What to Look For – Week 8 Running Backs

PRESS RELEASE

FRANK THE TANK: Miami running back FRANK GORE has 18,087 career scrimmage yards in his 14 NFL seasons.
With 104 scrimmage yards on Thursday at Houston (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime), Gore would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (18,190) for the sixth-most scrimmage yards in league annals.
 
The players with the most scrimmage yards in NFL history:
 
PLAYER
TEAM(S)
SCRIMMAGE YARDS
Jerry Rice*
San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle
23,540
Emmitt Smith*
Dallas, Arizona
21,579
Walter Payton*
Chicago
21,264
Marshall Faulk*
Indianapolis, St. Louis
19,154
LaDainian Tomlinson*
San Diego, New York Jets
18,456
Barry Sanders*
Detroit
18,190
Frank Gore
San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami
18,087
*Pro Football Hall of Famer
 
TOUCHDOWN TODD: Los Angeles Rams running back TODD GURLEY leads the NFL with 956 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns through the Rams’ first seven games this season. Gurley has scored at least two touchdowns in three consecutive games and in four total during the 2018 season.
 
With two touchdowns on Sunday against Green Bay (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Gurley can become the fifth player since 1970 to score multiple touchdowns in five of his team’s first eight games of a season. The other four players to accomplish the feat are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
The players with at least two touchdowns in five of their team’s first eight games of a season since 1970:
 
PLAYER
TEAM
SEASON
GAMES WITH 2+ TOUCHDOWNS
Terrell Davis**
Denver
1998
5
Emmitt Smith**
Dallas
1995
5
Eric Dickerson**
Los Angeles Rams
1983
5
Marcus Allen**
Los Angeles Raiders
1982
5
Todd Gurley
Los Angeles Rams
2018
4*
*In first seven games of season
**Pro Football Hall of Famer
 
Courtesy of NFL Communications

Seahawks get crucial win to stay in NFC playoff conversation

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — For the Seattle Seahawks to have a say in the NFC playoff picture, they had to get past Green Bay. A loss would have likely proved too much to overcome with games remaining against Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City.

So Pete Carroll celebrated Thursday's win in the way everyone would have

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — For the Seattle Seahawks to have a say in the NFC playoff picture, they had to get past Green Bay. A loss would have likely proved too much to overcome with games remaining against Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City.

So Pete Carroll celebrated Thursday’s win in the way everyone would have expected. He rode Seattle’s waterfront Ferris wheel.

“It’s a wonderful ride. Everyone should do it,” Carroll said Friday.

The Seahawks’ 27-24 win over Green Bay snapped a two-game losing streak and created a path to where the postseason is now at least a realistic opportunity for Seattle. There are still challenges ahead, but Seattle is now in the conversation.

“To be in it right now, we’re not where we want to be record-wise, but we’re fighting,” said tight end Ed Dickson, who caught the winning touchdown pass from Russell Wilson with 5:08 remaining.

Seattle’s path to the postseason is relatively straightforward because of the way its schedule is structured. Five of the Seahawks’ final six games are against NFC teams. Three of those are against San Francisco, twice, and Arizona, who have combined records of 4-15 going into this week. The other two NFC opponents are Carolina next week and Minnesota in Week 14, the two teams directly in front of the Seahawks in the wild-card race.

So while Seattle doesn’t have complete control of its playoff fortunes, it will have a say in whether it can stay in the race into the final weeks of the regular season. And it’s why knocking off the Packers was so crucial.

“Doug (Baldwin) and I were talking about going back to 2015. We were 4-5, I think it was, and we got on a hot streak,” Wilson said. “This is one game, we have a lot of games to go. We have a tough game ahead of us. Just a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’ve gone and how we’ve done it before.”

That run Wilson referenced from 2015 was based largely on a passing offense that erupted in the final two months of the season. Seattle won six of its final seven games that season, scoring 29 or more points in each victory with Wilson throwing 24 touchdown passes and one interception during the seven-game span.

A passing explosion like that isn’t likely to happen this time. But something could happen on the ground as Seattle continued to show it can run the ball with any of its three running backs.

The Seahawks rushed for 173 yards against the Packers, their eighth straight game running for at least 100 yards as a team and the seventh straight game topping 150 yards. Last week against the Rams, Seattle used a healthy dose of Wilson’s legs when he rushed for a season-high 92 yards to complement the first 100-yard game of Rashaad Penny’s rookie season.

Against the Packers, it was a combo of Penny, Chris Carson and Mike Davis as the closer. Carson had 83 yards on 17 carries; Penny had 46 yards, including a highlight 30-yard run in the first half; and Davis had just one carry until Seattle’s final drive when he had three carries for 16 yards as Seattle picked up two first downs to close out the game.

“It might frustrate some people like we can’t make up our mind but I feel really comfortable with how we’re doing this,” Carroll said. “Some games it will go in a different direction like we’ve seen, but it’s great to have that kind of flexibility. They all have characteristics and attributes that help us.”

NOTES: Carroll was unclear about the status of LB K.J. Wright and his lingering knee problems. Wright couldn’t finish last week’s game against the Rams due to issues stemming from surgery he had in August. He was inactive Thursday. “We’re trying to get his knee confident to where he can get back and stay back. We’re going to take our time, whatever time it takes to check that out,” Carroll said. … LB Mychal Kendricks will be able to rejoin the team in practice next week, but won’t be eligible to play until Week 14 against Minnesota. Kendricks was originally suspended indefinitely after pleading guilty to federal insider trading chargers, but had the suspension reduced to eight games.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Key fantasy questions for NFL Week 11

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 11:

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Giants QB Eli Manning has a juicy Week 11 matchup against the Buccaneers, who have given up multiple TDs to QBs in seven of nine games. Other Giants you should

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 11:

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Giants QB Eli Manning has a juicy Week 11 matchup against the Buccaneers, who have given up multiple TDs to QBs in seven of nine games. Other Giants you should consider starting this week include wideout Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram. The Bucs can’t stop WRs and TEs, and have yielded the second-most fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to both positions.

You can stick a fork in the Raiders. They’re done and should be targeted in fantasy football every week. The Cardinals, their Week 11 opponent, have a rookie and veteran that have the potential of having a big game against them.

Christian Kirk is averaging just under seven targets per game over the past four weeks. Despite his quiet Week 10 against the Chiefs, he had averaged just over 65 receiving yards in his previous four games. He’s an excellent route runner with good hands and should be considered a trade target in dynasty leagues.

Larry Fitzgerald slumped badly earlier this season but he’s averaging just under 10 targets over the past four weeks and has 23 receptions and two TDs during that time frame.

The Raiders have surrendered multiple TDs to the WR position in seven straight games. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones has a good matchup against the silver and black. Tight ends have caught 18 passes and scored four TDs against Oakland over the past three weeks.

Ravens RB Alex Collins could be a sneaky play against the Bengals, who’ve given up 13 total TDs to RBs this season. QB Joe Flacco’s Week 11 status is not known (hip) and if either Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III start in his place, the Ravens might lean on their running game a bit more.

ANY GOOD BUY LOW OPTIONS TO FOCUS ON AS TRADE DEADLINES APPROACH?

