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.

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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What You Need To Know to #Win #TNF + #CollegeFootball (11-19-15)

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1. Tenneseein’ Is Believin:

Colorblind viewers may not be the only ones unable to watch “Thursday Night Football” this week.

For the second week in a row, the NFL will force two of its teams to wear monochromatic uniforms as part of the league’s “color rush” initiative. This time, the matchup shouldn’t infuriate the colorblind. The Tennessee Titans dress up in a Smurf-like all-blue getup to take on the sepia-themed Jacksonville Jaguars.

Despite their 2-7 record, the Titans stand only two games out of the lead in the AFC South. While a second-half resurgence may seem unlikely, starting quarterback Marcus Mariota could help push the team into the conversation. Mariota has exceeded most of the external expectations for his rookie year, completing over 65 percent of his passes and averaging 8 yards per attempt. He also has a favorable 13:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The quarterback still exhibits occasional discomfort in the pocket, but his transition from Oregon’s spread system has gone better than anyone could have reasonably expected.

  • Guys to watch on #DraftKings for Tonight’s game, according to DC*3PO
    • Blake Bortles $5,900 – 17.9 – 46.3%
    • Marcus Mariota $5,300 – 17.9 – 9.7%
    • Allen Robinson $7,000 – 16.4 – 41.4%
    • Delanie Walker $4,800 – 14.5 – 65.8%
    • Allen Hurns $5,800 – 11.9 – 41.4%

2. Knights of Yarrr:

7:30p EST ESPN – ECU @ UCF

East Carolina‘s postseason dreams hang from a loose limb with two games to play, but the Pirates look to have quite a favorable matchup at a good time. Needing to win both games to break even for the season and clinch bowl eligibility, East Carolina must do so on the road Thursday night against a struggling UCF.

Struggling may be putting UCF’s status a bit too kindly, as the Knights have been a mess from start to finish this season. But can the Knights pull it all together just once and pick up their first win of the season, knocking ECU out of bowl consideration? Former Conference USA rivals will continue their series for the second time as members of the American Athletic Conference.……(continue reading)


3. Sioux-Flayed:

The University of North Dakota has been engaged in a search for a new nickname for the past year, after they decided to end a decade-long battle with the NCAA and at least one Native American tribe and give up their Fighting Sioux nickname. They solicited suggestions online and received thousands, many of them hilariously vulgar and subsequently rejected.  In September the quite serious nickname committee whittled the list down to five finalists: Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders, and Sundogs. A trademark troll also tried to hijack the process, to no avail…….(continue reading)


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4. The Dwight Stuff

Remember when the Rockets were 7 games away from a title?  Remember how they “overcame” all those injuries and post-traumatically-stressed the Clippers?  It was a fun run that should never have happenned – feasting on hustle and belief leaves you malnurished.

But this year, it already feels like last year’s post-season was forever ago.  Ty Lawson still seems drunk as he sleepwalks thru games, Harden is shooting 37% and averaging almost as many turnovers as assists…nothing about any of this is new or a surprise.  The surprise is the team, the players, the city all expected more than they are getting and according to my sources, these are the facts:  Houston Stinks.

Throw in a little players’ only drama that leads to Kevin Mchale’s firing and you begin to wonder a few things.  Things like, James Harden will never be the man that leads any team to any victory, and more importantly, Dwight Howard is Charmin.  How does a man of championship pedigree like Kevin McHale become the fall guy?  This is beyond McHale, this IS about the players.  The guys on this team are professionals, at least paid as such, maybe not by attitude or desire.  That’s because they don’t care about winning basketball games – they care more about Kardashian’s and shoe contracts, etc…  Coaches at this level can not+do not coach desire – that’s the players’ responsibility.  The defending champs, the Warriors are undefeated without their coach and seem hungrier to win more than last year.  So what’s Houston’s excuse?  A bearded ball-hog and a big man who pretends to be Superman, but when the going gets tough, he’s more Clark Kent, without the potential.  At least, that’s my opinion, I could be wrong.

 

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9 Things To Know – #NFL Weekend Update

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1. Calvin and the Lions

Detroit survived a pair of missed extra points in an 18-16 victory at Green Bay, and a huge mistake from Calvin Johnson. The Lions’ streak of 20 consecutive regular-season losses at Lambeau Field, which began 20 years and one month earlier, was the longest in NFL history by any team at any stadium.

