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NFC playoff picture: Buccaneers making a move

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 04:   Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass under pressure from  Kyle Emanuel #51 of the San Diego Chargers during the second half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the playoffs started today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be in. How many people saw that coming?

With yesterday’s win over the Chargers, the Bucs now have a 7-5 record and a half-game lead over Washington in the wild card race. Tampa Bay also has a good chance at catching Atlanta in the NFC South, although the 7-5 Falcons currently have the tiebreaker advantage.

Here’s how the whole NFC looks with four games to go:

1. Cowboys (11-1): With a three-game lead in the NFC East, Dallas has already clinched at least a wild card and appears poised to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

2. Seahawks (8-3-1): The NFC West race is all but over.

3. Lions (8-4): Detroit has a two-game lead in the division with four to play.

4. Falcons (7-5): Atlanta is in danger of losing what looked like a comfortable division lead.

5. Giants (8-4): Sunday’s loss probably ruined any hope the Giants had of winning the division.

6. Buccaneers (7-5): Keep winning and they’re in the playoffs.

7. Washington (6-5-1): That tie game in London is starting to loom large.

8. Vikings (6-6): Currently owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Green Bay.

9. Packers (6-6): If they win out they only need the Lions to lose once between now and the Week 17 finale.

10. Cardinals (5-6-1): Sunday’s win is probably too little, too late.

11. Saints (5-7): Losing to the Lions at home sealed their fate.

12. Eagles (5-7): Both the offense and the defense have declined significantly since a promising start.

13. Panthers (4-8): A blowout loss to Seattle ended the reigning NFC champions’ hopes.

14. Rams (4-8): Yet another non-winning season for Jeff Fisher.

15. Bears (3-9): At least they’re better than the 49ers.

16. 49ers (1-11): At least they’re better than the Browns.

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NFL morning after: Two-point play could change two seasons

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 4: Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 4, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

One of the most fun things that can happen on an NFL Sunday is seeing something you’ve never seen before. And did we ever see that yesterday in Atlanta.

For the first time in NFL history, a defensive two-point conversion proved to be the game-winning score in a one-point game. I love the new two-point conversion rule, which allows the defense to score two points by running back a blocked extra point or offensive turnover, but when it passed last season, I figured it was something we might wait a decade to see decide a game.

Instead, yesterday in Atlanta it did decide the game. And it may have changed the course of both teams’ seasons.

When the Falcons scored a touchdown to take a 28-27 lead over the Chiefs with less than five minutes remaining, it appeared that they had taken control. They then lined up to go for two, and that was the right decision, as it gave them a chance to take a lead big enough that a field goal wouldn’t beat them. But Chiefs safety Eric Berry stepped in front of Matt Ryan’s pass, intercepted it and raced all the way to the end zone, giving the Chiefs the 29-28 margin they would win by.

That was the first time a team has ever won by a point on a defensive two-point conversion. Add in the blocked extra point return that gave the Broncos a 25-23 win over the Saints earlier this season, and we’ve now had two games changed by that seemingly relatively minor rules change.

In the case of Chiefs-Falcons, it could easily change both teams’ seasons as well. Both teams are locked in close, competitive playoff races, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll look back at the end of the season and say that one two-point play was the reason the Falcons missed the playoffs, or the reason the Chiefs won the AFC West and earned a bye week rather than just getting into the playoffs as a wild card.

The whole point of the new extra point rule was to make extra points competitive football plays again, and part of a competitive football play is that the defense has an opportunity to score. Adopting that rule was a great move by the NFL, and it made for a great ending in Atlanta on Sunday.

Here are my other thoughts from yesterday’s action in the NFL:

Jeff Fisher gets a new contract? Really? The news that broke Sunday morning that Rams coach Jeff Fisher has signed a contract extension is baffling to me. Shouldn’t a coach have to win to get a new contract? Yesterday’s 26-10 loss to the Patriots clinched Fisher his seventh consecutive non-winning season. His last winning season was with the 2008 Titans. And shouldn’t a coach have to show progress to get a new contract? Fisher’s record in his first season as the Rams’ coach was 7-8-1, and he still hasn’t improved upon that in five years on the job. It’s shocking that Rams owner Stan Kroenke is OK with this.

‘Member the Wentz Wagon? Early in the season, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz was the toast of the NFL, with even President Obama and Vice President Biden singing his praises. Lately he’s been a mess: Yesterday he had about the least-impressive 308-yard game you could imagine, needing 60 passes to get there and throwing three interceptions, with more potential interceptions dropped. Don’t get me wrong, it’s way too early to say Wentz won’t be a good NFL quarterback. But it was also way too early to proclaim him a future star when he was being showered with praise a couple months ago.

There’s a major downside to NFL Sunday Ticket. I’ve had DirecTV for 13 years, and as long as DirecTV has a monopoly on the NFL Sunday Ticket package, I’ll keep it. Having Sunday Ticket revolutionizes your experience as an NFL fan. But there is a major down side to the service: DirecTV’s signal is dependent on good weather. Yesterday in Chicago, where I live, my signal was out for most of the day because of some light snow. I was far from the only one; many fans posted on social media that their DirecTV went out because of snow in their area. Sports fans are so accustomed to technology improving our fan experience in ways we never could have imagined a few decades ago that it sometimes feels like a rude awakening to realize that there are, in fact, limitations to this technology.

Colin Kaepernick had one of the worst games in NFL history. In a loss to the Bears yesterday, Kaepernick was benched in the fourth quarter for Blaine Gabbert — but not before he got sacked five times, while managing just four passing yards. With that stat line, Kaepernick became the first quarterback in NFL history to get sacked five times while gaining fewer than five passing yards. It was a horrendous performance, and for those trying to excuse Kaepernick by blaming the snow, I’ll point out that Bears quarterback Matt Barkley turned in a good game in the same weather. Kaepernick was very, very bad, on a day that started with reports that he was looking to strike it rich in free agency after the season.

The Jaguars remain a mess. I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse when I write about the Jaguars, but every week they find a new way to lose and lose ugly. Yesterday they lost to the Broncos even though the Broncos punted a whopping 11 times. Jacksonville’s offense is so incompetent that you can beat them even if you keep giving them the ball because you know it’s just a matter of time before Blake Bortles throws another pick-six. This team is downright awful.

The Lions won comfortably, for once. After trailing in the fourth quarter of their first 11 games, the Lions maintained a lead throughout the fourth quarter in New Orleans yesterday, improving to 8-4 in the process and firmly establishing themselves as the favorites in the NFC North. If the Lions beat the Bears at home next week and the Packers at home in Week 17, they’d clinch the division regardless of any other results the rest of the season.

I liked the individuality on players’ shoes. Most of the time, the league strictly limits personal messages from players. But yesterday, the league let players put individual messages on their shoes. I thought it was great, especially how many players chose to promote charities they’ve worked with and donated money to. I don’t know what horrible thing Roger Goodell imagines will happen if he allows players to do that every week, but I’d like to see the league relax its uniform rules. The league was wise to make extra points and two-point conversions more interesting, and now it would be wise to make the players’ uniforms more interesting.

