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NFL morning after: Tom Brady’s impressive season

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Tom Brady had one of the great regular seasons in NFL history in 2007, throwing for 50 touchdown passes as the Patriots became the only 16-0 team the league has ever seen. It might seem silly to say anything Brady has done in the years since could possibly rate with that season.

And yet as Brady completed his 2016 season on Sunday, it occurred to me that I’m even more impressed with what Brady is doing this year than I was back in 2007.

Brady is 39 years old, ancient by the standards of an NFL player. He began this season by serving a four-game suspension for Deflategate, something that easily could have rattled him mentally. It would have been completely understandable if Brady had taken a huge step backward this year.

And yet Brady’s season was incredible: He threw 28 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history. His passer rating of 112.2 was the second-best of his career. And he led the Patriots to an NFL-best record of 14-2.

Brady did all that without anything like the receiving corps he had in 2007, when Randy Moss was the NFL’s best deep threat and Wes Welker was the NFL’s best possession receiver. The Patriots’ receivers — Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola — are fine as far as they go, but they’re mostly pedestrian players who know their role in the Patriots’ offense. Rob Gronkowski is the NFL’s best tight end when he’s healthy, but Gronk only played with Brady in six games, and got hurt in two of them, with the second injury ending his season. Brady in 2016 didn’t have even close to the weapons that Brady in 2007.

When we talk about Brady’s career, we focus so much on his four Super Bowl rings that I think we may actually underrate how great a player he’s been in the regular season. On Sunday, Brady moved ahead of Dan Marino for fourth place in NFL history for regular-season passing yards. He’s also fourth all-time in regular-season passing touchdowns. He’s also the only player ever to win the regular-season MVP award unanimously.

He may win his third regular-season MVP award this year. If he does, he’ll be the oldest MVP in league history. What he has done this season, a season that started with him sitting at home, is nothing short of remarkable.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday’s action:

Great on-field audio. The best TV moment of Week 17 was the way CBS got the on-field audio of Steelers defensive back Mike Mitchell yelling at the officials after he was flagged for a facemasking penalty. Mitchell felt that he had been the victim, not the perpetrator, of facemasking on the play, and he begged the officials to reconsider: “He grabbed mine! He grabbed mine! Oh, my god please look at it, sir! Please look at it! He grabbed mine!” Mitchell shouted. The NFL and the networks should work together on audio improvements to bring the fans at home more moments like that. Those are the moments that make the NFL the best show on television.

An ugly injury. It was horrible to see Cardinals running back David Johnson’s knee bend awkwardly underneath him in yesterday’s game against the Rams. Johnson was having one of the all-time great running back seasons: He had gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in all 15 games heading into yesterday. It’s a terrible way for a season like that to end, with a player getting carted off the field. I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to start seeing teams that have already been eliminated from playoff contention, like the Cardinals, treat Week 17 more like the preseason, and not play their most important players, like Johnson. A serious injury at the end of one season can affect a player into the next season, and for the Cardinals, there was no benefit to having Johnson on the field at all.

Frank Gore did something special. Gore, the Colts’ veteran running back, topped 1,000 yards for the 2016 season — at the age of 33. That’s unheard of in today’s NFL. The only players 33 or older who have gained 1,000 rushing yards in a season previously were John Henry Johnson with Pittsburgh in the 1960s, Franco Harris with Pittsburgh in the 1980s and John Riggins with Washington the 1980s. Nowadays, NFL running backs are usually beaten up so badly that they can’t play at all by age 33. Gore continues not just to play, but to thrive.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock. The Browns lost to the Steelers in overtime on Sunday, clinching the first overall pick in the process. But I was very impressed with how the Browns played. For all the talk that rebuilding teams could tank at the end of the season to get a high draft pick, the Browns were playing to win, not to clinch the first overall pick. The Steelers had to fight the Browns for 60 minutes, plus overtime, before ultimately getting the win. That’s to the credit of Hue Jackson and his team.

Terrelle Pryor is incredible. My favorite player on that Browns team is Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback who switched positions to wide receiver and managed to top 1,000 receiving yards this season. That’s a remarkable achievement for a guy who’s still learning a new position. Pryor becomes a free agent this offseason. He could play on my team any time.

Have we seen the last of Sanchez? Mark Sanchez has received a lot of credit in Dallas this year for being a good veteran mentor to Dak Prescott. But the bottom line on Sanchez is that he just isn’t a good quarterback. He didn’t play well for the Eagles last year, looked so bad in the preseason that the Broncos cut him, and yesterday for the Cowboys he looked inept, going just 9-for-17 for 85 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Realistically, I’m not sure he’s even going to make an NFL roster next season, given the way he has played when given the opportunity in his last three NFL stops. Once a promising young player, Sanchez hasn’t amounted to much, and yesterday may have been his last NFL game.

The reining MVP was a huge disappointment. Last season, Cam Newton was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. This season he was a disaster. After throwing 35 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 2015, Newton managed just 19 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions in 2016. Newton’s stats also included:
— A career-low 75.8 passer rating.
— A career-low 52.9 percent completion rate.
— A career-low 6.88 yards per pass.
— A career-low 359 rushing yards
— A career-low 3.99 yards per carry.
As we saw Brady play his best football, we saw Newton play his worst.

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Times, dates set for first two playoff weekends

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The NFL’s playoff schedule for the first two weeks has been set.

The postseason kicks off next Saturday, Jan. 7 with Oakland at Houston at 4:35 p.m., then Detroit plays at Seattle at 8:15 p.m.

Next Sunday, the Steelers host the Dolphins at 1 p.m., and the Packers host the Giants at 4:40 p.m.

The schedule for the divisional playoffs has also been set. On Saturday Jan. 14, Atlanta will host the 4:35 p.m. game, and New England will host the 8:15 p.m. game. The Falcons play the NFC’s highest-remaining seed; the Patriots will play the AFC’s lowest-remaining seed.

Kansas City will host the early game on Sunday Jan. 15, and Dallas will host the late game.

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Week 17 early inactives

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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.