Corey Davis, WR, Titans: The Titans averaged just over 15 points per game for the first seven weeks of their season. They’ve averaged 31 points over the past two weeks and Davis has averaged 10 targets and 90.5 receiving yards during that time. Davis is fourth with eight targets inside the 10 this season. With the Titans offense finally showing some life, look for Davis to continue to have some upside.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: For many fantasy owners the bloom may be off the rose when it comes to Michel, but the Patriots have shown that when he’s healthy they’re going to give him the ball. He averaged just over 22 carries, 4.72 yards per carry and scored four TDs from Week 4 to Week 6. Fantasy football playoffs take place from Week 14 to Week 16 in most leagues and he faces the Dolphins in Week 14 and the Bills in Week 16. Both have been very friendly to the run.

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRADE TARGETS BASED ON REST OF SEASON SCHEDULES?

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: Newton has scored the eighth-most fantasy points among QBs this season and has future matchups against the Buccaneers, Browns, Saints and Falcons. The Browns are 17th in FPPG allowed to QBs, but the other three teams are in the top 4 in points allowed to the position.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: Sanders has scored the 11th most fantasy points among WRs. With the Broncos trade of Demaryius Thomas to the Texans, Sanders will continue to be heavily targeted in the passing game. He still has favorable matchups against the 49ers, who’ve yielded 14 TDs to WRs and the Browns, who’ve allowed the seventh most FPPG to WRs this season. In Week 16, which is usually championship week in fantasy football, Sanders will have a very favorable matchup against the Raiders. In addition, Phillip Lindsay, RB for the Broncos, should also take advantage of Denver’s soft schedule down the stretch and should also be considered a trade target.

WITH COOPER KUPP OUT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON IS THERE A RAMS WR THAT COULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS ABSENCE?

His target share is tough to predict, but look for Josh Reynolds, who has big-play potential, to play some of his reps out of the slot, where he’ll absorb some of Kupp’s targets. In his last game with Kupp on the sidelines he caught three passes for 42 yards, but two of those catches were for TDs.

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For more fantasy tips and insight, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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Breaking down the historically high total for Chiefs-Rams

The total for Monday night's highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

https://twitter.com/RJinVegas/status/1061994554788732928

The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it's entirely possible it'll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to

The total for Monday night’s highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it’s entirely possible it’ll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to take the over regardless of where sportsbooks set it. 

For what it’s worth, it’s hard to imagine this game won’t contain at least 30 points per side. After all, the Chiefs and Rams are averaging a combined 68.8 points per game this season. Eight of Kansas City’s 10 games have contained at least 50 points, while four of L.A.’s 10 outings have contained at least 64. 

Also for what it’s worth, Pro Football Reference’s super-awesome database indicates that all five games this century with totals north of 58 have gone over. 

My primary note on this one? The Rams defense has been particularly vulnerable against strong NFC foes this season. In five matchups with the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, they’ve surrendered an average of 33.0 points per game. Considering that this game is now back in Los Angeles and the Rams have scored at least 29 points in every home game they’ve played this year, it’s easy to wonder if a 63.5-point total is actually a little low for this one.

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

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Ramsey expresses loyalty to Jaguars

 

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans

 

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans with a tweet earlier this week suggesting he was looking ahead to playing for a different team down the road.

 

On Thursday, he addressed the comments and insisted he hopes to stay in Jacksonville for the long haul.

 

“When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me. I ain’t even trippin lol,” he tweeted Monday.

 

 

 

Ramsey said that comment was meant for “fake fans” and said his position with the team and his future hadn’t changed.

 

“I’ve said multiple times, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again that I want to play for one team my whole career,” he said, per the team’s website.

 

Ramsey is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Jaguars hold a fifth-year option.

 

“If they wanted, they could extend me,” said Ramsey. “And if it’s right, then we’ll get that done and I’ll be here for a number of years. If not, I have a fifth-year option they can pick up and they can franchise me. I mean, I could be here for a while.”

 

The Jaguars (3-6) have lost five straight games and face the 6-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Wilson, Seahawks drive past Packers

 

Russell Wilson hit tight end Ed Dickson

 

Russell Wilson hit tight end Ed Dickson for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:08 remaining as the Seattle Seahawks rallied from an early double-digit deficit to defeat the visiting Green Bay Packers 27-24 Thursday night.

 

The Seahawks (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak. The Packers (4-5-1) remained winless in five road games this season.

 

Wilson completed 21 of 31 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks, who have the best rushing offense in the NFL, added 173 yards on the ground. Chris Carson, who missed the previous game due to a hip injury, led the way with 17 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.

 

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers amassed 332 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing. However, Rodgers was sacked four times on third down in the second half as the Packers managed just three points after the intermission.

 

Packers receiver Davante Adams made 10 receptions for 166 yards.

 

Dickson’s TD catch capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

 

The Seahawks’ defense forced Green Bay into a three-and-out on its next possession, and Seattle was able to run out the clock.

 

The Packers took a 21-17 halftime lead, jumping on top when Rodgers hit running back Aaron Jones on a 24-yard scoring strike with 44 seconds left in the second quarter. It was the first time the Seahawks allowed points in the final two minutes of a half this season. Jones had three receptions for 61 yards on the drive.

 

The Seahawks scored two touchdowns in a span of 4:41 in the second quarter to overcome a 14-3 deficit. Wilson found Doug Baldwin in the back corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass and Carson then ran for a score from 1 yard out. The first drive covered 77 yards in 14 plays and took 7:31 off the clock. The second march was three plays for 70 yards in 1:25.

 

The Packers dominated the first quarter, taking a 14-3 lead.

 

Carson fumbled on the Seahawks’ first play from scrimmage, giving the Packers the ball at the Seattle 29-yard line. Jones capped the three-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.

 

A 39-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski cut the margin to 7-3 before Rodgers scrambled to his right to avoid a sack and found fourth-string tight end Robert Tonyan for a 54-yard touchdown pass. It was the rookie’s first career catch.

 

–Field Level Media

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Beckham not backing off Giants winning final 7 games

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. says more than a couple of people scoffed last week when he said the New York Giants could win their final eight games and make the playoffs.

The NFL's highest-paid receiver knew it was a long shot when he made the statement and little has changed since

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. says more than a couple of people scoffed last week when he said the New York Giants could win their final eight games and make the playoffs.

The NFL’s highest-paid receiver knew it was a long shot when he made the statement and little has changed since the Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 on Monday night. It’s just seven games now.

Still, Beckham was not backing off the idea Thursday before the Giants (2-7) practiced for Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6).

“I don’t know what makes me not believe it,” Beckham said. “That’s just the goal. Same thing I said before the season, the goal is to win a Super Bowl. It’s always going to win a Super Bowl. If you’re just here to have fun or whatever else, I don’t think you should be here. The goal is to win every game. I’m trying to win. If we play 16, I’m trying to win 16. Win the four in the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl. You never want to lose.

“My mentality is going to be win these last seven games, no matter who believes it or what’s said, or anything like that,” Beckham added. “That’s going to be my goal.”

Coach Pat Shurmur doesn’t mind his players talking about running the table.

“I think he is just giving you his long-range approach,” Shurmur said. “If you ask him, he will tell you he is putting all his energy into playing Tampa. That’s the challenge. We have to stay in the moment. We have to keep the noise out, and that’s the same whether you win or lose a game.”

The Giants have done a lot of losing the past 1½ seasons. They have won five of 25 games and not won two straight since December 2016.

Still, the upcoming schedule is not horrible. The Giants don’t have games against any of the NFL’s dominant teams: the Rams, Chiefs, Saints, Chargers, Patriots or Steelers.

