Weekend Update: #NFL Week 9 Edition

name of site - hunter thompson style


1. It was Supposed To Be Different:

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


Mariota stakes his claim to looming NFL stardom

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

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


Another signature game for Newton in Panthers’ win

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


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

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

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

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


Brown & Williams post gaudy numbers in Steelers’ win

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


Blount is key to Patriots’ victory

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


Patriots tie NFL record for quarter-by-quarter scoring

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


Veterans help Colts spoil Broncos’ perfect record

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

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

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

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


Jacksonville extends a very specific losing streak

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


Bills score from distance in win over Dolphins

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


Gabbert a winner in first start for NinersAltX.Logo.white

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


Zuerlein kicks a second field goal of 60-plus yards

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

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

Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

#1 with a Bullet…

 

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


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


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


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

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

Other thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

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

It’s all about the Benjamin

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

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

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


Are the Cardinals early Favorites?

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

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

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


New Rams, same as the old Rams

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

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

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

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


New England is putting the league on notice

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

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

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


The Eagles are mess

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

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

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

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


6 straight home losses?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Weekend Update: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Manning vs. Flacco

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

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

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

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

Rodgers owns Cutler & the Bears

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

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

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

Rams win

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

nullLockett ends longest return drought

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

Allen huge in San Diego’s comeback victory

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

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

New York Blows it – Romo saves Cowboys

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

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

nullBrees ties dubious NFL record in loss

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

Marshall and the Jets

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

Bills knock the Colts down a peg

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

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

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

nullIt’s getting absurd in KC

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

What about Bob?null

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

Same Ol’Philbin, Same Ol’Washington

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

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

Somethings never change

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

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.