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens: WR Keenan Reynolds, WR Vince Mayle, RB Buck Allen, LB Lamar Louis, G Ryan Jensen, T Rick Wagner, TE Crockett Gillmore

Bengals: QB Jeff Driskel, RB Jeremy Hill, LB Vontaze Burfict, G Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams, TE Tyler Kroft, WR Jake Kumerow

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns, RB Chris Ivory, DT Jordan Hill, TE Neal Sterling, QB Brandon Allen, RB Daryl Richardson, DE Chris Smith

Colts: WR Donte Moncrief, CB Darius Butler, CB Rashaan Melvin, LB Deiontrez Mount, OL Austin Blythe, DL Kristjan Sokoli, OL Jeremy Vujnovich

Patriots at Dolphins

Patriots: WR Danny Amendola, DB Cyrus Jones, WR Malcolm Mitchell, T LaAdrian Waddle, RB D.J. Foster, QB Jacoby Brissett, S Jordan Richards

Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Jelani Jenkins, DE Mario Williams, WR Leonte Carroo, TE Dominique Jones, TE Thomas Duarte

Bears at Vikings

Bears: WR Daniel Braverman, S Deon Bush, DB Bryce Callahan, RB Ka’Deem Carey, LB Leonard Floyd, FB Paul Lasike, LB Pernell McPhee

Vikings: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Stefon Diggs, WR Laquon Treadwell, RB Adrian Peterson, RB C.J. Ham, G Willie Beavers, G Alex Boone

Bills at Jets

Bills: QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Dez Lewis, CB Stephon Gilmore, T Cordy Glenn, TE Logan Thomas, TE Gerald Christian, DT Adolphus Washington

Jets: WR Brandon Marshall, CB Nick Marshall, LB Lorenzo Mauldin, LB Randell Johnson, OL Donald Hawkins, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DL Steve McLendon

Cowboys at Eagles

Cowboys: CB Morris Claiborne, LB Justin Durant, T Tyron Smith, DE Demarcus Lawrence, DL Cedric Thornton, DL Terrell McClain, DL Tyrone Crawford.

Eagles: CB Dwayne Gratz, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Allen Barbre, DL Taylor Hart, WR Jordan Matthews, LB Mychal Kendricks

Browns at Steelers

Browns: QB Kevin Hogan, QB Josh McCown, OL Gabe Ikard, DL Stephen Paea, RB Darius Jackson, LB Cam Johnson, DB Trey Caldwell

Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger, S Robert Golden, RB Le’Veon Bell, C Maurkice Pouncey, WR Antonio Brown, TE Ladarius Green, DE Stephon Tuitt

Panthers at Buccaneers

Panthers: QB Derek Anderson, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, LB Jeremy Cash, T Dan France, DE Charles Johnson, LB Luke Kuechly, DT Paul Soliai

Buccaneers: QB Ryan Griffin, WR Bernard Reedy. T Leonard Wester, DT John Hughes, DT Channing Ward, G Caleb Benenoch, DE Will Gholston

Texans at Titans

Texans: CB Johnathan Joseph, RB Lamar Miller, FB Jay Prosch, LB John Simon, LB Brian Cushing, DE Jadeveon Clowney, QB Brandon Weeden

Titans: WR Kendall Wright, CB Jason McCourty, S Curtis Riley, LB David Bass, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro, DL Angelo Blackson

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Week 17 injury report roundup

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On the first day of 2017, the NFL’s regular season will come to an end with all 32 teams in action. Each of those teams submitted injury reports on Friday and we have all the particulars from those reports right here.

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.

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens LB Zach Orr (neck) and T Rick Wagner (concussion) won’t play on Sunday and OL Alex Lewis (ankle) is listed as questionable.

WR A.J. Green (hamstring) will miss his sixth straight game for the Bengals. LB Vontaze Burfict (knee, concussion) and TE Tyler Kroft (knee, ankle) are doubtful to play and RB Jeremy Hill (knee) is listed as questionable.

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars DT Jordan Hill (calf) is out for Sunday’s game. WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), WR Marqise Lee (hip) and WR Neal Sterling (concussion) are considered questionable to play.

CB Darius Butler (concussion) will miss the finale for the Colts and WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder) will likely join him after getting a doubtful designation. LB Chris Carter (shoulder) and CB Rashaan Melvin (knee) are listed as questionable.

Patriots at Dolphins

The Patriots ruled out WR Danny Amendola (ankle) and CB Cyrus Jones (knee). WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) should also be out on Sunday after being listed as doubtful. TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), QB Tom Brady (thigh), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and WR Matt Slater (foot) make up the questionable contingent for the AFC East champs.

QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) remains out for Miami and they don’t expect to have LB Jelani Jenkins (knee) or CB Byron Maxwell (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), LB Spencer Paysinger (knee) and DE Mario Williams (ankle) are listed as questionable.

Bears at Vikings

The Bears expect LB Leonard Floyd (concussion) to miss another game after listing him as doubtful. S Deon Bush (ankle), CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring, knee), QB David Fales (right thumb), CB Cre’von LeBlanc (knee), T Bobby Massie (toe), LB Pernell McPhee (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (knee, shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee) all fell into the questionable category.

RB Adrian Peterson (knee, groin) was ruled out for the second straight week and may have played his final game with the Vikings. S Andrew Sendejo (knee) will also sit out. G Alex Boone (back), WR Stefon Diggs (hip) and WR Laquon Treadwell (ankle) drew doubtful tags on Friday while WR Charles Johnson (knee) is listed as questionable.

Bills at Jets

CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and T Cordy Glenn (back) will sit out for the Bills. LB Preston Brown (foot), LB Zach Brown (illness), TE Charles Clay (knee), G John Miller (hip), WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and DT Kyle Williams (back) are the group of questionable players for Buffalo.

The Jets ruled out LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (hamstring). A doubtful tag leaves CB Nick Marshall (hamstring) likely to miss the game. WR Robby Anderson (hamstring), CB Juston Burris (knee), WR Brandon Marshall (hip, shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (knee), DT Sheldon Richardson (back), RB Brandon Wilds (hamstring) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle, knee) are questionable to play in the final game of a dismal season.

Cowboys at Eagles

The Cowboys ruled out seven players — CB Morris Claiborne (groin), DT Tyrone Crawford (shoulder, hamstring), LB Justin Durant (elbow), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back), DT Terrell McClain (ankle), T Tyron Smith (knee) and DT Cedric Thornton (ankle) — so they won’t have any tough decisions to make on their inactive list. CB Anthony Brown (concussion), DE Jack Crawford (foot), DE Randy Gregory (abdomen), G Ronald Leary (back), LB Sean Lee (knee) and RB Darren McFadden (illness) drew questionable designations.

Allen Barbre (hamstring) isn’t expected to play after the Eagles listed him as doubtful. LB Jordan Hicks (ankle), LB Mychal Kendricks (quadricep), WR Jordan Matthews (ankle) and G Isaac Seumalo (ankle) fell into the questionable category.

Browns at Steelers

The Browns will go for win No. 2 without the services of CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring). CB Joe Haden (neck, groin), LB Cam Johnson (groin) and RB Duke Johnson (ankle) are listed as questionable.

S Robert Golden (ankle), TE Ladarius Green (concussion) and DE Stephon Tuitt (knee) will get the week off for the Steelers in hopes of returning for playoff action. LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle) and TE Xavier Grimble (ribs) are listed as questionable.