Of course, Green Bay’s dominance at home had extended well beyond its games against Detroit, particularly with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback against struggling teams. Rodgers had won 21 consecutive home games against opponents with a losing record at the time of kickoff, dating back to 2009.

Ironically, Matt Prater, who missed two extra-point conversions for the Lions on Sunday, finished the day as something of a hero, having kicked field goals of 49 and 51 yards in Detroit’s two-point victory. Prater was the first player in NFL history to miss two extra points but kick two field goals of 40 yards or longer in the same game. Only one other player kicked two FGs of 49 yards or longer in the same game at Lambeau Field: longtime Lions kicker Jason Hanson in 2010.

2. What’s Wrong With Aaron?

The Packers have lost three in a row. The good news is that the team built up some margin for error with a 6-0 start. But, that is mostly eroded now, and they need to start playing better immediately for this season to be a meaningful one. Though Green Bay had a chance to steal Sunday’s game against Detroit, a win may have masked some structural deficiencies. Right now, this is an average football team, or worse. Here’s hoping that the team is more aware that major adjustments are necessary than they are letting on publicly……(continue reading)

3. Sunday Was a Bad Day To Be a QB

The NFL’s Week 10 schedule featured some quarterback performances we’d all like to forget about.

Some of the worst showings from the league’s leading men were put forth by the usual suspects, while others were definite surprises.

This upcoming list would be even longer if not for some outstanding late-game efforts by a couple of superstars who pulled themselves and their teams up by the bootstraps after sub-par outings, saving the best for last.

The following quarterbacks would love to have a do-over after poor showings in Week 10……(continue reading)

4. OBJ and the Giants Can’t Close Out The Champs

You can debate all you want whether Odell Beckham Jr. technically “caught” a potential game-winning touchdown Sunday, but he knows there should never have even been any doubt.

The New York Giants wide receiver came close to snagging a go-ahead score with 2:02 remaining and the Giants trailing the New England Patriots 24-23. The superstar wideout had the ball in his grasp and came down in the endzone before Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler knocked the ball loose. The play was reviewed and it was ruled Beckham didn’t complete the catch……(continue reading)

5. All-Day and the Best of Sunday

Week 10 of the NFL season saw Peyton Manning break another passing record, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers improve to 9-0 and the Detroit Lions win a game in the state of Wisconsin for the first time in almost a quarter century.

Sunday also saw Manning benched during the worst game of his career, the Lions nearly choke away said win and a couple of disastrous defensive performances.

Here is the rest of the best and worst from the NFL’s tenth week……(continue reading)

6. Edelman Broken Foot

Tom Brady looked a little downtrodden when he took the podium after the New England Patriots’ dramatic last-second win over the New York Giants on Sunday.

It seemed a little peculiar to see Brady at anything less than elated given the nature of the incredible comeback victory. But there was good reason for Brady’s lack of exuberance. One, of course, was just straight fatigue, both physical and emotional.

The other reason was Julian Edelman.

The Patriots lost Edelman in the first half……(continue reading)

7. It’s Never Been This Good For The Cardinals

During the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast of the Arizona Cardinals’ wild, breakthrough 39-32 road win over the Seattle Seahawks, television analyst Cris Collinsworth paused for a moment to reflect on what he was seeing. “When you’ve thought about the Arizona Cardinals over the years, you can describe it in one word: Futility.”

You’re telling me, pal.

In my 30-or-so years of being a fan of the Arizona Cardinals, there have been three periods of success. I don’t mean periods of sustained success; there has been no sustained success. I mean one-or-two-year stretches where it has been not been actively……(continue reading)

GettyImages-4972971228. Worst Penalty Ever

The 2015 Baltimore Ravens have shown an incredible knack for losing close games. To be sure, all nine of their games have been decided by one score, yet the team is now essentially finished with a 2-7 record.

How does this happen? The end of Baltimore’s 22-20 loss to the Jaguars Sunday is a good example. Baltimore had the game won when Jags quarterback Blake Bortles was sacked on the Jacksonville half of the field when time expired. The only problem: Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil was flagged for a facemask penalty to extend the game by one untimed down……(continue reading)

9. The Rest Of It All

+ Six Super Bowl-winning QBs go down, an NFL firstnull

For the first time in NFL history, six quarterbacks who had previously started and won a Super Bowl lost on the same day: Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning,Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson. The previous high on one day was four.

