it was obvious what special players they are. No, not just “anyone can run behind the Cowboys’ line,” as I’ve seen people say. Yesterday Elliott ran for 97 yards and put the game away late, while backups Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar, running behind that same Cowboys line, combined for five yards on three carries. Both Morris and Dunbar have career-low yards per carry averages this season, strongly suggesting that not just “anyone” can run behind that Cowboys line. Prescott had 301 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. You don’t do that just because your line is protecting you. The Cowboys have the same offensive line this year that they had last year, when they had perhaps the worst offense in the NFL. Prescott and Elliott are the reason for this year’s turnaround.

Chip Kelly’s personnel mistakes are legion. When you look at this year’s Eagles, it’s really stunning to see that they’ve built a good team despite inheriting a huge personnel mess from Chip Kelly. Last year, when Kelly was given total control over all the personnel decisions, the team stunk. This year, they’ve tried to reverse almost all of his big moves: They traded away Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, and they’d love to trade away Kelly’s first-round pick, Nelson Agholor, if only anyone would take him in a trade. (An awful Agholor drop yesterday is what made me decide to mention this.) The 5-5 Eagles are probably a year away from getting back to the playoffs, but it’s a testimony to G.M. Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson that they’ve been able to pick up the pieces in Philadelphia, because the team Kelly left them was in shambles.

Bill Belichick, analytics maven. Belichick got some laughs when he scoffed last week about analytics websites, but as I detailed here, Belichick is actually a believer in analytics. He may not be a believer in the publicly available data online, but Belichick considers the Patriots’ football research director Ernie Adams one of his closest advisors, and he studies statistics closely. Given that, I have high hopes that Belichick will be the first coach to eschew extra point kicks and make the two-point conversion the norm. That’s the future of football.

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Week 11 early inactives

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 11:  Jeremy Maclin (19) of the Kansas City Chiefs lines up before a play at Arrowhead Stadium during the game on October 11, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/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. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Bills at Bengals

Bills: DT Corbin Bryant, LB Brandon Spikes, T Cyrus Kouandjio, WR Walter Powell, TE Gerald Christian, CB Marcus Roberson, QB Cardale Jones

Bengals: QB Jeff Driskel, WR Cody Core, CB KeiVarae Russell, LB Rey Maualuga, OL Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams, TE C.J. Uzomah

Steelers at Browns

Steelers: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S Shamarko Thomas, RB DeAngelo Williams, QB Zach Mettenberger, S Jordan Dangerfield, T Brian Mihalik, TE Xavier Grimble

Browns: QB Joe Callahan, QB Kevin Hogan, CB Tramon Williams, LB Corey Lemonier, OL Gabe Ikard, OL Jonathan Cooper, WR Jordan Payton

Ravens at Cowboys

Ravens: TE Crockett Gillmore, G Alex Lewis, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Asa Jackson, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Ryan Jensen

Cowboys: CB Morris Claiborne, S Barry Church, QB Mark Sanchez, RB Darius Jackson, LB Mark Nzeocha, T Chaz Green, DE Benson Mayowa

Jaguars at Lions 

Jaguars: DE Chris Smith, LB Dan Skuta, OL Jeremiah Poutasi, QB Brandon Allen, WR Bryan Walters, CB Josh Johnson, DT Richard Ash

Lions: G Joe Dahl, T Cornelius Lucas, WR Corey Fuller, RB Justin Forsett, LB DeAndre Levy, DT Tyrunn Walker, DB Adarius Barnes

Titans at Colts

Titans: WR Tre McBride, RB David Fluellen, DB Curtis Riley, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro, LB Kevin Dodd, DT Al Woods

Colts: CB Patrick Robinson, CB Christopher Milton, LB Deon King, T LeRaven Clark, C Austin Blythe, WR Devin Street LB Curt Maggitt

Buccaneers at Chiefs

Buccaneers: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, C Evan Smith, OL Kevin Pamphile, QB Ryan Griffin, T Leonard Wester, DT John Hughes, DT Sealver Siliga

Chiefs: WR Jeremy Maclin, QB Tyler Bray, CB Marcus Peters, RB Bishop Sankey, LB Dadi Nicolas, OL Mike Person, DL Jaye Howard