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Week 13 early inactives

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

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Chiefs at Falcons

Chiefs: WR Jeremy Maclin, QB Tyler Bray, CB Phillip Gaines, RB Knile Davis, LB Dadi Nicolas, OL Mike Person, TE Ross Travis

Falcons: DE Adrian Clayborn, S Sharrod Neasman, RB Terron Ward, CB Deji Olatoye, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, OL Trevor Robinson, OL Wes Schweitzer

Dolphins at Ravens

Dolphins: C Mike Pouncey, CB Jordan Lucas, CB Xavien Howard, LB Jelani Jenkins, T Bryce Harris, WR Rashawn Scott, TE Thomas Duarte

Ravens: TE Crockett Gillmore, G Alex Lewis, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, RB Buck Allen, LB Kamalei Correa, OL Ryan Jensen

49ers at Bears

49ers: QB Christian Ponder, CB Marcus Cromartie, RB Mike Davis, LB Aaron Lynch, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, OL John Theus, TE Je’Ron Hamm

Bears: QB Jay Cutler, WR Eddie Royal, CB De’Vante Bausby, CB Deiondre’ Hall, OL Cornelius Edison, DL Jonathan Bullard, S Adrian Amos

Eagles at Bengals

Eagles: RB Ryan Mathews, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai, WR Jordan Matthews, DE Steven Means, OL Josh Andrews, OL  Dillon Gordon, DT Taylor Hart

Bengals: WR A.J. Green, DE Wallace Gilberry, S Derron Smith, LS Clark Harris, TE C.J. Uzomah, OL Christian Westerman, QB Jeff Driskel

Texans at Packers

Texans: LB Jadeveon Clowney, RB Tyler Ervin, LB John Simon, WR Jaelen Strong, QB Tom Savage, OL Oday Aboushi, OL Josh Walker

Packers: G T.J. Lang, LB Kyler Fackrell, C J.C. Tretter, CB Makinton Dorleant, LB Blake Martinez, WR Trevor Davis, DL Christian Ringo

Broncos at Jaguars

Broncos: QB Trevor Siemian, LS Casey Kreiter, WR Bennie Fowler, WR Marlon Brown, G Connor McGovern, DB Lorenzo Doss, G Billy Turner

Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns, RB Chris Ivory, DE Jared Odrick, QB Brandon Allen, CB Josh Johnson, OL Jeremiah Poutasi, TE Julius Thomas

Rams at Patriots

Rams: WR Tavon Austin, QB Sean Mannion, DB Steve Williams, T Pace Murphy, OL Rodger Saffold, TE Temarrick Hemingway, DE Robert Quinn.

Patriots: S Jordan Richards, WR Matthew Slater, RB D.J. Foster, DL Woodrow Hamilton, OL LaAdrian Waddle, DT Darius Kilgo, CB Justin Coleman

Lions at Saints

Lions: LB DeAndre Levy, WR Marvin Jones, LB Tahir Whitehead, S Don Carey, T Cornelius Lucas, OL Joe Dahl, QB Jake Rudock

Saints: T Terron Armstead, RB Daniel Lasco, LB Sam Barrington, RB Marcus Murphy, WR Jake Lampman, OL Landon Turner, CB De’Vante Harris

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Week 13 injury report roundup

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 28:   Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates the 27-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week 13 kicked off on Thursday with a Cowboys 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.

Chiefs at Falcons

The Chiefs listed LB Dee Ford (hamstring), LB Justin Houston (shoulder), WR Jeremy Maclin (groin), DT Dontari Poe (back) and DE Kendall Reyes (knee) as questionable. Poe didn’t practice at all this week.

DE Adrian Clayborn (knee) is out for the Falcons and LB Paul Worrilow (illness) is listed as questionable on a short injury report.

Dolphins at Ravens

C Mike Pouncey (hip) is out again this week, but Dolphins coach Adam Gase expressed optimism about getting T Branden Albert (wrist) and G Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) back. They’re listed as questionable along with LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), T Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyan Drake (knee), LB Jelani Jenkins (knee, hand), DT Earl Mitchell (back) and WR DeVante Parker (back). CB Xavien Howard (knee) is listed as doubtful.

TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), T Alex Lewis (ankle) and RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh) are out for the Ravens. RB Buck Allen (non football injury) is listed as doubtful while WR Kamar Aiken (thigh) and CB Jimmy Smith (back) are listed as questionable.

49ers at Bears

Questionable listings for LB Aaron Lynch (ankle) and WR Quinton Patton (concussion) account for the entire 49ers injury report.

QB Jay Cutler (shoulder) is headed for injured reserve, but isn’t there yet so the Bears ruled him out. S Adrian Amos (foot), LB Leonard Floyd (concussion), CB Deiondre’ Hall (ankle), WR Eddie Royal (toe), G Josh Sitton (ankle) and LB Willie Young (knee) are listed as questionable for Chicago.

Eagles at Bengals

Eagles RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and T Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) will not play on Sunday. WR Jordan Matthews (ankle) is listed as questionable.

WR A.J. Green (hamstring) remains out for the Bengals. DE Wallace Gilberry (calf) and S Derron Smith (thigh) have both been ruled out. LS Clark Harris (groin) and TE C.J. Uzomah (calf) are on track to being ruled out as well after drawing doubtful tags.

Texans at Packers

The Texans won’t have RB Tyler Ervin (ribs), LB John Simon (chest), WR Jaelen Strong (ankle) this weekend. They listed RB Alfred Blue (calf), DE Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, wrist), LB Brian Cushing (back) and S Andre Hal (illness) as questionable.

QB Aaron Rodgers (hamstring) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable. Linebackers Blake Martinez (knee), LB Clay Matthews (shoulder) and Jake Ryan (ankle) are also listed as questionable. LB Kyler Fackrell (hamstring) and CB Demetri Goodson (knee) will not play and neither G T.J. Lang (foot) nor C J.C. Tretter (knee) is expected to play after being listed as doubtful.

Broncos at Jaguars

The Broncos ruled out WR Bennie Fowler (knee), LS Casey Kreiter (calf) and QB Trevor Siemian (foot).

WR Rashad Greene (achilles), WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) and DE Jared Odrick (shoulder) have been ruled out by the Jaguars. TE Julius Thomas (back) is unlikely to play after being listed as doubtful and DE Yannick Ngakoue (ankle) drew a questionable designation.

Rams at Patriots

The Rams don’t expect to have WR Tavon Austin (chest) in New England after listing him as doubtful. C Tim Barnes (foot), T Andrew Donnal (hip), DE Robert Quinn (concussion) and T Rodger Saffold (hand) are listed as questionable.

S Jordan Richards (knee) joins TE Rob Gronkowski (back) as Patriots who will not play this weekend. TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), QB Tom Brady (knee), S Nate Ebner (concussion), WR Julian Edelman (foot), DE Trey Flowers (shin), DT Woodrow Hamilton (illness), WR Chris Hogan (back), LB Elandon Roberts (jaw) and WR Matt Slater (foot) are this week’s group of questionable players.

Lions at Saints

Lions DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), S Don Carey (hamstring), WR Marvin Jones (thigh), LB DeAndre Levy (knee), RB Theo Riddick (ankle) and LB Tahir Whitehead (knee) are all listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in New Orleans.

RB Mark Ingram (toe) is questionable for the Saints after returning to practice on Friday. T Terron Armstead (knee, quadricep) and RB Daniel Lasco (hamstring) have been ruled out.

Bills at Raiders

The Bills took full use of the questionable designation this week by using it on LB Lorenzo Alexander (ankle), S Sergio Brown (hamstring), TE Charles Clay (knee), DT Marcell Dareus (abdomen), RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (back), WR Marquise Goodwin (wrist), S James Ihedigbo (ankle), G Richie Incognito (neck), G John Miller (shoulder) and WR Sammy Watkins (foot). They veered away by ruling out CB Ronald Darby (concussion), WR Percy Harvin (illness) and WR Robert Woods (knee).

