Buccaneers out to solve Saints for third time in two seasons

Buccaneers out to solve Saints for third time in two seasons

It seems like it’s been forever since the Tampa Bay Bucs won a video-game shootout against the New Orleans Saints, 48-40, in the regular-season opener.

 

When the two teams square off Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Saints (10-2) will be trying to clinch the NFC South while the Bucs (5-7) will be trying to keep their recent streak of good play, which resulted in consecutive victories, rolling.

 

“It feels like it’s been a long (time) ago,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Obviously, a lot’s taken place since then. We’ll be seeing a different quarterback in this game (Jameis Winston has replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick). I think there are some similarities relative to what the teams do scheme-wise, and yet, through the course of the season there’s been injury, new players playing at different positions for both sides. And a big enough gap to where you’re watching a lot of other tape, not just the tape of your past game.”

 

Winston was serving the first game of a three-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league when the Saints and Bucs met in the shootout Sept. 9 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

 

Given loads of time to survey the field, Fitzpatrick, often tagged as a journeyman quarterback, carved up the Saints secondary, completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. He was not sacked.

 

The Saints’ defense is playing at a much higher level than it was in Week 1. In the last four games, the Saints have recorded 20 sacks. In the first eight games, New Orleans had only 17 sacks.

 

“Week to week, we’ve seen improvement,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of his defense. “And I think those guys up front are doing a good job. All 11 guys are getting to the football. They’re looking for turnover opportunities on every play. And just as we go down the stretch, with one quarter left in our season, those are encouraging numbers.”

 

After the opening loss, the Saints reeled off 10 consecutive victories – the longest streak in the NFL this season – before losing 13-10 on the road to Dallas last Thursday. The Saints have a four-game lead in the NFC South over the 4-4 Carolina Panthers and could wrap up the division title with a victory or a Panthers’ loss.

 

The Saints also want to keep in touch with the Los Angeles Rams (11-1), who currently own the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

 

“We’re coming off a tough loss, and we’ve got a lot we’re playing for,” Payton said. “When the season starts, one of the first goals is win your division. So we’re playing for that. Then you look past that. You’re looking to give yourself every opportunity to get the best possible position if you’re a playoff team.”

 

The Saints could be buoyed by the return of starting left tackle Terron Armstead, who has missed the last three games with a pectoral injury. But receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday.

 

Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson (thumb) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

 

–Field Level Media

Packers allow fired McCarthy to address players

 

 

Mike McCarthy was back in front of the Green Bay Packers' players on Wednesday.

 

Three days after being fired, McCarthy was given the opportunity to address his now former players after making a request to do so.

 

"He wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully

 

 

Mike McCarthy was back in front of the Green Bay Packers’ players on Wednesday.

 

Three days after being fired, McCarthy was given the opportunity to address his now former players after making a request to do so.

 

“He wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of, and he did a fantastic job talking to the team,” interim coach Joe Philbin told reporters on Thursday. “Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident.

 

“I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.”

 

McCarthy paid a visit to team headquarters on Tuesday to make the request and chief executive officer Mark Murphy and others in upper management agreed to it.

 

Murphy felt it was a good idea as McCarthy didn’t have a chance to address the team after being fired hours after Sunday’s 20-17 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

 

“He spoke to the team yesterday and that was good,” Murphy told WTMJ radio on Thursday. “I think Mike wanted some closure with the players and some of the other coaches to be able to thank them and say goodbye to them as well.”

 

Philbin said he has spoken with McCarthy multiple times since Sunday’s firing. He said allowing the former coach back in the building — which is not the norm in NFL circles — is indicative of how the Packers do business.

 

“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right?” Philbin said. “This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it’s been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I’m not that old, but I’m guessing it’s been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here.”

 

McCarthy, who turned 55 last month, was in his 13th season at the helm in Green Bay. He finishes with a 125-77-2 regular-season record while going 10-8 in the postseason, leading the team to a Super Bowl XLV victory following the 2010 season.

 

Philbin had a 24-28 record as a head coach in parts of four seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2012-15).

 

The Packers are 4-7-1 entering Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 339 Words

Rivers, Chargers continue playoff march, slumping Cincy braces for impact

 

 

If there is an antithesis to the Los Angeles Chargers and their turnaround season, a contradiction to a team that started slow and has come on like gangbusters, it is a Cincinnati Bengals team that will limp into Southern California this week looking lost and bewildered.

 

While the Chargers opened with a

 

 

If there is an antithesis to the Los Angeles Chargers and their turnaround season, a contradiction to a team that started slow and has come on like gangbusters, it is a Cincinnati Bengals team that will limp into Southern California this week looking lost and bewildered.

 

While the Chargers opened with a 1-2 record and had belief in themselves tested, the Bengals opened the year 4-1 and were overflowing with optimism. The Charges are 9-3; the Bengals have slipped to 5-7.

 

When the teams meet Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., it will be the Chargers who will not only be a heavy favorite, they will have a chance to send another message to the top teams in the NFL that a playoff menace awaits.

 

A Bengals team that has lost six of its last seven games will be guided by a backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel, who has taken over for an injured Andy Dalton, with a gameplan being drawn up by a coach in Marvin Lewis who could be wrapping up his tenure in Cincinnati.

 

“The least of my worries,” Lewis said about job security this week. “… My job is to coach the football team.”

 

The Chargers can expect a Bengals team this weekend that will play with nothing to lose, especially with Cincinnati coming off four double-digit defeats in its last six games. The most recent came Sunday at home in an uninspired 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. In addition to the result, the Bengals took another hit with the loss of wide receiver A.J. Green. He’s on injured reserve awaiting season-ending toe surgery.

 

The Bengals committed 12 penalties Sunday, eight in the first half (two others were declined in the opening two quarters). Going back another week, the Bengals have committed 25 penalties in consecutive games.

 

“(The Chargers) have good players and it starts with those two guys off the edge (Melvin) Ingram and (Joey) Bosa,” said Driskel, as he prepares for his second career start. “They’re not a very complicated defense but they are good at what they do. We have some stuff to attack what they do, but you have to take what the defense gives you and they are kind of a bend-don’t-break defense.”

 

Coincidentally enough, it was a defeat to the Broncos that seems to have resurrected a sense of urgency in the Chargers.

 

When the Broncos pulled off a 23-22 victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 18 with a field goal as time expired, it ended the Chargers’ six-game winning streak. The Chargers not only rebounded to beat a heavy underdog Arizona Cardinals team 45-10, they won at Pittsburgh 33-30 last weekend while overcoming a 17-point deficit.

 

Sunday’s game against the Bengals will be the Chargers’ final tuneup before a Dec. 13 clash with the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on national television.

 

Sunday also figures to be the second consecutive game the Chargers will play without running back Melvin Gordon, who came away with a sprained knee ligament in the defeat to the Cardinals. Gordon has not officially been ruled out for Sunday, but his return is expected for the showdown with the Chiefs.