Cardinals at Vikings

Cardinals: S Tyrann Mathieu, WR Chris Hubert, CB Tharold Simon, G Cole Toner, DT Olsen Pierre, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Corey Peters

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Jarius Wright, LB Edmond Robinson, G Zac Kerin, T Rashod Hill, TE David Morgan

Bears at Giants

Bears: CB Deiondre Hall, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, LB John Timu, T Bobby Massie, TE Daniel Brown, DT Eddie Goldman, DL Mitch Unrein

Giants: G Justin Pugh, OL Brett Jones, TE Larry Donnell, WR Tavarres King, DB Leon Hall, DT Robert Thomas, QB Josh Johnson

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Week 11 injury report roundup

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 20:  Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 (R) of the Seattle Seahawks sports a Darth Vader mask as he is greeted by linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 during introductions prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field on December 20, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Browns 30-13.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week 11 kicked off on Thursday night with a Panthers win and it continues with 12 more games on Sunday, which means that the 24 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.

Bills at Bengals

The Bills won’t have DT Corbin Bryant (shoulder), but hope DT Marcell Dareus (groin, questionable) can return to action. LB Jerry Hughes (hand), WR Justin Hunter (groin), WR Walter Powell (hip) and WR Robert Woods (foot) are also listed as questionable.

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (calf) is doubtful and DE Wallace Gilberry (calf) is questionable on a short injury report.

Steelers at Browns

DE Cam Heyward (pectoral) is listed as out by the Steelers, but may be headed for injured reserve after announcing he’s done for the season. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot), S Shamarko Thomas (groin), WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) and RB DeAngelo Williams (knee) are also out. S Jordan Dangerfield (groin) and TE Xavier Grimble (quadricep) are listed as questionable.

The Browns may not have a win, but they’re pretty healthy. CB Tramon Williams (knee) is questionable and the only player with an injury designation this week.

Ravens at Cowboys

The Ravens ruled out TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh) and T Alex Lewis (ankle) with LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), CB Jimmy Smith (back) and RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh) likely to join them on the inactive list after being listed as doubtful. LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (shoulder), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Shareece Wright (thigh) and G Marshal Yanda (shoulder) are all listed as questionable.

S Barry Church (forearm) and CB Morris Claiborne (groin) will miss another game for the Cowboys. WR Dez Bryant (back), T Chaz Green (foot, back), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back), QB Tony Romo (back) and T Tyron Smith (back, hip) remain in play after being listed as questionable.

Jaguars at Lions

The Jaguars will play without DE Chris Smith (eye) in Detroit. Sunday will bring word on LB Dan Skuta (back), TE Neal Sterling (foot) and WR Bryan Walters (concussion) after they drew questionable tags.

LB DeAndre Levy (knee) is doubtful after returning to practice for the Lions this week. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and RB Theo Riddick (ankle) are more likely to play given their questionable status.

Titans at Colts

The Titans have no one with an injury designation this week.

DE Kendall Langford (knee) remains out for the Colts and the doubtful tag given to CB Patrick Robinson (groin) makes him unlikely to play. DT Arthur Jones (illness) is listed as questionable.

Buccaneers at Chiefs

Buccaneers T Kevin Pamphile (concussion), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) and C Evan Smith (knee) won’t be playing in Kansas City. C Joe Hawley (knee), WR Russell Shepard (hip) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle) might be after they were listed as questionable.

WR Jeremy Maclin (groin) is out for the second straight game, but the Chiefs may get LB Justin Houston (knee) in the lineup for the first time after listing him as questionable. CB Phillip Gaines (neck) and LB Derrick Johnson (hamstring), CB Marcus Peters (hip), DT Dontari Poe (knee), LS James Winchester (not injury related) drew the same designation while DE Jaye Howard (hip) is listed as doubtful.

Cardinals at Vikings

The Cardinals listed LB Deone Bucannon (ankle), S Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) and CB Tharold Simon (ankle) as questionable to play on Sunday. DT Corey Peters (foot) is doubtful and unlikely to play.

DT Sharrif Floyd (knee) remains out for the Vikings. LB Eric Kendricks (hip), CB Captain Munnerlyn (ankle) and CB Marcus Sherels (ankle) all drew questionable tags.

