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C’mon, you had no idea the Indianapolis Colts could be 2-3, admit it. It’s OK, because no one did. Yet here they are. This matchup may not be the most dignified example of professional football, but we still may be in for a decent game as these two teams are more similar than you’d think.
The one difference is in the team’s running results: the Titans simply do it better. Between RB’s Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans have a 1-2 punch that can potent- if not deadly- at times. Throw into that mix QB Marcus Mariota’s ability to run as well, and you have a team that simply doesn’t need to throw it very often usually. Mariota’s nursing a hammy and is questionable, so that’s not nothing.
For the Colts on offense, the emergence last week of rookie RB Marlon Mack is something everyone (including fantasy owners) should be take notice of. Sure, it was against the winless 49ers, but on 25 attempts, he’s averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Frank Gore may get the majority of carries, but that situation may be in flux. QB Jacoby Brissett has performed well enough.
Defensively, their ranks against the pass and run are nearly identical.
What I’m looking at:
-Titans QB Play- whoever is under center needs to control turnovers. Passing will be at a premium, so no chucking.
-Titans pass defense- The Titans give up over 200 yards per game through the air. The Colts present challenges with WR’s TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief.
-Colts Passing- TE Jack Doyle is questionable with a concussion. Teams that don’t light it up aerially need a reliable TE. Doyle was that with 23 targets and a 73.9% catch percentage.
-Colts rush defense- Murray and Henry are tough asks for any defense. You can’t let the home team control the clock.
So how do you pick this game?
Here’s what mytopsportsbooks.com says:
“Can the Titans end their 11-game losing streak against the (Andrew Luck-less) Colts this Monday? It’s likely that Mariota will return in Week 6, but that’s not certain, and even if he does, he won’t be the dynamic running threat he usually is. But a one-legged Mariota is still a better option than Matt Cassel, who only managed to put up 10 points against Miami in Week 5.
On defense, the Titans’ secondary has been getting roasted all season, and that may continue against the Colts. Jacoby Brissett has shown he can successfully chuck the ball up to TY Hilton, and that may be all he needs to do to make the Indy pass-attack a going concern on Monday. Yet our NFL oddsmakers still have the Titans as 3.5-point home favorites, a number which will get higher if/when Mariota is confirmed as the starter. The Colts’ roster is one of the least talented in the league when you remove Luck from the equation. The defense is third-worst in the league in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and their two wins on the year both came at home against (still) winless teams (49ers, Browns). The Tennessee offense should be able to pound the ball with Demarco Murray and Derek Henry enough to end the team’s long drought against their division rival.”
Here, here. Titans at home.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets– Last year, the Pats escaped with a 5-point win in New Jersey. The Jets don’t do anything particularly well, but they are ranked 12th in passing defense. The Patriots defense has been abysmal this year, and rank 30th in scoring defense. The Jets, conversely, rank 23 in points scored. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE, PEOPLE!. I can’t pick the Jets in this one, but they don’t turn the ball over, it will be far from easy for Tom Brady and company.
Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons- Jay Cutler just can’t help doing Jay Cutler things. The Falcons defense gives up 75 yards per game, so look for the game to be on Jay’s smokin’ shoulders. ALL THE LOL’S ON THAT ONE!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals- So the Cardinals got themselves a replacement RB this past week in Adrian Peterson. With David Johnson IR’d, the Cards have averaged 51 yards on the ground per game. The Cardinals also pretty beat up- their injury report looks like an Old Testament list of ‘who begat who’. Both teams pass the ball better than they run. Both teams defend the run better than they do the pass. But the Bucs are terrible at pass defense and the Cardinals are at home. AP won’t factor.
New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos- 0-5, eh Eli? The Giants desperately need a winnable game to have any hope of salvaging respectability this season. This game ain’t it. The Broncos will run roughshod. Start CJ if you can.
Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans- What do we know about new Browns QB Kevin Hogan? We know he’s not DeShone effing Kizer, that’s for sure. But is that enough? The Texans defense did not look good last time out, but that was against the Kansas City Chiefs who happen to be the best damn team in the league. There’s nothing the Browns can do to win this game. They just don’t score enough points.
