2019 NFL Draft Preview – G/C

Going into this collegiate season, it’s wise to remember that when evaluating draft-eligible offensive linemen – particularly along the interior – how they physically project to translate to the pro game. Size and length are crucial so some of the better collegiate blockers may not make for the best pro prospects. That said, this class of interior linemen is full of experience and grit. The 2018 class seemed to possess more plug and play talent atop the board, but the polish of many 2019 blockers should produce a handful of early contributors.

1. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas (6’5″ 315lbs.)
• The Denmark native transitioned from defensive tackle to left guard as a Sophomore in 2016 where he’s since made 25 starts. His combination of desirable size and length are supplemented by his mean streak and brute strength. Froholdt has immersed himself in the guard position rather quickly and considerably cut down penalties in 2017, committing only two. He’s primed for a big year and subsequent first-round consideration.

2. Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (6’6″ 317lbs.)
• The epitome of a Badger lineman, Benzschawel is tough, polished, highly experienced and physically mature. Moved from right tackle to right guard as a redshirt-freshman and has started there ever since. Possessing the ideal length, he also played through injuries and remained a reliable cog at Wisconsin. After receiving a “return to school grade” he opted against entering the 2018 draft, which was the right decision – he has a chance to be a top 60 pick in 2019.

3. Connor McGovern, Penn State (6’5″ 320lbs.)
• Not to be confused with the Denver Broncos guard of exactly the same name. McGovern is a physically mature true Junior with advanced abilities. As a Freshman in 2016, he took hold of the right guard job early on, making nine starts, prior to becoming Penn State’s full-time starter at center as a Sophomore. His bigger, longer frame aligns with the modern profile of NFL centers and accruing one more strong season would leave him with little left to prove at the college level.

4. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama (6’4″ 303lbs.)
• Perhaps the most experienced and distinguished blocker in this entire class, Pierschbacher – a redshirt-Senior – has 43 career starts under his belt (42 at left guard, one at right guard). Bama has many moving pieces along it’s offensive line, but he will be shifting to center for the 2018 season, further adding to his pro appeal.

5. Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State (6’4″ 313lbs.)
• A well-built, industrious interior blocker with excellent mobility and prototype dimension. Jenkins comes from an offensive tackle background, but his genuine ability was unlocked when kicked inside. At center, he’ll be a key figure in new head coach Joe Moorehead’s multi-tempo spread employing modern RPO looks. He’s featured on the 2018 Rimington Trophy watch list.

Honorable Mention: Dalton Risner, Kansas State (6’5″ 300lbs.)
• Keeping with the theme of experience, Risner – a redshirt-Senior – has started 38 games in his Wildcat career (13 at center, 25 at right tackle). A team captain who moved to right tackle after a Freshman season at center that landed him on the 2016 Rimington Trophy watch list, his best fit at the pro level will come on the interior. Intangibles are off the chart and teams will like his attitude. The only remaining question for Risner is whether or not he can return to full effectiveness after surgically repairing his left shoulder prior to the 2017 Cactus Bowl.

Here are the rest of our positional breakdowns looking way forward to next April and the 2019 Draft: QB, WR, TE, OT.

Mahomes, unbeaten Chiefs face tough challenge vs. Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Watching Patrick Mahomes this season has made Tom Brady feel like an old man.

At least old enough to remember a much different era for young NFL quarterbacks.

As a rookie in 2000, Brady remembers being nowhere near seeing the field as a starter.

"I was sitting in the stands, eating

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Watching Patrick Mahomes this season has made Tom Brady feel like an old man.

At least old enough to remember a much different era for young NFL quarterbacks.

As a rookie in 2000, Brady remembers being nowhere near seeing the field as a starter.

“I was sitting in the stands, eating nachos before games. I wasn’t playing,” he joked this week.

Now he looks around at a league in which Mahomes is one of several young quarterbacks in their first or second year starting for teams. Brady also started his second season, but it was hardly the plan as he replaced an injured first stringer, Drew Bledsoe.

“Football was different then,” Brady said. “I think now in some ways pro football is more glorified college football…the transition is a more similar game than it used to be when I first started.”

It’s an atmosphere that has allowed Mahomes, who will be starting for Kansas City when the Chiefs (5-0) visit New England (3-2) on Sunday night, to emerge as the most electrifying quarterback in the NFL this season.

Mahomes leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes through Week 5 and has won each of his first six NFL starts, dating back to his lone start last season. With a win against the Patriots, Mahomes would become the sixth quarterback since 1970 to win his first seven career starts.

It’s put the second-year Texas Tech product under the microscope in his first year Kansas City’s full-time starter, following the offseason trade of Alex Smith to Washington.

While Mahomes said running the jet sweeps and run-pass option plays he did in college has helped with his transition, he also spent a fair amount of time studying Brady’s approach in New England.

“My coach in college was Kliff Kingsbury, and he actually was a backup for Brady at one point, and so he showed me things that he liked with Tom and his pocket movements and stuff he did within the pocket that I’ve tried to put in my game a little bit,” he said.

While Chiefs coach Andy Reid won’t disparage Smith, he acknowledges Mahomes brings a lot of intangible qualities to their offense. Reid also is cognizant that the season is still young.

The 23-year-old is not a rookie, but he basically is, Reid said.

“He’s going through an NFL season — his first one — and there are all kind of challenges that come with that, and no bigger one than this week,” Reid said.

Here are some things to watch for in Sunday night’s game:

NOT AN UNDERDOG

Despite Kansas City’s unblemished record, the Patriots enter Sunday’s game as a three-point favorite. It’s for good reason. Since 2001, 41 times a team has visited Foxborough with a better record than the Patriots. In those games New England is 30-11.

Since starting the season 1-2, New England has outscored opponents 76-31 over its last two victories, at home vs. Miami and Indianapolis.

MILESTONE WATCH

Brady has an NFL-record 199 career regular-season victories and can become the first quarterback in league history to reach 200 for his career. He enters this week tied with Colts kicker and former teammate Adam Vinatieri for the most career wins in the regular season and playoffs combined with 226.

BRING THE NASTY

The Chiefs’ maligned defense forced Jacksonville into five turnovers last week, not to mention showed a mean streak for the first time all season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones took it a bit too far, getting ejected for throwing an elbow at a Jaguars lineman after a play.

“I don’t even remember what happened,” Jones said with a wry smile. “But we’re not going to let anyone push us around.”

INJURY WOES

The Chiefs signed ex-Browns linebacker Nate Orchard and journeyman Frank Zombo to help with pass-rushing depth. Justin Houston has a hurt hamstring, and fellow pass rushers Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpassagnon have been banged-up, which left only rookie Breeland Speaks available.

“Tanoh will have a chance to play,” Reid said, “but we just have to make sure we are OK in that spot just in case.”

MATCHING WITS

The game features the two winningest active coaches in Bill Belichick (281) and Reid (199); Belichick is 5-2 lifetime against Reid. “I mentioned this before,” Reid said, “when you play good football teams, you love that challenge. You spend a lot of hours doing what we are doing. You love the challenge of it, and I think as players and coaches you cherish those things. It is a neat part of the business.”

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report.

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Steelers’ Brown: Lawsuits contain ‘false claims’

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that claims made against him in two lawsuits he's facing from an alleged incident in April are false.

 

Brown is accused of yelling at security and throwing items from off the balcony of a South Florida apartment. The lawsuits are for "damages in

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown said Thursday that claims made against him in two lawsuits he’s facing from an alleged incident in April are false.

 

Brown is accused of yelling at security and throwing items from off the balcony of a South Florida apartment. The lawsuits are for “damages in excess of $15,000,” according to ESPN.

 

Brown was not charged following the incident, according to police.

 

“It has now been made public that two lawsuits containing false claims have been filed against me,” Brown told reporters Thursday. “The facts will soon come out that prove my innocence. My focus will remain on football, and I will not let the cases serve as a distraction.”

 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN the league is closely monitoring the situation. The league is not expected to launch a personal-conduct investigation into Brown, according to ESPN.

 

A Steelers spokesman said Tuesday the organization won’t comment on the situation.

 

One of the lawsuits against Brown, 30, was filed by Ophir Sternberg, who alleges that his 22-month-old boy was emotionally traumatized after several of the items thrown during the alleged incident landed near the boy and his grandfather at the pool at The Mansions at Acqualina in Sunny Isle Beach, Fla.