 

In falling behind 23-7 at halftime to the Steelers, the Chargers had just two yards rushing on nine attempts without Gordon.

 

“When you don’t have a run game that’s the kind of game you get yourself into,” Chargers center Mike Pouncey said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t win many games like that. It wasn’t anything with the play-calling. It was us up front.”

 

Don’t expect the Chargers to have the same issues again, not against a Bengals run defense that is dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game at 153.3. Only one team has given up more rushing touchdowns than the Bengals’ 16.

 

Outside of Gordon, who did not practice Wednesday, the Chargers looked relatively healthy. Tight end Sean Cuklin (back) also did not practice. Those limited at practice included cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) and nose tackle Brandon Mebane (not injury related). Full participants included running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) and center Pouncey (ankle).

 

Bengals players who did not participate in practice Wednesday included linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (back), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) and cornerback Tony McRae (concussion). Limited in practice were defensive end Carlos Dunlap (hip), defensive end Michael Johnson (pectoral), wide receiver Josh Malone (hamstring) and running back Joe Mixon (foot).

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 697 Words

QBs Darnold, Allen meet in matchup of top rookies

When the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets matched up in Week 10, the starting quarterbacks were Matt Barkley and Josh McCown.

 

This time around, the all-journeyman affair is out and will likely feature the first matchup between first-round picks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold.

 

Allen is a go for Sunday's contest in

When the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets matched up in Week 10, the starting quarterbacks were Matt Barkley and Josh McCown.

 

This time around, the all-journeyman affair is out and will likely feature the first matchup between first-round picks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold.

 

Allen is a go for Sunday’s contest in Orchard Park, N.Y., while Darnold is expected to be cleared later in the week as the Jets (3-9) aim to snap a six-game losing streak when they visit the Bills (4-8).

 

Darnold has missed the past three games with a right foot injury but optimism over his return increased when he was a full practice participant on Wednesday for the first time since being injured against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.

 

“I’m really excited about how I felt,” Darnold told reporters, “so as of right now I’m really excited about hopefully getting a chance to play on Sunday.”

 

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, has passed for 1,934 yards and 11 touchdowns but also has a low completion rate of 55 percent and an NFL-worst 14 interceptions.

 

Allen, the No. 7 selection, missed the first meeting due to an elbow injury that sidelined him four games. He has passed for 1,223 yards and five touchdowns against seven interceptions with a league-low 52.9 percent completion rate.

 

Allen suddenly has become a threat as a runner with back-to-back outings of 99 and 135 yard. He passed for two touchdowns for the first time as well in last week’s 21-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

 

“I’ve done a really good job on protecting myself, whether it’s getting down, sliding, or getting out of bounds,” Allen told reporters of his running. “Obviously, sometimes hits are going to happen. That’s football, whether it’s in the pocket or outside the pocket.

 

 

“But I definitely don’t want to be the leading rusher.”

 

The loss to Miami halted a modest two-game winning streak for the Bills that began with a 41-10 rout of the Jets.

 

Barkley passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns and LeSean McCoy rushed for 113 yards for the lone time he has topped 100 this season.

 

The Buffalo defense intercepted McCown twice and limited him to 135 yards. That performance is one of four straight games in which the Bills have allowed 130 or fewer net passing yards, the first time an NFL team had done that since the New York Giants in 2009.

 

Buffalo leads the NFL in pass defense at 187.2 yards per game and ranks second in total defense at 294.2.

 

Those fine marks have been needed with the Bills struggling on the offensive end. The Bills rank 31st in both scoring offense (14.8 points per game) and total offense (285.7).

 

New York’s offense also is near the bottom of the league in both categories, ranking 30th in total offense (301.0) and 26th in scoring offense (20.3).

 

The Jets failed to score an offensive touchdown in last week’s 26-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans. New York built a 16-0 advantage before wilting in a performance that left coach Todd Bowles fuming.

 

“It’s one of those games you’ll remember for the rest of your life as a player or a coach. You’ll never forget about it,” Bowles told reporters. “It can propel you to be better at your job or it can make you go in a shell.

 

“I don’t think we have those kinds of guys, but of course everybody is frustrated and (ticked) off.”

 

While Bowles’ employment status gets shakier by each defeat, Buffalo cut its losses by releasing receiver Kelvin Benjamin, a former 1,000-yard receiver with the Carolina Panthers who caught just 39 passes for 571 yards and two touchdowns in 18 games with the Bills.

 

“It obviously didn’t work,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott told reporters of the acquisition made during the 2017 season. “The important thing for us is that we continue to take swings. Some of those are going to work and some of those aren’t. The only way you can get a hit is if you take a swing.”

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 619 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Week 14 Picks

We're nearing the finish line as we enter Week 14. There is still plenty to be decided throughout the NFL, but it's betting weeks down the stretch like this that separate the men from the boys. You have to take things like motivation into account this late in the season. When neither team

We’re nearing the finish line as we enter Week 14. There is still plenty to be decided throughout the NFL, but it’s betting weeks down the stretch like this that separate the men from the boys. You have to take things like motivation into account this late in the season. When neither team has anything to play for, how do you properly predict an outcome? We’re mostly staying away from games like that and keeping our tried and true formula of three game picks and two over/unders as we try to build on our 4-1 Week 13 result.

Jets +3.5 at Bills (-115)

Neither of these teams is any good. Buffalo is surging, but the Jets defense is no slouch, so Josh Allen will be challenged. When teams as inept as these two get together, it’s generally a pretty close game. In fact, my money would be on the Bills winning this game by a field goal. Guess what? That means the extra half point on the spread will get us the betting win.

Last week, the Jets came through as 7.5-point underdogs against the Titans. They blew a late lead, but still covered. I’m really liking that extra half point again, because it all but guarantees a betting win as long as this game stays close late. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.48.

Bengals +14.5 at Chargers (-120)

We’re sticking with our tried and true method of picking any team that is favored by more than two touchdowns. We’re 3-for-3 on the season in games like this and now hoping to make it 4-for-4. Make no mistake about it, the Bengals are in free fall and have the worst defense in football. Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in football, whose offense looked unstoppable against the Steelers in the second half on Sunday Night Football.

Despite all that, we need to remember that at the end of the day, these are two NFL teams and the odds are in our favor that the game will be within two touchdowns. I don’t care if it’s Jeff Driskell starting at QB for Cincinnati, most teams still find a way to keep it closer than two scores. Maybe our time has finally run out on bets like this or maybe the good times keep rolling. I guess we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.33.

Lions -2.5 at Cardinals (-115)

This point spread is the one that most caught my eye this week. The Lions hung with the Rams for three quarters and now are barely favored against the Cardinals? I know Arizona just went to Lambeau and beat the Packers, but this year’s Pack isn’t your older brother’s Pack. Green Bay just isn’t good this season. Now, neither are the Lions, but they are perfectly capable of going into Phoenix and coming out with a win.