Of the seven games left, Chicago (6-3), Washington (6-3) and Tennessee (5-4) have winning records. Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dallas are 4-5, although the Eagles and Cowboys beat the Giants this season.

So there is a chance, slim as it may be.

“I don’t think it’s crazy to think that way at all,” rookie running back Saquon Barkley said. “I think that’s what we all feel in this locker room, we all feel on this team. We’re more than capable of doing that, but we’re not naïve to the fact that it’s a long season and you can’t really think, oh, we got to win eight games, because that’s not the mindset. That’s what we want to do, but the mindset is taking care of every single day and every single game, one day at a time.”

NOTES: Running back Jonathan Stewart, who has been on injured reserve since Sept. 28 with a foot injury, has been designated for return/returned to practice. The Giants have until Dec. 6 to decide to either activate him or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. He is not eligible to return to the active roster until Nov. 26.

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After taxing stretch, Brady to use bye to recharge, improve

BOSTON (AP) — If his 19th NFL season has been at all more taxing than any of the previous 18, Tom Brady isn't willing to say so.

Even if his play on the field through the Patriots' first 10 games this season might suggest otherwise.

Last season, at age 40 Brady became the oldest player

BOSTON (AP) — If his 19th NFL season has been at all more taxing than any of the previous 18, Tom Brady isn’t willing to say so.

Even if his play on the field through the Patriots’ first 10 games this season might suggest otherwise.

Last season, at age 40 Brady became the oldest player in NFL history to earn regular-season MVP honors.

A year later, he finds himself in the throes of some his worst passing numbers in three seasons as the Patriots head into their bye week. What’s unclear is whether it’s an aberration or perhaps the first subtle signs of decline for the 41-year-old quarterback.

It’s not as if Brady is having a disastrous year. Despite coming off a humbling 34-10 loss to Tennessee , New England still enters its bye with a 7-3 record and is on its way to capturing its 10th straight AFC East title.

Brady is still completing 65 percent of his passes and has 17 touchdowns. He’s done it despite having to break in new players in the receiving group, dealing with injuries at running back and seeing tight end Rob Gronkowski battle ankle and back injuries.

“We just haven’t had that, I would say, overall consistency and the ability to practice together,” Brady said. “That’s not an excuse. … A lot of teams deal with injuries and moving parts and bringing different people in. That’s just part of football. But we’re trying to adjust and adapt like everyone else. Some weeks it’s been better than others.”

In recent years Brady has typically shrugged off questions about his health or any injuries he might be dealing with. It included him famously wearing a glove during the playoffs last season to shield the extent of a cut he sustained on his throwing hand prior to the AFC championship game.

That same, guarded posture has extended to all inquiries about whether any of the hits he’s taken this season have affected his performance.

Asked Wednesday about how he was feeling physically heading into the bye week, Brady smiled before saying, “Pretty good, pretty good.”

“Some bumps and bruises, but I think that’s part of football season and I feel pretty good,” he added.

There’s definitely been more hiccups that usual in the passing game for the Patriots.

In his first seven games this season, Brady had a passer rating of 100 or greater five times, while completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing for 16 touchdowns. He did it despite being sacked nine times during those games and tossing seven interceptions.

He hasn’t thrown any picks over the Patriots’ past three games, but he’s been sacked seven additional times. He’s also thrown just one TD pass and seen his completion rate drop to 59 percent with a passer rating of 85.1.

Brady is also being asked to do more outside of the pocket, serving as a blocker on trick plays and even catching a pass during the loss to the Titans. And because of New England’s injury issues at running back, Brady’s number has been called more often for quarterback sneaks.

“I think we’re certainly aware of that, but there’s certain things that I think you have to do sometimes to win the game,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Belichick said he doesn’t believe they are putting more of a load on Brady than they think he can handle.

“We’ll just have to evaluate those things going forward. Not looking to do an excessive amount of them, that’s for sure, but if there’s a situational play or something that comes up, then I think we’d consider it,” Belichick said. “Quarterbacks get hit in the pocket and quarterbacks scramble and a lot of people converge on them in a hurry. So, nobody knows that better than Tom does.”

Running back James White said the onus on protecting Brady extends across the entire offense. That includes better blitz pickup by everyone.

“Definitely need to be better just communicating and when we do — when we are on the same page — do a better job of getting Tom enough time to read the coverage out and if he decides to hold the ball, still give him enough time to do that, too,” White said.

Brady said he’ll be using the time off to recharge going into the stretch run of the regular season.

“We’ve had a lot of weeks of football and we’ve got some really important ones coming up,” he said. “So hopefully we can learn from the things that have happened over the course of the season and use them to our advantage moving forward.”

He said improvement must come across the board.

“The reality is for the quarterback, I can do what I can do and I need to shore things up with what I can do,” Brady said. “I don’t think any player’s really satisfied. I think we’re all looking to get better and improve and we have some opportunity to do that.”

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Baker’s boys: Mayfield has Browns believing dark days over

CLEVELAND (AP) — The losing has slowed, but hasn't stopped for the ever-rebuilding Browns. They're in the midst of yet another coaching search, and the NFL playoffs will come and go without them again this season — the 16th straight postseason since their most recent appearance.

But as Cleveland hit its bye week, and with

CLEVELAND (AP) — The losing has slowed, but hasn’t stopped for the ever-rebuilding Browns. They’re in the midst of yet another coaching search, and the NFL playoffs will come and go without them again this season — the 16th straight postseason since their most recent appearance.

But as Cleveland hit its bye week, and with six games left in another season going nowhere, optimism abounds around a franchise that has had little to celebrate over the past 25 years.

The dark days of despair are dwindling.

Baker Mayfield is making them go away.

The fearless rookie quarterback with the contagious personality, touchdown-making skills and trash-talking bravado, has the Browns — and their long-suffering fans — believing.

“It’s not everything, but it’s everything,” guard Joel Bitonio said with a smile when asked about Mayfield’s magnetism and positive influence. “You’ve got to have a quarterback to win in the NFL and it hasn’t been perfect, but to have him out there with you, there’s always that hope that, ‘Hey, we have a chance to win this game.'”

The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Mayfield is changing the Browns (3-6-1) with his actions on and off the field. He’s already endured years of chaos in just 10 games as Cleveland has changed coaches, traded its top playmaker (Josh Gordon) and leading rusher (Carlos Hyde), suffered numerous injuries and a few of those punch-in-the stomach losses that the Browns have seemingly mastered.

But every time the Browns have taken a hard hit, Mayfield has responded with one of his own.

“We’ve got a quarterback who knows how to fight,” said defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. “You want to play for a guy like that who inspires you. He comes to the defensive side of the ball like, ‘Hey, we’re still in this. Just give me one more chance out there.’ Guys on defense love that. They love a quarterback who can go out there and make a promise and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got your back.'”

Mayfield, who has gotten better every week, hasn’t won the respect of his teammates. He’s earned it.

The Browns didn’t hand the starting job to Mayfield, who began the season in a backup role before starter Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion in Week 3 against the New York Jets on national TV. Mayfield came in and led the Browns to their first win since 2016, snapping a 19-game winless streak and providing a preview of bigger things to come.

It hasn’t been perfect so far. Mayfield has made his share of rookie mistakes, forcing passes, holding onto the ball too long, missing open receivers. But in the past four games, Mayfield has completed 69 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Despite winning the Heisman Trophy and going 33-6 as a starter at Oklahoma, Mayfield wasn’t considered the top prospect in this year’s ballyhooed rookie QB class, which includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen. Mayfield was too short, too cocky, too much a product of Sooners coach Lincoln Riley’s system.