CB D.J. Hayden (hamstring) is ruled out and the team will be placing him on injured reserve. DT Darius Latham (ankle), DT Stacy McGee (ankle) and LB Shilique Calhoun (knee) have also been ruled out. CB David Amerson (knee), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle), C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Perry Riley (hamstring) and LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

Redskins at Cardinals

The Redskins won’t have DL Anthony Lanier (shin) or TE Jordan Reed (shoulder) this weekend. CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), LB Terence Garvin (shoulder), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee), LB Trent Murphy (ankle), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), LS Nick Sundberg (back) and RB Chris Thompson (illness) were all listed as questionable.

S Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) isn’t expected to play for the Cardinals thanks to a doubtful listing. WR John Brown (illness) is questionable as he continues to look for an answer to problems caused by his sickle cell trait.

Giants at Steelers

The Giants ruled out S Nat Berhe (concussion), LB Mark Herzlich (concussion), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (knee) and G Justin Pugh (knee). Offensive linemen Brett Jones (calf) and Marshall Newhouse (knee) are both questionable after missing last week.

The Steelers ruled out WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) and RB DeAngelo Williams (knee), but have no one else with an injury designation this week.

Buccaneers at Chargers

S Chris Conte (chest) and C Evan Smith (knee) were ruled out by the Buccaneers. DT Gerald McCoy (foot), TE Brandon Myers (hip), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) and S Ryan Smith (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Chargers LB Jeremiah Attaochu (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (knee) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion) are out this weekend. TE Asante Cleveland (concussion, knee), DT Tenny Palepoi (shoulder) and WR Tyrell Williams (shoulder) drew questionable tags.

Panthers at Seahawks

The Panthers ruled out DE Mario Addison (foot), S Kurt Coleman (concussion), LB Luke Kuechly (concussion) and T Daryl Williams (ankle) on Friday.

DE Michael Bennett (knee) is expected back for the Seahawks, but drew a questionable tag. DE Damontre Moore (foot), RB Troymaine Pope (ankle) and TE Luke Willson (knee) are listed the same way. LB Brock Coyle (foot), RB C.J. Prosise (shoulder), WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) and LB Jordan Tripp (thigh) have been ruled out.

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PFT’s Week 13 picks

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 29:  Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball against Corey White #23 of the Dallas Cowboys during a preseason game on August 29, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

And then there was one.

As in one game separating MDS and yours truly in the full-season picks contest. He swept the two disagreements from Week 12, and now with seven disagreements in 15 games this weekend, things are about to get interesting. For him and me and pretty much no one else.

Last week, MDS went 13-3 and I was 11-5. So at least we both no longer stink as much as we used to.

Cowboys at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings were the NFL’s last undefeated team this season. After Thursday night, they’ll be a .500 team.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Vikings 16.

Florio’s take: If the Vikings don’t win this one, their chances of qualifying for the postseason, where they’d eventually be blown out, drop considerably. With voice of the Vikings (as well as PA and Florio podcast cohort) Paul Allen convinced the home team will win, I’ll humor him on this one. Especially since, if he’s wrong, I’ll have a tangible reason for reminding him of it on a regular basis, indefinitely. Besides, the Cowboys may now assume that they’re facing the likes of the Browns, 49ers, and Bears again, given the absence of coach Mike Zimmer.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Cowboys 20.

Chiefs at Falcons

MDS’s take: A good interconference game between two teams that would be in the playoffs today. I’ll take the home team in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 20, Chiefs 17.

Florio’s take: For the second time this year, the Falcons face a team that played nearly five full quarters in the prior game. This time, however, the Atlanta foe got a full week to recover. And the Chiefs as of right now are better than the Bucs were a months ago.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Falcons 23.

Lions at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints’ offense is firing on all cylinders and the Lions’ defense is struggling. I see the Saints winning a high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Saints 35, Lions 31.

Florio’s take: That string of eleven games decided by seven points or less could be ending for the Lions, and not in a good way.

Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Lions 21.

Rams at Patriots

MDS’s take: This is the easiest game on the board to pick. The Rams will get their eighth loss of the season, ensuring their 13th consecutive non-winning season.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Rams 10.

Florio’s take: Bill Belichick has outscored Jeff Fisher 104-7 in their last two meetings. It likely won’t be much better this time around.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Rams 13.

Broncos at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Broncos are in danger of missing the playoffs, but when a team needs a win, a game at Jacksonville is just what the doctor ordered.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s take: Twenty years ago, the Jaguars scored a major playoff upset over a championship-caliber Broncos team. This time, it would be an even bigger surprise if Jacksonville wins.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 17.

Texans at Packers

MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers should carve up the Texans’ defense, and Brock Osweiler won’t be able to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Texans 17.

Florio’s take: The Pack is/are back. Brock Osweiler is/was a misplaced investment. Green Bay can/should/will move to 6-6, and possibly to within striking distance of first place in the division.

Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Texans 20.

Eagles at Bengals

MDS’s take: Both teams are well outside playoff contention, but this isn’t a bad matchup. I see a hard-fought game decided on a Mike Nugent missed extra point.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 21, Bengals 20.

Florio’s take: The Eagles, after starting the year 3-0, have lost six of eight. The Bengals are bad this year but not so bad that they’d lose at home to a rookie quarterback with a rookie head coach that has struggled for most of the last two months.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 23, Eagles 16.

Dolphins at Ravens

MDS’s take: The strength of the Ravens is their run defense, and I think they’ll shut down Jay Ajayi, put pressure on Ryan Tannehill and win a close game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Dolphins 13.

Florio’s take: Once upon a time, a Dolphins team on a long losing streak beat the Ravens. Nine years later, the Dolphins are riding an unlikely six-game winning streak. And the Ravens once again can be involved in the termination of a Miami-related streak.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Dolphins 16.

49ers at Bears

MDS’s take: This game only matters for draft positioning. The Bears will win, which keeps the 49ers alive for the first overall pick.

MDS’s pick: Bears 20, 49ers 17.

Florio’s take: San Francisco’s offense is finding its stride, even if it hasn’t found many wins. Against an overmatched Chicago team, that changes. If only for a day.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 31, Bears 23.

Bills at Raiders

MDS’s take: The Bills may need to run the table to get to the playoffs. After the Raiders beat them on Sunday, Rex Ryan’s job security will be hanging by a thread.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Bills 21.

Florio’s take: The Raiders play up and down to the level of the competition, which gives Buffalo an opening to steal this one — especially if the Raiders are peeking ahead at their Thursday night showdown in Kansas City.

Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Raiders 24.

Giants at Steelers

MDS’s take: The Giants still have a chance to catch the Cowboys in the NFC East, but they’ll probably have to win out to do it. And that hope will be dashed in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Giants 23.

Florio’s take: An old-school rivalry dating back to 1933, the Giants are 44-29-3 against the Steelers. The Rooneys needs this one a little more than that Maras, who are closing in on a wild-card berth and have a very rough road to the NFC East title.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Giants 24.

Washington at Cardinals

MDS’s take: Although the Cardinals are one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season, I think their defense can hold Kirk Cousins in check and win a close game.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 17, Washington 14.

Florio’s take: Washington had extra time and Washington has extra incentive and the Cardinals are sliding out of contention, with their coach calling players out for being selfish.

