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

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

Dak Prescott is a better quarterback than Tony Romo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Week Five early inactives

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

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

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

Redskins at Ravens

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

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

Patriots at Browns

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

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

Jets at Steelers

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

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

Eagles at Lions

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

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

Bears at Colts

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

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

Titans at Dolphins

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

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

Texans at Vikings

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

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

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Week Five injury report roundup

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 8: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates a win over the Washington Redskins with the Endzone Militia as he runs onto the field before a game with the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week Five kicked off on Thursday night with a Cardinals 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.

Redskins at Ravens

Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), WR Josh Doctson (Achilles) and CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) are out for the second straight week and LB Su’a Cravens (concussion) joins them on the sideline. LB Ryan Kerrigan (elbow) and G Shawn Lauvao (ankle) are both listed as questionable.

LT Ronnie Stanley (foot) is doubtful again for the Ravens and didn’t play last week. KR Devin Hester (thigh), RB Kenneth Dixon (knee) and CB Sheldon Price (thigh) all drew questionable designations.

Patriots at Browns

WR Julian Edelman (foot) practiced Friday after popping up on the injury report Thursday and has been listed as questionable. T Marcus Cannon (calf), DL Vincent Valentine (back), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), RB LeGarrette Blount (hip), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and G Joe Thuney (shoulder) are also questionable. The Patriots ruled out LB Shea McClellin (concussion) and RB Brandon Bolden (knee).

The Browns will go without WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee), C Cameron Erving (chest/lung), QB Josh McCown (shoulder), C Austin Reiter (knee) and TE Randall Telfer (ankle). DE Carl Nassib (hand) joins defensive backs Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring) and Tramon Williams (shoulder) with questionable tags.

Eagles at Lions

The Eagles return from their bye with DT Bennie Logan (calf) listed as questionable on a one-man injury report.

DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee) and LB DeAndre Levy (quadricep, knee) are out for the Lions. RB Dwayne Washington (ankle) is doubtful while S Don Carey (ribs),, WR Marvin Jones (foot) and S Tavon Wilson (neck) are all questionable.

Bears at Colts

It’s another long injury report for the Bears, who placed WR Kevin White (ankle) on injured reserve this week. QB Jay Cutler (right thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), CB Deiondre’ Hall (ankle) and RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) are all doubtful to play. DE Jonathan Bullard (shoulder), RB Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), LB Leonard Floyd (calf), WR Alshon Jeffery (knee), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (elbow), T Charles Leno (illness), CB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), TE Zach Miller (ribs), CB Tracy Porter (knee), WR Eddie Royal (calf), G Josh Sitton (shoulder), LB Danny Trevathan (thumb) and LB Willie Young (knee) are listed as questionable.

The Colts will go without C Jonotthan Harrison (illness) and WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder). They went with questionable tags for CB Darius Butler (hamstring), T Denzelle Good (back), LB Robert Mathis (foot), T Joe Reitz (back) and RB Robert Turbin (wrist, shoulder).

Titans at Dolphins

CB Cody Riggs (hamstring), S Da’Norris Searcy (ankle) and DT Al Woods (calf) won’t play for the Titans on Sunday. TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) is listed as questionable.

It looks like it will be at least another week before Dolphins RB Arian Foster (hamstring) returns to the lineup after drawing a doubtful designation. C Mike Pouncey (hip) is listed as questionable, but the signs have pointed toward his regular season debut. TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), CB Xavien Howard (knee) and LB Koa Misi (neck) are out this week. T Branden Albert (ankle, illness), LB Jelani Jenkins (groin) and G Anthony Steen (ankle) are also questionable.

Texans at Vikings

TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring) and RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) won’t play for the Texans. T Duane Brown (knee) and CB Kareem Jackson (hamstring) are questionable.

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs (groin) is doubtful to play. TE Rhett Ellison (knee) is also doubtful, but DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), TE David Morgan (knee) and T Andre Smith (elbow) have been ruled out.

Jets at Steelers

The Jets probably won’t have CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) after listing him as doubtful. TE Braedon Bowman (knee), WR Eric Decker (shoulder), QB Bryce Petty (right shoulder) and G Brian Winters (concussion) definitely won’t play. WR Jalin Marshall (shoulder) is also doubtful and WR Quincy Enunwa (knee) is questionable.

CB Justin Gilbert (knee), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), S Robert Golden (hamstring), CB Senquez Golson (foot), T Ryan Harris (shin), RB Roosevelt Nix (back), WR Eli Rogers (toe), LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and C Cody Wallace (knee) make up a lengthy list of players ruled out by the Steelers.

Falcons at Broncos

The Falcons have just three players on the injury report, but all are out and all three — De’Vondre Campbell (ankle), LB Deion Jones (ankle), LB Paul Worrilow (groin) — play linebacker.

Broncos QB Trevor Siemian (left shoulder) is questionable after two days of limited practices. TE Virgil Green (calf), S Shiloh Keo (knee) and T Donald Stephenson (calf) are also questionable. LB DeMarcus Ware (forearm) and CB Kayvon Webster (hamstring) have been ruled out.

Bengals at Cowboys

The Bengals’ wait for TE Tyler Eifert (back, ankle) continues. WR James Wright (hamstring) is doubtful while G Clint Boling (shoulder), RB Rex Burkhead (hamstring) and T Jake Fisher (back) are all questionable.

WR Dez Bryant (knee) fronts a sizable group of Cowboys listed as questionable. K Dan Bailey (back), DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), RB Lance Dunbar (knee), LB Andrew Gachkar (neck), T Chaz Green (foot), LB Mark Nzeocha (achilles), CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring, hamstring) and T Tyron Smith (back) join him. DE David Irving (concussion) and QB Tony Romo (back) were ruled out.

Bills at Rams

The Bills ruled out T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee), WR Greg Salas (groin) and CB Corey White (shoulder). TE Charles Clay (knee), DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring), RB Jerome Felton (back), CB Stephon Gilmore (ankle), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), RB LeSean McCoy (hand) and S Jonathan Meeks (foot) are all questionable, although McCoy said he will be in the lineup after his Friday appearance on the injury report.

WR Kenny Britt (thigh), DT Michael Brockers (hip), RB Benny Cunningham (thigh), S Cody Davis (groin), DE William Hayes (ankle) and DE Robert Quinn (shoulder) are all listed as questionable of the Rams.

Chargers at Raiders

The Chargers’ injury report is free of DE Joey Bosa for the first time and he’s set to play for the first time. S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), LB Nick Dzubnar (knee) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion) won’t be joining him on the field. T Joe Barksdale (foot), T King Dunlap (illness), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring), CB Craig Mager (shoulder) and LB Denzel Perryman (shoulder) are all questionable.

Running back Latavius Murray (toe) has been ruled out by the Raiders along with S Nate Allen (quadricep) and T Menelik Watson (calf). T Austin Howard (ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), T Matt McCants (knee), LB Malcolm Smith (quadricep) are TE Clive Walford (knee) are listed as questionable.

Giants at Packers

Questionable tags for CB Eli Apple (hamstring), RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) mean the Giants could get three players who missed last week’s loss back in the lineup. S Nat Berhe (concussion), TE Larry Donnell (concussion), T Marshall Newhouse (calf) and S Darian Thompson (foot) won’t play.

TE Jared Cook (ankle) and CB Sam Shields (concussion) were expected absences from the Packers lineup. CB Damarious Randall (groin) is the only other player on the injury report and he’s listed as questionable.