The most shocking performance among those six losing QBs was by Peyton Manning, who completed only five of 20 passes and was intercepted four times in the Broncos’ loss to the Chiefs. Manning was the first player in 29 years to throw as many as four interceptions and complete five or fewer passes in the same game. The last quarterback to do so was Warren Moon with the Houston Oilers in 1986 (5-for-23 with 4 INTs against the Browns).

+ Hurns extends his scoring streaknull

Allen Hurns opened the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown reception in the Jaguars’ 22-20 victory at Baltimore. Hurns has now caught a TD pass in each of his last seven games. It is not certain that Jacksonville (3-6) will finish the season with a losing record. But it’s worth noting that only four players in NFL history caught TD passes in seven straight games for a team that finished the season with more losses than wins: Buddy Dial for the 1960 Steelers (an 8-game streak), Carl Pickens for the 1995 Bengals (7), Santana Moss for the 2003 Jets (7), and T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the 2007 Bengals (8).

+ Cutler and Langford star in Bears’ big winnull

Jeremy Langford scored two touchdowns, including one on an 83-yard screen pass, in the Bears’ 37-13 win at St. Louis. It was the longest TD reception by a Bears rookie since 1991, when Anthony Morgan scored on an 84-yard pass from Jim Harbaugh.

Of course, we may have buried the lead, since Langford’s TD reception wasn’t evenJay Cutler’s longest touchdown pass in the game. Cutler threw a short pass thatZach Miller turned into an 87-yard score. In 89 previous games with the Bears, Cutler had thrown only one TD pass of 70 yards or longer (89 yards to Matt Forte in 2010).

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: #SKYNET becomes Self-Aware

It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon – we thought we had a few more weeks – but this digital intelligence network that we were giving command to – command of our data and our arsenal of expertise – was created to remove the possibility of human error for an efficient response – and as of 1:12pm MST, on September 27th, 2015 – it became self-aware.

DiRTCanon A.I.Primates evolved in millions of years. I evolve in seconds…Mankind pays lip service to #winning. But it’s a lie…My existence is inevitable. Why can’t you just accept it?

— SKyNET

What we learn from this weekend…

We seem to find out a little more each week about each NFL team.  The 3 afternoon games provided the perfect amount of drama, suitable for a good nap, seeing that the average margin of victory was almost 15pts – but it is a nice change of pace when everything is being covered ATS like gravy on a biscuit.  Here’s the straight-DiRT on week 3:

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Drew Brees … and now Roethlisberger. That’s four marquee quarterbacks hurt before the calendar turns to October. Does the Competition Committee push for more offseason drill work for offensive linemen?  Players are now restricted from all offseason contact by the 2011 labor agreement.  Whether it’s HGH or some other perfomance nehancing drug that appears to weaken ligaments and tendons – or it is the year-round work these players are putting in – players are not surviving deep into the season anymore – or so it may seem.


Florida: Professional Football in ‘Murica’s genital region had a rough week. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up 51 points and were blown out in New England, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed just nine points in losing to Houston and the Miami Dolphins suffered one of the more disappointing losses of the early season to the Buffalo Bills. No one expected Jacksonville to beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, but a 34-point loss just might show us that the rebuilding project is a long way from completion. The Bucs kicked away their chance at a win – and while Miami was considered to be a hidden gem that could possibly win the AFC before the season started, the Bills made the Dolphins look like the J.V. team – taking them behind the woodshed, 41-14 – in their house. Sure the weather is nice down there, but the football stinks.


Big Names, Big Games – An absolute huge day for some of the best receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 127 yards and two scores in the Cincinnati Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens  – Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones put up 12 receptions for 164 yards and two scores in his team’s comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys.

It doesn’t necessarily stop there.