Bears at Giants

It doesn’t look good for Bears CB Deiondre’ Hall (ankle), T Bobby Massie (concussion) and DE Mitch Unrein (back) after they received doubtful designations. CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), CB Tracy Porter (knee), WR Eddie Royal (toe), G Josh Sitton (ankle), WR Marquess Wilson (foot) and LB Willie Young (ankle) were all listed as questionable.

The Giants will play without C Brett Jones (calf) and G Justin Pugh (knee). RB Orleans Darkwa (lower leg) and G Adam Gettis (calf) are listed as questionable.

Dolphins at Rams

The Dolphins are likely to be down two starting offensive linemen with T Branden Albert (wrist) out and C Mike Pouncey (hip) doubtful. CB Xavien Howard (knee) is also out and LB Jelani Jenkins (knee, hand) is doubtful. S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle), T Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), LB Mike Hull (knee), DE Jason Jones (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), G Anthony Steen (neck), WR Kenny Stills (calf) and DE Mario Williams (ankle) got questionable designations on Friday.

The Rams listed C Tim Barnes (foot), RB Todd Gurley (thigh), CB Lamarcus Joyner (ankle), DE Robert Quinn (illness) and DE Eugene Sims (concussion) as questionable, although Barnes didn’t practice at all this week.

Eagles at Seahawks

The Eagles ruled out S Terrence Brooks (hamstring) and listed TE Zach Ertz (hamstring) and WR Jordan Matthews (back) as questionable to play.

It’s a brief injury report for the Seahawks as well. DE Michael Bennett (knee) and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) have been ruled out.

Patriots at 49ers

Tom Brady will be down two pass catchers with TE Rob Gronkowski (chest) and WR Chris Hogan (back) ruled out by the Patriots. Two other targets — TE Martellus Bennett (ankle) and WR Julian Edelman (foot) — are listed as questionable.

49ers LB Aaron Lynch (ankle) has been ruled out. CB Rashard Robinson (knee) and WR Torrey Smith (shoulder) are questionable.

Packers at Redskins

The Packers head to Washington without G T.J. Lang (foot), CB Damarious Randall (groin), LB Jake Ryan (ankle) and C J.C. Tretter (knee) in the lineup. TE Jared Cook (ankle) and LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) are both listed as questionable after missing multiple games.

WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), T Morgan Moses (ankle) and LS Nick Sundberg (back) are questionable to be in the Redskins lineup on Sunday night.

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PFT’s Week 11 picks

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 13:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Nissan Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week, MDS and I disagreed on six games. We split.

Split was the operative word overall, since we both went 7-7 for the week. Which isn’t good.

Will we be any better in Week 11? See for yourself and chime in if you want.

I still lead MDS by four games. Which is horrible news for him because I stink.

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: Who would have guessed before the season that this game would match up two teams with losing records? I think the Panthers may go on a late-season run, but it will be too little, too late.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: This one feels like an elimination game, more for the Panthers than the Saints. And since the Panthers are at home only three days after both teams lost in heartbreaking fashion, let’s give them the edge.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Saints 23.

Steelers at Browns

MDS’s take: This is one of the more winnable games remaining on the Browns’ schedule, but I expect the Steelers’ good offense to put plenty of points on the board against the Browns’ bad defense. The Browns take another step toward 0-16.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Browns 14.

Florio’s take: The Browns have six more chances to avoid going 0-16. Make that five.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 35, Browns 17.

Ravens at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys’ offensive line against the Ravens’ front seven is a great matchup for people who like old-school football. I think the Ravens may actually win that battle and hold Ezekiel Elliott in check, but I don’t think the Ravens’ offense will do much, and Dallas will win a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 16, Ravens 13.

Florio’s take: Eight years ago, the Cowboys hand picked the Ravens to close out Texas Stadium. And the Ravens beat them. This version of the Cowboys is a far cry from that one.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 31, Ravens 20.

Jaguars at Lions

MDS’s take: The NFC North is there for the taking for the Lions, and I think they’re going to come out playing hard against a weak Jaguars team.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take: The old Lions would find a way to lose this one. Let’s see if the new Lions are any different.

Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Jaguars 17.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: This is a must-win for the Colts if they’re going to stay alive in the AFC South race. I think they’ll win it, perhaps thanks to their big special teams advantage.

MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Titans 20.

Florio’s take: If the Titans want to be taken seriously, they need to win at Indy — especially since the Colts already have beaten them in Tennessee. It won’t be easy, but that Colts win over the Packers doesn’t look nearly as impressive now that the Titans put up 47 against them.

Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Colts 24.

Bills at Bengals

MDS’s take: Rex Ryan just hasn’t been able to get the Bills’ defense playing well. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green should have a big day.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Bills 23.

Florio’s take: Cincinnati is operating on a short week and the Bills are coming off of a bye. But the Bengals have their backs against the wall, and there’s enough left of the five-time playoff team to dig deep, at least for one week.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Bills 20.

Buccaneers at Chiefs

MDS’s take: I see this as a close game, but the Chiefs’ defense should force Jameis Winston into a couple turnovers, and that will be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 17, Buccaneers 14.

Florio’s take: Despite being 17-2 in their last 19 regular-season games, the Chiefs have been cutting it close lately. And with a huge game looming against the Broncos in prime time, it could be easy to look past the Buccaneers. Count on Andy Reid not letting it happen.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 20.

Bears at Giants

MDS’s take: Year Two of the John Fox era is a disaster in Chicago. The Giants will win this one handily.

MDS’s pick: Giants 31, Bears 13.

Florio’s take: The Giants are on a roll. The Bears are in a roll. Time for the Giants to eat.

Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Bears 10.

Cardinals at Vikings

MDS’s take: This game is basically a tossup, but I’ll say the Vikings’ slide continues, from 5-0 to 5-5.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 21, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take: If the Vikings don’t win this one, they may not win another one.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 17, Cardinals 13.

Dolphins at Rams

MDS’s take: The Jared Goff era begins against a Dolphins defense that can make life hell for an opposing quarterback. I don’t like Goff’s chances.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: You want Goff? You get Goff. And so will the Dolphins.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 17, Rams 10.

Patriots at 49ers

MDS’s take: The 49ers have played a little better since Colin Kaepernick took over for Blaine Gabbert, but they’re not going to keep it close against the Patriots.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: Four years ago, Colin Kaepernick torched the Patriots. The bad news is that Kaepernick is no longer that guy. The worse news is that Bill Belichick won’t go any easier on the 49ers because of it.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 45, 49ers 23.

Eagles at Seahawks

MDS’s take: This is a great matchup with major implications in the NFC playoff race. I’m tempted to pick the Eagles in the upset, but I think the Seahawks’ defense and the home-field advantage may give Carson Wentz a rough day.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Eagles 13.

Florio’s take: This looks like the game of the week. Until kickoff.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, Eagles 13.

Packers at Washington

MDS’s take: The Packers are cratering, for reasons I can’t fully explain. On Sunday they looked like they were giving the kind of effort you usually see in the fourth preseason game. Mike McCarthy is running out of time to get that turned around.

MDS’s pick: Washington 24, Packers 21.

Florio’s take: If Green Bay doesn’t get things back on track this weekend, it may never happen.

Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Washington 20.

Texans at Raiders

MDS’s take: This is a big game in the AFC playoff race, and one that the Raiders should win. I’d love to see it come down to Sebastian Janikowski trying an NFL-record 65-yard field goal in the altitude of Mexico City.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 23, Texans 20.

Florio’s take: The Texans win the games they’re supposed to win and they lose the games they’re supposed to lose. If they’re ever going to break that cycle against the Raiders in Mexico City, ahora es el momento de hacerio.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Texans 13.

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Week 11 Power Rankings

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 27:  Honoree Rob Lowe speaks onstage at The Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe at Sony Studios on August 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe will premiere on September 5, 2016 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Cowboys (8-1; No. 2): It’s only a matter of time before Rob Lowe reports that Tony Romo plans to retire.

2. Raiders (7-2; No. 3): What would have been an excellent bye-week Sunday collapsed quickly, when the Broncos and Chiefs stole late victories.

3. Seahawks (6-2-1; No. 7): They weathered the injury storm while winning. Now, they’ll make their run at the No. 1 seed.

4. Patriots (7-2; last week No. 1): With a pair of home losses this season, maybe they shouldn’t want the top seed in the AFC.

5. Chiefs (7-2; No. 5): The most underrated team in football is 17-2 in its last 19 regular-season games.

6. Broncos (7-3; No. 6): The newest offensive captain may be Captain Clipboard if he doesn’t turn it around.

7. Falcons (6-4; No. 4): Championship-caliber teams find ways to win on the road against non-championship-caliber teams.

8. Lions (5-4; No. 9): The Lions would like to take more Sundays off, if it means watching the other three teams in their division lose.