 

The child was “severely traumatized by the incident, crying for hours on end the day it occurred and was unable to sleep that night,” the lawsuit alleges, adding, “The falling objects included two very large vases, estimated to be over three feet each, as well as a large, heavy ottoman and other pieces of furniture.”

 

Brown is filing a motion to dismiss the complaint this week, according to ESPN.

 

Brown is also being sued by the unit’s landlord for damages and breaching the apartment agreement.

 

“The apartment was in shambles,” George A. Minski, the lawyer representing the condo owner, said, according to ESPN. “Mirrors were smashed, tables were destroyed, there were holes and damages to the walls. Countertops were lifted off the deck. The unit is furnished with leather couches and love seats, and there were burn holes and black magic markers. It looked like they had rumbled. We tried to resolve it amicably and it got nowhere so we filed a lawsuit.”

 

Brown has until Oct. 23 to respond to that lawsuit. Either suit can be settled at any time.

 

–Field Level Media

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49ers, Packers look to cut down on turnovers at Lambeau

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Turnovers just might be the most important statistic in football.

Just ask the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

The 49ers last week had a 33-10 edge in first downs against Arizona but still lost by 10 following five giveaways.

The Packers (2-2-1) almost doubled the Lions in total offense (521-264)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Turnovers just might be the most important statistic in football.

Just ask the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

The 49ers last week had a 33-10 edge in first downs against Arizona but still lost by 10 following five giveaways.

The Packers (2-2-1) almost doubled the Lions in total offense (521-264) and still lost 31-23 after coughing up three turnovers.

Guess what the Packers will be focusing on in practice as they prepare to host the 49ers at Lambeau Field on Monday night?

“Sometimes that ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. But you have to create more opportunities,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday. “We’ve created too many giveaway opportunities and we clearly don’t have enough takeaway opportunities.”

A team considered one of the top contenders in the NFC is off to a choppy start. Other than a 22-0 win over Buffalo, the Packers have alternated one bad half with one good one.

The first half has been the problem in three games, which has forced Green Bay to play catch-up. It worked in the season opener, when Aaron Rodgers tossed three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for a 24-23 win over Chicago after falling behind 20-0.

But slow starts have doomed the Packers in losses at Washington and Detroit. Against the Lions last week, the Packers fell behind 24-0 at the half before losing 31-23.

“That’s not how you start games and expect to win, especially against a good opponent. We’ve got to start faster than that,” receiver Davante Adams said after the Detroit loss.

The 49ers (1-4) were sloppier, overshadowing the gaudy stats they put up on offense. They also failed to force a turnover.

“I think we’ve been close to winning. It’s not an excuse. We definitely should have won more games than we have,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’ve got to find ways to not turn it over and get the ball in the end zone.”

Some other notes and things to watch:

BACKING KICKER

McCarthy offered a vote of confidence for Mason Crosby following the kicker’s awful game against Detroit, going 1 of 5 on field-goal attempts and missing his only extra-point try. Crosby was 10 of 11 on the year before last week, including two 52-yarders in Week 4 against Buffalo. He also missed an extra-point attempt in that game.

“He’s a proven, highly successful kicker, I still believe in him,” McCarthy said. “But he knows it – he has to make those kicks. … So hopefully we’ll learn from it and move on.”

NOT PRIME

The 49ers were expected to be an intriguing team based on a five-game winning streak to end last year with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. That earned them five prime-time games, starting with the trip to Green Bay.

But the Niners are a much less compelling draw with a losing record and Garoppolo out for the season with a knee injury. They already had a game on Oct. 21 against the Rams moved out of prime time and could lose another in December at Seattle as viewers are less interested in watching backup C.J. Beathard than Garoppolo.

“When things are good, you’re on top of the world, people praise you,” Beathard said. “When things are bad, they’ll bash you and you’ve just got to take both of those the same way and not even acknowledge anything on the outside.”

RODGERS’ KNEE

The two-time NFL MVP seems to be moving a little better each week after hurting his left knee in the first half of the season-opening win over the Bears. Rodgers, though, did say he took a shot to the knee early in the Lions game that might require him to keep wearing a brace.

He also had to play last week without injured receivers Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion/hamstring). Allison did at least clear the concussion protocol this week.

The Packers will get a break after the 49ers game with a bye week.

OPEN SCREEN

Shorter is better for Beathard. The 49ers were able to exploit Arizona’s defense with screen passes, with Beathard going 11 for 14 for 130 yards and a TD on throws that didn’t cross the line of scrimmage. His 129.2 passer rating on those passes eclipsed his 60.3 rating on passes beyond the line of scrimmage.

“Screens are always hit or miss,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes, you catch them in blitzes. If you can get it off and no one sees the guy you’re screening to, there’s a lot of room to run.”

RUN DOWN

Aaron Jones might be the most explosive option out of the Packers’ crowded backfield, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. But he was limited to seven carries for 40 yards last week as Green Bay played catch-up against Detroit. Jamaal Williams starts the game and is good in pass protection, while Ty Montgomery is a receiving threat out of the backfield.

If the Packers can play with an early lead, they might be able to give the ball more to Jones to run and balance the offense.

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this story.

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Familiar faces abound when Seahawks face Raiders in London

Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin helped win a Super Bowl in Seattle before becoming stalwarts in Oakland.

Sebastian Janikowski rewrote the record book for the Raiders before booming long kicks for the Seahawks.

Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and Oakland offensive line coach Tom Cable spent the past few seasons doing the same job

Marshawn Lynch and Bruce Irvin helped win a Super Bowl in Seattle before becoming stalwarts in Oakland.

Sebastian Janikowski rewrote the record book for the Raiders before booming long kicks for the Seahawks.

Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and Oakland offensive line coach Tom Cable spent the past few seasons doing the same job with the other team.

When the Seahawks and Raiders kick off in London on Sunday, it will be a reunion of sorts — even though the game will be played several thousand miles from home.

“I’ve always enjoyed the most playing against the people I like the most. There’s guys on the club, coaches and all kinds of connections,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “There’s just connections across the board. It just makes it fun. If you’re competitive and you like competing against the best and your friends. I do. I just look forward to it.”

Both teams have more pressing issues than seeing old friends. The Seahawks (2-3) are already three games back in the NFC West and the Raiders (1-4) have struggled all season in the first year in Jon Gruden’s second stint as coach.

“I just don’t like to lose,” Gruden said. “I think we have work to do. There’s not enough time in the day to do it. I’m depressed. I’m tired. I want to win. I want to do better.”

Here are some other things to watch:

BEAST MODE

The Seahawks will finally get a chance to tackle Lynch, who starred for the team from 2010-15 and helped Seattle win a Super Bowl. Lynch was mostly off-limits at practice, although linebacker Bobby Wagner recalls getting scolded by Lynch for hitting him as a rookie and dislocating Lynch’s finger while trying to punch the ball out.

There will be no limits on contact Sunday.

“Never got the chance to tackle Marshawn,” Wagner said. “Talked a lot of trash. We finally get to go against each other. So it’s going to be fun.”

RUNNING AWAY

Any question about Seattle’s commitment to the run has been answered by the productivity of the last three weeks. The Seahawks have seen a running back rush for 100 yards in three straight games for the first time since late in the 2012 season. Chris Carson had 100-yard games against Dallas and Los Angeles, and Mike Davis had 101 yards against Arizona.

Most impressive was the 190 yards rushing against the Rams, when Seattle averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Even more shocking, the Seahawks got those yards on the ground without a single yard coming from quarterback Russell Wilson. For the first time in his career, Wilson didn’t have an official run play against the Rams.

“We made a big turn. It’s taken us longer than I would’ve wanted to get to this point, but we feel like we can play the game that we want to play and the style we want to play it regardless of where we’re going,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out, let’s go see if we can take it across the ocean and do it as well, but that’s really important to us.”

WEST COAST GOING EAST

The matchup between the Seahawks and Raiders is just the second in London between teams from the Pacific time zone. The Rams and Cardinals played last year in an NFC West game, with Los Angeles rolling to a 33-0 win. Take away that Los Angeles-Arizona matchup a year ago and teams from the Pacific area playing in London are 2-3 all-time. Both wins belong to San Francisco, beating Denver in 2010 and Jacksonville in 2013.