Los Angeles Rams vs Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags are playing good ball. So are the Rams, as these two franchises with new head coaches square off with identical 3-2 records. The Jags defense is too much at home, but look for ‘Backs Gone Wild’ as neither team defends the run well. Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette should be solid fantasy starters.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs- The Steelers who looked god awful watching Ben Roethlisberger throw 5 picks, including 2 for TD’s, last week against the Jaguars. Now they go into KC to face the best team in the goddam league. The Steelers are giving up a buck-thirty-six on the ground per game and the Chiefs run for days with rookie RB Kareem Hunt. TE Travis Kelce is in concussion protocol. G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (say that five times fast) and LB Branden Albert are questionable- the Chiefs have issues. At home, the Chiefs can’t be beat.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings- Big game to shake up the top of the NFC North. The Vikings won last year in Minnesota by 3, but that wasn’t with Case Keenum under center. To his credit, Keenum hasn’t been bad. Minnesota’s defense is ‘mm-mm good’, and I don’t like the Packers injuries. Vikings at home.
Detroit Lions vs New Orleans Saints- These teams are pretty even. The Lions lost DT Haloti Ngata and that’s a hole. I have a sneaky feeling the Lions give away one on the road here.
Los Angeles Chargers vs Oakland Raider- The new team in L.A. faces the former team from L.A., but not the former team from L.A. that left and came back to L.A. Got it? The Chargers are struggling but they still have QB Phillip Rivers, who may be in the regression part of the bell curve, but the Chargers rank 6th in passing yards. They just don’t score much. Oakland gets QB Derek Carr back at home, but the Chargers rank 4th in pass defense. Still, Oakland is tough place to go into and the Chargers don’t exactly have momentum right now. Raiders.
Chicago Bears vs Baltimore Ravens- Game 2 in the Mitchell Truth-bisky era for the Bears. Going into Baltimore, who somehow is 3-2 despite looking like a lukewarm turd at times, is a tough ask of a young QB. The Bears put up a fight, but the Ravens prevail.
San Francisco 49ers vs Washington Redskins- Kirk Cousins current team vs his future team? Maybe? The 49ers cut LB Novarro Bowman, their leading tackler. They’re shopping RB Carlos Hyde, their leading rusher. It’s selling time for an 0-5 team and there is no way they go into Washington and win this.
There’s my take on Week 6, leave love or hate in the comments. Check back Monday afternoon for my Monday Night Football preview!
13:03- Killer lost fumble by Carson Wentz. Didn’t see Peppers coming around behind him. Panthers were reeling defensively.
12:23- Big pass deflection by Eagles LB Nigel Bradham. Panthers go 3-and-out and are unable to steal momentum. Defense didn’t get a chance to finish their cups of Gatorade.
11:24- Jim Nantz just took a shot at Tony Romo when talking about Nelson Agholor celebrating a TD by flopping on his back. Romo said it looks like it hurts and Nantz replied: “Especially you with your back issues” (paraphrase)
10:00-ish- 2nd sack from around RT. This time on a corner blitz. Stay tuned…
9:00- 14 yard gain for LeGarrette Blount. I feel “rolling with Blount” should have caught on more.
7:02- Wentz air mails a throw on 3rd and long. FG. 3-0 Eagles.
5:00- Pass interference gives Panthers a 1st down in Eagles territory. Methodical so far.
2:35- Great job by Cam picking up the blitz, changing the play and getting rid of the ball. 3rd and 2. Which promptly sees Stewart stuffed. FG. 3-3.
1:46- Panthers LB Shaq Thompson blitzes from….wait for it…around RT and hits Wentz as he throws incomplete.
1:02- Panthers LB Like Kuechly blitzes from around RT to force a quick overthrow on 3rd and 4. Punt.
:43- After a penalty on the first punt, the redo is fumbled by McCaffery. He recovers it but oof.
:35- Stewart tackled for a 6 yard loss. Cam is going to have win this one I think.
14:28- ah, the 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 4. Always a fan fave. Panthers punt. Eagles muff. But recover.
13:24- Wentz throws high and slightly behind on a slant for the 3rd time I remember.
13:21- Panthers LB Thomas Davis comes from…you guessed it…around RT to sack Wentz and force a punt. McCaffery returns it nicely into Eagles territory.
10:34- Cam runs 16 yards for a TD on what looked like a read option to left. 10-3 Panthers.
7:57- This time the pressure comes from the left side on 3rd down to force an incompletion. Punt. Wentz taking some hits.
6:26- Cam’s arm gets hit as he throws on an absolute incredible job by DT Fletcher Cox, ball pops high in the air and is picked. Eagles take over on the Panthers 13.
5:36- both lines on both sides are going at it this game.
5:00- 3rd down- Blount just tried to go Nagurski and carry 206 defenders for a 1st down. 1/2 yard short. Wentz sneaks for a 1st. Kuechly running to the locker room after. That’d be HUUUUUGE.
3:05- 2nd and goal from the 1, Wentz fakes the handoff, rolls right, nothing open and runs straight into a brick wall. No slide. No chill. Zero fucks given. Keep playing like that, and we’ll be talking about what might have been…
2:32- Wentz hits Ertz along the back of the end zone for a TD. Tie game. Took 7 plays to go 13 yards. That pick is monumental right now.