Arizona’s defense is its strong suit, so maybe they pressure Matthew Stafford into some mistakes. If he turns the ball over a few times, the Lions are in trouble. However, Detroit’s offense has shown more consistency and Stafford puts up huge numbers against inferior teams. Look for them to right the ship after a close call against the Rams and easily cover this spread, winning the game by at least a field goal. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.33.

Bengals-Chargers OVER 47.5 (-110)

It is dangerous to bet the point spread and over/under in the same game, because sometimes they work against each other, but in this case, I think it’s worth it. As we said, the Bengals have a terrible defense and the Chargers have a great offense. L.A. is feeling some swagger after a statement win over the Steelers. They’re going to put points on the board, it’s just a matter of if Cincy can hold up it’s end of the bargain.

Let’s imagine a world in which the Bengals cover 14.5 and the over hits. At the minimum it would look something like this: Chargers 31, Bengals 17. That’s a perfectly easy final score to imagine. If the bar for the Bengals is 17 points, I like our chances. It’s a rare move for us to take action twice in the same game, but this seems like a good opportunity to do so. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Patriots-Dolphins UNDER 47 (-110)

This seems like a weird AFC East game where the Patriots let the Dolphins stick around for most of the game only to pull away late. It also seems like in these types of games, there are a lot of field goals. As we know, field goals are the best friend of the under. Again, let’s think about a 30-17 score. Certainly, we could see the Patriots winning by that margin.

However, with Tom Brady less than stellar this season, it might be a little lower scoring than that. New England’s defense has also stepped up in recent weeks, making us believe the Dolphins might struggle to get two touchdowns on the board. New England has been less predictable this year than in past years, but 47 still seems high for a game we expect to be relatively close and relatively low scoring. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

What would be our total payout for this five-team parlay you ask? Well, we’ve come close three times with 4-1 weeks, but have never put together that perfect 5-0 week. If we were to do that this week, we would come away with a cool $467.18.

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.

Read More 856 Words

Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 14

Key takeaways from week 13:

  • Rams are the favorites to win Super Bowl 53 following the loss by New Orleans
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 5000/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+80%)
  • Biggest drop: Green Bay Packers (-150%)
  • No change: Eagles, Titans, Redskins, Jets, Cardinals, 49ers (0%)

Super

Key takeaways from week 13:

  • Rams are the favorites to win Super Bowl 53 following the loss by New Orleans
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 5000/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+80%)
  • Biggest drop: Green Bay Packers (-150%)
  • No change: Eagles, Titans, Redskins, Jets, Cardinals, 49ers (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.

Read More -9 Words

Packers’ Philbin: Moss fired for more than tweet

Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday that longtime assistant coach Winston Moss was fired for more than his critical tweet suggesting quarterback Aaron Rogers be held accountable by the team's next coach.

 

"It's never about one thing," said Philbin, who took over after Mike McCarthy was fired Sunday. "Again, I

Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday that longtime assistant coach Winston Moss was fired for more than his critical tweet suggesting quarterback Aaron Rogers be held accountable by the team’s next coach.

 

“It’s never about one thing,” said Philbin, who took over after Mike McCarthy was fired Sunday. “Again, I think it’s important, as I said to the team, we’ve got to be professional, accountable, respectful and punctual. Those are the four things that we’ve got to do the next four weeks. And if we do all those things, we’ll be in good shape. It wasn’t about — again, you’re talking to a guy who’s never tweeted in his life, doesn’t even know what Twitter is — so again, it’s not about a tweet or anything like that. I just think the fit right now isn’t where it needs to be.”

 

Moss, a longtime assistant coach under McCarthy with Green Bay whose official title was associate head coach/linebackers coach, was fired Tuesday in the aftermath of the tweet.

 

“Ponder this… what Championship teams have are great leadership! Period! It’s not the offensive guru trend, it’s not the safe trend. Find somebody that is going to hold #12 and everybody in this building to a #LombardiStandard! Period! #losingsucks!” Moss wrote.

 

 

 

Philbin, who had been the team’s offensive coordinator before McCarthy was fired, refused to comment further on the tweet and noted defensive assistant Scott McCurley will take over Moss’ duties as outside linebackers coach. He did not say if anyone will take over Moss’ title of associate head coach.

 

“I think it’s important obviously that everybody’s on the same page, that we’re all moving forward in the same direction,” Philbin said. “As you know, Winston’s an excellent football coach. I’ve known him a long time. Respect him; outstanding family man. So it wasn’t an easy decision, but I just didn’t feel like the fit right now was where it needs to be. So … came to that decision.”

 

In a news conference Monday, team president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst called Philbin a “legitimate candidate” for the head coach position. He’ll have four games to prove it starting Dec. 9 when the Packers host the Atlanta Falcons.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 322 Words

XFL unveils where its eight teams will play

The XFL has revealed which eight cities will host teams when play begins in 2020.

 

The cities and stadiums are Dallas (Globe Life Park), Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), St. Louis (The Dome at America's Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field).

The XFL has revealed which eight cities will host teams when play begins in 2020.

 

The cities and stadiums are Dallas (Globe Life Park), Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), St. Louis (The Dome at America’s Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field). XFL domain names for several other cities have reportedly been registered, hinting at possible future expansion.

 

Oliver Luck, CEO and league commissioner, said about 30 cities had been in the running. Luck says team nicknames and coaches should be decided during the first quarter of 2019 and that teams will begin finding quarterbacks by the summer.

 

The XFL is a relaunch of the rival league started by Vince McMahon, the founder of WWE, back in 2001. Though named the same, the current iteration of the XFL is expected to have fewer gimmicks than the short-lived original.

 

The league will begin with eight 40-man teams playing a 10-week schedule starting in February 2020, providing years since its inception to prepare for on-field action. The original XFL, which lasted just one season, played games a year after it was announced. According to McMahon, the new iteration will be focused on being faster-paced, easier to understand and family friendly, not relying on flashy cheerleaders and antics like the original XFL.

 

Broadcast and streaming partnerships have yet to be finalized.

 

Luck resigned his post as NCAA vice president to join the alternative football league. He was formerly president of NFL Europe and later athletic director at West Virginia.

 

His son is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 213 Words

NFL Week 14: 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 York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Total: 38

The Bills have played a lot of low-scoring games this season, mainly because they’ve dealt with issues at quarterback and running back while battling weak opponents in a weak division.

But the Buffalo offense has turned a corner since getting rookie quarterback Josh Allen back from a midseason injury. They scored just 17 points last week in Miami, but they had 415 yards of total offense in that game, and that was a week from removed from a two-game stretch in which they scored a combined 65 points with zero turnovers and 778 net yards.

With running back LeSean McCoy also coming around, don’t be surprised if that offense finally explodes Sunday at home against a Jets D that has just one takeaway since Week 6 and has surrendered at least 26 points in five of their last seven games.

Buffalo could cover this total on its own, just as it did when the Bills hammered the Jets 41-10 on the road last month.

Predicted score: Bills 41, Jets 16

Under of the week: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

Total: 49

It’s time to give up on both of these offenses. The Falcons have been held to fewer than 20 points in four consecutive games, while the Packers have been limited to 17 or fewer in three of their last five.