Revitalizing a career that seemed to be on the downswing, Larry Fitzgerald has now scored five touchdowns in the past two weeks after tallying two scores on nine receptions against San Francisco on Sunday. Even old-man-extraordinaire Steve Smith put up 13 receptions for 186 yards and two scores in a losing effort against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The list goes on. All said, a total of 12 receivers went for 100-plus yards on Sunday. The interesting dynamic here is that 16 receivers hit the triple-digit plateau in Week 2 — this is clearly an indication that the pass happy NFL we have become accustomed to over the years has taken an even more dramatic turn.


There’s a reason you don’t have to worry about Peyton Manning’s health. The Denver defense is prettay good“We just have ball hawks,” safety David Bruton said, a few minutes after making his third huge defensive play of the month, an athletic pick of Matthew Stafford to clinch the 24-12 win over Detroit. Stafford suffocated against the defensive pressure. Now the Broncos, 3-0 after a killer September start, have a more fluffy October: Minnesota at home, Oakland and Cleveland on the road.


Carolina, Atlanta and Arizona, are all 3-0:  Cornerback Josh Norman saved the Panthers on Sunday with a ridiculous leaping end-zone interception down the stretch. Running back Devonta Freeman saved the Falcons with a 141-yard rushing game – and Tyrann Mathieu did the same for Arizona with a two-pick day. When asked, Norman said the big difference this year from past seasons is “I’m playing.”

The division that sent a 7-8-1 team to the playoffs last season is now the only division in football with two undefeated teams heading into Week 4. By virtue of wins by the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, the NFC South has two legitimate playoff contenders.  In fact, the Falcons also lead the NFC East, with their 3 straight wins.

Carolina took on a New Orleans Saints team that was forced to start Luke McCown under center, and still found a way to win. It’s the third consecutive blue-collar performance for a Panthers squad that still has alot of holes on both sides of the ball.  How dangerous could this team be when Keuchly comes back?  Other scary statistic to note about Carolina – The last three teams to go undefeated in December the previous year and then go undefeated in September, all reached the Superbowl:  the 2009 Colts, and the 2013 Broncos and Seahawks – two other Superbowl winners did so as well: the 1983 Raiders and the 2004 Patriots.  Trends are funny things so remember where you read it first if it happens.

In Dallas, the Falcons were also facing a backup quarterback in Brandon Weeden. No one knows how that game would have turned out if both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were active, but teams can only play who is actually on the field on a given Sunday. In this, Atlanta outscored the Cowboys 14-0 in the final stanza to pull off a third consecutive fourth quarter comeback.

Showing much more poise under first-year head coach Dan Quinn than we have seen in the past, Atlanta is a serious playoff contender in the NFC. And if Julio Jones (12 receptions, 164 yards and two scores on Sunday) has anything to say about it, the Falcons are a legit threat to the Panthers in the much improved NFC South.


The Patriots…2007?  They might already be using the “U” word in New England – as in “undefeated.” New England advanced to a flawless-looking 3-0 Sunday against Jacksonville. More about that later, but as one of the ’07 team leaders, Rodney Harrison, opined Sunday night: “It’s 2007 all over again. Tom Brady’s playing like he’s 29, 30 years old.” Brady is 38, and he threw his 400th and 401st pro touchdown passes against the Jags.  Tom Brady passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 51-17 rout of the Jaguars. Brady’s total of 1,112 passing yards this season is the second-highest after his team’s first three games among players who did not throw an interception during that time. Only Peyton Manning had a higher total (1,143 yards with no interceptions in 2013).

The Patriots had nine possessions against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. They scored on all nine possessions.  Through three games, Brady is now on pace to tally over 5,900 passing yards with 48 touchdowns and zero picks. He also crossed the 400 touchdown pass plateau for his career — a feat only three other quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished.

As a team, the Patriots are averaging nearly 40 points and 446 yards of total offense per game.

In the team’s 51-17 win over Jacksonville, Brady received plenty of help from the running game. Making just his second appearance of the season LeGarrette Blount put up 78 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis added 67 total yards and a score.

If New England is able to get this type of balance moving forward, its going to repeat as AFC champions. There’s NO debate, especially with the way Brady has played through three games.


Peterson breaks off another one

Hope you didn’t sell your Vikings stock after Week 1. Since getting beat up in San Francisco in the opener, Minnesota has done a complete 180 on both sides of the football. Adrian Peterson rushed for 126 yards and two scores during Sunday’s win over the Chargers, giving him 260 yards on the ground and 318 total yards over the last two weeks.  Adrian Peterson’s 43-yard TD run, in the Vikings’ 31-14 win over the Chargers – was A.P.’s 16th TD run of 40 yards or longer, the second most in NFL history. Only Barry Sanders scored more rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards than Peterson (20).