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PFT’s Week Five picks

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We continue to stink when it comes to picking games this year, with both MDS and yours truly barely above .500. He’s up by a game, and his lead won’t get any larger (or smaller) this weekend.

For the first time this season, we disagree on none of the 14 games.

To see what we think (and to then do the opposite, for amusement purposes only), keep reading. Or not; the click already has been registered.

Cardinals at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Cardinals have been one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments this season, and on Thursday night they’re without Carson Palmer. But I still can’t believe they’d lose to a team as bad as the 49ers.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take: Stanton vs. Gabbert in prime time. Kramer vs. Kramer on Netflix may be the better viewing option. By far.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 17, 49ers 10.

Patriots at Browns

MDS’s take: The return of Tom Brady should be an easy one for the Patriots, who will cruise to a double-digit win even if Brady is rusty.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: I smell a potential upset brewing on the banks of Lake Erie, but I’m not nearly ballsy enough to call that shot. But the Browns will give the Patriots all they can handle, since it’s the closest Cleveland will get this year to a game with a playoff feel.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Browns 21.

Eagles at Lions

MDS’s take: I’m expecting Carson Wentz to go through some growing pains in his rookie season, but not against a terrible Lions defense that made Brian Hoyer look like an All-Pro last week.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 14.

Florio’s take: Jim Schwartz may get carried off the field, again, if coach Doug Pederson learned from Andy Reid how to be nearly unbeatable after a bye.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 31, Lions 20.

Bears at Colts

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck has played well this season, but his teammates haven’t given him a lot of help. On Sunday I see Luck putting up big numbers against Chicago and winning a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Colts 31, Bears 30.

Florio’s take: The Colts are the NFL’s laboratory mice regarding the prospect of playing without a bye after a game in London. Like most laboratory mice, it may not end well.

Florio’s pick: Colts 20, Bears 17.

Titans at Dolphins

MDS’s take: Both of these teams look like they’re lacking an offensive identity, as neither Marcus Mariota nor Ryan Tannehill has taken the step forward that their teams were hoping for. This looks to me like an ugly game.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 13, Titans 12.

Florio’s take: Miami commences a four-game homestand with a must-win game at a time when most of the area is under a must-get-out advisory.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 23, Titans 17.

Washington at Ravens

MDS’s take: Ravens receiver Steve Smith is having a great year, and I see him having a big game against Washington’s secondary.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Washington 21.

Florio’s take: Two straight wins is good for Washington, and it’ll have to be good enough for now.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Washington 20.

Texans at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings’ defense is going to eat Brock Osweiler for lunch. This game could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Texans 3.

Florio’s take: The Vikings enter their bye week on a high note, with two weeks to prepare for a showdown with the Eagles.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Texans 13.

Jets at Steelers

MDS’s take: Ben Roethlisberger is leading the league in touchdown passes. Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the league in interceptions. The Steelers should win this one, big.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 30, Jets 17.

Florio’s take: So If the Steelers beat the Chiefs by 29 and the Chiefs beat the Jets by 23 . . . .

Florio’s pick: Steelers 31, Jets 13.

Falcons at Broncos

MDS’s take: This is a great matchup, the Falcons’ outstanding passing game keyed by Julio Jones against the Broncos’ stellar defense. I see the Broncos coming out on top in a close, back-and-forth game.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 21, Falcons 20.

Florio’s take: An unexpected test for the Broncos, who may not have Trevor Siemian. They still have Von Miller and company.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Falcons 23.

Bengals at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I’m impressed with what Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have done as rookies, but I think Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will have some things for them they haven’t seen before, and the Bengals will steal a win in Dallas.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Cowboys 16.

Florio’s take: The extra time to prepare for the Dallas offense will help the Bengals, who found their footing last Thursday night. 3-2 is still a pretty good start for Dallas.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Cowboys 20.

Bills at Rams

MDS’s take: This is a much better game than anyone would have thought early in the season, with the Bills on a two-game winning streak and the Rams on a three-game winning streak. I’ll pick L.A. to keep it going behind a better-than-expected game from Case Keenum.

MDS’s pick: Rams 24, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: Buffalo has found the gas pedal following that Thursday night debacle, but the Rams are on the right track and will be hard to beat before a big crowd at the Coliseum. Especially with Aaron Donald to prove that he can hold Sheldon Richardson’s jock, if for some reason Donald would even want to.

Florio’s pick: Rams 17, Bills 10.

Chargers at Raiders

MDS’s take: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is off to a fine start, with nine touchdown passes and only one interception. The Raiders should rack up a lot of points against the Chargers and win a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 35, Chargers 31.

Florio’s take: We’ve seen this movie several times this year. Chargers build a lead, Chargers blow a lead, Raiders eventually rack up another win.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Chargers 17.

Giants at Packers

MDS’s take: The Giants turned in a disappointing performance Monday night and now have to travel to Green Bay on a short work week against a well-rested Packers team. Aaron Rodgers may turn in his best game of the season.

MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Giants 14.

Florio’s take: As Trump and Clinton do battle again, the Packers haven’t played since before their first meeting — and the Giants are playing on a short week after traveling home from Minnesota and back to Green Bay. And the Packers will be lighting Odell Beckham’s fuse, early.

Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Giants 20.

Buccaneers at Panthers

MDS’s take: The loser of this game will fall to 1-4 and could already be out of NFC South contention. I think the Panthers are a better team than they’ve shown so far and will rally for a big win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take: Assuming Cam Newton gets cleared to play, this one should be easy. Without Newton, it’s still winnable for a team that desperately needs to win its second game of the year.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Buccaneers 20.

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Week Five Power Rankings

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Quarterback Paxton Lynch #12 of the Denver Broncos walks off the field in the rain following his 27-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the conclusion of an NFL game on October 2, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Broncos (4-0; last week No. 1): A perfect opportunity for a Paxton Lynch test drive has fallen into Denver’s lap.

2. Vikings (4-0; No. 3): When Blair Walsh misses a key field goal in the postseason, I’ll try not to say, “I told you so.”

3. Packers (2-1; No. 5): If there ever was a perfect time for presidential candidates to say something dumb about Wisconsin, Sunday night’s debate will be it.

4. Patriots (3-1; No. 2): Bye bye #Jimmy and #Jacoby; #Tommy is back.

5. Eagles (3-0; No. 6): How much will a too-early bye week disrupt the team’s momentum?

6. Seahawks (3-1; No. 8): By Thanksgiving if not sooner, this team could be No. 1.

7. Steelers (3-1; No. 9): Ben Roethlisberger is putting the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame credentials.

8. Falcons (3-1; No. 13): With no Roddy White around to disrupt the locker room by complaining about his lack of touches, maybe there won’t be a midseason swoon this year.

9. Panthers (1-3; No. 4): The time to panic is arriving.

10. Texans (3-1; No. 10): With a trip to Minnesota looming, Brock Osweiler could be walking into another buzzsaw this weekend.

11. Raiders (3-1; No. 15): Michael Crabtree has finally found a Bay Area quarterback who can get him the football in the end zone.

12. Cowboys (3-1; No. 12): Things are setting up nicely for Tony Romo’s return in Week Eight. And Dak Prescott’s inevitable return in Week Nine.