Sure, neither team is great defensively either, but Green Bay has given up just 15.5 points per game in their last four outings at Lambeau Field.

It’s possible Matt Ryan and Co. could suddenly explode, and it’s just as possible a fire has been lit under Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense following Mike McCarthy’s firing. But it’s unlikely that both of those developments have taken place for two teams that are out of contention and playing out the string.

This one might not hit 40, and almost certainly won’t hit 50.

Predicted score: Packers 24, Falcons 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 17-8-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

Read More 329 Words

Suspended 49ers long snapper blames tainted supplement

 

San Francisco 49ers long snapper Kyle Nelson, handed a 10-game

 

San Francisco 49ers long snapper Kyle Nelson, handed a 10-game suspension from the NFL on Tuesday for a violation of the league’s policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs, blamed his positive test on a tainted supplement.

 

The punishment — the longest in 49ers history — reflects the fact that Nelson received a previous PED suspension as a rookie in 2011 after being released from the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad.

 

Nelson issued a statement Tuesday: “I have been taking the same supplements for my entire time with the 49ers, while undergoing often simultaneous testing by the NFL with no issues. I do not deviate from my nutrition routine, and I would never knowingly take a banned substance.

 

“I am currently having the supplements tested, and I hope to uncover the cause of the positive test. When the product is identified I fully intend to seek legal action against the manufacturer to protect against this happening to other players in the future.”

 

San Francisco general manager John Lynch said, “We are certainly disappointed to be losing Kyle for 10 games. Hopefully, this serves as a reminder to all of our players that they need to take the proper steps to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies.”

 

Nelson’s suspension will cover the final four games of this season and the first six games of the 2019 regular season.

 

Nelson, 32, has started 76 consecutive games since joining the 49ers in 2014. Before that, he was with New Orleans Saints and the Chiefs in 2011 but didn’t get in a game, then spent one season each with the then-San Diego Chargers (2012) and the Washington Redskins (2013).

 

San Francisco worked out several long snappers last week, according to multiple media reports.

 

Nelson is in the final year of a four-year extension signed in 2015 and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 254 Words

Redskins’ Gruden: Kaepernick not right fit

 

 

On the day when the Redskins had a second quarterback undergo surgery to repair a broken right leg, Washington coach Jay Gruden said that free agent Colin Kaepernick would not be the right option for the team as it looks for signal-calling reinforcements.

 

Colt McCoy broke his fibula Monday in the Redskins’ 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he underwent surgery Tuesday. The team won’t place him on injured reserve, as there is a chance he could return this season.

 

Regarding the timetable for McCoy’s recovery, Gruden said, “Two to three weeks would be wishful thinking — four weeks possibly, but we’ll see how it goes. (If) we’re still alive in this thing, I’d like to keep him up if he can get back for the last game of the year against Philadelphia, it would be great, or possibly the playoffs.”

 

Mark Sanchez, signed as a free agent Nov. 19, took over for McCoy in the second quarter Monday, and he will remain the starter during McCoy’s absence. Before Monday, Sanchez hadn’t played in the NFL since 2016.

 

McCoy was filling in for Alex Smith, who sustained a compound fracture in his right leg on Nov. 18 against the Houston Texans.

 

As for who will back up Sanchez, it won’t be Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism, remains unemployed.

 

Gruden said Tuesday of Kaepernick, “Oh, he’s been discussed for sure, and right now at this point, we already had a workout last week for a few guys. We had a couple other guys come in today, and then it’s just going to be a matter of which way we want to go.

 

“Do we want to go with a guy that’s familiar with my terminology who we worked out last week, or with a new guy to back up Sanchez with a similar skill set, or go with a guy and teach basically a whole new kind of offense with a new offensive line and with a lot of those zone reads and all that stuff.

 

“Not a lot of time to really get a brand new quarterback and new system installed and taught in a couple of days of practice. He’s been talked about and discussed, but we’ll probably go a different direction.”

 

Despite losing their past three games, the Redskins (6-6) are tied with the Eagles (6-6) for second place in the NFC East, a game behind the Dallas Cowboys (7-5).

 

“We’re not out of anything right now,” Gruden said. “It’s not like we’re 0-12 and we’re just playing for whatever; we’re actually playing to try to get into the playoffs, possibly win the division. Heck, we still have a lot out in front of us. Defensively, we’re fairly healthy, there is a silver lining there. We just have to play better. We have to play more physical.”

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 442 Words

Jones: Lee starts over Vander Esch when healthy

 

Sean Lee apparently won't

 

Sean Lee apparently won’t lose his job due to his hamstring injury.

 

Nor will a rookie running rampant with 102 tackles take it from him.

 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday that Lee will retain his role as a starter when he is ready to return from his injury.

 

Jones made the declaration despite the fact that first-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch is enjoying a huge season that has placed him in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion.

 

“He’s improving,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan of Vander Esch. “But Sean Lee, make no mistake about it, when he’s right, there’s nobody better. He’s such an integral part of adjusting on the field and making the big play.”

 

The 32-year-old Lee has 27 tackles in five games this season and last played on Nov. 5 when he injured his hamstring for the second time this season. He has missed the past four games and has a slight chance of returning for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Vander Esch has been a force with five double-digit tackle performances while seemingly roaming all over the field at will.

 

The Boise State product also has two interceptions and earned rave reviews for his coverage of New Orleans Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the Cowboys’ 13-10 upset of New Orleans last Thursday.

 

The NFC East-leading Cowboys (7-5) are 1-4 with Lee in the lineup this season and 6-1 when Vander Esch starts.

 

Lee also missed five games in 2017 due to a hamstring injury.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 209 Words

Report: NFL mulls suspending Hunt into next season

 

The NFL is mulling a multi-game

 

The NFL is mulling a multi-game suspension for former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt that could last into the 2019 season, ESPN reported Tuesday.

 

The league is considering three different off-field incidents involving Hunt, the bombshell coming last week when TMZ released a video showing Hunt pushing and kicking a woman in Cleveland last February.

 

Hunt was also involved in an altercation at a restaurant last June, an incident the NFL was aware of and questioned the running back about. However, TMZ reported Monday that Hunt was involved in a violent incident last January at a nightclub in Kansas City, an altercation the NFL did not previously know about, ESPN reports.

 

In that incident, TMZ reported that Hunt and others — including then-Chiefs running back George Atkinson — beat a man to the point of unconsciousness at a nightclub in Kansas City on Jan. 11.

 

The NFL placed Hunt, the 2017 rushing leader, on the commissioner’s exempt list while it investigates all three incidents, meaning Hunt is unable to play for any team that might sign him. The Chiefs released Hunt last week after the video surfaced of him kicking then-19-year-old Abigail Ottinger from Berea, Ohio.

 

Hunt went unclaimed on waivers Monday and is officially a free agent.

 

Hunt, 23, is from the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby and spends a significant part of his offseason in the area. He played college football at Toledo and burst onto the scene as an undrafted rookie in 2017.