Both teams opted to spend part of the week at home, with the Seahawks leaving Wednesday and the Raiders on Thursday.

TARGETING

Doug Baldwin caught a dump-off pass from Wilson for a 1-yard gain on Seattle’s second offensive play against the Rams. It was the only target and only catch for Seattle’s leading receiver in each of the past four seasons. Baldwin has been bothered by issues with both knees early in the schedule. He missed most of training camp because of an unspecified issue with his left knee, then suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee in the season opener against Denver. Baldwin has just six catches for 42 yards and no TDs in the three games he’s played.

“It’s frustrating because I want to be more a part of it. I want to be part of the party, too,” Baldwin said.

FREQUENT VISITOR

Few players or coaches have been part of more games in London than Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson. He will coach his seventh game there, having gone 3-3 on previous trips with Tampa Bay (2009, ’11), Oakland (2014), Jacksonville (2015, ’16) and the Rams (2017).

“He leads the league in London trips, so he’s going to be my tour guide,” said Gruden, who added he doesn’t believe he’ll have much time for sightseeing.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Booth contributed to this report

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Brees, Brady make history while rookie QBs make mark

While Drew Brees and Tom Brady continue making history, the rookie quarterbacks are making their mark.

Brees broke Peyton Manning's record for career passing yards on Monday night and Brady became the third quarterback to throw 500 touchdown passes last Thursday night. Brady is 40 TD passes away from passing Manning for first on the

While Drew Brees and Tom Brady continue making history, the rookie quarterbacks are making their mark.

Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record for career passing yards on Monday night and Brady became the third quarterback to throw 500 touchdown passes last Thursday night. Brady is 40 TD passes away from passing Manning for first on the career list. He also is one win away from becoming the first quarterback with 200 regular-season wins.

Arizona’s Josh Rosen, Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and the New York Jets’ Sam Darnold did their part to prove the NFL should be in good hands in the future. Each player led his team to victory in Week 5, the first time since the merger that rookie QBs were 4-0 or better in a single week.

Here’s a look inside more numbers going into Week 6:

NO AUTOMATICS: Extra points haven’t been automatic since the NFL moved the conversion back 13 yards from the 2-yard line to the 15 in 2015. But kickers are missing even more attempts this season. Through five weeks, there have been 20 missed extra points. There were 17 in each of the previous two seasons at this point and 18 in 2015.

DESHAUN’S QUEST: Deshaun Watson can become the first quarterback to throw for 375 yards or more in four consecutive games when the Houston Texans host Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick did it in the first three games this season. Brady and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner also had three-game streaks. Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles has done it in the past two games.

KIRK’S IMPACT: Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is the first player in league history to complete at least 30 passes in four consecutive games. Adam Thielen is a recipient of many of those throws. He is the third player with at least 100 yards receiving in each of his team’s first five games to start a season.

GO-TO GUY: Zach Ertz has been Carson Wentz’s go-to receiver since the Eagles quarterback returned from knee surgery. Ertz has at least 10 catches for 100 yards in two straight games. Only four players have ever done it three consecutive weeks.

FREE FOOTBALL: At least one game has reached overtime in each of the first five weeks. That hadn’t happened before. The Browns have played in three OT games already, going 1-1-1.

GREATEST SHOW ON TURF: The Rams are the fifth team to score at least 30 points in each of their first five games to start a season in NFL history. The record is eight held by the 2000 Rams, 2013 Broncos and 2007 Patriots.

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Chiefs using motion, unique formations to create nightmares

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs break huddle and line up in a traditional formation: Patrick Mahomes settles under center, Kareem Hunt is in the backfield, tight end Travis Kelce joins wide receiver Sammy Watkins on the right side, and Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson head to the left.

Then, from a

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs break huddle and line up in a traditional formation: Patrick Mahomes settles under center, Kareem Hunt is in the backfield, tight end Travis Kelce joins wide receiver Sammy Watkins on the right side, and Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson head to the left.

Then, from a defensive perspective, all hell breaks loose.

Mahomes is suddenly dropping into the shotgun, careful he doesn’t run into Hunt, who has moved from the left side to the right. Hill has run all the way across the field and lined up on the right, just as Kelce has raced in the other direction to line up on the left.

The defense thought it had everyone covered. Now, mismatches abound as linebackers try to cover Kelce and safeties are forced to match up with the Chiefs’ speedy wide receivers.

That play against Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago wasn’t just a gimmick. That’s standard stuff in the Chiefs’ basic offense, a seemingly seamless melding of Andy Reid’s old-school West Coast system and the new-school spread offenses that have changed the college game.

“That play calling was something I’ve never seen before,” said Jacksonville safety Tashaun Gipson, whose top-ranked defense was torched in a 30-14 loss at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday.

“I’ve played Andy Reid, and maybe it was the Browns or it was Jacksonville 2016, and he didn’t pull out all the stops,” Gipson said. “But this game plan, man, and I can’t say it enough — and again, I’m not trying to discredit any guys over there — but I’ve never seen a team do that to us consistently.”

In fact, Gipson said, “they had their way with us all game.”

They’ve had their way with just about everybody the first five weeks, piling up a franchise-record 175 points. Mahomes has already thrown for 1,513 yards, shattering the Chiefs mark for five games, and a 300-yard passing game at New England on Sunday would give him a team-record five straight.

Kansas City (5-0) has scored at least 30 points in each of its games.

“If you try to play zone coverage against them, they’ve got the guys to beat zone. They have the guys to beat man. So you have to pick your poison,” Gipson said. “We came here with all this hype, talking about how good we are as a defense, myself included, and we got drug out there. Straight drug.”

What the Chiefs are doing this season is hardly a flash-in-the-pan attack, though. It’s the culmination of years of tinkering, beginning with Brad Childress’ work as “spread game analyst” and incorporating bits of the college-style spread attack to what the Chiefs were doing last season.

But while Alex Smith could pull off run-pass options, or do things in the quarterback-run game, it wasn’t a perfect fit. That came when Mahomes took over as the starter this season.

Mahomes is a product of the Air Raid system, basically a spread offense on steroids. He is accustomed to a flood of targets all over the field, quickly identifying where the matchup problems give the offense an advantage, and delivering the ball so that his playmakers can make things happen.

Plus, Mahomes has the arm strength to make any throw on the field.

“He’s not afraid to let it loose,” Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “When you have the arm strength that he has, he can fit the ball into those small windows.”

Most of the time, though, the Chiefs are able to give him garage doors.

That’s because they have the personnel to make all those creative formations work. Kelce is athletic enough to line up anywhere on the field, Hunt has excellent hands for a running back, and Hill and Watkins have the speed to beat anyone in a one-on-one matchup.

So, for example, the Chiefs can line up without anyone in the backfield, forcing defenses to change their personnel and alignment. Then the motion games begin, and Kelce or Hill or someone else could end up in the backfield, creating confusion and mismatches.

“There’s not much we can do once we make our call and (Mahomes) comes out in his formation,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “Once he goes empty, he knows what he’s got. That makes it tough.”

Or downright impossible, it sometimes seems.

“Watching Andy for a long time, he always has some neat, cool things,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I don’t know where they come from. He’s in there looking up a lot of stuff because they do some unusual things. Sometimes I’m predicting it came from a high school team, maybe a college team. They know how to spread the field. They know how to run all those jet sweeps and do all the RPOs.”

Shanahan said the foundation remains the West Coast offense, and the Chiefs are still capable of beating teams with basic stuff. Just look at how they’ve put away games late in the fourth quarter, when they’ve leaned on Hunt and some old-fashioned, smash-mouth football.

But none of that catches people’s attention like the flashy stuff.

“Over these last four years or so, they’ve really added an element of the misdirection and stuff. It’s been an issue, not just because of the plays, but the people with the plays,” Shanahan said. “They have the speed at every angle to run those things and really put defenses in a bind.”

NOTES: SS Eric Berry (heel), FS Eric Murray (ankle) and OLBs Justin Houston (hamstring) and Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) remained out of practice Thursday. RB Spencer Ware was out for a personal matter.

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Colts search for balance against Darnold, Jets

 

 

Andrew Luck is an ideal model for young quarterbacks like Sam Darnold, but the Indianapolis Colts wouldn't mind adapting an offense similar to the one the New York Jets utilized last week.

