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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 7

Key takeaways from week 6:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • LA Chargers are 4-2, with losses only to the LA Rams, KC Chiefs
  • Biggest jump: New York Jets (+42.9%)
  • Biggest drop: New York Giants (-100.00%)
  • No change: Lions, Vikings (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

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Key takeaways from week 6:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • LA Chargers are 4-2, with losses only to the LA Rams, KC Chiefs
  • Biggest jump: New York Jets (+42.9%)
  • Biggest drop: New York Giants (-100.00%)
  • No change: Lions, Vikings (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds


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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 7 Picks

We’re back for Week 7 picks and there’s actually plenty to like, at least on paper. When I sat down and wrote which games I would consider betting this week, I came up with nine. That’s much higher than what I normally come up with. For the sake of the column, I’ve whittled

We’re back for Week 7 picks and there’s actually plenty to like, at least on paper. When I sat down and wrote which games I would consider betting this week, I came up with nine. That’s much higher than what I normally come up with. For the sake of the column, I’ve whittled it down to the five I’m most confident in.

Just like last week, we’re gonna put much more money on the highest confidence pick than the others. That’s the only way we’re going to start making considerable money (unless, of course, we run the table and go 5 for 5). For the first time all year, that high confidence is in an over/under.

Vikings -4 at Jets (-110)

The Jets offense looked revived against the Colts last Sunday, but Indy is also the most injured team in football. New  York may be a little better than we gave them credit for, but the Vikings are hitting their stride too and their ceiling is much higher than the Jets. Kirk Cousins’ weird dance in the end zone against the Cardinals doesn’t do them any favors in the style points department, but he’s really starting to gain command of that offense.

It looks like Dalvin Cook should finally be back for this game as well. Even if he’s limited, having the two-headed monster of Cook and Latavius Murray should open up Minnesota’s passing game even more. It’s always scary betting a team that’s over a touchdown favorite, but I’m confident enough in the fact the Vikings have now found their groove that I’m comfortable giving those points even on the road. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Texans +5 at Jaguars (-105)

Yes, the Jaguars defense is (or maybe “was” is a more accurate term) the best defense in football, but the Texans are red hot. Jacksonville is coming off allowing 37 points to the anemic Cowboys offense. Deshaun Watson and Co. have been close in every game. They’ve lost their three games this season by a combined 15 points. That means even if the Jags get some of their mojo back, Houston should keep things interesting.

It’s hard to say whether or not the Jaguars offense is completely broken, but it’s certainly been hampered without RB Leonard Fournette in the lineup. Houston’s defense is tough as well and in a game that should be low scoring, five points is too much for us to pass up. Texans cover on the road. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.81.

Saints over Ravens (+120)

Here’s an upset pick for you. New Orleans has been bouncing between a 2 and 2.5-point underdog against Baltimore this week. Yes, they are coming off an emotional game in which Drew Brees broke the passing record, so they’re primed for a letdown. However, expect this one to come down to the final possession. The Saints’ high-powered offense against the Ravens’ high-powered defense will create an interesting dynamic.

I could see this one going either way, so I’m going to go where the value lies and that’s with the Saints being +120 straight up to win. As a general rule, whenever a team is +2.5 or lower as an underdog, I will just bet them to win. There isn’t a ton of value in getting those points, because very rarely is a game decided by 1 or 2 points. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.60.

Panthers-Eagles OVER 45.5 (-110)

The Panthers are coming off a letdown game against the Redskins and the Eagles will have had 11 days to prepare for this matchup. With Carson Wentz starting to look good in this offense again, Philly should be able to hold their own on offense. After a slow start last Sunday, Cam Newton and his offensive weapons should be able to put up some points as well. Greg Olsen being in the lineup makes a huge difference.

This game will be dictated by tempo and early field position, so if we can get some points on the board early, we should be in good shape. Worst-case scenario for us would be a field position battle in the first half. We need a close shootout, so that both teams are still taking shots downfield late into the game. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.70.

Saints-Ravens UNDER 49.5 (-110)

I LOVE this pick. This is the big one this week. Do you know how many points Baltimore has allowed over their last two games combined? I’ll save you the 10-second Google search: the answer is 12. They’ve given up just 12 points over the last two games. Granted, that was against the Browns and Titans and they lost one of those games, but those are still NFL teams they’re shutting down.

Drew Brees and New Orleans will be a different beast, but do we expect this game to finish 30-20? Even then, that would hit the over by just half a point. Who knows, it could develop into a shootout, but I certainly don’t see it. As long as Baltimore can avoid giving up the big play that New Orleans is known for, this under should be safe. Especially with the Ravens having to settle for so many field goals this season (eight combined between Weeks 4 & 5), the under should be safe. The bet: $8 for total payout of $15.20.

BONUS PICKS: For the first time in weeks, I’m going to give you some bonus picks, because there’s a lot to love this Sunday. We aren’t going to go one-by-one and explain them all, but there are a handful of promising spreads and picks this week. The picks: Bucs -3 vs. Browns, Bills +7.5 vs. Colts, Titans-Chargers OVER 45, Vikings-Jets UNDER 47.

As always, we will calculate our pipe dream of going 5 for 5 this week, by letting you know the parlay payout for our main bets this week. If all five of them hit, we’d be in the green to the tune of $597.52. Let’s hope for that, but if all else fails, we really need that Saints-Ravens UNDER to hit. Happy betting and we’ll check back in early next week.

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NFL Week 7: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears

Total: 49.5

New England has scored 38-plus points in three straight games, and more than 60 points were scored in each of their last two affairs. Meanwhile, the Chicago offense has really made strides, with Mitchell Trubisky and Co. combining for 76 points in their last two games.

Throw in that the Chicago defense looked extremely vulnerable against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 and that the New England D has surrendered 57 points in two road games and this looks and feels like an obvious 55-plus point game.

The total might be below 50 because the Bears still rate well on defense and there might be concerns about the consistency of the Chicago offense, but nobody is stopping the Pats right now and it’s time to start believing in that loaded Bears attack.

This thing should hit the 50s with plenty of room to spare.

Predicted score: Patriots 33, Bears 30

Under of the week: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Total: 43

Both the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars rank in the bottom 12 offensively and the top 12 defensively, and the Texans managed just 14 points in two games against the Jaguars last year.

So why do sportsbooks believe these two will combine for 43 on Sunday?

It could have to do with the fact the vaunted Jags defense has suddenly given up 70 points the last two weeks. But those games came on the road. At home this year, Jacksonville has surrendered just 13.7 points per game. They should bounce back from a tough stretch against a Texans offense that has been held to 22 or fewer points in five of six games.

It’s still hard to trust Blake Bortles and a depleted Jags offense, but that unit might not need more than 20 against Houston.

Predicted score: Jaguars 23, Texans 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 7-5

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Bengals add CB Russell with secondary depleted by injuries

CINCINNATI (AP) — With their secondary depleted by injuries, the Bengals signed cornerback KeiVarae Russell off the practice squad Thursday for an upcoming game in Kansas City.

Russell was the Chiefs' third-round pick in 2016. He's played in 13 games for Cincinnati over the past two seasons. The Bengals needed another cornerback with

CINCINNATI (AP) — With their secondary depleted by injuries, the Bengals signed cornerback KeiVarae Russell off the practice squad Thursday for an upcoming game in Kansas City.

Russell was the Chiefs’ third-round pick in 2016. He’s played in 13 games for Cincinnati over the past two seasons. The Bengals needed another cornerback with Darqueze Dennard sidelined by a shoulder injury suffered during a 28-21 loss to the Steelers.

Safety Shawn Williams also suffered a concussion during the game. He was cleared on Thursday and had a limited practice.

The Bengals waived receiver Auden Tate to open a roster spot. The seventh-round pick was inactive for the first six games.

Cincinnati (4-2) also is missing linebacker Nick Vigil, out indefinitely with an injured left knee.

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Vinatieri hoping to score big as Bills, Colts square off

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri is preparing for Sunday's game just like all the others.

He figures if the same, simple routine helped him earn four Super Bowl rings, 226 victories and become the best clutch kicker in NFL history, it should be good enough to help him break the NFL's career scoring

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri is preparing for Sunday’s game just like all the others.

He figures if the same, simple routine helped him earn four Super Bowl rings, 226 victories and become the best clutch kicker in NFL history, it should be good enough to help him break the NFL’s career scoring record.

The 23-year veteran needs 10 points to break Morten Andersen’s record (2,544) — though you wouldn’t even know it from Vinatieri’s unflappable demeanor. He’s so focused on ending Indy’s four-game losing streak, he hasn’t bothered contemplating a celebration.

“I’m not an overly charismatic guy when it comes to certain things like that. I don’t have a dance or a celebration or any of that stuff lined up,” he said. “The crazy thing is it usually happens in the middle of a game and I try to stay super focused in, not wanting to be a distraction to team.”

So far, he’s stuck to the plan.

When he broke Andersen’s career field goals mark in a Sept. 30 loss to Houston, Vinatieri’s teammates looked more excited than the traditionally stoic kicker.

And whenever the next record falls — against Buffalo (2-4) this weekend, next week at Oakland or sometime after Indy’s bye on Nov. 4 — those who know Vinatieri best say he’s earned the right to do his own thing.

“We probably don’t appreciate him enough,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “The most impressive thing is his approach, his humility, how he prepares. He’s great. I certainly feel fortunate to play with him and it’s one of the things I look forward to telling my kids and grandkids about.”

The Bills understand just how good Vinatieri has been through the years.

For the first nine seasons of Vinatieri’s career, Buffalo faced him twice a season as an AFC East rival. In fact, two of Vinatieri’s 27 game-winning field goals came against the Bills and his postseason prowess helped turn a young soccer player, Stephen Hauschka , into a fan of the Patriots, Vinatieri and kicking.

“His picture was in my dorm room, a signed photo of him kicking in the snow game and it’s still in my parent’s house in my old room,” said Haushcka, Buffalo’s kicker.

“I wasn’t like one of those crazy fans, but I look up to the guy. I think anybody does and what he’s been able to do. The fact that he’s able to still do it in his mid-40s is really impressive.”

Andersen, who played high school football in Indy, has held the record since December 2006 and Vinatieri is the only other player to top the 2,500-point mark. Vinatieri also is the only player in league history to score 1,000 points with two different franchises.

But now, with the league’s oldest player at age 43, on the verge of history again, he doesn’t want to make it about himself. He’d just rather help the Colts earn their 300th victory since moving from Baltimore to Indy in 1984.

“I just want to stay focused on football,” Vinatieri said. “I don’t want it to be a reason for a lull in momentum. I love the fact that guys are happy and excited, I love to be a part of that, too, I just don’t have a bunch of good dance moves or any crazy stuff.”

QUARTERBACK CHANGE

Josh Allen’s sprained right elbow is a major setback for Buffalo. Coach Sean McDermott ruled out the rookie quarterback Wednesday and announced 35-year-old Derek Anderson will get the start one week after coming out of retirement.

The truth is, McDermott didn’t have many options. Backup Nathan Peterman has thrown four interceptions in less than four full quarters this season, including two in the final two minutes of last week’s loss to Houston.

BILLS REUNION

Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas are among a group of former Bills players expected to attend Sunday’s game and they’ll be watching a former teammate, Frank Reich, coach from the opposite sideline.

It’s the first time Reich will serve as a head coach against the team he once led to one of the greatest playoff comebacks in league history.

“It’s a really close-knit group,” Reich said, before responding to a question about the 32-point rally he engineered against Houston in January 1993. “It’s crazy, it’s so long ago. I know it’s on television every now and then, but it’s not something I talk about very much.”

DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING

The Bills’ defense has improved dramatically since allowing 75 points in the first six quarters of the season.

Buffalo has forced two or more takeaways in each of its past four games while picking off five passes and recovering six fumbles. The red-zone defense also has limited opponents to four TDs and four field goals in the past nine drives inside the 20-yard line.

WORKING MAN

Luck is 186 of 288 in six starts this season and leads the league in both categories. His 16 TD passes are second in the NFL and he’s thrown at least one TD pass in 29 consecutive games — one short of tying Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan for the eighth-longest streak in NFL history.

But Luck also shares the league lead in another category, interceptions (eight).

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo also contributed to this report.

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Jets’ Rodgers feeling better after ‘procedure’ for illness

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers says he is feeling better following a "procedure" to help deal with an unspecified illness.

Rodgers returned to work this week on a full-time basis after missing the team's past two games. He and coach Todd Bowles will determine over the

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers says he is feeling better following a “procedure” to help deal with an unspecified illness.

Rodgers returned to work this week on a full-time basis after missing the team’s past two games. He and coach Todd Bowles will determine over the next few days whether Rodgers will call the defensive plays against Minnesota on Sunday.

Rodgers declined Thursday to provide details about the exact nature of his illness, saying he preferred to keep it private.

Bowles announced on Oct. 5 that Rodgers was dealing with a “serious” illness after visiting the doctor the previous day. Rodgers underwent tests and the procedure and was able to do some office work at the team’s facility last week.

He surprised the players by attending the game last Sunday and broke down the team’s postgame huddle in the locker room.

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Haley on Giants’ roster and going home to see mom

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rookie cornerback Grant Haley could not have picked a better time to be elevated from the practice squad to the New York Giants' roster.

The Giants (1-5) are heading to Atlanta to play the Falcons (2-4) on Monday night.

It's home for Haley and he is going to

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Rookie cornerback Grant Haley could not have picked a better time to be elevated from the practice squad to the New York Giants’ roster.

The Giants (1-5) are heading to Atlanta to play the Falcons (2-4) on Monday night.

It’s home for Haley and he is going to see the women who inspires him — his mother, Dr. Carla Neal-Haley. She is a pediatrician, an internist and a battler.

For the past five or six years, Neal-Haley has been fighting a rare liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). It damages the bile ducts and causes the liver to deteriorate over time. There is no cure. She needs a new liver.

“We’ve been working on that, finding different donors, having people tested,” Haley said Thursday before going out to practice. “It’s been important to me to reach out and use my social media presence to help in any way possible. She has been my biggest supporter and there for everything I have been through. For me as a son, it’s only right for me to do the same.”

Neal-Haley had open heart surgery in January and her condition now makes her eligible to get a new liver.

There is a Facebook page aimed at finding a donor (@liverforcarla).

Haley said his mother still goes to work every day, although one of her new jobs is finding tickets for Monday night. The family needs about 10 and probably more for friends.

If active, the game will be his NFL debut.

“With the family there, this is special,” said Haley, who also has a younger brother and sister. “My mom, she is excited. She is looking for tickets. She has been loving and supporting. Now for a moment like this, it’s special for her, everything she is going through. I am in a blessed position and I can’t be more thankful for the opportunity.”

Haley, whose father, Leon Jr., is a dean at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, has overcome some adversity to get into this position. He was not drafted and signed with the Giants as a free agent. He had a good training camp and was in the final cuts. The Giants immediately added him to the practice squad, where the minimum salary was $7,600 weekly.

He will make more than $28,000 weekly on the 53-man roster.

Being on the 10-man practice squad was an adjustment after training camp.

“I looked at the situation and you get to go against Odell (Beckham Jr.) and Shep (Sterling Shepard) every day, why not take advantage of that and continue to grow your skillset?” Haley said. “Once I did that, then it started being fun out there and normal. I’m glad I used that as a growing experience to be ready when my number was called.”

Haley was at MetLife Stadium for the Giants’ home games and watched the away contests on television. It admittedly was a strange feeling after starting 36 of 49 games at Penn State. All he could do was root for his teammates.

He took notes though and worked hard. Now he might get a chance to go against receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan, guys he watched on television when he was home in Atlanta.

“Mom will definitely be there,” Haley said.

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NFL fines Raiders $20,000 for improper injury report

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders have been fined $20,000 for not downgrading guard Kelechi Osemele to out for a Week 5 game.