Florio’s pick: Washington 34, Arizona 21.

Buccaneers at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Bucs have surged recently and gotten themselves back into the playoff race, but I see Joey Bosa making Jameis Winston’s life miserable and San Diego winning a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 16, Buccaneers 13.

Florio’s take: It gets no easier for a Tampa Bay team riding a pair of signature wins. The Chargers would be a postseason shoo-in if they played in three or four other divisions, and the Bucs will need to find another way to get themselves in the right frame of mind to take down the Chargers. Knowing that the Falcons have lost earlier in the day (if the Chiefs prevail in Atlanta) could be the kick Tampa Bay needs.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Chargers 20.

Panthers at Seahawks

MDS’s take: The Seahawks are the better team in all three phases of the game and should beat the Panthers comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Panthers 14.

Florio’s take: One of the best rivalries in recent years has instantly been reduced to rubble. The Seahawks need to get back on the right track, and the Panthers have been on the wrong track all year.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Panthers 20.

Colts at Jets

MDS’s take: With Andrew Luck back against a bad Jets secondary, the Colts should win this one and — if the Texans lose — move into a three-way tie in the AFC South.

MDS’s pick: Colts 30, Jets 20.

Florio’s take: It’s a rematch of Super Bowl III, and I can guarantee you won’t stay awake through all of it.

Florio’s pick: Colts 23, Jets 20.

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Week 13 Power Rankings

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys takes a snap under center during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

1. Cowboys (10-1; last week No. 1): The biggest threat to the No. 1 seed resides in their own division.

2. Raiders (9-2; No. 2): Playing down to the level of the competition could make Oakland a one-and-done playoff participant, if they’re not careful.

3. Patriots (9-2; No. 4): Avocado ice cream apparently has magical healing powers. Unless it’s the toppings.

4. Giants (8-3; No. 5): The Giants are possibly doing well enough to get Todd Bowles fired.

5. Chiefs (8-3; No. 8): Tyreek Hill could be Dante Hall, Priest Holmes, and Dwayne Bowe rolled into one player.

6. Seahawks (7-3-1; No. 3): If the road to the Super Bowl doesn’t go through Seattle, the Seahawks likely won’t be playing there.

7. Falcons (7-4; No. 7): With the Buccaneers rising, the Falcons’ margin for error is shrinking.

8. Broncos (7-4; No. 6): If the Broncos can’t trust their defense, can any team trust its defense?

9. Lions (7-4; No. 10): With visits to the Saints, Giants, and Cowboys upcoming, those close games could be ending, soon.

10. Dolphins (7-4; No. 11): Has any six-game winning streak ever been more overlooked nationally?

11. Washington (6-4-1; No. 9): They may be better than they were a year ago. Unfortunately, the rest of the division is, too.

12. Bills (6-5; No. 14): The NFL is better when Rex Ryan is in it, and the Bills may be doing enough to ensure that he will be.

13. Buccaneers (6-5; No. 20): It may not happen this year or next year, but the Buccaneers will win a Super Bowl with Jameis Winston at quarterback.

14. Packers (5-6; No. 15): Two games behind the Lions and one game behind the Vikings, the schedule says that the Packers are still the favorites to win the division.

15. Ravens (6-5; No. 17): When the field goal kicker is the best player on the team, that says a lot about the kicker. Or not a lot about the rest of the team.

16. Steelers (6-5; No. 18): All I want for Christmas is a Steelers-Raiders playoff game.

17. Texans (6-5; No. 12): Good news/bad news — they finally broke the cycle of winning the games they should and losing the games they should.

18. Vikings (6-5; No. 13): “Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game.”

19. Titans (6-6; No. 21): A late bye week gives them extra time to get ready for what would be a signature win over the Broncos.

20. Eagles (5-6; No. 16): The silver lining in their 2-6 slide could be that Jim Schwartz won’t get hired as a head coach elsewhere.

21. Chargers (5-6; No. 25): The worst team in the AFC West continues to prove that it would be the best team in three or four other divisions.

22. Saints (5-6; No. 26): Bounty penalty for the team, a pair of second-round picks. Lost revenue for Sean Payton, more than $7 million. Ramming it sideways up the rear end of Gregg Williams, priceless.

23. Colts (5-6; No. 19): Jim Irsay prefers championships to Star Wars statistics. He now has neither.

24. Bengals (3-7-1; No. 22): “At least we’re the best team in Ohio, if you leave out the Buckeyes.”

25. Cardinals (4-6-1; No. 23): They were supposed to be better. They’re worse. Much, much worse.

26. Panthers (4-7; No. 24): OK, it’s finally time to insert the fork.

27. Rams (4-7; No. 27): Given the scrap with Eric Dickerson, they’re actually 4-8.

28. Jets (3-8; No. 28): Woody Johnson is five weeks away from pressing the reset button, again.

29. Bears (2-9; No. 29): If no one pays attention to their game against the 49ers, will it make a sound?

30. Jaguars (2-9; No. 30): What was supposed to be a big step up from 5-11 has been a major step back.

31. 49ers (1-10; No. 31): The Titans suddenly look very smart for not reuniting Chip Kelly with Marcus Mariota.

32. Browns (0-12; No. 32): The last, best chance to win a game comes when the Bengals visit after the bye.

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Ravens propose a bonus point for kickoffs through the uprights

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 27: Kicker Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after kicking a field goal in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has tinkered with kickoffs in recent years, attempting to reduce the number of high-speed collisions on returns and make the game safer. But now the Baltimore Ravens are proposing a radical rule change on kickoffs that goes far beyond tinkering.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and kicker Justin Tucker said this week that they want the NFL to adopt a new rule that would give the kicking team one point for putting a kickoff through the uprights.

“A kicker with a strong leg would be in favor of it. The idea would be that if you split the uprights on a kickoff you get a point,” Tucker said on the Dan Patrick Show.

Kickoffs come from the 35-yard line in the NFL, which would be the equivalent of a 75-yard field goal. The NFL record for the longest field goal is 64 yards, so it might seem unlikely that any kicker would make one from 75. But kickoffs go farther for a few reasons: They’re off a tee, rather than off the ground. The kicker places the ball exactly how he wants it, so there are no concerns about a bad snap or a bad hold. With no one rushing, the kicker can get a longer running start toward the ball. And with no worry of having the kick blocked, the kicker can kick with a lower trajectory, which allows the ball to travel farther.

Add all those things up, and Tucker thinks he’d be able to put it through the uprights about 20 percent of the time.

“Maybe one out of every five if the weather’s alright and the field is good,” Tucker said.

There’s never been anything like that rule in NFL history, although the Canadian Football League has a one-point kick of its own, known as a rouge, for a kick that goes into the end zone and is not run out. That’s about the most similar thing to the Ravens’ proposal as has ever existed in pro football. Obviously, Tucker and Harbaugh are motivated in part by selfish reasons: Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL, so the Ravens are the team that would likely benefit the most from such a rule change (although the Broncos would probably lead the league in kickoff points, as the high altitude in Denver would make kickoffs through the uprights easier).

But Tucker isn’t just looking for gimmicks to help strong-legged kickers like himself; he said he would oppose a proposal to make field goals from beyond 60 yards worth four points. And I like the Ravens’ idea for three reasons Tucker didn’t mention:

It’s good for player safety. When the NFL moved the touchback to the 25-yard line, the goal was to reduce kickoff returns. But that rule hasn’t made much of a difference because some teams now kick high and short in an effort to avoid touchbacks. The Ravens’ proposal would certainly reduce the number of kickoff returns: Teams would have a strong incentive for their kicker to kick it as deep as possible to try to get that bonus point, and when those kickoffs fell short of the goal posts, the returners would usually stay in the end zone because they’d be backed up near the end line.

