Hue Jackson trying to help Bengals beat his former team

Hue reunion: Browns try to beat former head coach, Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis shut down the question immediately, making it clear he won’t be talking about the latest addition to his staff — one who’s in an unusual position to influence the next game.

Only last month, Hue Jackson was Cleveland’s head coach, intimately involved in the Browns’ game planning. Now he’s on the Bengals sideline with Lewis, trying to beat the Browns — a sensitive subject that the head coach is trying to put off limits.

“I think I’ve answered enough Hue questions, OK?” Lewis said Wednesday with an edge to his tone. “We’re done. We’re over.”

Oh, no. The intrigue is just getting started.

The Bengals (5-5) desperately need to beat the Browns (3-6-1) at Paul Brown Stadium to remain relevant in the playoff chase. They’ve lost four of five , fired their defensive coordinator and installed Lewis as leader of a historically bad unit.

As part of the shuffle, he brought back a close friend at an opportune time.

Jackson was fired by the Browns on Oct. 29 after winning only three games in three seasons. Lewis brought him back to Cincinnati for the third time , creating a role of special assistant. Jackson helps develop the weekly game plan on defense and provides tips on the sideline during games.

His input will be especially useful this week. Jackson knows the Browns’ tendencies and the players’ strengths and weaknesses.

“That was very unique,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “He knows the players, he knows the staff. They just got a new (offensive coordinator), so they’re probably calling things differently than when (Jackson) left. So you have your advantages there.”

It’s not unusual for a team to pick up a player who was released by an upcoming opponent, but it’s highly unusual to get the other team’s former head coach.

One more unique feature to this intrastate matchup: Both head coaches will be calling the defensive plays. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was elevated to interim coach after Jackson was fired. Lewis took over the defensive coordinator duties after Teryl Austin was fired on Nov. 12.

“It brings a smile to my face,” Williams said Wednesday during a conference call. “It’s kind of unique.”

It’s challenging to analyze what the opposing offense is doing and adjust defensively while also running the overall game. That’s where Jackson’s presence could be especially helpful on Sunday.

The Browns are coming off a bye week that gave them a chance to add a few things that Jackson won’t anticipate.

“He’s not there (in Cleveland) anymore, so they could have changed a lot of those things,” Dunlap said. “So you don’t want to get caught guessing. But it’s good to know what they like to do and what they’re built and set up for, so it’s great to have that understanding.”

Jackson jogged off the practice field on Wednesday and declined to stop and talk about his reunion with Cleveland, referring questions to the closed-lipped Lewis.


Receiver A.J. Green could return against Cleveland. He’s missed the past two games with an injured toe on his right foot, and the offense struggled in losses to the Saints and Ravens . Green didn’t practice Wednesday, but Lewis said he will work out the rest of the week, aiming to be ready by Sunday.

Left tackle Cordy Glenn (back) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder) also missed practice. Defensive end Michael Johnson (calf) and safety Shawn Williams (hamstring) were limited.


The Bengals figured they’d upgraded their linebacker group when they signed durable Preston Brown from Buffalo in the offseason. He was limited by a right ankle injury that he suffered the first game, and he injured his right knee during a 51-14 loss to the Saints. The Bengals put him on injured reserve Tuesday and signed defensive end/linebacker Kasim Edebali, a college free agent who has played with the Saints, Broncos, Lions and Rams. Lewis said Brown might have surgery on his ankle now that he can’t return this season.


More AP NFL: and

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said fans can get

Browns introduce Kitchens as head coach

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said fans can get on board or get out of the way as he takes the reins in Cleveland.

Kitchens was formally introduced as coach on Monday, ending a nine-week search that began when Hue Jackson was fired.

“It takes some guts to do what they did — I know I’m not a popular choice. And I don’t care,” Kitchens said. “You’ve got to block out the noise in this business. The noise gets you in trouble. … They didn’t care. They were doing what they thought was best for the organization.”

Kitchens will remain the primary play-caller in Cleveland despite the addition of Todd Monken as offensive coordinator.

Kitchens said Monday that Monken opted for Cleveland because of the quality of the people on the staff, despite the perceived step down from his previous role as play-caller and offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Browns also filled their defensive coordinator vacancy, officially naming former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks to that position.

“When everyone’s willing to check their ego at the door, that’s when you’re in position to be successful. We’re going to be successful,” Kitchens said. “The offense is whatever they wanted it to be. I was just the guy directing the choir. … I just get people going and they decided what they wanted to be.”

General manager John Dorsey said Kitchens’ vision for the team and his ability to collaborate — a noted shortcoming for previous head coach Jackson — and coordinate set the first-time head coach apart from other candidates.

“Honestly, I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself,” he said. “When I knew it was possible was whenever John (Dorsey) told me I was interviewing for the job. I try not to lie too much. I meant it when I said, ‘I’m one day at a time.’ You have to have a vision for the future, eliminate some road blocks along the way. … This is the most important time for me as a head coach, is the staff I’ve built.”

