Jets signing David Bass

The Jets are adding a new piece to their defense.

According to multiple reports, the team is signing defensive end David Bass on Thursday. Linebacker Freddie Bishop will be waived to make room for Bass on the roster.

Bass was waived by the Seahawks earlier this week after making a tackle in two appearances this season. He has 5.5 sacks and two interceptions over 49 games with the Bears and Titans over the first four seasons of his career.

Bass comes to the Jets as defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson sits out his second straight practice with a shoulder injury and could see playing time right away if Wilkerson isn’t cleared in time to face the Dolphins.

Bishop is dealing with an ankle injury suffered against the Raiders last week. He played in four games for the Jets last season after leaving the CFL to sign with the team in the offseason.

Tens of thousands of empty seats likely at Rams-49ers game

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The NFL has been struggling to sell tickets in California so far this season, and when two California teams meet tonight, empty seats will abound.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that tonight’s game could draw the worst crowd in the four-season history of Levi’s Stadium, based on data from ticket resale sites.

The cheapest face value ticket for a 49ers game is $85, but tickets are going for just $14 on StubHub for tonight’s game. Fans will take any price they can get to unload tickets to a game they don’t want to see.

It’s not just San Francisco where the NFL is struggling to sell tickets. Both Los Angeles teams, the Rams and Chargers, played in front of small crowds on Sunday. The Chargers couldn’t even fill up their tiny soccer stadium, while the Rams played in front of a half-full L.A. Coliseum the day after the USC-Texas game packed the house. Oakland is off to a hot start that has Raiders fans excited, but plenty of fans have been turned off by the team’s decision to move to Las Vegas.

The 49ers aren’t playing well enough to get the local fans excited, and Thursday night games are often a tough sell. Expect tens of thousands of empty seats in Santa Clara tonight.

Nick Perry to have hand surgery

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The Packers had a long list of injured players at Wednesday’s practice and one of them will be headed for surgery.

Coach Mike McCarthy announced on Thursday that linebacker Nick Perry will have surgery on his injured hand. McCarthy didn’t say how long Perry will be out or if he will definitely miss this week’s game against the Bengals.

Perry also had hand surgery last season and missed a pair of games before returning for the end of the regular season and Green Bay’s playoff run. He played with a club on his hand upon returning, something that may be the case this year as well.

Ahmad Brooks could be in for more playing time if Perry is out of action this week. Brooks missed last week’s game with a concussion, but he was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.

Andy Reid tires of questions about Travis Kelce’s penalties

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Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce showed off his ability to make big plays on the football field multiple times against the Eagles last Sunday, including a long leap into the end zone to punctuate a 15-yard touchdown off a shovel pass.

Kelce celebrated that score by flapping his arms in what seemed to be a reference to the opposition. That didn’t draw a penalty flag, but Kelce drew one for taunting earlier in the game by going over to the Eagles sideline to share his pleasure after a Kareem Hunt touchdown run.

It was the second personal foul in as many weeks and the continuation of a habit for drawing flags after plays along with fines and an ejection since the start of last season. Coach Andy Reid has been asked about that behavior in the past and was asked again on Wednesday about his message for Kelce regarding his penchant for penalties.

Reid said “Travis knows how I think” before tiring of questions about how often he’s had to address the issue with his tight end.

“I told him when I kick him out of here he’s going to become a writer so then he can do all that stuff,” Reid said, via the Kansas City Star. “I’ve taken care of it. If you want to ask me again, I’m going to give you the same answer. You got it? Is it clear to you?”

Short of sitting Kelce down, there wouldn’t seem to be much Reid can do with Kelce other than talk to him. Those chats don’t appear to be overly effective, but they will likely be the continued approach in Kansas City since benching Kelce would likely hurt the team more than his penalties.

Eric Winston: If NFL wants more practice time, NFL should make a proposal

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The NFL wants to extend the labor deal. When those negotiations begin, the parties will launch into a point-by-point consideration of the relevant issues.

And, yes, they ultimately could be talkin’ about practice.

Six years ago, as the union relented to the league’s financial demands because the players had no desire to miss games, the NFL Players Association asked for reductions in padded practices and overall practice time. The NFL, realizing that it would cost them nothing to make that concession, happily agreed.

