#NFL Week 17 – United Stats of America – Elias Sports Bureau

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Age is no obstacle for NFL’s rushing champion

Adrian Peterson, who turned 30 years old in March, won the NFL rushing race when Doug Martin fell 16 yards short of Peterson’s total heading into the Vikings’ Sunday night game at Green Bay. Peterson is the third player in league history to lead the NFL or AFL in rushing yards in his 30s. The only other players to have done so were Marion Motley in 1950 (at age 30) and Curtis Martin in 2004 (31).

Ryan gains sweet revenge against the Jets

The Bills defeated the Jets, 22-17, and that result, combined with Pittsburgh’s victory at Cleveland, denied the Jets a spot in the postseason. Thus, Rex Ryan became the first head coach in NFL history to help keep a team that he had head-coached in the previous season out of the playoffs by beating that club, head to head, in the season’s final week.

Additionally, Ryan is the first NFL head coach in 85 years to sweep a two-game season series against a team of which he was the head coach in the previous season. The last to do so was Jack Depler, a player-coach with the Orange Tornadoes in 1929 who bolted to coach the Brooklyn Dodgers a year later. The Tornadoes moved from East Orange, New Jersey to Newark in 1930, enduring a 1-10-1 season that included a pair of shutout losses to Depler’s Dodgers: 32-0 at Ebbets Field and 14-0 on the infield of the Newark Velodrome.

nullMarshall makes a great first impression

Brandon Marshall finished the season with 1502 receiving yards, breaking Don Maynard’s team record that had stood since 1967. Notably, Marshall fell six receiving yards short of the NFL record for a player in his first season with a team-any team, that is-a mark that Marshall himself set with the Bears three seasons ago.

Marshall and Eric Decker scored touchdowns in the same game for the ninth time this season, tying an NFL record. The only other teammates to score TDs in the same game nine times in one season were Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith with the Cowboys in 1995.

Brown caps season with another spectacular game

Antonio Brown caught 13 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers’ 28-12 win at Cleveland. For most players, even some great ones, that would be a “career game.” Consider that Tony Gonzalez never gained even 150 receiving yards in one game; Cris Carter never had a 170-yard game; and neither Larry Fitzgerald nor Hines Ward ever had as many receiving yards in one regular-season game as Brown did on Sunday.

But that was Brown’s fourth-highest total this season, following games of 195 against the 49ers, 284 against the Raiders, and 189 against the Broncos. Brown is the first receiver in NFL history to reach the 180-yard mark in four games in the same season.

nullSung to the tune of you-know-what: “Peyton never subbed before”

Peyton Manning made the first relief appearance of his career and he made it count, engineering the Broncos’ rally in a 27-20 come-from-behind win over the Chargers to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Manning has started 265 regular-season games; this was the first in which he came off the bench. That’s a record of sorts. The last player to start even 200 games before his first game as a substitute was the Raiders’ Hall of Fame guard, Gene Upshaw. Upshaw started 207 games before his first appearance as a sub in 1981.

Carolina ends a great season with a noteworthy victory

The Panthers walloped the Buccaneers, 38-10, to finish their season with a 15-1 mark. It was the largest season-ending victory posted by any of the seven teams that won at least 15 games. The only other club among that group that won its season finale by at least 20 points was Chicago in 1985. The Bears finished their regular season with a 37-17 win at Detroit. Carolina’s head coach, Ron Rivera, was a linebacker on the 1985 Bears.

nullWatt captures sacks title with three in season finale

J.J. Watt sacked Blake Bortles three times in Houston’s 30-6 victory over Jacksonville, to pass Khalil Mack of the Raiders as the NFL leader for the 2015 season. Watt became only the second player to lead the NFL in sacks twice within his first five years in the league. He previously led the league as a second-year pro in 2012. The other player to do so was Reggie White in 1987 and 1988, his third and fourth seasons in the NFL.

It should be noted that Watt’s three sacks on Sunday were enough to catch and pass Mack, but not enough to lead his team in sacks in its win over the Jags. That distinction goes to Whitney Mercilus, with three-and-a-half sacks of Bortles. Over the last four seasons, only one other pair of teammates had at least three sacks each in the same game: Chris Long and Robert Quinn of the Rams in a loss to Seattle in 2013.

Seahawks end season with rout of powerful Cardinals

The Seahawks made a bold season-ending statement with a 36-6 victory at Arizona, crushing a Cardinals team that had a 13-2 record coming into the game. It was the fourth-largest margin of victory in NFL history against a team with a record at least 10 games above the .500 mark. The largest was a 41-0 victory by the Boston Patriots at San Diego on the final week of the 1961 AFL season. The Chargers had a 12-1 mark prior to that game. One week later, San Diego lost the AFL Championship Game to the Houston Oilers, 10-3.­­

nullCousins’ fast start dooms Cowboys

Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes to give the Redskins a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and Washington rolled to a 34-23 win at Dallas. Only one other player has thrown three first-quarter touchdown passes in a game against the Cowboys: Randall Cunningham in a memorable 46-36 Vikings win at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day 1998. Cunningham’s early TD passes all covered more than 50 yards. He connected with Randy Moss for first-quarter TDs of 51 and 56 yards and with Cris Carter for a 54-yard touchdown. For good measure, Cunningham found Moss on a 56-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

nullEagles’ Thurmond asks the Giants, “Hey, remember me?”

Walter Thurmond recovered a fumble by Eli Manning in the third quarter and returned it 83 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the Eagles’ 35-30 win over the Giants. Thurmond, who played two games for New York in 2014, became the first ex-Giants player to score a second-half game-winning TD against the team since Bobby Hammond did it for the Redskins in 1980, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Joe Theismann in the final minute of a 23-21 victory.

It was yet another blown opportunity for the Giants, who lost nine of the last 18 games in which they led in the second half. New York has lost six of the last nine games against the Eagles in which it led at some point after halftime, dating back to 2009.

Chiefs turn season around, finish with 11-5 mark

Kansas City extended its winning streak to 10 games, capping its season with a 23-17 win over the Raiders. The Chiefs, who lost five straight games after winning their season opener, finished with an 11-5 mark, the best in NFL history by a team that suffered five consecutive losses during the season. The previous record was the Jets’ 10-6 mark in 1986, when they lost their last five games after a 10-1 start.­

nullBengals’ Hill snaps drought with long TD run

Jeremy Hill flashed rarely-seen breakaway ability, running 38 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Bengals’ 24-16 win over the Ravens. That was Hill’s longest run from scrimmage by far this season, snapping a streak of 232 carries for less than 20 yards.

Pats lose second straight intradivision game

The Dolphins finished the season with a 6-10 mark, defeating the Patriots, 20-10, to snap New England’s streak of 20 consecutive wins against teams with a record at least five games below .500. Combined with a 26-20 loss to the Jets last week, it marked the first time that New England lost consecutive games, both to divisional rivals with Tom Brady at quarterback. It’s also the first time that a team head-coached by Bill Belichick lost its last two games of a season since 1991 and 1992, Belichick’s first two seasons as an NFL head coach (both with Cleveland).

Bears end historic season with home loss to Lions

With a 24-20 loss to Detroit, the Bears finished the 2015 season with a 1-7 record at Soldier Field. That is the team’s worst home record, whether based on winning percentage or games below .500, in any of its 96 seasons in the NFL. By either of those standards, the Bears suffered their previous worst home records at Wrigley Field in 1969 and at Soldier Field in 1973 (1-6 in both seasons).

New Colts QBs lead team to win over Titans

With Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, and Charlie Whitehurst all injured, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley each threw a touchdown pass in the Colts’ 30-24 win over the Titans. Over the last 25 seasons, only one other pair of teammates both threw a TD pass in the same game in which each was making his team debut. Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski did it in the Bengals’ 2011 season opener.

Source: Elias Says: Sports Statistics – Stats from the Elias Sports Bureau

What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Dec. 30 2015

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1.

Degenerate Me

Last weekend was a monster for us junkies, despite what looked like insane violence on many football fields – or is it because of it? (shrugs shoulders)  Only the wetheads worry about blood on the grass during times like these, when the football gets better each week and the money you pillage from suckers, lines your pockets like fine silk.  The best being yet to come, except for maybe place like Cleveland and San Francisco who are more like bloated dead bodies floating along the ethereal abyss.

Playing with House-Money has always been risky – however, last week was swimming with sharks.  Many high-altitude rollers got eaten alive on Sunday – those that survived were clubbed like baby seals, causing an eruption of fear and grief in homesteads from coast to coast.  Strong men wept, and women hurled themselves savagely down dirty stairwells in filthy towns like Boston and Cleveland – Cripes, even in the frozen snow out here in the Rockies.

But me?  My own luck was splendid, as the Marquis used to say, as I repeatedly fleeced and humiliated two of the cruelest and most depraved degenerates in America, the infamous McCutcheon brothers from Pittsburgh.  T’was wonderful.  The arrogant swine got exactly what they deserved – a massive public beating they will never forget.  They came out here with huge wads of ca$h and revenge in their hearts for the losses they suffered last year in the very same bunker – where their doom is a constant companion.  It’s even worse during bowl-season.

2.

C’Ya Chipster

Good luck Chipster – your 1st lesson as a professional was a hard one.  You found out that going 10-6, 10-6 and 6-9 don’t mean much in Philly.  Never you mind that the Eagles have no idea how to win, because they haven’t since…….ummm, hold on, it’s right here in my notes….oh yeah, 1960.  It was 20 years later since they returned to play for a title, and another 24 until the next one – losing both – so it’s likely not until 2024 that they contend anyway.

Besides looking for another job in the #NFL – Tennessee, maybe? – you have to deal with Screamin’A dustin’ off an old narrative; as he did appearing on Mike and Mike this morning telling a classic Screamin’A story about a time he was “stopped on the street” by some Eagles players who came up to him and started talking about Chip Kelly.  Sensationalism!

The point is – you had all the control Chip and made some shaky decisions and never quite won enough to earn the cache you need.  Just remember, Bill was run out of Cleveland and it also took awhile in Foxboro before he became the man he is today – You just keep it 100 Chipster and if it doesn’t work out here, you’ll have your pick of places in college – like Baton Rouge if Les doesn’t change.

+ GOODBYE, MR. CHIP: PHILLY FIRES KELLY – Read More

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3.

(Can’t) Hold That Tiger

The Tigers wrapped up a very memorable, drama-filled football season with a record-setting 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Advocare Texas Bowl, and it sure does feel good. One could argue that last night’s game doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but after losing three of the previous four bowl games, and enduring a three-game losing streak in the month of November, it’s nice to head into the offseason on a high note. With last night’s win, the Tigers ended the season 9-3, and let’s not forget that this would have almost certainly been a 10-win season had the season-opener against McNeese State been played.

Source: Dandy Don’s LSU Recruiting and Sports News – LSU Football and More!

4.

Today in History

On December 30, 1978, Ohio State University (OSU) makes the decision to fire its 65-year-old football coach, Woody Hayes, one day after Hayes punched a player on the opposing team near the end of the Gator Bowl.

Source: OSU fires coach Woody Hayes for attacking an opposing player – Dec 30, 1978

5.