 

Hunt rushed for 1,327 yards as a rookie. He had 824 yards through 11 games this season.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 208 Words

Inconsistent Titans seek sweep of Jaguars

 

On a steamy September day in Jacksonville, the Tennessee Titans

 

On a steamy September day in Jacksonville, the Tennessee Titans scored what at the time was an upset. Beating a team that the previous week had pounded the New England Patriots in a highly ballyhooed rematch of last year’s AFC title game, Tennessee edged the Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6.

 

It was one of a number of confounding outcomes for the Titans, who own wins over Super Bowl champion Philadelphia and Super Bowl loser New England, but also have mixed in an awful road loss to Buffalo and a no-show 21-0 home defeat to Baltimore in which Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota absorbed 11 sacks.

 

A season of inconsistency has left the Titans (6-6) needing a hot finish and a little help to earn a second consecutive playoff appearance. They need a Thursday night home win against Jacksonville (4-8) to keep their playoff hopes off life support.

 

Tennessee nearly turned the upcoming game into a battle of irrelevants, but it rallied from a 16-0, second-quarter deficit to edge the New York Jets 26-22 Sunday. Mariota completed the comeback by hitting Corey Davis for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left.

 

“I’d rather him not have to do it, but if we have to, that has been really fun to watch,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Mariota’s eighth game-winning drive in the past two years. “It is exciting to have him be able to do that.”

 

Mariota has thrown for nearly 600 yards in the past two games, but the Jaguars’ defense likely will provide a stiffer challenge than the Houston Texans and the Jets did. While Jacksonville had lost seven in a row before Sunday, its defense remains salty.

 

To wit: a 6-0 shutout Sunday of an Indianapolis Colts team that was making some real playoff noise behind a rejuvenated Andrew Luck, who had thrown at least three TD passes in each of his previous eight games. The Jaguars limited him to 248 yards on 33-of-52 passing, sacking him three times and forcing two turnovers.

 

“It feels great to get in the win column,” Jacksonville defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It’s been way too long.”

 

The Jaguars’ offense had little to do with the win, though, managing only 211 total yards and 11 first downs in quarterback Cody Kessler’s first start after replacing the benched Blake Bortles. Jacksonville will need more from Kessler this week, although it will get running back Leonard Fournette back from a one-game suspension.

 

In Fournette’s absence last week, the Jaguars gained just 79 yards on 27 carries.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 366 Words

Back to back: Rams sight bigger goals after winning NFC West

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven't surprised anybody

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven’t surprised anybody this season, not after their remarkable 2017 transformation under rookie head coach Sean McVay.

They’re still the division champs again, this time with four games to spare and plenty of opportunities to climb even higher before the postseason.

The Rams became the first team to clinch a postseason berth by beating the Lions 30-16 last weekend, guaranteeing themselves at least one home playoff game. This franchise hadn’t won back-to-back NFC West championships since 1979, when the Rams completed a run of seven straight.

“It’s a blessing,” McVay said Monday after returning from Detroit with a raging winter cold. “You don’t take anything for granted. It’s nice to be able to still have an opportunity to accomplish some things as you continue to progress through this season, but it still feels great either way to be able to accomplish something special with people that you care about and that you love.”

The Rams put on celebratory hats at Ford Field, but the muted party was mostly forgotten Monday when they got home.

According to left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Rams have greater expectations after they built on last season’s 11-5 record with an even more impressive campaign this fall.

“With all of us coming together for the first time (last year), it felt like you responded and rose to the occasion and achieved something,” Whitworth said. “I think this year, it feels like we expected to be a good football team. We expected to have an opportunity to win this division again, and we went out and did it. So I think you more see it as a checklist item. … You’re happy you won it, but it’s not the end goal, and it’s not really something we didn’t think or expect that we could do.”

Two straight division titles still are a notable achievement in the up-and-down history of the Rams, who have won only one NFL championship since 1951.

Los Angeles’ string of solid playoff teams in the 1980s won just one division title. The Greatest Show on Turf and its descendants in St. Louis won three division titles in five years, but never two in a row.

The Rams had missed the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons before McVay and Wade Phillips led them back last year, only to lose an opening-round home game to Atlanta.

The Rams are playoff-bound again, but they still have plenty to do in December — starting with the chance to clinch a first-round bye during their trip to Chicago on Sunday night.

A win over the Bears (8-4), who have the NFC’s third-best record behind LA and New Orleans (10-2), would guarantee an extra week of rest for the Rams in January.

The Rams also control their destiny for home-field advantage in a potential NFC championship game with the Saints, but that race could go deep into December.

“It’s a big deal,” McVay said. “To be able to earn the opportunity in your 13th game of the season to be able to, at the worst, clinch a No. 2 seed, it would mean that you’ll be able to watch that first week of the wild card round (at home). It’s a huge deal to us, so that’s certainly going to be a great challenge. That’s the next step.”

NOTES: Backup running back Malcolm Brown injured his collarbone in Detroit, and he was expected to have “a procedure that’s not necessarily a surgery” on Monday, McVay said without elaborating. The Rams didn’t know the severity of the injury. … McVay confirmed he spoke with former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury about potentially being “an extra set of eyes” for the Rams down the stretch. The offense-minded coaches are good friends, and Kingsbury spent time with the Rams during the summer. “He’s got a lot of opportunities that he’s figuring out now, so there’s really no news on that front,” McVay said. … McVay hopes to kick his cold in time for the Rams’ trip to wintry Chicago. “Even if I’m not healthy, that’s not going to hold me back,” McVay said. “I’m not out there playing, so as long as my brain isn’t too slow, then I’m going to do the best I can to get as healthy as possible and ready to go for these guys.”

___

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

Read More 711 Words

Barkley 46 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards as rookie

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There seems to be no limit to Saquon Barkley's upside.

Just when it seems the New York Giants' rookie running back has shown just about everything he can do on the football field, the second pick overall in the NFL draft finds another way to impress people.

Take a look

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There seems to be no limit to Saquon Barkley’s upside.

Just when it seems the New York Giants’ rookie running back has shown just about everything he can do on the football field, the second pick overall in the NFL draft finds another way to impress people.

Take a look at Sunday’s’ 30-27 overtime win over the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears.

While Barkley failed to score for only the fourth time 12 games, he rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries and helped set up 13 points.

His 22-yard run on a third-and-23 draw play set up a team-record 57-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas on the final play of the half. The play that had everyone talking was his 17-yard catch and run that ended with his hurdle over former Penn State teammate Adrian Amos. It led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr .

Finally, there was his 29-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the overtime. Rosas capped the drive with a 44-yard field goal that provided the winning margin when the Giants’ defense stopped Chicago on the final series.

“I said it early and I really believe it, he’s got a generational spirit in terms of how he competes, and I have not been — WE have not been — disappointed in (any) way,” coach Pat Shurmur said of Barkley on Monday. “He’s extremely talented running the ball, catching the ball, he blocks well, we’re doing what we can to give him the football so he has an impact on the game, and I think he has.”