Christian McCaffery intrigues me. I feel like the Bears should watch how Carolina uses him and mimic it with Tarik Cohen. Different players, to be sure, but Cohen has flashed elusiveness, like McCaffery.
:49- big toe-tapping catch by WR Funchess on 3rd and 4 to keep it going. Carolina gets the ball back after the half, so any points here are big.
:41- 3 Eagles, including grown-ass-man Cox swallow Cam up near mid-field. Panthers use last time out.
:30- Cam scrambles and can’t get out of bounds. Not a whole lot of urgency. Cam drops back on next play, no one’s open, and he throws it out of bounds.
:00- Cam lines up late in the play clock and fires a laser into a defender’s arm. Receiver wasn’t even looking for it. Odd. 10-10 at the half.
The defenses are absolutely beating the snot out of each other. The Panthers want to run, and they can’t. Cam is going to have to be better in the second half.
The Eagles need to sustain a decent length drive and score a TD to out the Panthers on the ropes.
14:07- Cam throws screen to RB Jonathan Stewart who lets the ball go right through his hands and is intercepted DEEP in Panthers territory. That was absolutely unforgivable by Stewart. Seriously, cut him and clean out his locker while he’s on the field.
13:59- Wentz to a leaping Ertz for a 17 yard TD. After a penalty on CAR on the PAT, Eagles coach Doug Pedersen goes for two and Blount barrels in. 18-10 Eagles. Panthers playing without Kuechly who took a shot to the neck in the first half. Panthers need to make a statement on the next drive.
What a ballsy move.
13:48- another drop for CAR. This time by Kelvin Benjamin.
13:36- Newton gets bailed out by a PI call on a bad throw into double-coverage.
11:19- Drive stalls out and Gano kicks a FG that was nearly blocked. Eagles are playing balls out. I think that’s how you say it. No? 18-13 Eagles.
8:03- Eagles FG. Panthers defense seems to missing some resolve sans Kuechly, who apparently has a concussion. I don’t see how he doesn’t have a concussion, it’s a minor miracle his head is still attached. 21-13 Eagles.
7:40- Stewart to this point has -9 yards on 6 carries. Jesus.
7:10- ooooh look- a 3 yard gain for Stewart!
6:26- Panthers punt. No flow at all.
6:12- Eagles punt. 24 seconds.
3:28- Gano kicks another FG. 21-16 Eagles.
2:27- Peppers comes from around RT and misses Wentz, who scrambles for 7, but there’s a hold.
1:00- Captain Munnerlyn comes around RT but hesitates for some reason, Wentz steps up and converts 3rd and long. Next play, an absolutely beautiful ball to Alshon Jeffery for 37.
This may be the Panthers last stand. The Eagles clealry have momentum despite their quick 3 and out the last time they had the ball.
14:55 Wentz 24 yard catch and run by Nelson Agholor in the space vacated by blitzing backers. Wide-the-eff-open. Backbreaker IMO. 28-16 Eagles.
8:07- Cam seems dinged after scrambling a helluva an athletic play to break the plane. They call him down at the 1, Rivera challenges. He absolutely scored. They don’t overturn it which is completely wrong. CAR gets charged for their 1st time out. Refs seem to stink more than usual this year.
8:04- Cam comes right back and hits McCaffrey for a TD. 28-23 Eagles. This next Eagles possession will most likely decide the game.
6:00- Wentz is incomplete over the head of Jeffrey. Punt.
5:49- Cam and company have plenty of time to take care of business.
4:47- Kelvin Benjamin exits. Out route to Funchess nearly picked, but completed.
4:27- 2nd and 1- deep ball to Funchess incomplete over his head. Defensive holding breathes life.
4:23- Benjamin back.
4:15- 2nd and 10- Cam sacked by 4 man rush. Loses 7.
3:33- Cam to McCaffrey for 16. 4th and short upcoming.
Timeout Carolina. This is the damn ballgame right here. Can’t screw this up.
3:29- quick pass to McCaffrey for the first down.
3:23- Douglass just missed a pick for the Eagles. That’s going to hurt when they watch the film. Hit him right in the hands.
3:07- Cam is pressured throws an awful interception. I’m assuming there was some miscommunication but there is no excuse for that. That throw wasn’t even in the same area code as a Panthers receivers.
2:37- 3rd and 7. Panthers have a chance. It’s incomplete and the Panthers will get one more chance with nothing but the 2 minute warning from their 31.
1:53- Cam has a bad incompletion. No one around nearly picked. CANNOT.DO.THAT.