13. Ravens (3-1; No. 7): There’s a fine line between finding ways to win and finding ways to lose.

14. Bengals (2-2; No. 17): They may get a chance to lose another playoff game, after all.

15. Rams (3-1; No. 19): They may that seventh win a lot earlier than usual.

16. Chiefs (2-2; No. 11): “Thanks for waking up the giant, Doug.”

17. Washington (2-2; No. 24): Josh Norman would be even better if he used actual bows and arrows during games.

18. Giants (2-2; No. 14): OBJ’s fuse is getting shorter than . . . we all know where I’m going with this, right?

19. Cardinals (1-3; No. 16): From All or Nothing to Nothing and Nothing.

20. Jets (1-3; No. 18): Brandon Marshall is going down with the boat. The name of the boat is The Orca.

21. Bills (2-2; No. 25): Rex Ryan is still a better coach than reporter.

22. Dolphins (1-3; No. 20): Good news, Dolphins, you have four straight home games. Bad news, Dolphins fans, they have four straight home games.

23. Buccaneers (1-3; No. 21): Jameis Winston isn’t regressing; the rest of the league is improving.

24. Titans (1-3; No. 22): They’re keeping games close, which definitely represents progress.

26. Saints (1-3; No. 29): Could Drew Brees be the NFL’s first MVP from a team with a losing record?

28. Jaguars (1-3; No. 30): The Jaguars typically get better after playing in London; they can’t get much worse.

27. 49ers (1-3; No. 26): When they have seven months to get ready for a game, they’re unbeatable.

28. Colts (1-3; No. 23): With no help around him, Andrew Luck is aging faster than a president.

29. Bears (1-3; No. 32): The Bears’ next franchise quarterback is in college. Or in high school. Or in diapers.

30. Lions (1-3; No. 27): Golden Tate wasn’t benched; he was promoted to non-playing status.

31. Chargers (1-3; No. 28): The best way to win the stadium-funding vote in San Diego could be to find another team to play there.

32. Browns (0-4; No. 31): The Browns found out the hard way that they apparently are using the little-known two-football rule in Washington.

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NFL morning after: Julio Jones is playing like no receiver ever

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Carolina Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley (26) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Atlanta.  (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had a whopping 300 receiving yards in yesterday’s win over the Panthers, but 300 is not the number I want to focus on this morning.

The number I want to focus on is 96.9. That’s the number of yards per game that Jones has averaged over the course of his six-year NFL career. And it’s an extraordinary number.

Jones’s average of 96.9 yards a game is the best in NFL history, but it’s not just the best ever — it’s the best ever by a huge margin. In fact, no other player in NFL history has even come within 10 yards of Jones’s average. The second-best receiver in NFL history in terms of average yards per game is Calvin Johnson, who averaged 86.1 yards a game.

Everyone who follows football knows that Jones is a good receiver, but I’m not sure that many people realize that Jones is the most productive receiver on a per-game basis in NFL history, and it’s not even close.

Part of this, of course, is the era Jones plays in: Jones has better numbers than Jerry Rice had at the same point in his career, and better numbers than Don Hutson had at the same point in his career, but that’s not to say Jones is as great a player as Rice and Hutson were. Thanks to rules changes and strategy changes, passing yardage has steadily gone up around the NFL, and it’s a lot easier for a receiver to have 100, 200 or even 300 yards in a game than it used to be.

But even in this era of inflated receiving numbers, none of Jones’s contemporaries are even close to that 96.9 yards per game. Jones, who through four games this season is on pace for an NFL record 1,952 receiving yards, is playing like no other receiver, ever.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Can we get some common sense on penalties? During the London game, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson viciously drilled Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson with a helmet-to-helmet hit, the kind of hit that is a threat to the game of football’s continuing existence and that the NFL has insisted it is doing everything it can to eliminate from the game. Robinson got up and spun the football, a silly celebration that harms no one. So how do NFL rules handle that? Jackson and Robinson both get 15-yard penalties, which offset — except that Robinson’s penalty is more severe, and he’s warned that if he does it again he’ll be ejected from the game. Why on earth does the NFL handle penalties this way? A helmet-to-helmet hit should be a 25-yard penalty. A celebration shouldn’t be any penalty at all unless it delays the game, in which case it should be a five-yard delay of game penalty. It’s ridiculous that the NFL overreacts to celebrations and under-reacts to helmet-to-helmet hits.

I like Mike Tomlin’s approach to two-point conversions. After the Steelers scored their first touchdown on Sunday night against the Chiefs, Tomlin decided to go for two, the Steelers made it, and they led 8-0. That shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, but it is: Tomlin is the only coach in the NFL who ever goes for two early in games like that. Other coaches only go for two when the “chart” tells them to go for two based on the score and the circumstances late in the game, but Tomlin goes for two any time he thinks his team will have a good matchup. It works, as the Steelers are 9-for-13 on two-point conversions over the last two years since the NFL changed its extra point rule, and I’m baffled at why no other coach is as aggressive about going for two as Tomlin.

Jeff Fisher doesn’t know what constitutes a catch. Fisher should know as much about the rules of the NFL as anyone, given his many years on the league’s Competition Committee. But he challenged two clearly correct calls on incomplete passes in the second half of Sunday’s game in Arizona. I can only assume that Fisher is as confused about the NFL’s convoluted catch rules as the rest of us — or he was hoping the referee would be confused enough that he would award the Rams catches they clearly hadn’t made. It doesn’t speak well for the NFL’s wacky enforcement of its catch rules that a coach like Fisher would think there was a chance he would win challenges like those.

A whole lot of coaches are on the hot seat. Is it just me or are there more coaches than usual who look cooked after four weeks? Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, Mike Mularkey in Tennessee, Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, Mike McCoy in San Diego, John Fox in Chicago, Jim Caldwell in Detroit and Sean Payton in New Orleans all seem like they’re past their expiration dates in their respective stops. Some of those guys are good coaches — Payton has won a Super Bowl in New Orleans — but a coach can reach a point when his stuff stops working, and those coaches all seem like they’ve reached that point in their current stops.

Maybe Case Keenum’s not so bad after all. Since returning from that ugly concussion he suffered last year, Keenum has actually been decent as the Rams’ starting quarterback. In the eight games since his return (four this year in Los Angeles and four last year in St. Louis), Keenum has thrown seven touchdowns to only four interceptions, and the Rams are 6-2.

Brian Hoyer’s not so bad either. Hoyer has started two games with the Bears, and in both of them he has topped 300 yards while throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jay Cutler has started 99 games with the Bears, and he only has two games with 300 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Hoyer is not a great quarterback, but he’s a serviceable starter and an above-average backup.

Coaches need to be more careful with their quarterbacks. I was shocked how late into Sunday night’s Steelers-Chiefs blowout that Mike Tomlin left Ben Roethlisberger in the game and Andy Reid left Alex Smith in the game. What, exactly, is the point of Smith throwing passes while losing 43-7 in the final minute? What if Smith had suffered a serious injury at such a meaningless point in the game? It’s crazy not to pull your quarterback once the game is out of reach.

Terrelle Pryor is one of the NFL’s best young receivers. It’s amazing what Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback, is doing as the Browns’ top receiver. And it’s also amazing how long it took him to get a shot as a receiver in the NFL. After washing out as an NFL quarterback, Pryor couldn’t get a job in the NFL, spending the 2014 season out of football. It’s shocking that all 32 teams — knowing the kind of big, fast athlete Pryor is — passed on the chance to sign him when he was available. The Browns wisely brought him in, moved him from quarterback to receiver, and are now reaping the benefits.