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Social issues are a minefield for athletes.  Michael Jordan was never going to be confused for Kareem when it came to social justice and attitudes.  No one is, and athletes that came after never wanted to jeopardize their image to their corporate masters – just as players today are more conscious of their “brand” then they are at times with their play.

Yet, Lebron speaks out after advocates ask him to strike games to honor Tamir Rice – is this what we want our athletes to do when every social crisis occurs?  Read more here.

Source: LeBron Speaks Out After Advocates Ask Him To Strike Games To Honor Tamir Rice

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6.

The More You Know

Week 17 – Situational Trends

By Week 17 Vegas knows which teams are truly bad. In the last five years, home underdogs of a touchdown or greater in the last week of the regular season have gone 1-33 SU and 14-20 (41%) ATS.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Browns (+10) vs. Steelers and Dolphins (+9) vs. Patriots.

The Cardinals and Chiefs are on fire each having won nine straight games. The last 30 teams to win that many games in a row went 22-8 straight-up in their next matchup but 12-17-1 (41%) against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Raiders and Cardinals (-4.5) vs. Seahawks.

Tom Brady and the Patriots don’t lose often but when they do, New England typically wins (40-10 straight-up) and covers (34-16 against-the-spread – 68%) the next week.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Patriots (-9) at Dolphins.

  • ATL -4 vs. NO The Falcons are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites against the Saints.
  • AZ -4.5 vs. SEA Carson Palmer is 7-1-1 against-the-spread at home with Arizona against non-divisional opponents but 3-3 ATS vs. the NFC West.
  • BAL +7 @ CIN In the last five years, AFC North teams that have been underdogs of a touchdown or greater to the Bengals are 0-5 straight-up and 1-3-1 ATS.
  • BUF +3 vs. NYJ The Bills are 8-2 against-the-spread in their last ten home games against the AFC East.
  • CAR -10.5 vs. TB Cam Newton has never lost as a touchdown or greater favorite, he is 11-0 straight-up and 6-5 ATS.
  • CHI -1 vs. DET The Bears are 2-7-1 against-the-spread in their last ten games against the Lions.
  • CIN -7 vs. BAL The Bengals are playing for a bye in the AFC. All-time, teams that have been favored by a touchdown over the Ravens are 5-1 straight-up.
  • CLE +10 vs. PIT Cleveland has lost eight straight as double-digit underdogs against AFC North rivals but the Browns went 5-3 ATS in those games.
  • DAL -3 vs. WAS The Cowboys are 1-5 against-the-spread at home this year and are now 3-11 ATS the last three years when Tony Romo doesn’t start.
  • DEN -7.5 vs. SD Denver is 3-6-1 against-the-spread in its last ten home games as touchdown or greater favorites.
  • DET +1 @ CHI Detroit is 2-18 straight-up in its last 20 games as road dogs against the NFC North, the Lions went 9-10-1 ATS in those games.
  • GB -3 vs. MIN The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, Aaron Rodgers is 18-4 straight-up (14-7-1 ATS) vs. the division as a home favorite.
  • HOU -6.5 vs. JAX The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win, Houston is 15-7 straight-up all-time as a home favorite against the division.
  • IND -6 vs. TEN Indy needs a win (plus a lot of help) to make the playoffs. The Colts are just 3-4 straight-up (3-4 ATS) in home games this year.
  • JAX +6.5 @ HOU The Jags have been road dogs in 13 straight games vs. division opponents. Jacksonville went 8-4 ATS in its previous 12 games.
  • KC -6.5 vs. OAK KC has won nine straight (including four in a row vs. the AFC West) and is 7-2 against-the-spread during the winning streak.
  • MIA +9 vs. NE The Dolphins have been underdogs to the Patriots in 25 straight games, Miami went 11-13 ATS in the previous 24 contests.
  • MIN +3 @ GB The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win but Minnesota hasn’t won in Green Bay since 2010 and is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games in Lambeau.
  • NE -9 @ MIA New England clinches home-field advantage with a win, the Pats have won 18 straight as touchdown favorites vs. the AFC East ( but are only 6-10-2 ATS)
  • NO +7 @ ATL This is the fifth straight division game in which the Saints have been underdogs, New Orleans covered the previous four.
  • NYG -3 vs. PHI The Giants are 2-8 ATS in the team’s last ten home games against the Eagles.
  • NYJ -3 @ BUF The Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Bills but New York has lost and failed to cover in four straight vs. Buffalo.
  • OAK +6.5 @ KC The Raiders are 14-6 against-the-spread in the team’s last 20 road games against division rivals.
  • PHI +3 @ NYG Philly is 8-2 against-the-spread in its last ten road games as underdogs against division opponents.
  • PIT -10 @ CLE Big Ben has been a double-digit road favorite seven times in his career and failed to cover in each game (including losing outright last week).
  • SD +7.5 @ DEN Philip Rivers has won six of his last ten trips to Denver and the Chargers went 7-1-2 against-the-spread in those games.
  • SEA +4.5 @ AZ In Russell Wilson’s career, the Seahawks following a loss in the regular season are 11-6 against-the-spread the next week.
  • SF +3.5 vs. STL The 49ers have been home dogs to the Rams 11 times. San Francisco is 3-8 straight-up and 5-5-1 ATS.
  • STL -3.5 @ SF The Rams aren’t favored on the road often (just 10 times in the last ten years), but when they are St. Louis covers (7-3 ATS).
  • TB +10.5 @ CAR The Bucs have lost six straight as double-digit dogs to divisional rivals but Tampa Bay went 3-3 against-the-spread in those games.
  • TEN +6 @ IND The Titans have failed to cover in seven straight road games against division rivals (1-6 straight-up as well).
  • WAS +3 @ DAL The Washington professional football team is 8-2 ATS in its last ten trips to Dallas.

#NFL Week 16 – United Stats of America – Elias Sports Bureau

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Falcons rebound from huge loss to hand Panthers their first loss

The Falcons ended Carolina’s bid for a perfect season with a 20-13 win over the Panthers. Atlanta’s victory came just two weeks after Carolina routed the Falcons, 38-0. But there have been many precedents for such a reversal of form. Since 1970, 12 other teams won a game against an opponent that beat them by at least 38 points earlier that season. And like Atlanta, which had a 7-7 record heading into Sunday’s game, none of those 12 teams had a winning record at the time of its turnaround victory.

Carolina had won 18 consecutive regular-season games (and 10 in a row during December), tying the third-longest winning streak in NFL history. The only other teams to win 18 straight games were Indianapolis (23, 2008-09) and New England twice (18 in 2003-04 and 21 in 2006-08).

nullFitzpatrick, Marshall, and Decker are too much for the Patriots

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall and an overtime game-winner to Eric Decker in the Jets’ 26-20 win over the Patriots. It was the eighth game this season in which both Marshall and Decker caught TD passes, an NFL record for games in which a pair of teammates both had touchdown receptions. The previous mark was set by Cris Carter and Randy Moss with the Vikings in 1998.

With his first catch of the day, Marshall broke the single-season team record that Al Toon set in 1988. Only two other franchises have a single-season record for receptions that has stood that long: the Titans’ record was set by Charlie Hennigan with the Houston Oilers in 1964 (101); and the Browns’ mark was set by Ozzie Newsome in 1983 (89).

The Patriots lost only one other game on a touchdown pass in overtime and it took a pair of future Hall of Famers to do it. In 1981, Lynn Swann scored from 24 yards out on a pass by Terry Bradshaw to give the Steelers an OT victory over New England.

An amazing streak comes to an end in Seattle’s loss

The Rams took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and were never caught, holding on for a 23-17 victory at Seattle. That ended the Seahawks’ extraordinary streak of 62 games in which they led at some point, corresponding exactly to Russell Wilson’s tenure with the team. Check this out: Not only was that the longest such streak in NFL history; but half of the 32 current NFL teams have never had such a streak even half as long as Seattle’s, including three clubs that date back to the 1930s: the Bears, Packers, and Redskins.

nullWeeden finds success in Houston

Brandon Weeden passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 34-6 victory over the Titans. It was Weeden’s first win as a starting quarterback since 2012 with Cleveland. He was the first QB in the NFL’s expansion era to start for a first-place team in the month of December having lost his last 10 starts.

Weeden led Houston on touchdown drives of 65, 80, and 34 yards on Sunday. Coming into the game, he had produced a TD on only two of his last 27 drives. He hadn’t thrown two or more TD passes in the same game since Dec. 1, 2013, in the Browns’ 32-28 loss at Jacksonville.

nullSaints’ combo is tough to beat

Drew Brees passed for 412 yards in the Saints’ 38-27 win over the Jaguars. It was the 13th time that Brees topped the 400-yard mark, but this was the first of those games in which a teammate gained at least 100 yards rushing. Tim Hightower gained 122 yards on 27 carries. Over the last five seasons, the only other player to supplement a teammate’s 400-yard passing performance with 120 or more rushing yards was James Starks of the Packers in 2013. Starks rushed for 132 yards and Aaron Rodgers passed for 480 in a 38-20 win over the Redskins.­

Incidentally, that’s a combination that has never been beaten in the NFL. Teams with a 400-yard passer and a teammate with at least 120 rushing yards have a 7-0-1 record.

nullSmith and Chiefs win ninth consecutive game

The Chiefs extended their winning streak to nine games with a 17-13 victory over the Browns. That matches the longest winning streak of Alex Smith’s NFL career; he previously won nine consecutive starts with Kansas City in 2013 and eight straight with the 49ers in 2011. Only four other quarterbacks won eight consecutive starts in one season for each of two different teams: Jack Kemp, Earl Morrall, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning.

nullGillislee caps unexpected December with big game vs. Cowboys

Mike Gillislee, who spent the first three months of the season on the practice squads of the Cardinals and Bills, gained 93 yards on nine carries and scored a late insurance touchdown in Buffalo’s 16-6 win over Dallas. Gillislee finished the month with 239 yards on 23 carries. His average of 10.4 yards per carry was the fourth-highest in one calendar month by a running back with at least 20 rushing attempts. The only RBs with higher marks were Lenny Moore (12.7 yards per carry in Oct. 1956), Hugh McElhenny (11.6 in Oct. 1952), and Bruce Harper (10.6 in Oct. 1983).

nullFreeney and the Cardinals sack the Pack

Arizona sacked Packers passers nine times, including three by Dwight Freeney, in a 38-8 rout of Green Bay. It was the Cardinals’ highest single-game total since 1986, and the most sacks in one game against the Packers since 1982.

Freeney, who turned 35 in February, had five games with three or more sacks over his first five seasons in the league. But this was his first such game since 2006. Over the last 10 seasons, the only players as old as Freeney with three or more sacks in one game were Michael Strahan (at age 35 in 2007) and 37-year-old James Harrison three weeks ago.

nullPackers suffer their worst loss with Rodgers at QB

Green Bay’s 38-8 loss was its largest margin of defeat in a game started by Aaron Rodgers. While it’s impressive that Rodgers started 117 games before his first 30-point loss, Packers fans can take pride in the fact that Brett Favre started an NFL-record total of 200 regular-season games before losing one by 30 points, and Bart Starr didn’t lose by 30 points or more until start #143 in 1970, with a pair of Super Bowl victories to his credit.

nullCarey scores two short TD for Bears

Second-year running back Ka’Deem Carey scored on a 1-yard run and a 1-yard catch in the Bears’ 26-21 victory at Tampa. Carey was the second Chicago player to score on rushing and passing plays in the same road game this season, following rookie Jeremy Langford who did it at St. Louis last month. The only other Bears player to do that on the road in the last two decades was Matt Forte (at Detroit in 2008).