Kitchens will report directly to Dorsey. The structure change shifted from the existing protocol, which called for Jackson to report to owner Jimmy Haslam.

Monken, who turns 53 in February, was a candidate for head-coaching openings with the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets and also drew interest as a coordinator from several other teams, including Jacksonville and Detroit.

He took over playcalling from Dirk Koetter in Tampa Bay this season, his third as offensive coordinator, and helped the Bucs’ offense finish third in yards and 12th in points. The Bucs did not bring Monken back after hiring new head coach Bruce Arians, whose offensive coordinator will be Byron Leftwich.

Wilks, 49, was fired less than a calendar year after taking over the Cardinals, who finished with the NFL’s worst record this season at 3-13, a job he got after shining as a coordinator with the Carolina Panthers.

Arizona’s defense ranked 20th in yards and 26th in scoring, but Wilks helped Carolina finish seventh and 11th, respectively, in 2017, his only previous experience as an NFL coordinator. Wilks was a defensive backs coach for four teams from 2005 through 2016 before taking over as coordinator in Carolina.

He is replacing Gregg Williams, who served as interim head coach for the second half of 2018 but was let go when Kitchens was promoted to head coach last week.

“I’m probably going to offend some people saying this, but if you don’t self-promote sometimes you can get overlooked,” Kitchens said. “I’m just going to do my job. I was always under the assumption, if you do your job well enough, you’ll get recognized.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 559 Words

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Lost in the headlines

Report: NFL owners prepare for work stoppage in 2021

Lost in the headlines of the names and ages of the people NFL teams are hiring to fill head-coaching vacancies is some of the language common in the contracts they sign.

Specifically, language reportedly foreshadowing a possible work stoppage in 2021.

According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday, the head-coaching contracts negotiated in the last week contain wording that show “teams are addressing how much each coach would make — or lose — in the event of a work stoppage.”

Teams are using different percentages based on the amount of game time that could be missed in 2021 to determine how much money they would save in coaching salary should there be a work stoppage, according to the report.

Schefter added that “both teams and coaches are confident that there will be some type of disruption,” and that similar language is expected to appear in contracts for upcoming free agents.

The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in what would be the third year of those new contracts.

Shortly after Schefter tweeted the news on Sunday, the official Twitter feed of the NFL Players’ Association tweeted back, “These contract provisions were also seen in the lead up to the 2011 lockout. Take note.”

After the owners and players were unable to come to an agreement before the last CBA expired in March 2011, the owners locked the players out as negotiations continued. That impasse lasted 132 days, coming to an end on July 25 with the Hall of Fame Game being the only on-field cancellation caused by the lockout.

–Field Level Media

Read More 209 Words

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Patriots hammer Chargers, make 8th straight AFC title game

Scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions Sunday, the New England Patriots established a 35-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional round game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

The result sends New England (12-5) to Kansas City next Sunday to play for the conference title and a trip to the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:40 p.m. ET. The win also gives the Patriots a perfect 9-0 home record this season and puts them in the conference championship game for eighth consecutive season, an NFL record.

Los Angeles finished its season with a 13-5 record and its first playoff win since January 2014.

But on this day, the Chargers couldn’t come close to replicating last week’s wild-card round victory in Baltimore. The Patriots carved up Los Angeles’ defense for drives of 83, 67, 58 and 87 yards to start their day, then cashed in a fumbled punt return for a fifth touchdown just before halftime.

Every aspect of New England’s offense did its job. Tom Brady completed 34 of 44 passes for 343 yards and a 15-yard scoring strike to Phillip Dorsett with 12:17 left in the second quarter. Rookie running back Sony Michel pounded out 129 yards on 24 carries, reaching the end zone on runs of 1, 14 and 5 yards.

Brady made liberal use of running back James White and wide receiver Julian Edelman — White caught 15 passes for 97 yards and Edelman added nine catches for 151 yards, a franchise-record fifth 100-yard game in the playoffs.

Defensively, the Patriots made the Chargers one-dimensional with their first half explosion. Running back Melvin Gordon managed only nine carries for 15 yards and a third-quarter touchdown, forcing Philip Rivers to carry the load.

Operating under duress all day, Rivers completed only 25 of 51 passes for 331 yards and three scores with an interception. New England recorded only two sacks, but hurried and harassed the quarterback all day.

The AFC title game will be a rematch of a wild Week 6 game in Foxboro that the Patriots won 43-40 on a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired.

–Field Level Media

Read More 301 Words

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

Anderson, Gurley run Rams past Cowboys, into NFC title game

C.J. Anderson rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and Todd Gurley added 115 yards and a score as the Los Angeles Rams ran their way into the NFC Championship game with a 30-22 victory Saturday over the visiting Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Jared Goff was 15-of-28 passing for 186 yards as the Rams moved one victory from the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 2001, when they lost to the New England Patriots.