 

A pair of teams looking to stay on the fringes of the AFC playoff race will square off Sunday afternoon

 

 

Andrew Luck is an ideal model for young quarterbacks like Sam Darnold, but the Indianapolis Colts wouldn’t mind adapting an offense similar to the one the New York Jets utilized last week.

 

A pair of teams looking to stay on the fringes of the AFC playoff race will square off Sunday afternoon when the Jets host the Colts.

 

The Jets snapped a three-game losing streak last Sunday, when they improved to 2-3 by beating the visiting Denver Broncos, 34-16. The Colts last played Oct. 4, when they fell to 1-4 with a 38-24 loss to the host New England Patriots. New York and Indianapolis are two of six sub-.500 teams in the AFC.

 

Darnold, the youngest starting quarterback in NFL history at age 21, tossed a season-high three touchdown passes against the Broncos but did so on just 22 attempts, one more than the career-low 21 attempts he had against the Detroit Lions in the season opener.

 

Darnold’s effectiveness was as much about maximizing big plays – he tossed touchdowns of 76 and 35 yards to Robby Anderson as well as a 20-yard touchdown to Terrelle Pryor Sr. – as it was the Jets (2-3) setting him up with a dominant running game.

 

Isaiah Crowell set a franchise record by rushing for 219 yards – 77 of which came on a second-quarter touchdown run – as the Jets racked up 323 yards on the ground, just 10 short of the team record.

 

“We got the running game going, then we were able to take some shots and suck them up a little bit,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said.

 

The Colts are emphasizing a short passing game with Luck, who missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury. While Luck is averaging 9.1 yards per completion, which is more than three yards lower than his average in 2016, he is leading the NFL in both pass attempts (245) and completions (163) and averaging a career-high 298.2 yards per game.

 

Of course, if Luck is passing so much, that means the Colts aren’t running the ball. Indianapolis ranks last in the NFL with 20.2 rushing attempts per game. Leading rusher Jordan Wilkins has 44 fewer yards all season than Crowell did on Sunday.

 

Frank Reich, the rookie head coach and former NFL quarterback, knows better than anyone that Luck’s effectiveness will wane if the Colts can’t develop a running game.

 

“Early on in the season we can get away with it because there’s always the threat of the run,” Reich said. “But once you get further into the season and you are one of those teams that’s been determined ‘These guys can’t run the ball,’ then, as the season goes on, they pay less and less respect and the play action pass isn’t as effective and it just snowballs.”

 

The Colts will need to get their running game untracked Sunday, when two of Luck’s targets, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and tight end Jack Doyle (hip), are expected to be sidelined again.

 

Crowell (ankle) was one of seven Jets who did not practice Wednesday, though he is expected to play Sunday. Cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson (quadriceps) and Buster Skrine (concussion) could miss the game.

 

The Colts lead the all-time regular season series, 41-28. Indianapolis won the most recent meeting between the teams on Dec. 5, 2016, when Luck was 22-of-28 with four touchdowns in a 41-10 win over the host Jets.

 

–Field Level Media

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Rams, RB Gurley present big challenges for Broncos

 

 

Todd Gurley II is licking his chops in anticipation of Sunday's matchup with the Denver Broncos.

 

The Los Angeles running back is one of the best in the NFL, and although he hasn't topped 100 rushing yards in the last two games, that could change Sunday when the Rams visit the Broncos

 

 

Todd Gurley II is licking his chops in anticipation of Sunday’s matchup with the Denver Broncos.

 

The Los Angeles running back is one of the best in the NFL, and although he hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards in the last two games, that could change Sunday when the Rams visit the Broncos in Denver.

 

Los Angeles (5-0) has plenty of skill players to attack Denver’s porous defense, but with the forecast calling for temperatures in the 30s and possible snow, it could be prime conditions for running backs. That’s not ideal for a Broncos unit that allowed the New York Jets to rush for 323 yards last week.

 

Gurley, who has rushed for 415 yards and seven touchdowns, might carry a bigger load this week with receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp dealing with concussions suffered in last Sunday’s win at Seattle. Cooks was cleared to go through the walkthrough on Wednesday and both are expected to play against Denver (2-3), coach Sean McVay said.

 

The only other player who didn’t take part in the full practice due to health was kicker Greg Zuerlein, who remains sidelined with a right groin injury. Six other players, including Gurley and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, didn’t practice but their absence was not related to injury.

 

Even if Cooks and Kupp are limited the Rams have receiver Robert Woods. Woods has 29 catches for 415 yards and three touchdowns and has rushed for 75 more yards this season. He is comfortable with the offense and quarterback Jared Goff and isn’t worried about how many targets he gets.

 

“Just play my game, really,” he told The Los Angeles Times of his mindset. “I know the ball will find me. Not do anything abnormal.”

 

The problem for the Broncos is opposing teams have found plenty of holes in their defense. Since keeping Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes in check for a half the defense has fallen apart. The Chiefs put together big drives to pull out a win in Denver, and the Jets racked up 512 yards of offense in a 34-16 win.

 

Three straight losses have questions swirling about head coach Vance Joseph’s job security and the future of defensive coordinator Joe Woods, especially after defensive end Derek Wolfe spoke frankly after the loss in New York.

 

“Something – something much deeper is happening here that I can’t even really understand,” he said. “Obviously, I’m pissed off. We come off a short week, we’re busting our ass, we’re playing hard, practicing hard, lifting hard, doing everything we can to be a good player.

 

“It’s the same (expletive) every week, I’m tired of talking about the same (expletive) the last two years.”

 

Things were expected to be different with Case Keenum taking over at quarterback but he has struggled since throwing three touchdown passes in the opener. He went three games without another TD before getting two against the Jets – one well after the game was out of reach.

 

A win against an undefeated Rams team might ease things for Denver. Los Angeles is a tough matchup when healthy but the Broncos are dealing with injuries.

 

Tackle Jared Veldheer (knee), cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) and safety Darian Stewart (foot) didn’t practice Wednesday and linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) and tackle Garrett Bolles (right ankle) were limited.

 

Denver will be looking for some magic against the high-powered Rams offense.

 

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Joseph said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s not our first challenge on defense versus an offense like that. We played Kansas City, very similar setup … but we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a nice challenge and no one has stopped them, so it’s our turn to see if we can.”

 

–Field Level Media

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‘Lookahead Lines’: Dolphins Spread Moves Out to Key Number Hosting Bears, Who Were Idle Last Week on Bye

The post ‘Lookahead Lines’: Dolphins Spread Moves Out to Key Number Hosting Bears, Who Were Idle Last Week on Bye appeared first on SportsHandle.

Every week, Sports Handle will look at NFL lines, specifically “Lookahead Lines,” to see how they’re moving and why. Lookahead lines are those posted one

The post ‘Lookahead Lines’: Dolphins Spread Moves Out to Key Number Hosting Bears, Who Were Idle Last Week on Bye appeared first on SportsHandle.

Every week, Sports Handle will look at NFL lines, specifically “Lookahead Lines,” to see how they’re moving and why. Lookahead lines are those posted one week prior to a game or even before the season has begun, as CG Technology does.

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.

We’ll highlight the significant shifts, look for value and suggest when it’s a good idea to get behind or stay away from certain teams. Here’s a look at the Week NFL 5 line moves and what it means to bettors. (Note: odds indicated based on current numbers at several Las Vegas sportsbooks.)

NFL Week 6 Lookahead and Current Line Moves Show Value on Miami Hosting Chicago; Falcons-Bucs Line Contracts As Atlanta Circles Drain; Faith In Raiders Bottoming Out

nfl week 6 picks bears dolphins lookahead lines

Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins (+3 or especially +3.5)

The Bears come into Week 6 at 3-1 and atop the NFC North standings. Chicago was once 100/1 to win the Super Bowl this summer and are now down to 25/1 at the SuperBook.

Last week the SuperBook had the Dolphins -1. That line was similar to the one CG Technology released in May at Miami -1.5. However, the line has gone up the Bears -3 and Chicago didn’t even play last week.

While people’s perception of the Bears has changed since the season started, the Dolphins are going in the opposite direction. After starting the year 3-0, Miami has lost its last two games to the Patriots and Bengals by at least 10 points. One thing to keep in mind is the Bears have only played one road game this year, a 16-14 win over the Cardinals. The Dolphins beat the Titans 27-20 and the Raiders 28-20 in their two home games.