Since 2000, three other players scored 1-yard TDs by rushing and receiving in the same game: Marshall Faulk (2001), Pierre Thomas (2013), and Eddie Lacy (2014).

nullMallett wins debut with the Ravens

Ryan Mallett, making his first start for the Ravens, passed for a career-high 274 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 victory over the Steelers. Mallett was the fourth different quarterback to start for Baltimore in its last six games, following Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, and Jimmy Clausen. Over the last five seasons, the only other team to start four different QBs in a span of six games was Green Bay in 2013 (Aaron Rodgers, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn).

Like the Panthers, who also lost on Sunday, Pittsburgh had won its last 10 games in the month of December.

nullStafford maintains sharp form in win over 49ers

Matthew Stafford threw a pair of touchdown passes in the Lions’ 32-17 win over the 49ers. Stafford, who set a team record for completion percentage in one game last week, has now thrown 14 TD passes over his last five games. He has been picked off only once in his last 225 throws dating to November 15.

Source: Elias Says: Sports Statistics

5 Things To Know: Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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1. TIME TO REBUILD THE SAINTS:

Despite a last-minute surge, the New Orleans Saints dropped their ninth game of the season to the Detroit Lions by a score of 35-27 Monday night. It’s the second straight losing season and will be the third year out of the last four in which they have missed the playoffs.

In truth, the rebuild began last offseason with the trade of tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks for, among other assets, center Max Unger. Then, in November, the team fired underperforming defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, though that didn’t seem to change the fortune of the defense.

Now the Saints face an offseason that will bring difficult decisions. Do they stick with head coach Sean Payton who, despite the recent struggles, has an 85-57 overall record as head coach? A message can get stale after a time, and Payton has been around for nine years (not counting the season he was suspended for Bountygate).

There has been talk of both firing Payton and trading Drew Brees. While the QB has struggled at times the last two seasons, Brees continues to perform well and put together some impressive records, including one set Monday night.

Source: After two straight losing seasons, Saints should rebuild.

Lions roar in the red zone

The Lions scored a touchdown on five of their six red-zone drives in their 35-27 triumph over the Saints on Monday night. Dating back to its Thanksgiving matchup with the Eagles, Detroit reached the end zone 15 times in a span of 16 drives inside its opponents’ 20-yard line (through the first five red-zone trips on Monday night). Over the last seven seasons (since 2009), only three other teams had such a span within one season: the 2013 Broncos, 2013 Bengals, and 2014 Broncos. Each had a conversion rate of 15-for-16.

The Lions rank first in the NFL in red-zone offense this season, having scored a touchdown on 71.4 percent (30-of-42) of drives inside their opponents’ 20-yard line. Over the last 20 seasons (since 1996), they have finished in the top two in that category twice (1996 and 2010, ranking second each time).

+ Stafford stars in Lions’ win

Matthew Stafford completed 12 of 13 passes, including three that went for touchdowns, in the first half of the Lions’ victory. Only four other active quarterbacks threw at least three touchdown passes with one-or-fewer incompletions in the opening half of a game: Aaron Rodgers in October 2010, Tony Romo in November 2011 and December 2014, Matt Ryan in December 2012, and Ryan Tannehill in October this season.

Stafford finished the night completing 88 percent of his passes (22-for-25), the highest rate for any quarterback this season and the second-highest rate in a Monday Night Football game (minimum 20 pass attempts). The Raiders’ Rich Gannon went 34-for-38 (89%) in a Monday night rout of the Broncos in November 2002 (Gannon won the NFL Most Valuable Player award that season). And in third place on that Monday Night Football list? Eli Manning (27-for-31, 87%) last Monday night.

+ Tate stays golden’

Golden Tate caught a pair of touchdown passes (one in the first quarter and another in the second) in the Lions’ win on Monday, after totaling two TD receptions in last week’s matchup with the Rams. Tate is the fourth player with multiple touchdown receptions in each of two straight games this season, joining Doug Baldwin (four straight games, Weeks 12 to 15), Ted Ginn (three, Weeks 13 to 15), and Larry Fitzgerald (two, Weeks 2 and 3). The only other Lions player to do so over the last 10 years is Calvin Johnson, who had two such streaks – a four-game run in September/October 2011 and a two-game streak in November 2013.

2. Not Derrick Henry

Source: Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey of Stanford Cardinal is AP top player

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is The Associated Press college football player of the year, becoming the first non-Heisman Trophy winner to earn the honor in six years.

McCaffrey was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy to Derrick Henry, but received 29 of 60 votes from the AP Top 25 media panel to edge the Alabama running back.

Henry received 16 votes and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was third with 11. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield each received two votes.


3. You’re the Worst:

The Saints defense isn’t in need of a single statistic to sum up its historically awful season — there’s more than a few readily available. Neither does Brandon Browner, the team’s starting cornerback and captain, who has been at the center of the Saints struggles both on the field and off the field.

But on Monday night, as Matthew Stafford burned the Saints defense for three touchdowns, Browner made NFL history — the kind of history that perfectly represents his first season in New Orleans. On Monday night, Browner broke the NFL’s single-season penalty record.

Source: Brandon Browner sets new low: Most penalized player in an NFL season

4. The Lake-Show

Today in Sports History

On December 22, 1971, the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) defeat the Baltimore Bullets 127-120 in Baltimore for their 27th straight victory, breaking the previous record for the longest winning streak in professional sports. They had previously been tied with baseball’s 1011-lakers-favorite-526New York Giants, who won 26 games during the 1916 season.

Coached by Bill Sharman and led by future Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, the 1971-72 Lakers began their historic run of victories on November 5, 1971 (also over the Bullets). They set a new NBA record with their 21st win on December 11, beating the Atlanta Hawks 104-95 and surpassing the 20-game winning streak of the Milwaukee Bucks the previous year. As Chamberlain told the press on December 22, “We did our celebrating when we won No. 21. That was the big one.”

Source: L.A. Lakers break pro sports winning streak record – Dec 22, 1971

5. Ultimate Value Lineup – Week 13

All we want to do is provide you valuable information at a great price.  We’ve already helped hundreds of people learn how to make some extra lettuce playing fantasy sports; so let us Teach You How to #win!

Giving you the Perfect Lineup is easy and we tweet it, post it on Facebook and create an entire post about our RESULTS, so……What about if you had the greatest value lineup of all time?  A Lineup that every player chosen had low ownership, way less, and never cost you more than $6k – well my friends this is the Ultimate Value Lineup – culled directly from the numbers and our reports – look for us on twitter when we post the less than 12% lineup and follow along with the value-madness!!!

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10 takeaways from #NFL Week 15

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How is that for some drama-filled NFL action?

The New York Giants mounted an amazing comeback attempt against the Carolina Panthers with a backdrop of tempers flaring on both sides.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West title after obliterating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road Sunday night.

In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have changed the playoff race on a dime with a 17-point comeback win against the Denver Broncos.

Staying in that conference for a second, a Buffalo Bills loss to the Washington Redskins guaranteed that Rex Ryan’s squad will miss the playoffs for a 17th consecutive season. It also gave Washington a clear path to the NFC East title.

These are among the top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 15 NFL action.

A frustrated Odell Beckham Jr. should face a suspension

It’s understandable that this talented young New York Giants receiver would be frustrated going up against one of the top corners in the NFL in Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers.

It’s not understandable to react in a manner that shows him in a classless way.

What we do know now is that the NFL believes Beckham Jr. should have been ejected from the game. It remains to be seen what the league office will do during the week, but all options should be considered to be on the table here.

On a micro level, this could end up being really bad news for a Giants squad that needs a ton of help in order to win the NFC East. If it is forced to take on the Minnesota Vikings without its top receiver, that could be the end of the line for New York’s playoff aspirations.

More than this, the spats between Beckham Jr. and Norman, which resulted in five personal foul penalties, was a black eye for a league that has had too many of them in recent months/years.

For that, Beckham Jr. — as the unofficial face of young players around the NFL — should be ashamed.

Time to take the Kansas City Chiefs seriously

Following a blowout 34-14 win over the hapless Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City has now won eight consecutive games. And at 9-5 on the year, the Chiefs find themselves in control of their own destiny as it relates to the fifth seed in the AFC.

This is big for numerous reasons. First off, if the Chiefs are able to maintain this seeding, they would take on the winner of the AFC South in the wild card round of the playoffs.

Considering how bad that division has been, Kansas City might very well have an easy road to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The other thing to look at here is what could be a potential wild card game in the AFC that could see an Andy Dalton-less Cincinnati Bengals host the sixth seed. What’s so big about that is that Kansas City could find itself taking on the Denver Broncos in the divisional round.

Not to put the carriage before the horse, Kansas City still has two games remaining — each against a team that is currently under .500 on the season.

This scenario also includes the possibility that Kansas City could win the AFC West outright should the Denver Broncos do them some favors in the final two weeks of the season.

If the Chiefs are able to take care of business in those two outings, they will head into the playoffs with a 10-game winning streak.

Based solely on what we saw Sunday against Baltimore, there’s a good chance this will happen.

Alex Smith had a workmanlike 21-of-25 day with 171 yards as the Chiefs avoided turning the ball over for the sixth time during this eight-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Kansas City forced two turnovers itself to bring its eight-game differential to plus 18.

Washington Redskins look to be NFC East favorites

Kirk Cousins compiled a perfect quarterback rating en route to a four-touchdown outing against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. It was the team’s sixth win in its past seven home games, a span of games that has seen Cousins throw 19 touchdowns compared to zero interceptions.

Now one game up on both Philadelphia and New York, the Redskins control their own destiny in the division. Though, the team is going to have to find success on the road in order to wrap this mediocre division up. With just one road win on the season, Washington closes out the season in Philadelphia and Dallas.

As it relates to Sunday’s performance, the rest of the team helped Cousins put up a statement against a Bills squad that needed a win in order to remain alive in the AFC playoff race. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones led a rushing attack that went for 123 yards on 27 attempts.

Meanwhile, the defense did just enough to fend off a second half Bills rally that saw the team put up 25 points en route to bringing a 21-point halftime deficit down to 11 at the end of three.

It wasn’t a tremendous performance from Washington’s defense in a 35-25 win, but that unit held on two huge possessions midway through the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars blow golden opportunities

Indianapolis lost at home to a Brandon Weeden-led Houston Texans team. It’s highly unlikely you need us to repeat that sentence, but here goes. Indianapolis lost at home to a Brandon Weeden-led Houston Texans team.

That pretty much sums up just how bad the Colts have played this season. It also came in a game that could have sent the team into sole possession of first place in what has been a horrible AFC South this season.

Instead, Indianapolis now finds itself one game back with two remaining. The Colts were also eliminated from wild card contention, meaning the division title is the team’s only path to the playoffs.

With the second season now looking like a long shot, the larger question here is whether Chuck Pagano will be back next year. Based on Sunday’s performance in particular, that also seems like a long shot.