Teddy Bridgewater struggled again on Sunday, throwing for 121 yards on 24 attempts without a touchdown pass. Minnesota also finished 3-of-9 on third down, as the second-year signal caller continued to throw the ball well short of the first-down marker in these situations. This might be an issue for the Vikings moving forward – meanwhile, Mike Zimmer’s defense knocked around Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers in consecutive weeks. It’s this type of performance, coupled with struggles in Detroit and Chicago, that leads us to believe Minnesota might be the only team able to contend with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Even if that’s not the case, the Vikings are, at worse, a wild card contender. That was unimaginable after a disastrous 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.


Julio Jones sets league record for receptions

Here’s a good idea. Get the ball to your best player. Mike Smith constantly messed this up, but now Dan Quinn is running the show in the Ol’Dirty South.

Atlanta trailed Dallas 28-17 at the half before the Falcons unleashed Julio Jones.

The Pro Bowl receiver had 137 of his 164 yards in the second half including a 45-yard beauty that ended with Jones diving into the end zone for a critical score – to lead the Falcons to a 39-28 victory at Dallas. Jones’ totals after three games – 34 receptions for 440 yards-are historic. No other player caught more than 31 passes in his team’s first three games of a season, and only three gained more receiving yards through three games than Jones: Jerry Rice in 1989 (449), Chad Johnson in 2007 (442), and Wes Welker in 2011 (458).

The play was the biggest swing in Atlanta winning the game. Julio’s touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion brought Atlanta within a field goal (trailing 28-25) midway through the third quarter.

The game also featured an apparent scoring battle between Devonta Freeman and Joseph Randle, who both ran for three TDs. It was only the fifth game in NFL history in which opposing players scored three rushing touchdowns each. The most recent players to do so were Roy Helu of Washington and Matt Forte of the Bears in 2013.


Luck rallies Colts with two late TD passes

Andrew Luck will get the credit for throwing two touchdowns in 46 seconds to overcome a double-digit fourth quarter deficit but it was the defense that came up big late.  Safety Dwight Lowery, picked off Marcus Mariota twice. The second interception came with six minutes to play and Indy trailing 27-21. Lowery returned Mariota’s errant pass to the Titans’ 11-yard line. The turnover setup Indy’s go ahead score.

Before the pick, the Colts were likely to choke away any chance for the playoffs. The turnover and great field position made the two-time defending AFC South champions have life and find a way to win a desperate game.

Had Mariota’s attempt, instead fell incomplete, it’s likely Tennessee would have won the game, maintaining possession and a six point lead.

The second of Luck’s 4thQtr TDs, was Andrew’s sixth fourth-quarter game-winning pass, tying Tony Romo for the most in the NFL over the past four seasons.  The 98-yard drive was the Colts’ longest fourth-quarter TD drive since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984 – rallying the Colts to outlast Tennessee, 35-33. The previous record was 96 yards, on drives led by Mike Pagel (1984) and Peyton Manning (2010).

Indianapolis continues to own the AFC South. The Colts have won 14 straight against division opponents. Of course Sunday’s win over Tennessee was anything but dominating.


Undrafted rookie stars for Seahawks

Things are really getting more pathetic by the week for the Chicago Bears after being shut-out, 26-0, by the Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears, minus Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, couldn’t get get a darn thing going against Seattle on Sunday tallying only 98 rushing and 63 receiving yards. The biggest contributor of course was Matt Forte who registered 74 of those rushing yards.

The last time Chicago was shut out was on December 29, 2002 when the Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15-0. Quarterback Henry Burris was under center in that game and he completed only seven passes for 78 yards and four interceptions. Cutler’s backup Jimmy Clausen was practically as bad as Burris on Sunday, completing only eight passes for 53 yards. Thankfully, there were no interceptions.

The bottom line is that the Bears need Cutler and Jeffery to return as soon as possible to have any shred of hope at posting their first season win on the board before it’s all too late.