A person with knowledge of the fine told The Associated Press on Thursday that the team violated the league's injury report policy by not moving Osemele from questionable to

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders have been fined $20,000 for not downgrading guard Kelechi Osemele to out for a Week 5 game.

A person with knowledge of the fine told The Associated Press on Thursday that the team violated the league’s injury report policy by not moving Osemele from questionable to out. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the fine.

The Raiders lost to the Chargers in the road game, 26-10.

Osemele has been bothered by a knee injury and also did not play in Oakland’s game at London on Sunday, a loss to Seattle.

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BC-FBN–Super Bowl Credentials,ADVISORY

EDITORS:

Requests for credentials for Super Bowl 53 are now being accepted by the National Football League. Super Bowl 53 will be played on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

All credential applications must be submitted online through www.nflcommunications.com .

Please note: you must be signed in to the website

EDITORS:

Requests for credentials for Super Bowl 53 are now being accepted by the National Football League. Super Bowl 53 will be played on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

All credential applications must be submitted online through www.nflcommunications.com .

Please note: you must be signed in to the website to access the application.

Only one application may be submitted per media organization for the Super Bowl.

All applications must be submitted by the Sports Editor, Sports Director or Photo Editor.

The filing deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 14.

AP SPORTS

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FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for Week 7

Fantasy football in 2018 has been defined by a revival at quarterback. Entering Week 7, the position is 12 to 15 players deep with quality starters along with a handful of others who can deliver above-average numbers, depending on the matchup.

There are also those who came into the season expecting to put up monster

Fantasy football in 2018 has been defined by a revival at quarterback. Entering Week 7, the position is 12 to 15 players deep with quality starters along with a handful of others who can deliver above-average numbers, depending on the matchup.

There are also those who came into the season expecting to put up monster numbers but haven’t.

There will be more of the same at the position this week, as well as some under-the-radar backs who need to be in most lineups and a receiver who has worked his way into WR2 status.

START: Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: He’s arrived to borderline RB1 status. In his past three games, Michel is averaging 105.1 yards on a solid 4.7 yards per carry average while scoring four touchdowns. By averaging 22.1 carries a game, Michel has shattered the longtime fear of fantasy owners committing to Patriots running backs. Even against a Bears defense that is second only to the Ravens in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs, Michel belongs in most lineups.

SIT: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Watson looks like a quarterback with only 13 games of experience under his belt. In his past two starts, Watson has thrown three interceptions and has led the offense to only two drives that resulted in touchdowns. A lot of his issues come from the fact Houston’s running game averages just 3.9 yards per carry and has only one rushing touchdown from its backs (Watson has the only other rushing TD), a problem that will not be resolved on the road against a Jaguars D that is fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks. Better days lie ahead for Watson, but Sunday won’t be one of them.

START: John Brown, WR, Ravens: Nothing says “rebound” like facing the Saints pass defense that is the most fantasy-friendly unit against opposing receivers. Brown had only three targets last week against the Titans but should easily return to the nearly nine targets per game he had before that. New Orleans has given up 21 passes of at least 20 yards, which plays well for Brown, who had at least one catch for better than 20 yards in each game prior last week. Expect at least 2-3 shots up top to Brown, who’ll make the most of the opportunities.

SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: Although Cook practiced Wednesday without a hitch, the weekly saga continues for owners of Cook. He has only 10 touches over the last four games and even if he does get on the field, there’s no guarantee how many touches he’ll see. Cook could miss out on a Jets defense that is a modest 17th against the run, which means Latavius Murray owners should be ready to plug him in as either an RB2 or flex if Cook is either limited or completely unavailable.

START: Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Finally healthy, Goodwin torched the Packers for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just four catches. The Rams secondary has struggled without injured All-Pro corner Aqib Talib, having allowed nine touchdown passes in the last four games. Expect Goodwin — who has just 14 targets all season — to approach double digits in a game where the 49ers will likely be playing catch-up. Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard has thrown two touchdown passes in three straight games and is likely to keep that streak if he gets Goodwin involved from the outset.

SIT: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears: Howard has just one touchdown thus far and has become almost nonexistent in the Chicago passing game. Tarik Cohen continues to eat away into his snaps and Howard’s 3.5 yards per carry only makes using him tougher. Even though the Patriots are a middle of the road run defense (18th overall), Howard probably deserves to be benched, especially in PPR formats.

START: C.J. Uzomah, TE, Bengals: Uzomah is a big, athletic target who has caught eight of the nine passes thrown in his direction the past two games and gets a chance to make his fantasy mark against a Chiefs defense that is 30th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing tight ends. Kansas City last in passing yards allowed, and if they become too focused on stopping receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, Uzomah will have the middle of the field to himself for much of Sunday night. He’s likely available in most leagues.

SIT: Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Everything is pointing in the direction of Engram returning to the lineup but he’s not a lock and with the G-Men playing on Monday night, fantasy owners will be taking a high risk in assuming the potential TE1 will be on the field. Engram has an impressive 77 percent catch rate and should develop into a must-start performer; however, that development might be best served until next week for fantasy owners.

START: Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots: The Bears secondary gives up catches to opposing receivers at a 71 percent rate. Gordon’s workload has increased with each game, and it’s not a stretch to envision him getting double-digit targets on Sunday. This has a good chance of being Gordon’s best fantasy game since arriving to New England.

SIT: Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Even if it wasn’t against the Jaguars, Miller merits time on the bench, managing 105 yards on 39 carries in the last three games, a 2.7 yards per carry average. D’Onta Foreman is one to two weeks away, so Miller’s owners should consider stashing Foreman if possible.

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Chiefs defense continues to hold back electrifying offense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The only thing that might hold back the Kansas City Chiefs this season is their defense.

That's because they haven't been able to hold back anybody.

While the Chiefs have earned plenty of attention for their record-setting offense, led by Patrick Mahomes and several skill-position studs, the defense has struggled

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The only thing that might hold back the Kansas City Chiefs this season is their defense.

That’s because they haven’t been able to hold back anybody.

While the Chiefs have earned plenty of attention for their record-setting offense, led by Patrick Mahomes and several skill-position studs, the defense has struggled six weeks into the season.

The unit is allowing a league-high 468.2 yards and more than 28 points per game.

The latest glaring letdown came last Sunday night in New England, when the Chiefs had just forged a 40-all tie with 3 minutes left on Mahomes’ 75-yard touchdown toss to Tyreek Hill. Their defense proceeded to allow Tom Brady and Co. to march the length of the field, getting within range for Stephen Gostkowski to drill a point-blank field goal and give the Patriots the win.

“When you score 40 points and you lose, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror,” Chiefs cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “This team has got great character. It’s one of the best groups of guys I’ve been around in my whole 11-year career. We’ll be fine. I’m not worried about it at all.”

That makes one person.

Among fans in bars and restaurants or call-ins on sports-talk radio, the biggest source of angst this week has been the porous defense. And the biggest point of discussion has been defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, whose group struggled so much last season that some thought he would be fired.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid decided to stick with him, preferring continuity over change, and the result has been — well, a continuation of last season. The defensive line has been pushed around to the tune of 127.8 yards rushing per game, and the secondary is second-to-last in the NFL in yards passing.

“I don’t want to single out anybody for not meeting supposed expectations,” Sutton said Thursday. “I think everybody needs to elevate their game. You don’t make quantum leaps. You make these small improvements individually, and you hope collectively if we all do that we have a chance to move this in the direction we’d all like it to be going.”

Still, the Patriots were particularly successful last weekend.

Sony Michel and James White helped to grind out 173 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and Brady was 24 of 35 or 340 yards and a score. His favorite target down the stretch was Rob Gronkowski, who had three catches for 97 yards and helped set up the winning field goal.

“They got us on a couple of big plays there,” Reid acknowledged. “Bob goes back and evaluates it, we talk — ‘What can we help the guys with? What can the guys do to help themselves?’ We’re in it just like the players are in it. We’re going to get you in the best position and if you are, then you have to look at technique. But our guys stand up. They tell you, ‘Hey, listen, I messed up.’

“If you have that you get better,” Reid continued. “If there’s a wall, eh, you’re average. But we all take responsibility and that’s what is important.”

Reid is the last to make excuses, but the Chiefs defense has two readily available.

The first is the fact that Kansas City has roared to big leads in many of its games, forcing its opponents to air it out from behind. Many of the yards that the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles put up came in garbage time.

They count toward the stats. They didn’t count much toward the outcome.

The second is injuries, which began hitting the Chiefs defense in training camp and have continued to be a problem. They’re down three safeties in Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts — Berry and Sorensen are hopeful of playing this season — along with top pass rusher Justin Houston.

Throw in nagging injuries to Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon, and the Chiefs were forced last week to sign Frank Zombo, who was cut in training camp, to give them some insurance against more injuries.

“Unfortunately you’re going to have injuries,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said, “but people come in and learn the scheme and have to be ready the same week. It’s part of the business.”

Or, as Ford said, “you have to answer the bell at the end of the day.”

“We know that as a defense as a whole, we have to keep rocking and rolling,” he said. “There’s just a bunch of little things that we need to correct.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (heel), outside linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) did not practice Thursday. … P Dustin Colquitt is averaging a career-best 48.7 yards per punt, and special teams coach Dave Toub said there’s a couple reasons for it. “We haven’t had a lot of punts,” Toub said, “and it’s still warm. It’s not winter yet. The cold weather hasn’t hit. It’s going to get harder as it gets further on, but he’s off to a really good start.”

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Study: MLB, NBA to Yield Combined $1.7 Billion From Legal Sports Betting

The American Gaming Association on Thursday released the results of two more Nielsen studies, showing how America’s professional sports leagues stand to benefit from legal, regulated sports betting. The latest studies indicate that Major League Baseball will see a revenue increase of $1.106 billion, and the NBA is look at a $585 million

The American Gaming Association on Thursday released the results of two more Nielsen studies, showing how America’s professional sports leagues stand to benefit from legal, regulated sports betting. The latest studies indicate that Major League Baseball will see a revenue increase of $1.106 billion, and the NBA is look at a $585 million bump. Combined with research from previous studies on the NFL and NHL, U.S. professional sports leagues can expect an overall combined revenue boost of $4.23 billion.

The increased revenue won’t come from the “integrity fee” or “royalty” that some of the professional sports leagues have been lobbying for, but rather from increased fan engagement (media rights, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets) and through gaming (TV advertising, sponsorships, data packages).

According to the studies, MLB will net $952 million from increased fan engagement and $154 million from gaming-related revenue. The NBA should see increases of $425 million and $160 million, respectively. Results of previous studies showed that the NFL will see the biggest benefit, an overall increase in revenue of $2.33 billion, and the NHL can expect an increase of $216 million.

 

Read more Study: MLB, NBA to Yield Combined $1.7 Billion From Legal Sports Betting on SportsHandle.

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Browns starting CB Gaines to miss game with concussion

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns starting cornerback E.J. Gaines has a concussion and will miss Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.

Gaines practiced on Wednesday, but didn't show any symptoms until Thursday and was placed in league protocol. Coach Hue Jackson isn't certain when Gaines got hurt, but he called the loss "a tough

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns starting cornerback E.J. Gaines has a concussion and will miss Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Gaines practiced on Wednesday, but didn’t show any symptoms until Thursday and was placed in league protocol. Coach Hue Jackson isn’t certain when Gaines got hurt, but he called the loss “a tough blow” for Cleveland’s defense, which will be challenged against the Buccaneers’ pass-heavy attack.

Gaines had started the past two games after starter Terrance Mitchell was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury.

T.J. Carrie will move into Gaines’ starting spot alongside rookie Denzel Ward and Briean Boddy-Calhoun will move to nickel back.

Gaines signed with the Browns in March as a free agent after playing for Buffalo last season. He had two tackles last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Also, center JC Tretter missed practice with an ankle injury, but Jackson is confident he’ll play this week.

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Browns-Buccaneers Preview Capsule

CLEVELAND (2-3-1) at TAMPA BAY (2-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Buccaneers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Cleveland 4-2, Tampa Bay 2-3

SERIES RECORD - Browns lead 6-3

LAST MEETING - Browns beat Buccaneers 22-17, Nov. 2, 2014

LAST WEEK - Browns lost to Chargers 38-14; Buccaneers lost to

CLEVELAND (2-3-1) at TAMPA BAY (2-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE – Buccaneers by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Cleveland 4-2, Tampa Bay 2-3

SERIES RECORD – Browns lead 6-3

LAST MEETING – Browns beat Buccaneers 22-17, Nov. 2, 2014

LAST WEEK – Browns lost to Chargers 38-14; Buccaneers lost to Falcons 34-29

AP PRO32 RANKING – Browns No. 24, Buccaneers No. 25

BROWNS OFFENSE – OVERALL (20), RUSH (5), PASS (22).

BROWNS DEFENSE – OVERALL (28), RUSH (29), PASS (20).

BUCCANEERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (31), PASS (1).

BUCCANEERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (31), RUSH (5), PASS (32).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Browns coming off 24-point blowout loss after first five games decided by four points or less. … Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield completed just 48 percent (22 of 46) last week and called loss “worst” of career. … Mayfield was sacked five times and guilty of holding on to ball too long. … Mayfield hoping to improve connection with WR Jarvis Landry, who had season-low two catches last week for 11 yards. … Browns WRs depleted by injuries. Breshad Perriman, 2015r first-round pick of Baltimore, expected to make debut with Cleveland after being signed last week. … Browns Pro Bowl MLB Joe Schobert out with hamstring injury. This will be first game missed — at any level — due to injury. … LB Christian Kirksey will slide into Schobert’s spot with Browns using rotation on outside based on personnel packages. … Browns still looking for ways to get rookie RB Nick Chubb more carries. He’s averaging 10.8 yards on 16 attempts with two TDs. … RB Duke Johnson had 109 yards from scrimmage last week and becoming bigger part of game plan. … Browns haven’t won in Tampa Bay since 1989, losing previous two visits in 2002 and 2010. … Browns lead NFL with 16 takeaways, three more than all last season. … Bucs have thrown for 1,842 yards through five games, third-most passing yards up to that point in single season behind 2000 Rams (1,973) and 2013 Broncos (1,869). … QB Jameis Winston makes second start since returning from three-game suspension for violating league’s personal conduct policy. He’s coming off 395-yard, four-TD, two-interception performance in five-point loss to Atlanta. … Bucs’ defense 29th in sacks with nine. DE Jason Pierre-Paul leads team with five. … WRs DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in receiving yards per game at 100.2 and 96.8. … Fantasy tip: Browns TE David Njoku had career-high seven catches and TD last week. Browns love his size and want to use him as target in red zone. After slow start, Bucs TE Cameron Brate has TD reception in past three games. Winston has knack for finding him near goal line.

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Lions-Dolphins Preview Capsule

DETROIT (2-3) at MIAMI (4-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE - Lions by 1

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Detroit 4-1, Miami 4-2

SERIES RECORD - Dolphins lead 7-4

LAST MEETING - Lions beat Dolphins 20-16, Nov. 9, 2014

LAST WEEK — Lions had bye, beat Packers 31-23 on Oct. 7; Dolphins

DETROIT (2-3) at MIAMI (4-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE – Lions by 1

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Detroit 4-1, Miami 4-2

SERIES RECORD – Dolphins lead 7-4

LAST MEETING – Lions beat Dolphins 20-16, Nov. 9, 2014

LAST WEEK — Lions had bye, beat Packers 31-23 on Oct. 7; Dolphins beat Bears 31-28, OT

AP PRO32 RANKING – Lions No. 22, Dolphins No. 13

LIONS OFFENSE – OVERALL (21), RUSH (23), PASS (14).

LIONS DEFENSE – OVERALL (17), RUSH (30), PASS (7).

DOLPHINS OFFENSE – OVERALL (27), RUSH (16), PASS (25).