Now, many are pointing to reduced padded practices as a key reason for impaired offensive line play. Patriots coach Bill Belichick recently compared it to trying to become a good putter in golf without access to a practice green.

Others, like Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Muñoz, attribute the dip in offensive line play to the inability of college football to prepare offensive linemen for the NFL.

“[C]olleges aren’t running pro-style offenses any more so the vast majority of players that are getting drafted have no experience running pro-style techniques and so they’re not any more polished than they were as high school seniors than now they are as college seniors,” Thomas said on PFT Live. “So you’re getting a player that has no experience doing the things you’re teaching him and the offensive line position is about the most unnatural thing that you can do on a football field. I mean, everything we’re doing pretty much is moving backwards and it’s just not a natural movement and it’s something that takes a lot of repetition.”

If more practice time is needed, the simple reality is that NFL needs to bargain for it. Which means that the NFL needs to be prepared to give something to the players in order to get something from them.

“I guess guys need to come out, more people need to come out to training camp practices and let me know if the intensity isn’t there,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said on PFT Live. “I can tell you, I went through a training camp this year and obviously the hitting is reduced but the intensity I can tell you is there. So this idea that ‘X’ is causing ‘Y’ and you’re not always gonna have these shifts from offense to defense to offense and back I think is silly and not looking at the macro theory but, listen, I’m up to listening for, if an owner has a proposal how he thinks the next CBA should look or that he believes something strongly that this change should be made. I’m all for hearing an owner’s proposal on making the game better but again this all wraps in together and I think that’s the hard part of these CBAs is that nothing happens in a vacuum. So if an owner or the ownership side has an idea of how they wants us to, ‘Hey, we’d like you to work more here and work more there.’ I’m not gonna say I’m not gonna summarily not listen but again I think they know how this thing works and we’ll see how it goes.”

In other words, if the league thinks more practice will make the game better, the league needs to be prepared to offer players something in return for more practice.

“I don’t have players coming up to me saying, ‘Please, Eric, go to the owners and let us practice more,'” Winston said.

At a time when many are quick to point out that “the union agreed to this” or “the union agreed to that,” it’s important to remember that, to the extent that reduced practice time is hurting the game, the owners agreed to it — because the owners knew it would cost them nothing. Even if, six years later, it is.

Zay Jones appreciates support, ready to move on

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Bills rookie wide receiver Zay Jones is ready to move on. But he does have teammates and a Hall of Famer supporting him, after last week’s near-miss of a huge play went awry.

Jones had a chance at a game-winning touchdown glance off his hands at Carolina, ending a late Bills drive on fourth down with 14 seconds to go and a 9-3 loss.

Via Leo Roth of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the second-rounder said he hopes to learn from the mistake, and get better from it.

“I’m going to be in that position again, maybe even this week, farther down the line, but when my time comes I’ll be prepared and I’ll make that catch,’’ Jones said. “It was tough, it was difficult.

The big thing for me was looking around the locker room and knowing I let them [his teammates] down. These are my guys who I play hard for, the coaching staff as well. But I’ll learn from it and it’ll make me a better player.’’

The Bills could use all the help they can get at the position, and hope Jones develops into a weapon for them. And while Tyrod Taylor‘s pass wasn’t perfect, it was certainly catchable, and the narrow margin of the game only added to the pain.

But former Bills wideout Stevie Johnson and Hall of Famer Andre Reed reached out via Twitter to support him, with Reed saying: “Keep grindin youngin, game winners are in you.”

Jones caught a NCAA-record 399 passes at East Carolina, and they think he’ll become part of the solution there eventually. And if he eventually fulfills Reed’s prophecy, memories of last week’s play will fade with time.

Ravens put Jeremy Langford on IR

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The Ravens put Jeremy Langford on the active roster for a couple of days last week.

Today, they shut him down for the season.

The team announced that the running back was going on injured reserve, and that they were replacing him on the practice squad with running back John Crockett.

Langford went to camp as the Bears starter a year ago, but lost the job to Jordan Howard.