Panthers at Buccaneers

The Panthers ruled out QB Derek Anderson (illness), so Joe Webb will be the option if Cam Newton (shoulder, questionable) doesn’t go the distance. DE Charles Johnson (foot) was also ruled out while TE Greg Olsen (elbow) and RB Jonathan Stewart (foot) were also deemed questionable to play.

DE William Gholston (elbow) is out for the Buccaneers. T Gosder Cherilus (groin, ankle) and CB Vernon Hargreaves (abdomen) are listed as questionable.

Texans at Titans

The Texans will bide their time before their playoff opener without the help of DE Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, wrist), RB Lamar Miller (ankle), RB Jay Prosch (ankle, knee) and LB John Simon (chest). They listed LB Brian Cushing (ankle) and CB Johnathan Joseph (ribs, shoulder, illness) as questionable to play.

CB Jason McCourty (chest) is listed as questionable and was the only Titans player to get an injury designation this week.

Saints at Falcons

Saints CB Ken Crawley (knee) is out after getting hurt in practice this week. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (foot) and Craig Robertson (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

The Falcons ruled out WR Taylor Gabriel (foot) and TE Austin Hooper (knee), but everyone else is good to go as they bid for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Raiders at Broncos

QB Derek Carr (ankle) and T Austin Howard (shoulder) are out as the Raiders try to lock up the AFC West and possibly the first seed in the conference. S Karl Joseph (toe) is doubtful to play while WR Amari Cooper (shoulder), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle), WR Andre Holmes (shoulder), DT Stacy McGee (groin), G Kelechi Osemele (ankle), RB Jalen Richard (shoulder), LB Perry Riley (hamstring) and LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) have all been listed as questionable.

The Broncos will close out a disappointing season without TE A.J. Derby (concussion), S T.J. Ward (concussion), LB DeMarcus Ware (back), CB Kayvon Webster (concussion) and DE Derek Wolfe (neck). LB Brandon Marshall (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Rams

D.J. Humphries (concussion) will miss the final game of the Cardinals season. WR John Brown (illness), CB Marcus Cooper (back, calf), LB Sio Moore (ankle) and DT Robert Nkemdiche (ankle) are listed as questionable.

The Rams don’t expect to have WR Kenny Britt (shoulder), T Rob Havenstein (ankle) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. WR Mike Thomas (hip) drew a questionable designation.

Chiefs at Chargers

Chiefs LB Justin Houston (knee) is out for the second straight week. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) and RB Spencer Ware (rib) are listed as questionable.

RB Melvin Gordon (hip, knee) and CB Craig Mager (shoulder) will not play for the Chargers and T King Dunlap (knee) is on track to join them on the bench after a doubtful tag. WR Jeremy Butler (ankle), G Orlando Franklin (shoulder), LB Denzel Perryman (knee) and C Matt Slauson (foot) are listed as questionable.

Seahawks at 49ers

Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (shoulder) is out and the only player on the Friday injury report for the NFC West champs.

C Marcus Martin (ankle) and G Andrew Tiller (ankle) are out for the 49ers. CB Dontae Johnson (groin), CB Rashard Robinson (hamstring) and T Joe Staley (hamstring) drew questionable tags.

Giants at Redskins

S Nat Berhe (concussion) and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) are out for the Giants. TE Jerell Adams (shoulder), LB B.J. Goodson (concussion), CB Janoris Jenkins (back) and CB Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) were designated as questionable.

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder) fronts a group of Redskins listed as questionable. DE Chris Baker (ankle), LB Will Compton (knee), RB Rob Kelley (knee), LB Ryan Kerrigan (elbow), G Spencer Long (ankle), LB Trent Murphy (foot) and LB Martrell Spaight (shoulder) join Reed in that group. S Su’a Cravens (upper arm), CB Quinton Dunbar (concussion) and T Vinston Painter (calf) have been ruled out.

Packers at Lions

Packers RB James Starks (concussion) is out again this week. WR Randall Cobb (ankle), LB Jayrone Elliott (hand), CB Damarious Randall (shoulder), LB Joe Thomas (back) and C J.C. Tretter (knee) received questionable designations.

RB Theo Riddick (wrist) will miss his fourth straight for the Lions and it looks like C Travis Swanson (concussion) will miss the NFC North title tilt as well after being listed as doubtful. LB DeAndre Levy (knee), WR Andre Roberts (shoulder) and CB Darius Slay (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

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PFT’s Week 17 picks

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MDS has tripled his lead in the season picks contest, moving from a one-game lead to a three-game lead.

In the final week of the season, we coincidentally disagree on three games. A sweep for me results in a tie. Which would sort of stink. But not as bad as losing would.

Last week, MDS got 10 games right and six wrong. I was a pathetic 8-8.

For all of the picks for the final week of the regular season, you should know what to do by now.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: With both teams eliminated from playoff contention it’s hard to know how hard either team will be playing, but I’ll pick Cincinnati to win at home in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 21.

Florio’s take: A meaningless game has extra meaning for Steve Smith, who’ll “probably” be retiring. That will probably be enough to deliver victory for the Ravens.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Bengals 20.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: The Jags surprisingly came out strong last week after the firing of Gus Bradley, but this week I think it’s the Colts who will turn in a strong effort and win going away.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: The Doug Marrone bump lasts only one week, as the Colts try to ensure that Chuck Pagano will return for another non-winning season.

Florio’s pick: Colts 28, Jaguars 20.

Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Patriots are playing to clinch home-field advantage while the Dolphins, with a wild card berth locked up, don’t have a lot to play for. That’s a recipe for New England to win easily.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take: Losing at Miami in Week 17 a year ago cost the Patriots the No. 1 seed and, eventually, a Super Bowl berth. Bill Belichick won’t let that happen again.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 23.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings have been a major disappointment down the stretch after starting 5-0, but they’ll close with a win against an overmatched Bears team.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: Has-Beens versus Never-Weres in a game that will determine only whether the Vikings finish with a losing record.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 17, Bears 14.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: It’s EJ Manuel vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Are you excited? I’m not, but I think the Bills can move the ball on the ground enough to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 17.

Florio’s take: Even if the Jets don’t try (again), they should beat a Buffalo franchise that suddenly is one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional.

Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Bills 16.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Cowboys insist they’re playing to win even though they don’t have to, with home-field advantage wrapped up. They should handle the Eagles.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: The only question in this one is whether any Cowboys players will get injured. The Cowboys, too good to have a lapse and too loose to worry about what could go wrong, finish their perfect record against all teams not named the Giants.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 24.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: Even resting their starters, the Steelers should have enough to beat the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: The Browns got their one win of the year. Even without Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, the Steelers should be able to keep Cleveland from doubling its win total.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Browns 20.