DOLPHINS DEFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (21), PASS (24).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Teams meet for only 12th time, with first game in 1973. … Lions 0-2 on road, and Dolphins have won first three home games for first time since 2002. … Detroit’s next seven opponents are .500 or better, and four games are against first-place teams, including Miami. … Lions’ coverages rank last in NFL on punts and sixth worst on kickoffs. Dolphins rank second in kickoff return average and third in punt return average. … Lions’ run defense ranks third worst in yards allowed per carry and per game. … Lions’ Matt Stafford is trying for fifth game in row with at least two touchdown passes and 100 passer rating. Stafford threw four interceptions in opener but has only one since. … Kerryon Johnson ranks second among NFC rookies with 286 yards rushing. … Lions rank 21st in rushing after finishing 28th, 32nd, 30th and 32nd past four years. … Dolphins have more wins than their next six opponents. … Dolphins are tied for AFC East lead even though they’ve been outgained by 398 yards. Opponents have five-minute per-game advantage in time of possession. … In three seasons under coach Adam Gase, Dolphins are 17-5 in one-score games. … Miami netted 541 yards last week, team’s highest total in 30 years. … Miami’s Frank Gore had 46th career 100-yard rushing game last week. Gore’s average of 4.9 yards per carry is his best since 2009. … Last week Brock Osweiler became first quarterback to win his first start with Miami since Chad Henne in 2009. Osweiler is Dolphins’ 19th starting QB since Dan Marino retired following 1999 season. … Miami WR Albert Wilson was RB growing up and says favorite player was Detroit’s Barry Sanders. Wilson’s 150 yards receiving in fourth quarter last week represented third-highest fourth-quarter total in NFL since 1991. … Miami CB Xavien Howard is tied for NFL lead with three interceptions. … LB Kiko Alonso ranks second with 61 tackles and is tied for third with three forced fumbles. … Fantasy tip: Gore could have big day against Lions’ shaky run defense, especially if they tire in 90-degree subtropical sunshine.

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Texans-Jaguars Preview Capsule

HOUSTON (3-3) at JACKSONVILLE (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Jaguars by 5

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Houston 1-5, Jacksonville 3-3

SERIES RECORD - Texans lead 19-13

LAST MEETING - Jaguars beat Texans 45-7, Dec. 17, 2017

LAST WEEK - Texans beat Bills 20-13; Jaguars lost to Cowboys 40-7

AP

HOUSTON (3-3) at JACKSONVILLE (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Jaguars by 5

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Houston 1-5, Jacksonville 3-3

SERIES RECORD – Texans lead 19-13

LAST MEETING – Jaguars beat Texans 45-7, Dec. 17, 2017

LAST WEEK – Texans beat Bills 20-13; Jaguars lost to Cowboys 40-7

AP PRO32 RANKING – Texans No. 18, Jaguars No. 17

TEXANS OFFENSE – OVERALL (11), RUSH (15), PASS (12)

TEXANS DEFENSE – OVERALL (9), RUSH (10), PASS (14)

JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (16), RUSH (18), PASS (15)

JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (22), PASS (1)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Texans have won three straight in dramatic fashion, including two in overtime and last week thanks to interception return for touchdown in final two minutes. … Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins needs 120 yards receiving to break own franchise mark for most yards (776) through first seven games. Hopkins also goes for third straight on road with at least 100 yards and touchdown. … … QB Deshaun Watson has at least 375 yards passing in three of past four games. He has 685 yards passing, with four TDs and two INTs, in last two road games. Watson has 968 yards passing, with eight TDs and three picks, in last three division games. … RB Lamar Miller has at least 80 yards from scrimmage in three of past four games. … DE J.J. Watt has seven sacks and three forced fumbles in past four games. He has 14 1/2 sacks, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 11 career meetings against Jaguars. … DE Jadaveon Clowney has 10 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks in his past 10 games against division teams. … Jaguars swept season series in 2017 after dropping six straight. … After being outscored 70-21 in consecutive road losses, coach Doug Marrone returned to training camp practices this week in effort to emphasize fundamental football. … QB Blake Bortles has thrown for at least 300 yards in four of last six home games. He has 13 TD passes and two INTs in those six games. … Jaguars down top two left tackles, top two tight ends, No. 1 receiver and probably two of top three running backs. … Jaguars one of six NFL teams without missed FG this season. … Fantasy tip: Texans WR Keke Coutee worth starting against Jaguars’ defense. Pro Bowl CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye will cover Hopkins and Will Fuller, leaving Tyler Patmon on Coutee. Rookie has 20 catches for 193 yards and TD in three games.

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‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football.

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He’s wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

For the NFL Week 7 preview and picks pod, Rosenthal is joined by Warren Sharp @SharpFootball, creator of custom and predictive NFL analytics to discuss the most (and least) valuable statistics in the game, as well as some key games for bettors.

Don’t miss Rosenthal’s SuperContest picks (he went 4-1 last week) toward the end of the podcast. Time codes for the episode follow below. Listen and subscribe on Spotify here.


3:20 — Which stat is more valuable: Success rate or total yards? Sharp reviews some of the key stats the average fan may not know, and what that may mean for your wallet.

8:30 — In 2017 the Eagles showed how data can give a team a competitive edge, so why are bad teams and bad coaches not using analytics?

12:47 — How do injuries impact analytically driven teams?

17:10 — Sharp explains the intricacies of the teaser betting philosophy.

20:24 — Sharp weighs in on the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers’ and Mike McCarthy’s roles in shaping what could have been a dynasty.

25:42 — Sharp predicts what we can expect to see from Derek Anderson and the Bills going forward.

29:35 — Executive Producer Sean Pfeiffer joins the show to break down Week 7 in the NFL.

30:58 — Houston Texans +5 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — Can Sean’s Texans, winners of three straight, beat reeling divisional rival Jacksonville?

33:48 — Carolina Panthers +4.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles — An attractive matchup for the Super Bowl champs.

35:30 — New England Patriots -3 vs. Chicago Bears — Trap game, be on the side of Vegas if any side at all.

37:33 — Buffalo Bills +7.5 v Indianapolis Colts — Why this game really comes down to Derek Anderson vs. Andrew Luck.

40:01 — Dallas Cowboys +1.5 at Washington Redskins — Will the Cowboys be the same team we saw in the Jaguars blowout last week?

42:16 — LA Rams -9.5 at San Francisco 49ers — One of Rosenthal’s favorite games of the year. Find out how to leverage this game to cash in.

44:10 — Quick rundown of the other Week 7 matchups.

46:55 — This may be a football podcast, but Sean takes advantage of Rosenthal’s LA Dodgers fanhood for some MLB action!

48:55 — Rosenthal makes his his SuperContest picks of Week 7 in the NFL (4-1 last week).


[Located in New Jersey and want to join a quality legal sportsbook with a generous sign up bonus? Read our review of SugarHouse Sportsbook hereSign up using our link and you’ll get a 100% match bonus on up to $250 on your first deposit (with only a 1x wager requirement).  Use code HANDLE when depositing.

[You can download the app for Android phones here and iOS devices here. Prefer the laptop/desktop experience? The web-based platform is accessible here.]


Also check out: Sports Handle’s Week 7 edition of “LoLookahead Lines’: By comparing changes between current lines and the numbers hung days earlier, we can get a sense of where recency bias or overreactions are seeping in.

Listen to more ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 7 Picks, Preview With Analytics Guru Warren Sharp on SportsHandle.

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Giants-Falcons Preview Capsule

N.Y. GIANTS (1-5) at ATLANTA (2-4)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE — Falcons by 5

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Giants 2-4, Falcons 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Tied 12-12

LAST MEETING — Falcons beat Giants 24-20, Sept. 20, 2015

LAST WEEK — Giants lost to Eagles 34-13; Falcons beat Buccaneers 34-29

AP

N.Y. GIANTS (1-5) at ATLANTA (2-4)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

OPENING LINE — Falcons by 5

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Giants 2-4, Falcons 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Tied 12-12

LAST MEETING — Falcons beat Giants 24-20, Sept. 20, 2015

LAST WEEK — Giants lost to Eagles 34-13; Falcons beat Buccaneers 34-29

AP PRO32 RANKING — Giants No. 29, Falcons No. 23

GIANTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (24), RUSH (27), PASS (18).

GIANTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (T24), RUSH (24), PASS (10).

FALCONS OFFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (29), PASS (5).

FALCONS DEFENSE — OVERALL (30), RUSH (T24), PASS (29).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Giants beat Falcons 31-10 in Georgia Dome in last Monday night meeting on Oct. 15, 2007. … Giants 8-4 vs. Falcons in Atlanta. … Giants have lost three straight this season; Falcons snapped three-game losing streak last week. … Falcons’ Julio Jones (98.9) and Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. (83.7) rank first and third, respectively, in NFL in yards receiving per game since 2016. … QB Eli Manning five TD passes away from becoming seventh player with 350 in NFL history. … RB Saquon Barkley aiming to tie Kareem Hunt for most consecutive games with at least 100 scrimmage yards to start career. Barkley had career-high 229 scrimmage yards (130 rushing, 99 receiving) last week. … Manning averaging 300.7 yards passing in three road games this season. … Falcons QB Matt Ryan leads NFL with 1,432 yards passing, 128.2 rating since Week 3. He is tied for first with 12 TD passes in that span. … Ryan has seven TDs, one INT, average of 304 yards passing in four games against Giants. … Jones stands second in NFL with 707 yards receiving this year, but has no touchdowns. … DE Takk McKinley has 4 ½ sacks in last five games. … S Damontae Kazee has INT in three straight games. CB Robert Alford leads NFL with 60 pass deflections since 2015. … Fantasy tip: Falcons placed RB Devonta Freeman (groin) on IR. Tevin Coleman is obvious fantasy starter but emerging rookie Ito Smith, who has TD in three straight games, also gains more fantasy relevance. Falcons like Smith’s quickness near goal line.

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Rams-49ers Preview Capsule

LOS ANGELES RAMS (6-0) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Rams by 12

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Los Angeles 3-2-1, San Francisco 2-4

SERIES RECORD - 49ers lead 69-65-3

LAST MEETING - 49ers beat Rams 34-13, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK - Rams beat Broncos 23-20; 49ers

LOS ANGELES RAMS (6-0) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-5)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Rams by 12

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Los Angeles 3-2-1, San Francisco 2-4

SERIES RECORD – 49ers lead 69-65-3

LAST MEETING – 49ers beat Rams 34-13, Dec. 31, 2017

LAST WEEK – Rams beat Broncos 23-20; 49ers lost at Packers 33-30

AP PRO32 RANKING – Rams No. 1, 49ers No. 28

RAMS OFFENSE – OVERALL (1), RUSH (1), PASS (6).

RAMS DEFENSE – OVERALL (11), RUSH (14), PASS (13).

49ERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (13), RUSH (3), PASS (21).

49ERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (19), RUSH (13), PASS (25).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – 49ers won four of five in series. … Los Angeles last undefeated team in NFL. … Rams 6-0 for first time since 2001. Started 6-0 in 1999, 2000, ’01 while in St. Louis and lost seventh game each time. Last 7-0 start in 1985. … Los Angeles RB Todd Gurley ran for career-high 208 yards, two TDs last week. Gurley is fifth player with 11 TDs from scrimmage in team’s first six games. … Rams averaging 32.7 points per game despite scoring TDs on only 56.7 percent of red-zone trips. … Los Angeles leads NFL with 7.64 yards per play on first down. San Francisco ranks sixth at 6.92. … Niners QB C.J. Beathard tied for NFL worst with seven turnovers past three weeks. … Niners are 2-27 in last 29 games without Jimmy Garoppolo as starting QB. He is sidelined for season with torn ACL. … San Francisco has three takeaways in six games. Only teams with fewer since 1940 are Steelers with two in 2011, ’13. … Niners have NFL-worst minus-11 turnover margin. … Marquise Goodwin became third 49ers WR in past 15 seasons with at least 125 yards receiving, two TD catches in game. … San Francisco seeks third straight outing with at least 400 yards of offense for first time since 2003. … Fantasy tip: Raheem Mostert took over as 49ers’ No. 2 running back last week and should get more looks after gaining career-high 87 yards on 12 carries last week.

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49ers loading up for fireworks from McVay’s Rams

49ers loading up for fireworks from McVay's Rams

Bumped from the Sunday Night Football national spotlight, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will look to put on a show for a regional television audience when they meet Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.

The battle of longtime California rivals

49ers loading up for fireworks from McVay’s Rams

Bumped from the Sunday Night Football national spotlight, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers will look to put on a show for a regional television audience when they meet Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.

The battle of longtime California rivals comes 13 months after two teams with low expectations in 2017 dazzled in a primetime Thursday night slot last September, rolling up 839 yards and 80 points in a 41-39 Rams victory.

The win helped vault Los Angeles to bigger and better things. The Rams have lost just five times in 19 games since then, with one of the defeats coming in an NFC Wild Card matchup with the Atlanta Falcons last January.

The Rams (6-0) are the last team standing in the unbeaten ranks this season, but it hasn’t been easy. Their last three wins have come by a total of just 12 points, as their offense has been able to overcome a shaky defense missing standout cornerback Aqib Talib by outscoring Minnesota, Seattle and Denver — hardly three offensive heavyweights — by a total score of 94-82.

It only seems like that was the final score the last time the Rams ventured north to Levi’s Stadium. Running back Todd Gurley had a break-out performance with 149 total yards and three touchdowns.

But that backdrop wasn’t enough from the game being flexed out of the Sunday night game in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals, a meeting of two high-scoring division leaders.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan couldn’t have been surprised to see the Rams’ explosion last season.

After all, he helped train Los Angeles coach Sean McVay when they worked together as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, respectively, for the Washington Redskins.

“I wouldn’t really say it was give and take,” McVay told reporters this week of the relationship between friends. “I would say it was more me taking information from him and him a lot of giving.

“I think just watching the way that he approached and attacked his role as a coordinator and the meticulous preparation. You just kind of observe that. I learned so much football both offensively and defensively from him, and I’m forever indebted for that.”

Shanahan got payback of sorts when the 49ers thumped the Rams 34-13 in the regular-season finale last year. Having already clinched a playoff berth, Los Angeles did not play Gurley or quarterback Jared Goff in the contest.

The 49ers (1-5) won’t have Jimmy Garoppolo, who led the Week 17 win, in Sunday’s meeting because of a knee injury. His backup, C.J. Beathard, matched his career-high with two touchdown passes in Monday’s 33-30 loss at Green Bay.

One of Beathard’s TD’s was a 67-yarder to wideout Marquise Goodwin, who was returning from a hamstring injury.

“We’d been missing ‘Quise a lot,” Shanahan said of Goodwin, who had a 50-yard reception in the Week 3 shootout with the Rams last season. “(The Green Bay performance) was the first game the true ‘Quise was back.”

–Field Level Media

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Ryan steers Falcons into MNF matchup with embattled Manning, Giants

Ryan steers Falcons into MNF matchup with embattled Manning, Giants

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is playing up to his NFL MVP standards established when he won the trophy two seasons ago.

Eli Manning, four years older than Ryan at 37, hasn't come close to matching the play or production

Ryan steers Falcons into MNF matchup with embattled Manning, Giants

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is playing up to his NFL MVP standards established when he won the trophy two seasons ago.

Eli Manning, four years older than Ryan at 37, hasn’t come close to matching the play or production that made him Super Bowl MVP on two title-winning teams for the New York Giants.

The two veterans, polar opposites in their play so far this season, will be the main storylines as the injury-riddled Falcons (2-4) host the controversy-plagued Giants (1-5) in a “Monday Night Football” matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that looked a lot more consequential when put on the schedule.

Ryan’s strong play hasn’t been enough to cover for a defense that is missing three of his top players. Manning, meanwhile, has shown that his productivity may at the end and that the Giants’ likely made a mistake by not drafting a successor despite the success of rookie running back Saquon Barkley.

Odell Beckham Jr. pointed the figure at Manning in an ESPN interview after a 34-13 to Philadelphia a week ago Thursday and the Giants have been on damage control since, with co-owner John Mara saying that his star wide receiver “needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

Pat Shurmur is sticking with Manning despite the quarterback’s lack of arm strength and mobility to fully take advantage of Beckham. “We believe in Eli,” the first-year coach said.