You simply can’t lose at home against a team that was led by a third-string quarterback that found himself picked up off the street just earlier this month. Excuses surrounding Andrew Luck’s injury are one thing. Not coming to play in an important game is a completely different thing.

Taking on an Atlanta Falcons team that had lost six of its past seven heading into Sunday’s action, the Jacksonville Jaguars also blew a golden opportunity.

With a win at home, Gus Bradley’s squad would have found itself one game back in the AFC South with two games remaining.  Instead, it is on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention following a game it had every opportunity to win.

The biggest play in this one came in the second quarter with the clock winding down to halftime. With Jacksonville driving down to Atlanta’s one-yard line, Blake Bortles threw an ill-time interceptions into the hands of Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael, who proceeded to return the ball 84 yards down to the Jaguars 16.

This came with Atlanta up 14-3 and the Jaguars threatening to make it a one-score game. Instead, the Falcons opened up a 17-3 lead heading into the half and didn’t look back.

As good as Bortles has been this season, these types of mistakes have been too common. It’s also the difference between earning a playoff spot and finishing below .500.

Jacksonville surely does have a bright future, but it doesn’t appear to be there quite yet. That much was evident on Sunday.

Another season without playoff football in Western New York

By virtue of their loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will miss the playoffs for the 17th consecutive year.

It’s a harsh reality for a team that headed into the season with high expectations and a confident mentality under first-year head coach Rex Ryan.

And in reality, there isn’t a whole lot pointing to the Bills finding a way to rebound from this near two-decade long span of mediocrity.

To be sure, there is a ton of talent on this team. Tyrod Taylor has proven himself to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL — something Ryan himself hasn’t had since Mark Sanchez’s first couple seasons in New York.

There is also a ton of talent at wide receiver, especially second-year player Sammy Watkins. Heck, LeSean McCoy has proven himself worthy of a potential Pro Bowl spot at running back this year.

On defense, the Bills boast a really good young secondary and a front four that should continue to perform at a relatively high level.

Still, there seems to be something missing here. The past several weeks were defined by close losses and an uncharacteristically bad defense. Prior to that, the Bills’ struggles were mainly summed up by injuries and a lethal amount of penalties.

The talent is surely here for Buffalo to contend for a playoff spot. But something larger needs to change moving forward. This is something Ryan and Co. will have to figure out prior to taking the field next September.

Ship righted in Minnesota

It took Adrian Peterson leaving the game for a bit due to an ankle injury for Teddy Bridgewater to finally break out of his year-long slump Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

He completed 17-of-20 passes for 231 yards with a career-high four touchdowns in a dominating 38-17 home win.

It was the first time all season that Minnesota’s offense ran through its quarterback rather than the future Hall of Fame running back.

It also tells us a story of an offense that could be looking at more balance heading into the final two weeks of the season — something that will be a necessity when all is said and done. It’s rather simple for the Vikings to get into the playoffs. If they are able to win one of the final two games, they are in.

More than this, Minnesota isn’t completely out of the NFC North race. It takes on the Giants next week before squaring off with the Green Bay Packers to close out the regular season. If the pieces all into place here, Minnesota could very well earn the division title.

Antonio Brown is a freak of nature

Following a 16-catch performance against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Brown has now caught 245 passes in his past 30 games. Yes folks, that’s an average of over eight catches per game. He’s also caught 70 percent of the whopping 165 passes thrown in his direction this season.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Brown is playing at a level we have rarely seen as it relates to NFL receivers. On Sunday against a top-ranked Broncos defense, that was magnified to a T.

And in reality, Pittsburgh needed every one of those catches — including a game-clinching first-down reception late in the fourth quarter — to complete what was an amazing 17-point comeback to put his team in a position to control its destiny in the AFC playoff race.

Brown isn’t going to break the single-season reception record unless he finds a way to nab 24 receptions over the final two games. This doesn’t discount the fact that he’s been a historical figure for Pittsburgh over the past two seasons.

It just remains to be seen whether that will be enough to get his team in the playoffs in what has proven to be a remarkably good AFC this season.

Cam Newton: NFL’s MVP

The Carolina Panthers survived an incredible comeback attempt by the New York Giants to remain undefeated on the season. They are now just the fourth team in NFL history to start a year 14-0.

With two more wins, the Panthers will earn a bit of history by being only the second team to go through a 16-game regular season with a perfect record.

To be clear: Newton is the primary reason for what has been one of the most-surprising seasons for a team in the recent history of the league.

With five more touchdown passes on Sunday, Newton has reached that plateau in three of his past five starts and has now compiled 40 total touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions on the season, including a 19-to-1 split over the past five games.

It’s not a coincidence that Carolina is averaging a league-best 32 points per game, including nearly 40 points over the past four games.

We can talk about Russell Wilson’s recent run of excellence. We can also include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the conversation. Heck, both J.J. Watt and Josh Norman might deserve some consideration on the defensive side.

None of them have done more with less than Newton. After all, Ted Ginn is his No. 1 receiver on the outside and Michael Oher has been tasked with protecting his blindside.

Despite all this, Newton has his Panthers two games from perfection in a season that seemed to have mediocrity written all over it. That’s the true representation of most valuable.

Carolina needs to watch out for those western teams

Arizona and Seattle have both clinched playoff spots. They are coming off a week of action which saw them outscore their opponents by a combined 40 points.

Arizona has now won eight consecutive games by an average of 11 points per outing. Meanwhile, Seattle has won five consecutive by an average of 20 points since losing to the Cardinals back in Week 10.

Outside of Carolina and Kansas City, these are the two hottest teams in the NFL. They also boast some of the best all-around talent in the league.

While the Panthers will likely avoid having to play Arizona until the NFC Championship game if both teams were to advance that far, they might have to host Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs. That would be a less-than-ideal scenario for the unbeaten Panthers.

Not that any of this really matters. Cam Newton and Co. know full well that the road to Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50 will run through Carolina.

It’s now all about continuing to take care of business on the field and not worrying about those squads breathing down their backs. If that happens, the Panthers will be just fine when all is said and done.

Playoff picture taking shape

Six spots, two in the AFC and four in the NFC, have been wrapped up heading into Week 15. Outside of one final wild card spot and the NFC East, playoff positioning is the only drama remaining in the NFC.

Meanwhile, it’s possible we could be looking at tiebreakers making the decision as it relates to the two wild card spots in the AFC.

Here’s what we do know right now.

The Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots have all clinched division titles. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals have locked up playoff spots.

In the ultra-competitive AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the New York Jets for the sixth and final playoff spot.

Winners of eight in a row, Kansas City has a clear hold on the fifth spot. It can also earn the AFC West title with wins in the team’s final two games and help from the Denver Broncos, who have not clinched a playoff spot themselves quite yet.

There is actually a scenario in play here that could exclude the Broncos from the postseason. This would require the Jets winning out with Pittsburgh finishing in a virtual tie with a Denver team that loses one of its final two games. If that were to happen New York would make it in over the Broncos.

Head spinning yet?

Just wait until Week 16 action. Washington travels to Philadelphia for a chance to wrap up the division against an Eagles team that actually still controls its destiny in the NFC East following its blowout loss to Arizona on Sunday.

The Jets host New England in a game it must win in order to remain viable in the AFC playoff race.

Meanwhile, Green Bay travels to the desert to take on a Cardinals team that’s looking to wrap up a first-round bye. A win here by the Packers and they could in fact remain alive for said first-round bye.

Then on Monday night, Cincinnati heads to Denver to take on the Broncos in a game that could decide the No. 2 seed in the AFC — a game that could also help Kansas City earn what would be one of the most shocking division titles in recent NFL history.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an absolute blast.

Source: Top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 15 action

5 Things To Know: Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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1. C’Mon Man!:

Is this Odell’s best catch of the year or was it last week against Washington?  Odell had 2 TD’s and 166 yards and the Giants beat the ‘Fins to continue a 3-way atop the NFC (L)east.  If you’re a Patriots fan you hope kryptonite doesn’t make the playoffs – furthermore, if that happens and Eli wins it all – we’ll have to hear about a new category of quarterback – Worst Elite QB of all time.  Seriously, Eli is like a box o’chocolates.

Too much Manning and Beckham for Dolphins

Eli Manning completed 87 percent of his passes on Monday (27 of 31), including an 84-yard, go-ahead touchdown to Odell Beckham in the Giants win in Miami. That’s the highest completion percentage in a regular-season game by a Giants player who threw at least 20 passes, although all Giants fans of a certain age remember Phil Simms completing 88 percent (22 of 25) in the Giants win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.

Manning and Beckham have now connected on three touchdown passes that covered 80 or more yards, the highest total for any duo in Giants history.

2. FanDuel – 2×4’s and Milk

Source: NFL Week 14 Retrospectacle: Another Window of Opportunity Closes

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QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (32.28 FanDuel points)—His increased production since Marshawn Lynch (hernia) went down probably shouldn’t be considered a coincidence. The Seahawks have opened it up and Wilson has responded. His matchup at home vs. the Cleveland Browns in Week 15 looks like a dream, too.

WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (29.2)—As much as Wilson has gone off post-Lynch, Baldwin has been bonkers post-Jimmy Graham (knee). The Wilson ($8,800)-Baldwin ($7,400) is still relatively cap-friendly, too.

RB Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (27.9)—The true takeaway from this performance for one-week fantasy players is not the value of Crowell ($5,700) in a tough road matchup next week at Seattle. That’s minimal. Stacking plays against the lowly San Francisco 49ers is the real lesson here. Hello, Bengals’ Hill ($6,000) and Bernard ($5,600), especially with Dalton (thumb) out.

RB Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (27.2)—Forget all that rookie wall talk, eh? The breakout running back of the season was a monster in just 16 rushes and one reception against the Detroit Lions. He should be plenty capable for 20-plus touch effort, carrying the Rams against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.

QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (25.7)—Most of his Year 2 credit has gone to his receiving corps, but this performance was eye-opening because Allen Robinson ($8,100)managed just one reception for four yards and Bortles still enjoyed a huge day. That matchup at home against the struggling Atlanta Falcons at $7,900 sure looks inviting, particularly with all of his receivers healthy right now.

WR Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers (25.5)—As consistently excellent the Panthers andCam Newton ($9,400) are, the receivers have been tough to figure. Ginn ($6,600) has five touchdown receptions in three games though, and has a matchup looming against the worst pass defense in football coming off a short week, the New York Giants.

WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (25.4)—The rookie has reeled in 13 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. His $6,000 price, involvement in the offense of late and the re-emergence of Wilson make Lockett an intriguing value play.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (24.82)—If you love the run and price of Bortles, but don’t like following the sheep, perhaps Fitzy is your alternative for Week 15 at $7,800. Him and his two physical receivers Brandon Marshall ($8,500) and Eric Decker ($7,500)are on a roll.

RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers (24.3)—The Packers have shown a commitment to the run, which is not surprising this time of year. Starks ($5,800) will remain involved as the receiving back at the Oakland Raiders next week, too.

WR Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (24.0)—If this performance intrigues you, you will want to load up on Tate ($6,900) and Calvin Johnson ($8,000) for Monday night magic at the New Orleans Saints and their woeful secondary.

QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (23.0)—He deserves the NFL and fantasy MVP awards this season. He turns water into wine every week with his modest supporting cast. Next week against that Giants secondary might send him over 40 FanDuel points.

QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (22.86)—It should be noted he scored up with the NFL Week 14 leaders despite failing to throw a touchdown pass. The run has been an increasingly important part of his game in recent weeks and should keep him productive at $7,300 next Sunday at the New England Patriots—even in a blowout.

TE Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (22.5)—He was coming off one of his worst performances this season, but this effort proves his importance to the Redskins’ attack. Reed ($6,300) should be a red-zone threat against the Buffalo Bills next Sunday, too.

Carolina Panthers Defense (23.0)—The Panthers rebounded from a disappointing effort against the Saints to enjoy their best performance of the season. A matchup against Eli Manning and the error-prone Giants is next, too.

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense (23.0)—They have been difficult to trust, but three of the past four games at home have been very kind to this unit in terms of fantasy production. The struggling Falcons come to town in Week 15, which makes the Jags an interesting play at a mere $4,400.

K Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers (18.0)—As much as you have to love the productivity of the Steelers offense and their kicker, a matchup against the Denver Broncos’ defense looms. Boswell looks like a bad buy at $5,000 for that one.

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QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13.68)—This wasn’t a complete dud, but the expectations against the Saints defense were sky high. Winston goes down as a FanDuel bum for his failing to torch the Saints.

QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (1.36)—It was a promising day against the suspect Steelers secondary that ended in insults and injury. Dalton not only cost you in Week 14, but he is now down for the fantasy season with a fractured thumb (throwing hand).

RB C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints (2.4)—This one should go down as a career dis-stink-tion. Spiller had an opportunity with Mark Ingram (shoulder) done for the season. Instead, Spiller took the opportunity to show fantasy just how truly worthless he is. Tim Hightower ($6,300) is the Saints back to consider.

RB Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (3.4)—Let’s chalk this bad news up as good news. Hill, who shouldn’t have been used against the rugged Steelers run defense anyway, is down to $6,000 on the FanDuel price list and the ball should be in his hands early and often going forward.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (0.7)—You think Brock Osweiler ($6,700)should be anointed as the Broncos’ quarterback for the rest of the season over future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (foot)? Not so fast. Ask Sanders’ fantasy owners.

WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (1.4)—Just one catch for nine yards. Ugh. FanDuel probably shouldn’t even bother listing him the rest of the season, even if his price is down to $6,900.

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (2.1)—As disappointing as one catch for 16 yards is, we cannot wait to load up on Johnson ($8,000) for some Monday night FanDuel magic against the Saints in Week 15.

TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (3.3)—The season opened with so much hope and is concluding with so much fantasy disappointment here. He had as many touchdowns in Week 1 as he has had in the 13 weeks thereafter (two). Yuck!


3. Even Year = Giants ru#Win it All – Again:

Cueto is a pretty good consolation prize for a Giants team that missed out on both David Price and Zack Greinke. He’s been one of the best pitchers in the league since 2012, and although he struggled a bit in the second half of last season, $130 million is a good deal for a guy who has the potential to be a true ace.

Source: Giants Sign Johnny Cueto, Make The NL West More Interesting

4. Juice Got Loose, pt.1

Tomorrow in Sports History

 On December 16, 1973, the Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson becomes the first player in the National Football League (NFL) to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season.

After leading the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory and winning the Heisman Trophy, Simpson was drafted by Buffalo as the first pick in the 1969 NFL draft. He struggled for several seasons on weak Buffalo teams but first rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 1972, ending the season with a league-leading 1,251. The following year, he totaled 219 rushing yards against the New England Patriots in the next-to-last game of the season, putting his total at 1,803. On December 16, with the Bills facing the New York Jets in New York’s Shea Stadium, Simpson rushed for another 200 yards, for a record-setting total of 2,003.

Source: OJ Simpson rushes record 2,000 yards in a season – Dec 16, 1973

5. Ultimate Value Lineup – Week 13

All we want to do is provide you valuable information at a great price.  We’ve already helped hundreds of people learn how to make some extra lettuce playing fantasy sports; so let us Teach You How to #win!

Giving you the Perfect Lineup is easy and we tweet it, post it on Facebook and create an entire post about our RESULTS, so……What about if you had the greatest value lineup of all time?  A Lineup that every player chosen had low ownership, way less, and never cost you more than $6k – well my friends this is the Ultimate Value Lineup – culled directly from the numbers and our reports – look for us on twitter when we post the less than 12% lineup and follow along with the value-madness!!!

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Weekend Update: #NFL Week 9 Edition

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1. It was Supposed To Be Different:

You said this year would be different after starting 2015 the same way you started 2014 – the only thing different is you beat Atlanta and not sure how that happened.  Sure, one particular play or tip did not cost the Saints the game – it’s everything.  Even history is stacked against this team – Does anyone remember the last time the Saints beat a rookie QB?  Tim Couch, first year back for the Browns – hail mary – I remember that one the most because it cost me a 15 team $50 parlay in Vegas, and that was the only way I could have lost!!! I did and so did the Saints.  The Saints lost to RG3 and his 1st game at home.  Lost to Jameis Winston already, at home – and now Marcus Mariota!  How do you still have a job Rob Ryan?  When does it end?  Brandon Browner can you go more than one series without a penalty?  You made Mariota look like he’s ready for Canton and he just lost his coach!!!  I hope we do not play the 49ers, because I’m not sure I could handle losing to Blaine Gabbert.


Mariota stakes his claim to looming NFL stardom

Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard toss to Anthony Fasano in overtime, to give the Titans a 34-28 win at New Orleans. But the most impressive number on Mariota’s record on Sunday was a zero in the interceptions column. It was the second game this season in which Mariota threw four TDs and no INTs, matching the total of all other rookie quarterbacks since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The only other rookie QBs with even one such game during that time were Trent Edwards of Buffalo (2007) and Robert Griffin III of Washington (2012).

Incidentally, both of Mariota’s tours de force were accomplished on the road. His first game with four TDs and no interceptions was Tennessee’s season opener at Tampa Bay. The only other rookies to do so in a road game were Ray Buivid of the Bears (1937), Mickey Slaughter of the Broncos (1963), and Greg Cook of the Bengals (1969).


Another signature game for Newton in Panthers’ win

The Panthers improved to 8-0 with a 37-29 victory over the Packers, as Cam Newton ran for one touchdown and passed for three others. It was the fifth time that Newton threw at least three TD passes in the same game in which he himself scored a touchdown. That’s one short of the highest such total in NFL history, a record set by Tobin Rote and matched by Billy Wade, Jack Kemp, and Steve Young.  Can we also stop with the Cam Newton MVP talk – he has the same numbers as Xerxes, look it up – he is not any better than before this year – he’s just on a team that is undefeated.


Packers’ own perfect record succumbs to a pair of other undefeated teams

Green Bay’s record now stands at 6-2 following a pair of losses to undefeated teams: Denver last week and Carolina this week. Only three other teams in NFL history faced consecutive unbeaten and untied opponents with at least six wins each: Detroit in 1934, Pittsburgh in 2004, and Indianapolis this week and last, same as Green Bay.AltX.Logo.white

Against all odds, the Steelers won both of those games, against New England and Philadelphia, and they did it with a rookie quarterback. Those were Ben Roethlisberger’s fifth and sixth starts in the NFL.

The 1934 Lions won their first 10 games by a combined score of 215-27. But Detroit ended the season with three straight three-point losses: 3-0 to the Packers, and then 19-16 and 10-7 to the Bears, who finished the season with a 13-0 record (but lost the title game).


Brown & Williams post gaudy numbers in Steelers’ win

Antonio Brown caught 17 passes for 284 yards-both team-record totals for one game-and DeAngelo Williams gained a total of 225 yards (170 on 27 carries and 55 on two pass receptions) in the Steelers’ 38-35 win over the Raiders. It was only the third game in NFL history in which teammates both gained at least 200 yards from scrimmage. Clem Daniels and Art Powell did it for the Raiders in 1963; Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis did it for the Eagles in 2007.


Blount is key to Patriots’ victory

LeGarrette Blount was the star of the Patriots’ 27-10 win over the Redskins, gaining 129 yards on 29 carries. Over the last 10 seasons, only one other New England player rushed the ball that many times in a regular-season game: Jonas Gray, who gained 201 yards on 37 carries against the Colts last November. Of course Blount set a team postseason record with 30 carries in the AFC Championship Game last January, gaining 148 yards and scoring three touchdowns.


Patriots tie NFL record for quarter-by-quarter scoring

By scoring in all four quarters of its victory, New England tied an NFL record of scoring in 31 consecutive quarters. That mark was set by the Colts in 2005 and previously equaled by the Rams, who did it spanning the 1999 and 2000 seasons.


Veterans help Colts spoil Broncos’ perfect record

Peyton Manning still has not won a game and in his return to Indianapolis needed 284 passing yards and one victory to surpass Brett Favre’s all-time record totals in those categories. Manning fell three yards and one win short, as the Colts denied him both marks-at least for the moment-and handed Denver its first loss of the season, 27-24. Some notes on the game:AltX.Logo.white

This was the fifth time that the Colts faced a team that was undefeated and untied with at least seven wins, and it was their first victory in such a game.

Frank Gore carried the ball 28 times, his highest total in one game since 2011. Gore was the oldest player in Colts history with that many carries in one game, and he was the oldest to do so for any team since Ricky Williams in 2009.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a tie-breaking 55-yard field goal with 6:13 to play. At age 42, Vinatieri was by far the oldest NFL player to kick a game-winning FG that long in the fourth quarter or overtime. Matt Bryant previously held that distinction, having kicked a 55-yard game-winner for the Falcons in 2012 at age 37.


Jacksonville extends a very specific losing streak

Blake Bortles fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter as Jacksonville drove for a potential go-ahead touchdown, and the Jaguars lost to the Jets, 28-23. That was the Jags’ 21st consecutive loss in a road game against a team with a winning record. Dating back to the 2008 season, that is now the second-longest such streak in NFL history. But get this: The Jaguars are only halfway to the record. Over a span of 15 seasons from 1990 to 2004, Cincinnati lost 42 straight road games in which its opponent had a winning record at the time of kickoff.


Bills score from distance in win over Dolphins

The Bills defeated the Dolphins, 33-17, in a game that featured three long touchdowns by Buffalo: a 44-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins and runs of 48 yards by LeSean McCoy and 38 yards by Karlos Williams. It was only the second game in team history in which two different players scored rushing TDs of 30 yards or longer. The first was played 51 years ago, and the touchdowns were scored by Cookie Gilchrist (60 yards) and Bobby Smith (37) in a victory over the Houston Oilers (Nov. 1, 1964). Gilchrist was the AFL rushing champion that season, and that was his only 100-yard game of the year (139 yards).


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Blaine Gabbert started in place of Colin Kaepernick and threw two touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 17-16 win over the Falcons. Gabbert hadn’t started a game since 2013, hadn’t won since 2012, and had lost his last 10 starts for Jacksonville. During the NFL’s expansion era, dating back to 1960, only two other quarterbacks snapped a personal losing streak of 10 or more starts with a victory in their first start for a new club: Steve Bartkowski for the L.A. Rams in 1986, and Charlie Batch for the Steelers in 2005.