Panthers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Bucs are effectively eliminated from the playoffs, but they are at least mathematically still alive and will, I think, play hard to finish the season strong.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take: The Bucs hope to finish a season of overachievement on a high note. The Panthers simply hope to finish the season.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Panthers 17.

Texans at Titans

MDS’s take: The Texans may rest some players to get ready to host a playoff game next week, but even when doing that they should be able to beat a Matt Cassel-led Titans team.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Titans 14.

Florio’s take: The Titans are 1-4 in the division, 7-3 outside of it. Make that 1-5.

Florio’s pick: Texans 23, Titans 20.

Saints at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons’ offense is rolling and the Saints’ defense is struggling. This one should be a beatdown.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 35, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: The Saints kept the Buccaneers out of the playoffs. The Saints won’t keep the Falcons out of the No. 2 seed.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Saints 24.

Raiders at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Raiders are playing without Derek Carr, which is a huge blow, but with the Broncos alternating quarterbacks between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, I’m not optimistic about their offense. Oakland wins a close one to clinch the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 17, Broncos 10.

Florio’s take: The Broncos could screw the Chiefs by laying down for the Raiders. Even if Denver doesn’t try, they’re good enough to overcome Matt McGloin.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 22, Raiders 17.

Cardinals at Rams

MDS’s take: Both of these teams are just playing out the string, but the Cardinals have at least looked like a competent team at times. Arizona shouldn’t have too much trouble here.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 12.

Florio’s take: Two teams that used to be in St. Louis play before an L.A. crowd that would prefer to see neither.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 23.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chiefs need to win and have the Raiders lose in order to win the AFC West. Kansas City will hold up its end of the bargain.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take: San Diego says good riddance to the Chargers.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Chargers 20.

Seahawks at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Seahawks have been struggling of late, but even a struggling Seattle team shouldn’t have too hard a time with the 49ers.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, 49ers 13.

Florio’s take: One last afternoon of Santa Clara traffic problems. That somehow won’t keep Seahawks fans from getting to the stadium.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, 49ers 17.

Giants at Washington

MDS’s take: The Giants say they’re playing to win, but Washington has so much more to play for that I see this one going Washington’s way.

MDS’s pick: Washington 24, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: It’s win and in for Washington. For the Giants, the game means nothing. And while coach Ben McAdoo is trying to create the impression that the Giants will play to win, their best play would be to play to get no one injured.

Florio’s pick: Washington 26, Giants 20.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: With the NFC North on the line, Aaron Rodgers will have a big game while Matthew Stafford will struggle.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Lions 17.

Florio’s take: The Lions, who have beaten one team that currently has a winning record, realized on Monday night that they don’t belong in the playoff field. Sunday night confirms it.

Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Lions 21.

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Week 17 playoff scenarios

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We know all six teams that will be part of the AFC playoffs, but the final day of the regular season still holds intrigue for four of those teams.

The top seed in the conference remains undecided, the Raiders and Chiefs are still in play for the AFC West title and the Dolphins could move up from the sixth seed. The Patriots will be the top seed with a win or a Raiders loss while the Raiders will be the top seed with a win and a Patriots loss.

A win would also make the Raiders the AFC West champs while the Chiefs will take the title with a win and an Oakland loss. The Chiefs could also fall to the sixth seed with a loss and a Dolphins win.

The NFC has a few more moving parts.


The Falcons will be the second seed in the conference with a win. They could also get the No. 2 spot with a tie and a Seahawks loss or tie, a Seahawks loss coupled with a Lions loss or tie and a Seahawks tie coupled with a Lions loss.


The NFC West champs could leapfrog the Falcons with a win while Atlanta loses or ties against the Saints. They’d also be No. 2 if they tie, the Falcons lose and the Packers/Lions game ends in a tie, which would be an entertaining if highly unlikely combination of events.


The Lions win the NFC North by beating the Packers and they can get a first round bye if the Falcons lose and the Seahawks lose or tie alongside their win. They can lose to the Packers and make the playoffs if the Redskins lose or tie against the Giants.


They’re the division champs with a win or tie and they’re in the playoffs with a Redskins loss. They could also make it if the Redskins tie, the Buccaneers win and at least one of the Eagles, Jaguars, Seahawks or Texans win that would give them the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Buccaneers.


As long as the Lions and Packers don’t tie, the Redskins would be in as a Wild Card with a win. If the Redskins tie, they’d need the Packers to lose and the Bucs to lose or tie so the front door is the best option available.


The only route into the playoffs for the Bucs is a win coupled with a Redskins tie, Packers loss and wins by the Titans, Colts, Cowboys and 49ers so it looks like it will be wait til next year in Tampa.

If both the Falcons and Seahawks win, the Seahawks will be the No. 3 seed and the NFC North winner will be in the fourth spot. If the Seahawks lose, they’ll be the No. 4 seed as they’ll either have fewer wins than the other division winners or lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers in the event of a tie on Sunday night.

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Week 17 Power Rankings

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1. Patriots (13-2; last week No. 1): Just like last year, the Patriots need to beat the Dolphins to nail down the No. 1 seed. Unlike last year, the Patriots hope to actually win this one.

2. Cowboys (13-2; No. 2): Yes, Dez Bryant has thrown more touchdown passes this year than Tony Romo.

3. Chiefs (11-4; No. 5): Yes, Dontari Poe has thrown more touchdown passes this year than Tony Romo.

4. Steelers (10-5; No. 9): If the Steelers win the Super Bowl, maybe Terry Bradshaw should get a ring.

5. Giants (10-5; No. 3): On Thursday night, Eli Manning was dressed like Phil Simms. And, unfortunately, played like eem.

6. Raiders (12-3; No. 4): “I like quarterbacks who don’t break their legs,” a certain politician possibly would say if commenting on whether Derek Carr is the MVP.

7. Falcons (10-5; No. 8): In the Chiefs, the AFC has a playoff team no one pays much attention to. In the NFC, that team is the Falcons.

8. Dolphins (10-5; No. 10): In the same year that Dak Prescott Drew Bledsoe’d Tony Romo, maybe Matt Moore will Romo Ryan Tannehill.

9. Packers (9-6; No. 14): They’ll be the most dangerous team in the NFC playoff field, if they can avoid losing at Lambeau Field to the Giants in the postseason for the third time in 10 years.

10. Seahawks (9-5-1; No. 6): When the losses over the last five games outnumber the wins, it’s hard to call any defeat an aberration.

11. Lions (9-6; No. 7): With only one win against a team with a non-losing record and a blowout loss against a Dallas team with nothing to play for, it’s possible that the Lions are should be renamed the Lyin’s.

12. Texans (9-6; No. 16): Another year, another ugly loss coming at home in the wild-card round.

13. Washington (8-6-1; No. 17): For the team, the playoffs are riding on Sunday’s game against the Giants. For the quarterback, millions are riding on it.