Miami is coming off a face-melting 27-17 loss to the Bengals after Cincinnati scored 24 fourth quarter points to win by 10, and cover 6.5. This movement spells some value on Miami as the 3-point home dog and especially if you grab an available hook.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5)

This game has seen the biggest line movement after the Falcons got blown out in Pittsburgh last week to drop to 1-4 on the season. The Buccaneers had a bye last week and will be making the switch to Jameis Winston at quarterback.

CG Technology made the Falcons a touchdown favorite back in May. The SuperBook’s early number was similar with the Falcons -6.5 last week. After the Falcons got blown out by the Steelers 41-17 on Sunday, the SuperBook released the line at Atlanta -3.5 and it hasn’t moved off that number as of Wednesday.

There could be some value taking the Falcons here, although they haven’t had much of a home field advantage this year, going 1-2 SU and ATS, and have hemorrhaged 43, 37 and 41 points in their past three contests. 


Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders (+3) – London

This game is being played in London and the Seahawks are seeing the line shift their way coming off a home loss to the Rams. The SuperBook made this game a pick ’em last week and then opened Seattle at -3. 

Even though the Seahawks are 2-3, the line says more about how bettors perceive the Raiders. The Jon Gruden era is off to a slow start with Oakland opening the season at 1-4. The Raiders have played three close game but they looked bad in a 26-10 blowout loss to the Chargers last week, while the Seahawks played well against the undefeated Rams, losing 33-31 as a 7-point underdog.

The London games are always tough because theirs no home field edge. The Seahawks look to be a little overvalued when you consider they’re coming off an emotional loss and now have to travel to London. This number looks like it should be closer to the pick it was last week and the -3 is an overreaction to Sunday’s results.


Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (+3)

The Titans are leading the AFC South with a record of 3-2 and the Ravens are coming off a 12-9 loss to the Browns. Despite the Titans’ early season success, the line has gone towards the Ravens on the road.

Last week, the SuperBook had Baltimore -1 on the early lines but even after the Ravens’ loss to the Browns, the number has gone to -3. CG Technology had the Titans a 2.5-point favorite back in May and it can be argued that after five games, Tennessee has exceeded expectations.

The Titans are winning ugly and that kind of style typically doesn’t get the public excited. Tennessee has won both its home games by three points but a 13-12 loss in Buffalo last week is one reason the line went up to three. Losing to the Bills is one way to change the public’s perception of a team.

Note that the Ravens are 1-2 both SU and ATS on the road this season. The Titans are worth a look as one of the most undervalued teams in the NFL, while the average Ravens tend to be overvalued right now.


Also Check Out:

On The Pro Football Handle, Las Vegas-based sports talk voice Matt Perrault and veteran bookmaker Robert Walker of USBookmakingdive into select NFL games, line movements and bookmaker liabilities, plus greater sports betting topics and stories that may have nothing to do with football. Walker has seen it all behind the counter and Perrault the same from behind the microphone, so they’ll have you prepared for anything.

Here’s the NFL Week 6 pod:

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The post ‘Lookahead Lines’: Dolphins Spread Moves Out to Key Number Hosting Bears, Who Were Idle Last Week on Bye appeared first on SportsHandle.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 6 Picks

Welcome back for another stress-filled week of NFL betting. There are a lot of lines to love this week, so let’s get right to it. We’re going to invest the right amount of money on each game this time, since our biggest problem this year has been putting big money on the wrong

Welcome back for another stress-filled week of NFL betting. There are a lot of lines to love this week, so let’s get right to it. We’re going to invest the right amount of money on each game this time, since our biggest problem this year has been putting big money on the wrong games even while picking at a 58 percent clip. Let’s get to it.

Panthers over Redskins (EVEN)

I get it. This is a trap game. Carolina is coming off a last-second win thanks to a 63-yard Graham Gano field goal and the Redskins are coming off a thumping on the road against the Saints on Monday Night Football. It’s in Washington. Trust me, I understand that all signs are pointing toward not betting on Carolina this week. Simply, I don’t care.

The Panthers are just the better football team and when you can get value like this, you take it. Carolina is a one-point road underdog, making them even money to win straight up. There are plenty of reasons not to like this, such as Washington being desperate and at home, but again, Cam Newton and Co. are starting to click and that makes this really good value. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.

Seahawks -3 vs. Raiders (EVEN)

Here’s another good even money value. This game is being played in London, so it is likely to be a little quirky. Oakland hasn’t been able to muster a pass rush this year (Hmm, I wonder why), so Russell Wilson will have plenty of time to throw. Has the Seattle defense been as good as usual? No, but they’re good enough to contain an inconsistent Derek Carr for 60 minutes.

I’ve liked Seattle most weeks this year and they covered at home against the Rams last week. I think they keep rolling and grab a much-needed win against an inferior team, even if the game is being played across the pond. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.

Ravens -3 at Titans (-110)

It feels as though I get screwed every time I pick against the Titans this season. They’re just a weird team. The defense is for real, but the offense can’t get out of its own way. Coming off a 13-12 loss to the Bills, they’re going to be hungry at home. Baltimore is going to be hungry too, coming off an overtime loss to the Browns.

To keep pace in the competitive AFC North, this is one Baltimore has to have and with the spread only being a three points, it provides us that much-needed cushion of getting a push if they win by a field goal. This feels like an over correction from odds makers in response to Baltimore’s loss to Cleveland last Sunday and it seems wise to hop on them the week after such a disappointing loss. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Patriots -3 vs. Chiefs (-120)

I absolutely love this pick. Kansas City traditionally starts out very strong and then tapers off toward the middle of the season. Especially with a rookie quarterback, even one as talented as Patrick Mahomes, they’re prone to that happening again. For the first time all season, the defense showed up against the Jaguars, so that’s reason to think K.C. may be more complete than originally thought, but it’s just tough to march into Foxborough and march out with a win.

Bill Belichick doesn’t have a stellar defense, but you better believe they’ll have some schemes in place to limit Mahomes’ effectiveness. This should be a close game. When big games are close in Foxborough, the Patriots are rarely on the losing side. Take this one to the bank. The bet: $10 for total of $18.33.

Jaguars-Cowboys OVER 40.5 points (-110)

This over/under is so low, it’s really hard not to take it. I’m relying on the Jaguars to continue their trend of having a good offensive showing every other week. Dallas has shown no signs of life on offense and against a tough Jaguars defense, they could be in for a long day. The biggest thing we’re relying on here is a big day from Jacksonville.

A score like 30-17 sounds about right and that would get us over by a touchdown. It could easily backfire and turn into the disaster that our OVER pick of the Browns’ 12-9 win over the Ravens became last week, but this is one worth taking our chances on. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.80.

The parlay option: As usual, let’s dream about what we’ll make if all five games hit. This week, with a few EVEN money games being thrown into the mix, it would be a doozy. To be exact, we’d be betting $20 to win $534.40. Fingers crossed for us all. Happy Week 6, the week we shoot into the green.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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‘Pro Football Handle’: NFL Week 6 Breakdown, KC-NE, LAR-DEN, Big Total to Look Under

The post ‘Pro Football Handle’: NFL Week 6 Breakdown, KC-NE, LAR-DEN, Big Total to Look Under appeared first on SportsHandle.

On The Pro Football Handle, Las Vegas-based sports talk voice Matt Perrault and veteran bookmaker Robert Walker of USBookmaking dive into select NFL

The post ‘Pro Football Handle’: NFL Week 6 Breakdown, KC-NE, LAR-DEN, Big Total to Look Under appeared first on SportsHandle.

On The Pro Football Handle, Las Vegas-based sports talk voice Matt Perrault and veteran bookmaker Robert Walker of USBookmaking dive into select NFL games, line movements and bookmaker liabilities, plus greater sports betting topics and stories that may have nothing to do with football. Walker has seen it all behind the counter and Perrault the same from behind the microphone, so they’ll have you prepared for anything.

It’s already NFL Week 6! This week the guys have spent some time soaking up the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) floor, some new sports betting products and also a borderline contentious panel that included an MLB and a gaming association executive.