“My confidence in myself is good. I know I can play,” said Manning, who holds the franchise’s career records for passing yards, touchdown passes and completions. “I just have to figure out how to be more consistent and be better on offense.”

Manning will get tight end Evan Engram back and Barkley should be able to exploit the Falcons’ tackling issues, but can the Giants outscore Ryan even though kicker Matt Bryant is out at least until November because of a hamstring strain and running back Devonta Freeman had to go on IR with a sports hernia that required surgery.

“We are hopeful he will be able to return this season, but we will have a better feel for that in the coming weeks,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of his two-time Pro Bowler.

The Falcons beat Tampa Bay 34-29 last Sunday as Ryan continued to put up wild numbers despite the absence of wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu for part of the game.

Ryan has 13 touchdown passes to one interception in four home games while posting a 134.3 quarterback rating. Overall, he is fourth in the NFL at 113.6.

Manning, in contrast, had a QB rating of 66.1 against Philadelphia and has just six touchdown passes while being sacked 20 times.

The Giants and Falcons have split their 24 previous meetings, including one in the playoffs. Atlanta scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 24-20 on the road in September of 2015 in the most recent meeting.

The Falcons hope to have rookie Ridley, who has six TD catches, and Sanu ready to face the Giants. Giorgio Tavecchio was signed to fill in for Bryant.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins’ Tannehill faces ‘uphill challege’ in recovery

Report: Dolphins' Tannehill faces 'uphill challege' in recovery

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill faces an "uphill challenge" in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is unlikely to play next Thursday against the Houston Texans, according to a report by ESPN.

Tannehill was ruled out of Miami's Week 7 game

Report: Dolphins’ Tannehill faces ‘uphill challege’ in recovery

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill faces an “uphill challenge” in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is unlikely to play next Thursday against the Houston Texans, according to a report by ESPN.

Tannehill was ruled out of Miami’s Week 7 game against the Detroit Lions by coach Adam Gase on Wednesday.

Tannehill did not throw during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, and backup Brock Osweiler took all of the first-team reps. Osweiler started last Sunday’s win over the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, the NFL is investigating the team’s handling of Tannehill’s injury and how it was disclosed on injury reports last week, according to multiple reports. Such investigations are not uncommon, particularly when involving prominent players, but there is reason to believe the Dolphins’ injury report last week was inaccurate.

Tannehill had been listed on the report as a full participant on Wednesday and Thursday before being downgraded to limited on Friday, when he was designated as questionable to face the Bears. However, NFL rules require a designation of limited when a player is unable to take all of his normal reps, which Gase has said was the case for Tannehill on Thursday, as Osweiler took some first-team reps during that practice.

If the NFL finds rules violations, it can levy punishments that include fines of the team or people involved, suspension or the docking of draft choices.

Osweiler went 28 of 44 for 380 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the overtime win over the Bears, though an incredible 274 of his yards came after the catch. He was just 7 of 16 with both interceptions on throws that traveled at least 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Tannehill, 30, has lost multiple games due to injury in three consecutive seasons after starting the first 77 games of his career. He missed the final three games of the 2016 season with a sprained ACL and all of last season after the ligament tore fully.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys chasing road success at Redskins

Cowboys chasing road success at Redskins

Barring a tie, either the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins will earn their first two-game winning streak of the season Sunday at FedEx Field.

The Redskins (3-2) alternated wins and losses starting in Week 1 while the Cowboys (3-3) have toggled between losses

Cowboys chasing road success at Redskins

Barring a tie, either the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins will earn their first two-game winning streak of the season Sunday at FedEx Field.

The Redskins (3-2) alternated wins and losses starting in Week 1 while the Cowboys (3-3) have toggled between losses and wins. Dallas, coming off a convincing home win over Jacksonville, is 0-3 on the road.

“You have to be mentally tough,” coach Jason Garrett said. “When things are going well, you’ve got to be mentally tough enough to do what you have to do to keep it going, and similarly when you have some challenging times in whatever phase of your football team, you’ve just got to keep fighting.”

Sunday’s game offers Dallas a seemingly hospitable site. The Cowboys have won 8 of 10 overall versus Washington, including five straight at FedEx. Last year in Landover they posted a 33-19 win as Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries. This season Elliott, second in the NFL with 586 rushing yards, has gone over 100 in three of his last four games.

The Cowboys boast the NFC’s top defense in terms of yards allowed per game (315.2) while Washington is next (326.2). Dallas is second in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.2) and Washington is seventh (20.8).

“They’re not one of these defenses that play eight different coverages or exotic pressures,” Redskins quarterback Alex Smith said of Dallas. “They’re not reinventing anything. But obviously, I think you look at them statistically over the last few years and certainly this year, what they do, they do really well, and they play fast.”

Inconsistency has plagued the Redskins offense from game-to-game and even half-to-half. Washington jumped out to a 17-0 lead Sunday before hanging on for a 26-20 win. The Redskins have scored just one second-half touchdown all season.

“We’ve got to do better at halftime addressing what we need to do to attack the defense,” coach Jay Gruden said. “Also, we’ve just got to do a better job of finishing plays. We’ve left a lot of plays out there that schematically look to be OK, we’re just not finishing.”

Both offenses rank near the bottom of the NFC and neither Smith or Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is in the top 10 in passing. Washington’s Adrian Peterson churned out 97 yards against Carolina. Tight end Jordan Reed had five catches Sunday and has enjoyed some of his best days against Dallas, including a 10-catch, two touchdown effort in 2016.

“We’ve played against him a lot of times and every time we play against him, you see how productive and dangerous he can be,” Garrett said of Reed. “It’s all over the tape.”

Dallas linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), who missed the last three games, returned to practice Wednesday but was limited. Wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) and linebacker Joe Thomas (foot) sat out.

Redskins running back Chris Thompson (hip/knee) was limited Wednesday after missing the Carolina game but could play Sunday. Wide receivers Jamison Crowder (ankle) and Paul Richardson (shoulder/knee) both sat out Wednesday’s practice. Crowder could miss his second straight game Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals expect shootout at Kansas City

Bengals expect shootout at Kansas City

The challenge Patrick Mahomes presents, along with the dynamic weapons he disperses the football to in the Kansas City Chiefs' offense, is difficult enough for any NFL defense.

Opposing quarterbacks, however, are also aware they need to counter on the scoreboard.

Bengals expect shootout at Kansas City

The challenge Patrick Mahomes presents, along with the dynamic weapons he disperses the football to in the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense, is difficult enough for any NFL defense.

Opposing quarterbacks, however, are also aware they need to counter on the scoreboard.

“We have to know each possession matters because of how high-powered the offense is over there and how quickly they can score,” said Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who will lead the Bengals into Kansas City, Mo., for a primetime matchup Sunday night between AFC division leaders.

“We have to play our game and take advantage of every possession that we have.”

Both teams will be coming off heartbreaking defeats.

Dalton and the Bengals (4-2) drove for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:18 remaining only to fall 28-21 to Pittsburgh. Mahomes and the Chiefs (5-1) produced a game-tying score in the fourth quarter only to watch a New England field goal decide a 43-40 outcome as time expired.

That kind of shootout is what any opponent must prepare for playing against Mahomes, a first-year starter who has five consecutive 300-yard passing performances, a Chiefs record. His touchdown passes (18), throws of 25-plus yards (23) and touchdown-interception ratio (plus-14) lead the NFL.

When scoring mounts, however, Cincinnati is usually quite good.

Since selecting Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green in the 2011 draft, the Bengals stand 44-1-2 when scoring 25 or more points.

Neither player, however, must defend Mahomes and his explosive playmakers. Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill rank fourth among NFL leaders in rushing and receiving yards, respectively.

“They use a lot of misdirection, looks, personnel and motions early in the football game,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “You have to withstand that first wave and understand it, along with the speed of the game.”

Linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have combined for 10 sacks to lead a strong effort up front for Cincinnati, which is tied with Baltimore atop the AFC North. Atkins could pose a big problem for the Chiefs, who again shuffled the interior offensive line this week to compensate for injuries.

Mahomes’ mobility and arm strength enables the Chiefs to exploit openings across the width of the field.

“I don’t have to worry about getting it to one guy,” Mahomes said. “I literally just go through my progressions and guys just come open every single time. …

That’s just the type of guys that we have on this team is that you can literally hit a shot to every single person on any play.”

The Chiefs defense could again go without linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) and has been without safety Eric Berry (heel) all season. Teams have found easy pickings downfield without a constant pass rush.

The unit never forced New England to punt in a loss that leaves the Chiefs just one game ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West. Kansas City, which will benefit from the return of linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle), is allowing more yards (468.2) on average than any NFL team.

Cincinnati cornerback Darqueze Dennard (sternoclavicular), linebacker Nick Vigil (foot) and safety Shawn Williams were all injured in the Pittsburgh defeat and could be out. Running back Giovani Bernard, tight end Tyler Kroft and center Billy Price (foot) appear as if they could remain out.

–Field Level Media

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Rested Lions target short-handed Dolphins

Rested Lions target short-handed Dolphins

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was prepared for the Miami Dolphins to go with Brock Osweiler for a second consecutive week as Ryan Tannehill nurses a shoulder injury.

"There's a scheme that's behind all of it (for both quarterbacks). That's probably the first thing we

Rested Lions target short-handed Dolphins

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was prepared for the Miami Dolphins to go with Brock Osweiler for a second consecutive week as Ryan Tannehill nurses a shoulder injury.

“There’s a scheme that’s behind all of it (for both quarterbacks). That’s probably the first thing we will attack,” Patricia said. “Both quarterbacks are very talented, but each one is a little bit different athletically.”

Tannehill is out Sunday and will not play next week. Osweiler, a seventh-year pro who worked with Dolphins coach Adam Gase when they were with the Denver Broncos, passed for 380 yards, three touchdowns and guided the Dolphins to an overtime win last week with little notice his number was being called against the Chicago Bears.

“He’s been around for a minute,” Gase said of Osweiler.

That experience surely helped Osweiler get comfortable with the first-team offense.

“He did a good job of not panicking when we were down,” Gase said of Osweiler. “He doesn’t hold on to things and let it affect the next series.”

Beyond questions at quarterback, everything seems to be falling in favor of the Dolphins (4-2), who are tied with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East. The Lions, meanwhile, are 2-3 and last in the NFC North, but coming off a bye week looking for their first road victory under Patricia (0-2).

The Dolphins tend to wear teams down in the Miami heat and are 6-1 since the start of 2016 in home games in which the temperature reaches at least 85 degrees.

Patricia knows what a sauna Hard Rock Stadium can be for 1 p.m. games. He was defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots from 2012 to 2017, and the Dolphins went 4-2 against him in home games.

The Dolphins have to contend with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Since a nightmare performance in Detroit’s season opener, Stafford has tossed nine TD passes with just one interception.

During that four-game stretch, the Lions have knocked off Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as well as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Detroit’s two losses during that span came by a total of five points.

Stafford will face a Dolphins defense plagued with injuries. Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake and starting cornerback Bobby McCain are likely out due to knee injuries.

McCain would be missed because Detroit has an outstanding trio of receivers in Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.

Wake’s pass rush would be missed by Miami, and his status is made more precarious because four of his backups are also injured. William Hayes (knee) is out, and Charles Harris (calf), Andre Branch (knee) and Jonathan Woodard (concussion) are questionable.

A win on Sunday would give the Dolphins their first 5-2 start since 2003 and their first 4-0 home start since 2000.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers-Eagles Capsule Preview

CAROLINA (3-2) at PHILADELPHIA (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 4

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Panthers 2-3, Eagles 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Eagles lead 7-4

LAST MEETING — Eagles beat Panthers 28-23, Oct. 17, 2017

LAST WEEK — Panthers lost to Redskins 23-17; Eagles beat Giants 34-13

AP

CAROLINA (3-2) at PHILADELPHIA (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Eagles by 4

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Panthers 2-3, Eagles 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Eagles lead 7-4

LAST MEETING — Eagles beat Panthers 28-23, Oct. 17, 2017

LAST WEEK — Panthers lost to Redskins 23-17; Eagles beat Giants 34-13

AP PRO32 RANKING — Panthers No. 12, Eagles No. 10

PANTHERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (4), PASS (26)

PANTHERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14T), RUSH (15), PASS (15)

EAGLES OFFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (14), PASS (20)

EAGLES DEFENSE — OVERALL (12), RUSH (2), PASS (23)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Panthers coach Ron Rivera was Philadelphia’s linebackers coach 1999-2003. … Panthers WR Torrey Smith started for Eagles last season. … Panthers face third straight NFC East opponent. … Panthers visit defending Super Bowl champion third straight season. … QB Cam Newton has been sacked only eight times. Newton leads NFL with 115.7 passer rating in red zone to go with five TDs passing and three TDs rushing. … RB Christian McCaffrey has 587 scrimmage yards but only one TD. … LB Luke Kuechly has 67 tackles, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and two interceptions, including 49-yard TD return, in last eight vs. NFC East. … LB Thomas Davis plays second game after serving four-game suspension for violating league’s policy on performance enhancers. … DE Mario Addison has seven sacks in his past eight road games. … Eagles are 17-4 at home since 2016. … Eagles have ranked first in time of possession since coach Doug Pederson arrived in 2016. … Eagles rank first in opponent red-zone TD efficiency at 34.8 percent. … QB Carson Wentz has thrown at least one TD in last 19 games played, longest streak in franchise history and second-longest active streak behind Andrew Luck (28). … Wentz has thrown 133 consecutive passes without a pick. His longest streak is 135 passes. … RB Darren Sproles expected to return after missing five games with hamstring injury. … Zach Ertz ranks second in receptions (48) behind Adam Thielen (58) and leads all TEs in yards (480). … DE Michael Bennett is tied with James Harrison for second-most sacks (56) by undrafted player since 2009, trailing Cameron Wake (93). … Fantasy tip: McCaffrey might not pile up a ton of yards rushing vs. Eagles but he should catch plenty of passes and pile up total yards.

___

For more NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Bills-Colts Preview Capsule

BUFFALO (2-4) at INDIANAPOLIS (1-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Colts by 6½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Buffalo 3-3, Indianapolis 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Bills lead 37-31-1

LAST MEETING — Bills beat Colts 13-7, OT, Dec. 10, 2017.

LAST WEEK — Bills lost to Texans 20-13; Colts lost to Jets

BUFFALO (2-4) at INDIANAPOLIS (1-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Colts by 6½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Buffalo 3-3, Indianapolis 2-4

SERIES RECORD — Bills lead 37-31-1

LAST MEETING — Bills beat Colts 13-7, OT, Dec. 10, 2017.

LAST WEEK — Bills lost to Texans 20-13; Colts lost to Jets 42-34

AP PRO32 RANKING — Bills No. 27, Colts No. 30

BILLS OFFENSE — OVERALL (31), RUSH (20, PASS (32).

BILLS DEFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (8), PASS (6).

COLTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (30), PASS (10).

COLTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (23), RUSH (16), PASS (26).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Bills have won three of last four in series, dating to 2010. … Buffalo faces second straight road game vs. AFC South foe. … QB Josh Allen left last week’s game with sprained right elbow. Backup Nathan Peterman had interception returned for TD — decisive score in loss at Houston. … Peterman started in last season’s blizzard vs. Colts and helped lead Bills to victory, but Buffalo plans to start Derek Anderson. … WR Kelvin Benjamin has 10 receptions this season despite being targeted 32 times. … Bills allowed 21 sacks in first four games, just three in last two. …LB Jerry Hughes faces rematch with team that drafted him in first round in 2010. … Bills’ defense is tied for league lead with seven fumble recoveries. … Former Bills Jim Kelly, John Kidd and Thurman Thomas are among those expected to attend Frank Reich’s first game as head coach against former team he led to greatest comeback in NFL history. … Colts began week as one of five one-win teams in league. … Indy has lost four straight overall and five of last six at Lucas Oil Stadium. … Colts will try for fifth time to win game No. 300 since moving to Indy in 1984. … K Adam Vinatieri needs 10 points to break Morten Andersen’s career scoring record (2,544 points). Andersen played high school football in Indy. … QB Andrew Luck has thrown at least one TD pass in league-high 29 consecutive games and will move into tie with Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan for No. 8 by extending streak to 30. … Luck has thrown career-high 164 passes over last three games, with Colts topping 400 yards in total offense each time. … TE Eric Ebron has six TD receptions, matching personal best for single season. … Indy defense has forced two or more turnovers in four of six games this season. … Game features two of NFL’s best rookie linebackers: Darius Leonard and Tremaine Edmunds. Both are ranked among leagues’ top four in tackles. Fantasy tip: With receiving corps depleted, Luck has been finding tight ends more often. That makes Ebron wise pick this week — if he stays healthy.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More 367 Words

Bills turn to QB Anderson with Colts, Luck up next

Bills turn to QB Anderson with Colts, Luck up next

The Buffalo Bills are turning to journeyman quarterback Derek Anderson against an Indianapolis Colts team that is struggling despite the return of Andrew Luck.

Buffalo (2-4) will be the first NFL team to use a third starting quarterback this season

Bills turn to QB Anderson with Colts, Luck up next

The Buffalo Bills are turning to journeyman quarterback Derek Anderson against an Indianapolis Colts team that is struggling despite the return of Andrew Luck.

Buffalo (2-4) will be the first NFL team to use a third starting quarterback this season on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Rookie Josh Allen is week-to-week after spraining his elbow in last week’s loss to the 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans. Opening week starter Nathan Peterman came on in relief and threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for the winning touchdown.

Anderson, who has a 20-27 record as a starter in Cleveland, Arizona and Carolina in his 12-year career, attempted only eight passes as a backup with the Panthers last season. He was signed on Oct. 9 to be a veteran mentor for Allen, giving him limited time to learn the Bills’ offense and gain familiarity with his new teammates.

“It’s football. Things that happen in this game never amaze me,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to be ready at all times and I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into coming here. Obviously, not ideal, but we’re going to do what we can.”

With Allen unable to practice on Wednesday and Bills coach Sean McDermott determined that even under less-than-ideal circumstances, Anderson gives Buffalo a better chance to win than Peterman, who has compiled a 29.9 passer rating with nine interceptions on 79 attempts in his two-year career.

“That’s always part of the evaluation,” McDermott said. “One piece, not all of it. I feel like this is the right decision for our football team right now.”

For the Colts (1-5), Luck has returned from the shoulder injury that cost him most of last season and leads the NFL in pass attempts (288) and completions (186). He’s also thrown a league-high eight interceptions, the most of any quarterback and one fewer than the Bills and Buccaneers quarterbacks have combined for.

Indianapolis has also been plagued by dropped passes, fumbles and penalties that have forced them to play from behind in most of their losses.

“We, I, do things that are stupid – it’s the only word that comes to mind. We do some silly things to ourselves,” Luck said. “But having fun playing? I’m having fun playing. The results are not where they need to be. We need to improve as an offensive unit. We all need to improve.”

Luck faces a Bills defense that has improved significantly over the past few weeks. After allowing 75 points through the first six quarters of the season, Buffalo has given up just 46 points over the last 18 quarters and has risen up to third in the NFL in yards allowed (311.6 per game).

The Colts could benefit from the return of Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury. He was limited in practice Wednesday but is working toward a return to game action this week, even if he is not yet 100 percent.

“The guys need me,” Hilton said. “So I’m here for them.”

Safety Clayton Geathers (concussion), offensive lineman Denzelle Good (non-injury absence) and defensive tackle Marcus Hunt (knee) have all returned to practice after being inactive for the Colts’ last game. Defensive lineman Denico Autry (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip), receiver Ryan Grant (ankle), cornerback Arthur Maulet (hip) and running back Robert Turbin (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday.

Aside from Allen, kick returner Taiwan Jones (neck) is the only other injured player for Buffalo. Left guard Vladimir Ducasse (knee) and defensive end Trent Murphy (ankle) were limited in practice while defensive tackle Kyle Williams and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander were given veteran rest days.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs cook up new defensive plan with Mayfield, Browns in town

Bucs cook up new defensive plan with Mayfield, Browns in town

The last time the Cleveland Browns played in the postseason was 2002, the year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Both teams believe they have what it takes to make the playoffs this season, and that's saying

Bucs cook up new defensive plan with Mayfield, Browns in town

The last time the Cleveland Browns played in the postseason was 2002, the year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Both teams believe they have what it takes to make the playoffs this season, and that’s saying something for the Browns. In 2017, Cleveland did not win a game. The Buccaneers weren’t a whole lot better, notching only five wins.

Each team showed a lot of promise in the first month of the season, but fell back to earth with a mighty dud in their last game.

The Buccaneers (2-3), coming off their bye week, fell behind early, rallied and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback on the game’s final play in a 34-29 loss to Atlanta — Tampa Bay’s third straight loss.

With Jameis Winston throwing four touchdowns the Buccaneers looked potent again offensively if not for self-inflicted wounds. Winston also had two picks, including one in the end zone from the Falcons 7-yard line. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro also missed an extra point and Winston failed on a two-point conversion attempt.

So what does the team with the league’s No. 2-ranked offense do? Fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and replace him with linebackers coach Mark Duffner, who has 22 years’ experience coaching in the NFL.

“As I have said in the past, the issues we have had as a team are never one person’s fault,” head coach Dirk Koetter said. “During good times, as well as the bad, it is a collective effort between the coaches and the players. We all understand that this is a result-based profession and our results to this point have not met our standards.”

The Bucs defense has been porous, giving up 34.6 points per game.

Before last week, rookie Baker Mayfield and the Browns (2-2-1) would have been licking their chops game planning for Tampa Bay. But the Chargers served up a dose of reality to the Browns with a 38-14 beatdown that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate.

Mayfield was sacked five times, was under constant pressure and unable to generate any juice on offense. He knows for the offense to give the Browns their best chance to win he has to develop better chemistry with his No. 1 weapon, wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

“He’s the best receiver in the league,” Mayfield said. “I have to put the ball in better range for him. I have to give him a chance to catch that ball. … I will get my stuff fixed. None of that is on Jarvis. He is doing his job. I have to find ways get him the ball more.”

“Am I frustrated? After a loss? Yeah, a little bit,” Landry said after catching two of nine targets for 11 yards. “Trying to forget about it as quickly as possible. Move on to Tampa. We’re on the road. Get the W, and that’ll be behind us”

Mayfield and Landry should get their opportunities. The Buccaneers give up a league-worst 355.6 passing yards per game and have recorded only nine sacks.

The Buccaneers game plan is simple — don’t turn the ball over, don’t let Mayfield get comfortable and attack the NFL’s 28th-ranked run defense. That aspect falls on the shoulders of running back Peyton Barber.

Barber had his best game of the season against the Falcons, rushing for 82 yards on 13 carries.

“Peyton did a nice job,” Koetter said. “He broke tackles, he was explosive, he looked quick. When he got opportunities in the passing game, he did a good job.”

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Bucs are concerned about two key defensive starters, Gerald McCoy and Vinnie Curry. Both sat out practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Panthers plan to bring heat in Philadelphia

Panthers plan to bring heat in Philadelphia

Coming off a Super Bowl appearance is no easy chore for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Carolina Panthers are aware of that.

Two teams trying to gain good footing meet Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

"There are a

Panthers plan to bring heat in Philadelphia

Coming off a Super Bowl appearance is no easy chore for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Carolina Panthers are aware of that.

Two teams trying to gain good footing meet Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

“There are a lot of things that are reminiscent,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, whose team finished the 2015 season with a Super Bowl loss. “Things change and expectations get even higher.”

The Eagles are Super Bowl champions, but that hasn’t resulted in a smooth transition into this season.

But with quarterback Carson Wentz getting up to speed and coming off a game with three touchdown passes against the New York Giants, the Eagles (3-3) are feeling better about their situation.

“His aggressiveness, that’s what you love about him,” Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson said. “That’s what you want out of that quarterback position. He can definitely bring that spark any time during the course of a game. It’s a great thing to have, especially out of one of your top leaders on the team.”

There appears to be confidence replenished with the Eagles, even as Wentz was bothered by back spasms and missed Wednesday’s practice.

“We let a couple of games slip through our hands,” Pederson said. “The players don’t panic. The players are resilient. … At some point, when I talk about ownership, the guys have to take it upon themselves to make the necessary (moves) to fix it They’re saying and doing the right things.”

The Panthers didn’t make the playoffs the season after their most-recent Super Bowl appearance.

This marks the third season in a row that the Panthers have a road game against the reigning Super Bowl champions. Last year, they won at New England.

Carolina (3-2) is fresh off a frustration-filled 23-17 loss at Washington.

“Nobody cares what you did last week,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said.

Olsen returned from a foot injury to play in that game. But the offense sputtered too often despite quarterback Cam Newton throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

“We can’t take back what we did,” Panthers receive Devin Funchess said. “Just play your game and everything else will be fine. … We’re going to continue to do what we do every day of the week and then Sunday go out and try to produce that ‘W.’ ”

For the Eagles, who won 28-23 last year at Carolina, it’s still a matter of the pieces coming together.

Running backs Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood have been pressed into increased roles.

“Two guys who take their job serious and feel like they have to prove something every single day,” Pederson said. “It makes us better as an offense. … I have total confidence in our runners.”

The Eagles are waiting for the return of Darren Sproles, who might be used as a punt returner once he’s back in action following a hamstring injury. He didn’t participate in practice Wednesday.

Philadelphia leads the NFL in time of possession at 32 minutes, 47 seconds per game.

Philadelphia played last week on Thursday night, winning at the Giants, so the extra time off could be beneficial. It might allow offensive lineman Jason Peters (biceps injury) a chance to be ready for the Carolina game, Pederson said.

On the other side, the Panthers have concerns about defensive tackle Kyle Love, who’s dealing with a shoulder ailment. He didn’t practice Wednesday.

The Eagles have won 13 of their past 15 home games, though they lost their most-recent home game Oct. 7 to the Minnesota Vikings.

Both of Carolina’s losses this season have come away from home.

The Eagles hold a 7-4 edge in the series, including a 4-2 home mark. But one of those home losses came in the only playoff matchup between the teams.

This is Carolina’s fourth game against an NFC East foe, defeating Dallas and the New York Giants and losing to Washington.

–Field Level Media

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London stage features surging Chargers, inconsistent Titans

London stage features surging Chargers, inconsistent Titans

Outside of royal weddings, the biggest blowouts in London lately have been NFL games.

The last five contests played in England have been no contest, decided by an average margin of 26.2 points.

The Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) and the

London stage features surging Chargers, inconsistent Titans

Outside of royal weddings, the biggest blowouts in London lately have been NFL games.

The last five contests played in England have been no contest, decided by an average margin of 26.2 points.

The Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) and the Tennessee Titans (3-3) look to stage a more competitive and more entertaining effort on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, where a London-record 84,922 fans saw Seattle whip Oakland 27-3 last weekend.

The Chargers have won three straight and four of their last five, with their only losses to the teams with the best records in the NFC (6-0 L.A. Rams) and AFC (5-1 Kansas City).

Los Angeles has the league’s fifth highest-scoring offense and is the only NFL team to score at least three offensive touchdowns in every game. Melvin Gordon is one of two players (Pittsburgh’s James Conner) with at least 450 rushing and 250 receiving yards, and Philip Rivers is third in the NFL with 15 touchdown passes.

This is the Bolts’ second appearance at Wembley, having lost 37-32 to New Orleans there in 2008.

After last week’s 38-14 win against the Browns, the Chargers remained in Cleveland to practice for a few days before flying out to London on Thursday. The players weren’t complaining about the travel.

“We’re on a road trip, we get to go to London and we play in the NFL,” receiver Tyrell Williams said. “If you’ve got complaints with that, you’ve got something wrong with you.”

The Titans have lost two in a row, but are in a three-way tie for the AFC South lead with Houston and Jacksonville.

Tennessee counters the L.A. offense with the league’s No. 3 scoring defense at 17.8 points per game, with only Dallas (17.2) and Baltimore (12.8) allowing fewer.

This is Tennessee’s first regular season game at an overseas location. As the Houston Oilers, they played preseason games in Tokyo in 1992 and Mexico City in 1994.

The Titans plan to arrive in London on Friday morning after an overnight flight. They don’t know exactly what to expect, only that it will be different.

“There’s going to be a time change. There’s going to be traffic, I think, whether you drive on whatever side of the road you drive on over there,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “The team that executes the best on Sunday will be the one that wins.”

The Titans won’t have starting outside linebacker Derrick Morgan (shoulder), but defensive lineman Bennie Logan (elbow) was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after missing last week’s game. Quinton Spain (shoulder) did not practice, while safety Kenny Vaccaro (elbow) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) were limited.

For the Chargers, kicker Caleb Sturgis (quad), center Mike Pouncey (knee) and tight end Virgil Green (ribs) were limited participants in practice Wednesday.

The Chargers have won eight of nine meetings with the Titans since the franchise relocated from Houston in 1997. Both teams have a bye next week.

–Field Level Media

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Bears, Mack ready for test against Patriots, Brady

Bears, Mack ready for test against Patriots, Brady

After an up-and-down start to the season, the New England Patriots are starting to find their groove.

That could be bad news for the Chicago Bears as they prepare to welcome the Patriots to Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.

Bears, Mack ready for test against Patriots, Brady

After an up-and-down start to the season, the New England Patriots are starting to find their groove.

That could be bad news for the Chicago Bears as they prepare to welcome the Patriots to Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.

New England (4-2) will go for its fourth win in a row with a high-powered offense that has scored 38, 38 and 43 points in its past three contests. The Patriots have vaulted into a tie with the Miami Dolphins atop the AFC East.

Meanwhile, Chicago (3-2) will try to bounce back from a late collapse against the Dolphins on the road. The Bears are 2-0 at home this season and have a chance to match their home victory total (three) from all of 2017.

Bears coach Matt Nagy said he expected his group to respond well this week.

“This is not a ‘Debbie Downer’ organization,” Nagy told reporters after his team returned to its practice facility to prepare for the Patriots. “We’re a winning team. We lost that game. Life goes on. How are we going to get better?”

It will not be easy against future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, who has dominated the Bears throughout in his career. In four games against Chicago, he has thrown for 1,318 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions for a passer rating of 109.4.

Brady is joined on offense by rookie running back Sony Michel, who has four touchdowns in his past three games. Tight end Rob Gronkowski will try for his third straight game against the Bears in which he hauls in a touchdown.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will return home for the first time since throwing six touchdown passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a record-setting performance. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season.

Chicago has averaged 366.2 yards on offense, compared with 381.2 for New England. On defense, the Bears have allowed 343.8 yards a game, and the Patriots have allowed 379.3 yards a game.

The top defensive player for either side figures to be Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who has been electric since arriving from the Oakland Raiders just before the start of the season. In five games, he has 5.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception return for a touchdown. But he could be hampered this week because of an ankle injury that he sustained against the Dolphins.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick paid Mack plenty of compliments, but is not about to compare Mack with another elite pass rusher, Lawrence Taylor, whom he coached in New York.

“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” Belichick told reporters when asked about the two. “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor.”

–Field Level Media

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Jets, Darnold entertain Cousins, Vikings

Jets, Darnold entertain Cousins, Vikings

Latavius Murray carried the ball 24 times and rushed for 155 yards last weekend. If all goes well, Murray will be fortunate to get half as many carries for the Vikings against the New York Jets this week.

The team's top running back, Dalvin Cook,

Jets, Darnold entertain Cousins, Vikings

Latavius Murray carried the ball 24 times and rushed for 155 yards last weekend. If all goes well, Murray will be fortunate to get half as many carries for the Vikings against the New York Jets this week.