14. Titans (8-7; No. 11): Before trashing the AFC South, consider this — the Titans are 1-4 in the division this year and 7-3 outside of it.

15. Buccaneers (8-7; No. 12): The Bucs are still alive, but they have a better chance of catching lightning in a milk bottle in one hand and holding the winning Powerball ticket in the other.

16. Broncos (8-7; No. 13): Maybe Peyton Manning will finally get the credit he deserves for last year’s Super Bowl run.

17. Ravens (8-7; No. 15): Making their playoff exit even more painful is the fact that the Ravens could have made it to the Super Bowl.

18. Saints (7-8; No. 22): The role of spoiler is suiting them well; they can next knock the Falcons out of the No. 2 seed.

19. Colts (7-8; No. 18): Chuck Pagano deserves full responsibility for another lost season only if he also has been secretly working as the team’s G.M.

20. Vikings (7-8; No. 19): The mutiny-unless-it-wasn’t that lasted a full half unless it didn’t becomes one of the weirdest moments in one of the weirdest seasons the Vikings have ever had.

21. Eagles (6-9; No. 25): Carson Wentz has a degree of elusiveness and escapability that we’ve rarely seen at the quarterback position. If his passing skills ever match that, he’ll be headed for the Hall of Fame.

22. Cardinals (6-8-1; No. 24): How bad would this team be if it didn’t have David Johnson?

23. Bills (7-8; No. 20): The over-under on ugly sniping and unsavory leaks in the firing of Rex and Rob Ryan is Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

24. Panthers (6-9; No. 21): Write it down now — the Panthers will be back in contention for a Super Bowl next season.

25. Bengals (5-9-1; No. 23): Write it down now — the Bengals will be back in contention to lose in the wild-card round next season.

26. Jaguars (3-12; No. 30): Blake Bortles is on notice, which coincidentally caused him to have one of the best games of his career.

27. Chargers (5-10; No. 26): Losing to the Browns is the final nail in a coffin that was already nailed shut.

28. Jets (4-11; No. 27): At least they don’t have to worry about losing to Rex Ryan in Week 17 again.

29. Bears (3-12; No. 29): Counting the days until Jim Harbaugh is the coach.

30. 49ers (2-13; No. 31): Counting the days since Jim Harbaugh was the coach.

31. Browns (1-14; No. 32): Counting the days since Jim Harbaugh nearly was the coach.

32. Rams (4-11; No. 28): Counting the amount of money it would take to make Jim Harbaugh the coach.

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NFC playoff picture: All eyes on Detroit, Washington

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Though Lions-Packers Sunday night will decide the NFC North title, it is not the only Week 17 game that matters.

Washington can apply extra pressure to that Sunday night game with a win over the Giants. The Falcons can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win, but what else might happen requires a lot of calculating.

Here is how the NFC playoff race looks heading into the final week of the season:


1. Cowboys (13-2): Clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

2. Falcons (10-5): Clinched the NFC South. Can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win Sunday vs. the Saints, or a Seahawks loss or tie and a Lions loss or tie.

3. Seahawks (9-5-1): Clinched the NFC West. The Seahawks will be the No. 2 seed if they beat the 49ers Sunday and the Falcons lose to or tie the Saints.

4. Packers (9-6): They win the NFC North with a win at Detroit. The Packers would be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose and if Washington beats the Giants.

5. Giants (10-5): The Giants are in, and locked into the No. 5 slot. Their opponent might not be known until late next Sunday.

6. Lions (9-6): Like the Packers, the Lions win the division with a win and are eliminated from the playoffs if they lose and if Washington beats the Giants. The Lions could still be the No. 2 seed if they win and the Falcons and the Seahawks both lose.


7. Washington (8-6-1): Makes the playoffs with a win against the Giants Sunday unless Lions/Packers ends in a tie. If the Giants win Sunday, Washington is eliminated.

8. Buccaneers (8-7): The longest of longshots. The Bucs need to win next week and need seven games to go their way. In addition to beating the Panthers Sunday, the Bucs would need the Colts, Cowboys, Titans, 49ers and Lions to win, and for the Redskins-Giants game to end in a tie. Stranger things have not happened.

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AFC playoff picture: All six teams decided, only seeds to play for

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There’s not a lot of suspense in the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 17.

The six playoff teams will be the Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs and Dolphins. All that’s left to be determined is the seeding of those six teams.

Here’s how it looks right now:

1. Patriots (13-2): Have clinched a first-round bye and will clinch home-field advantage with a win or a Raiders loss.

2. Raiders (12-3): Need to win or have the Chiefs lose next week to clinch the AFC West.

3. Steelers: (10-5): Locked into the No. 3 seed, based on the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Texans.

4. Texans (9-6): Locked into the No. 4 seed.

5. Chiefs (11-4): Can still catch the Raiders in the AFC West, with a win and an Oakland loss.

6. Dolphins (10-5): Would move up to the No. 5 seed with a win and a Chiefs loss. Otherwise Miami is the No. 6 seed.

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Packers-Lions flexed to Sunday night


The NFL has officially moved the NFC North championship game to prime time.

Green Bay’s visit to Detroit in Week 17 will be on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on January 1, the league announced today. As we previously noted, that was really the only game that made sense for the time slot, as it’s the one game that is guaranteed to have playoff implications for both teams, regardless of the outcome of any other games.

The NFL has also announced that Saints at Falcons and Giants at Washington will both kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET, and Patriots at Dolphins will move to 4:25 as well unless both the Steelers and Chiefs win today. If the Steelers and Chiefs both win, Patriots-Dolphins will remain at 1 p.m. ET.

Here’s the full Week 17 schedule, with all 32 teams playing on Sunday, January 1, 2017:

Ravens at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS;
Jaguars at Colts, 1 p.m., CBS;
Bears at Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX;
Bills at Jets, 1 p.m., CBS;
Cowboys at Eagles, 1 p.m., FOX;
Browns at Steelers, 1 p.m., CBS;
Panthers at Buccaneers, 1 p.m., FOX;
Texans at Titans, 1 p.m., CBS;
Patriots at Dolphins, 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Saints at Falcons, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Raiders at Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Cardinals at Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Chiefs at Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Seahawks at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Giants at Washington, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Packers at Lions, 8:30 p.m., NBC.

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Vikings’ DBs defied Zimmer, ignored plan for covering Jordy Nelson

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Packers receiver Jordy Nelson had a huge first half against the Vikings today, catching seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns before halftime. And he did it against a Minnesota secondary that was defying the orders of head coach Mike Zimmer to have cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadow Nelson.

At halftime, Zimmer ordered the players to go back to the game plan of Rhodes shadowing Nelson, and it worked: Nelson managed just two catches for nine yards in the second half. But the damage was done in the first half. After the game, Zimmer acknowledged that the players hadn’t followed the game plan until he told them they had to at halftime.