It’s exciting for late-game strategy. Under current rules, we’ve grown accustomed to a seven-point lead meaning a touchdown and extra point can tie, an eight-point lead meaning a touchdown and two-point conversion can tie, and a nine-point lead meaning a two-possession game. This would change things. Now you could trail by seven and take the lead with a touchdown, extra point and kickoff point. Or trail by eight and take the lead with a touchdown, two-point conversion and kickoff point. And a nine-point game would be particularly exciting: You score a touchdown late in the game down by nine. Do you go for two and try to tie the game with a kickoff point? Or do you kick the extra point and try to win the game with an onside kick followed by a field goal?

It could feature an exception to the goaltending rule. The NFL currently has a rule against goaltending on field goals and extra points: A player who jumps up and touches a ball as it is about to go through the goal posts in an attempt to block a field goal is flagged for goaltending, a 15-yard penalty. But that rule shouldn’t apply to kickoff points, because it would be great to reward a kickoff returner who’s athletic enough to leap up and swat away a kick that’s 10 or 11 feet in the air. And in a late-game situation where one point is the difference in the game, a team could put in its best goaltender to try to block a kickoff point: How exciting would it be to see the Seahawks, in a tie game in the final minute, send Jimmy Graham back to jump up and block the kickoff from going through the uprights?

This idea is very, very unlikely to be implemented. But that’s because the NFL is a fundamentally conservative and traditional league that doesn’t like to try radical new ideas. Sometimes, however, radical new ideas are brilliant. This is a rule the NFL should adopt.

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NFC playoff picture: Packers remain in the race

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 28:   Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates the 27-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Monday night was a must-win game for the Packers, and they won.

Green Bay went to Philadelphia and looked more like the good team we’ve expected the Packers to be, and less like the mess they’ve been recently. More importantly, the Packers showed that they still have a chance in the NFC North.

Although the Packers still need some help to catch the Lions, they’ve now got a good chance of still being alive in the playoff race when they head to Detroit for Week 17.

Here’s how the whole playoff race looks:

1. Cowboys (10-1): They’re the clear favorites to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, although they’ve got the Giants in the rear-view mirror.

2. Seahawks (7-3-1): Seattle struggled on Sunday, but the Seahawks have the NFC West all but clinched.

3. Lions (7-4): Who thought Detroit would be just a half game out of a bye through 12 weeks of the season?

4. Falcons (7-4): Need to keep winning to stay ahead of the surging Bucs.

5. Giants (8-3): Having already beaten the Cowboys head-to-head once, the Giants are still within shouting distance of the top of the NFC East.

6. Washington (6-4-1): A long shot to win the division, but the favorites for the last wild card spot.

7. Buccaneers (6-5): They’re still in the mix for both the NFC South and a wild card.

8. Vikings (6-5): After starting 5-0, the Vikings are falling apart. Can they save their season by upsetting the Cowboys on Thursday night?

9. Saints (5-6): A big game against Detroit on Sunday will have playoff implications for both teams.

10. Packers (5-6): They might have to run the table to win the division. If they keep playing like they played Monday night, that’s a possibility.

11. Eagles (5-6): Monday night’s loss means they’re out of it.

12. Cardinals (4-6-1): It’s been a hugely disappointing season in Arizona.

13. Panthers (4-7): The reigning NFC champions are way back in the pack this year.

14. Rams (4-7): Jeff Fisher’s team needs to win most of its remaining games just to get to some 7-9 B.S.

15. Bears (2-9): The only question left is whether they can play spoiler by upsetting a division rival — or whether they can improve their draft pick by losing to the 49ers.

16. 49ers (1-10): Mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

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AFC playoff picture: Say hello to the Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Cameron Wake #91 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after sacking Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers during the 3rd quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s nothing like a long winning streak to change the feeling around a team and that’s certainly the case for the 2016 Miami Dolphins.

A 1-4 start to the season seemed to promise more of the same for a team that has been to the playoffs only once since the start of the 2002 season, but things turned around in Week Six. The Dolphins thumped the Steelers at home that Sunday and they haven’t looked back.

Sunday’s win over the 49ers leaves them at 7-4 and in possession of a Wild Card spot in the AFC as we move into December. The final five weeks will bring further tests for Adam Gase’s club, starting with next Sunday’s trip to Baltimore for a game that could have tiebreaker implications in that Wild Card race, but the last six weeks have provided plenty of reason to think the Dolphins can navigate them.


1. Patriots (9-2): A trip to Denver remains on the schedule, but three of the final five are at home as the Patriots try to ensure they’ll stay there throughout the AFC playoffs.

2. Raiders (9-2): While everyone would surely love to rehash the Tuck Rule, the Raiders still have a chance to direct the AFC playoffs through Oakland in what might be one of the city’s last chances to host such games.

3. Ravens (6-5): Beating the Bengals keeps the Ravens up, but a rematch with the Steelers may wind up determining the AFC North.

4. Texans (6-5): The Texans flopped against the Chargers and the AFC South remains a tight contest.

5. Chiefs (8-3): If Kansas City makes it to the postseason, Sunday night’s comeback win will be a big reason why they got a ticket.

6. Dolphins (7-4): Now would be a bad time for the Dolphins to come back to Earth.


7. Broncos (7-4): A trip to Jacksonville next week offers a chance to get back on track, but Denver’s fate will be determined by games against the Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders to close out the regular season.

8. Steelers (6-5): Win out and the Steelers are in as division champs, although a hot Giants team could throw a wrench into that plan next week.

9. Bills (6-5): Buffalo has bounced back with two straight wins, but their uphill climb starts with a trip to Oakland next week.

10. Titans (6-6): The Titans are 1-3 in the AFC South and their failure to win in their backyard is the reason why they aren’t in first place right now.

11. Colts (5-6): The Thanksgiving loss hurt because passing both the Texans and Titans is a tall order over five weeks.

12. Chargers (5-6): San Diego wouldn’t be anyone’s choice of an opponent in the playoffs, but they probably aren’t going to get there.

13. Bengals (3-7-1): They need to win out while the Ravens and Steelers simultaneously combust, which likely means their playoff run is over.

14. Jets (3-8): The biggest question left for the Jets is whether Christian Hackenberg gets a look at quarterback before the year is out.

15. Jaguars (2-9): We may have reached Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley’s last stand.

16. Browns (0-12): They’re down to four chances to avoid matching the 2008 Lions.

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NFL morning after: Gus Bradley and the problem of the process

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars talks to Dante Fowler Jr. #56 during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 27, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Gus Bradley has been an abject failure as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are 154 coaches in NFL history who have coached at least 59 games. Bradly, who fell to 14-45 in his tenure in Jacksonville with Sunday’s loss, ranks 154th with a .237 winning percentage.

Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells liked to say that you are what your record says you are. If Parcells is right, then Bradley is the worst head coach in NFL history.

When the Jaguars started this season looking like the same lousy team they were in Bradley’s first three seasons as head coach, Bradley insisted that the team just needs to “Stick to the process.” That’s a common refrain in football, but it raises a big question: What if your process is flawed?