The Ravens brought him in, and actually promoted him from their practice squad midweek, before cutting him on Saturday to bring up another back from the practice squad. They wanted to keep him around, but Jeff Zrebeic of the Baltimore Sun reports that Langford hobbled off the field yesterday during a special teams drill.

Shanahan: Freshness not scheme is the key to short-week football

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As the NFL prepares to stage its second short-week game of the 2017 season, it’s important to consider the perspective shared by new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan regarding what it takes to win on Thursday after playing on Sunday.

“[T]hese Thursday night games, [it] doesn’t come down to scheme very much,” Shanahan said earlier this week. “It comes down to how fresh the players are, who recovers more from the Sunday before that, and who feels less sorry for themselves for how they are feeling and really goes out there and competes the hardest.”

While it’s hard to know how quickly players are recovering given the limited value of the injury report and there’s no way of knowing who will be motivated in the moment to compete harder, there’s a chance the Rams will be feeling more sorry for themselves than the 49ers, since L.A. lost a home game to Washington and the 49ers fought an elite Seattle franchise tooth and nail in their own building.

Of course, that may have left the 49ers more worn out than the Rams. We’ll find out on Thursday night, when a franchise with a 3-19 record over the last 22 games but a 3-0 mark in that same stretch against the Rams gets what could be a rare crack at a W.

Ravens talking sleep strategy, as well as football strategy

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The Ravens have to worry about the Jaguars’ defense, they have to worry about Leonard Fournette, and they have to worry about bedtime.

As they prepare for tonight’s trip to London, where they’ll face the Jaguars Sunday morning, the Ravens are working with their players to get as much rest as possible.

According to Jamison Hensley of, the Ravens brought their team doctors in this week to talk to players about sleep strategy, urging them to go to bed a half-hour earlier each night. That’s easier for some of them than others.

“So, moving that bedtime up, for me, would be pretty impossible, being that my kids would probably start running the house,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They don’t necessarily fall asleep super easy. I go to bed pretty early anyway, so hopefully my cycle would be pretty good.”

The Ravens are departing tonight, and will land in London around 8 a.m. local time (that will be 3 a.m. ET). They’ll be on the practice field six hours later, as they try to get accustomed to the time change.

Their hope is that players will get as much sleep as possible on the seven-plus-hour flight, and arrive rested and ready to begin the process of preparing for the Jaguars.

Jaguars hope Allen Hurns continues to be “Mr. London”

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Heading into the regular season, it looked like Allen Hurns was going to be playing a diminished role in the Jaguars offense but Allen Robinson‘s torn ACL in the opener pushed him back into a leading role.

That means he’s in prime position to continue his run of strong play in London. Hurns has scored the game-winning touchdown in each of the Jaguars’ last two games on the other side of the pond and the big plays earned him the nickname “Mr. London” from team executive Tony Khan.

Quarterback Blake Bortles is hopeful “that keeps happening” against the Ravens this year, although Hurns downplays any special feeling about playing overseas.

“As far as having that name, it doesn’t do anything for me,” Hurns said, via the Associated Press. “I always have positive vibes every time I step out there on that field. It doesn’t mean anything different to me going over to London. I just treat it as another opportunity to showcase what I’m capable of.”

Hurns leads the Jaguars in catches and receiving yards through the first two weeks of the season, so opportunities to extend his run as the London’s biggest NFL thrill shouldn’t be hard to find. If they lead to the same result, the Jaguars will have a winning record after three games for the first time since 2007.

Chris Jones has a knack for sacking mobile quarterbacks


Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones has become one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL. Though he had only two sacks in 2016, he racked up three of them on Sunday against the Eagles.

Those three sacks came against Carson Wentz. Last year, the players Jones sacked were Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. So Jones can drag down mobile quarterbacks; why isn’t he sacking pocket passers?

“Man, that’s what I’m asking myself,” Jones said on PFT Live. “Like what is really going on? I’m asking myself what is going on? I’m sacking the guys that everybody knows they’re hard to bring down. Like Cam Newton and Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz, but I can’t touch a guy like Tom Brady who just sits in the pocket in one spot.”

With Wentz, Jones showed not only an ability to corral the quarterback, but also a knack for tackling the football — a technique that Rodney Harrison always preaches when it comes to chasing down Ben Roethlisberger. It wasn’t an accident or a coincidence.