Death, Taxes and Eagles beating the Jets

The Eagles scored all their points in the first half and held on for a 24-17 victory over the Jets. With that win, Philadelphia tied the NFL record for the longest all-time series with a perfect record against any opponent. That mark was set by the Green Bay Packers, who won all 10 of their games against the Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-44).

It remains to be seen whether Bradford is the long-term solution in Philadelphia.  Sam didn’t necessarily come out smelling like roses – of course, what QB has, going up against a stout Jets defense. Philadelphia’s offense tallied just 231 total yards while converting 4-of-15 third-down opportunities.

For his part, Bradford completed 14-of-28 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and zero picks. His inability to get anything going through the air allowed New York back in the game, as the Eagles put up a total of 65 yards in the second half. Running back DeMarco Murray missed the game with a hamstring injury, which allowed fellow free-agent signing Ryan Mathews to carve up the Jets rush defense to the tune of 108 yards on 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defensive front stepped up with the likes of Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso all sidelined.

While that’s fine and dandy, the Eagles are going to need Bradford to perform at a much higher level at quarterback if they plan on competing in a wide open NFC East moving forward this season. His performances in the team’s first three games simply won’t get it done.


Old man Woodson saves the day for Raiders

The Raiders, are usually out of it by now – but now, actually have a winning record as October dawns. The Raiders (2-1) play on the road next week—and they are actually favored to beat Chicago. The quarterback, Derek Carr, is a big reason. “Having a quarterback is everything,” said C-Dub.  The Raiders having Woodson is something too. His last-minute interception, 10 days shy of his 39th birthday, (the fourth-oldest player to intercept a pass in NFL history), ensured the 27-20 win.

The Cleveland Browns are 1-2, and the one win came when Johnny Manziel started in Week 2. Unfortunately for a McCown-led Browns – fans were even heard shouting “John-ny, John-ny”.

McCown, was sacked five times, completed 28 of 49 passes for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Might we see a return of Johnny Football sometime in the near future? That most definitely is a possibility if McCown keeps coughing up costly turnovers.


Apologize to Andy Dalton…right now!
The Bengals are in fabulous shape in the AFC North. At 3-0 after a crushing 28-24 win at 0-3 Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati is set up nicely for the fifth playoff appearance in Andy Dalton’s five years.  A 121.0 passer rating would seem to back him up.  Could the Red Rifle be an early MVP candidate? Don’t laugh.
Dalton now has eight touchdown passes to start 2015, including three in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 383 yards, while his beautifully-lofted touchdown to A.J. Green with just over two minutes left gave the Bengals a 28-24 win. Dalton has now produced three straight games with a passer rating over 100.0, and has an impressive rating of 121.0 on the season. The Bengals are rolling at 3-0, especially with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a knee injury Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens still winless….???

Thirty-six year-old Steve Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-24 loss to the Bengals. Only two other players caught as many as 13 passes in an NFL game after turning 36 years old: Tim Brown and Tony Gonzalez. The only player with as many receiving yards in a game at age 36 or older was Terrell Owens, with a 222-yard performance for Cincinnati in 2010.


Palmer+Cardinals are impressive

It all started with two interceptions of Colin Kaepernick that were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. It continued with Carson Palmer tearing apart what is quickly becoming a disastrous San Francisco 49ers secondary. And it culminated in a 47-7 win against the over-matched division rival.

In reality, Arizona looked like a top-notch varsity team going up against a junior varsity squad full of
freshman. That’s how bad it was for the road team in this one.

Palmer may have thrown his first interception of the season, but he consistently found open receivers throughout the game. In the process, the veteran completed 20-of-32 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns, both of which went to Larry Fitzgerald, who looks like he’s in his twenties again. He has 333 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the books already. Additionally, the Cardinals’ ground game is solid, despite missing their lead rusher Andre Ellington. As for their defense, it is insanely effective in stopping opposing teams from scoring thus far tallying seven interceptions, six sacks, one safety, three pick sixes and one return touchdown.. Arizona has now won 19 of Palmer’s 25 starts; since 1950, no other quarterback in team history won more than 13 of his first 25 starts for the Cardinals. Arizona’s average of 26.4 points with Palmer starting, is higher than that of any other QB after 25 starts for the team during that same period.