Barkley’s statistics are impressive.

His 954 yards rushing are third in the NFL behind Todd Gurley (1,175) of the Rams and Ezekiel Elliott (1,150) of the Cowboys. He has exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage in 11 of 12 games and his 100-yard game rushing Sunday was his third in a row and fifth of the season.

Catching three passes for 21 yards also gave Barkley 74 catches, tying tight end Jeremy Shockey (2002) for the second-highest total by a Giants rookie. Beckham holds the franchise rookie record with 91 in 2014.

Barkley has downplayed his statistics all season, but he knows the significance of running for 1,000 yards. He would need 46 yards Sunday against Washington to hit the mark.

“It would be special because obviously one, it’s the NFL, and two, when you get 1,000 yards, it’s not just yourself getting 1,000 yards, it’s your team getting 1,000 yards. It’s the offense and especially the offensive line,” Barkley said.

The biggest adjustment Barkley has had to make this season is dealing with losing. New York was 1-7. It has now won three of four since its bye week, including Sunday’s game in which it blew a 10-point lead in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.

However, the Giants found a way to win in overtime.

“It just put everything in perspective from all the hard work that we’ve been putting in all season to go out there and beat a really good team and who was playing lights out up to that game or even in that game, they played really well, too,” Barkley said. “Definitely gives you confidence, and even though the season hasn’t been going how we want it to go.

Barkley now has 1,556 yards from scrimmage, so he needs 444 yards to become the third rookie in league history to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Eric Dickerson set the record of 2,212 in 1983, while Edgerrin James had 2,139 in 1981.

Barkley said it’s hard to describe some of the things he does on the field. The jump over Amos was on instinct.

“Some things you can’t explain and I give a lot of credit to God in a situation like that, my genetics, my mom and dad,” the 21-year-old Barkley said. “But a lot of that is also hard work, training my body to when you’re put in those positions to be able to make those cuts and make those moves.”

NOTES: Giants starting LB Tae Davis had a walking boot on his left foot (ankle). … WR Sterling Shepard (ribs) said an MRI showed tissue damage. He expects to play Sunday. … Shurmur had his doubts either TE Evan Engram (hamstring) or LB Lorenzo Carter (hip) would return this week. … Rookie Kyle Lauletta was the backup Sunday and veteran Alex Tanney was inactive. Shurmur said that probably will be the same order this week. … Lauletta had been inactive for the first 11 games. Shurmur reiterated Manning is his starter.

___

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

Read More 690 Words

Heisman Trophy Winner Props: Updated through Week 14

Kyler Murray is now the favorite to win the Heisman trophy, surpassing Tua Tagovailoa.

Note: The change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change labeled in green means the player is getting bet and his odds are lower, while the negative change in red means

Kyler Murray is now the favorite to win the Heisman trophy, surpassing Tua Tagovailoa.

Note: The change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change labeled in green means the player is getting bet and his odds are lower, while the negative change in red means the player’s odds have regressed.

Heisman Trophy Winner Props


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.

Read More 3 Words

Steelers blame themselves, not officials, for losing skid

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The excuses aren't hard to find if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the mood to look for them.

The false start that wasn't called on a play that ended with a Los Angeles Chargers touchdown . The apparent block in the back that helped spring Chargers punt returner Desmond King for the

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The excuses aren’t hard to find if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the mood to look for them.

The false start that wasn’t called on a play that ended with a Los Angeles Chargers touchdown . The apparent block in the back that helped spring Chargers punt returner Desmond King for the game-tying score.

The weird floater by Ben Roethlisberger on a pass that slipped out of his hand and landed into the awaiting arms of Los Angeles rookie safety Derwin James.

Yet the Steelers understand it’s pointless and expensive to complain, one of the reasons coach Mike Tomlin opted not to vent — publicly anyway — after his team let a 16-point lead slip away in a 33-30 loss to the Chargers on Sunday night that reduced Pittsburgh’s once comfortable cushion in the AFC North to mere percentage points over second-place Baltimore heading into the final month of the season.

“I am going to keep my mouth shut,” Tomlin said after his team dropped its second straight to fall to 7-4-1, just ahead of the Ravens at 7-5. “I am going to do that because I send enough money (in fines to NFL headquarters) in New York.”

Tomlin understands the calls the officials do or don’t make are out of his hands. His team’s ability to avoid losing with a 16-point advantage at home — something the Steelers had been able to do 174 out of the previous 175 times it happened in franchise history — is another matter entirely. One that is far more troubling than a handful of questionable decisions by referee Bill Vinovich’s crew.

“We didn’t establish rhythm in the beginning of the second half,” Tomlin said. “We had a couple drives killed by penalties, holding penalties, it’s catastrophic.”

Pittsburgh took the second-half kickoff and moved into Los Angeles territory only to see a 22-yard gain by James Conner wiped out when officials flagged left guard Ramon Foster for holding. The Steelers punted three plays later.

Pittsburgh’s second possession of the third quarter appeared to be picking up steam when left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was called for holding. The drive stalled and Jordan Berry punted yet again.

King fielded it at the Chargers 27, slipped past a couple of tacklers — including Pittsburgh’s Brian Allen, who may have been helped to the ground thanks to a shove on the back of his right shoulder by Los Angeles gunner Rayshawn Jenkins — and raced down the right sideline for a touchdown that helped tie the game at 23.

The Chargers didn’t need any assistance, however, in taking control in the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers led Los Angeles on scoring drives of 79 and 64 yards on the Chargers’ final two drives, facing just two third downs in the process.

The Steelers did not get called for a defensive penalty on either of the drives. Instead, Los Angeles simply did whatever it wanted against a defense that couldn’t seem to get in the right position.

“You can’t say anything about our offense, our offense scored 30 points,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “As a defense, we’re not getting the job done. I don’t look for anybody else to say that the officials did this or anything else, we didn’t get the job done as a defense.”

And now Pittsburgh faces a daunting stretch if it wants to lock up a fifth straight playoff berth. The Steelers visit hapless Oakland next Sunday, a meeting that looks like a mismatch. Yet the Raiders have always been trouble for Pittsburgh, particularly on the road.

The Steelers haven’t won in Oakland since 1995. They fell to the Raiders at the Coliseum in 2012 and 2013 to teams that finished 4-12 both seasons.

In 2006 Pittsburgh headed west as the reigning Super Bowl champions and somehow lost to a squad that went 2-14.

After that it’s a visit by the New England Patriots then a visit to New Orleans two days before Christmas before wrapping up the regular season at Heinz Field against Cincinnati.

A shot at earning one of the two seeds — a position the Steelers were in the mix for after a six-game winning streak had them at 7-2-1 — appears gone. At this point, holding off the resurgent Ravens is no given.

“We can’t seem to win it at home right now,” Foster said. “So maybe we’ll be great playoff road warriors.”