The Rams will face the winner of Sunday’s Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints matchup in next weekend’s NFC title game.

“It was incredible what they did today,” Goff said of the Rams’ running backs. “We know this (Cowboys) defense, and we prepared for it well all week. What Todd and C.J. did … Todd started it and C.J. finished it off.”

Dak Prescott was 20 of 32 for 266 yards and one touchdown passing while also rushing for a score as the Cowboys lost their eighth consecutive road playoff game.

The Rams totaled 273 yards on the ground, a franchise record for a playoff game. It was the most rushing yards the Cowboys’ defense has given up in a game this season. Dallas entered with the fifth-best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 94.6 yards per game.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job of controlling the line of scrimmage, winning our gaps and tackling,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “They were able to run consistently throughout the game. They controlled the pace and tempo of the game really because of that.”

Anderson, who was signed late in the season and played in just two regular-season games, scored on a 1-yard TD run to give the Rams a 13-7 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Gurley, who was playing in his first game since Dec. 16 against Philadelphia because of knee soreness, added a 35-yard TD run with 3:27 remaining in the opening half to give the Rams a 20-7 lead.

After a third-quarter field goal from the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein, the Cowboys cut the deficit to 23-15 on a 1-yard TD run from Ezekiel Elliott and a 2-point conversion catch from Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys started a potential game-tying drive late in the third quarter, but Elliott was stopped on fourth down from the Rams’ 35-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Rams promptly went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard TD run from Anderson to take a 30-15 lead with 7:16 remaining. Prescott added the Cowboys’ final TD on a 1-yard run with 2:11 remaining.

Elliott was held to 47 yards on 20 rushes for the Cowboys.

“Even when we were in three-receiver sets they were in base, so they were committed to stopping our running game,” Garrett said. “If they’re committed to taking one thing away you have to be able to beat them in the other area, and at times we did a good job of that tonight.”

At 32, the Rams’ Sean McVay became the youngest head coach to win a playoff game, ahead of John Madden, who was 33 when he won his first playoff game with the Oakland Raiders.

–Field Level Media

Read More 468 Words

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers' stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, and the Indianapolis Colts top the New England Patriots, the NFL will have a decision to make.

Will the Chargers be allowed to host the AFC championship game at their temporary home, the 30,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in suburban Carson, Calif., or will it be played elsewhere in a stadium with larger capacity?

CBS Sports reported Friday that the NFL league office will be discussing contingency plans should the fifth-seeded Chargers and sixth-seeded Colts advance. That would give the Chargers home-field advantage in the championship game.

The league discussed the possibility of where the Chargers would host a potential title game when they were vying with the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed, but that talk died down when the Chargers landed as a wild-card team, CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported.

He said that last month, officials had discussed the potential of moving the game to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Rams. That could still be a Plan B, LaCanfora said, but if the Rams host the championship game, both games could not be played on Sunday. Instead, one of the conference championship games could be played on Monday night under that scenario, he said.

–Field Level Media

Read More 162 Words

What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs



LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who



LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:






Green Bay


Won Super Bowl XLV


New York Jets


Conference Championship




Conference Championship




Conference Championship




Won Super Bowl XL














In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.


WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:
















Green Bay





New England





San Francisco






TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:








Aaron Rodgers (GB)


Matt Ryan (Atl.)


NFC Championship


Andrew Luck (Ind.)


Peyton Manning (Den.)


AFC Divisional


Drew Brees (NO)


Peyton Manning (Ind.)


Super Bowl XLIV


Drew Brees (NO)


Brett Favre^ (Min.)


NFC Championship








Patrick Mahomes (KC)


Andrew Luck (Ind.)


AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd


AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:








Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers



Peyton Manning


Tom Brady

New England



John Elway^


Dan Marino^




Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City



Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger



^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13



RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):








Nick Foles







Bart Starr^







Kurt Warner^







Matt Ryan







Drew Brees







^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):





Nick Foles




Matt Ryan




Kurt Warner^




Ken Anderson




^Pro Football Hall of Famer


SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:





Terrell Davis^




Arian Foster




John Riggins^








Ezekiel Elliott




^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak



Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:






Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants



Won Super Bowl XXI






Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams




^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 997 Words

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be their next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

No team can hire Taylor until the Rams’ season is over, but Taylor reportedly is the Bengals’ top choice. ESPN reported that Taylor also wants to be in Cincinnati, where he coached as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2016.

Taylor, 35, would become the second-youngest active head coach in the NFL, behind only his current boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Jan. 24. He interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ and Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancies before those teams hired Vic Fangio and Kliff Kingsbury, respectively.

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach. He also coached for the Miami Dolphins, one year as assistant quarterbacks coach (2012), three as quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and part of the 2015 season as interim offensive coordinator.

NFL Network earlier Thursday that the Bengals told several assistant coaches they would not be returning, as the team’s next head coach has other assistants in mind to replace them. That indicated the hire would come from outside the organization.