The Bills played hard for Rex Ryan. Call Ryan a loudmouthed buffoon if you want, but don’t say his players don’t play hard for him. With their backs against the wall, the Bills have won two very impressive games in a row after yesterday’s 16-0 win in New England. I’m still skeptical this Bills team will make the playoffs, but Ryan has his team playing well after a shaky start to the year.

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Week Four early inactives

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Eric Decker #87 of the New York Jets reacts after his first down reception against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the New York Jets 23-22.  (Photo by Steven Ryan/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.

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

Panthers at Falcons

Panthers: T Michael Oher, DT Vernon Butler, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Damiere Byrd, CB Teddy Williams, LB Jeremy Cash, DE Larry Webster

Falcons: LB Paul Worrilow, LB De’Vondre Campbell, S Dashon Goldson, OL Mike Person, OL Wes Schweitzer, TE Joshua Perkins, DL Courtney Upshaw

Raiders at Ravens

Raiders: S Nate Allen, T Menelik Watson, T Austin Howard, QB Connor Cook, RB Taiwan Jones, CB Antonio Hamilton, T Matt McCants

Ravens: CB Sheldon Price, RB Justin Forsett, RB Kenneth Dixon, CB Will Davis, DT Willie Henry, T Ronnie Stanley, LB Matt Judon

Lions at Bears

Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah, LB DeAndre Levy, S Tavon Wilson, T Cornelius Lucas, OL Joe Dahl, CB Adairius Barnes, WR Aaron Dobson

Bears: QB Jay Cutler, LB Danny Trevathan, RB Jeremy Langford, DL Eddie Goldman, RB Ka’Deem Carey, S Deon Bush, C Eric Kush

Titans at Texans

Titans: CB Cody Riggs, S Da’Norris Searcy, DB Curtis Riley, LB Nate Palmer, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Harry Douglas, DL Austin Johnson

Texans: T Duane Brown, TE Stephen Anderson, RB Jonathan Grimes, WR Braxton Miller, OL Oday Aboushi, DL Joel Heath, QB Brandon Weeden

Bills at Patriots

Bills: T Cyrus Kouandjio, C Patrick Lewis, WR Greg Salas, RB Reggie Bush, WR Justin Hunter, OL Gabe Ikard, QB Cardale Jones

Patriots: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, G Jonathan Cooper, CB Eric Rowe, RB D.J. Foster, TE Greg Scruggs, LB Elandon Rogers, OL LaAdrian Waddle

Seahawks at Jets

Seahawks: RB Thomas Rawls, RB CJ Prosise, S Tyvis Powell, G Rees Odhiambo, OL George Fant, TE Nick Vannett, DL Jarran Reed

Jets: WR Eric Decker, WR Jalin Marshall, QB Bryce Petty, QB Christian Hackenberg, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, CB Darryl Roberts, T Brandon Shell

Browns at Redskins

Browns: WR Corey Coleman, C Cameron Erving, TE Seth DeValve, QB Josh McCown, DE Ryan Nassib, DB Tramon Williams, DB Ibraheim Campbell

Redskins: CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Dashaun Phillips, G Shawn Lauvao, WR Josh Doctson, QB Nate Sudfeld, OL Vinston Painter, DL Anthony Lanier

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Week Four injury report roundup

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on before a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

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

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

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

Colts vs. Jaguars (in London)

The Colts ruled out WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder), CB Darius Butler (hamstring) and C Jonotthan Harrison (illness). Tackles Denzelle Good and Joe Reitz are both questionable due to back injuries.

Jaguars DE Jared Odrick (tricep) and TE Ben Koyack (knee) will not play in the United Kingdom. TE Julius Thomas (elbow) and LB Dan Skuta (hip) are listed as questionable.

Seahawks at Jets

RB Thomas Rawls (fibula) remains out for the Seahawks. TE Jimmy Graham (knee/back), TE Nick Vannett (ankle), LB Mike Morgan (hip), DT Jarran Reed (hip) and RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) are all questionable. QB Russell Wilson (knee/ankle) has no injury designation at all.

The Jets won’t have WR Eric Decker (shoulder), WR Jalin Marshall (shoulder) or QB Bryce Petty (shoulder) in the lineup this Sunday. LT Ryan Clady also has a shoulder injury, but is listed as questionable.

Panthers at Falcons

The Panthers will play without RB Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) and DT Vernon Butler (knee) again this weekend. DE Charles Johnson (quad) drew a questionable tag.

Falcons linebackers Paul Worrilow (groin) and De’Vondre Campbell are both out for Sunday.

Raiders at Ravens

The Raiders have ruled out S Nate Allen (quad), T Austin Howard (ankle) and T Menelik Watson (calf). C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee) and T Matt McCants (knee) are all questionable.

RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), LT Ronnie Stanley (foot) and CB Sheldon Price (thigh) are all doubtful for the Ravens. WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), KR Devin Hester (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), G Alex Lewis (concussion) and OL John Urschel (shoulder) all drew questionable tags.

Lions at Bears

The Lions are without DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and LB DeAndre Levy (quad) again this week. DE Wallace Gilberry (abdomen), LB Antwione Williams (hamstring), WR Marvin Jones (hamstring), TE Eric Ebron (ankle), S Tavon Wilson (neck), CB Adairius Barnes (ankle), T Riley Reiff (ankle) and DE Devin Taylor (ankle) are all questionable to play.

A long Bears injury report finds RB Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), QB Jay Cutler (thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) and LB Danny Trevathan (thumb) all doubtful to play. S Harold Jones-Quartey (concussion), DE Jonathan Bullard (toe), WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), DB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), CB Tracy Porter (knee), G Josh Sitton (shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee) drew questionable tags.

Titans at Texans

Titans CB Cody Riggs (hamstring) and S Da’Norris Searcy (ankle) have been ruled out for the AFC South clash. TE Delanie Walker (hamstring) is questionable.

The Texans ruled out LT Duane Brown (knee), TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring), RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) and WR Braxton Miller (hamstring). LB Brian Cushing (knee) and S Quintin Demps (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

Bills at Patriots

The Bills initially ruled out WR Sammy Watkins (foot), but later placed him on injured reserve. T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) remain on the active roster, but won’t play this weekend. S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks (foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle) are all questionable.

The question of the Patriots starting quarterback is up in the air with Jacoby Brissett (thumb) and Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) listed as questionable to play. T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and CB Eric Rowe (ankle) are also questionable.

Browns at Redskins

The Browns head to Washington without WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee), C Cameron Erving (chest, lung), QB Josh McCown (left shoulder), DE Carl Nassib (hand) and LB Nate Orchard (ankle) in the lineup. CB Tramon Williams (shoulder) is listed as doubtful, leaving him unlikely to play. S Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring) and CB Joe Haden (groin) are both listed as questionable.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), WR Josh Doctson (achilles), G Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) are all out for the Redskins. LB Trent Murphy (elbow, shoulder) and DE Kendall Reyes (groin) are both questionable.

Broncos at Buccaneers

TE Virgil Green (calf), T Donald Stephenson (calf) and LB DeMarcus Ware (forearm) remain out for the Broncos. Safeties Shiloh Keo (knee) and Justin Simmons (hand) both drew questionable designations.

The Buccaneers ruled out DE Robert Ayers (ankle), RB Doug Martin (hamstring), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle). C Joe Hawley (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

Cardinals P Drew Butler (calf) and DT Frostee Rucker (knee) will not play this weekend.

Rams DE William Hayes (ankle) is doubtful after missing practice all week. WR Tavon Austin (shoulder), WR Kenny Britt (thigh), DT Dominique Easley (illness) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (toe) are all listed as questionable.