On the gridiron, some home dogs for your consideration,  first international game of the season. And scoring is up 10 percent over last year with another total in the 60s (!!) in the marquee matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs at Foxboro to face the New England Patriots. Giddy up!

Spotify fans go here to listen.  Time codes for the episode follow below. Your feedback is welcome at @sports_handle.

1:18: The show’s on the road from G2E and the MLB is at the to sell its “integrity fee” or rather by rebranding it as a “royalty.” Sports Handle Editor in Chief Brett Smiley jumps on to discuss public perception of the integrity fee/royalty debate.

9:36: The future of retail and mobile wagering and Nevada’s archaic in-person sign up requirement.

19:40: Philadelphia Eagles -3 at N.Y.Giants — Opened -3 Philly, now at -3 even money. Why move the price not the line?

24:33: L.A. Chargers -1 at Cleveland Browns — Home dogs historically do well or at least have “sharp” bettor backing. Chargers are slight favorites or about a pick ‘em game.

28:03: Seattle Seahawks -3 vs Oakland Raiders (London) — How do international games impact bookmaking? Both teams are desperate and it’s a neutral field.

30:43: Jacksonville Jaguars -3 at Dallas Cowboys — The Jags are a juggernaut, but QB Blake Bortles is a singular (and key) fatal flaw.  

33:36: Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 at Cincinnati Bengals — The public is buying into the changes the Steelers made last week and it’s a “show me” game for Cincy to prove if they are one of the best teams in AFC.

37:17: Chicago Bears -3 at Miami Dolphins: What is Miami? At least the Bears are the better team.

39:02: Totals talk: Rarely do NFL totals exceed 60, and scoring is 10 percent higher than the 2017 season. The guys identify a good under bet.

40:53: Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 at New England Patriots — Will the Brady vs. Mahomes showdown live up to the hype? Maybe take the under…

46:11: Los Angeles Rams -7 at Denver Broncos — Broncos or pass…

Have a profitable Week 6, folks. Follow Perrault on Twitter @sportstalkmatt and Walker @robertusfsports.

Thanks for listening and see you back next week, tell a friend, sign up for our newsletter and also check out our Cover City Podcast, featuring sports bettor Eric Rosenthal.

 
 

Listen to more episodes of ‘Pro Football Handle’: NFL Week 6 Breakdown, KC-NE, LAR-DEN, Big Total to Look Under  on SportsHandle.

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Skins CB Josh Norman: Nothing wrong with being ‘Hollywood’

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — It didn't bother Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman in the least that he was called out for wanting to be a celebrity. Indeed, Norman embraced the critique from a past teammate.

"I've been 'Hollywood,'" Norman said after the team's walkthrough Wednesday. "Ever since I came out of my mama's womb, I've

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — It didn’t bother Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman in the least that he was called out for wanting to be a celebrity. Indeed, Norman embraced the critique from a past teammate.

“I’ve been ‘Hollywood,'” Norman said after the team’s walkthrough Wednesday. “Ever since I came out of my mama’s womb, I’ve been ‘Hollywood.'”

Norman was reacting to comments by former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall during a radio interview with 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday.

“Josh is, I think, in love with being a celebrity right now and not necessarily being a football player,” said Hall, who retired before this season. “Josh needs to refocus.”

Norman has been a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” appeared on as an NFL analyst on Fox Sports and spent time recently working on a new television project.

“I’m totally different from people. And if I’m different and if I feel like I want to do something, I’m going to do that. If you call that ‘Hollywood,’ so be it,” Norman said. “Guess what? I’ll get my check from Hollywood. And I’ll come back and I’ll play ball. That’s just what we do.”

In Washington’s 43-19 loss to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, Norman was benched at the start of the second half by coach Jay Gruden.

The next day, Hall was critical of Norman’s play and said that “Josh probably wasn’t the best fit” for the Redskins defense.

While the celebrity-related barb was brushed aside by Norman, he seemed more upset about the idea that it was Hall who was speaking about him that way.

“I mean, I looked up to D-Hall. I really do. I still do. I mean his kids looked up to me and I looked up to him,” Norman said.

“I’m a hot button,” he added. “If you’re going to press it, you’re going to get something out of it.”

___

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky aims for repeat after breakout game

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will wear a protective sleeve on his throwing arm again Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Why change up anything when you're hot?

Coming off his biggest game in the NFL with six touchdown passes, Trubisky wants to begin achieving the consistency needed to keep the

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will wear a protective sleeve on his throwing arm again Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Why change up anything when you’re hot?

Coming off his biggest game in the NFL with six touchdown passes, Trubisky wants to begin achieving the consistency needed to keep the Bears (3-1) atop the NFC North.

“It definitely gave me confidence, but I think just looking back on it, it was just like any other win for the Bears,” Trubisky said. “It’s important. We got better that week. I felt like I got better that week in my growth and development.

“And this is a new week to continue to take another step and grow and get better.”

Trubisky had to laugh at fan suggestions that the protective arm sleeve he wore against Tampa Bay had anything to do with his 354-yard passing effort.

“I had a little cut on my arm a few weeks ago, and then it reopened in Arizona on the first drive and was just gushing everywhere,” Trubisky said. “And I didn’t want that to happen, and I covered it up (against Tampa Bay).

“And then you play pretty well, some superstition, call it what you want. I also got a lot of threats (from fans) that I have to wear it. Yeah I’m going to keep it on. We’ll see what the color is, but it feels comfortable, gives me a little more swag or whatever.”

Trubisky’s passer rating vaulted from 77.8 to 101.6 after his big game. Until then, he’d never had more than two touchdown passes in a game. Now he’s had a bye week to move on from the effort.

Bears coach Matt Nagy anticipates Trubisky’s head won’t be turned by one week of success.

“When you have a good game, it naturally gives you confidence,” Nagy said. “What you have to make sure you prevent is making sure that you (don’t) get complacent with that and think it’s just going to happen every week, because it’s not.”

Nagy hopes Trubisky handles it like the Chiefs’ Alex Smith did last year. When Nagy was Chiefs offensive coordinator, Smith went on from a big season-opening win over New England to have a strong, steady year.

“And that’s a veteran quarterback that’s been in the league for a long time and he knows how to handle that,” Nagy said. “So I can use that to help Mitch in these situations. But the best part of all this is I don’t really need to do that, because that’s just who he is.”

Nagy said Trubisky rarely gets his head turned by success or failure anyway, and it apparently affects teammates.

“It’s really impressive,” tight end Trey Burton said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do is focus on the next play, to not get too high or get too low on a past play. He does a great job with that and we all see it.”

It’s one reason Nagy thinks Trubisky shrugged off his early struggles in the new Bears offense.

“So he’s not going to change because he had one good game, he’s going to try to continue to make that a consistent process,” Nagy said.

Trubisky thinks he has a predisposition toward consistency.

“One, I think it’s part of my personality, and then two, it’s kind of like practice — something I’ve done for a really long time, really remain the same person and same emotional level throughout the games,” Trubisky said. “Never get too high, never get too low, being that even-keeled guy, just trying to convey to my teammates I’m always in control.”

If Trubisky needs a reminder of how difficult it can be for a quarterback, he’s getting it from watching game films of the Dolphins this week.

The Tampa Bay defense Trubisky beat badly is ranked last against the pass. But Miami leads the NFL in interceptions with 10, including three by cornerback Xavien Howard.

“Whether it’s opportunistic or skill or whether it’s a combination of both, they’re around the football,” Nagy said. “And to have 10 interceptions in this league, three by Howard, they’re a good football team, a good defense, and they make plays.”

Dealing with success is something Trubisky and the Bears as a team could get used to.

“It’s a whole new, different feeling, and for those of us who were here last year, especially for myself, it’s so much better coming into the building, being excited about going to work, about practicing with these guys,” Trubisky said. “Even in the film room and meetings, everyone is just that much more locked-in and loves what they do and is hungry to get better week after week.

“I guess that’s a byproduct of winning, and it’s something we just want to continue to keep going and keep growing and getting better.”

NOTES: Wide receiver Anthony Miller returned to full participation at practice Wednesday after missing the last game with a dislocated shoulder suffered Sept. 23 against Arizona. … CB Prince Amukamara practiced on a limited basis after missing the Sept. 30 win over Tampa Bay. … G Eric Kush was limited in practice due to a neck injury. … CB Marcus Cooper missed practice due to a pulled hamstring.