Other candidates for Cincinnati job include Hue Jackson — who joined the Bengals midseason after being fired as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach — former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Taylor would be the third head coach hired during this cycle who has ties to McVay.

New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur spent 2017 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator under McVay.

Meanwhile, McVay offered Kingsbury a job on L.A.’s staff for the remainder of the 2018 season after the latter was fired by Texas Tech. Kingsbury instead joined the University of Southern California as offensive coordinator before getting the Cardinals’ job a month later.

Taylor’s brother, Press Taylor, is in his first season as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

–Field Level Media

Read More 289 Words

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

The New York Jets’ hiring of Adam Gase as head coach has received a major vote of approval from at least one important voice on the team — starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

“It was a tough decision, but I think Gase and the things he’s able to do, the way he’s able to lead, I think is the best thing for our team,” Darnold told ESPN during a phone interview on Thursday.

Darnold had an up-and-down 2018 rookie season (17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions) with the Jets, who finished 4-12 and ranked 29th in total offense. He also supported former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but said he thought the team made the right choice with Gase, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who was fired on Dec. 31 after they finished 7-9 and ranked 31st in total offense.

“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” said Darnold, who spoke with Gase on FaceTime for 10 minutes on Monday. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to work with him, and score a load of points. I think it’s going to be really fun.”

If there was a backlash by fans about the Jets’ decision to hire Gase, Darnold expects it to subside, saying, “I don’t think they’ll be upset when we start winning games.”

Eight known candidates interviewed for the position, including former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. It came down to a final four: Gase, Monken, McCarthy and Baylor coach Matt Rhule.

“Adam is an awesome dude. First of all, a really trustworthy guy,” Darnold said of Gase, who previously worked with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. “He just knows ball. He knows football. He’s very, very passionate about it. I think that’s what’s going to be awesome about this whole thing.”

Manning reached out to Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Tuesday night to throw his support Gase’s way.

“His passion is going to be super, super contagious,” Darnold added about his new coach. “Guys are going to want to go out there and play the game all the time. I think that’s kind of his leadership style, and I think that’s really where he’s going to thrive. I think our guys are going to take on that kind of attitude.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 352 Words

NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend: 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: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 49

The Cowboys offense has come alive. Dak Prescott is playing well, Ezekiel Elliott has picked up steam and the offensive line is healthier than it was during much of the regular season. As a result, Dallas has averaged 32.3 points per game the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Rams might not be projected to load up on points considering the way they finished the regular season — they averaged “just” 27.0 points per game during the final four weeks of the year — but they still averaged a league-high 37.1 points per game at home this season, and star running back Todd Gurley is now healthier than he’s been in weeks.

Both defenses have stellar playmakers, but the Rams have the league’s worst run D in terms of rushing yards allowed per attempt. That bodes well for Elliott. The Dallas D is excellent against the run but remains vulnerable through the air and struggled when defending running backs in the passing game. And that, of course, bodes well for Gurley and the rest of L.A.’s high-powered, innovative offense.

It’d be a huge surprise if the Cowboys and Rams didn’t combine for 50-plus points Saturday night in front of a split crowd at the L.A. Coliseum.

Predicted score: Cowboys 30, Rams 27

Under of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 57.5


OK, the Chiefs have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and that unit was at its worst when it gave up 35.6 points per game between Week 11 and Week 16 before recovering in finale against Raiders. But let’s not forget that Indy’s shockingly strong defense has surrendered a league-low 15.5 points per game dating back to Week 7.

Both offenses will undoubtedly move the ball and find the end zone, but I get the feeling oddsmakers have given too much credit to NFL touchdown pass leaders Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck and not enough credit to Indy’s all-around stellar D and Kansas City’s under-the-radar pass-rush.

The Chiefs can be had on the ground and in the secondary, but don’t be surprised if Bob Sutton dials up some stops with his sneaky-good pass-rush, and be less surprised if the still-mistake-prone Mahomes experiences some growing pains in his first career playoff start.

After all, the same thing happened to Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky last week, as well as Jared Goff in his maiden playoff voyage last January.

This game won’t be low-scoring by any stretch, but I doubt these teams combine for more than 50 points.

Predicted score: Colts 27, Chiefs 24

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 21-14-1

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 445 Words

Super Bowl 53 Future Book Odds: Start To Finish

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We've also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We’ve also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

NFL Odds

Super Bowl LIII Line

AFC                  +3

NFC                  -3


Who will win Super Bowl LIII?