“I’ve got to give props to my defensive line coach, Britt Reid,” Jones said. “He gave us this drill, a simulation drill, where we’ve got to tackle the guy into a standup bag that has a taped on ball to it. So you’ve got to tackle the guy, secure the tackle, and also get the ball out and the other guy’s got to come and scoop it. We just do that all week to simulate tackling the guy, securing the tackle, and getting the ball out because we knew he was the type of guy. His arm strength is ridiculous.

“To give you an example, [safety] Dan Sorensen jumped over the running back, grabbed Carson Wentz’s arm, Carson Wentz still threw the ball like 25 yards. So that just tells you the amount of arm strength the guy’s got. So when you grab him you got to go for the ball also because that kid is remarkable.”

Jones is remarkable, especially since he wreaked so much havoc on Sunday despite being part of a rotation. Does he want to be out there as much as the offensive linemen that he faces are?

“One thing about our coach, Britt Reid, he wants everybody playing at one hundred [percent],” Jones said. “If you feel like you get tired, it’s just like charging yourself up. Charge yourself up so you can go back out there and give another hundred. It’s all about keeping everybody fresh for four quarters so we can give maximum effort throughout the whole game and play relentless.”

It’s working, for Jones and the rest of the defensive line. Which means it’s working for the Chiefs, who are 2-0 and on their way to what should be some great same this year against the likes of the Raiders twice, the Broncos twice, the Cowboys, and the Steelers.

Eddie Lacy will “continue to be me,” see what happens after being inactive


The Seahawks left running back Eddie Lacy off their 46-man roster against the 49ers last Sunday, making him a healthy scratch a week after he ran for three yards on five carries against the Packers.

Lacy has missed games with injuries in the past, but said this was a first for him and that “there’s no positive way to take” being slid behind Chris Carson, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise on the depth chart at running back. The Seahawks also had fullback Tre Madden active.

“You don’t like what happened or whatever, but at the end of the day, you can just control what you can control, continue to go out and practice and see how it goes. … I’ve just got to continue to be me, go out and practice the same way I’ve been practicing and see what happens week by week,” Lacy said, via

Coach Pete Carroll said that Lacy still has a role on the offense, so it may have been a one-week decision. It may also take an injury or change in fortune for another back for Lacy to get back into the mix.

Carson had the most carries against Lacy’s former team and he had the most carries against the 49ers as well, which suggests that he’s moved to the top of the pecking order in the backfield. Madden is the only back that regularly sees action in special teams, so keeping Lacy, Rawls and Prosise active along with Carson devotes a lot of roster space to a position that only one player can play at a time.

Bernie Casey, Pro Bowl receiver turned actor, dies at 78

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Bernie Casey, one of the NFL’s fastest receivers in the 1960s and an actor and artist who gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 78.

Born in the small town of Wyco, West Virginia, Casey became a college football and track star at Bowling Green. In 1959 he was a key player on the 9-0 Bowling Green team that was voted the small college national champion. One of Casey’s college teammates was Jack Harbaugh, who later became a coach and is the father of Jim and John Harbaugh.

Casey was an outstanding all-around athlete who finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 U.S. Olympic trials, and at 6-foot-4 he was a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. Loving that talent, the 49ers selected Casey with the ninth overall pick in the 1961 NFL draft.

A man who understood that players could control their careers long before the players won the right to free agency, Casey was traded from the 49ers to the Falcons in 1967, but he refused to go to Atlanta. Casey knew he wanted to explore acting, and so he told the Falcons they’d have to trade him again, this time to the Los Angeles Rams. The Falcons, knowing Casey wouldn’t budge, obliged.

In an eight-year NFL career, Casey finished in the Top 10 in receiving four times. His best season came in 1967 with the Rams, when he was chosen to the Pro Bowl and scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of a key late-season win over the Packers, helping the Rams earn a playoff berth.

When Casey announced his retirement in 1969 at the age of 29, he said he had other things he wanted to do with his life. He had already written and starred in one-man plays, and he intended to paint and have a book of poetry published as well. In 1977, when a New York Times interviewer asked if he had any thoughts on football, Casey answered, “Actually, I’m working on a volume of love poetry now.”