Saints at Chargers

T Terron Armstead (knee), CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), TE Josh Hill (ankle) and G Senio Kelemete (hamstring) are out for the Saints. DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), LB James Laurinaitis (quadricep), WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) are all listed as questionable.

The Chargers will play without S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), DE Joey Bosa (hamstring) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion). Doubtful tags leave T King Dunlap (illness) and TE Antonio Gates (hamstring) unlikely to play. T Joe Barksdale (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (hamstring) and G Orlando Franklin (back) are all questionable.

Cowboys at 49ers

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (knee) is questionable, but he didn’t practice all week and said the team will play it safe. LT Tyron Smith (back) is also questionable and also didn’t practice. CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring), DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), RT Doug Free (quadriceps), LB Andrew Gachkar (neck), S Jeff Heath (knee), and LB Mark Nzeocha (Achilles) round out the list of questionable Cowboys. QB Tony Romo (back) is out.

The 49ers ruled out CB Jimmie Ward (quadricep). Tight ends Vance McDonald (hip) and Garrett Celek (back) are questionable.

Chiefs at Steelers

RB Jamaal Charles (knee) may play for the first time this season after being listed as questionable. The Chiefs definitely won’t have T Jah Reid (knee, ankle) and RB Charcandrick West (ankle), however. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) and LB Tamba Hali (knee, hand) are both questionable.

The Steelers will be missing G Ramon Foster (chest), S Robert Golden (hamstring), CB Senquez Golson (foot), RB Roosevelt Nix (back), WR Eli Rogers (toe), LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and C Cody Wallace (knee) on Sunday night.

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Why is TV viewership down?

56627504 Getty Images

Fewer people are watching the NFL on TV, and no one really knows why.

The NFL Players Association admits that the trend is an obvious concern. The league has kept quiet, likely fearful that talking about the situation would lend credence to the dynamic, possibly causing other fans who are still watching the games to say, “Maybe I should stop, too.”

The decline has become a mystery, for the media and surely for the NFL. The league’s failure to discipline more aggressively players who have engaged in off-field misconduct possibly has turned off some fans. A perception that the league reacts too heavy-handedly in other matters (like #DeflateGate and the Saints bounty scandal) could cause others to think the NFL hopes to steer certain teams toward success and to make it harder for others to succeed.

These two dynamics have contributed to an intense sense of disdain by plenty of fans for Commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s odd, however, to think that fans are choosing not to watch the NFL on TV because they don’t care for the man whose name appears on the football. (That said, it’s likely no accident that Goodell largely stays out of view.)

The disconnect between the images televised across the country in high definition and the things seen by the naked eye in real time by seven officials interspersed with young, strong, large, fast men in armor remains a far bigger problem than the league office ever would admit. The NFL seems to have a general reluctance to fully embrace technology in order to get the calls right. At some point, however, the league must take more seriously the impact of fan frustrations arising from the sense that what everyone else sees is missed by the small group of people whose vantage point is the most important.

The ongoing desire to expand the NFL’s reach to other countries likely alienates some fans as well, given the potential belief that the league is taking the domestic audience for granted as it tries to spread the pro football virus around the globe. The mere mention of, for example, an international franchise or a Super Bowl played beyond borders of the U.S. sparks a strong negative reaction from plenty of fans.

Meanwhile, viewing habits have changed, dramatically. The younger generation no longer congregates around a large box; they carry small ones everywhere they go, constantly staring at them like zombies peering in to a sardine can full of brains. Many members of Generation Z don’t feel compelled to take the time to witness the flow of a game, the shifts in momentum, the nuances that set the stage for game-changing moments in the fourth quarter. They just want the highlights and the stats, so that they can see how their favorite team and, perhaps more importantly, their fantasy team performed.

Speaking of fantasy football, consider the perspective of kids who were born after the rise of what once was a collateral consideration to traditional rooting interests. With the pieces of a fantasy team spread over various NFL franchises, plenty of fans may not have the same zeal about one specific team, with the us-against-the-world mindset inherent to pre-fantasy fans fully undermined by the reality that, for example, an ardent Panthers fan may have Saints quarterback Drew Brees on his fantasy team.

Some would say the election is a factor, but if anything the political consternation should be causing people to more fervently embrace their diversions. Apart from the conflicts between prime-time games and two of the presidential debates, fans should be regarding NFL games as an escape from the political nonsense.

The quality of the early-season matchups could be an issue, due in large part to a lesser number of star players on great teams. Peyton Manning has retired, Tom Brady is suspended (his team nevertheless had two of its first three games televised nationally), and some of the best quarterbacks remain largely unknown and/or unaccomplished.

The concussion crisis, and the reality that football has become the pin cushion for criticism even though plenty of sports and other activities entail a risk of head injuries, likely has caused some fans to feel guilty about watching or enjoying football. In turn, the league’s efforts to make the game safer probably has influenced others who want big hits and who don’t care about the physical consequences to lose interest.

Some are suggesting that the anthem protests are causing fans to boycott the NFL, but it’s hard to see a connection between the objections to the behavior of a small group of players and the decision of significant numbers of fans to deprive themselves of something they enjoy. The NFL has made its position on the anthem clear, and the vast majority of players continue to stand at attention.

Even with the decline, nothing brings a live audience together like the NFL (except for The Walking Dead). But it’s clear the NFL has reason to worry, and that it has work to do. A more aggressive and creating marketing push could be needed, along with a willingness to consider significant changes to the rules and the officiating procedures.

Whatever the reasons, and there surely are many, the NFL has billions of reasons to figure them out — and to begin the process of addressing the problem. Publicly ignoring the issue is fine. If they’re privately paying no attention to it, the league will be in or a rude awakening when the time comes to negotiate the next set of TV deals.

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PFT’s Week Four picks

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

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

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

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

Dolphins at Bengals

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

MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Dolphins 14.

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

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Bengals 20.

Colts at Jaguars

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

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 13.

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

Florio’s pick: Jaguars 31, Colts 27.

Titans at Texans

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

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Titans 10.

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

Florio’s pick: Texans 24, Titans 17.

Browns at Washington

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

MDS’s pick: Washington 21, Browns 13.

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

Florio’s pick: Washington 31, Browns 23.

Seahawks at Jets

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

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Jets 10.

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

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 23, Jets 20.

Bills at Patriots

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

MDS’s pick: Patriots 22, Bills 9.

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

Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Bills 10.

Panthers at Falcons

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

MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Falcons 20.

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

Florio’s pick: Panthers 37, Falcons 28.

Raiders at Ravens

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

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Raiders 21.

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

Florio’s pick: Ravens 17, Raiders 14.

Lions at Bears

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

MDS’s pick: Lions 28, Bears 17.

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

Florio’s pick: Bears 16, Lions 13.

Broncos at Buccaneers

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

MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Buccaneers 14.

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

Florio’s pick: Broncos 28, Buccaneers 21.

Rams at Cardinals

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

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Rams 10.

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

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 34, Rams 20.

Saints at Chargers

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

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Saints 20.

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

Florio’s pick: Chargers 34, Saints 27.

Cowboys at 49ers

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

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, 49ers 10.

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

Florio’s pick: 49ers 20, Cowboys 17.

Chiefs at Steelers

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

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Chiefs 21.

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

Florio’s pick: Steelers 31, Chiefs 21.

Giants at Vikings

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

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Giants 7.