“That’s what he was supposed to do the whole game,” Zimmer said, via the Star-Tribune. “Someone decided they wouldn’t do that.”

So who decided to go against the coach’s orders?

“To be honest, I really don’t want to answer that,” Rhodes said.

But as reporters asked him to explain, Rhodes did: He said the defensive backs decided on their own that he shouldn’t shadow Nelson because he hadn’t shadowed Nelson when they had faced the Packers in the past.

“We felt as a team, as players, we came together and we felt like we’d never done that when we played against the Packers,” Rhodes said. “Us as DBs felt like we could handle him. That’s how we felt as DBs that we could stay on our side and cover him. In the beginning, we’d always played against them and played our sides, so that’s what we as DBs went with.”

Zimmer confirmed that he exchanged words with cornerback Terence Newman about it in the first half.

“In the first half when Terence Newman came over and said something to me like ‘I can cover this guy, let me have him,’” Zimmer said. “I said, ‘do what you’re supposed to do.’”

It wasn’t until the second half that the Vikings’ defensive backs did what they were supposed to do. By that point, Nelson had done his damage. For the players to defy their coach like that is stunning.

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Week 16 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. That usually happens on Sunday, but Christmas has caused a schedule change and Saturday will be the busiest day of the football week. 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.

Dolphins at Bills

Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Jelani Jenkins, WR Leonte Carroo, DB Jordan Lucas, TE Thomas Duarte, TE Dominique Jones

Bills: LB Lerentee McCray, QB Cardale Jones, WR Dez Lewis, T Cordy Glenn, TE Logan Thomas, TE Gerald Christian, DT Jerel Worthy

Falcons at Panthers

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, WR Nick Williams, RB Terron Ward, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, S Dashon Goldson, OL Wes Schweitzer

Panthers: DE Ryan Delaire, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Jeremy Cash, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, DT Kyle Love, WR Brenton Bersin, T Dan France

Redskins at Bears

Redskins: S Su’a Cravens, CB Quinton Dunbar, QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Matt Jones, C Kory Lichtensteiger, OL Vinston Painter, TE Jordan Reed

Bears: G Eric Kush, CB Cre’von LeBlanc, RB Ka’Deem Carey, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, FB Paul Lasike, LB Jonathan Anderson, WR Daniel Braverman

Chargers at Browns

Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, T King Dunlap, CB Craig Mager, C Max Tuerk, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Jeremy Butler, DL Kaleb Eulls

Browns: QB Kevin Hogan, QB Josh McCown, RB Darius Jackson, OL Gabe Ikard, DL Tyrone Holmes, DL Stephen Paea, DL Gabe Wright

Vikings at Packers

Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson, FB Zach Line, G Brandon Fusco, WR Laquon Treadwell, QB Taylor Heinicke, G Willie Beavers, DE Stephen Weatherly

Packers: LB Jayrone Elliott, RB James Starks, WR Randall Cobb, QB Joe Callahan, CB Josh Hawkins, C J.C. Tretter, T Kyle Murphy

Titans at Jaguars

Titans: CB Jason McCourty, WR Tre McBride, CB D’Joun Smith, DB Curtis Riley, LB David Bass, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro

Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns, DT Jordan Hill, WR Arrelious Benn, RB Denard Robinson, LB Sean Porter, WR Neal Sterling

Jets at Patriots

Jets: LB Lorenzo Mauldin, DT Steve McLendon, QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Matt Forte, T Donald Hawkins, WR Jalin Marshall, DT Brandin Bryant

Patriots: WR Danny Amendola, LB Dont’a Hightower, RB D.J. Foster, WR Matthew Slater, QB Jacoby Brissett, T LaAdrian Waddle, CB Justin Coleman

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Week 16 injury report roundup

Week 15 kicked off on Thursday with an Eagles win and it continues with 12 more games on Saturday as most of the league plays a day earlier than normal because of Christmas. There will be two games on Christmas day as well, which means 28 teams turned in 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.

Dolphins at Bills (Saturday)

The Dolphins listed LB Jelani Jenkins (knee, hand) and CB Byron Maxwell (ankle) as doubtful to play and QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) remains out. S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring, hand), T Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), CB Bobby McCain (knee, hand) and DE Mario Williams (ankle) are listed as questionable.

Bills LB Lerentee McCray (concussion) is out and T Cordy Glenn (back) will likely join him after drawing a doubtful tag. LB Preston Brown (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), RB Jerome Felton (foot), G John Miller (hip), WR Sammy Watkins (foot), DT Kyle Williams (back) and DT Jerel Worthy (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Falcons at Panthers (Saturday)

Falcons WR Julio Jones (toe) is set to return after avoiding an injury designation on Friday. DT De’Vondre Campbell (concussion) and TE Austin Hooper (knee) will not play, however.

DE Ryan Delaire (knee) is the only Panthers player ruled out and the only one with an injury designation this week. It’s not been announced whether LB Luke Kuechly (concussion) will play at this point.

Redskins at Bears (Saturday)

Redskins TE Jordan Reed (shoulder) is questionable after missing practice all week. DE Chris Baker (ankle), LB Will Compton (knee), LB Terence Garvin (illness), LB Ryan Kerrigan (elbow), QB Colt McCoy (illness) and LB Martrell Spaight (shoulder) got the same designation. S Su’a Cravens (upper arm) and CB Quinton Dunbar (concussion) have been ruled out.

G Eric Kush (concussion) is out for the Bears. Chicago listed CB Bryce Callahan (knee), RB Ka’Deem Carey (shoulder), QB David Fales (right thumb), CB Cre’von LeBlanc (knee), DE Cornelius Washington (back) and LB Willie Young (knee) as questionable to play.

Chargers at Browns (Saturday)

The Chargers will play without RB Melvin Gordon (hip, knee) again this week. CB Craig Mager (shoulder) is listed as doubtful while WR Jeremy Butler (ankle), T King Dunlap (knee) and G Orlando Franklin (illness) are questionable to play in Cleveland.

Browns LB Dominique Alexander (abdomen, groin) and TE Randall Telfer (ankle, knee) are questionable as the team tries for its first win of the year.

Vikings at Packers (Saturday)

The return of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (knee, groin) hit a snag and he’s been ruled out along with G Brandon Fusco (concussion), RB Zach Line (concussion) and WR Laquon Treadwell (ankle). WR Stefon Diggs (hip) and S Harrison Smith (ankle) are listed as questionable.

QB Aaron Rodgers (calf) and LB Clay Matthews (shoulder) are off the injury report for the Packers. WR Randall Cobb (ankle), LB Nick Perry (hand), CB Damarious Randall (shoulder) and C J.C. Tretter (knee) are listed as questionable while LB Jayrone Elliott (hand) and RB James Starks (concussion) have been ruled out.