AFC Team         +130     (13/10)

NFC Team         -150     (2/3)


Odds to Win Super Bowl 53       

New Orleans Saints                                      5/2

Kansas City Chiefs                                        4/1

Los Angeles Rams                                        9/2

New England Patriots                                   6/1                   

Los Angeles Chargers                                  9/1

Indianapolis Colts                                        10/1

Dallas Cowboys                                           12/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                     12/1


Exact Super Bowl Matchups (Most likely to least likely)

New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs                    4/1

New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots                 5/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs                      6/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots                  8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers                8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts                      10/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers                  12/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts                        14/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs                          16/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs                     16/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots                       20/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots                 20/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers                      28/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Chargers                28/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts                            33/1     

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts                      33/1


Here you can select a team and see what the probability of them winning the Super Bowl was throughout each week of the season.

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 177 Words

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat

Chargers RB Gordon sits out, TE Henry practices

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon sat out practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, giving him extra rest as he hopes to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon is expected to play through a mild left knee sprain, which is similar to the injury on his right knee that kept him out of three games in the regular season.

“There’s not a lot of backs in the league right now that are 100 percent, to be honest with you,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters before practice Wednesday. “He’s one of those guys that he’s not 100 percent, but sometimes you don’t feel like it because of the way he competes.”

Meanwhile, tight end Hunter Henry was a full participant in his first practice since being activated off the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday.

Henry has practiced with the team for three weeks, but the Chargers were not obligated to list him on an injury report until he was placed on the 53-man roster. The designation suggests Henry is on track to play against the Patriots, just 7 1/2 months since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during organized team activities.

Joining Gordon on the sideline Wednesday was center Mike Pouncey, who is battling a thumb issue. Fullback Derek Watt (shoulder) was limited, as were linebacker Kyle Wilson (concussion) and cornerback Brandon Facyson (concussion).

Lynn was not available for comment after the injury report was issued.

–Field Level Media

Read More 195 Words

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs' plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not

Arians: Leftwich will call Bucs’ plays

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will not call offensive plays for the team, instead handing that responsibility to offensive coordinator/pass-game coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“Obviously I’ll have a big hand in it,” Arians added Wednesday on the Rich Eisen Show, in his first public appearance since being named the Bucs’ head coach on Tuesday. He said he feels “very, very comfortable” with Leftwich calling plays.

Arians has called plays in 14 NFL seasons, including all five years of his tenure as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, but he clearly has faith in Leftwich, who turns 39 on Monday. In June 2017 — just a few months after Arians made Leftwich the Cardinals’ quarterbacks coach — Arians said Leftwich will be a head coach “early and fast.”

A former top-10 pick as a quarterback, Leftwich was promoted to interim offensive coordinator in Arizona midway through this season after the firing of Mike McCoy, but the Cardinals released him after the season. This year will be his third as an NFL coach, in addition to one year as a coaching intern.

Meanwhile, Arians also sounded sure that former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles will be his defensive coordinator, despite reports Wednesday saying the addition is not a done deal yet, with the Chicago Bears also seeking Bowles’ services to run their defense after Vic Fangio’s departure to join the Denver Broncos.

“He’s like a son to me,” Arians said of Bowles. “He thought hard about [being the Bucs’ defensive coordinator]. I was doing my best sell job and this happened. We’re really excited to be back together.”

Bowles was Arizona’s defensive coordinator under Arians from 2013-14 before landing the Jets’ lead job. The Cardinals finished those years ranked seventh and fifth, respectively, in points allowed.

Arians also voiced full support in quarterback Jameis Winston, saying, “this thing will be built around him.”

“I think he can win it all,” Arians continued of Winston. “He has the intelligence, the toughness and obviously the arm ability to lead a team. Now we’ve gotta put the right pieces around him, we’ve gotta do some things defensively, but if anybody can do things defensively, Todd Bowles can do it.”

The Buccaneers officially will introduce Arians on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

Read More 322 Words

Report: AAF to follow NFL eligibility rules


After Clemson's dominant


After Clemson’s dominant victory over Alabama on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game, social media was flooded with fans wishing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence could play pro football right away.


They’ll need to wait until 2021. Probably.


NBC Sports reported Tuesday that a spokesman for the upstart Alliance of American Football said the league will use the same eligibility rules as the NFL. That means a player can’t join the league until at least three years have passed since his high school class graduated.


So under that scenario, Lawrence and other players who were true freshmen in the 2018 season can’t be selected by the NFL until the 2021 draft, or join the AAF until then.


The AAF opens play in its inaugural season on Feb. 9.


The XFL, however, hasn’t committed to such a timeline. The eight-team XFL is scheduled to begin in 2020.


In an interview with podcast host Brian Berger of the Sports Business Radio Road Show in December, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said, “We’re not subject to that.”


“Theoretically we could take a player right out of high school. I doubt we’ll do that,” Luck said, taking note of the physical differences between teenagers and players in their mid-20s.


“But I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said. “Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to.”


–Field Level Media

Read More 213 Words

Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Report: 'Good chance' Kitchens will be Browns' head coach

Report: ‘Good chance’ Kitchens will be Browns’ head coach

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens may be looking at his second promotion in less than three months, according to a report Tuesday by, which says Kitchens has “a good chance” of being named head coach of the Browns.