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

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Giants 20.

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Week Four Power Rankings

Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) walks the field after an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Broncos won 29-17. (AP Photo/Gary Landers) AP

1. Broncos (3-0; last week No. 1): Maybe they shouldn’t have drafted Paxton Lynch, after all.

2. Patriots (3-0; No. 2): Maybe they should have drafted Paxton Lynch (if they’d had a first-round pick).

3. Vikings (3-0; No. 6): Defense and coaching are great, offense is good enough. But here’s hoping they don’t need a field goal in the playoffs. Or an extra point.

4. Panthers (1-2; No. 3): Sure, no team with a losing record has ever landed this high. But no elite team has faced defenses like Denver’s and Minnesota’s in the first three games of a season.

5. Packers (2-1; No. 8): The offense is fixed. As long as they play the Lions every week.

6. Eagles (3-0; No. 19): That “they haven’t beaten anybody” excuse went out the window on Sunday.

7. Ravens (3-0; No. 11): Winning ugly is always better than losing pretty.

8. Seahawks (2-1; No. 9): With a return to the place where they won a Super Bowl looming, they finally are looking like the team that did.

9. Steelers (2-1; No. 4): The fact that it has been 27 years since the last 31-point loss won’t make Steelers fans feel much better about Sunday’s debacle.

10. Texans (2-1; No. 7):  The good news? The Patriots didn’t score 40 against the Texans this time. The bad news? The Patriots only needed three to win.

11. Chiefs (2-1; No. 12): If they can avoid another slow start, a strong finish could get them a division title and a bye.

12. Cowboys (2-1; No. 14): Once they put Humpty Dumpty back together again and he falls off the wall (again), things won’t may not be as dire.

13. Falcons (2-1; No. 16): Kyle Shanahan may end up being a head coach, after all.

14. Giants (2-1; No. 13): The kicking net was one unsportsmanlike conduct foul away from being ejected.

15. Raiders (2-1; No. 17): The defense showed up in Nashville, even though the offense almost didn’t.

16. Cardinals (1-2; No. 5): Jake Delhomme says, “Wow, that playoff meltdown has really affected Carson Palmer.”

17. Bengals (1-2; No. 10): It’s impossible to lose in the playoffs for the sixth straight year if you don’t qualify.

18. Jets (1-2; No. 15): The Jets had a come-to-Jesus meeting on Monday. On Sunday against Seattle, their fans could be telling the team to go to hell.

19. Rams (2-1; No. 26): Given Jeff Fisher’s mastery of the Buccaneers, maybe his next job should be in the NFC South.

20. Dolphins (1-2; No. 20): The standings should have a separate category for beating the Browns in overtime, because it doesn’t feel like a win.

21. Buccaneers (1-2; No. 18): The first walk-and-chew-gum test for head coach/playcaller Dirk Koetter didn’t go very well.

22. Titans (1-2; No. 21): There’s a fine line between 3-0 and 1-2, and the Titans are on the wrong side of it.

23. Colts (1-2; No. 25): Win notwithstanding, Andrew Luck is still closer to Archie than Peyton on the Manning scale.

24. Washington (1-2; No. 29): The 2015 version of the team returned, thanks to a cameo appearance from the 2015 version of the Giants.

25. Bills (1-2; No. 31): LeSean McCoy’s hard-charging runs made it clear that he was very happy about the change in coordinators.

26. 49ers (1-2; No. 22): The 49ers are unstoppable, when they have seven months to get ready for a game.

27. Lions (1-2; No. 23): No one expected them to win in Green Bay for a second straight year, but that doesn’t make “1-2” look any better.

28. Chargers (1-2; No. 27): Another week, another season-ending injury to a key player.

29. Saints (0-3; No. 24): If 2017 free agency were to begin right now, the Saints possibly would have a chance to turn things around.

30. Jaguars (0-3; No. 28): “Here are the Jaguars, London. Much earlier than usual. Before they have a really, really bad record.”

31. Browns (0-3; No. 32): Maybe Terrelle Pryor should kick field goals, too.

32. Bears (0-3; No. 30): The Bears aren’t who we thought they were. They’re worse.

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NFL morning after: Rodgers, Rex and a Sunday of statements

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws for a frist down chased by Devin Taylor #98 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week in the NFL, no one faced more criticism than Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Bills coach Rex Ryan. But this is the NFL, where every time you think you know something you find out you’re wrong, and so Rodgers and Ryan had two of the most impressive performances in the league on Sunday.

Rodgers was scrutinized heavily not just for his performance in last week’s loss to the Vikings — anyone can have a bad game — but because he had been struggling for a full year. Rodgers went a full 16 games looking nothing at all like Aaron Rodgers, and there were legitimate concerns that he had become nothing more than an ordinary quarterback.

Here’s a tweet of my own from last week, which reflected a common sentiment about how Rodgers was struggling:

So what did Rodgers do on Sunday? Just completed 15 of 24 passes for 205 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions, in a win over the Lions. Rodgers’ passer rating on the day was 129.3, his highest in a game since Week Three of last year.

Ryan, meanwhile, was getting even more withering criticism than Rodgers. After the Bills’ ugly loss to the Jets dropped them to 0-2 on the season, Ryan fired his offensive coordinator Greg Roman in a move widely seen as an attempt to find a scapegoat for Ryan’s own struggles. If the Bills kept losing, everyone said, Ryan would be gone before the season was over.

So what did Ryan do on Sunday? Just prepare a game plan that saw his defense absolutely dominate the Cardinals: The Bills intercepted Carson Palmer four times, sacked him five times and forced him to fumble twice. Buffalo won 33-18 in a game that was never close.

“We know what everybody thought of our football team and we knew we were a better football team than that. We showed up today,” Ryan said after the game. “I don’t know if anybody needed a win worse than we did.”

There are still big questions facing the Bills, and with a trip to New England next week they could easily be 1-3. But Ryan earned himself some breathing room by having his players ready to play against the Cardinals, in a big way.

Rodgers and Ryan stood out, but here were some more statements from Sunday:

The Vikings’ defense made a statement that it’s going to make Minnesota a contender, no matter what happens on offense. The Vikings have already lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, starting running back Adrian Peterson and starting left tackle Matt Kalil, but Minnesota’s defense is dominant. The Vikings sacked Cam Newton eight times (including three by Everson Griffen), intercepted him three times and completely took over the game, beating the Panthers 22-10 despite getting just 171 passing yards from Sam Bradford and 58 rushing yards from Peterson’s replacements.

The Broncos’ entire team. Could this year’s Denver team actually be better than last year’s Super Bowl winner? It’s too soon to say that, but the Broncos are 3-0 after an outstanding effort against the Bengals on Sunday. The Broncos’ defense played well, but we knew the Broncos’ defense was good. The key is that quarterback Trevor Siemian was excellent, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions, and receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both went over 100 yards. The Broncos’ offense may just be better this year than it was with the ancient Peyton Manning running the show last year.

Terrelle Pryor. Yes, the Browns lost. Yes, the Browns are terrible. But how can you not love what Pryor did? The former Ohio State quarterback turned NFL disappointment turned receiver reclamation project caught eight passes for 141 yards, ran four times for 21 yards and a touchdown, and even took snaps at quarterback and completed three of five passes for 35 yards. Pryor is the first player to have at least 120 receiving yards, 30 passing yards and 20 rushing yards in a game since Frank Gifford did it in 1959. No player in NFL history had ever completed three passes and gained 100 receiving yards in a game until Pryor did it yesterday. He’s a special talent.