___

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

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With ‘innate’ accuracy, Cousins delivering for Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — As Kirk Cousins backpedaled in the pocket with Minnesota on the move late in the first half last week, Adam Thielen broke for the back corner of the end zone.

Cousins had to make an off-balance throw to beat a fast-approaching Michael Bennett, and Thielen had little room left in bounds

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — As Kirk Cousins backpedaled in the pocket with Minnesota on the move late in the first half last week, Adam Thielen broke for the back corner of the end zone.

Cousins had to make an off-balance throw to beat a fast-approaching Michael Bennett, and Thielen had little room left in bounds to secure the catch with two Philadelphia defenders a step behind him.

The ball floated just over the outstretched arm of cornerback Jalen Mills and neatly into Thielen’s hands in time for him to hit both feet on the turf and give the Vikings a two-touchdown lead on Sunday. Mills was flagged for holding to add to the degree of difficulty on the play.

But about one-third of the way through the first season for Cousins in Minnesota the fact that the pass was completed was hardly a surprise.

“He does such a good job of just making it easy on us,” said Thielen, who leads the NFL with 47 receptions and is second with 589 yards. “We just worry about getting open, and he’s almost catching the ball for us. We just have to continue to make sure that we’re doing the little things to be at the right depth and the right timing of things, because it’s so important when you have a guy that’s as talented as him to be in the right spot at the right time.”

With a quickly formed faith in Thielen and the rest of the Vikings receivers, Cousins has repeatedly succeeded in threading pinpoint throws into tight windows with “a little guts and a little bit of arm talent,” as coach Mike Zimmer put it recently.

Cousins ranks fifth in the NFL with a 71.2 percent completion rate that doesn’t tell the full story of his precision. He’s been under pressure as frequently as any of his peers, with 35 hits taken (tied for seventh most in the league) and 14 sacks allowed (11th most) by the Vikings that could easily be more if Cousins didn’t have a quicker release.

The tying touchdown pass to Thielen in the final minute of the fourth quarter at Green Bay on Sept. 16 was the most memorable example to date. Cousins, as he was about to be hit, somehow zipped the ball between two converging defenders into the arms of Thielen for him to fall backward into the end zone while maintaining possession. The Packers couldn’t have covered that much better.

“If it was an inch left or an inch higher or an inch lower it gets knocked down,” Thielen said.

Sometimes, there’s a little luck in play, too.

“If that was a random second down in the middle of the second quarter, I would’ve been like, ‘Hey, that one’s a little tight,'” Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “But if you’re trying to drive down and win the football game, there’s less than a minute to go in the game, those are the chances you have to take.”

Even if the quarterback himself isn’t sure the pass will reach the target.

“It’s a fast game, and if you think you’re going to throw every throw with great vision and a great understanding of where the ball is going, I think you’re fooling yourself,” Cousins said. “There’s a lot of throws that I make, especially last Sunday, where I’m trying to listen to the crowd’s reaction to decide if it was complete or incomplete because I’m looking through peoples’ shins to try to see what happened. That’s the nature of this league.”

There’s no more important trait at this position than being able to consistently put the ball in the right place, even as a youth. In the opening credits for the TV show “Friday Night Lights,” high school quarterback Matt Saracen is shown throwing into a tire hanging in his front yard in fictional Dillon, Texas. For an NFL standout like Cousins, that accuracy was always there. He’s been able to develop and improve it.

“It’s innate. You either have it or you don’t,” Cousins said.

Some of his counterparts who were more runners and scramblers in high school and college have had a harder time with pro-style precision.

“I was actually pretty slow as a kid, wasn’t a great athlete, so I had no choice but to stand in there and find a way to throw the football from the pocket,” he said, “and I think in the long run that’s served me well.”

___

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

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 6

Key takeaways from week 5:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • 6 of the bottom 10 teams come from either the NFC West or AFC East
  • Biggest jump: Arizona Cardinals (+40%)
  • Biggest drop: Miami Dolphins (-89.4%)
  • No change: Bears, Texans (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

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Key takeaways from week 5:

  • Rams, Patriots, and Chiefs remain in top three spots
  • 6 of the bottom 10 teams come from either the NFC West or AFC East
  • Biggest jump: Arizona Cardinals (+40%)
  • Biggest drop: Miami Dolphins (-89.4%)
  • No change: Bears, Texans (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds


Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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‘Beast Mode’ highlights Raiders game against Seahawks

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland may always be home for Marshawn Lynch, but Seattle was the city that truly made him a star.

There was the "Beast Quake" run that set the tone for the Pete Carroll era with the Seahawks. The Skittles that rained down on the field after his big runs. The ferocious

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland may always be home for Marshawn Lynch, but Seattle was the city that truly made him a star.

There was the “Beast Quake” run that set the tone for the Pete Carroll era with the Seahawks. The Skittles that rained down on the field after his big runs. The ferocious running style that inspired teammates.

As much as those Seattle teams were known for the “Legion of Boom” secondary and Russell Wilson’s escape acts, the “Beast Mode” runs helped Seattle establish its dominance. That’s also been the missing ingredient for Seattle these past few years after he retired and then came back with his hometown Oakland Raiders.

The Seahawks (2-3) will get an up-close look at Lynch again this week for the first time since he retired following the 2015 season. They travel to London to face the Raiders (1-4).

“He looks like he got faster,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “When he was here he wasn’t breaking away from people. Now it looks like he can break away from people. He looks quicker. Looks stronger. It’s going to be a dope challenge if they give him the ball a lot. They haven’t really been giving him the ball all that much. I don’t know if it’s because of scores or whatever, but definitely know he’s going to want to run the ball against us, so got to be ready.”

Lynch is still going strong at age 32, ranking ninth in the league in rushing with 331 yards and still doling out the punishment on defenders that has him headed on a path that Raiders coach Jon Gruden believes will end at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It’s a credit to him that he can play like that week in, week out, year in, year out with that style of play,” Gruden said. “He’s not looking to go out of bounds. He’s looking to make yardage after contact in every situation. I respect it about him. I think the league respects it about him.”

The powerful runs and prodigious production come with a price at times. Lynch also has some quirks that can drive some in the organization nuts. There was the time in Seattle when he wore holdout safety Kam Chancellor’s jersey to practice, declared himself out of a playoff game just before the team left for Minnesota, or his refusal to do interviews despite NFL rules requiring them.

The Raiders have seen that side of Lynch as well. He got ejected from a game last season when he ran on the field to try to break up a fight between close friend and then-Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters and his own Raiders teammates. Lynch got suspended for a game for shoving an official.

Then last week, in a scene that must have been all too painful for the Seahawks to watch, he tossed his helmet in frustration after teammate Derek Carr threw an interception instead of handing Lynch the ball on the 1-yard line. That brought back memories of the Seahawks’ fateful decision to throw a pass from the 1 at the end of the Super Bowl in 2015, only to have Malcolm Butler intercept Wilson at the goal line to give New England a Super Bowl title that Seattle had been poised to win.

Despite those moments, Lynch is adored by his teammates for his honesty.

“We loved that,” Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said. “He was beloved in this locker room because of that. He would speak how he felt. If he was wrong, he would come back and apologize to the people he wronged, for the most part. You respected him for the man he was, not trying to act like something he wasn’t. He didn’t pretend with you guys in the media and come back to the locker room and act different. He was consistent in who he was throughout.”

Lynch lasted just one more injury-plagued year with the Seahawks that was marked by his decision not to travel to a playoff game in Minnesota because he didn’t feel healthy enough — even though he had practiced all week and was a major part of the game plan.

Lynch announced his retirement a month later by tweeting a picture of his cleats hanging from a utility wire shortly after the end of the Super Bowl, and stayed home for the entire 2016 season.

But when the hometown Raiders announced plans to move to Las Vegas in 2020, Lynch was motivated to come out of retirement to play in Oakland.

After a sluggish start in his return, Lynch is back to his old form. His 832 yards rushing since Week 12 last year are more than anyone other than Todd Gurley, and he still runs with the same ferocity he did as a much younger back.

“It just comes down to him wanting to impose his will,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “He’s not going to quit at any moment on the field. I think that’s just Marshawn. He’s not going to quit on anything or anybody, especially his teammates. I think you see him running the same in the first quarter as the fourth quarter. … Marshawn is going to try and outlast people. That’s what makes him special.”