The problem with sticking with the the process is that if you have a bad process, you’re sticking with something that isn’t working. Ask a Detroit Lions fan about that: The Lions stuck with team President Matt Millen far longer than most observers thought they should have, and when they finally fired him in 2008 they were in the midst of the first 0-16 season in NFL history. That’s the problem with sticking with the process. It only works if your process works. And if you keep sticking with your process when your results are as bad as Bradley’s were in his first three seasons (4-12 in his first year, 3-13 in his second year, 5-11 in his third year and now 2-9 in his fourth year), you’re simply setting your franchise back.

It’s also worth noting that the coaches who insist that they have a “process” they must “stick to” often don’t, in fact, stick to their process. Bradley doesn’t trust the process when it suits him to shift gears. This year, Bradley fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson in the middle of the season (a day after claiming he wouldn’t make any changes to his staff) because the offense wasn’t working out. In 2014, Bradley abandoned a plan to have Blake Bortles spend his entire rookie season on the bench because veteran starter Chad Henne got off to a slow start. Why didn’t Bradley stick with the process then? Probably because for most losing teams, “the process” isn’t as well thought out as they’d like us to believe.

This is not a “fire Gus Bradley” column because I assume it goes without saying that Bradley will be fired at the end of the season, if not before. Instead, this is a column about why all teams really need to scrutinize whether “the process” is working, and not just stick with it for the sake of sticking with it.

Is the process working in Cleveland? It might be: Just because they’re 0-12 this year doesn’t mean the Browns’ analytical approach won’t eventually yield a championship. It’s too early to judge the Browns because a big part of the Browns’ plan this year was to acquire future draft picks in trades. Until we see who the Browns take with those future draft picks, we don’t know if the Browns were smart or dumb to take this approach. On the other hand, no one should just blindly accept the Browns’ process simply because the Moneyball guys seem smart. If you’re a Cleveland fan, you should want to see real, tangible signs of progress next year, not just the kind of “process” talk that Bradley served up in Jacksonville after he went 4-12 in Year 1 and 3-13 in Year 2.

I admired what the Eagles did last year when they realized Chip Kelly wasn’t panning out as their head coach: They fired him, then brought in new people who would undo a lot of his personnel moves by trading away players like Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. When Kelly was fired, some said the Eagles were being rash, and that Kelly needed more time to build his kind of football team. I didn’t buy that: Kelly wasn’t getting results, so he got fired. That’s the way it works in the NFL, and the Eagles’ new regime is showing progress this year.

There are a few NFL teams, like the Patriots and Seahawks, that have a proven winning philosophy. But there are a lot of NFL teams that like to talk about their “process” despite having little or nothing in the way of tangible results. Maybe we need to be patient with those teams. But in cases like Bradley’s, there’s such a thing as too much patience.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Colin Kaepernick was brilliant on the field, not so much off it. Kaepernick put up an outstanding effort in defeat yesterday for the 49ers, throwing for 296 yards and rushing for 113 yards and becoming the first player in NFL history to top 295 passing and 110 rushing in the same game. It was a fantastic effort that gives me hope that Kaepernick can once again become a Pro Bowl-quality quarterback in the NFL some day. Unfortunately, Kaepernick was loudly booed in Miami because of some very foolish comments he made about Fidel Castro. If Kaepernick wants to be a great NFL quarterback, I think he has the talent to do it. If he wants to be both a quarterback and an activist, he’d be wise to become more informed.

Sean Payton must hate Gregg Williams. Payton, the Saints’ head coach, lost a year of his career when he was suspended for a bounty program orchestrated by Williams, who was then the Saints’ defensive coordinator. Payton and Williams have rarely spoken of each other publicly since then, but Payton was coaching like a man who wanted to humiliate his former assistant yesterday. Williams is now the Rams’ defensive coordinator, and Payton pulled out all the stops yesterday as the Saints beat the Rams 49-21. The Saints’ seventh and final offensive touchdown came on a trick play 50-yard touchdown pass by wide receiver Willie Snead in the fourth quarter. When you call a trick play 50-yard touchdown with your team already winning 42-21 in the fourth quarter, you’re humiliating your opponent. Payton humiliated Williams yesterday.

Joey Bosa is awesome. Bosa, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, is a one-man wrecking machine for the Chargers. In yesterday’s win over the Texans he hit quarterback Brock Osweiler as he was passing twice, was in on a sack, had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage and had seven total tackles. Bosa is already one of the best defensive players in the NFL, and he’s only 21 years old.

Cam Newton is one of the best red zone runners ever. I don’t just mean one of the best red zone running quarterbacks ever. I mean one of the best red zone running players ever. With his rushing touchdown yesterday, Newton now has at least five rushing touchdowns in all six of his NFL seasons. He’s the only player in the NFL who has had at least five rushing touchdowns in each of the last six seasons. Not only has no other quarterback done it, but no running back has done it, either.

Here’s a funny fourth quarter stat. Two NFL teams have trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season: The Browns, who lost to the Giants yesterday to fall to 0-12. And the Lions, who beat the Vikings on Thanksgiving to improve to 7-4 and take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

Jamie Collins‘ effort is pathetic. Want to know why Bill Belichick traded Collins to the Browns, even though many on the outside thought Collins was one of the Patriots’ best linebackers? Watch Collins’ lack of effort on an Odell Beckham touchdown in the Browns’ loss to the Giants yesterday. Collins didn’t even try to make a tackle. Collins is a talented player, but a player who refuses to hustle is a player who’s more trouble than his talent is worth.

Justin Tucker’s incredible season continues. Tucker, the Ravens’ kicker, became the first player in NFL history to have three 50-yard field goals in the first half of a game yesterday when he nailed kicks from 52, 54 and 57 yards in the first half. Tucker went 4-for-4 yesterday and is now 27-for-27 on the season. He’s also perfect on extra points and is the only kicker in the league who hasn’t missed a kick this season.

Roberto Aguayo’s terrible season continues. Aguayo, the Buccaneers’ kicker, missed a 48-yard field goal attempt in the first half yesterday against the Seahawks, and his season-high this year is still just 43 yards. There are 31 kickers in the NFL who have made a field goal of at least 45 yards this season, and Aguayo is not one of them. The Bucs traded up into the second round of the draft to select Aguayo, which would be a highly questionable decision even if he were a great kicker. As it is, Aguayo is the worst kicker in the NFL. That draft pick was a huge mistake.

All in all, Matt Barkley was better than expected. Barkley, the onetime USC star whose NFL career has been a major disappointment, got the first start of his career for the Bears on Sunday and actually looked pretty good. The Bears lost, but Barkley was excellent in the fourth quarter and threw what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, if receiver Josh Bellamy hadn’t dropped it in the end zone. The Bears are a team that desperately needs to find the right “process,” because they’re 2-9 in Year 2 of G.M. Ryan Pace and coach John Fox. Perhaps they’ve inadvertently stumbled into a promising young quarterback. Sometimes, good luck is as important as a good process.

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Matt Ryan reaches 50 straight games with 200 passing yards

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 27: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals  at the Georgia Dome on November 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C.  Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan extended an NFL-record streak today. But how impressive a record is it?

Ryan threw for 269 yards in today’s win over the Cardinals, giving him at least 200 yards for the 50th consecutive game. That’s the longest streak of 200-yard passing games in NFL history.

On the one hand, that’s undeniably impressive historically. It’s impressive any time a player does something that’s never been done before, and it would have been unthinkable to past generations in the NFL. Consider that Bob Griese, a Hall of Fame quarterback, had just 40 total 200-yard games in his entire career.