Jimmy Graham. When Graham tore his patellar tendon last season, there were people who doubted he’d ever be the same kind of player he once was: A patellar tendon injury is a notoriously difficult injury to recover from. But Graham is back and playing great football, with six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s blowout win over the 49ers.

Sebastian Janikowski. With his 52-yard field goal in the Raiders’ win over the Titans, the 38-year-old Janikowski has 53 field goals of 50 yards or longer in his career, passing Jason Hanson for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

DeSean Jackson. With his 44-yard touchdown in Sunday’s comeback win over the Giants, Jackson now has 29 career touchdowns of 40 or more yards, the most among active players and the 10th most in NFL history. Jackson is an incredible playmaker.

Carson Wentz. Can you believe the Eagles’ rookie quarterback was playing at North Dakota State last year? He looks like a 10-year veteran. He absolutely carved up the Steelers in yesterday’s 34-3 beatdown, and he’s the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw 100 passes without an interception. Wentz is the rookie of the year favorite, but he’s more than that. Through three games, he’s an MVP candidate.

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Week Three early inactives

DETROIT MI - NOVEMBER 22: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions signals for a safety during the fourth quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders on November 22, 2015 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Raiders 18-13. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

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

Cardinals at Bills

Cardinals: G Evan Mathis, S Marqui Christian, DT Olsen Pierre, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Frostee Rucker, DT Xavier Williams, LB Kareem Martin

Bills: T Cordy Glenn, S Colt Anderson, WR Sammy Watkins, QB Cardale Jones, WR Greg Salas, CB Ronald Darby, C Patrick Lewis

Vikings at Panthers

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, WR Laquon Treadwell, RB Ronnie Hillman, LB Kentrell Brothers, C Nick Easton, TE MyCole Pruitt

Panthers: RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Brenton Bersin, WR Damiere Byrd, CB Teddy Williams, LB Jeremy Cash, G Tyler Larsen, DE Ryan Delaire

Broncos at Bengals

Broncos: LB DeMarcus Ware, T Donald Stephenson, TE Virgil Green, S Justin Simmons, QB Austin Davis, CB Lorenzo Doss, G Connor McGovern

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

Lions at Packers

Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah, LB DeAndre Levy, LB Antwione Williams, CB Adarius Barnes, G Joe Dahl, T Cornelius Lucas, TE Orson Charles

Packers: LB Clay Matthews, CB Sam Shields, S Morgan Burnett, DT Letroy Guion, LB Datone Jones, OT Kyle Murphy, QB Joe Callahan

Ravens at Jaguars

Ravens: RB Kenneth Dixon, CB Jerraud Powers, CB Will Davis, RB Buck Allen, LB Elvis Dumervil, OL John Urschel, DT Willie Henry

Jaguars: T Kelvin Beachum, TE Ben Koyack, QB Brandon Allen, CB Prince Amukamara, DE Jared Odrick, DE Chris Smith

Browns at Dolphins

Browns: QB Josh McCown, WR Corey Coleman, S Ibraheim Campbell, DE Carl Nassib, C Cameron Erving, CB Joe Haden, T Shon Coleman

Dolphins: RB Arian Foster, C Mike Pouncey, WR Justin Hunter, S Jordan Lucas, LB Spencer Paysinger, G Dallas Thomas, DE Terrence Fede

Redskins at Giants

Redskins: DE Kendall Reyes, QB Nate Sudfeld, WR Josh Doctson, CB Kendall Fuller, LB Martrell Spaight, DE Anthony Lanier, G Arie Kouandjio (Wide receiver Rashad Ross was on the initial inactive list, but the team revised their list to rule out Doctson before it was official.)

Giants: T Marshall Newhouse, RB Rashad Jennings, DT Robert Thomas, S Darian Thompson, DT Montori Hughes, QB Josh Johnson, WR Roger Lewis

Raiders at Titans

Raiders: T Austin Howard, T Matt McCants, QB Connor Cook, CB Dexter McDonald, CB Antonio Hamilton, TE Mychal Rivera

Titans: TE Delanie Walker, WR Kendall Wright, DT Austin Johnson, DB Curtis Riley, CB LeShawn Sims, LB Aaron Wallace, G Sebastian Tretola

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PFT’s Week Three picks

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans warms up before playing against the Chicago Bears at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Week One push became a Week Two win for MDS, thanks to my misplaced faith in the Buccaneers and Jaguars.

As a result, it have faith in neither of them in Week Two.

This week, MDS and I disagree on two games. For all of our picks, let it scroll. Down the highway.

Texans at Patriots

MDS’s take: This is a tough one to pick with the Patriots’ uncertainty at quarterback, but I have to figure that with Jacoby Brissett starting, the Texans’ defense is good enough to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Texans 13, Patriots 10.

Florio’s take: The Texans signed Brock Osweiler for one primary reason: To beat the Patriots. He did it last year in prime time, with Tom Brady playing. This year, Osweiler will find a way to outscore Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo, Julian Edelman, Steve Grogan, and/or Jim Plunkett.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Patriots 21.

Cardinals at Bills

MDS’s take: Firing the offensive coordinator won’t fix every problem in Buffalo. It may not fix any problem. The guy who needs to be fired is the guy who runs the defense.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Bills 21.

Florio’s take: Rex Ryan says the Cardinals are the “exact” team the Bills need on their schedule. He may not exactly know what that word means.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Bills 17.

Raiders at Titans

MDS’s take: The Titans showed off an impressive defensive effort in Detroit last week, and I think they’ll keep it going and get to a surprising 2-1.

MDS’s pick: Titans 17, Raiders 14.

Florio’s take: Oakland’s defense is great, Tennessee’s offense is a work in progress. Oakland’s offense give them the edge in this one, especially if One-Eyed Jack Del Rio keeps taking chances and having them pay off.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 21, Titans 18.

Browns at Dolphins

MDS’s take: This is a matchup of 0-2 teams, but it’s a matchup of very different 0-2 teams. The Dolphins have talent and have shown promise this season. The Browns have rookie third-string quarterback Cody Kessler forced into the starting lineup. Miami should win easily.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 28, Browns 10.

Florio’s take: Miami should be 1-1, could be 2-0, will be 1-2.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 35, Browns 17.

Ravens at Jaguars

MDS’s take: I’m completely unimpressed by the Jaguars this season, and by Gus Bradley’s entire tenure. They’re going to drop to 0-3 on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take: The flavor of the month has quickly gone rancid, and the Ravens are finding ways to win games. No one expected Jacksonville to be 0-3 or Baltimore to be 3-0, and that’s one of the things to love about the NFL. Unless you’re a Jaguars fan.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 23, Jaguars 20.

Lions at Packers

MDS’s take: Last year the Lions finally snapped their decades-long losing streak at Lambeau Field. This year it should be a close and competitive game but Aaron Rodgers will pull it out in the end.

MDS’s pick: Packers 24, Lions 23.

Florio’s take: Aaron Rodgers won’t need a Hail Mary this time around. If he does, Packers fans may need to start saying their prayers for the 2016 season.

Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Lions 20.

Broncos at Bengals

MDS’s take: The Bengals’ defense should shut down Trevor Siemian. The Broncos’ defense could shut down Andy Dalton, too, but I think Cincinnati will put just enough points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Broncos 13.

Florio’s take: The Broncos face another team on its own turf for the first time since losing at Pittsburgh last December. They’re facing another AFC North team, in its regular-season home opener. And this time the Bengals have Andy Dalton healthy and available.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 23, Broncos 17.