Zuerlein kicks a second field goal of 60-plus yards

In a game billed as a matchup of great breakaway runners old and new, Adrian Peterson ran for 125 yards and Todd Gurley for 89 yards as the Vikings defeated the Rams, 21-18, in overtime. But it was a kicker-in fact, the kicker for the losing team-that made headlines, as Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals, including a 61-yarder.

Zuerlein, who kicked a 60-yard field goal against Seattle three seasons ago, became only the second player in NFL history with two FGs of 60 yards or longer. The other is Sebastian Janikowski.

What You Need to Know to #WIN this Weekend

Not sure who started it, but thanks a lot guy.  All week we had to hear the nonsense of “should Leonard Fournette sit out”, etc., and blah blah blah.  Seriously, it’s stupid, and all so the needle can move.  This isn’t Golf, and he isn’t Clarett or Clowney.  According to my sources, here are the facts:  Leonard wants to win a Heisman, and Leonard wants to win a National Championship.  He does not have any interest in sitting out, he wants to play.  However…..

It got me thinking and you all know how dangerous that can be, so keep reading.  I do not want to see it happen, nor believe it will, but what if…After this year, Leonard Fournette left LSU, and went to play in the Canadian Football League?  He would be paid, a lot.  It would be a needle-mover, similar to Herschel Walker joining the USFL, instead of the NFL, but with more Karmic Justice.

The Canadian team that signed him would receive a huge boost in notoriety and revenue.  The Canadian league itself would see a boost in ratings.  The story would be colossal!  Finally, a young man, with that kind of talent, doing things on his own terms, and the best of all of it – after that one year up north – he becomes a free-agent.  Not a draft pick.  A Free Agent. Leonard could then sign with any NFL team he wanted – the slurping of jock-strap tea from NFL teams would be insane.  He would be in charge, not the league.  It’s the kind of revolutionary possibility that could set the example for future college athletes – without ever having to worry about playing for Cleveland – they decide where to work, just like every other person in America.  Take that Goodell, Viva La Revolucion!


I have not had a lot of time recently, to go into great detail, the picks for this weekend – all because of a now sentient and mouthy A.I. calling itself DC*3PO – so I’m just gonna give you its picks and go from there while we make some more improvements that you should check out:

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They said it could never happen.  They said in this day and age, the obstacle was too high.  Yet, here we are.  The NFL has gone an entire month without an arrest.  Not since 2009 has the league gone thru such a period of tranquility.  Never before have women and children felt more at peace.  In a landmark poll – women and children said they feel 33% safer than last month.  Truly a monumental accomplishment.

Hooray! It’s decorative-gourd season and now everything will have the delicate flavor of pumpkin jammed into anything consumable for 2 months, all while we prepare ourselves for the festive onslaught, known as Kwanza – Anyone want to give Josh Scobee a hug?  How about Mike Tomlin?

In last nights overtime loss to the Ravens, (23-20) Tomlin faced 4 important 4th downs and he blew them all – like an addict needing a sandwich.  The Ravens overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Did you know, the Steelers came into the game having won 57 consecutive home games when leading by more than 10 points, (during the regular season) – it was the second longest current streak of its kind behind New England’s 68 straight.  It’s also the 13th time that the Ravens and Steelers have played a game that has been decided by three-or-fewer points since the 2005 season. That’s by far the most games between any two teams over the last 11 seasons.

Also, a well-deserved and late shout-out to the Raiders who refuse to paint the 50, in the middle of the field, gold.  Now, some have said it was out of respect to the A’s and baseball.  I think it is an old-fashioned middle finger salute in honor of the Head-Raider, Al Davis.  Take that NFL, and here’s one for you 49ers and your fancy new stadium that will host Superbowl 50 – it’s all out of order.


DiRTCanon A.I.DC*3PO’s NFL Bonanza

Last Sunday our A.I. became self-aware and recently it gave itself a name: DC*3PO.  So what was previously an exercise in fun, has now become serious business – DC*3PO has been talking a lot of smack.  I guess we need to start playing some action music, because IT. IS. ON!

First off, we’ll give DC*3PO’s picks along with any trends for those teams – as a starter here are 2 interesting trends for 0-3 and 3-0 teams:  all teams that start 0-3 AND are Home Favorites the next week are 8-20-1 ATS, and that might spell trouble for the Saints.  Conversely, all time, teams that start 3-0 and are Home Favorites the next week are 39-25 ATS – that means Bengals, Broncos, Cardinals, and Falcons should be in your teaser…Now on to the games.



TRENDS (pk): This is the Dolphins third trip across the pond to play at Wembley Stadium, Miami is 2-0 against-the-spread in London.  In all London games, the designated away team has been favored in 9 of 11 games and are 6-5 (55% ATS).

DC*3PO Sez: Miami wins the game 21 – 16.  



TRENDS (IND -9):  In the last two years, following a loss by three or more touchdowns, the Jags are 1-5 against-the-spread the next week.  In the Andrew Luck era, the Colts as home favorites against the AFC South are 6-2 ATS.

DC*3PO Sez:  Jacksonville beats Indy 24 – 23. 



TRENDS (BUF -5):  In the Eli Manning era, the Giants following a Thursday night game are 4-0-1 against-the-spread.  The Bills are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites of less than a touchdown.

DC*3PO Sez:  New York 26 – New Jersey 25


TRENDS (TAM +3):  The Panthers, in the Cam Newton era, are 7-5 ATS on the road against divisional rivals.  The Buccaneers are 6-14 ATS in their last twenty games as a home dog following a loss.

DC*3PO Sez:  Tampa Bay wins by 3, 22 – 19.


TRENDS (CHI +2):  Oakland hasn’t been favored on the road since 2012. The Raiders are 0-3-1 ATS all-time in Chicago as a favorite.  The Bears have covered just two of their last ten games as home underdogs.

DC*3PO Sez:  Chicago wins 27 – 26.8.


TRENDS (WAS +3):  All-time, the Eagles as road favorites against the NFC East are 20-12-2 (63% ATS).  All-time, the Redskins as home dogs to the Eagles are 5-9-1 against-the-spread.

DC*3PO Sez:  Philly wins a close game 20 – 18.6


TRENDS (CIN -3):  All-time, following a loss and as a road underdog the Chiefs are 58-39-1 (60% ATS).  This is the sixth time Cincinnati has started the season 3-0, the Bengals went 1-4 ATS in the next game the previous five years.

DC*3PO Sez:  Kansas City wins the game 27.8 – 22


TRENDS (ATL -5):  In the JJ Watt era, the Texans as road underdogs are 4-14 straight-up.  This is the fifth time Atlanta has started the season 3-0, the previous four occasions the Falcons were 1-3 ATS in the next game.

DC*3PO Sez:  Houston loses, 19.2 – 26.


TRENDS (SD -7):  The Browns are 7-3 ATS in their last ten road games against the AFC West.  In the Philip Rivers era, the Chargers as home favorites of a touchdown or more are 24-16 (60% ATS).

DC*3PO Sez:  closer than the experts think, SD 25 – CLE 22


TRENDS (SF +9):  Aaron Rodgers as a road favorite of a touchdown or more is 4-8 ATS.  The 49ers haven’t been home dogs of 7 or more points since 2007, San Francisco covered that game.  The 49ers didn’t just cover, San Francisco won outright 21-19 as 7 point dogs in Week 16 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

DC*3PO Sez:  Green Bay wins but does not cover – GB 26 – SF 24.6


TRENDS (DEN -7):  The Vikings are 10-5-1 against-the-spread with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter (equivalent of a full season).  Peyton Manning has started 3-0 six other times in his career, he was 5-1 ATS in the next game.

DC*3PO Sez:  Denver 19.2, Minnesota 17.6


TRENDS (AZ -6):  All-time, the Rams as underdogs against division opponents are 39-54 (42% ATS). With Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are favorites of three or more points are 6-1-1 against-the-spread.

DC*3PO Sez:  Arizona covers, 26.4 – 19.6


TRENDS (NO -4):  Brandon Weeden has lost his last nine starts and is 0-9 ATS in those games.  The Saints once-dominant home field advantage is gone, New Orleans has lost six straight inside the Superdome.

DC*3PO Sez:  Dallas 25 – Saints 24.8


TRENDS (SEA -9):  Matthew Stafford as a road dog of a touchdown or more is 0-12 straight-up and 2-9-1 ATS.  The Seahawks, in the Russell Wilson era, are 16-7-2 against-the-spread as home favorites.

DC*3PO Sez:  Detroit wins 23.4 – 21.6


Let us know where you lean and what games you think DC*3PO has right or wrong – as for the upcoming Daily Fantasy contests – be sure to check out our Lineup Analyzer and if you think you are better than us, then prove it – let us know your Player-I.D. and we will send you an invite.  Need help, let us know – Fantasy Sports is evolving, let us Teach you how to #win!

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Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

#1 with a Bullet…

 

Oh the humanity…Bert, you got waxed again – remember when you opened your mouth at a Texas football camp and said; if you didnt have a fullback you would get your ass kicked?  Well Pepperidge Farms remembers and apparently so did Kingsbury.  All the offseason hype, all the faux-swagger and next week is Texas A&M – you’ve got Hawg-Town losing their minds.  Bert, you know it’s bad when the people of Hawg-nation are calling for Greg Schiano, Lame Kitten, or just outright cheating.  It’s gotta sting the nostrils a bit.  Sure, fans will get over ranking 118th in 3rd-down conversion-defense, or ranking 84th in penalty yards and even 119th in RedZone efficiency – but having Kliff Kingsbury put you in your place?  These are Dark Days Bert, dark days…


Dark Days ahead for Auburn too.  This is who Auburn is.  They just don’t go quietly into the night, they fall off the cliff.  It’s in their DNA.  Their history proves it, and when a defensive back spouts off about how easy it will be to stop Leonard Fournette…well we all saw what happened.  Fournette had Auburn quitting before halftime, especially Mr. Ford – the mouthee.   But, to me, the issue is Jeremy Johnson.  He had a lot of hype coming in and the expectation was that he would do and be everything we’ve come to expect from the field-general of Auburn’s offense.  He has the talent, just not the heart or more importantly the head to get it done, because it is not translating to the field in real time.  Seriously though, it’s Auburn and it was a great weekend for those who dislike the entire state of Alabama.


More sad fans were found in SoCal.  Beyond Sark’s pre-game holla-ba-looza earlier in the year, the only thing people really had to say about him was – He’s a nice guy.  I’m sure he is a nice guy and that is honorable, but when it is attached to a football coach that is getting treatment for a drinking problem, he says he doesn’t have and then Stanford happens, you get flashbacks.  The kind of flashbacks that take you back to Seattle where Sark was 34-29 and the thought was, “it was hard to breakthrough in Washington, and wait and see what he can do with national-elite talent.”  Well we did. Talent is important, but it’s what you do with it, and so far and far too often, Sarkisian is outmatched by the other guy on the other side-line.  It’s going to get harder for “the Fans of Troy” to believe this is going to work as envisioned, because, as of right now –  it’s not the symbol of victory that fans are giving, it’s the number of losses every year.