The report adds that several assistant coaches already have been asked to stay aboard, a sign that the Browns will stay inside the organization for the hire. NFL Network reports it doesn’t appear Cleveland has made a decision yet, but Kitchens is getting “strong consideration.”

Kitchens, 44, interviewed with the Browns on Monday, and interim head coach Gregg Williams also interviewed for the job last week.

Last week, multiple outlets reported that the Browns blocked several NFL teams from interviewing Kitchens for their offensive coordinator positions so they could keep him, either as head coach or offensive coordinator.

Kitchens was promoted from Cleveland’s running backs coach to offensive coordinator — his first time holding a coordinator position — in Week 9 of the regular season, and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived after the change. In eight games with Kitchens as OC, Mayfield threw for 2,254 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions and was sacked just five times.

–Field Level Media

Read More 146 Words

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots

McDaniels: ‘Book is closed’ on interviews, staying with Patriots

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that the “book is closed” on doing any more head coaching interviews, adding, “I’ll be here moving forward.”

McDaniels made the comments during a conference call with reporters, multiple outlets reported.

It comes a day after the Green Bay Packers reached a deal with Matt LaFleur to be their next head coach, replacing Mike McCarthy. McDaniels was among several candidates interviewed by the Packers, and it was the one job McDaniels was reportedly very interested in during the current coaching cycle.

“It’s always a humbling experience,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “I’ve said before, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world.”

McDaniels previously turned down an invitation to interview with the Cincinnati Bengals, and said Tuesday that he has had “no contact” with the Cleveland Browns, contradicting reports that he had shown interest in their vacancy.

McDaniels told reporters he’s “completely focused” on the Patriots’ game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Patriots play host to the Chargers in a divisional round playoff game Sunday at 1 p.m.

McDaniels, 42, was 11-17 as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, and he spurned the Indianapolis Colts at the 11th hour last year after reaching an agreement with the team to replace Chuck Pagano.

McDaniels returned to the Patriots after getting fired by the Broncos. He first joined the Patriots in 2001.

–Field Level Media

Read More 187 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

We didn't exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but

We didn’t exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but let’s not let that distract us from the fact we picked at a 58 percent clip during the rest of the year. We’re going to recap what went wrong this week and as we put a bow on the 2018 season of this column, we’ll look at who presents the best Super Bowl value.

LOSS: Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This was a true beatdown. I’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated just how hot the Colts were. Their offensive line looks impenetrable and Andrew Luck, as a result, looks like an elite quarterback once again. They took Houston out of the game from the jump by rushing out to a big lead. Deshaun Watson and Co. were simply never able to recover.

Watch out for Indy against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, they match up really well against Kansas City. If K.C. isn’t able to generate a pass rush on that tough offensive line, they could be in for a long day, whether they have the league MVP playing at his best or not. Teams surprise us in the playoffs and our first surprise came thanks to Indy.

LOSS: Seahawks to beat Cowboys (-105): Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22.

If only we would have taken the spread, which was Seahawks +2.5, we would’ve had the greatest backdoor cover of all time. Boy, kicker Sebastian Janikowski getting injured in the first half really threw this game through a loop with Seattle having to go for two and having to go for it on fourth down deep inside Dallas territory. Of course, having to go for two (and succeeding) at the end of the game, pushed the final score to a two-point margin instead of four.

However, we took Seattle to win straight up, because that was the better value and Pete Carroll’s unwillingness to pass the ball in the first half bit us right where it hurts. It really doesn’t make sense to be running the ball so much when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league, but what do I know? This was a tough game to watch and an even tougher game to lose a bet on.

WIN: Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 points: Chargers 23, Ravens 17.

For a while there, it seemed like we were solidly in the clear, but scoring picked up in the fourth quarter. Had Lamar Jackson led an improbable comeback drive in the final minute, it would have pushed the over. Let’s be honest, though, that would’ve been pretty cool regardless. Los Angeles held on as they continue to look like a team of destiny and they saved the over by a couple points.

This is the only game we picked correctly this week, which makes it our last correct game pick of the season on this column. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers end up knocking off the Patriots on the road next week. L.A. is now 8-1 on the road this season and is coming for a New England team, which was the only team in the league to go a perfect 8-0 at home in the regular season.

LOSS: Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110): Eagles 16, Bears 15.

Writing this recap makes me physically ill, because I’m a Bears fan. I was in a fit of blind rage for about an hour after Cody Parkey’s game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off two different posts. While that field goal wouldn’t have won us this bet anyway, it doesn’t make it any easier a pill to swallow.

What we should blame this on is Matt Nagy’s vanilla play calling in the first half. It seemed like he was playing not to lose and didn’t let QB Mitch Trubisky push the ball down the field. That may have been a mistake given the fact he torched the Eagles in the second half, giving him the most overall passing yards of any QB playing on wild card weekend. It still should have been enough as he led the team down for a very makeable game-winning field goal, but a fingertip re-directed Parkey’s attempt and the play that will forever live in Chicago sports infamy was born.