9. Giants (6-3; No. 12): If they get to the playoffs, they can get to the Super Bowl. Especially with strong line play on both sides of the ball.

10. Texans (6-3; No. 10): The win-the-ones-they-should, lose-the-ones-they-should formula continues.

11. Washington (5-3-1; No. 11): Kirk Cousins has a new catch phrase. Like most sequels, it stinks.

12. Dolphins (5-4; No. 15): The Dolphins are winning just enough games to spark unrealistic expectations for 2017.

13. Packers (4-5; No. 8): I’d be a highly successful coach, too, if I fell into a team that had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on the roster.

14. Eagles (5-4; No. 16): The worst team in the best division in football is still the worst team in the division.

15. Ravens (5-4; No. 20): The best team in the worst division in football is still the best team in the division.

16. Vikings (5-4; No. 13): Cutting a kicker who can’t make kicks means the Vikings will soon be losing games by fewer points.

17. Bills (4-5; No. 17): The Bills need to start a new winning streak soon, or Rex Ryan will again be in danger of losing his job.

18. Titans (5-5; No. 25): If they keep improving, the Titans could not only win the division but also a couple of playoff games.

19. Steelers (4-5; No. 14): It’s easy to have only three coaches since 1969 when fan expectations are met far more often than not. It’s harder to keep it going when the team begins to consistently underachieve.

20. Bengals (3-5-1; No. 18): Before putting Marvin Lewis on the hot seat, keep in mind that he’s done very well over the years — and that owner Mike Brown doesn’t like to pay people to not work for him.

21. Saints (4-5; No. 19): They’ll keep scratching and clawing in a division that remains relatively wide open, but Thursday night’s visit to Carolina feels like an elimination game.

22. Cardinals (4-4-1; No. 21): Barely beating the 49ers in the first game after the bye doesn’t bode well for these birds.

23. Buccaneers (4-5; No. 23): This team is simply a little consistency, maturity, and continuity away from becoming a contender.

24. Colts (4-5; No. 24): That “defining” game seems a little looser and flabbier now that the Packers gave up 47 in Tennessee.

25. Chargers (4-6; No. 22): The way the season has gone, it would have been more appropriate for the stadium vote to prevail until the last precinct’s ballots were counted.

26. Rams (4-5; No. 27): The L.A. Rams are doing their best to mimic the L.A. Kings, on the scoreboard.

27. Panthers (3-6; No. 26): I’m still not ready to put a fork in them. Frankly, it could be time to insert all available cutlery.

28. Jets (3-7; No. 28): Get ready for Woody Johnson to start issuing votes of confidence.

29. Bears (2-7; No. 29): If Alshon Jeffery was indeed using PEDs, his stats suggest they weren’t working.

30. Jaguars (2-7; No. 30): Blake Bortles has gotten so adept at throwing interceptions, he would win a game of interception H-O-R-S-E.

31. 49ers (1-8; No. 31): It’s a good thing the 49ers aren’t facing an elite team with a chip on its shoulder this weekend. Oh wait.

32. Browns (0-10; No. 32): The Browns say Hue Jackson will return next year. Which means that, if the Browns lose their next six games, he’ll be the first coach in NFL history to go 0-17.

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NFC playoff picture: Cowboys have a big lead

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 06:  Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys takes a hand off in the second half from Dak Prescott #4 against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys are atop the NFC, with room to spare.

At 8-1, the Cowboys have the best record in the NFL and a significant lead in the NFC. Dallas isn’t just aiming for an NFC East title down the stretch; Dallas is the favorite for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But it’s a crowded field in the NFC, with 14 teams that still have some semblance of playoff hopes. Here’s how it shapes up:

LEADERS
1. Cowboys (8-1): If the Cowboys can go 6-1 in their remaining seven games, they clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs regardless of what anyone else does.

2. Seahawks (6-2-1): Seattle has a two-game lead in the NFC West.

3. Falcons (6-4): Atlanta has a 1.5-game lead in the NFC South.

4. Lions (5-4): Detroit has the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Minnesota; their Thanksgiving rematch looms large.