But what about Ole Miss and Alabama? The Rebels caused five turnovers Saturday and also benefited from a once-in-a-lifetime—see Auburn in bamasad2013—miracle touchdown in a six-point win in Tuscaloosa.  Alabama is going too have to, again, win out.  But is it the same as last year? Last year, Alabama had a defined starting quarterback. Saturday, Nick Saban went with sophomore Cooper Bateman (who got blown up) before he was replaced by Jake Coker – who had started Alabama’s first two games. Coker almost led Alabama to it’s best come-from-behind victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium since the one Cam Newton led in 2010.  This is a fluke they say, the dynasty is still intact, the emperor’s new clothes are still made from the finest invisible silks…To quote our friend Lee Corso – NOT SO FAST…Alabama is 4-5 against top 15 teams since 2013.  That’s a trend, not a fluke, and what I’m saying is – gone are the days that Alabama beats teams with comparable talent more often than not.  Back in the day, Alabama fans would be upset if you beat someone by 10pts instead of 20 and after they’d come back down to earth, they’d be on to the next week.  Now the freakouts seem longer and that might cause Saban to see the writing on the wall and pack up.

For week 3 we were 72% SU and 64% ATS – that still crushes, but it is not what we are used to around here – our upsets did pretty well, but the ones we thought would be E-Z, hmmm not so much as we’d like.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look at how Memphis tied the game at 41 in the 4th qtr against Bowling Green – yeah a full-on double-reverse-flea flicker!!!

Other thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Notre Dame has lost a starting defensive tackle, a starting tailback, a starting tight end and a starting quarterback to season-ending injuries. Saturday, it may have lost a starting safety to a chest-bump-celebration
  • TCU lost their cornerback to a knee injury against SMU and also had 5 other defensive players sit out with injuries
  • Doing his best Johnny Manziel impression – OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, accounted for a school-record 572 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in the Sooners’ 52-38 win over Tulsa
  • Al Golden escaped with a much needed victory over Nebraska, but it still does not seem to haved cooled off his seat any.  During the game you could see a plane pulling a banner that read: C’MON #FIREGOLDEN. THESE BANNERS ARE EXPENSIVE – nevermind the Hurricanes were up 17 by halftime.  Maybe he felt vindicated after watching Miami choke away a 23pt lead, yet still won 36-33 in OT
  • For Nebraska, it could have been one of the great comebacks in their history – then Tommy Armstrong threw an interception on the 1st play of OT, and then a player gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he shoved the Miami guy who intercepted it – Miami, short field goal – ball game.  It’s a heart-breaking way to lose a game, and yet it has happened to Nebraska twice in three weeks.

It’s all about the Benjamin

Some headlines will highlight Johnny Manziel‘s role in the Browns’ 28-14 win over the Titans. But the star of the show was Travis Benjamin, who caught touchdown passes of 60 and 50 yards from Manziel and returned a punt 78 yards for a TD. The only other active players to have scored three TDs of 50 yards or longer in one game were Chris Johnson (2009) and Tavon Austin (2013). Benjamin was the first Browns player ever to do so – ever.

Benjamin also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Manziel in the Browns’ season opener. The only other player in NFL history with four touchdowns of 50 yards or longer in his team’s first two games of a season was Jim Brown for Cleveland in 1963 – 1963!

Manziel may have completed just 8-of-15 passes, but he was able to limit the turnovers and make plays when the Browns needed him the most.  In reality, there is absolutely no reason for Mike Pettine to go back to a lower-ceiling quarterback in Josh McCown.  As a result of Manziel replacing McCown, Cleveland extended its streak to 14 consecutive seasons in which at least two different players started a game at QB. That tied the longest such streak in the NFL since 1950, set by New England from 1980 to 1993. The Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and Bledsoe ended New England’s streak in 1994.


Are the Cardinals early Favorites?

Fresh off a solid win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals laid the smack down against an inferior Bears team in Chicago. While the game was relatively close about halfway through, anyone watching it knew full well that Arizona was going to end up pulling away.

For Carson Palmer, it was a continuation of what has been a stellar run for a USC quarterback. The veteran has posted a 15-2 record with 34 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. His four touchdowns on Sunday – including three to Larry Fitzgerald – represents the first time Palmer has matched that total since he was with the Oakland Raiders back in November of 2012.  That was the first regular-season game of Fitzgerald’s NFL career in which he scored more than two touchdowns; he came into the game with 89 TDs.

Only one player in league history with that many touchdowns never scored three in a game: Charley Taylor (90 TDs) – (Note that Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game following the 2008 season, but never before in a regular-season game.)


New Rams, same as the old Rams

All the good feelings the St. Louis Rams may have felt following their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks came crashing down in D.C. on Sunday. Never really in control of the game against Washington, St. Louis dropped an ugly game by the score of 24-10. At this point, we have come to expect Fisher-led squads to lay eggs following good performances.

It happened in all three of the Rams big wins last year — against Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. In fact, the Rams lost the following week after beating those favored teams. This is one of the primary reasons I avoided to pick St. Louis on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins completed 23 of 27 passes (85%) and Matt Jones gained 123 yards on 19 carries in the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the Rams. Jones and Alfred Morris, who gained 121 yards on Week 1, are the first Redskins teammates to rush for at least 100 yards in the team’s first and second game of a season (one in each game, that is). The only other running backs to do that in this century were LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner for San Diego in 2006.

For his part, Cousins posted the fourth-highest completion percentage in team history (minimum: 20 passes). The three higher marks were by Mark Brunell, 89 percent against Houston in 2006; Patrick Ramsey (Tulane), 86 percent against the Giants in 2004; and Sammy Baugh, 86 percent against the Steelers in 1945.


New England is putting the league on notice

Tom Brady passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 40-32 win at Buffalo. Brady’s totals after two games-754 yards and 7 TDs without an INT-are rare even for a quarterback of his elite status. This is the second time he has passed for at least 700 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games of season, the first being 2011. Only four other players did that even once: Jim Kelly (1991), Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots (1994), Peyton Manning (2013), and Aaron Rodgers (2013). Of those players, only Manning and Brady did so without throwing an interception.

Incidentally, Brady set a record for passing yards in one game against the Bills, breaking a mark that was set the same month that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record. On October 29, 1961, George Blanda of the Houston Oilers passed for 464 yards at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, and that mark remained the highest against the Bills until Sunday.

At some point, the Patriots will have to find a run/pass balance on offense – right?. They won’t be able to dominate like this through the air on a consistent basis – can they? The interesting dynamic here is that New England did average nearly four yards per rush. It’s not like the running game was completely ineffective.  Instead, Bill Belichick and Co. decided to make a statement, again, that the big boys of the East don’t reside in Western New York and play under Rex Ryan.  It could be a long year for anyone who gets in their way.


The Eagles are mess

About halfway through three quarters on Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles had racked up more penalty yards than total yards. Heck, the Cowboys domination could be summed up by the fact that they had run more plays (44) – at about the nine-minute mark in the third quarter – than the Eagles had total yards (34). It was that ugly.

The Cowboys defeated the Eagles, 20-10, in a game in which the story was Tony Romo‘s broken collarbone.  But storyline 1-A was the continued ineffectiveness of DeMarco Murray, who netted two yards on 13 carries one week after gaining nine yards on eight carries in Philadelphia’s season opener.  Over the last 30 seasons, there are only four games in which a defending rushing champion gained less than 10 yards on at least five carries. Christian Okoye did it in 1990, Chris Johnson in 2010, and Murray in each of his first two games with the Eagles.

Murray’s net of 2 yards was the third lowest in NFL history by a defending rushing champion in a game of at least 10 carries. Steve Van Buren of the Eagles was held to negative-2 yards on 10 carries by the Browns in 1950; and Clem Daniels, the 1963 AFL rushing leader, carried 14 times for negative-1 yard against the Boston Patriots in the Raiders’ opening game of the 1964 season.  But Murray’s performance on Sunday was extraordinary for any player, not just for a rushing champion. Over the last 37 seasons, only one other player finished a game with at least as many carries and as few rushing yards as Murray. Jonathan Wells of the Texans carried 13 times for 1 yard on Dec. 29, 2002 against the Titans.

It’s this type of offensive performance that will have many questioning Chip Kelly’s scheme moving forward. More than that, it will have skeptics on full alert when it comes to criticizing the team’s off-season moves. And now at 0-2 on the season, Philadelphia finds itself in a must-win situation against the New York Jets next week.


6 straight home losses?!

At 0-2 on the season (2nd straight year), Drew Brees and Co. are in a terrible position. Only 10 percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the 2007 season have earned a playoff spot. And while playing in the NFC South helps New Orleans early in the year, they just lost a home game against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that won just two games last season.  Costing many people their survivor pool!!!

Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers to a 26-19 win at New Orleans. Winston became the first quarterback chosen first in the NFL Draft to get a September road win in his rookie season since John Elway did so in 1983.  Of course, Elway’s two road wins in September 1983 have a big fat asterisk, since Steve DeBerg was the QB who rallied the Broncos to both of those victories.

Since that time, #1 picks had lost 16 straight September starts in their rookie season, and it’s an impressive list of QBs: two losses each by Troy Aikman, Jeff George, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, and David Carr, followed by single losses by Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck.

There isn’t much left up for interpretation here. New Orleans appears to be terrible.

Looking well past his prime, Brees was outplayed by Jameis.  Drew completed 24-of-38 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This came on the heels of Tampa Bay’s defense yielding FOUR touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota last week.

If the Saints can’t win a home game against a bottom-feeder, it pretty much tells us what we need to know about this team. Unfortunately for Brees, the twilight of his career is likely going to be spent with fans watching him thru paper-bags.

 

Weekend Update: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

It was a glorious weekend outside the DirtCanon Bunker – the College Football was fresh, the NFL was tasty.  Even my attorney showed up for the festivities of our Launch Party Sunday – he even paid!  But let’s get down to what we saw this weekend and Arkansas you are on the clock:

How does that taste Bert…dont care if its Bret, you’re now Bert…you mouthed off about Ohio State’s schedule and you get blown up at home, by Toledo?! That’s a MAC school, they are maybe the 4th best team in Ohio – you s’posed to be SEC.  In fact you were s’posed to be a team that road-grades its way to victory. That Oline, that running game – you have no business throwing the ball 53 times on Toledo – Bert you lost your balls, you get paid too much money to act like a Nutt

Auburn still needs help from the Refs, and this time it is to defeat Jacksonville St in OT.  Not a misprint, Auburn is terrible and with Tennessee’s choke-job to Oklahoma in double OT – the SEC is in danger ofsingle logo_small becoming ACC bad.  Sure, there were some bright spots, Kentucky snapped their 22-game loser-streak on the road beating South Carolina and LSU escaped Starkville.  But SEC-fan, you might want to start getting used to chants of “OVER-RATED”  – clap, clap, clap-clap-clap…

Notre Dame is cursed.  Last year, defensive injuries derailed a promising start to the season. This year it is the offense. Starting quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his ankle in Notre Dame’s 34–27 victory over Virginia, joining running back Tarean Folston, (who was lost last week) on the won’t-play-again-this-season list.

On a brighter side, the week 2 odds that were posted on Friday did fairly well.  On the highlighted picks – we were perfect SU and 68% ATS – overall, we were 89% SU and 63% ATS – just good enough to not be addicted and still better than anywhere else.