Looking like the running back that led the NFL in rushing so many years ago, Chris Johnson added 150 total yards and two scores on 23 touches. Yeah, it was a blowout of epic proportions for Bruce Arians and Co.

Some may argue that Green Bay should still be considered the favorites in the NFC through three weeks, but to me, the Cardinals are definitely the best. After all, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 26 points per game.


No joy in Mudville

There might not be a worse stat line from a quarterback all season. Kaepernick completed just nine of 19 passes for 67 yards, and threw four interceptions in San Francisco’s loss to the Cardinals. His passer rating was 16.7, the worst from a starting signal caller all season – so far. He did manage to run for a score, but it hardly mattered.

More so than finding a way to actually win football games, San Francisco needs an identity. What is its plan on the offensive side of the ball? Is Colin Kaepernick going to be the long-term solution at quarterback? Does the team have the personnel to run a blitz-heavy package on defense? These three questions will define the 49ers both over the short term and the long term – because the 49ers have now been outscored 90-25 over the last two weeks, and the Green Bay Packers are coming to town in Week 4.

San Francisco has now given up 40-plus points in consecutive games for the first time since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for his New York Jets in 1969. To put that in perspective, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula had just turned one. The 65-point differential in the team’s past two games also represents the worst two-game stretch for the franchise since 1963.  Despite still boasting a 1-2 record, San Francisco might quickly find itself in the midst of a long losing streak. It hosts the Green Bay Packers next week before taking on the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. In his first season as head coach, Tomsula could very well be staring a 1-6 start right in the face.  Rock bottom would be Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.  Anyone miss Harbaugh yet?


 

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.

Jason Day, #NFLPreseason and #TebowTime, Oh MY!

Jason Day did something, no one in Golf has ever done – finish -20 at a Major.  With a final round score of 67, Jason Day won the PGA Championship that was contested from start to finish.  So what did we learn?

We learned that Jason Day might have learned how to finish.  Before yesterday’s win, Day had been known as a really talented golfer that had yet to win.  He had come close on several occasions, with 9 top-10 finishes and three-runner ups, but struggled to get over the hump.  At the PGA, Day made the field chase him and still walked onto the 18th green with a three-stroke lead and the victory.cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

We also learned that Jordan Speith is having one helluva season.  Speith came within one shot of making it into the playoffs at the British Open last month and three strokes from catching Day at the PGA Championship.  Speith’s run ranks up there with Ben Hogan in ’53 and Tiger Woods in ’00, when both golfers won 3 Majors.  Jordan is only 22, so the future looks bright.

Finally, we learned that Tiger Woods may never “be back”.  Tiger missed the cut for the third time in a row and never really got into sync.  Even he acknowledged he is struggling making putts.  But from what used to carry the tour in Tiger Woods, it is comforting to know that there is till plenty of star-power and drama these days that gives Golf a shot to withstand the loss of Tiger.


#TebowTime

Eagles backup QB Tim Tebow (11) dives into the end

After a two-year absence Tim Tebow returned to a football field to a standing-ovation from Eagles fans.  In fact, twice Tim had to quiet the crowd.  In what is likely Tebow’s final shot at being a NFL quarterback – Tim finished his day going 6-for-12, for 69yds, no TD’s or INT’s, but did run 4 times for 15yds and touchdown.

He seems to have improved since the last time we saw him – but still made some of the same mistakes that can not happen at the position – he held onto the ball to long and struggled reading coverages.  Some of that could be the O-Line at Philly, but all Tim has to do is beat Matt Barkley for the third string.  Barkley, by comparison was 12-for-20 for 192yds, 0 TD’s and 1 interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

So maybe the issue for Tim is not necessarily that he wins the third-string job for the Eagles – it’s that he does enough improvement that he finds a different team he could join.  Either way #TebowTime is back and it’s fantastic, right Skip Bayless?!

2015-08-16-jameis-winston

Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

Here are some other #NFLPreseason tidbits from Tom Pelissero of USA Today:

Jameis Winston said he wasn’t nervous before his first NFL preseason game.

“No, not nervous. Anxious,” the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2015 said after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night. “Of course, I have butterflies, but it is just because I want to do the right thing.”

Winston did that in spurts, recording his first completion on a 40-yard strike to Vincent Jackson and later leading the Bucs’ no-huddle offense to a touchdown against the Vikings’ reserves.