Well, Mayfield has outperformed the other rookies across the board.

“He’s developing as a quarterback,” said Browns general manager John Dorsey, the man who went out on a limb and picked Mayfield. “He is still a rookie quarterback. He has demonstrated certain things during the course of a game that get you excited. I think that if you would ask him as a person, he still has a lot more football to master the position that he plays. I think he will continue to do that.”

Last week, after being encouraged by interim coach Gregg Williams and his teammates to “cut it loose and play,” Mayfield delivered the signature performance and victory of his fledgling pro career.

He completed his first 13 passes, finished 17 of 20 with three touchdown passes and outplayed Atlanta quarterback and 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan as the Browns ended a four-game losing streak with a 28-16 win.

Following the game, Mayfield smiled and said he woke up “feeling dangerous” before de-feathering the Falcons, who had their playoff hopes severely shaken.

The comment might have come off as cocky to some, but it was Mayfield at his playful and bragging best, displaying the swagger that made him a college superstar and has endeared him to his Cleveland teammates.

Make no mistake, at 23 and only 10 games into his NFL life, Mayfield is the Browns’ undisputed leader, the tone-setter.

“He’s taken the role head-first, never looking back,” said rookie running back Nick Chubb, who rushed for 176 yards in the win. “He brings that energy and burst that we need. This team will follow him anywhere. He is just a great leader, and you know no matter what is going on around us or outside noise just the bad stuff that has not gone well for us, he is going to give us all 100 percent and he is not going to let it affect him.

“We like that in our quarterback and our leader, and he is fiercely competitive. He gives 100 percent every play. Just being on the team with him, everyone just likes it and loves him and loves who he is.”

The praise from Chubb and others fuel him.

“To me, there is nothing better than that,” Mayfield said. “As a quarterback, and as somebody that wants to be a leader of this team, it does not get better than that.”

In Cleveland, things are getting a lot better.

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Jalen Ramsey wants to spend career with Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Regardless of his rant on social media, Jalen Ramsey would love to spend his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And the chatty cornerback has a video game to prove it.

"I play Madden all the time. I play with the Jags," Ramsey said Thursday. "I don't trade myself. I don't make

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Regardless of his rant on social media, Jalen Ramsey would love to spend his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And the chatty cornerback has a video game to prove it.

“I play Madden all the time. I play with the Jags,” Ramsey said Thursday. “I don’t trade myself. I don’t make any trades on the team. I play with the Jags. I lose a couple times, but I bounce back. I always bounce back. But I play with the Jags.”

Frustration is starting to surface for the Jaguars (3-6), who bolstered big hopes from reaching the AFC title game last year by starting 3-1. They haven’t won since then, and their fifth straight loss last week to the Indianapolis Colts was marked by missed assignments and blown coverages.

At least one of them belonged to Ramsey, the Pro Bowl cornerback who was supposed to drop in coverage and instead played man defense as tight end Eric Ebron ran free for a 53-yard touchdown catch.

The following morning, Ramsey took to Twitter to vent about the negative blowback in Jacksonville.

“When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me. I ain’t even trippin,” it said.

Ramsey, a first-round pick in 2016, still has another year on his contract with an option that would take him through 2020. And he hopes it would go longer than that.

“I’ve said multiple times … that I want to play with one team my whole career,” Ramsey said.

He also hasn’t removed the tweet or backed away from it.

Pressed to explain what he meant, Ramsey said it was directed to the “fake fans.”

“We bring some good things,” he said. “And yeah, we slipped up here recently, not executed and played like we know we can. But like, whoever — the fake fans, y’all, whoever — if y’all want to jump ship, then it is what it is. But y’all going to miss us when we either gone or when stuff (is) back popping. We don’t want y’all no more.”

The Jaguars are on the verge of popping themselves out of any shot at the postseason, trailing Houston by three games in the AFC South, winless since Sept. 30. Next up are the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose fifth straight victory was a 55-21 dismantling of the Carolina Panthers a week ago Thursday night.

Ramsey, in an interview with GQ last year, said he was more impressed with receiver Antonio Brown than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who he referred to as “decent at best” and that Roethlisberger “really disappointed me” the two times the Jaguars beat the Steelers, including the AFC divisional playoff.

With a chance to return the favor, Roethlisberger didn’t nibble when asked about Ramsey.

“He’s a guy that you have to understand where he is and who he’s covering and be smart,” Roethlisberger said. “I am not going to fear anybody — I don’t care who they are. But you respect it, for sure.”

The trick for Ramsey and the rest of the Jaguars’ secondary is to look smart by knowing who they’re supposed to be covering. Ramsey attributed the blown assignment against the Colts to not hearing the call from the other side of the field.

Whether it’s communication or formation, Ramsey is more interested in a solution.

“Not saying we don’t care about the fans being frustrated, but we’re frustrated in here,” he said. “Y’all think we just walking around and we happy about what’s been happening lately? We’re not. We’re still trying to figure out a way that we can fix it.”

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NFL Week 11 Football Props: Seahawks vs. Packers

Seattle's season has been pretty straightforward: against good teams, they lose, and against bad teams (at or below 50% wins) the win. They've put together some impressive games against the Rams, losing by only one score and putting up 31 points in each contest. Each of their losses have been by 1 score, so they've

Seattle’s season has been pretty straightforward: against good teams, they lose, and against bad teams (at or below 50% wins) the win. They’ve put together some impressive games against the Rams, losing by only one score and putting up 31 points in each contest. Each of their losses have been by 1 score, so they’ve never really been out of the games they play. Their 4 wins have come against the Cowboys, Cardinals, Raiders and Lions- all with losing records. They are 3-3 on the road, and 1-2 at home.

The Packers sit in a similar position. 3 of their 4 losses have come agains the Patriots, Redskins and Rams- all teams that lead their divisions. What separates them from Seattle, is the fact that they are 0-4 on the road, and 4-0-1 at home. Tonight’s matchup in Seattle doesn’t bode well for Green Bay if this season’s trend is any sort of indicator.

Another interesting thing to note is that since 2012 (the Fail Mary game), every matchup between Seattle and Green Bay has resulted in the home team winning (playoffs included).

Alternate lines are available at Sugar House Sportsbook if you live in the state of New Jersey.

Seahawks vs. Packers 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.

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 11

Key takeaways from week 10:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Patriots fall from the top 3
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: Cleveland Browns (+50%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-150%)
  • No change: Broncos, Bills, 49ers (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

Key takeaways from week 10:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Patriots fall from the top 3
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: Cleveland Browns (+50%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-150%)
  • No change: Broncos, Bills, 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.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 11 Picks

We're starting to pick games with some swagger now. Being well in the black is nice, so let's keep the good times rolling. The lines are set pretty well this week, which makes our jobs a little tougher. There aren't a ton of spreads to like, but we picked out the three you

We’re starting to pick games with some swagger now. Being well in the black is nice, so let’s keep the good times rolling. The lines are set pretty well this week, which makes our jobs a little tougher. There aren’t a ton of spreads to like, but we picked out the three you should be able to bank on the most. As far as over/unders, we have one over and one under for you.

Panthers -4.5 at Lions (-110)

Carolina has never burned us before, right? Just kidding, we took them +4 against the Steelers in a game they lost 52-21 last week. That was the only pick we got wrong in Week 10. Even though they’re on the road, there’s plenty of reason to believe they’re a prime bounceback candidate, just like another team we’ll talk about in a minute.