LOSS: Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This game is really the gift that keeps on giving, huh? When one team scores just seven points, you can be pretty certain you aren’t hitting the over. I expected this to be a much closer game in the mid-20’s hence the pick. I couldn’t have anticipated Houston’s offense stalling out for most of the game. Credit to Indy for jumping out to an early lead and not giving it up, but that game flow really put us in a bind.

Since Indy went up so big so soon, Houston had to go into predictable play calls and that hindered them on offense. Up big, Indy just ran the ball and continued running out the clock. It was the perfect storm to lose us the over pretty quickly.

Okay, this bad betting week behind us, let’s jump to some Super Bowl picks. I’ll give you two Super Bowl values I really like and two I don’t like so much as you look to make a longer term bet in the coming weeks. These are all based on teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl going into the Divisional Round.

Like: Chargers +1000. Yes, I get that the Chargers now have to take on the Patriots on the road to even advance to the AFC Championship, but this is really good value. A 10-to-1 that I really could see going all the way. Since they were a wild card team, it’s easy to forget they were tied for the best record in the AFC this season.

Saints +250. It’s weird to call the Saints a “value” pick, because they are the favorites to win it all. However, even a 2.5-to-1 payout is great for them and here’s why: they have the path of least resistance to get there. With the Bears eliminated, the NFC is now theirs for the taking and that alone, makes them a good value.

Dislike: Chiefs +400. The Chiefs are the most overrated team in football and it’s because they have the league MVP and the league’s most dynamic offense. However, in the playoffs, when games get tighter, you need a defense to win you games and K.C. has the worst defense remaining in the playoffs. They simply can’t slow down opponents in the passing game and they have a less-than-stellar match up this week with the Colts coming to town. They’re tied for the second-best odds to win it all and that’s just bad value.

Rams +400. I dislike this for many of the same reasons I dislike the value of taking the Chiefs. First of all, the team hit a rough patch in the final quarter of the season. They should beat the Cowboys at home, but that’s not a given. One thing they have over the Chiefs is a game wrecker like Aaron Donald. Even with a subpar overall defense, Donald can change a game with a big strip sack at any time. Overall, though, you just can’t convince me they’re going to march into New Orleans and beat the Saints. They, along with Kansas City, are the second-best odds behind the Saints and I just don’t see value in that.

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 1216 Words

New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has ‘final say’ on personnel

New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has 'final say' on personnel

For anyone who

New Raiders GM Mayock: Gruden has ‘final say’ on personnel

For anyone who feared the Oakland Raiders’ hiring of Mike Mayock to be the general manager would create some sort of power struggle between the new guy and head coach Jon Gruden, Mayock is doing his best to alleviate that fear.

When push comes to shove, the GM is deferring to the coach.

“In all honesty, Jon’s got final say, if it ever comes to that, and I’ve got zero problems with that,” Mayock told ESPN’s Steve Levy on Monday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Mayock was attending the College Football Playoff championship game, scouting perennial NFL pipelines Alabama and Clemson.

“Now, having said that, I think we’re going to come to a consensus and I like a little yelling, a little screaming, a little fighting for what players you believe in,” Mayock continued. “But at the end of the day, I guarantee you, Jon Gruden and I are going to know what a Raider looks like and smells like. I don’t think we’re going to have any issues.”

After a brief playing career in the early 1980s, Mayock shifted his focus to the media. He has never held any sort of NFL management or coaching position, and he has worked as an analyst and draft expert for the NFL Network since 2004.

After shadowing Gruden for parts of the offseason, Mayock was named the replacement for the fired Reggie McKenzie on New Year’s Eve.

The Raiders finished the 2018 season with a 4-12 record, collecting a cadre of draft picks along the way.

Oakland had a 39-70 record, including a playoff loss, under McKenzie. He helped orchestrate trades that shipped out former first-round picks and Pro Bowl performers Khalil Mack (Bears) and Amari Cooper (Cowboys) during Gruden’s first season back on the sidelines since his “Monday Night Football” run.

In addition to the franchise’s own first-round pick, the Raiders will have first-round picks from Chicago and Dallas. The order of those selections will be determined by playoff results.

The Raiders are slated to begin playing in Las Vegas in 2020, but with their lease at the Oakland Coliseum up following the 2018 season and their new stadium in Sin City not ready until 2020, their home for the 2019 season remains uncertain.

–Field Level Media

Read More 323 Words

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Steelers’ Smith-Schuster replacing Brown as Pro Bowl WR

Now the Pro Bowl knows what the Pittsburgh Steelers feel like.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who missed Pittsburgh’s regular-season finale for what was listed as a knee injury, is also out of the postseason all-star contest for apparently the same reason. The Steelers announced Monday that teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster will replace Brown on the roster for the game, set for Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.