Titans at Jaguars (Saturday)

CB Jason McCourty (chest) will be missing from the Titans secondary. LB Sean Spence (ankle) is listed as questionable.

The Jaguars ruled out WR Arrelious Benn (concussion), DT Jordan Hill (calf), WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), LB Sean Porter (hamstring), RB Denard Robinson (ankle) and WR Neal Sterling (concussion).

Jets at Patriots (Saturday)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle) and DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) will not play in New England. RB Matt Forte (knee, shoulder) is unlikely to play after getting a doubtful tag. WR Brandon Marshall (shoulder, back), RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) are listed as questionable.

QB Tom Brady (thigh) was limited in practice all week and listed as questionable, but is expected to be in the Patriots lineup. TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), S Jordan Richards (knee) and WR Matt Slater (foot) are also listed as questionable while WR Danny Amendola (knee) is out.

Colts at Raiders (Saturday)

Colts LB Chris Carter (shoulder) has been ruled out for Christmas Eve. CB Rashaan Melvin (knee) and T Joe Reitz (back) are listed as questionable.

Wide receivers Amari Cooper (shoulder) and Michael Crabtree (finger) are listed as questionable, but are expected to play. S Karl Joseph (toe) and DT Stacy McGee (ankle) will not play. G Kelechi Osemele (ankle), LB Perry Riley (hamstring), LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and DT Dan Williams (foot) have also been listed as questionable.

49ers at Rams (Saturday)

The 49ers listed CB Dontae Johnson (groin) and T Joe Staley (hamstring) as doubtful, leaving them unlikely to play in L.A. DT Glenn Dorsey (knee, ribs) and C Marcus Martin (ankle) are questionable.

S Maurice Alexander (concussion), CB Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) and WR Mike Thomas (hip) are doubtful for the Rams, so they’ll probably have time to practice their carols during the game. WR Bradley Marquez (knee) is listed as questionable.

Buccaneers at Saints (Saturday)

Tackles Gosder Cherilus (groin, ankle) and Demar Dotson (concussion) will not play for the Bucs, which leaves undrafted rookie Leonard Wester in line to start at right tackle. DE William Gholston (elbow) is also out while DT Gerald McCoy (foot) is questionable.

Saints CB Delvin Breaux (shoulder) is out for Saturday’s game. LB Dannell Ellerbe (foot), RB John Kuhn (hip), LB Craig Robertson (shoulder) and C Max Unger (foot) are listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Seahawks (Saturday)

The Cardinals ruled out CB Marcus Cooper (back, calf) and T D.J. Humphries (concussion). WR John Brown (illness) and CB Brandon Williams (back) are both listed as questionable.

A brief Seahawks injury report has RB C.J. Prosise (shoulder) ruled out and no one else given an injury designation.

Bengals at Texans (Saturday)

The Bengals will have G Clint Boling (shoulder), LB Vontaze Burfict (knee, concussion), TE Tyler Eifert (back) and  TE Tyler Kroft (knee, ankle) on Santa watch after ruling them out Saturday night’s game. WR A.J. Green (hamstring), RB Jeremy Hill (knee) and DE Michael Johnson (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

CB Johnathan Joseph (ribs) and RB Lamar Miller (ankle) are listed as questionable for the Texans and make up the entire injury report.

Ravens at Steelers (Sunday)

CB Jimmy Smith (ankle) is out again for the Ravens and LB Kamalei Correa (ribs) will join him on the inactive list. LB Anthony Levine (toe), T Alex Lewis (ankle), WR Steve Smith (thigh) and DE Brent Urban (illness) are all listed as questionable.

Steelers S Shamarko Thomas (concussion) will miss the game. The team hasn’t ruled out WR Sammie Coates (hamstring) or TE Ladarius Green (concussion), but their doubtful tags make it unlikely that they’ll play. LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot), DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle) and DE Stephon Tuitt (knee) are listed as questionable.

Broncos at Chiefs (Sunday)

The Broncos have ruled out TE A.J. Derby (concussion), TE Virgil Green (concussion), LB Brandon Marshall (hamstring) and S T.J. Ward (concussion). DE Derek Wolfe (neck) is questionable after leaving last week’s game.

LB Justin Houston (knee) didn’t practice at all this week and the Chiefs have listed him as questionable. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) also didn’t practice, but he’s been ruled out.

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PFT’s Week 16 picks

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We’re finding out groove as the season moves toward a conclusion; in Week 15, MDS and yours truly each went 12-4.

He still leads by one game with 32 to go, and we disagree on two for Week 16.

For all picks on all Week 16 games, I think you know what to do by now.

Giants at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Giants are still in contention for the NFC East and are fighting for playoff positioning, while the Eagles have nothing to play for. Hard to go against the Giants here.

MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Eagles 17.

Florio’s take: Bitter rivals moving in different directions meet for the final Thursday night poopfest game of the year. The Giants’ offseason changes have paid off, the Eagles’ haven’t (yet), and New York have every incentive to continue to put the heat on their mutual enemy in Dallas.

Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Eagles 17.

Dolphins at Bills

MDS’s take: This is a tricky one. The Dolphins are still competing for a wild card berth while the Bills, though mathematically still alive, are really just playing out the string. And yet I think the Dolphins, without Ryan Tannehill, may struggle on a cold day in Buffalo. I like the Bills in a close, defensive struggle.

MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Dolphins 16.

Florio’s take: Miami is closing in on a playoff berth with their new coach, and the Bills are closing in on another new coach. If Rex is going to go, he’s going to go out swinging — and that could be bad news for the Dolphins.

Florio’s pick: Bills 23, Dolphins 17.

Jets at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots struggled to beat the Jets last time. They won’t struggle this time.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 33, Jets 14.

Florio’s take: Last year, a pair of losses to the Jets and Dolphins kept the Patriots from securing the No. 1 seed and, in turn, making it to the Super Bowl. They won’t let it happen again.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 40, Jets 17.

Titans at Jaguars

MDS’s take: This Titans team has been hard to pick all season, but I can’t see them struggling with the Jaguars on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: It’s a trap game for the Titans. Which is a major improvement; not long ago, the Titans were the trap game.

Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Jaguars 10.

Vikings at Packers

MDS’s take: The Vikings’ fall from the last undefeated team has been extraordinary, and the fall will finish when the Packers officially eliminate the Vikings on Saturday at Lambeau Field.

MDS’s pick: Packers 23, Vikings 9.

Florio’s take: The Packers are surging, the Vikings are stinking. And Green Bay is moving closer to a playoff appearance that a month ago seemed like a long shot at best.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Vikings 13.

Chargers at Browns

MDS’s take: The Browns’ march to the first overall pick in the draft and the second 0-16 season in NFL history continues.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Browns 14.