The Panthers have everything to play for with an NFC Wild Card berth well within their grasp. Detroit, meanwhile, has spiraled into free fall and it seems like head coach Matt Patricia may already have lost that locker room. They waved the white flag the moment they traded Golden Tate and there’s no reason to believe they should be competitive. Detroit is 3-6, but two of those wins have come against the Patriots and Packers, so who knows, but the percentages tell us Carolina wins this game handily. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Falcons -3 vs. Cowboys (-120)

This is our biggest lock of the week. Atlanta is another prime bounceback candidate after randomly getting blown out by the Browns last week. They’re in desperation mode and at home. Yes, the Cowboys’ defense presents some issues for the offense, but Dak Prescott simply isn’t going to outgun Matt Ryan on his home field. It’s not happening.

If the Falcons hope to have any prayer of sneaking into the playoffs, they basically need to win every single one from here on out. Unless Dallas comes out with a crazy effort like they did against the Jaguars several weeks ago, it just doesn’t seem plausible for them to grab this road win. If you’re going to bank on any one of these picks this week, make it this one. The bet: $8 for total payout of $14.66.

Broncos +7.5 at Chargers (-120)

Even as I’m typing this, I don’t feel great about this pick, but the Broncos are a competent enough team to cover a multiple-score spread. Of course, that’s what this is. If Denver loses by a touchdown, they cover. The Chargers have been great this season and have flown under the radar, but they generally don’t score points in bunches.

Expect the Broncos to hang around at least for a bit and then we can hope they keep the game within a touchdown. It might be wishful thinking, but it’s our best bet amongst a group of other less promising spreads this week. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.67.

Packers-Seahawks OVER 49.5 (-110)

This is a matchup of desperate teams. The Packers are 4-4-1, the Seahawks 4-5. The loser will start to slip out of the playoff picture entirely. Since the game is in Seattle, expect that to level the playing field a bit. These aren’t your older brother’s Seahawks, whose defense struck fear into their opponents. Green Bay’s defense, especially without Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the secondary is vulnerable as well.

When betting over/unders, you essentially need to guess what the game flow is going to be. This certainly seems like it will be a close game that is relatively high scoring. A 30-20 final score would get us our over and that seems perfectly reasonable for how we expect this game to go. It’s not our most confident pick, but it’s a pretty decent bet. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.80.

Titans-Colts UNDER 49 (-110)

This one is dangerous with the Colts’ offense able to go off at any time, but hey, if the Titans can hold the Patriots defense at bay, they can do the same with the Colts. It’s actually looking more and more like Tennessee has a legit defense, capable of shutting an opponent down. Their offense, while it looked its best all season against New England, is still a work in progress.

All that adds up to a relatively low scoring game, one that keeps us under that 49-point mark. Would anyone be surprised if this game ended 20-17 or somewhere right around there? This over/under seems set really high, so jump on the under in anticipation of a low-scoring game. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

As always, our pipe dream of 5-0 is on the table. We’ve had two 4-1 weeks in our last four, so we’re getting closer. If we nailed all these picks, our parlay payout would be $467.49. We’re going to ride our current hot streak and hope we can get a clean sweep for you this week. Best of luck in Week 11 and we will debrief after the weekend’s action is over. 

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

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Panthers defense aims to put ‘humbling’ loss behind them

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Thomas Davis said Carolina's most recent loss could turn out to be a positive for the Panthers moving forward.

That's why Davis thanked Steelers coach Mike Tomlin at midfield for "humbling" the Panthers after his team put up 52 points on Carolina's once-vaunted defense last Thursday night.

The 13-year NFL veteran

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Thomas Davis said Carolina’s most recent loss could turn out to be a positive for the Panthers moving forward.

That’s why Davis thanked Steelers coach Mike Tomlin at midfield for “humbling” the Panthers after his team put up 52 points on Carolina’s once-vaunted defense last Thursday night.

The 13-year NFL veteran explained Wednesday that the embarrassing performance might have been just what Carolina (6-3) needed to regain its focus on defense, for players to get on the same page and make a playoff run beginning this Sunday when the Panthers visit the Lions.

“If you are true competitor, you want to bounce back and you want to do something about it,” Davis said. “I’m a competitor and I want to get that taste out of my mouth.”

The Panthers have been a perennial top 10 defense since middle linebacker Luke Kuechly’s arrival in 2012, making their performance against Pittsburgh all that much more surprising. The Steelers scored on seven of their first eight possessions; the only time they failed to do so was when they took a knee before halftime to run out the clock.

“It’s not something that happens a lot around here,” Kuechly said of surrendering 52 points.

Things have gone so well for Carolina on defense in recent years that the last two coordinators left to take head coaching jobs — Sean McDermott in Buffalo and Steve Wilks in Arizona.

But things aren’t going so well for Eric Washington, Carolina’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons.

The Panthers are 15th in the league overall and 31st in red zone defense.

Washington said a “myriad of things” went wrong against the Steelers.

“We had execution issues,” said Washington, the team’s defensive line coach from 2011-2017. “… We have calls, we have leverage, we have gap responsibility. We have things that we have to do from one down to the next in terms of our assignment. And we did not get that done.”

Washington’s body of work as a defensive line coach was impressive.

Since 2012, the Panthers have more gotten more sacks from their defensive linemen (234) than any team in the league. So for the Panthers to have only 22 sacks this season is disappointing to him.

“We’re his pride and joy,” defensive tackle Kawann Short said. “That’s one of those things where he demands more out of us, and he knows what every guy in that room is capable of.”

The Panthers didn’t watch game film from Steelers loss as a team, instead electing to move on to preparations for Detroit. But Short said it feels like players are trying to do too much on their own instead of playing as a team.

“We just need to light our hair on fire, and just go,” Short said.

Washington called the Steelers game an “anomaly,” guaranteeing the Panthers will rectify their problems.

When players returned from a long weekend off he reminded them of this team’s long-standing identity as a defensive power, as well as the amount of talent in the locker room. Along with defensive end Julius Peppers, Kuechly has a chance to be a Hall of Famer.

“We have a high opinion of what we should be able to do every time we step on the football field,” Washington said.

Kuechly said now it’s time to focus on Detroit.

“One game doesn’t define a season,” Kuechly said. “And I don’t think you can waste time thinking about something in the past when you play a good team this week.”

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Packers face Seahawks with playoff positioning at stake

SEATTLE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have faced off in a few memorable games in Seattle, from the "Fail Mary" to an unforgettable NFC championship game that sent the Seahawks to their second straight Super Bowl.

For the fifth straight regular season — and the seventh time overall since 2012 — Green Bay

SEATTLE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have faced off in a few memorable games in Seattle, from the “Fail Mary” to an unforgettable NFC championship game that sent the Seahawks to their second straight Super Bowl.

For the fifth straight regular season — and the seventh time overall since 2012 — Green Bay and Seattle will meet again on Thursday night, but this time it’s positioning in a jumbled NFC playoff picture at stake.

Washington, New Orleans, Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams are the division leaders in the NFC, leaving a pile of seven teams — including Seattle and Green Bay — within a couple of games of each other likely competing for the two wild-card spots. And every advantage or tiebreaker in that race — such as a head-to-head victory — could end up being crucial.

“I know that this team is very, very capable of doing what we’re setting out to do,” Wilson said. “I think everybody should watch out (for) what we can do.”