On the other hand, that’s because the game has changed, and a 200-yard game really isn’t anything special in today’s NFL. These days, an average quarterback in an average NFL game passes for about 250 yards. Saints quarterback Drew Brees may be on a more impressive run of 200-yard passing games; he has 200 or more yards in 84 of his last 85 games, with a 41-game streak and a 43-game streak sandwiching one game in which he came up short of 200 yards.

Ryan and Brees are two of nine quarterbacks who have passed for at least 200 yards in every game this season. In 1967, Griese’s rookie year, no player passed for 200 yards in every game of the season. The NFL is changing, and so a 200-yard game, once an impressive achievement, is now something that quarterbacks like Ryan make look ordinary.

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Week 12 early inactives

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 28:  Wide receiver A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after catching a 5-yard first quarter touchdown against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 28, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Cardinals at Falcons

Cardinals: DT Robert Nkemdiche, WR Marquis Bundy, S Christian Bryant, LB Sio Moore, G Cole Toner, DT Olsen Pierre, DT Ed Stinson

Falcons: P Matt Bosher, DB Sharrod Neasman, CB Desmond Trufant, RB Terron Ward, OL Wes Schweitzer, DL Ra’Shede Hageman, DL Cliff Matthews

Bengals at Ravens

Bengals: WR A.J. Green, QB Jeff Driskel, S Derron Smith, S Shawn Williams, LS Clark Harris, G Christian Westerman, TE C.J. Uzomah

Ravens: G Alex Lewis, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, CB Jimmy Smith, LB Kamalei Correa, OL Ryan Jensen, TE Crockett Gillmore, LB Za’Darius Smith

Jaguars at Bills

Jaguars: DE Jared Odrick, TE Julius Thomas, LB Dan Skuta, DE Chris Smith, DT Abry Jones, QB Brandon Allen, OL Jeremiah Poutasi

Bills: RB Mike Gillislee, WR Robert Woods, QB Cardale Jones, WR Percy Harvin, LB Brandon Spikes, T Seantrel Henderson, DT Corbin Bryant

Titans at Bears

Titans: TE Phillip Supernaw, WR Tre McBride, S Damion Stafford, RB David Fluellen, G Sebastian Tretola, LB Kevin Dodd, DL Angelo Blackson

Bears: LB Leonard Floyd, QB Jay Cutler, G Josh Sitton, DL Mitch Unrein, CB De’Vante Bausby, CB Deiondre’ Hall, S DeAndre Houston-Carson

Giants at Browns

Giants: G Justin Pugh, OL Marshall Newhouse, OL Brett Jones, WR Tavarres King, DT Jay Bromley, DB Leon Hall, QB Josh Johnson

Browns: QB Cody Kessler, QB Joe Callahan, CB Tramon Williams, OL Gabe Ikard, OL Jonathan Cooper, WR Jordan Payton, DL Tyrone Holmes

Chargers at Texans

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown, TE Asante Cleveland, CB Brandon Flowers, RB Ronnie Hillman, T Tyreek Burwell, WR Geremy Davis, C Max Tuerk

Texans: RB Alfred Blue, RB Tyler Ervin, LB John Simon, WR Jaelen Strong, QB Brandon Weeden, G Josh Walker, OL Oday Aboushi

49ers at Dolphins

49ers: DL Quinton Dial, LB Aaron Lynch, RB Mike Davis, DB Marcus Cromartie, TE Je’Ron Hamm, QB Christian Ponder, OL John Theus

Dolphins: C Mike Pouncey, T Branden Albert, G Laremy Tunsil, CB Jordan Lucas, CB Xavien Howard, TE Thomas Duarte, DT Leon Orr

Rams at Saints

Rams: QB Sean Mannion, T Pace Murphy, T Greg Robinson, TE Temarrick Hemingway, DL Matt Longacre, CB Michael Jordan, CB Dwayne Gratz

Saints: RB Daniel Lasco, WR Jake Lampman, CB De’Vante Harris, RB Marcus Murphy, OL Tony Hills, OL Landon Turner, LB Sam Barrington

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After false Castro claims, Kaepernick will hear it in Miami

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 26:  People hold posters printed by El Nuevo Herald and  Miami Herald with a headline that reads  that the former Cuban President Fidel Castro is dead as they react to the news of his death outside the restaurant Versailles on November 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Many, mostly Cubans, gathered to wave flags and celebrate the news of the death of the Cuban revolutionary who died at 90.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Getty Images

Fidel Castro is dead, and tensions are high in Miami, where hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans view Castro as a brutal dictator who tore apart their families and killed or imprisoned their relatives.

Colin Kaepernick does not view Castro that way. Kaepernick wore a shirt with Castro’s image on it during an August press conference in which he explained why he would not stand for the national anthem. Although that shirt didn’t get much attention at the time, he was asked about it last week by the Miami Herald‘s Armando Salguero, who fled Cuba for the United States when he was a boy and wanted to know why Kaepernick would want Castro’s image on his chest.

Kaepernick at first attempted to dodge Salguero’s questions, but he eventually answered that Castro deserves credit for focusing more on education than prisons.

“One thing Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here even though we’re fully capable of doing that,” Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick’s comments about Castro’s Cuba are false.

Although Cuba does have a high literacy rate, it does not have “the highest literacy rate.” A country’s literacy rate can be measured in different ways, but multiple sources find other countries with higher rates than Cuba. World Atlas cites six countries with 100 percent literacy rates, and Cuba is not one of them. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says 12 countries have a higher literacy rate than Cuba.

His claim that the United States spends more money on its prison system than on its education system is also incorrect. A study by the Brookings Institute found that total spending on prisons and jails in the United States is $80 billion a year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounts to $620 billion a year. Add in the $517 billion spent on postsecondary education, and the U.S. actually spends about 14 times as much on its education system as its prison system.

Reliable data on prison spending vs. education spending in Cuba is hard to come by because Cuba doesn’t offer the kind of government transparency that allows its citizens to know how the country’s wealth is being spent. It is true that Cuba spends a relatively high proportion of its gross domestic product on education, probably more than it spends on prisons.

Of course, according to Human Rights Watch, Cuban prisons “are overcrowded, and unhygienic and unhealthy conditions lead to extensive malnutrition and illness. Prisoners are forced to work 12-hour days and punished if they do not meet production quotas, according to former political prisoners. Inmates have no effective complaint mechanism to seek redress, and those who criticize the government, or engage in hunger strikes and other forms of protest, are subjected to extended solitary confinement, beatings, restrictions on family visits, and denial of medical care.” Prisons like that are cheap to maintain. Is Kaepernick really praising Castro’s Cuba for not spending a lot of money on the prisons that are full of malnourished prisoners?

Now, I happen to agree with Kaepernick that the United States imprisons too many people, especially for non-violent drug offenses. In fact, I care enough about the issue that if I lived in California, I would have voted for Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use in the state and will allow some people currently imprisoned for marijuana possession to get out of jail early. Kaepernick, however, couldn’t be bothered to vote.

All of that is to say why tensions among Cuban-Americans in Miami toward Kaepernick will be so high. It’s not only that Kaepernick wore a shirt. It’s that Kaepernick made false claims in an attempt to make Castro sound better than he was. That will rub people in Miami raw.

So when the 49ers take the field against the Dolphins in Miami today, Kaepernick will likely face louder boos than any NFL player has faced in any visiting stadium this season. And many of those boos will come from people who know far more about Castro’s Cuba than Kaepernick ever could.