The team’s top running back, Dalvin Cook, has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury but he practiced in full on Wednesday. The Vikings rushed for 195 yards in a 27-17 win over Arizona and Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer wants to give the Cook-Murray duo plenty of work against the host Jets on Sunday.

“I think it’s important that we run the football,” Zimmer said. “That takes some of the pressure off the offensive line, it takes some of the pressure off the quarterback. Those kind of things help to open up play-action passes, but I think all those things are good anytime you can do them.”

The Jets might have to lean on their top back, Isaiah Crowell, due to injuries to their receiving corps. Robby Anderson, Onochie Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor missed the team’s first practice this week. Crowell is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has scored five touchdowns.

New York’s offense has been humming. The Jets (3-3) scored a combined 76 points in wins over Denver and Indianapolis the past two games. Their defense has been opportunistic all season, forcing 15 turnovers. Cleveland (16) is the only team with more takeaways.

“They get a lot of turnovers on defense,” Zimmer said. “They’re second in the league in getting turnovers and offensively they run the ball very well.”

Minnesota (3-2-1) has also won its last two games and scored one offseason win over the Jets. More money was on the table for free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins when he chose the Vikings over the Jets in March.

Cousins has been more prone to turn the ball over before he throws it.

He’s lost four fumbles but he’s only been intercepted three times in 260 attempts. Cousins has been extremely accurate, completing 71.2 percent of his passes, including 12 touchdowns.

“He can beat you in a lot of different ways,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “He can beat you with his brains and he can run better than people think.”

Vikings wideout Adam Thielen had a breakout season a year ago with Case Keenum at quarterback. Thielen is on pace for an even better season, hauling in 58 passes for 712 yards and four touchdowns. He racked up 11 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals.

“He’s tough and extremely smart,” Bowles said. “He’s seen every coverage you can throw at him. Outstanding hands and you can tell he’s a competitor of the highest level. Whether you double, triple, single him or play zone, he finds a way to get open and get it done.”

Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has also been getting it done, throwing five touchdown passes in the last two games. He completed 80 percent of his attempts against the Colts.

“Very strong arm, very accurate, moves well in the pocket, scrambles well and gets out of there fairly quick,” Zimmer said. “Seems to be going to the right place with the ball. He’s thrown some great deep balls.”

–Field Level Media

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Saints QB Brees heads to Baltimore seeking 1st win over Ravens

Saints QB Brees heads to Baltimore seeking 1st win over Ravens

By the time he retires in some still unwritten chapter of his NFL playing career, Drew Brees may own every passing record in NFL history.

But the New Orleans Saints quarterback, fresh off becoming the NFL's career passing yardage

Saints QB Brees heads to Baltimore seeking 1st win over Ravens

By the time he retires in some still unwritten chapter of his NFL playing career, Drew Brees may own every passing record in NFL history.

But the New Orleans Saints quarterback, fresh off becoming the NFL’s career passing yardage leader, would like to do one thing on Sunday that he hasn’t been able to do in 18 seasons — defeat the Baltimore Ravens.

Brees, 39, is 0-3 against the Ravens, the only NFL team he has yet to beat. A victory would make Brees the only quarterback besides Brett Favre and Peyton Manning to defeat all 32 NFL teams.

“Listen, I would love to beat these guys,” said Brees, who has led the 4-1 Saints to first place in the NFC South. ” They’re always a great team when you play them. So you always know it is going to be a slugfest. You do not get to play them all that often. It’s a once every four year deal being AFC and NFC, but they’re a great team. They’re the No. 1 defense in the league right now, so we have got our work cut out for us.”

Brees has always been ultra-competitive, and he admitted it does bother him not having been able to beat the Ravens (4-2).

“A little bit,” he said. “Again, you try to make it like any other game, any other opponent. You turn on the film and you know you just digest what you see you know. Take the name off the helmet and just go off you know what you see on film and they are an extremely talented defense across the board.”

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh doesn’t put much stock into the statistical oddity.

“This league – week to week, game to game – it’s crazy,” he said. “That’s probably what I would attribute that to.”

While the Saints had a bye week to rest from their 43-19 rout of the Washington Redskins on Oct. 8 – which has allowed starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore to show steady recovery from a concussion – Baltimore shut out the Tennessee Titans 21-0 on the road on Sunday, recording 11 sacks against quarterback Marcus Mariota, the league’s first 11-sack game since 2012. Mariota completed only 10 passes. He was sacked on 42 percent of his throws.

Harbaugh said it will be much more difficult to get Brees on the ground because of the way he gets rid of the ball so quickly.

“He looks better than ever,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s playing at the highest level he’s played (at), if it’s possible. I can’t remember him playing any better. He knows where he is going with the ball, has weapons around him and they protect him. But he’s the maestro, he orchestrates the whole thing. Between he and Sean (Payton) game-planning and freeing guys up in man-zone coverage and him knowing where to go with the ball and getting it there quickly, it’s been very good.”

While the Saints probably will get Lattimore back to shore up their secondary, the Ravens are bit more banged up. Cornerback Brandon Carr (knee) and guard Alex Lewis (neck) did not practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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Week 8 College Football Picks: Navy’s A Double-Digit Home ‘Dog, Oklahoma

 

Each week we’ll be providing our top college football picks. (Season record: 8-5.)

Also check out our NFL “Lookahead Lines” story, finding value (or not) by comparing earlier lines, and identifying recency bias.

Back to the college game…


College Football Picks Week 8: Navy’s a Double-Digit Home Underdog and Oklahoma

 

Each week we’ll be providing our top college football picks. (Season record: 8-5.)

Also check out our NFL “Lookahead Lines” story, finding value (or not) by comparing earlier lines, and identifying recency bias.

Back to the college game…


College Football Picks Week 8: Navy’s a Double-Digit Home Underdog and Oklahoma in a Good Spot vs. TCU

cfb picks oklahoma tcu sports betting


Oklahoma -8 over TCU

It seems like everyone in the world is on Oklahoma this week. I usually try to stay away from games like that but sometimes you just have to ride the public wave to the window and cash the ticket.

This is such a great spot for the Sooners. Oklahoma is coming off a bye and finally fired “defensive” coordinator Mike Stoops. Ruffin McNeill will take over a defense that faces a struggling TCU offense. The Horned Frogs have lost three of their last four games and have scored more than 17 points just once over that span.

TCU is only 2-4 ATS as a home dog in its last six games and 2-7 ATS overall in its last nine. Oklahoma has won four straight over the Horned Frogs with the average margin of victory of 12.2 points. 

I’ll take the Sooners to pull away in this game and cover the eight points.


Kentucky -11 over Vanderbilt

Speaking of good spots, Kentucky finds itself in one this week. The Wildcats are coming off a bye, while Vanderbilt is playing for the eighth straight week and must rebound from a tough loss to Florida where they blew a 21-3 lead.

Kentucky has a major edge here with their rushing offense going against a Vandy defense that’s allowed an average of 257 rushing yards over the last four games. That will be a big problem when facing Kentucky RB Benny Snell and his 5.5 yards per carry.

Vanderbilt quarterback Ke’Shawn Vaughn was injured last week but is expected to play on Saturday. Kentucky has been strong on defense this year holding opponents to 116 yards below their opponents’ season average.

Vanderbilt has been a great fade in conference play going 1-10 ATS in its last 11 games versus SEC opponents. This line opened 10.5 at the SuperBook and moved to 11 where it is at most books as of Wednesday. Kentucky’s five wins this year have all been by 11 points or more. I’ll call for another double-digit victory here.es not used to seeing that offense, especially when I’m getting points (a dozen of ’em).

Read more Week 8 College Football Picks: Navy’s A Double-Digit Home ‘Dog, Oklahoma  on SportsHandle.

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Cowboys-Redskins Preview Capsule

DALLAS (3-3) at WASHINGTON (3-2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Redskins by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Dallas 3-3, Washington 3-2

SERIES RECORD — Cowboys lead 70-44-2

LAST MEETING — Cowboys beat Redskins 38-14, Nov. 30, 2017

LAST WEEK — Cowboys beat Jaguars 40-7; Redskins beat Panthers 23-17

AP PRO32

DALLAS (3-3) at WASHINGTON (3-2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Redskins by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Dallas 3-3, Washington 3-2

SERIES RECORD — Cowboys lead 70-44-2

LAST MEETING — Cowboys beat Redskins 38-14, Nov. 30, 2017

LAST WEEK — Cowboys beat Jaguars 40-7; Redskins beat Panthers 23-17

AP PRO32 RANKING — Cowboys No. 19, Redskins No. 16

COWBOYS OFFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (2), PASS (29)

COWBOYS DEFENSE — OVERALL (4), RUSH (7), PASS (8)

REDSKINS OFFENSE — OVERALL (25), RUSH (12), PASS (24)

REDSKINS DEFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (6), PASS (9)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Neither team has won two games in row yet this season. … Dallas has beaten Washington in past four matchups. … Cowboys are 3-0 at home, 0-3 on road. … Matchup key to this one could be Dallas’ second-ranked rushing offense, which gains 147.5 yards per game and 5.1 per carry, against Washington’s sixth-ranked rushing defense allowing only 90.2 per game. … RB Ezekiel Elliott ranks second in league in rushing yards with 586 and third in yards from scrimmage with 752. He leads NFL with 3,200 yards on ground since 2016. … Neither of these offenses is all that productive. Both rank in NFL’s bottom 10 in points per game (Washington averages 21.1, Dallas 20.5). … Dallas QB Dak Prescott ran for career-best 82 yards and touchdown last week, his ninth career game with at least one passing TD and rushing TD. … Prescott is 4-0 with 97.8 passer rating in four starts against Washington, accounting for five scores (3 passing, 2 running). … Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might say team has lacked No. 1 receiver for a while, but Cole Beasley sure looked like one week ago with nine catches for 101 yards and pair of TDs. … DE DeMarcus Lawrence tied for fifth in league with 5 1-2 sacks; he and Arizona’s Chandler Jones are only two players with 20 or more sacks since beginning of 2017 season. … Redskins QB Alex Smith has six TDs, two INTs in three career games against Dallas; this will be his Washington debut in rivalry. … RB Adrian Peterson averaging 108.5 yards rushing and TD over past two home games. … TE Vernon Davis, reunited with former 49ers teammate Smith, had 61st career TD catch last week; ranks fourth among active NFL tight ends since entering league in 2006. … CB Josh Norman responded to benching and criticism with interception, forced fumble and five tackles last week. … OLBs Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith have combined for grand total of one sack so far in 2018. … Fantasy tip: Elliott will be seeking third consecutive game vs. Redskins with at least 120 yards from scrimmage and two TDs. Peterson eyeing fourth in row vs. Cowboys with rushing TD.

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Saints-Ravens Preview Capsule

NEW ORLEANS (4-1) at BALTIMORE (4-2)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Fox

OPENING LINE — Ravens by 2 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Saints 3-2, Ravens 4-2

SERIES RECORD — Ravens lead 5-1

LAST MEETING — Ravens beat Saints 34-27, Nov. 24, 2014

LAST WEEK — Saints had bye, beat Redskins 43-19 on Oct. 8;

NEW ORLEANS (4-1) at BALTIMORE (4-2)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Fox

OPENING LINE — Ravens by 2 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Saints 3-2, Ravens 4-2

SERIES RECORD — Ravens lead 5-1

LAST MEETING — Ravens beat Saints 34-27, Nov. 24, 2014

LAST WEEK — Saints had bye, beat Redskins 43-19 on Oct. 8; Ravens beat Titans 21-0

AP PRO32 RANKING — Saints No. 4, Ravens No. 6

SAINTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (19), PASS (3).

SAINTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (1), PASS (30).

RAVENS OFFENSE — OVERALL (9), RUSH (21), PASS (9).

RAVENS DEFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (3), PASS (2).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Saints’ only win over Baltimore came in 2002. … Ravens WR Willie Snead played for Saints 2015-17. … Saints TE Benjamin Watson was Ravens’ leading receiver last year. .. New Orleans took four-game winning streak into bye. … New Orleans QB Drew Brees 26 for 29 for 363 yards and three TDs against Redskins. He has NFL-record 72,103 career yards passing, most in NFL history, and set record vs. Washington. … Brees this year has 78 percent completion percentage for 1,658 yards with 11 TDs and no INTs. … Brees is 0-4 lifetime vs. Ravens. … In return from four-game suspension, Saints RB Mark Ingram scored two TDs, ran for 53 yards, and had two catches for 20 yards vs. Washington. .. Alvin Kamara has half of Saints’ 10 rushing TDs. … New Orleans leads NFL with 36 points per game average, including league-best 13 per game in fourth quarter. … Saints 52-46 on road since 2006, fourth-best mark in NFL. … Since 2006, Saints yielded NFL-low 302 sacks, 48 fewer than Giants. They have allowed only this year. Ravens had 11 sacks last week against Tennessee. … Saints WR Michael Thomas has 30 catches for 387 yards and TD in past four games on road. … Ravens allowing NFL-low 12.8 points per game, lead league with 26 sacks and fewest yards allowed per game (270.8). … Ravens return home after three straight on road. … Baltimore has four of NFL’s last 14 shutouts since start of 2017 season. … Ravens QB Joe Flacco has completed at least 25 passes in nine straight games, tied for third-best streak NFL history. … Ravens WR John Brown averaging 20.2 yards per catch. … Baltimore 16-4 at home vs. NFC since coach John Harbaugh’s arrival in 2008, including 2010 win over Saints. … Ravens 61-21 at home under Harbaugh, allowing 16.4 points per game. … Ravens LB Terrell Suggs has 130 career sacks, 2 ½ behind Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for 13th in NFL history. … Ravens P Sam Koch has 15 kicks inside 20, only three touchbacks. … Baltimore K Justin Tucker has NFL best 89.9 percentage on field goal tries over career. Tucker’s only two misses this year were blocked. … Tucker has never missed an extra point, going 110 for 110. … Fantasy tip: Ravens WR Brown against league’s 30th-ranked pass defense. Speedy Brown leads Baltimore in yards receiving (424) and TD catches (3).

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Vikings-Jets Preview Capsule

MINNESOTA (3-2-1) at NEW YORK JETS (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Vikings by 3 ½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Minnesota 3-2-1, New York 3-3

SERIES RECORD — Jets lead 8-2

LAST MEETING — Vikings beat Jets 30-24, OT, Dec. 7, 2014

LAST WEEK — Vikings beat Cardinals 27-17; Jets

MINNESOTA (3-2-1) at NEW YORK JETS (3-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

OPENING LINE — Vikings by 3 ½

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Minnesota 3-2-1, New York 3-3

SERIES RECORD — Jets lead 8-2

LAST MEETING — Vikings beat Jets 30-24, OT, Dec. 7, 2014

LAST WEEK — Vikings beat Cardinals 27-17; Jets beat Colts 42-34

AP PRO32 RANKING — Vikings No. 7, Jets No. 21

VIKINGS OFFENSE — OVERALL (10), RUSH (28), PASS (8).

VIKINGS DEFENSE — OVERALL (16), RUSH (9), PASS (19).

JETS OFFENSE — OVERALL (26), RUSH (7), PASS (27).