Seattle (4-5) has dropped two straight after winning four of the previous five, and hasn’t lost three straight since the middle of the 2011 season. Green Bay (4-4-1) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-12 thumping of Miami last week.

The “Fail Mary” in 2012, the 2014 season opener when Seattle raised its Super Bowl banner and the NFC title game after the 2014 season are the only three times Rodgers has lost to the Seahawks in his career.

The past two matchups with Seattle have been among Rodgers’ best, throwing for 311 yards in a 17-9 win to open last season and in 2016 posting a 150.8 passer rating in a 38-10 Green Bay rout.

He also has the distinction of having won in Seattle — although that came 10 years ago.

“It’s a tough environment like I said but we’ve definitely done it before,” Rodgers said. “You’ve just got to start fast, take care of the football. They’re very good at turning the ball over. I know this is different personnel on their side of the ball than we’ve seen over the years, but they’re still playing really well.”

Rodgers and Wilson are being helped this year by improved run games that are among the best in the league. Green Bay’s Aaron Jones leads the NFL in yards per carry, while Seattle has the No. 1 rushing offense and last week rushed for 273 yards against the Rams without starting running back Chris Carson.

Here’s what else to watch for on Thursday night:

FIRST UP

Seattle expects Carson to be available after missing last Sunday’s game with a hip injury. If Carson can go, he will be the starter. But Seattle finally saw the promise of rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny last week when he rushed for 108 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Penny showed the burst and big-play ability that had been missing through the first half of the season.

Expect Penny to get additional chances no matter Carson’s health as the Seahawks look to use its three-back trio — Carson, Penny, Mike Davis — all of whom have 100-yard rushing games this season.

SECONDARY MATTERS

Another week, another lineup shuffle likely in the Green Bay secondary. Kentrell Brice was walking in the locker room with a boot on his left foot early in the week, making it appear unlikely that he will be ready to go on a short turnaround.

The Packers traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington two weeks ago. Jermaine Whitehead was released last week. No Brice would mean probably mean veteran Tramon Williams and second-year player Josh Jones starting at safety. Kevin King (hamstring) also appears likely to miss another game, while fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) was limited during the week.

HERE’S JIMMY

Tight end Jimmy Graham is returning to Seattle for the first time since signing with the Packers as a free agent in the offseason. With just two touchdowns so far this year, Graham perhaps hasn’t had quite the impact in the end zone as in 2017, when he had 10 scores with Seattle.

But with 33 catches through nine games, Graham in on pace to match the production he had with the Seahawks. He’s also taking pride in his run-blocking, and his part in helping Aaron Jones run for career highs of 145 yards and two scores last week.

“I know everybody knows me for running go routes and snagging touchdowns, but I think I’ve dedicated myself to the run, to being a part of that because I’m a tight end now,” Graham said on Sunday. “For us to be successful I’ve got to do those things and I’ve got to be good at them.”

QUICK TURNAROUND

Because of the quick turnaround from last Sunday several players have been ruled out. Along with Brice and King, the Packers have also ruled out wide receiver Randall Cobb and linebacker Nick Perry.

Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright was listed as doubtful because of a knee injury that knocked him out of last Sunday’s game early. Carroll said Wright would be a game-time decision. Seattle sat Carson and guard D.J. Fluker against the Rams and both appear set to play against the Packers.

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With Saints, Marshall plans to rediscover “greatness.”

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Brandon Marshall takes nothing for granted when discussing his opportunity to join the Saints' seemingly inevitable march to the postseason.

"Let's not jump ahead. I've got a lot of learning to do and a lot of catching up," Marshall said after his first practice with New Orleans on Wednesday. "I've been

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Brandon Marshall takes nothing for granted when discussing his opportunity to join the Saints’ seemingly inevitable march to the postseason.

“Let’s not jump ahead. I’ve got a lot of learning to do and a lot of catching up,” Marshall said after his first practice with New Orleans on Wednesday. “I’ve been at the top and I’m on the bottom right now.”

By bottom, the 34-year-old Marshall means getting cut repeatedly in the past couple seasons, most recently by Seattle a couple weeks ago.

Even after he worked out for New Orleans (8-1) last week, Marshall wasn’t the Saints’ top choice. New Orleans went instead with Dez Bryant, but lost the former Dallas Cowboys star to a season-ending Achilles injury in his second practice.

“When you’re on the other side of 30 and you don’t produce, this is the situation you’ll find yourself in,” Marshall said. “Being cut two times in a year is interesting. It built a lot of character. … When Seattle cut me, I just continued to work out, stay in shape and have faith.”

Marshall had flown back to his temporary home in Seattle after his Saints tryout, only to hop back on a flight to New Orleans again on Sunday afternoon, while the offense he was about to join was putting up 51 points in Cincinnati.

Ankle and toe injuries cost Marshall most of his 2017 season with the New York Giants, who didn’t bring him back, leaving him free to sign with the Seahawks. Marshall said he wasn’t full healthy until around Week 3 or 4 of this season which, ironically, was about the time his snap count began to plummet in Seattle.

“I know that the narrative is that I’m done,” Marshall said.

Yet Marshall predicted he’d demonstrate in practice that between his 6-foot-5 frame, route-running, strong hands, and ability to quickly grasp offensive schemes, that he can still help a team with playoff credentials. Marshall noted that because he played in Chicago under then-offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, a former offensive assistant to Saints coach Sean Payton, he is familiar with New Orleans’ scheme.

Payton called Marshall’s ability to process a play book “one of his strengths,” adding that he expects Marshall’s transition in New Orleans “to be pretty smooth.”

Meanwhile, Marshall described the opportunity to play with Saints record-setting QB Drew Brees “a wide receiver’s dream.” Likewise, Brees was quick to throw a few compliments Marshall’s way.

“He’s a smart, veteran guy who is very fluid. I’ve seen him in a lot of different offenses — seen him be successful both as an outside receiver, an inside receiver. He’s very versatile. He’s a big target. A big catching radius. Just watching him run today, he’s pretty impressive.

“We talked for a while today,” Brees added. “He’s excited. We’re excited to have him.”

Marshall’s addition adds depth to an offense that already leads the NFL in scoring with 36.7 points per game and ranks in the top five in yards per game with 413.9.

Seattle released Marshall on Oct. 30 after he’d appeared in the first seven games this season, catching 11 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. But he had just two catches for 16 yards in his last four games.

Seattle was the sixth NFL team for Marshall, who has eight 1,000-plus-yard seasons in his career. His best season, statistically, came with the New York Jets in 2015, when he caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Even now, Marshall insisted, his motivation remains to achieve “greatness.”

“There’s no reason why, with technology and modern medicine and with access we have to doctors around the world, why athletes can’t play into their mid-30s or their 40s,” Marshall said, stressing that he now feels “fit as a fiddle and healthy as a trout.”

It’s not yet clear whether Marshall will play much, if at all this Sunday against Philadelphia. But Eagles coach Doug Pederson said his defense has to be prepared for the possibility.

“He’s, I think, a red-zone threat with his size and so I think that’s where we’ll see him a little bit, is down there,” Pederson said. “He’s another big, physical receiver, hard to defend and our guys definitely have their work cut out this week.”

Notes: Starting left tackle Terron Armstead did not practice. He was listed on the injury report as having a shoulder injury. Veteran Jermon Bushrod is filling in, resuming the role he occupied on New Orleans’ 2009 Super Bowl championship squad.