Here are some other Saturday thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Two wins to start the 2015 season has pushed Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 15 straight.  Up next are TCU (10), Memphis (nine), Western Kentucky (seven), Michigan State (six) and Navy (five).
  • The “honor” of the longest losing streak had belonged to Georgia State, which had lost 12 in a row until Saturday night’s 34-32 win over New Mexico State.  The win also marked GSU’s first-ever win over an FBS-level team as an FBS team themselves.
  • Additionally, Colorado ended its 10-game losing streak, the longest amongst Power Five teams, with a 48-14 win over UMass.  With those outcomes, UNLV now owns the nation’s longest losing streak at eight straight.
  • Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are the only teams that have never played a non-FBS/Div. 1-A school since the current setup was established in 1978.  Following the 2016 season, and because of a conference mandate, Big Ten teams will no longer be permitted to schedule games against FCS programs.
  • V’Angelo Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to record a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for touchdown in his career. Harold “Red” Grange is the only other Illini player with kickoff, punt and interception returns for TDs, but he never returned a fumble for a score.
  • Dalvin Cook‘s 266 yards rushing were the second-most in Florida State history?  Cook’s performance is topped only by Greg Allen‘s 322 yards in 1981

 

Manning vs. Flacco

Remember this post from March?  When we told you that “It’s hard to watch your heroes fall and attempt to hang on to long.  Age always wins“.  Well it seems wearing a swim-shirt was the fore-shadowing we needed on the final season of the Great Peyton Manning.  No touchdowns during the pre-season and none yesterday against Baltimore.   It was the 20th NFL season opener in which both starting QBs were coming off a season of at least 25 touchdown passes. It was the first of those games in which neither threw a TD pass. (Note: Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning on Sunday night was the 21st such meeting.)  For Baltimore, the rest of the season seems to be a more difficult one as they lose Suggs with a torn achilles.  But the issue is still Denver winning with a punchless offense – maybe someone should set Peyton up with DirecTV, because this cable-version of Peyton is hard to watch.

A first-of-its-kind matchup produces a historic performance

The last time Marcus and Jameis met on the field was in January, at the Rose Bowl – and the results were the same then as they were yesterday.  It was the first-ever opening-day matchup of rookie quarterbacks chosen first and second in the NFL Draft. But by halftime, it was all about Marcus Mariota, with number-one pick Jameis Winston earning only an interesting footnote, albeit an unwanted one.  Marcus was 13-16 with 4 touchdown passes – the only other player to do that in their first game was Fran Tarkenton – except Marcus threw 4 in the first half!  The Titans scored 35 points by halftime of their 42-14 win. Last year they NEVER scored more than 28 points in a game while going 2-14.  As for Jameis, he is has played 28 games in college and the pro’s, going 26-2 – his two losses are both to Mariota.

Sure, it’s only one game but seeing Mariota finish his first professional game with a perfect passer-rating that puts him ahead of Tom Brady (2nd) and Aaron Rodgers (3rd) gives the Titans hope that they chose correctly.  As for Winston’s role in this historic matchup, his first pass was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh, who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Over the last 30 years, only two other players threw a pick-6 on the first pass of their NFL career: Jay Schroeder in 1985 and, believe it or not, Brett Favre in 1991.  It was not all bad for Jameis, he did finish ahead of Luck, Manning and Flacco in passer-rating Sunday.

Rodgers owns Cutler & the Bears

James Jones (two TD grabs Sunday) being back in Green Bay might be a lot more important to the Packers’ Super Bowl chances than we all thought.  The Packers defeated the Bears, 31-23, at Soldier Field in the 11th regular-season meeting of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler as starting quarterbacks. With that victory, Rodgers improved his record against Cutler to 10-1, with his only loss coming five seasons ago at Chicago – Cutler has now thrown at least 1 INT in every game against the Packers. The last QB to win at least 10 of his first 11 starts against another quarterback was Terry Bradshaw against Brian Sipe (1976-81).

In Rodgers’ last three games against the Bears he has completed 74 percent of his passes for 806 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He is the first player to throw 13 TDs over three games against one opponent since Dan Marino did it against the Jets (1985-86). No other player has ever thrown 13 TDs and fewer than three INTs over three games against one team.

Note that Rodgers also led the Packers to a win over Cutler and the Bears in the NFC Championship Game after the 2010 season.

Rams win

Irony is after an offseason of debate about throwing at the goal line in their Super Bowl XLIX loss, the first play of the Seattle Seahawks’ season fittingly was a handoff to Marshawn Lynch. So was the last play … which got blown up on fourth-and-1 as the nullRams defeated the Seahawks, 34-31 in overtime, on a 37-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. But it was Nick Foles, in his Rams debut, who completed a pass unlike any other in the team’s long NFL history. Foles found Lance Kendricks for a 37-yard touchdown with 53 seconds to play and Zuerlein’s extra point evened the score at 31-31. It was the first game-tying or go-ahead TD pass of 20 yards or longer in the final 60 seconds of the fourth quarter in Rams history.  In other news – what were you thinking Pete Carroll with an onside kick in OT?

nullLockett ends longest return drought

Tyler Lockett opened the scoring in the Seahawks’ loss at St. Louis with a 57-yard punt return. Only three other rookies in NFL history scored on a first-quarter punt return in their team’s opening game of a season: George Atkinson of the Raiders (1968), Deion Sanders of the Falcons (1989), and Dale Carter of the Chiefs (1992).

Allen huge in San Diego’s comeback victory

Philip Rivers completed 35 passes for 404 yards, including 15 to Keenan Allen, in the Chargers’ 33-28 come-from-behind victory over the Lions. Allen set a record for pass nullreceptions in a season-opening game. The previous mark was 14, set by Andre Rison in 1994 and matched by Marshall Faulk in 2002.

San Diego trailed Detroit, 21-3, in the second quarter. Only one other team in this century overcame a deficit that large to win its season-opening game, and Chargers fans should remember the other well. Two years ago, San Diego squandered a 28-7 lead in losing its opener to Houston, 31-28, on Monday Night Football.

New York Blows it – Romo saves Cowboys

The optimists in Big D said the O-line was good enough to offset the loss of DeMarco Murray. But the Cowboys managed just 80 yards on the ground Sunday against a Giants defense that rarely stopped the run in 2014. Dallas only had less than 90 rushing yards nullonce last year, when the Giants only held two opponents below 80.  New York should’ve left Dallas with a W. But poor clock management — namely failing to milk it while opting to throw near the goal line on their final drive — provided Tony Romo with the opportunity to craft a successful comeback.  Tony Romo threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 7 seconds to play and Dan Bailey added the extra point to give the Cowboys an unlikely 27-26 victory over the Giants. That was the latest game-winning fourth-quarter TD pass in Cowboys history. The previous mark was set in a 17-14 win over the Redskins in 1967 when Don Meredith connected with Dan Reeves for a 36-yard TD with 10 seconds to play.

Dallas’ victory was unlikely in this sense: The Cowboys committed three turnovers and the Giants none. Over the past three seasons (2012-14), there were 100 regular-season games in which a team turned the ball over at least three times and had no takeaways; only three of those teams won.

nullBrees ties dubious NFL record in loss

Drew Brees passed for 355 yards in the Saints’ 31-19 loss at Arizona, his fifth straight season reaching the 300-yard mark in New Orleans’ first game. That tied the NFL record for consecutive season openers with at least 300 passing yards. Kurt Warner set that mark from 1999 through 2003.  Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes in his first game since last season’s ACL injury. Palmer has a 14-2 record in his last 16 starts

Marshall and the Jets

The Browns have now lost an NFL-record 11 straight openers, and Brandon Marshall might be the safety net the Jets need to stabilize their uneven passing game. He excelled in the red zone and bailed out Ryan Fitzpatrick by ripping the ball away from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson after an interception.  With that, the Todd Bowles era started with a strong defensive performance as the Jets forced the Browns into five turnovers and posted a 31-10 victory. During six seasons under Rex Ryan, the Jets ranked 19th among the 32 NFL teams with an average of 1.5 takeaways per game. They had only one game with as many as five takeaways under Ryan, forcing six turnovers in a 38-7 win over Buffalo in 2011.

Bills knock the Colts down a peg

The Colts were chic Super Bowl picks in many quarters, but didn’t look ready for the Bills, who shut Indianapolis out in the first half before winning 27-14.  The Bills were sending seven defenders at Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck on seemingly every passing down, especially early in the game. The all-out blitzes worked in Buffalo’s decisive upset.null

Making his first NFL start, the new Bills quarterback justified Rex Ryan’s faith in him by playing efficient, virtually mistake-free football. Taylor passed for 195 yards and a TD while adding 41 yards with his legs. Ground and pound, baby.  The Colts’ struggles to stop the run have carried over to this season. The Bills ran 36 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns – leading a terrific start to Karlos Williams’ NFL career, as he gave the Bills a 16-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown run on his first carry. It had been 20 years since any NFL player scored an opening-game TD of 20 yards or longer on the first carry of his career. The last player to do so was Michael Westbrook of the Redskins, with a 58-yard TD run in a 27-7 opening-day victory over the Cardinals.

But guess what? A few hours later, Ameer Abdullah of the Lions did it as well, capping Detroit’s opening drive with a 24-yard TD run on his first carry.

nullIt’s getting absurd in KC

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdowns but none to a wide receiver – again. Smith’s last TD to a receiver was Dec. 8, 2013.  On the other hand, Travis Kelce became the first Chiefs tight end to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Tony Gonzalez left Kansas City following the 2008 season. Gonzalez caught two or more TDs in a game 14 times for the Chiefs.

What about Bob?null

Another strong performance by a tight end was turned in by Tyler Eifert, who caught nine
passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Bengals’ 33-13 win at Oakland. Eifert was the first Cincinnati TE with two TD receptions in a 100-yard game since Bob Trumpy scored three times in a 5-for-159 performance against the Houston Oilers in 1969.

Same Ol’Philbin, Same Ol’Washington

The Miami Dolphins are continuing a disturbing trend during coach Joe Philbin’s tenure with the team: They play down to lesser opponents. The offense came out flat in the first half at Washington, rushing for only 2 yards. But the most concerning questions from Miami’s victory were mental lapses on defense.

For Washington, things were looking good for the home team early on Sunday. But then Ryan Tannehill found Rishard Matthews for a 3-yard TD late in the first half to narrow the Redskins’ lead to 10-7, and the Dolphins scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 17-10 victory. Washington was the first home team to lose its season opener after scoring the game’s first 10 points since 2002, when the Jets rallied from a 10-0 deficit for a 37-31 win at Buffalo.  From the media-generated-controversy department – Why was CBS giving viewers constant reaction shots from RGIII — following many of Kirk Cousins’ throws?

Somethings never change

The Kelvin Benjamin-less offense produced just 263 yards and one touchdown – ouch. The supporting cast around Newton will likely add pressure on Carolina’s defense, nullespecially if MLB Luke Kuechly’s concussion proves severe.  In other news, Josh Norman intercepted Blake Bortles and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 20-9 win over the Jaguars. That was a problem for Bortles as a rookie last season, when he tied for the NFL lead by throwing four pick-6’s, which was also a single-season team record.