NOTES: WR Ryan Switzer is in the concussion protocol after taking an illegal hit from Los Angeles linebacker Jatavis Brown in the fourth quarter. … RB James Conner is dealing with a left leg contusion.

___

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

Read More 704 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 13

PRESS RELEASE

Seven From Sunday - Week 13

​A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2, the 13th week of the 2018 season.

  • The LOS ANGELES RAMS improved to 11-1

PRESS RELEASE

Seven From Sunday – Week 13

​A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2, the 13th week of the 2018 season.

  • The LOS ANGELES RAMS improved to 11-1 and clinched the NFC West division with a 30-16 victory over Detroit at Ford Field. The Rams have won consecutive division titles for the first time since the 1978-79 seasons.

    Los Angeles running back TODD GURLEY rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ victory. Gurley has 1,649 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games this season and is the eighth different player in league history to record at least 1,600 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games of a season. Six of the previous seven players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – JIM BROWN (1958 and 1965), TERRELL DAVIS (1998), ERIC DICKERSON (1983), O.J. SIMPSON (1975), EMMITT SMITH (1995) and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006)
     
    Rams wide receiver BRANDIN COOKS had four catches for 62 yards in the win and has 1,026 receiving yards this season, his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Cooks, who had 1,173 receiving yards with the Saints in 2016 and 1,082 yards with the Patriots in 2017, is the first player in NFL history to record 1,000+ receiving yards with three different teams in three consecutive seasons.

    Cooks is the sixth player in league annals to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a single season for three or more teams at any point in his career.
     

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 24 of 32 passes (75 percent) for 311 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 102.5 passer rating in the Patriots’ 24-10 victory over Minnesota.

    With his third-quarter touchdown pass, Brady tied PEYTON MANNING (579 touchdown passes) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history, including the postseason. Brady also tied Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (508) for the third-most regular-season touchdown passes in league annals.

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 295 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120 passer rating and tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 40-33 win at Oakland.

    Mahomes leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes this season and joined PEYTON MANNING (44 touchdown passes in 2004 and 41 in 2013) and TOM BRADY (41 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks in league history with at least 40 touchdown passes in their team’s first 12 games of a season. Manning and Brady each were named Associated Press Most Valuable Players in those campaigns.
     
    Mahomes has seven games with at least four touchdown passes this season, the second-most in a single season in league annals, trailing only Manning (nine games in 2013).

    Kelce, who has 1,082 receiving yards this season and has 1,000+ receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, joined Carolina’s GREG OLSEN (three consecutive seasons from 2014-16) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

  • New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY rushed for 125 yards and wide receiver ODELL BECKHAM, JR. threw a 49-yard touchdown pass and had a touchdown catch in the team’s 30-27 overtime victory over Chicago.

    Beckham, who also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass and had a 33-yard touchdown catch against Carolina in Week 5, is the first player since 1924 to record multiple games with a touchdown pass and a receiving touchdown in a single season. EDDIE KAW and BENNY BOYNTON of the 1924 Buffalo Bisons are the only players to previously accomplish the feat.

    Beckham, who leads the Giants with 1,052 receiving yards in 2018, is the only player in league history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and multiple touchdown passes in a single season.

    Barkley has 954 rushing yards this season and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer TUFFY LEEMANS (830 rushing yards in 1936) for the most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

  • The HOUSTON TEXANS defeated Cleveland, 29-13, and have won nine consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Texans are the first team in league history to win nine consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start to the season.
     
    Texans quarterback DESHAUN WATSON passed for 224 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Watson, who appeared in his 19th career game today, threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to rookie tight end JORDAN THOMAS, marking the 40th touchdown pass of his career. Watson is the fourth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 40 career touchdown passes, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers KURT WARNER (17 games) and DAN MARINO (18) and the Chiefs’ PATRICK MAHOMES, who threw his 40th career touchdown pass in his 13th career game today.
     
  • Denver rookie running back PHILLIP LINDSAY rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard touchdown run, in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory at Cincinnati.  

    Lindsay, who has 1,126 scrimmage yards (937 rushing, 189 receiving) this season, is the fourth undrafted rookie since 1970 to record at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in a single season, joining DOMINIC RHODES (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001), CLARK GAINES (1,124 in 1976) and LE GARRETTE BLOUNT (1,021 in 2010).

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include: 

    • Tampa Bay safety ANDREW ADAMS tied a franchise record with three interceptions in the Buccaneers’ 24-17 victory over Carolina.

      Adams joined RONDE BARBER, who had three interceptions on both December 23, 2001 and December 4, 2005 against New Orleans, and AQIB TALIB (three interceptions on October 4, 2009 against Washington) as the only players in franchise history with three interceptions in a single game.

      Adams is the fifth NFL player since 2010 to record at least three interceptions in a single game and the first since Tennessee’s KEVIN BYARD on October 22, 2017 against Cleveland.
       

    • Chicago defensive tackle AKIEM HICKS recorded one sack and rushed for a one-yard score in the Bears’ overtime loss at the New York Giants.

      Hicks is the second Bears defensive lineman to rush for a touchdown in the regular season, joining WILLIAM “THE REFRIGERATOR” PERRY who accomplished the feat twice in 1985 (October 21 vs. Green Bay and November 24 vs. Atlanta).
       

    • Buffalo rookie quarterback JOSH ALLEN threw for 231 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards in the Bills’ loss at Miami.

      Allen is the fourth player in league history with at least two touchdown passes and 125+ rushing yards in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (September 18, 1983 at New Orleans), TOBIN ROTE (November 22, 1951 at Detroit) and MICHAEL VICK (December 19, 2010 at the New York Giants).
       

    • Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries (10.6 average) and had nine catches for 55 yards with a touchdown in the Panthers’ loss at Tampa Bay. 

McCaffrey is the first player in NFL history to recor​d at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in five consecutive games.

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1034 Words

Steelers lose biggest lead ever at home in loss to Chargers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers let another one slip away.

For the second straight week, the Steelers held a second-half lead and lost. This time, Pittsburgh blew its biggest lead ever at home, as Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play, lifting the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers let another one slip away.

For the second straight week, the Steelers held a second-half lead and lost. This time, Pittsburgh blew its biggest lead ever at home, as Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play, lifting the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory over the Steelers on Sunday night.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and they finished the game,” Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said.

The Steelers (7-4-1) were on a six-game winning streak before losing last week at Denver and again on Sunday. It’s their first two-game losing streak of the season.

The Steelers, who held a 23-7 lead to start the second half, blew a 16-point lead at home for the first time in franchise history. The Steelers were previously 174-0-1 all-time when ahead by 16 points at home. It was the first time the Steelers blew a 16-point lead overall since Nov. 8, 1981, against Seattle.

“The game was 23-7 and as a defense, we can’t surrender points,” Heyward said. “We just gotta play better. I don’t care who it is, it’s unacceptable.”

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores for the Steelers, who are clinging to the AFC North lead over surging Baltimore. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown. James Conner added 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a lower leg contusion.