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Redskins’ home-field disadvantage in spotlight vs Texans

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Home sweet home? Not so much for Redskins players right now.

Even though Washington has won three of five home games this season and leads the NFC East, cornerback Josh Norman called out Redskins fans in the aftermath of an ugly victory at Tampa Bay and said he felt they played

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Home sweet home? Not so much for Redskins players right now.

Even though Washington has won three of five home games this season and leads the NFC East, cornerback Josh Norman called out Redskins fans in the aftermath of an ugly victory at Tampa Bay and said he felt they played better on the road. In the process, he put the spotlight on the atmosphere Sunday at FedEx Field when the AFC South-leading Houston Texans come to town.

Norman said home games are “like the other team’s turf” because of an infusion of opposing fans and opined that Redskins fans “just boo everything and aren’t really behind us.” Teammates hope that sentiment works to provide a spark of energy for the rest of the year.

“We have a really good team and what it comes down to is myself and Josh, we want to be backed up, and we don’t want it to feel like it’s 50/50 when we’re at our home field and they have as many fans as we do,” running back Chris Thompson said. “We just want everybody to be there. That’s it. We want our fans to be out there and just have our backs.”

The Redskins organization began a concerted effort in the offseason to try to improve the fan experience at the stadium in suburban Maryland. Aware a sellout streak the team boasted had lasted the past 50 seasons would end, the decision was made to stop selling as many tickets to brokers and try to draw back in some of the disillusioned fans of a franchise that has just three playoff victories since its last Super Bowl title from the 1991 season.

Washington’s average attendance of 61,201 ranks 26th in the NFL, and its 74.6 percent-of-capacity crowd ranks dead last. Chief marketing officer Steve Ziff said prior to the season there’s no timeline for when he expects fans to return in droves like the glory days at RFK Stadium.

“We’re going to do things right for as long as it takes,” Ziff said. “Every day the goal is to do things right and hopefully over time, win or lose, fans will buy into that.”

Right now, the Redskins are winning. At 6-3, they’re two games up in the division and on pace for their first postseason appearance since 2015.

But Thompson, who has been with the team since 2013, understands there are long-term issues under the surface leading to fans staying away. Decades of mediocre on-field performance, polarizing opinions about owner Dan Snyder and the location of FedEx Field are all factors that have nothing to do with the current roster and its wins and losses.

“All the responses I see all the time is, ‘We’ve been fans for 10-plus years, we’ve been fans for 25 years — whatever the case may be — and we haven’t gotten any results (and) the Redskins have been terrible,'” Thompson said. “I’ve been here for six years. I understand. I know. I’ve been to one playoff game in six years.”

If the Redskins win the division and host a playoff game, the stands will be rocking like the old days — especially if Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings are the opponent. But to get there, they could use a boost at home so players don’t feel like they’re in unfriendly confines.

For quarterback Alex Smith, it’s all about the cadence and ability to communicate verbally.

“The big thing offensively is communication that you can count on,” Smith said Wednesday. “To be at home and be able to communicate, I think you can do more in the huddle and do more at the line of scrimmage.”

On defense, it’s the opposite. The Redskins are coming off allowing 501 yards but only three points to the Buccaneers, and they’re counting on noise against DeShaun Watson and the Texans, who have won six in a row since an 0-3 start.

“The fans play a big part in the way defenses can play, in the way the atmosphere is out there,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “When you get those guys going crazy in the stands, it’s hard for quarterbacks to communicate, it’s hard for them to audible at the line. When you get that going, I think it’s a tough place to play at FedEx.”

NOTES: Coach Jay Gruden said left tackle Trent Williams (thumb) won’t play Sunday and there’s a good chance Thompson (ribs) is out, too. … In addition to Williams and Thompson, WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), CB Quinton Dunbar (shin), S Montae Nicholson (illness) and K Dustin Hopkins (groin) did not practice. Gruden said the team would see how Hopkins is Friday before deciding whether to sign another kicker. … With Crowder still on the mend, rookie WR Trey Quinn was activated off injured reserve and added to the active roster.

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Player of the week Mitchell Trubisky solves inconsistency

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky seemed to care little Wednesday about being selected NFC offensive player of the week.

With the Bears clicking on offense at an elevated rate, Trubisky is too focused on improving some gaps of inconsistency in the attack to care about honors or criticism.

"It's cool,

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky seemed to care little Wednesday about being selected NFC offensive player of the week.

With the Bears clicking on offense at an elevated rate, Trubisky is too focused on improving some gaps of inconsistency in the attack to care about honors or criticism.

“It’s cool, but people talked so bad about me last week, so why should this week be any different?” Trubisky said. “So I got recognized for playing well, I expect to play well. Coach Nagy expects me to play well.

“I got better from the week before, so I’m embracing that process, just continuously getting better and better.”

The Bears (6-3) head into their showdown for first place in the NFC North on Sunday night at Soldier Field against the defending division champion Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) surprisingly strong on both sides of the football, but still seeing obvious areas to improve.

And Matt Nagy would rather they’re focused on Minnesota and a game flexed to prime time than awards or other diversions.

“We talk about poison, the noise, we talk about earmuffs, we talk about horse blinders,” the coach said. “You know, don’t worry about anything, you just keep playing. If you played a good game great, now next game. And if you played a bad game, now next game, and you just stay straight ahead.”

Trubisky’s career-best 355-yard passing day last Sunday gave the Bears a 34-22 win over the Detroit Lions for their first divisional victory since Halloween 2016. He went 23 for 30 and had three touchdown passes, while also running for a TD.

“I think just good feet, good eyes and I just played with conviction,” Trubisky said. “I made a decision that I was just in a good mind state, just go out there and play confident.”

Trubisky has four 300-yard passing games, tied for best by a Bears quarterback in a single season. It’s fostering anticipation he’ll improve even more.

“He’s slowly improving, which I love,” Nagy said. “It’s not going to be an overnight thing; he had a good game and we want to continue to have those good games. But there’s a process to it.”

Trubisky made his first start against the Vikings last year in a 20-17 loss, and threw an interception to Harrison Smith in the closing minutes to seal the verdict.

“I think I’ve grown a lot since that play,” Trubisky said. “I’m not the same player, not even close. I’ve got better since that instance and I’m excited for the opportunity this weekend.”

The Bears won a game over Carolina later in the year when Trubisky completed only four passes.

So much has changed with the Bears since that point in the fifth game last year, including Nagy’s hiring. The trade for pass rusher Khalil Mack and the turnaround under their new coach have led to renewed vitality at Halas Hall. They’ve become a hot ticket for the television networks, as their home game with the Los Angeles Rams was flexed Wednesday into a Sunday night contest.

“It’s a great vibe around the building now,” Trubisky said. “The culture has definitely changed and there’s a better vibe around the city in how people view the Bears and how they see us.”

The offense is still only 20th at passing but is 10th in touchdown passes with 19. Trubisky’s passer rating of 101.6 is higher than those of Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Yet Nagy sounded a cautionary note earlier this week about the team’s running attack.

“You can’t go through this thing and be one-dimensional,” Nagy said. “It’s just too easy for defenses.”

Jordan Howard hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game this season and the Bears had 64 and 54 yards rushing the last two games, respectively.

“Keep doing our job and the passing game can keep airing it — it will open up the run,” tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “We’ve just got to get (Howard) and (Tarik Cohen) the ball more and those guys will make plays, and we’re just going to do a better job.”