JETS DEFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (17), PASS (22).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Teams square off for 11th time, with New York undefeated at home in series (5-0). … Vikings look for three-game winning streak after victories at Philadelphia and vs. Arizona. … Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was offered three-year, $90 million deal by Jets during free agency in March, but chose to sign with Minnesota for three years, $84 million. After striking out on Cousins, New York turned to draft and took Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall. … Cousins’ 185 completions rank second in NFL, one behind Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck. His 1,921 yards passing through six games are second most in team history behind Daunte Culpepper (1,949 in 2004). … RB Latavius Murray coming off career-high 155 yards rushing vs. Cardinals. … WR Adam Thielen had 11 catches for 123 yards last week, joining Houston’s Charley Hennigan (1961) as only players in NFL history with 100 or more yards in each of his team’s first six games to begin season. With another 100-yard game, Thielen would join Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (eight, 2012), Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (seven, 2014), Dallas’ Michael Irvin (seven, 1995) and Hennigan (seven, 1961) as only players with at least seven games in row at any point in same season. Thielen also leads NFL with 58 catches — most by player in first six games in league history — and 712 yards receiving. Thielen has three games of 10 or more catches, second -most in a season for Vikings behind Cris Carter’s four in 1994 and ’95. … TE Kyle Rudolph has started 55 consecutive games, longest streak by any TE in team history. … DE Danielle Hunter tied with Houston’s J.J. Watt for NFL lead with seven sacks, and with Indianapolis’ Margus Hunt with nine tackles for loss. … DT Sheldon Richardson faces Jets for first time since being traded to Seattle before 2017 season for WR Jermaine Kearse and second-round draft pick. … Jets looking for first three-game winning streak since Weeks 3-5 of last season. … Darnold was 24 of 30 for 280 yards and two TD with one INT last week vs. Indianapolis, and 80.0 completion percentage was highest by Jets rookie in single game. Darnold looks for third straight game with at least two TD passes. … RB Bilal Powell needs 22 yards rushing to pass Adrian Murrell for ninth on Jets’ career list. … Leading WR Quincy Enunwa (22 catches, 287 yards) out for game with sprained ankle that could sideline him multiple weeks. … WR Terrelle Pryor has TD catches in each of last two games, but is dealing with groin injury. Status was uncertain mid-week. … LB Darron Lee joins Arizona S Tre Boston as only players with 35 or more tackles (37) and at least three INTs this season. … CB Morris Claiborne had first career pick-6 last week, returning Luck’s second pass of game 17 yards for TD. … Jets’ secondary banged up with CBs Buster Skrine (concussion) and Trumaine Johnson (quad) uncertain to play and S Marcus Maye (broken thumb) ruled out. … Jets only team to have two games with at least four takeaways in each. … K Jason Myers set franchise record by making seven field goals, one shy of Rob Bironas’ NFL record. He had 24 total points, with three PATs, to rank second to Bironas — who had 26 in record-setting game in 2007 — for most points in league history by player who didn’t score TD. … Fantasy tip: Thielen and Diggs could feast on Jets’ short-handed secondary, but Rudolph could also be in for big game against shaky coverage.

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Bengals-Chiefs Preview Capsule

CINCINNATI (4-2) at KANSAS CITY (6-0)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 6 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Bengals 4-2, Chiefs 6-0

SERIES RECORD — Bengals lead 15-13

LAST MEETING — Bengals beat Chiefs 36-21, Oct. 4, 2015

LAST WEEK — Bengals lost to Steelers 28-21; Chiefs lost to Patriots

CINCINNATI (4-2) at KANSAS CITY (6-0)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 6 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD — Bengals 4-2, Chiefs 6-0

SERIES RECORD — Bengals lead 15-13

LAST MEETING — Bengals beat Chiefs 36-21, Oct. 4, 2015

LAST WEEK — Bengals lost to Steelers 28-21; Chiefs lost to Patriots 43-40

AP PRO32 RANKING — Bengals No. 8, Chiefs No. 3

BENGALS OFFENSE — OVERALL (23), RUSH (25), PASS (17)

BENGALS DEFENSE — OVERALL (29), RUSH (20), PASS (28)

CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (13), PASS (7)

CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (27), PASS (31)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Bengals have won four straight in series dating to Oct. 14, 2007. … This will be first night matchup between teams. Game was flexed from afternoon. … Bengals are 3-15 on Sunday night, losing eight straight. … Cincinnati WR A.J. Green needs two TD catches to pass Carl Pickens (63) for second in franchise history. … QB Andy Dalton needs nine TD passes to surpass Boomer Esiason (187) for second in Bengals history. … Cincinnati has scored TDs on 75 percent of red-zone trips (15 of 20); Chiefs have scored on 69.2 percent (18 of 26). … Cincinnati WR Tyler Boyd had two TD catches last week against Pittsburgh. … Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against Kansas City. … Bengals have yet to have 100-yard rusher this season. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid needs two wins to tie Dan Reeves (201) for eighth most in NFL history. … Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes leads NFL in TD-to-INT differential at plus-14: 18 touchdowns and four picks. … Chiefs are 7-3 in games on Sunday night. … TE Travis Kelce has reception in 69 straight games, third best in Chiefs history. … Kansas City OL Mitchell Schwartz has played NFL-leading 6,742 consecutive snaps. … Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill has league-best nine catches of 25-plus yards. … Kansas City has won 12 straight games when its defense scores. … Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt had 80 yards rushing and 105 yards receiving last week at New England. … Fantasy tip: Start anybody you have on offense from either team, because Chiefs have league’s lowest-ranked defense and Bengals rank 29th out of 32. Both are dealing with slew of injuries.

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Titans-Chargers Preview Capsule

TENNESSEE (3-3) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-2) at London

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE - Chargers by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Titans 3-3, Chargers 3-3

SERIES RECORD - Chargers lead 27-17-1

LAST MEETING - Chargers beat Titans 43-35, Nov. 6, 2016

LAST WEEK - Titans lost to Ravens 21-0; Chargers

TENNESSEE (3-3) vs. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-2) at London

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE – Chargers by 7

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Titans 3-3, Chargers 3-3

SERIES RECORD – Chargers lead 27-17-1

LAST MEETING – Chargers beat Titans 43-35, Nov. 6, 2016

LAST WEEK – Titans lost to Ravens 21-0; Chargers beat Browns 38-14

AP PRO32 RANKING – Titans No. 18, Chargers No. 5

TITANS OFFENSE – OVERALL (30), RUSH (22), PASS (30).

TITANS DEFENSE – OVERALL (8), RUSH (26), PASS (5).

CHARGERS OFFENSE – OVERALL (7), RUSH (6), PASS (13).

CHARGERS DEFENSE – OVERALL (13), RUSH (11), PASS (17).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES – Chargers have won 10 of last 11 in series. … This first game between teams with Anthony Lynn coaching Chargers and Mike Vrabel with Titans. … Titans making franchise’s trip to London for first regular-season game outside U.S. Chargers making second trip to London. They lost to the Saints 37-32 on Oct. 26, 2008. … Titans gave up 11 sacks last week after allowing only nine combined through first five games. … Titans rank third in NFL, giving up just 17.8 points per game. … Tennessee has lost two straight. … QB Marcus Mariota has passed for 240 yards or more in past two times he has faced AFC West team. He threw for 313 yards and two TDs in last meeting vs. Chargers. … S Kevin Byard has nine interceptions since start of 2017 season, tied for most in league in that span. … Titans have 30 penalties, third fewest in NFL. … Chargers are 13-5 since starting last season 0-4. … Chargers QB Philip Rivers leads AFC and second in NFL with 115.1 passer rating. He has 13 TD passes and four interceptions in seven games vs. Titans. … RB Austin Ekeler averaging NFL leading 8.5 yards per touch. … WR Tyrell Williams has six receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns in past two games. … Chargers’ defense has eight sacks past two weeks after having eight in first four games. … K Caleb Sturgis (quad) remains questionable after missing last week’s game. Michael Badgley became seventh kicker to make field goal for Chargers since start of 2017. … Fantasy tip: Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games for first time since 2016.

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Patriots-Bears Preview Capsule

NEW ENGLAND (4-2) at CHICAGO (3-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Patriots by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New England 3-3, Chicago 3-2

SERIES RECORD — Patriots lead 9-4

LAST MEETING — Patriots beat Bears 51-23, Oct. 26, 2014

LAST WEEK — Patriots beat Chiefs 43-40; Bears lost to Miami

NEW ENGLAND (4-2) at CHICAGO (3-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

OPENING LINE — Patriots by 3

RECORD VS. SPREAD — New England 3-3, Chicago 3-2

SERIES RECORD — Patriots lead 9-4

LAST MEETING — Patriots beat Bears 51-23, Oct. 26, 2014

LAST WEEK — Patriots beat Chiefs 43-40; Bears lost to Miami 31-28, OT

AP PRO32 RANKING — Patriots No. 2, Bears No. 13 (tie)

PATRIOTS OFFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (11), PASS (19).

PATRIOTS DEFENSE — OVERALL (20), RUSH (18), PASS (21).

BEARS OFFENSE — OVERALL (19), RUSH (8), PASS (22).

BEARS DEFENSE — OVERALL (10), RUSH (4), PASS (16).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Tom Brady is 4-0 against Bears, one of five teams he has yet to lose to. Others are Atlanta (5-0), Dallas (4-0), Minnesota (4-0) and Tampa Bay (4-0). … Brady completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards with five TDs and no INTs in last meeting with Bears. In four career games against Chicago he has 1,318 yards passing, 11 TDs and only three INTs. … In his past three games, rookie RB Sony Michel has rushed for 316 yards, four TDs. … RB James White has touchdown catch in three of his past four games. … TE Rob Gronkowski has 381 yards receiving in his past four road games. … LB Dont’a Hightower had 10 tackles and half-sack in last meeting with Chicago. … Bears had three-game win streak stopped by Miami. … Chicago remains in sole possession of NFC North lead for first time since late in 2013. … Bears’ losses are by combined four points, including 24-23 in opener at Green Bay. … LB Khalil Mack hurt ankle early against Miami, failed to get sack, forced fumble for first time this season. … QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 316 yards, three TDs, one interception last week. He has 670 yards, nine TDs, one INT over past two games. … RB Tarik Cohen had 90 yards receiving, 31 rushing last week. He’s aiming for third straight game with at least 100 yards from scrimmage. … WR Taylor Gabriel has 214 yards receiving, two TDs in past two games. … CB Kyle Fuller had two INTs last week. … Fantasy tip: Gronkowski figures to be more involved this week after catching just three passes against Kansas City, though he did have 97 yards. Bears don’t have height in the secondary to handle 6-foot-6 Gronkowski.

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Breakfast Club helps former NFL players get healthy together

Kevin Mawae played 16 seasons in the NFL, earning eight Pro Bowls and three All-Pro honors. Yet the former offensive lineman found himself struggling to walk in the summer of 2017.

With each step came stabbing pains because of severe plantar fasciitis.

The Breakfast Club came to his rescue by figuring out what

Kevin Mawae played 16 seasons in the NFL, earning eight Pro Bowls and three All-Pro honors. Yet the former offensive lineman found himself struggling to walk in the summer of 2017.

With each step came stabbing pains because of severe plantar fasciitis.

The Breakfast Club came to his rescue by figuring out what caused his pain instead of focusing only on the symptoms.

“I started through the program, and it turns out for me I just got to stretch and take care of my body instead of being complacent in that area,” Mawae said.

The Breakfast Club is a free six-week program for former players with at least two credited seasons at EXOS workout facilities or YMCAs, bringing them together for three workouts a week, along with physical therapy and a nutritionist. The club started in February 2015 in Arizona through The Trust, which developed out of the 2011 labor agreement following a lengthy lockout. The Trust was created to help players transition to non-football lives once their careers end.

Mawae, a former president of the NFL Players Association, joined such former players as Pittsburgh linebacker Levon Kirkland and long snapper Jason Kyle, who played for four teams, in the club session in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mawae also spent four weeks with the club this summer before reporting for fall practice in August in his new job as a quality control analyst at Arizona State for coach Herm Edwards.

The man who played center his final 14 years in the NFL had a simple issue: He never stretched.

“So to finally get from where I could barely touch my shins to where I can put my hands on the ground now in a straight-legged stretch, that’s a huge accomplishment for me,” Mawae said.

A nutritionist also helps each player with an individual eating plan and teaches them how to pick healthy foods when shopping. They also get a cookbook developed to assist with making better choices.

Support comes from The Trust, which assists former players with career counseling, finances and education . Connecting former players and helping them take care of their bodies is where the Breakfast Club comes in. Bahati Van Pelt, executive director of The Trust, credits former player Aaron Taylor for creating the group workout concept by asking if EXOS could provide a workout plan if he got 10 players together in San Diego.

The concept quickly grew from a couple groups to five a year, then 12, and now through expansion with about 400 former players having taken part.

The Breakfast Club has been in the Dallas area; Miami; Tampa; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Brentwood, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; and New Orleans. Van Pelt said they went to New Orleans last year because several former players reached out to Tulane, a medical partner of The Trust, when they had a large enough group for a Breakfast Club.

“Anytime we can have a player-driven, organized community that players are willing to buy into and incorporate and be active in, a part of that’s a no-brainer for us,” Van Pelt said.

With so many former NFL players in the Atlanta region, The Trust needed another gym option in areas without EXOS facilities. That led to the YMCA, where a free one-year membership is renewable and keeps former players working out once the club’s six-week sessions end.

Former players only have to register with The Trust, which is identifying more cities to host future Breakfast Clubs. The current club started Oct. 8 in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego, with players including former offensive tackle Vaughn Parker, now 47 who played 10 of his 11 NFL seasons with the Chargers.

The biggest benefit may be recreating the locker room vibe that disappears after football. Van Pelt said they’ve had former players ask when the club is coming back to their towns.

“It brought back that feeling of being in the locker room, of having a workout in your position group and having an accountability partner with your wellness,” Van Pelt said. “So if I don’t come work out on a Monday and Wednesday, I have teammates that are going to check in on me and find out what’s going on and make sure I’m there on Friday.”

Getting moving again with a routine matters most for players accustomed to living by practice and meeting schedules through high school, college and the NFL.

But Mawae said no former player wants to be a statistic, and the club can help men live longer, healthier lives.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink every now and then, you can’t indulge in sweets or candies or whatever, you can’t just relax for a week. That just means you don’t live a sedentary lifestyle where all your previous injuries can pile up and debilitate you,” Mawae said.

“And unfortunately for a lot of the players that retire, that’s exactly what happens.”

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NFL happy with more scoring, close games

NEW YORK (AP) — Plenty of scoring and close games are good for business in the NFL.

Teams are scoring at a record pace. The number of points (4,489), touchdowns (504) and touchdown passes (328) are the most in league history through six weeks.

And, games are coming down to the end.

Sixty-nine

NEW YORK (AP) — Plenty of scoring and close games are good for business in the NFL.

Teams are scoring at a record pace. The number of points (4,489), touchdowns (504) and touchdown passes (328) are the most in league history through six weeks.

And, games are coming down to the end.

Sixty-nine percent of all games (64 of 93) have been within one score in the fourth quarter. A total of 54 games have been decided by one score — eight points or less. That’s tied for the most in league history at this point. There have been 28 games decided by three points or fewer, second-most at this point. At least one game has reached overtime the first six weeks for the first time since extra time was instituted in 1974.

“I don’t think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time — that is No. 1 for them. From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us, the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game.”

One of the key factors contributing to the scoring output is the emphasis on calling defensive holding penalties. The total is up to 36 from 11 through six weeks last season. The increase in roughing-the-passer penalties and eliminating use of the helmet to initiate hits are also important factors.

League officials also point to an influx of talented young quarterbacks. However, scoring could taper off once defenses make adjustments and weather could affect games later in the season.

Here’s a look inside more numbers going into Week 7:

MORE THIELEN: Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has at least 100 yards receiving in each of Minnesota’s first six games this season. Only Charley Hennigan had more with seven in 1961 for Houston. Thielen’s 58 catches lead the NFL and he’s on pace for 155 receptions.

BREEZING UP: Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s career record for yards passing last week and now is one TD pass away from joining Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Tom Brady (501) in the 500 TD club. The Saints visit the Ravens on Sunday.

CHASING LT: Rams running back Todd Gurley has 11 TDs rushing and receiving. He’s on pace for 29. Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson set the record with 31 in 2006 for the Chargers.

THE KICKING GOAT: Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is 10 points away from breaking Morten Anderson’s scoring record. Anderson had 2,544 points on 565 field goals and 849 extra points. Vinatieri has 2,535 points and already broke Anderson’s record for most field goals. He’s at 570 and counting.