Smith-Schuster was voted as the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates after making 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He ranked fifth in the AFC and 12th in the NFL with 1,439 yards from scrimmage.

Brown was out with a knee injury for the Steelers’ Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, per the injury report. However, it was later revealed that Brown missed the final walkthrough and was benched by head coach Mike Tomlin for missing other meetings and practices leading up to the game.

While the Steelers beat the Bengals 16-13 to finish 9-6-1, they were knocked out of playoff contention when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cleveland Browns. Last week, NFL Network reported teammates doubted Brown’s knee injury claims.

Tomlin, who admitted there was no MRI or X-ray on the knee, said he had no reason to doubt the wide receiver was hurt. He followed that up with a completely different feeling, saying at an end-of-year news conference, “We’re talking about our darkest hour. The guy not communicating is a very real element of discussion.”

Tomlin denied Brown requested a trade, as CBS Sports reported last week.

“I talked to him prior to the game on Sunday,” Tomlin said. “I have not talked to him since then. … I’m not going to frame any expectation or conversation. I’m having conversations with a lot of people in terms of assessing what transpired. I will certainly talk to him.”

Brown led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches this season, and had 104 receptions for 1,297 yards.

Other Steelers scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl are running back James Conner, defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Alejandro Villanueva.

–Field Level Media

Read More 300 Words

Bears K Parkey: ‘Thought I hit a good ball’

Bears K Parkey: 'Thought I hit a good ball'

Bears K Parkey: ‘Thought I hit a good ball’

A distraught Cody Parkey was at a loss to explain his miss of a potential game-winning field goal at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which knocked the Chicago Bears from the playoffs.

“I feel terrible,” Parkey told reporters after the 16-15 loss. “There’s really no answer to it. I thought I hit a good ball.”

Parkey’s 43-yard attempt hit the left upright, caromed down, went off the crossbar and then back into the end zone, preventing Chicago from reaching the divisional playoffs. Slow-motion replays appeared to show Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester getting a finger on the ball with his left hand, and Eagles teammates confirmed afterward that Hester tipped it.

It was Parkey’s sixth kick this season that hit an upright and missed.

Fans booed the kicker heavily as he left the field.

“It’s one of the worst feelings in the world to let your team down,” Parkey said. “I feel terrible. Continue to put things into perspective, continue to just put my best foot forward and just sleep at night knowing that I did everything in my power this week to make that kick, and for whatever reason it hit the crossbar and the upright.”

Moments before the miss, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson had used a timeout to ice Parkey just before the Bears snapped the ball, and Parkey made the meaningless attempt as whistles blew. He had also hit each of his first three field-goal attempts of the game, though none was from further than 36 yards.

Parkey, who turns 26 in February, spent the first two years of his career with the Eagles, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2014 as a rookie.

Former teammate and Eagles left tackle Jason Peters told NFL Network after the game he knew Parkey’s second attempt — after Pederson called a timeout — would miss.

“I told him thank you after the game,” Peters said.

Parkey joined the Bears on a four-year, $15 million deal in free agency in March, but he made just 23 of 30 field-goal attempts (76.7 percent) and missed three extra points in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

Read More 299 Words

Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Eagles survive Bears on bizarre missed FG

Nick Foles found Golden Tate for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 16-15 win over the host Chicago Bears on Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The Eagles were stuffed on three plays from the 2-yard line before Tate hauled in the pass just beyond the goal line with the season at stake. The defending Super Bowl champions will travel south to face the top-seeded New Orleans Saints next week.

Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds for Chicago as teammates watched in disbelief from the sideline. Parkey’s kick hit the left upright and then hit the crossbar before bouncing back into the end zone. It was the sixth time he hit the upright this season.

Foles completed 25 of 40 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Tate and Dallas Goedert each had a touchdown catch.

Mitchell Trubisky completed 26 of 43 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown in his playoff debut. His top target was Allen Robinson, who finished with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Robinson hauled in a 22-yard score along the right sideline to give Chicago a 15-10 lead with 9:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. Taylor Gabriel was stuffed in front of the goal line on a rushing attempt for a failed two-point conversion.

The Eagles grabbed a 10-6 lead with 5:20 to go in the third quarter. Foles looked to his left and connected with Goedert on a slant route toward the end zone for a 10-yard score. The completion — which came with only 10 Bears on the field — capped a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive.

Chicago pulled within 10-9 with 14:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Parkey made a 34-yard field goal for his third strike of the game.

Philadelphia opened the scoring on the first possession of the game with a 43-yard field goal from Jake Elliott.

The Bears’ offense had back-to-back punts before Parkey evened the score at 3 with a 36-yard field goal with 9:38 to play in the second quarter. An interception by Bears linebacker Roquan Smith on the previous drive helped to set up the score.

Chicago took a 6-3 lead as time expired in the half on Parkey’s 29-yarder.

–Field Level Media

Read More 326 Words