The other problem area is the kicking game after Cody Parkey nailed the uprights four times on misses in last week’s game. So Parkey was slated to practice kicking Wednesday night at Soldier Field because Sunday’s game is at night.

“I mean, it can’t hurt,” Parkey said.

Parkey was lampooned on the “Tonight Show” by Jimmy Fallon for hitting the uprights. Parkey sounded a bit like Trubisky when asked if he’d heard this.

“No,” Parkey said. “I (couldn’t) care less.”

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Eagles closer to last place than repeating as champions

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are closer to being the eighth defending Super Bowl champion to follow up with a losing record than becoming the ninth team to repeat.

A season that began with promise has been a major disappointment. The offense is inconsistent, the defense has wasted several leads in the second half,

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are closer to being the eighth defending Super Bowl champion to follow up with a losing record than becoming the ninth team to repeat.

A season that began with promise has been a major disappointment. The offense is inconsistent, the defense has wasted several leads in the second half, and a slew of injuries has left the team short-handed in key areas.

Still, the Eagles (4-5) are in the mix in a mediocre NFC East.

“There is a level of frustration, but listen, we’re very close,” coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday. “We’re so close in a lot of areas. You look at our output and production offensively, we’re very similar to where we were last year.

“The difference is creating turnovers on defense and then scoring in the red zone. That’s kind of what’s staring at us right in the face. We have to finish better, and we have to score more points.”

The Eagles have lost three straight games at home, including 27-20 to the Cowboys (4-5). They have four games remaining against division opponents, including two versus first-place Washington (6-3). Next up is a difficult game on the road against the New Orleans Saints (8-1). Philadelphia is a 9-point underdog.

“I never want to throw around the word desperate,” quarterback Carson Wentz said. “We realize where we’re at. We know where the division is at. We don’t want to overthink anything. We have a tough matchup against a great team. We’re cognizant of it. We’ll go there and give our best effort.”

Pederson spoke to the team’s leadership committee before practice to get a sense of morale and came away optimistic.

“They’re all disappointed obviously in the performance the other day,” he said. “They’re eager to get back on the practice field and they’re excited for this week and this opportunity. I think they understand what’s in front of them.

“They know that the sense of urgency in practice, it’s not a panic or anything other than just a sense of urgency of understanding your job, doing your job, doing it collectively, and making sure that they just focus on one play at a time. I really do feel like they’re in a good place and they’re positive about the future.”

The Eagles overcame several key injuries last season on their way to a 13-3 record and the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, running back Darren Sproles, linebacker Jordan Hicks, special-teams captain Chris Maragos and Wentz each sustained season-ending injuries.

Already, running back Jay Ajayi, safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Ronald Darby are out for the rest of this season. Sproles has only played one game, wide receivers Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins are on injured reserve, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan hasn’t returned yet from offseason surgery, and Maragos also hasn’t come back.

“Last couple weeks it’s been really urgent around here,” Wentz said. “Urgency is always there. Every week is crucial and important.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last champion to have a losing record the following season when they were 7-9 in 2003.

NOTES: CB Jalen Mills (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), TE Joshua Perkins (knee), and Sproles (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday. T Lane Johnson (knee) and CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) were limited.

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Receiver Deonte Thompson back with Bills for 3rd time

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Perhaps, the third time in Buffalo will be the charm for receiver Deonte Thompson.

The Bills continued shuffling their roster during their bye week by signing Thompson on Wednesday, a week after the seventh-year player was released by the Dallas Cowboys.

Thompson returns to Buffalo a year after he had

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Perhaps, the third time in Buffalo will be the charm for receiver Deonte Thompson.

The Bills continued shuffling their roster during their bye week by signing Thompson on Wednesday, a week after the seventh-year player was released by the Dallas Cowboys.

Thompson returns to Buffalo a year after he had 27 catches for 430 yards and a touchdown in 11 games. He also appeared in one game for the Bills in 2014.

With 107 yards receiving in a 30-27 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 22, 2017, Thompson was the previous Bills player to top 100 yards receiving before rookie Robert Foster had 105 in a 41-10 win at the New York Jets on Sunday.

Thompson had 14 catches for 124 yards in eight games with Dallas. He became the odd-man out in the Cowboys’ bid to shake up a sputtering passing attack.

Thompson fills one of the roster spots left open after receiver Terrelle Pryor and backup quarterback Nathan Peterman were released over the past two days.

At 3-7, Buffalo is off until hosting Jacksonville on Nov. 25.

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If Flacco can’t go, Jackson and RG3 ready to roll for Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson isn't staying awake at night thinking about the prospect of making his first NFL start.

Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco missed practice Wednesday because of a hip injury, and his status for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals is uncertain.

If Flacco can't go, coach John Harbaugh

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson isn’t staying awake at night thinking about the prospect of making his first NFL start.

Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco missed practice Wednesday because of a hip injury, and his status for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals is uncertain.

If Flacco can’t go, coach John Harbaugh likely will turn to Jackson, whose first pro season thus far has been spent taking a few snaps per game in run situations.

“I’m going into it just like any other week. Just preparing for whatever,” Jackson said. “Everything is still the same.”

Starting at quarterback for a team desperate to end a three-game skid might cause some rookies to squirm, but Jackson insisted he’s sleeping “like a baby.”

Flacco hurt his hip early in a 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4. He had the bye week to recover, but is still receiving treatment, meaning his availability for Baltimore (4-5) against the Bengals (5-4) could come down to a game-time decision.

Harbaugh appears done talking about it.

“Rather than tip my toe in the water and start answering one question and then not answering the next one, I’m just not going to get into it. I’m just going to leave it alone,” he said. “I feel like we don’t owe anybody any answers.”

If Flacco can’t play, veteran Robert Griffin III will likely serve as backup to the rookie he’s been mentoring since summer. Griffin, like Jackson, was a running quarterback who had to make the transition into a passing league.

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy as a junior at Baylor and finished with 2,254 yards rushing with 33 touchdowns. Jackson won the Heisman in 2016 and finished with 4,132 yards on the ground with 50 touchdowns.

Now they’re together in Baltimore, trying to get the Ravens into the postseason.

“Everybody wants to be a part of a winner,” Griffin said. “This franchise has done a lot of winning; we just got to make sure that we get back to that.”

After sitting out last season, Griffin launched his comeback by signing in April with the Ravens, presumably to be Flacco’s backup. He dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart soon after Baltimore traded up to get Jackson in the first round.

Though he has 41 career starts (including playoffs), Griffin will likely serve as a backup Sunday if Flacco can’t play. At least he will be in uniform after spending the first nine weeks on the inactive list.

“I haven’t been OK not playing,” Griffin said. “I think if I was OK not playing, then I wouldn’t be the competitor that I’ve grown to be. But within that, you have to control what you can.”

He will do what he’s asked on Sunday, but makes no secret of his desire to start.

“It would be awesome,” Griffin said. “It’s been a heck of a journey, but coming here was the best thing I could’ve done. Knowing what it means to play like a Raven and growing with these guys has been something that’s been real special for me. If I get that opportunity to go out there and play, I’m going to make most of it and show these guys not only how hard I’ve been working, but how much I believe in them.”

Griffin wants to win, and his main contribution toward that end has been to make the 21-year-old Jackson a better quarterback.

“It’s been great. I didn’t think I’d be a big brother at 28,” Griffin said. “I’ve got two older sisters, I’m the baby of the family, but it’s been great to take Lamar under my wing and kind of be that big-brother figure to him. His future is very bright.”

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