5. Giants (6-3): Two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East, but the leader of the wild card pack.

6. Washington (5-3-1): Tying instead of losing in Week Eight gives Washington a half-game lead in the wild card race.

OTHERS
7. Eagles (5-4): Philadelphia is in a rough spot in the NFC East: They have the seventh-best record in the conference but the fourth-best record in the division.

8. Vikings (5-4): After starting 5-0, the Vikings appear to be in free-fall. But after facing the Cardinals on Sunday, they can jump right back into first place if they beat the Lions on Thanksgiving.

9. Cardinals (4-4-1): Catching the Seahawks in the NFC West is going to be a tall order. But despite a very disappointing start to the season, they’re still just a game out of wild card contention.

10. Buccaneers (4-5): The Bucs’ 4-3 conference record could prove helpful in a playoff race.

11. Packers (4-5): As ugly as they looked on Sunday in Tennessee, they’re still just a game behind the Lions and Vikings in the NFC North.

12. Rams (4-5): Jeff Fisher didn’t want to see any 7-9 bulls–t this season, but that’s exactly the trajectory his team is on.

13. Saints (4-6): The Saints have nothing but conference games remaining, which gives them a chance to climb up the NFC standings.

14. Panthers (4-6): Can the defending NFC champions get back to the playoffs? At this point they’ll likely have to run the table — and even that may not be enough.

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AFC playoff picture: Patriots lead, AFC West a tight race

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The playoff race in the AFC is wide open, but a familiar face is on top.

As has so often been the case during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, the Patriots are the top team in the AFC this week, as we begin our weekly looks at the NFL’s playoff picture.

But the 7-2 Patriots aren’t ahead by a lot. They have the same record as both the Chiefs and Raiders, and they’re only half a game ahead of the Broncos.

Here’s how the whole conference shapes up:

LEADERS
1. Patriots (7-2): Own tiebreaker over Chiefs based on better record in conference games

2. Chiefs (7-2): Own tiebreaker over Raiders based on head-to-head victory.

3. Texans (6-3): Houston sure doesn’t look like a No. 3 seed in the AFC, but the record says that’s exactly what the Texans are.

4. Ravens (5-4): They lead the AFC North by a game.

5. Raiders (7-2): Their Week 14 game at Kansas City may be the biggest Thursday night game ever.

6. Broncos (7-3): The defending champions are in a tough division but have a big lead in the wild card race.

OTHERS
7. Dolphins (5-4): Miami is the best of the rest, but it’s hard to see a path to the playoffs for Miami.

8. Titans (5-5): They have a better chance of catching the Texans in the South than they do of getting a wild card.

9. Steelers (4-5): They’re a game behind Baltimore and still get to welcome the Ravens to Pittsburgh at Christmas.

10. Colts (4-5): The AFC South is still in their sights, but the Colts are running out of time to get to the top.

11. Bills (4-5): Buffalo may need to run the table to earn a wild card berth.

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NFL morning after: Kill the “quarterback win”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a game against the Denver Broncos at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 13, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Broncos won 25-23.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the smarter aspects of baseball analysis in recent years has been the de-emphasis of wins and losses in evaluating pitchers. To suggest that one pitcher “wins” a game and another pitcher “loses” a game, even though many other players are involved in whether a game is won or lost, is silly. Brian Kenny, a broadcaster on Major League Baseball’s cable network, repeated the mantra, “Kill the win,” and other baseball analysts joined in on an effort to give wins less attention in assessing the quality of a pitcher.

Unfortunately, one of the dumber aspects of football analysis in recent years has been an increasing emphasis of wins and losses in evaluating quarterbacks. And if a pitcher doesn’t win or lose a game all by himself, a quarterback has even less of an impact on winning or losing, as football is inherently a more interconnected game, with every player dependent upon his teammates to win or lose.

And yet there was Rams coach Jeff Fisher after Sunday’s 9-6 win over the Jets, insisting that his quarterback, Case Keenum, would remain the starter despite a dreadful performance. Before the game, reports said Keenum could lose his starting job with another bad game, but after the game, merely winning — even winning by a score of 9-6 — turned out to be enough to save Keenum’s job.

I thought Case did a nice job,” Fisher said.