PAT’S STATS: Patrick Mahomes has 18 TD passes in his first seven career games. Only Kurt Warner (21) and Deshaun Watson (20) had more through eight.

BIG PLAY TY: Mahomes’ teammate on the Chiefs, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, already has 14 career TDs of 50 yards or more. Only Gale Sayers (16) and Randy Moss (15) had more before age 25.

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Rams’ McVay laments sharing division with 49ers’ Shanahan

Rams' McVay laments sharing division with 49ers' Shanahan

Arizona Cardinals: A day after Broncos linebacker Von Miller said his team would kick the Cardinals' (expletive) in Thursday night's game, Arizona head coach Steve Wilks told reporters he doesn't expect his guys to need the bulletin-board material for motivation. "I hope not, from a

Rams’ McVay laments sharing division with 49ers’ Shanahan

Arizona Cardinals: A day after Broncos linebacker Von Miller said his team would kick the Cardinals’ (expletive) in Thursday night’s game, Arizona head coach Steve Wilks told reporters he doesn’t expect his guys to need the bulletin-board material for motivation. “I hope not, from a standpoint of trying to get guys ready to play football,” Wilks said. The 1-5 Cardinals will be without guards Mike Iupati (back) and Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring) for the game, while guard Justin Pugh is questionable with a hand injury. Safety Tre Boston (shoulder, ribs) is also out, while cornerback Jamar Taylor (back) is questionable.

Los Angeles Rams: As they prepare to meet for the third time as head coaches, Sean McVay lamented that he can’t talk football as much with good friend Kyle Shanahan as much as he used to, now that they lead division rivals. “Any time that we cross paths at the combine or whatever it might be, we always enjoy talking ball, and it doesn’t have to be anything where you’re giving your secrets away,” McVay told reporters. “We certainly still talk. I know that I feel like I wish he wasn’t in our division and we didn’t have to play twice a year so that we could be a little bit more open with our dialogue. … But, we’re fortunate to even be in these roles. So we’ll take it, but I would prefer not to have Kyle Shanahan in our division, if you ask me.”

San Francisco 49ers: The offense took a big step forward last week in scoring 30 points against the Green Bay Packers, and while it wasn’t enough for a win, Shanahan is optimistic about the group with the return of wideout Marquise Goodwin from injury. “We’d been missing Quise a lot,” Shanahan said. “He’s been battling to get back. … He played very well for us, not just the plays he made, but he blocked very well and did a lot of good things when he wasn’t getting the ball. That loosens up the coverage for everyone. Quise does a good job and he also helps out other people and helps our run game.” Goodwin totaled 126 yards and a pair of scores on four catches against Green Bay.

Seattle Seahawks: Seattle hit its bye coming off its best game of the season, a 27-3 romp over the Raiders in London, and defensive end Frank Clark capped the triumph by being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. Clark hounded rookie tackle Kolton Miller to rack up 2.5 sacks, including two sack-fumbles that were recovered by teammates, in just 29 defensive snaps as he battled an illness. In a contract year, Clark now has 5.5 sacks this season, best on the team and 1.5 shy of the NFL lead (J.J. Watt, Danielle Hunter).

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Broncos CEO hints Joseph’s job in danger

NFL notebook: Broncos CEO hints Joseph's job in danger

Denver Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis indicated Wednesday that head coach Vance Joseph's job could be in danger if he doesn't right the ship soon.

In acknowledging concern over nearly 10,000 no-shows in Denver's home loss to the unbeaten Los

NFL notebook: Broncos CEO hints Joseph’s job in danger

Denver Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis indicated Wednesday that head coach Vance Joseph’s job could be in danger if he doesn’t right the ship soon.

In acknowledging concern over nearly 10,000 no-shows in Denver’s home loss to the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams last weekend, Ellis did not shy away from alluding to possible changes if the Broncos continue to struggle on the field and at the gates.

“I understand it, between weather and performance, these things happen,” Ellis told The Athletic from the NFL owners meetings in New York. “We’ve got to figure out a way to stop talking about how we need to do things differently and actually do things differently.”

“We [made an in-season coaching change] in 2010, I think,” Ellis added, referring to Josh McDaniels being fired with four games remaining in that season. “So we’ll see, we’ll see. I’m trying to stay focused on one game at a time and see where we go from there, and having conversations with [general manager] John Elway and see where we go.”

–Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will miss Week 7’s game against the Detroit Lions in Miami as he continues to battle a right (throwing) shoulder injury, head coach Adam Gase announced.

Tannehill did not throw during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, and backup Brock Osweiler was expected to take all of the first-team reps, per the Miami Herald.

Meanwhile, the NFL is investigating the team’s handling of Tannehill’s injury and how it was disclosed on injury reports last week, according to multiple reports. Tannehill had been listed as a full participant on Wednesday and Thursday before being downgraded to questionable on Friday. However, NFL rules require a designation of limited when a player is unable to take all of his normal reps, which Gase has said was the case for Tannehill on Thursday.

–Newly signed quarterback Derek Anderson will start Sunday for the Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis, coach Sean McDermott announced. “It’s the right decision for our football team right now,” McDermott said.

Rookie starter Josh Allen is out indefinitely with an elbow sprain, and McDermott chose not to turn to interception-prone Nathan Peterman, who started the season at quarterback but quickly was benched in favor of Allen.

Anderson, 35, is in his 13th season in the NFL and spent four seasons in Cleveland, one in Arizona and seven with the Carolina Panthers.

–Leonard Fournette did not practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a signal that he might not play for the third straight week because of the hamstring injury he sustained in Week 1.

Fournette has missed four of the last five games with a hamstring injury. Coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Fournette will try to practice Thursday. The Jaguars (3-3) lost their past two games, and Fournette has yet to finish a game this year.

Fournette’s replacement, T.J. Yeldon (foot, ankle), also missed practice Wednesday. Veteran Jamaal Charles, signed last week, and rookie David Williams are the other running backs on the Jacksonville roster.

–Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton returned to practice on after missing the past two games with chest and hamstring injuries.

Hilton was listed as a full participant as the Colts prepared for Sunday’s visit from the Bills. Neither Hilton nor Colts coach Frank Reich confirmed that Hilton would play, but Andrew Luck’s top target acknowledged the team could really use him in uniform.

“I don’t wanna go out there and hurt myself,” Hilton said. “So, for me, I’ll give it a test today. We’re in a must-win game, so I’ve gotta be out there.”

–Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is focusing on listening and learning, which has resulted in increased quality on and off the field.

“When you have people working together, listening to one another and that level of respect, I think everyone feels better,” Goodell said as the NFL fall owners meetings wrapped.

Goodell said overall quality and competitiveness are up across the league with a margin of victory on pace to be the third- or fourth-closest in NFL history. While some are concerned with growing protection of quarterbacks, Goodell said the focus on player safety is coming through in every game.

–Just four months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, Houston Texans safety Andre Hal is practicing with the team again.

Hal has been on the non-football illness list since his diagnosis in early June. With the lymphoma in remission and Hal back at practice, the Texans have 21 days to decide whether to activate him as part of the 53-man roster.

The team announced June 8 that Hal had been diagnosed with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. It was diagnosed after Hal reported he had blurry vision while practicing, and the cancer was discovered in his armpit and stomach.

–Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced that he has abandoned his 600 million pound bid to buy London’s Wembley Stadium from the Football Association.

The FA’s leadership was due to vote on Khan’s proposal next week, and Khan did not expect enough support in his favor.

–Field Level Media

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Jags owner withdraws bid to buy London’s Wembley

Jags owner withdraws bid to buy London's Wembley

Shad Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, won't be adding the home of English soccer to his portfolio.

Khan announced Wednesday that he has abandoned his 600 million pound bid to buy London's Wembley Stadium from the Football Association.

Jags owner withdraws bid to buy London’s Wembley

Shad Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, won’t be adding the home of English soccer to his portfolio.

Khan announced Wednesday that he has abandoned his 600 million pound bid to buy London’s Wembley Stadium from the Football Association.

The FA’s leadership was due to vote on Khan’s proposal next week.

“At this moment, following last week’s FA council hearing, it appears there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin that the FA chairman has required,” Khan said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA Chairman to sell Wembley Stadium. Until a time when it is evident there is an unmistakable directive from the FA to explore and close a sale, I am respectfully withdrawing my offer to purchase Wembley Stadium.”

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said in a statement, “At a recent meeting with Mr. Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal. Wembley Stadium is an iconic venue that is revered around world and it will continue to thrive under the ownership and direction of The FA.”

Khan also owns a London-based Premier League soccer team, Fulham FC, but he reportedly was not planning to move the club’s base to Wembley. The Jaguars have played at Wembley five times since 2013, and they are due to play the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles there on Oct. 28.

In future years, the NFL is scheduled to play four games a year in London, two at Wembley and two at Tottenham Hotspur’s under-construction stadium in North London.

Wembley serves as the home of the England national soccer team as well as playoff rounds of the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Football League.

–Field Level Media

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Colts WR Hilton returns to practice

Colts WR Hilton returns to practice

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the past two games with chest and hamstring injuries.

"The guys need me," HIlton said earlier in the day. "So I'm here for them."

Hilton was listed as

Colts WR Hilton returns to practice

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the past two games with chest and hamstring injuries.

“The guys need me,” HIlton said earlier in the day. “So I’m here for them.”

Hilton was listed as a full participant as the Colts prepared for Sunday’s visit from the Buffalo Bills. Neither Hilton nor Colts coach Frank Reich confirmed that Hilton would play against the Bills, but Andrew Luck’s top target acknowledged the team could really use him in uniform.

“I don’t wanna go out there and hurt myself,” Hilton said. “So, for me, I’ll give it a test today. We’re in a must-win game, so I’ve gotta be out there.”

Hilton has 21 receptions for 294 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season. He eclipsed 100 yards in his most recent game, a 37-34 overtime loss against the Houston Texans on Sept. 30.

As he had missed just two games in his first six seasons, which included four Pro Bowl selections, Hilton told reporters he is eager to work back into shape.

“Just watching it on TV not being there with them, you know, it hurts me,” Hilton said. “It hurts me a lot.”

–Field Level Media

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Eagles’ Wentz limited in practice with back injury

Eagles' Wentz limited in practice with back injury

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was one of four players limited in practice on Wednesday, according to the team's injury report.

Coming off a Thursday night win over the New York Giants and with a few extra days of rest before the

Eagles’ Wentz limited in practice with back injury

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was one of four players limited in practice on Wednesday, according to the team’s injury report.

Coming off a Thursday night win over the New York Giants and with a few extra days of rest before the Eagles host the Carolina Panthers this Sunday, Wentz did not fully participate in practice because of a back injury.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the team expects Wentz to practice without restrictions Thursday. The Eagles’ third-year passer missed this season’s first two games after recovering from a season-ending left ACL injury last December.

The three other players who did not complete a full practice Wednesday were tackle Jason Peters (biceps), defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf).

Six Eagles were sidelined for all of Wednesday’s practice — tackle Lane Johnson (ankle), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), running back Darren Sproles (hamstring), safety Corey Graham (hamstring), plus linebackers D.J. Alexander (quadricep) and linebacker Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee).

–Field Level Media

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Hearing Reveals Illinois Lawmakers Moving Toward Legalizing Sports Betting

If anything became clear from Wednesday’s Joint Committee on Revenue in Finance in Illinois it was this: Illinois lawmakers are eager to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering in Illinois. The question — or questions — are what the bill will look like. During the four-plus hour hearing in Springfield, lawmakers heard from gaming

If anything became clear from Wednesday’s Joint Committee on Revenue in Finance in Illinois it was this: Illinois lawmakers are eager to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering in Illinois. The question — or questions — are what the bill will look like. During the four-plus hour hearing in Springfield, lawmakers heard from gaming stakeholders, representatives from individual cities and towns, pro sports players’ associations, Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox, various horsemen’s groups and racetracks and those opposed to sports betting.

Questions from the bi-partisan panel of lawmakers almost exclusively focused on details, suggesting that many had already made the decision that legal sports betting is right for Illinois. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to legalizing sports betting, there are many, many, many details.

The hearing was put together by Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28) and was the second of two in the last few months. Rita introduced SB 7 in 2017, and the bill has gone through multiple iterations and evolved into a comprehensive bill that contemplates online gaming and daily fantasy sports as well.

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Eagles’ Jason Peters expected to play with torn biceps

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters isn't expected to miss a game despite tearing his biceps.

The 36-year-old Peters was limited in Wednesday's practice, but coach Doug Pederson says "there's no concern with injuring him any further" and "he'll be ready to go" for Sunday's game against Carolina.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters isn’t expected to miss a game despite tearing his biceps.

The 36-year-old Peters was limited in Wednesday’s practice, but coach Doug Pederson says “there’s no concern with injuring him any further” and “he’ll be ready to go” for Sunday’s game against Carolina.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Peters in the starting lineup after the two-time All-Pro tore an ACL last October and missed Philadelphia’s run to a Super Bowl title. Vaitai has filled in this season when Peters has left a couple of games because of various injuries.

The Eagles have two games remaining before a bye week, but Pederson says he isn’t planning to rest Peters.

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Rams WR Reynolds ready to start in place of injured Kupp

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds prepares every week as if he is a starter.

With Cooper Kupp not expected to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday because of a knee injury, Reynolds will finally get to take his mindset literally.

"If you practice like

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds prepares every week as if he is a starter.

With Cooper Kupp not expected to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday because of a knee injury, Reynolds will finally get to take his mindset literally.

“If you practice like you’re a starter or prepare like you’re a starter, you know, you’re pretty much a starter,” Reynolds said Wednesday.

“You know everything. You know your assignments. You know what you’re supposed to do, and that’s like 95 percent of offense. If you know what you are doing then you’ll be pretty good.”

In his second season out of Texas A&M, Reynolds proved his worth as a reserve against Seattle in Week 5 when Kupp got a concussion late in the second quarter. Reynolds had two receptions for 39 yards and one carry for 10 yards, all on three consecutive plays during Los Angeles’ first possession of the third quarter.

When quarterback Jared Goff called the fly sweep, Reynolds was still tired from making his first catches of the season. But the whole sequence confirmed that Reynolds was capable of playing without a drop-off behind the three starters in Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.

“I kind of just chuckled and was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be fine,” running back Todd Gurley said.

For Reynolds, who had played just nine of the Rams’ 267 offensive snaps through the first five games, the quick introduction got him right in the flow of the game.

“I wasn’t used to three plays in a row like that from being a backup kind of guy,” Reynolds said. “But definitely being able to go in there and get those catches, it builds some confidence for me leading through the rest of the game and it helped a lot.”

Reynolds was pressed back into action when Kupp sprained his knee at Denver on Sunday, though he did not make as much of an impact as the previous week. He had one reception for a 2-yard loss and had another pass hit him in the facemask, bouncing up in the air and being intercepted.

It was only the sixth turnover of the season for the Rams, something Reynolds credits to Goff’s timing and the overall rhythm of the offense. He is still getting used to it after playing nearly 60 percent of snaps the past two games.

Still, Reynolds has made substantial strides in his overall understanding of coach Sean McVay’s offense.

“I’m able to work things out,” Reynolds said. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the offense and knowing my assignments, so it definitely slows the game down for me.”

The difference will be on display this week, as McVay effectively ruled out Kupp from the Rams’ third straight road game.

To add depth at receiver, the Rams signed free agent Nick Williams on Tuesday. Williams has familiarity with some of the terminology and schemes McVay uses after playing in Washington, Atlanta and Tennessee. Williams most recently worked with former Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur in a stint with the Titans earlier this season.

The addition of Williams became even more important as Reynolds was limited during Wednesday’s walkthrough because of a hand injury. Despite leaving the locker room with his hand wrapped in ice, Reynolds was looking ahead to a possible matchup with 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.

“He’s an elite athlete, but at the same time I’m a player,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to have to compete. I’m not starstruck.”

NOTES: DE Michael Brockers (shoulder), OLB Matt Longacre (back) and LG Rodger Saffold (knee) did not participate Wednesday.

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