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Week 12 NFL Picks: Surging New England, back in first place, hosts Tennessee

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Dave Hyde: With Dolphins and Jets in latest Rebuild Bowl, Patriots again show how it’s done

Game of the week

Tennessee at New England

The Patriots, back atop the AFC East thanks to Buffalo’s issues, are a 6 1/2-point favorite over the Titans, who inexplicably lost to Houston at home last week. Major credit to rookie quarterback Mac Jones for helping New England dig out of its 1-3 start.

Patriots 24, Titans 17

Lock of the week

L.A. Rams at Green Bay

When last seen, the Rams and their cast of All-Stars had no answer for San Francisco. They’ve had two weeks to re-group and their assignment is a Packers offense that rolled up 467 yards in last week’s loss at Minnesota. The Packers are a one-point favorite and they coast to a win.

Packers 35, Rams 21

Upset of the week

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The Bengals are a 4 1/2-point favorite and ended a two-game slide with last week’s win at Las Vegas. But we’re not ready to buy stock in Cincinnati, which visits the Broncos next month. Pittsburgh keeps pace in the jumbled AFC North as Ben Roethlisberger improves to 16-3 all-time in Cincy.

Steelers 29, Bengals 24


Around the AFC: Upset win over Tampa Bay would put Colts RB Jonathan Taylor in MVP conversation

Taylor’s MVP pursuit. Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor leads the NFL with 1,122 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, but the Colts are a middling team (6-5) so can he really be considered a part of the MVP conversation? Yes, if the Colts can beat Tampa Bay Sunday. In last week’s rout at Buffalo, Taylor became the first player in league history to have at least 175 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and one touchdown catch in the same game. Taylor was the fifth player all-time with four rushing scores/one receiving score in a game and the first since Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in September 2002.

Houston screwing up. The Texans are going to screw up and not draft in the top three, right? Houston’s first blunder was winning its opener against Jacksonville. Its second blunder was snapping an eight-game losing streak and shocking Tennessee last week. The Texans entered Week 12 with the fourth pick behind Detroit, Jacksonville and the Jets. Houston hosts the Jets Sunday and a win might push the Texans out of the top five. General manager Nick Caserio’s looming decision: Draft a quarterback in the first round or stick with Tyrod Taylor and build the non-quarterback foundation while waiting for an option.

Judon free-agent home run. New England signed pass rusher Matthew Judon away from Baltimore in March with a four-year, $54.4 million contract. In 76 games for the Ravens, Judon had 34 1/2 sacks. In 11 games for the Patriots, he has 10 1/2. Judon reminds us of the impact Denver native Calais Campbell had on Jacksonville in 2017 after signing as a free agent (career-high 14 1/2 sacks in helping the Jaguars to the AFC title game). Judon’s Patriots host Tennessee on Sunday and have allowed the league’s fewest points per game (16.1).


Around the NFC: Philadelphia using running game to climb back into playoff contention

Eagles running wild. The Broncos’ defense shouldn’t feel too bad about being gashed for 216 yards rushing by Philadelphia in Week 10; the Eagles are running through and over most opponents. The Eagles have climbed to second in the league in rushing (153.4 yards per game) after gaining 236, 176, 216 and 242 yards in the last four games (3-1 record).  During those four games, they have rushed 46, 39, 39 and 50 times. The Eagles (5-6) are in the NFC wild-card hunt and play at the lowly Giants Sunday.

Garrett gets gate. Jason Garrett’s two claims to fame during his 26-game tenure as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, which ended with his firing after losing to Tampa Bay: He told the media he preferred to be called “Coach,” instead of “Jason,” and his offense finished 31st and 25th in scoring. This can only be viewed as a last gasp for coach Joe Judge, whose second year started by throwing a red flag against the Broncos to challenge a scoring play (which are automatically reviewed). The Giants need a total housecleaning — general manager/coach/quarterback — but what are the chances ownership can get it right? Not great so the Giants aren’t a very attractive franchise at this point.

Elimination game? Minnesota travels to San Francisco in a matchup of 5-5 teams on two-game winning streaks. A wild card spot is the best playoff route for the Vikings and 49ers so this game has major tie-breaking implications. We’ll go with the 49ers, who are literally driving opponents crazy. Against the Rams in Week 10, the 49ers had scoring drives of 18 plays-88 yards-11:03, 11-91-7:52 and 10-31-6:54. At Jacksonville last week, they opened with a scoring drive of 20 plays-87 yards-13:05; the longest possession in terms of time since at least 2000.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

We have a paradox going on in Colorado: employers are desperately looking for talent, and older adults are desperately looking for work. But workforce age discrimination makes it difficult for older Coloradans to fully contribute to the labor market.

For years, older workers from every corner of the state have told me their frustrating and often heartbreaking stories of age discrimination that prevented them from landing needed jobs, that they faced once in the workplace, and that they felt as they were forced out.

Stories like these: a man who was a colleague of mine, a fundraising pro with decades of success who couldn’t get callbacks for development jobs; a former corporate marketing VP who was told that she lost out to a younger applicant because the hiring manager assumed she would not be social media savvy; a group of women in their 60s forced to live on small social security checks — this despite help-wanted signs in almost every store window in their Western Slope town.

Such age discrimination is common: studies from AARP and others show that 78% of workers over 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and over one-half of long-time, employees age 50 and over are forced to leave positions before they would voluntarily choose to do so. Once this happens, only 10% of them ever regain their previous economic status.

Nationwide, the country lost $850 billion in GDP due to age discrimination and that could grow to $3.9 trillion by 2050, reports the AARP.