Here’s the truth: No, Case didn’t do a nice job on Sunday. Case did a lousy job on Sunday. Case managed just 165 passing yards, completing 17 of 30 passes, and the Rams’ offense never reached the end zone. I’ve already explained why I think Fisher should bench Keenum for rookie Jared Goff, but what I want to focus on now is this notion that because a team won a game, that somehow means the quarterback played well. Or that because a team lost a game, that somehow means a quarterback played poorly.

All you had to do was watch Sunday afternoon’s game to see how ridiculous this idea about quarterbacks winning or losing a game is.

In New Orleans, we saw Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian “win” a game in which he averaged 6.4 yards a pass against a lousy Saints pass defense, and we saw Drew Brees “lose” a game in which he averaged 10.4 yards a pass against an excellent Broncos pass defense. Brees played far better than Siemian, but the game-changing play happened while both Brees and Siemian were standing on the sideline: As the Saints lined up for a game-winning extra point, the Broncos blocked it and returned it to the end zone for a two-point return score. Why would we call one quarterback a winner and the other quarterback a loser when the game hinged on a play that happened with both players on the sideline?

In Jacksonville, we saw Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler play an unbelievably bad game, completing 14 of 27 passes for 99 yards — a disgraceful 3.7 yards per pass! — but because the Texans won, and because the Texans remain in first place in their terrible division, we are apparently all supposed to pretend Osweiler is a winner.

In Carolina, we saw Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith manage just 178 yards on 25-for-38 passing, with no touchdowns and one interception. But because the Chiefs won the game — powered by the defense scoring on a pick-six and forcing a turnover to set up the game-winning field goal — we won’t hear anyone talk about what a miserable game Smith played.

The narrative gets even worse in the playoffs, when every game seems to become a referendum on a quarterback’s quality, simplistically judged by whether his team wins or loses. But we should be smarter than that. We should see that the quarterback, while undeniably the most important player on the field, is just one of 22 players on the field at any given time. He doesn’t win a game by himself, he doesn’t lose a game by himself, and his team’s results often don’t tell us much about whether he individually played well. We really should kill the quarterback win.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday.

Ezekiel Elliott is amazing. We all know the Cowboys’ rookie running back is doing great things this season, but do you realize just how unusual it is for a player to make plays like Elliott is making, week in and week out? With his 83-yard touchdown catch on Sunday in Pittsburgh — a catch on which he blew past the speedy Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier — Elliott became the first rookie running back since Gale Sayers in 1965 to have both a touchdown run of longer than 60 yards and a touchdown catch of longer than 80 yards. Elliott is also just the third player in NFL history (after Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson) to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first nine games. And it’s not just that Elliott makes big plays: He also consistently churns out the tough yards, which is why he’s leading the league in first downs. He’s an incredible young player.

I still like Mike Tomlin’s approach to going for two. Just so you know I’m not going to second-guess him when it doesn’t work, I’d like to praise Tomlin, the Steelers’ head coach, for once again going for two at a time when no other NFL coach would have on Sunday. When the Steelers scored their first touchdown of the game on Sunday to take a 6-0 lead over the Cowboys, Tomlin went for two. When the Steelers scored their second touchdown to take a 12-3 lead, Tomlin went for two. The Steelers failed to convert on those two attempts, and then failed on two later attempts when they were going “by the book,” but I like it despite yesterday’s 0-for-4: NFL coaches are too passive about taking risks, and Tomlin is the only coach who regularly goes for two even if the “by the book” approach would be kicking the extra point. As long as you can score 50 percent of the time that you go for two, you’re ahead of the game, and I believe the Steelers will make more than 50 percent in the long run, even after going 0-for-4 Sunday.

The NFC North is collapsing around the Lions. With Detroit on its bye on Sunday, the other three NFC North teams all lost. A week earlier the Lions beat the Vikings while the Packers lost. All of a sudden the 5-4 Lions are in a first-place tie with the Vikings and own the head-to-head tiebreaker, while the Packers are a game back. How many people expected that when the Lions started 1-3 and the Vikings started 5-0?