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Week 12 injury report roundup

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts after failing to catch a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week 12 kicked off on Thursday with three games 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.

Cardinals at Falcons

The Cardinals listed CB Justin Bethel (foot, knee), S Christian Bryant (groin), WR Michael Floyd (hamstring), WR Brittan Golden (groin), S Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder), DT Corey Peters (foot), DT Ed Stinson (hip) and G Earl Watford (shoulder) as questionable. Coach Bruce Arians said that Floyd is the only one who will be a game-time decision and that the others are expected to be healthy enough to play.

P Matt Bosher (right hamstring) and CB Desmond Trufant (shoulder) will both be game-time decisions for the Falcons after drawing questionable designations.

Bengals at Ravens

The Bengals ruled out WR A.J. Green (hamstring) for this week, but say he isn’t done for the season. TE C.J. Uzomah (calf) and S Shawn Williams (hamstring) are unlikely to play after being listed as doubtful while LS Clark Harris (groin) and S Derron Smith (thigh) head into Sunday with questionable designations.

CB Jimmy Smith (back) is expected to miss a second straight Ravens game after being listed as doubtful. G Alex Lewis (ankle) and RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh) have already been ruled out and a doubtful listing means TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh) is set to sit out as well. LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), DT Timmy Jernigan (shoulder), DT Brandon Williams (back, hand) and G Marshal Yanda (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

Jaguars at Bills

DE Jared Odrick (shoulder), LB Dan Skuta (back), DE Chris Smith (eye) and TE Julius Thomas (back) won’t play for the Jaguars. Jacksonville listed WR Arrelious Benn (concussion), CB Aaron Colvin (concussion), DT Abry Jones (ankle) and RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle) as questionable.

RB LeSean McCoy (thumb) and WR Sammy Watkins (foot) are both questionable, but Bills coach Rex Ryan said he expects them to play this weekend. S Robert Blanton (foot), RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and WR Robert Woods (knee) have been ruled out and DT Corbin Bryant (shoulder) is doubtful to play. LB Lorenzo Alexander (ankle), TE Charles Clay (knee), T Cordy Glenn (back), WR Percy Harvin (illness) and T Seantrel Henderson (not injury related) are the other Bills with questionable designations.

Titans at Bears

A short Titans injury report has TE Phillip Supernaw (concussion) ruled out and S Damion Stafford (hamstring) listed as questionable.

LB Leonard Floyd (concussion) is out for the Bears, who don’t expect to have QB Jay Cutler (shoulder) or G Josh Sitton (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. CB Deiondre’ Hall (ankle), LB Christian Jones (ankle, back), WR Eddie Royal (toe) and DE Mitch Unrein (back) are listed as questionable.

Giants at Browns

The Giants won’t have C Brett Jones (calf), T Marshall Newhouse (knee) and G Justin Pugh (knee) in the lineup, leaving them to turn to Adam Gettis at left guard. That assumes Gettis (calf) plays after being listed as questionable. RB Orleans Darkwa (lower leg),WR Roger Lewis (concussion) and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) are also questionable to play.

The Browns listed S Ed Reynolds (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (knee) as questionable. QB Cody Kessler (concussion) is out.

Chargers at Texans

LB Jatavis Brown (knee), TE Asante Cleveland (concussion, knee) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion) were ruled out by the Chargers. WR Travis Benjamin (knee), WR Jeremy Butler (ankle) and LB Tourek Williams (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

The Texans will not have RB Alfred Blue (calf), RB Tyler Ervin (ribs), LB John Simon (chest) and WR Jaelen Strong (ankle) in this week’s lineup. They listed RB Jay Prosch (hamstring) as questionable.

49ers at Dolphins

T Quinton Dial (knee, neck), LB Aaron Lynch (ankle), WR Torrey Smith (shoulder) and CB Jimmie Ward (concussion) were all listed as questionable by the 49ers.

The Dolphins offensive line will be missing C Mike Pouncey (hip) and left tackle Branden Albert (wrist) is expected to sit out as well after being listed as doubtful. G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) will be a game-time decision thanks to a questionable designation. RB Kenyan Drake (knee), LB Jelani Jenkins (knee, hand), WR Jarvis Landry (shoulder), LB Spencer Paysinger (neck), WR Kenny Stills (calf), DT Ndamukong Suh (knee) and DE Mario Williams (ankle) received the same listing while CB Xavien Howard (knee) is doubtful.

Rams at Saints

The Rams head to New Orleans with C Tim Barnes (foot) and DT Ethan Westbrooks (thigh) questionable to play. Their injury report is otherwise clear.

The Saints aren’t in quite as good shape. LT Terron Armstead (knee, quadricep), RB Travaris Cadet (toe), T Tony Hills (abdomen), RB Mark Ingram (concussion), C Senio Kelemete (triceps), S Shiloh Keo (neck), G Tim Lelito (calf) and DE David Onyemata (knee) are all listed as questionable while RB Daniel Lasco (hamstring) has been ruled out.

Seahawks at Buccaneers

Seahawks S Earl Thomas (hamstring) is doubtful after getting hurt last week, but CB Deshawn Shead (hamstring) has a better shot of playing after being listed as questionable. DE Michael Bennett (knee), LB Brock Coyle (foot), RB Troymaine Pope (ankle) and RB C.J. Prosise (shoulder) will not play. C Justin Britt (ankle), WR Tanner McEvoy (toe) and DE Damontre Moore (foot) round out the list of questionable players.

The Buccaneers ruled out C Evan Smith (knee) and listed CB Brent Grimes (quadricep), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (foot), TE Luke Stocker (ankle) and CB Alterraun Verner (not injury related) as questionable to play.

Patriots at Jets

QB Tom Brady (knee) returned to practice on Friday for the Patriots and joins TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (foot), TE Rob Gronkowski (chest), WR Chris Hogan (back) and CB Cyrus Jones (illness) as players listed as questionable. Special teams stalwart Matthew Slater (foot) will not play.

There’s a chance C Nick Mangold (ankle) will return to the Jets lineup after drawing a questionable tag. Cornerbacks Nick Marshall and Marcus Williams are both out with ankle injuries and DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) joins Mangold with a questionable listing for Sunday.

Panthers at Raiders

The Panthers won’t have DE Mario Addison (foot), C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) and LB Luke Kuechly (concussion) in the lineup this weekend. S Tre Boston (ankle), C Gino Gradkowski (knee), CB Leonard Johnson (chest), S Colin Jones (concussion) and LB A.J. Klein (concussion) are all listed as questionable.

Raiders LB Shilique Calhoun (knee) is out after having a surgical procedure. CB David Amerson (knee), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle), C Rodney Hudson (knee), DT Stacy McGee (ankle), S Keith McGill (abdomen), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), G Kelechi Osemele (knee) and LB Perry Riley (hamstring) are all questionable for the AFC West leaders.

Chiefs at Broncos

The Chiefs have ruled out LB Dee Ford (hamstring), DE Jaye Howard (hip) and WR Jeremy Maclin (groin) for their AFC West clash. LB Derrick Johnson (achilles), CB Steven Nelson (neck), CB Marcus Peters (hip), DT Dontari Poe (back) and DE Kendall Reyes (knee) got the questionable label.

The Broncos ruled out LS Casey Kreiter (calf) and are otherwise in good shape on the health front as they return from their bye week.

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Teams may be very thankful for the 2017 quarterback market

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

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

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

And, yes, there are 20 of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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