“It’s a bad loss,” Roethlisberger said. “You just can’t play bad football against a good football team.”

Things looked good in the first half when Pittsburgh scored on four of six possessions. Conner scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, giving the Steelers an early 13-0 lead following a missed extra point. The Steelers, who won four of the previous five meetings against Los Angeles, continued to surge, and pushed the lead to 16-6.

Pittsburgh, which came into the game 18-3 in December since 2013 – the best mark in the NFL over that span – seemed poised for another masterful December performance with an end-of-half score, nearly driving the length of the field in just 1:18. Roethlisberger capped the six-play, 91-yard series by threading a 28-yard touchdown pass between three defenders to Brown for the score.

But, Philip Rivers and Los Angeles recovered in the second half.

Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a score, while Justin Jackson ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in place of injured starter Melvin Gordon. Pittsburgh limited Los Angeles to just two yards rushing in the first half, tying the third-fewest allowed by the Steelers since Heinz Field opened in 2001.

“We just didn’t tackle better in the second half,” Heyward said. “We didn’t stop the run as much. We have to be better as a defense.”

Los Angeles opened the second half with 23 unanswered points, turning a 23-7 halftime deficit into a 30-23 lead.

Allen caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rivers late in the third quarter on a play in which Pittsburgh defensive backs Sean Davis and Joe Haden collided going for the ball, which popped up in the air and landed squarely in Allen’s hands.

Desmond King added a 73-yard punt return, and Allen pulled in the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 23. Jackson’s 18-yard burst up the middle gave the Chargers a 30-23 lead.

Rookie Jaylen Samuels replaced Conner and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass for Pittsburgh with 4:10 to play to tie the game at 30. That left Rivers ample time to one-up Roethlisberger, a fellow member of the vaunted 2004 draft class that includes New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Rivers calmly led the Chargers 64 yards in 11 plays, including a 12-yard pass to Allen on third-and-4 at the Pittsburgh 34 that pushed Los Angeles close enough to bring on Badgley for the win.

Badgley initially missed a 39-yard kick, but Pittsburgh was called for offsides.

“It looked like all of us jumped off at the same time,” Haden said. “Sometimes when you get a good jump, it looks like you jumped offsides. I would have to look at it again, but I didn’t feel like we were offsides.”

Badgley’s ensuing 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were flagged again for jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap. Badgley drilled his third attempt at the game-winner, as the Chargers completed the biggest opposing comeback in Heinz Field history with just their fourth win in Pittsburgh in 19 tries.

“You can’t say anything about our offense, our offense put up 30 points,” Heyward said. “We didn’t get the job done as a defense.”

___

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

Read More 725 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Week 13 Results

Our darkest days were followed by our finest hours. After going a disappointing 1-4 a week ago, we got right back on track with a 4-1 showing in Week 13. If it weren't for the Colts literally laying an egg against the Jaguars, we would've hit our big five-team parlay. It's almost like

Our darkest days were followed by our finest hours. After going a disappointing 1-4 a week ago, we got right back on track with a 4-1 showing in Week 13. If it weren’t for the Colts literally laying an egg against the Jaguars, we would’ve hit our big five-team parlay. It’s almost like we can’t trust any AFC South team not named the Texans right now. That started our day off on a sour note, but the rest of the games helped ensure a week back in the black.

LOSS: Colts -5 at Jaguars (-110): Jaguars 6, Colts 0.

What an absolutely disgusting game. Finally, Jacksonville’s defense decided to show up and ended up shutting out one of the hottest offenses in the league. Indy couldn’t get anything going and somehow, Cody Kessler out-dueled Andrew Luck. Perhaps we’re giving Kessler too much credit. Anyway, I hope you didn’t watch this game during the first set of games just because you bet on it. If you did, you missed some other great games.

Everyone but the Texans seems so unpredictable nowadays in the AFC South. Just when you think a red-hot Colts team can beat a Jaguars team riding a seven-game losing streak by a touchdown, you’re proven wrong. As we alluded to, though, this was all we got wrong this week and that’s a good feeling. Total win: $0.

WIN: Raiders +15.5 vs. Chiefs (-110): Chiefs 40, Raiders 33.

Every single time we’ve bet on a team that was an underdog of 14 or more points this season, we have hit. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s just really hard to blow teams out in this league no matter the disparity of talent. Obviously, when we made this pick earlier in the week, we didn’t know Kansas City would be without Kareem Hunt and that certainly helped. Still, Oakland just had a decent showing, especially down the stretch.

Patrick Mahomes continued to do Patrick Mahomes things and threw for another four touchdowns, but the Raiders were able to keep pace on the scoreboard. Down the stretch, we will continue to seriously consider double-digit underdogs, because they’ve already proven this season to be a really wise bet. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Jets +7.5 vs. Jets (-110): Titans 26, Jets 22.

This was a really tough loss for the Jets as they led nearly the whole way, but we don’t care about that. They covered the spread and that’s what truly great teams do, right? Well, we won’t mentioned the Jets and the word “great” in the same sentence again, but the bottom line is they did enough to cover. It seemed a little ridiculous the Titans were favored by more than a touchdown in the first place and they showed why: their offense is wildly inconsistent.

New York choked down the stretch and Tennessee’s defense clamped down late, so more power to them. They seem to play everyone close (outside of the Patriots) and asking them to win by more than a score proved too hard. We expected as much and will take it to the bank as a result. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Steelers-Chargers OVER 51.5 points (-110): Chargers 33, Steelers 30.

What a thrilling Sunday Night Football game this was. Things looked very iffy after the first half ended 23-7 Steelers. It looked like it might become a blowout, which always threatens overs. However, the Chargers came out of halftime on fire and rattled off an impressive road win. By early fourth quarter, we already had the over and could just enjoy the final minutes of the game. Both these teams are playoff caliber and it was nice to get a preview of a potential opening round match up.

If a playoff rematch were to be as entertaining as this one, sign me up. Should that happen, I don’t think the floodgates will be as wide open. Scoring tends to go down a bit come playoff time when there’s a chill in the air. Anyway, this over proved to be a really solid bet and it keeps pushing us right along in our mission to get back over the 60 percent pick percentage mark. Total win: $5.70.

WIN: Ravens-Falcons UNDER 48.5 (-110): Ravens 26, Falcons 16.

It’s almost as if we predicted the Falcons would stall out in the red zone and the Ravens wouldn’t blow them out, thus hitting the under. Both those things happened and while it got close at the end, we never really got the feeling the Falcons were going to score again to hit the over. Had they scored a late touchdown, that could’ve made for a really brutal beat, but we avoided that fortunately.

Atlanta is really such a mess right now and with the Steelers losing, Baltimore is right back in the AFC North hunt. When they play again, that will be a big clash of styles and I don’t expect seeing a point spread or over/under that I will feel confident enough in that one. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, though, and for now, rejoice that we are solidly back in the win column. Total win: $9.50.

PIGGY BANK: $287.60 (10.6% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 59.7% (37-25-3)

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.

Read More 789 Words