Vikings at Panthers

MDS’s take: Sam Bradford got off to a good start in his first game in Minnesota, but the Panthers’ defense will cause some problems for him, and a couple of Bradford turnovers will be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Vikings 17.

Florio’s take: Good luck throwing against a defense that isn’t defending against the run. And good luck stopping an offense with Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and Kelvin Benjamin firing on all cylinders.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 31, Vikings 21.

Washington at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants can virtually put Washington out of the NFC East race only three weeks into the season with a win here, which would improve the Giants to 3-0 and drop Washington to 0-3. I think that’s exactly what will happen.

MDS’s pick: Giants 20, Washington 17.

Florio’s take: It’s coming together for the Giants and coming apart for Washington. The margin for error gets a lot narrower for the defending NFC East champions.

Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Washington 16.

Rams at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: I liked what the Rams’ defense did on Sunday against the Seahawks, but the Case Keenum-led offense remains one of the worst offenses I’ve ever seen in the NFL. The Bucs win a low-scoring game here.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 14, Rams 6.

Florio’s take: The Rams have beaten the Bucs in each of Jeff Fisher’s four prior years as head coach. Notwithstanding last weekend’s debacle in the desert, these Buccaneers are better than any edition of the team Fisher has seen.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 17, Rams 13.

49ers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The 49ers’ Week One win said more about the Rams than it did about the 49ers. The reality is this San Francisco team is not good. The Seahawks should win easily.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 30, 49ers 10.

Florio’s take: Niners beat Rams, Rams beat Seahawks. So, of course, Seahawks beat Niners, thanks to an offense that can do just enough to complement a defense that been as good as ever.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 15, 49ers 12.

Jets at Chiefs

MDS’s take: The Chiefs’ special teams is off to a great start this year, and I have a hunch that a big special teams play is going to be the difference on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Jets 20.

Florio’s take: The Chiefs are determined not to have another slow start; they need to hold serve at home against a team that hopes to force its way into playoff contention.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Jets 20.

Chargers at Colts

MDS’s take: The Colts’ secondary is beaten up, but with injuries to Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, I’m not sure the Chargers’ passing game can take advantage. I like the Colts to win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Colts 17, Chargers 16.

Florio’s take: The Chargers have owned the Colts during the Philip Rivers era, with a 6-1 record since Rivers became the starter. Yes, the Colts are desperate. They just simply don’t have the horses. (Pun not intended, which makes it no less lame.)

Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Colts 20.

Steelers at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Eagles have looked great through two games, but they’ve looked great against bad teams. This week they play a good team, and they won’t look so good.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 20, Eagles 10.

Florio’s take: It’s correction week for Carson Wentz and company, but it won’t be as jarring as expected. The Eagles are good enough to beat bad-to-average teams. They’re not ready to beat great teams.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Eagles 23.

Bears at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Bears were a mess with Jay Cutler, and they won’t be any better with Brian Hoyer. The Cowboys should win handily.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Bears 10.

Florio’s take: Brian Hoyer and Dak Prescott may not be ready for prime time, but prime time is ready for them. Advantage Cowboys, who hope to pile up as many wins as they can while Tony Romo works his way back from a fractured vertebrate.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 28, Bears 17.

Falcons at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints have started the season 0-2 and have some major holes on their roster, but I think the Falcons’ defense is going to let Drew Brees have a field day.

MDS’s pick: Saints 35, Falcons 31.

Florio’s take: With record numbers certain to tune in for the first presidential debate, both teams are destined to lose. One will lose twice. Edge goes to the home team, whose defense is quickly improving.

Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 28.

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Week Three Power Rankings

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Outside linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos strips the ball from quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Broncos (2-0; last week No. 1): Does beating the Colts justify hanging a banner? For the Broncos, who had been 1-8 against Indy, it does.

2. Patriots (2-0; No. 2): “Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door, men. Well, at least not for the next 13 days.”

3. Panthers (1-1; No. 3): Scoring 46 is always impressive. Scoring 46 against a team that allowed zero the week before that is even more impressive.

4. Steelers (2-0; No. 5): If Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy, the No. 1 seed isn’t out of the question. (And now I’ve jinxed him.)

5. Cardinals (1-1; No. 6): Maybe every coach should call out multiple players in the media by name.

6. Vikings (2-0; No. 10): Stefon Diggs should brace himself for constant double teams and press coverage.

7. Texans (2-0; No. 12): Isn’t there supposed to be a Super Bowl host curse?

8. Packers (1-1; No. 7): Maybe Mike McCarthy shouldn’t be calling the plays, after all.

9. Seahawks (1-1; No. 4): Russell Wilson needs more nanobubbles.

10. Bengals (1-1; No. 8): Andy Dalton needs a better chinstrap, especially with Von Miller coming to town.

11. Ravens (2-0; No. 13): Maybe every Browns game should begin with the opposing team spotting them 20.

12. Chiefs (1-1; No. 9): The regular-season winning streak ends at 11. Hopefully, the regular-season losing streak won’t hit five, again.

13. Giants (2-0; No. 16): They’re winning games this year that they would have lost last year.

14. Cowboys (1-1; No. 17): The Cowboys pulled off an Olympics-style feat on Sunday; they win once every four years without Tony Romo.

15. Jets (1-1; No. 20): It won’t be easy to win in Kansas City, especially if Brandon Marshall isn’t as “fine” as his head coach said he is.

16. Falcons (1-1; No. 25): No team changes national perceptions of itself faster than the Falcons.

17. Raiders (1-1; No. 11): The lift from winning a game by going for two late apparently lasts less then seven days.

18. Buccaneers (1-1; No. 15): The Bucs won’t have to worry about falling victim to excessive praise anytime soon.

19. Eagles (2-0; No. 26): Don’t like being No. 19, Philly Bro? Beat the Steelers on Sunday.

20. Dolphins (0-2; No. 19): Three years ago, they started 2-0 and collapsed. This year, they started 0-2 and will get it together.

21. Titans (1-1; No. 28): How does a team become relevant? By stealing road games against supposedly better teams.

22. 49ers (1-1; No. 22): Did anyone really expect them to beat the Panthers?

23. Lions (1-1; No. 21): Calvin Johnson may not be a Hall of Famer. Andre Johnson proved why he is, in Calvin’s NFL hometown.

24. Saints (0-2; No. 23): The defense played well, for a change. The offense didn’t, for a change.

25. Colts (0-2; No. 24): “Made Defending Super Bowl Champions Sweat It Out” will be hanging from the rafters this weekend.

26. Rams (1-1; No. 31): Was the Jeff Fisher contract extension not announced after the win over Seattle because so many people expected it to happen?

27. Chargers (1-1; No. 30): Who’s next in the “gone for the year with a torn ACL” rotation?

28. Jaguars (0-2; No. 18): The bandwagon has emptied faster than the bladder of a nine-year old who drank a two-liter bottle of Sprite just before sleeping 12 hours.

29. Washington (0-2; No. 14): A year after we got it wrong by putting them at No. 32 to start the year, maybe we should have put them at No. 32 to start the year.

30. Bears (0-2; No. 27): The Bears are who we thought they were.

31. Bills (0-2; No. 29): Rex Ryan wasn’t the first mother–cker to get fired, after all.

32. Browns (0-2; No. 32): Does it help that the Browns would probably still be 0-2 if they’d picked Carson Wentz.

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