Casey’s first movie role came in Guns of the Magnificent Seven, a sequel to the classic The Magnificent Seven. He suited up as a football player one more time to appear in Brian’s Song, and he later had roles in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, and in 1980s comedies like Revenge of the Nerds and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In Bill & Ted, Casey played a teacher who asked Ted (Keanu Reeves) who Joan of Arc was, eliciting the response, “Noah’s wife?”

In comedic or dramatic roles, as a painter or a poet, as a wide receiver or a hurdler, Bernie Casey was one of a kind.

PFT’s Week Three picks

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Week Three already is upon us, and I enter it with a two-game lead over MDS. By Thursday night, the lead will be three, since MDS failed to realize that the 49ers have a greater claim to ownership of the Rams in recent years than Stan Kroenke.

We disagree on one other game for the weekend, which means that, come Week Four, I’ll be up by four games and he’ll be closing in on conceding.

You’re closing in on getting the benefit of our insights, free of charge (money-back guarantee) and available by simply scrolling.

Last week, I went 11-5 and MDS was 10-6. This week, perfection awaits. For someone other than either of us.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: In what looks like another ugly Thursday night game, I think Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will move the ball enough to take a lead and keep a lead, while Brian Hoyer will struggle against the Rams’ defense.

MDS’s pick: Rams 20, 49ers 6.

Florio’s take: The 49ers are 3-19 in their last 22 games. The three wins have come against the Rams. If the 49ers intend to win any games in 2017, this is a great place to start.

Florio’s pick: 49ers 13, Rams 9.

Ravens at Jaguars

MDS’s take: The Ravens’ defense has been outstanding in the first two weeks of the season, and I can’t see Blake Bortles doing much of anything against them. London is going to get another low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Jaguars 7.

Florio’s take: A good defense versus a very good defense results in a game that will feature scoring more like the kind of football that Nigel and his mates are used to watching.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 6, Jaguars 3.

Browns at Colts

MDS’s take: Can it really be true? The Browns are favored on the road? It’s true, and understandable, given how bad the Colts have looked in the first two weeks of the season. But I see Indianapolis getting incrementally better on offense as Jacoby Brissett has more time to work within the system, and the Colts will narrowly avoid the embarrassment of losing at home to the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Colts 20, Browns 17.

Florio’s take: Are the Browns jinxed by being favored to win on the road? As Joe Thomas said on PFT Live, being picked to lose hasn’t kept them from losing.

Florio’s pick: Browns 17, Colts 13.

Giants at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Giants’ offense has been a mess this season, and I don’t see that changing at Philadelphia. The Giants will fall to 0-3, including 0-2 in the division, and any hopes of a return to the playoffs are rapidly disappearing.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 16.

Florio’s take: Brylcreem Ben says plenty of good teams start 0-2. How many good teams start 0-3?

Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Giants 13.

Dolphins at Jets

MDS’s take: The Dolphins got lucky last week when the Chargers’ last-minute field goal attempt went wide. They won’t need to get lucky this week to beat the Jets.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 28, Jets 14.

Florio’s take: Jay Cutler faces the team that should have been at the front of the line to sign him.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Jets 10.

Broncos at Bills

MDS’s take: People accused the Bills of tanking during the offseason, but they’ve played hard this season. They’ll give the Broncos everything they can handle but fall just short.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 21, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: The dawn of the Nathan Peterman era could be creeping closer and closer.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Bills 13.

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: Cam Newton is off to a slow start, but facing the Saints’ defense is just the thing to get him on track.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Saints 17.

Florio’s take: The Saints are getting desperate but the Panthers’ defense possibly is better than it’s ever been. With Greg Olsen out, it’s time for the Panthers to come up with ways to feature Christian McCaffrey.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 20, Saints 17.

Steelers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Bears looked brutally bad last week against the Buccaneers, and I see no reason to think that will change this week.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 27, Bears 9.

Florio’s take: The Steelers have one of the few offenses that periodically takes a shot down the field in a pick-your-poison proposition that it going to allow the Pittsburgh team to pile up wins.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Bears 16.