Discrimination based upon age has especially harmful consequences for already economically vulnerable groups like women, people of color, and those with low incomes.

There are many reasons to work toward ending workforce age discrimination. There are ways to do it, and there’s no time to waste.

First off, ending age discrimination is good for business. Older adults provide numerous benefits in the workplace. Intergenerational teams create mentoring opportunities, improve team problem-solving, and increase creativity born from combining different perspectives and histories.

Keeping older workers on the job strengthens economies from Main Street to Wall Street. Ongoing paychecks mean more disposable income spent and more taxes paid, while tax-supported benefits can be delayed.

Older adults also need to continue working: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 48% of households headed by a person aged 55 or older lack retirement savings. The median 401(k) balance for those between 55 and 64 is less than $15,000. For older adults who lack adequate savings, continuing to work past the traditional retirement age is an economic necessity.

Last, but not least, older adults want to continue working, and continued workforce participation may be connected to better physical and mental health for older adults.

When the legislature reconvenes in January, we can change our workforce discrimination laws so that our economy benefits from the experience and wisdom of older workers.

We must end requirements that job applicants write their high school graduation dates or other age-identifiers on application forms. Right now, it is illegal to ask someone their age, but not their high school graduation date.

And also, ensure that the penalties for age discrimination are commensurate with those for other forms of discrimination. Currently in Colorado, compensatory and punitive damages are allowed in race and gender discrimination cases, but not for age.

Make clear that Colorado’s age discrimination laws apply to hiring, and that the burden of providing age discrimination is not higher than for other forms of discrimination.

Some problems seem overwhelming and too big to solve, but this is one we can address. Certainly, we can’t legislate away ageism, but we can give older workers the same protections afforded to other groups — and we can help businesses get and keep the workers they need.

Janine Vanderburg directs Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism. The end game? To end ageism. You can read more about what they are doing to reduce workplace ageism.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

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Dolphins Q&A: An early look at possible selections with late first-round draft pick

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: With the 25th pick of Round 1 … u select whom…? — Bob Witmer on Twitter

A: First, let’s clarify that the Dolphins’ place in the first round isn’t set in stone yet. With the Dolphins owning the San Francisco 49ers’ selection, Miami will select, at best, No. 25, but it could more likely be 26th or fall even further back.

If you go chalk in the divisional round, with the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals losing at the respective top-seeded Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans, it’s 26. If San Francisco loses and Cincinnati wins, it’s 25. If the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game, it will be drop into the final four selections of the opening round.

Essentially, we’re looking at what the Dolphins’ top possibilities will be late in the first round. Miami also now seems more likely to keep this pick with the team essentially ruling out a move for another starting quarterback this offseason and sticking with Tua Tagovailoa heading into his third NFL season.

Picking late in the first round, there are a few offensive tackles that are getting projected to go in that range. I would like to see the Dolphins add at least two offensive linemen this offseason that could serve as an immediate upgrade over what they currently have starting and at least one a veteran free agent. To throw out a couple of names, New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead or New England Patriots right tackle Trent Brown.

If Miami wants to go the route of getting another lineman with the late-first-round choice, general manager Chris Grier may be leaning on the next head coach’s expertise after the combination of he and ex-coach Brian Flores expended a first (Austin Jackson), two seconds (Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt), a third (Michael Deiter), a fourth (Solomon Kindley, a sixth (Isaiah Prince) and a seventh (Larnel Coleman) on linemen over the past three drafts with only one sure-fire NFL-caliber starter to show for it in Hunt at right guard.

A few names to look out for where the Dolphins will be selecting are Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning.

Petit-Frere (6 feet 5, 315 pounds) stood out at left tackle for the Buckeyes and opted out of playing in the Rose Bowl with his draft status already secured. He has experience at right tackle, as well, starting there in 2020, and could slide over if needed to protect the left-handed Tagovailoa’s blind side.

Raimann (6-7, 305) is considered a fast riser by Pro Football Focus for his overall blocking grades in 2021, making a significant leap from the previous year. The Austrian foreign exchange student in high school started his college career as a project tight end before growing into a left tackle, where he started playing in 2020.

Penning (6-7, 322) has experience at both tackle spots and guard while possessing the prototypical height, weight and length and being light on his feet at that size. Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard and UCLA’s Sean Rhyan are also some that could be considered.

You also want to see the Dolphins add a starting running back and a receiving weapon in the offseason. Unless a running back emerges between the Senior Bowl and scouting combine, none appear to be going in the first round. Maybe Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker remains available when Miami’s middle-of-the-second pick comes around. He possesses an exceptional ability to break tackles, as seen when he played at Hard Rock Stadium against the Hurricanes last September.

The Dolphins can also do their homework on several receivers, eyeing which one drops that they like between USC’s Drake London, Ohio State’s Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson.

The free agent moves made in March will bring greater clarity on needs remaining going into the draft from April 28 to April 30, but it’s unlikely the offensive line is entirely fixed on free agency alone. So, it’s a good bet, especially given how many viable prospects are expected to go in this area of the draft, that the Dolphins go with a lineman there.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @OmarKelly or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Can Dolphins hire offensive coach, keep defensive assistants?

Does Zach Thomas get into Hall of Fame this year?

Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?

What do Dolphins think of practice squad rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?

What free agent receiver could Dolphins pair with Waddle?

What is with Jason Sanders’ misses?

What changes could come to receiving corps in offseason?

What offensive linemen should Dolphins target in free agency?

Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?

Does Austin Jackson’s move to left guard bring hope?

Did franchise botch Fitzpatrick, Tunsil, Tannehill trades?

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