Florio’s take: Two chances remain for the Browns to avoid 0-16. The Chargers, good but far from great, could be vulnerable. But with the Browns losing 14 in a row, why assume the trend will end now?

Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Browns 21.

Washington at Bears

MDS’s take: I like the way the Bears are still competing with Matt Barkley running the offense and rookie Jordan Howard showing once again that you can find great value with a late-round running back. But as hard as the Bears fight, they usually fall short, and they’re going to again on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Washington 21, Bears 20.

Florio’s take: Washington is 1-3 since Kirk Cousins’ “how you like me now?” moment. The Bears have more punch than they get credit for. Chicago screws up its draft position with a morale-building win led by Matt Barkley.

Florio’s pick: Bears 24, Washington 20.

Falcons at Panthers

MDS’s take: The Falcons’ offense has played great for the last two weeks without Julio Jones. Now they face a tougher test against the Panthers, but I see Atlanta keeping it going.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take: The Panthers relish the spoiler role, and Cam Newton has a track record of success in December. But the even-shorter week, Newton’s busted shoulder, and the ongoing absence of Luke Kuechly could make it hard for the Panthers to take a chunk out of Atlanta’s chances of winning the division.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Panthers 20.

Colts at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Colts are clinging to their slim playoff hopes, but those hopes will come to an end as the Raiders take another step toward a first-round bye.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Colts 17.

Florio’s take: If the Colts team that beat the Vikings shows up in Oakland, that could be trouble for the Raiders. But they surely can’t put it all togetherr in two straight weeks, can they?

Florio’s pick: Raiders 23, Colts 20.

Buccaneers at Saints

MDS’s take: The Bucs’ defense shut the Saints’ offense down last time, but this time I think Drew Brees has a big game and the Buccaneers are dealt a big loss.

MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Buccaneers 23.

Florio’s take: The Saints get a couple of chances to play spoiler against NFC South rivals who are contending for the division title. Unfortunately for the home team, the Bucs continue to be the real deal.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Saints 24.

Cardinals at Seahawks

MDS’s take: This should be an easy win for Seattle as it marches toward a first-round playoff bye.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 20.

Florio’s take: After five quarters that resolved nothing earlier this year, the Seahawks will more than make up for a sluggish Sunday night in Arizona. As long as they don’t throw from the one.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Cardinals 17.

49ers at Rams

MDS’s take: In their last 18 games, the 49ers are 2-0 against the Rams and 0-16 against the rest of the NFL. Can the 49ers make it 3-0? I don’t think so. The Rams’ defense should shut Colin Kaepernick down.

MDS’s pick: Rams 13, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: If two NFL teams play a game and no one gives a crap, does it make a sound?

Florio’s pick: Rams 16, 49ers 13.

Bengals at Texans

MDS’s take: Tom Savage gets the start in place of Brock Osweiler, which should be an upgrade for the Texans. I think Houston will win a Christmas Eve night game that most of America will ignore.

MDS’s pick: Texans 23, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take: The last time a team benched Brock Osweiler it won the Super Bowl. That’s not likely to happen a second time.

Florio’s pick: Texans 22, Bengals 16.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Steelers can clinch the AFC North with a win, and I think they’ll do just that, on the strength of their defense shutting down Joe Flacco.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Ravens 9.

Florio’s take: If you’re dreaming of a Black Christmas, tune in on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET and you’ll get one.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 15, Ravens 13.

Broncos at Chiefs

MDS’s take: With the Raiders likely winning on Christmas Eve, the Chiefs will have to win on Christmas Day to keep pace in the AFC West. I think they’ll do just that.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Broncos 16.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs deliver the dagger to Denver in prime time.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Broncos 13.

Lions at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Dallas clinches home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win, while the Lions will have to move on to a Week 17 NFC North title game with a loss.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Lions 17.

Florio’s take: The last Monday night game of the year could be one of the best, with plenty of playoff implications and a Texas native trying to avenge a playoff loss in Dallas from two years ago. For the Lions to earn a rematch in January, they’ll need to beat Green Bay six days later.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Lions 17.

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2017 Pro Bowl rosters announced

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The NFL on Tuesday announced 88 players who have been selected to play in the Pro Bowl.

The 2017 Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 29 in Orlando. After three years the game returns to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format.

Below is a list, by position, of players selected for the game…


Tom Brady, Patriots
Derek Carr, Raiders
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Matt Ryan, Falcons


Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
LeSean McCoy, Bills
DeMarco Murray, Titans
Kyle Juszczyk, Ravens

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Devonta Freeman, Falcons
David Johnson, Cardinals
Mike Tolbert, Panthers


Antonio Brown, Steelers
Amari Cooper, Raiders
A.J. Green, Bengals
T.Y. Hilton, Colts

Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Julio Jones, Falcons
Mike Evans, Buccaneers


Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Delanie Walker, Titans

Greg Olsen, Panthers
Jordan Reed, Redskins


Joe Thomas, Browns
Donald Penn Raiders
Taylor Lewan, Titans
Marshal Yanda, Ravens
Kelechi Osemele, Raiders
David DeCastro, Steelers
Rodney Hudson, Raiders
Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers

Tyron Smith, Cowboys
Trent Williams, Redskins
Jason Peters, Eagles
Zack Martin, Cowboys
Brandon Scherff, Redskins
T.J. Lang, Packers
Travis Frederick, Cowboys
Alex Mack, Falcons


Khalil Mack, Raiders
Cameron Wake, Dolphins
Jadeveon Clowney, Texans
Geno Atkins, Bengals
Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins
Jurrell Casey, Titans

Everson Griffen, Vikings
Cliff Avril, Seahawks
Michael Bennett, Seahawks
Aaron Donald, Rams
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
Fletcher Cox, Eagles


Von Miller, Broncos
Lorenzo Alexander, Bills
Brian Orakpo, Titans
Dont’a Hightower, Patriots
C.J. Mosley, Ravens

Vic Beasley, Falcons
Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins
Thomas Davis, Panthers
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks
Luke Kuechly, Panthers


Chris Harris, Broncos
Aqib Talib, Broncos
Marcus Peters, Chiefs
Casey Hayward, Chargers

Janoris Jenkins, Giants
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
Richard Sherman, Seahawks
Xavier Rhodes, Vikings


Devin McCourty, Patriots
Reggie Nelson, Raiders
Eric Berry, Chiefs

Landon Collins, Giants
Harrison Smith, Vikings
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Packers


Colts punter Pat McAfee
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker
Chiefs return specialist Tyreek Hill
Patriots kick coverage specialist Matthew Slater

Rams punter Johnny Hekker
Falcons kicker Matt Bryant
Vikings return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson
Giants kick coverage specialist Dwayne Harris

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