Falcons at Lions

MDS’s take: I’ve picked against the Lions the first two weeks, and they’re 2-0. Good news, Lions fans: I’m picking against them again.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Lions 20.

Florio’s take: The Lions are operating on a short week after a late-night return from New York, with an excellent team coming to town that won’t be caught napping thanks to Detroit’s 2-0 record.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Lions 20.

Buccaneers at Vikings

MDS’s take: If Sam Bradford is good to go, this is a very good matchup of NFC playoff contenders. I think Jameis Winston and Mike Evans will make just enough plays to win a close one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Vikings 23.

Florio’s take: When these two were in the same division, the Vikings owned the rivalry. Now? Not. The Bucs have won six of the last seven. Make that seven of eight.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Vikings 16.

Texans at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots’ defense has been ugly this season, but so has the Texans’ offense. New England should score enough to win this one comfortably.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Texans 20.

Florio’s take: Deshaun Watson is the future. But he’s simply not ready to take down one of the greatest players of all time in the present.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Texans 17.

Seahawks at Titans

MDS’s take: I see Derrick Henry having a big game against a suspect Seahawks run defense, and the Titans pulling off a big win.

MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Seahawks 17.

Florio’s take: It’s an early crisis of confidence for Seattle, who lack the firepower on offense to outscore the best teams in the league.

Florio’s pick: Titans 16, Seahawks 9.

Bengals at Packers

MDS’s take: Andy Dalton has been awful this year, and I don’t see that changing in Green Bay.

MDS’s pick: Packers 20, Bengals 10.

Florio’s take: It’s been 25 years since a Bengals-Packers game birthed the legend of Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers will continue what Favre started.

Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Bengals 14.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chargers are a better team than their 0-2 record suggests, but I think the Chiefs are the best team in the AFC, and they’ll roll to 3-0.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Chargers 17.

Florio’s take: At least the Chargers won’t lose on a late missed field goal for the third game in a row.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 33, Chargers 20.

Raiders at Washington

MDS’s take: The Raiders’ offense has been outstanding through two games, and they should roll through Washington’s defense.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 31, Washington 17.

Florio’s take: Tune in Sunday night for Beastmode Meets The Brother of Chucky. It’s a horror movie. For the home team.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 34, Washington 24.

Cowboys at Cardinals

MDS’s take: I’m having a hard time getting a handle on the Cowboys after they blew out the Giants in Week One and then got blown out by the Broncos in Week Two. But I’ll pick Dallas to win this one, probably with a few big plays on special teams making the difference.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Cardinals 21.

Florio’s take: Ezekiel Elliot will be getting more than eight yards, and he won’t be caught loafing by the Monday night cameras.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Cardinals 10.

Bill Belichick sees a lot of Lawrence Taylor in J.J. Watt


Patriots coach Bill Belichick coached one of the best defensive players in NFL history, in Giants outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

And when he watches Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, he sees a lot of similarities in their games.

Via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Belichick said most of the comparisons between the only three-time defensive players of the year were intangible, however.

“Motor, effort, strength, quickness, instincts [and] the ability to make game-changing plays at critical times in the game,” Belichick said. “Knowing when the big play – critical third-down or fourth-quarter play or red-area play – knowing those critical plays in the game. As good as Taylor would play all game, that was the time when he would play at his best.”

That doesn’t mean Belichick isn’t awed by Watt’s physical gifts.

“Everything with him is kind of at the top of the chart – powerful, strong, very instinctive. He’s a smart player, he’s got great quickness for his size (and) a lot of people miss him trying to block him. He wins with his quickness in the pass rush, He’s long, hard to throw over, hard to block in the running game because of his length, strength and technique.

“With all that being said, probably the most important, impressive thing is his motor – plays hard every snap. There’s never a play off with him. He makes plays in pursuit, down the field, screen passes, ball thrown to receivers – he’s hustling making plays 15, 20 yards down field. You just don’t see those plays from hardly anybody, but especially guys that are his size and that play as much as he does. He plays everywhere across the board – plays outside, plays inside. He’s effective everywhere. He’s a tough matchup on everybody.”

And Belichick would know about matchup problems, having worked with one of the most difficult ones for 11 years when he was with the Giants as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.