Jameis Winston made the play of the year. Yesterday against the Bears, Winston took the snap at the 23-yard line and scrambled backward all the way into his own end zone to avoid the pass rush. He then ran forward to the 10-yard line where he launched the ball downfield, 50 yards in the air, into the hands of Mike Evans for a spectacular 39-yard gain. It looked like something you’d see in an NFL Films clip from the 1950s because it seemed too fun for today’s NFL:

Blair Walsh has to go. The Vikings simply can’t allow Walsh to continue being their kicker. He is now 15-for-19 on extra points this season. He’s the first NFL kicker since 1979 to attempt that many extra points and miss more than 20 percent of them. Granted, extra points were a lot easier before last year’s rules change, but still: He’s missing extra points at a rate that simply can’t exist in today’s NFL. He has to go.

Dak Prescott is great. I wrote on Twitter that I think Prescott is the third-best quarterback in the NFL this season, behind only Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. The response was as if I had said Meghan Trainor is the third-best musical act in American history, behind only Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Dozens of people tweeted back at me, insisting I was crazy to overreact to Prescott’s performance through just half of one NFL season. But I stand by that opinion. Yes, Prescott is early in his career. No, I don’t know if Prescott can continue playing at this level. But the fact remains, he has played much better than much more accomplished quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson this season. Maybe Prescott will be a flash in the pan like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick, quarterbacks who were briefly great but no longer are even good. But even if that does happen, I’ll stand by my claim that for the first half of the 2016 season, Prescott has been the third-best quarterback in the NFL. And I said that during the game, regardless of whether the Cowboys won or lost against the Steelers.

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Week 10 early inactives

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/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. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Chiefs at Panthers

Chiefs: LB Justin Houston, WR Jeremy Maclin, DE Jaye Howard, CB D.J. White, QB Tyler Bray, RB Bishop Sankey, OL Mike Person

Panthers: T Michael Oher, S Colin Jones, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, LB Shaq Thompson, C Ryan Kalil, DT Kyle Love, TE Chris Manhertz.

Texans at Jaguars

Texans: WR Jaelen Strong, QB Brandon Weeden, WR Will Fuller, CB A.J. Bouye, RB Jonathan Grimes, LB Brian Peters, DT Vince Wilfork

Jaguars: WR Bryan Walters, QB Brandon Allen, DB Josh Johnson, RB Corey Grant, OL Bryce Harris, DT Richard Ash, DE Chris Smith

Broncos at Saints

Broncos: CB Aqib Talib, DE Derek Wolfe, RB Juwan Thompson, QB Austin Davis, G Connor McGovern, G Billy Turner, CB Taurean Nixon

Saints: LB Stephone Anthony, LB Michael Mauti, T Terron Armstead, RB Daniel Lasco, RB Marcus Murphy, WR Tommylee Lewis, OL Landon Turner.

Rams at Jets

Rams: WR Nelson Spruce, QB Sean Mannion, CB Dwayne Gratz, G Jamon Brown, T Pace Murphy, TE Temarrick Hemingway, DL Matt Longacre

Jets: C Nick Mangold, LB Bruce Carter, LB Josh Martin, CB Marcus Williams, T Brandon Shell, QB Christian Hackenberg, WR Devin Smith

Falcons at Eagles

Falcons: RB Tevin Coleman, CB Desmond Trufant, TE Jacob Tamme, S Sharrod Neasman, RB Stevan Ridley, OL Wes Schweitzer, DE Cliff Matthews

Eagles: G Allen Barbre, S Terrance Brooks, DE DL Means, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, DT Taylor Hart

Bears at Buccaneers

Bears: CB Deiondre’ Hall, TE Daniel Brown, CB Bryce Callahan, LB John Timu, DB DeAndre Houston-Carson, OL Eric Kush, DL Mitch Unrein

Buccaneers: T Kevin Pamphile, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR Russell Shepard, QB Ryan Griffin, T Leonard Wester, C Joe Hawley, DE Channing Ward

Packers at Titans

Packers: LB Clay Matthews, C J.C. Tretter, CB Damarious Randall, RB Don Jackson, T Kyle Murphy, TE Jared Cook, DL Christian Ringo

Titans: TE Jace Amaro, LB Aaron Wallace, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Tre McBride, S Curtis Riley, RB David Fluellen, DL Al Woods

Vikings at Redskins

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, CB Captain Munnerlyn, CB Marcus Sherels, WR Laquon Treadwell, QB Taylor Heinicke, G Willie Beavers, G Zac Kerin

Redskins: WR DeSean Jackson, QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Matt Jones, G Arie Kouandjio, T Blaine Clausell, DL Jordan Hill, DL Matt Ioannidis

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