Lynch’s best game of the year came two weeks ago against the Browns when he ran for 130 yards to give the Raiders their only win. It was his most prolific output since rushing for 157 yards in the NFC championship game against Seattle in January 2015.

That’s the kind of performance that has both his current and former teammates believing his career should end at the Hall of Fame.

“What he means to the game and he kind of reminds me of an Allen Iverson type where he changed a culture, changed the way people viewed the media, through the media, he’s himself,” Wagner said. “He’s a player that like you’ll never see again in a generation, so I think that represents a lot. I think by the end, all said and done, he’ll have the numbers to get in for sure.”

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report

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Browns picking up wins, building belief in turnaround season

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Bow wow! Rapper Snoop Dogg showed up at Browns practice on Wednesday.

The bandwagon is growing in Cleveland, where the NFL's worst team a year ago has suddenly become fashionable — and just maybe a playoff contender.

By beating Baltimore in overtime on Sunday, the Browns (2-2-1) doubled their win total

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Bow wow! Rapper Snoop Dogg showed up at Browns practice on Wednesday.

The bandwagon is growing in Cleveland, where the NFL’s worst team a year ago has suddenly become fashionable — and just maybe a playoff contender.

By beating Baltimore in overtime on Sunday, the Browns (2-2-1) doubled their win total over the past two seasons, and if not for a couple of bad bounces and breaks, they could be unbeaten.

Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has infused life into the franchise and belief into his teammates as they get ready to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Mayfield, who oozes confidence, said he knew the Browns were no longer a bad team “the second I stepped foot into this franchise. We had a special team from the get-go. Whoever we are playing has nothing to do with this team. We believe in this team that we have.”

Safety Damarious Randall said the Browns “feel like we’re a contender.”

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Tough for Ravens’ Flacco to win when pass-count reaches 49

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — In the pass-happy NFL, there seems to be no limit to the amount of throws it takes to pull out a victory.

For Joe Flacco, however, the ceiling appears to be 48.

Flacco threw 56 passes last Sunday in the Baltimore Ravens' 12-9 overtime loss to Cleveland. Flacco put the

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — In the pass-happy NFL, there seems to be no limit to the amount of throws it takes to pull out a victory.

For Joe Flacco, however, the ceiling appears to be 48.

Flacco threw 56 passes last Sunday in the Baltimore Ravens’ 12-9 overtime loss to Cleveland. Flacco put the ball in the air 55 times last month during a defeat at Cincinnati, although many of those passes came after the Ravens fell into a 28-7 hole.

Over the course of his 11-year career, Flacco is 3-15 when flinging at least 49 passes. The last time he won a game in that fashion was in 2013.

The Ravens (3-2) obviously didn’t take those numbers into account in Cleveland, when they threw 57 times compared to 25 runs in a tight game. Baltimore punted eight times, failed to score a touchdown had its run of 12 straight TDs in the end zone snapped by an interception near the goal line in the second quarter.

“Hey listen, you come up with a game plan throughout the course of the week and you just go out there and do it,” Flacco said Wednesday. “The optimum pass and run attempts are really whatever the (heck) gets you the win.”

Flacco never threw 50 passes in a game over the first three years of his career. The Ravens reached the playoffs in each of those seasons behind a stout defense and an efficient running game.

These days, however, passing seems to be the way to go.

“Around the league, especially this year for whatever reason, when you look at the stats a lot of quarterbacks tend to have a ton of passes,” Flacco said. “In this day and age, 40 pass attempts is just normal. Those days when you’re throwing the ball 25 to 30 times, they’re lovely because you’ve usually completed a good amount of them and you’re winning the football game.”

Flacco would like nothing more than to give his arm a rest this Sunday against Tennessee (3-2). That would be just fine with running back Alex Collins, who thus far has exceeded 12 carries in a game only once.

Collins broke off a 19-yard run against the Browns, but for the most part the Baltimore offense relied on the pass.

“That was more of a game-plan kind of deal,” Collins said. “They came out run-heavy and we were trying to get the play-action going.”

This week, Flacco will go up against former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who should have a pretty good idea of Flacco’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m sure we think that we know probably more than we actually know, and they probably think they know more than they actually know,” Flacco said. “Everybody tends to think they have a leg up, but who knows?”

Baltimore scored at least 20 points in 12 straight games before coming up with a clunker against the Browns. Prior to that, the Ravens received positive reviews for the fashion in which they spiced up a mundane offense with innovative plays, most notably those involving elusive rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.

When Jackson enters, Flacco often heads to the outside as a wide receiver. To this point, Flacco has been little more than a prop.

“I’m out there just standing, really trying to stay out of the way of everything,” he said. “My wife told me I need to look more interested out there, but I’m just trying to stay out of it, man. I’m not comfortable out there. I don’t need to get too creative.”

Asked if he expected to catch a pass one day, Flacco replied, “If it needs to be done, it needs to be done. But I sure hope I don’t have to do that.”

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Bills’ McDermott on McCoy rumors: ‘Get calls all the time’

 

 

Bills head coach Sean McDermott did not diffuse reports of trade interest from the Philadelphia Eagles in Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy on Wednesday.

 

"We're just looking forward to the Houston Texans," McDermott said Wednesday, a day after News 4 in Buffalo reported the Eagles had interest in trading for the six-time

 

 

Bills head coach Sean McDermott did not diffuse reports of trade interest from the Philadelphia Eagles in Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy on Wednesday.

 

“We’re just looking forward to the Houston Texans,” McDermott said Wednesday, a day after News 4 in Buffalo reported the Eagles had interest in trading for the six-time Pro Bowler. “LeSean is one of our better players.

 

“We get calls all the time. Incoming calls happen all the time. [General manager] Brandon [Beane] and I talk a lot. I won’t get into any more detail than that.”

 

McCoy played the first six seasons of his career with the Eagles and is the leading rusher in franchise history.

 

The Eagles placed starting running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve on Monday due to a torn ACL, and backup Corey Clement has been limited for two weeks by a quadriceps injury, though he is expected to return this week. Veteran third-down back Darren Sproles is still battling a hamstring injury and hasn’t played since Week 1.

 

McCoy, 30, has two years remaining on his existing contract, a five-year, $40 million deal agreed to with the Bills after being traded from Philadelphia. He was traded to the Bills during the Chip Kelly roster overhaul.

 

McCoy has only 45 carries for 170 yards in four games this season while dealing with fractured rib cartilage. He has 10,262 career rushing yards.

 

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Roethlisberger: Conner deserves role alongside Bell

 

 

Second-year running back James Conner deserves a significant role in the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense even when Le'Veon Bell returns from his holdout, according to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

 

"I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the field," Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday. "We also know what Le'Veon is

 

 

Second-year running back James Conner deserves a significant role in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense even when Le’Veon Bell returns from his holdout, according to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

 

“I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the field,” Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday. “We also know what Le’Veon is and what he brings to the table. I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.”

 

Bell, a two-time first-team All-Pro, is expected to return for Week 8’s game against the Cleveland Browns after holding out since he received the franchise tag in March for the second consecutive year. By not signing the $14.54 million tender, Bell loses approximately $853,000 in salary for each week he misses.

 

Conner, a 2017 third-round pick, has 84 carries for 342 yards (4.1 average) and five scores, along with 22 grabs for 239 yards as a receiver.

 

“If you look at the overall picture of what we’ve asked him to do every week, I think it’s been going up every week,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that’s what gets lost in what a running back (does) and what he’s been doing — pass blocking, picking up the blitz, catching out of the backfield. I don’t want to jinx anything, but he’s catching almost everything I’m throwing to him, and he’s in the right spot all the time quickly.”

 

Roethlisberger had similar comments during a radio appearance with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, saying the team shouldn’t put Conner “on the shelf by any means” once Bell is back, and adding he would push for Conner to play.

 

Bell had at least 19 touches in 14 games last season, and he topped 25 touches on nine occasions. Conner has three games this season with at least 20 touches, including 25 on Sunday and 36 in Week 1.

 

Conner had 110 rushing yards in last Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons for his second 100-yard outing of the season.

 

The Steelers have a bye in Week 7, so Sunday’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals will likely be the last before Bell returns.

 

–Field Level Media

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