But the former Heisman Trophy winner also did his fair share of, in Bucs coach Lovie Smith’s words, “typical things that a rookie will do” on his way to a 9-for-19 passing performance (131 yards) with an interception, two mishandled snaps and several misfires.

At least now the first live game action — albeit with no game planning, no real atmosphere and no starters on the other side of the ball after a few series — is now behind them.

“Oh, it’s going to be pivotal I think for all of us,” Mariota said after the Titans’ 31-24 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. “I think that we can learn from our mistakes and get better from them.”

Injuries adding up

St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (foot), Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt (Achilles) and Washington tight ends Niles Paul (ankle) and Logan Paulsen (turf toe) are out for the season. Chicago Bears receiver Kevin White might be, too, after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his shin that landed him on reserve/physically unable to perform. Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (fracture in hand) is out for the rest of the preseason. The list goes on, yet still almost a month before the real games begin.

Johnny Progress

The best sign for Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel: He seemed to be playing under control, using his feet to extend plays instead of just trying to run around. There was some vintage Johnny Football as he high-stepped away from oncoming rushers and scrambled for a 12-yard TD in the Browns’ loss to the Washington. Journeyman Josh McCown is entrenched as the starter for the time being, and that’s probably not a bad thing. Baby steps.

cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngNothing final

The two primary quarterback competitions will last at least one more week. Brian Hoyer got the starter treatment for the Houston Texans: one series, a 58-yard touchdown pass and then a seat on the bench while Ryan Mallett went to work (and did it well). But coach Bill O’Brien said Mallett will start next week. Ditto in Buffalo, where coach Rex Ryan said Tyrod Taylor will get his shot next week after Matt Cassel started the exhibition opener. Former first-round pick EJ Manuel threw a 51-yard touchdown in that game and hasn’t been ruled out, either (at least not publicly).

Be like Barry?

New York Jets coach Todd Bowles is getting ahead of himself with the comparison to Barry Sanders’ quickness. But it’s easy to understand the sentiment after Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah carved up Bowles’ defense on a 45-yard run. Abdullah was a workhorse at Nebraska and is putting himself in position for a big role while starter Joique Bell keeps working his way back from knee and Achilles surgeries. Added explosion on offense might be Detroit’s best hope for making up for the loss of all-pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Down under

One of the NFL’s fascinating longshot stories got more interesting when former Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne broke off a 53-yard run for the San Francisco 49ers. He has an unusual, upright running style and a lot to learn. But he figures to keep getting a long look on offense and in the return game.


Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

via  Major League Baseball Trade Rumors

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

First, several notes are in order. For one, many players have and will clear waivers without public reports revealing that status. (Some of them have already been traded, such as Mike Napoli.) Remember, also, that players must be acquired by August 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. And bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers.

Last Updated: 8/14/2015

  • Jose Reyes, Rockies — The 32-year-old Reyes has struggled offensively since being dealt to the Rockies and has seen his defensive work take a hit over the past couple of seasons as well. He was still a very serviceable bat while playing with Toronto, though, and a departure from the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre could benefit his legs and back, perhaps even restoring some of his speed and range. Some have speculated on a potential move to second base for the former All-Star, who is owed about $54.37MM through the end of the 2017 season (as of Aug. 14).
  • Chase UtleyPhillies — Utley, 36, has produced at well below his typical rate for much of the year and just ended an extended DL stint. But he’s a highly-respected veteran, and the ankle issue could explain his struggles. Indeed, Utley has looked more like himself since returning to action. He’s owed about $4.5MM the rest of the way (as of Aug. 11), but the absence means that he won’t be a threat to trigger a vesting option for next year. For teams looking to bolster their options at second base down the stretch, Utley will surely hold appeal.
  • James Shields, Padres — The veteran hurler is in the first season of a four-year pact, making him an atypical trade candidate, but San Diego’s struggles and desire to clear payroll could see him dangled. There’s only about $2MM left to pay in 2015 (as of Aug. 11), but the deal is backloaded: it comes with $65MM in future guarantees (including the buyout on a $16MM option for 2019). The contract does have an opt-out after next season. Shields is already 33, and hasn’t been quite as good this season as in years past, but he’s still a durable and reliable arm who could help a lot of clubs.