1:16- 4th and 1- Cam skips a throw down the middle to McCaffrey. Incomplete. That’s the ballgame.
I’m a believer in the Eagles. I have serious questions about the Panthers offense.
Here’s our first edition of this year’s power rankings, now that we some decent data to figure out who these teams are. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Some thoughts about tonight’s Eagles vs Panthers Thursday Night Football game:
The Eagles are banged up in the secondary and we’re already surrendering more damage through the air than the British in the late 30’s.
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart is battling an injury. Wash. Rinse. Release. Of course, he’s not going to be released but that guy has been hurt so much, the Panthers should rename the injury report the “Jonathan Stewart News and Notes Page”.
If the Eagles win this game, it’s time to seriously address how high the ceiling is for this team.
Same for Carson Wentz.
Panthers TE Ed Dickson was huge last week. It may happen again.
I picked up Eagles WR Nelson Agholor in fantasy, so that means he’s guaranteed to never see the end zone again. Sorry, Eagles fans.
Cam Newton needs to come to the podium with any non-Dannon yogurt from here on out.
Yankees fans drive me nuts. Aside from posts about how awesome Aaron Judge is, my social media has been relatively quiet from the multitude of Yankees fans who consider it their God-given right to win the World Series every year. Any thought to the contrary makes you a ‘hater’.
Take the ALDS that just concluded last night. In the scope of 5 games, manager Joe Girardi went from being speculated that he wouldn’t return next year to being the guiding force behind the comeback from a 2-0 deficit. It’s so aggravating.
BTW, how does anyone hit Aroldis Chapman?
Hey Cubs fans who were all over Washington Nationals P Stephen Strausburg for reportedly saying he was too sick to start the rained-out game 4: he just showed you all where you can stick your criticisms.
I know they guy has been absolutely unhittable in stretches this year, but the Cubs choked away the chance for everyone to ask “Is Dusty Baker a championship manager?”
This mess over the NFL players’ anthem statement– not a protest, a statement made during the playing of the National Anthem- is really getting out of hand. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paused the reruns of Matlock long enough to create a crap storm by saying any of his players who knelt or sat during the anthem wouldn’t play. We all knew Jerry wanted to be coach for years, but this takes it to an all new level. And then to compound matters, the commish pens a letter that does nothing but envigorate the Trumpists that are completely missing the point.
But at least apparently the NFLPA is being invited into the owners’ meeting on the subject because why wouldn’t they have been invited in the first place??
The Cleveland Browns are making a QB change. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I know DeShone Kizer hasn’t exactly been lighting up the world, but it was the Browns who put him in that position. I really want head coach Hue Jackson to succeed. I really want the Browns to have some notion of continuity for longer than 42 seconds. But decisions like this are what exposes the differences between a head coach and really good coordinator in the NFL.
If you really felt the best thing for your team was to start a rookie week 1, own it. Because the next time Kizer does get an opportunity to play, he’s going to be afraid to make a mistake. It’s human nature. And you can’t play the position like that.
Right, Jay Cutler?
As we head into NBA season talk, I’m really looking forward to the first time new Cavaliers PG Isaiah Thomas plays in Boston. I know Celtics GM Danny Ainge had his reason for trading the driving force behind his team’s run into the Eastern Conference Finals.
I never liked the trade for the Celtics. I mean, you trade a guy who had been an afterthought until coming to Boston, takes the league by storm, brings your team 3 wins away from a trip to the Finals and then you trade him for a guy who was tired of playing alongside the best player in the game? It just doesn’t ring true with the ‘blue-collar’ Boston reputation, you know? And then when you throw in everything IT went through with his sister passing tragically, it really looks like a bad beat for the Celtics from every angle.
If they don’t win…well, let’s not talk about that just yet.
Here are some random thoughts from last night’s Chicago Bears loss to the Minnesota Vikings. I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if goes astray.
Last night the Bears entered the brave new world of the Mitchell Trubisky era. It wasn’t perfect and the result was nothing new, but getting to that result was something Bears fans haven’t experienced in a while: hopeful.
From the first bullet he fired to WR Kendall Wright, which Wright clearly wasn’t prepared for as he bobbled it before securing it, the NFL was put on notice that this was not your father’s Bears QB.
But for all the promise the youngster possesses, head coach John Fox and company did nothing to assuage believers that nothing short of roster revolution must take place this offseason. Sure, you had good performances by RB Jordan Howard, DL Akiem Hicks, CB Kyle Fuller and S Eddie Jackson, but you also had absolutely mind-numbing plays like getting nailed for a delay of game after a timeout. I’m glad Trubisky had a week and a half to prepare for this game, but one would think the coach would have used that time to prepare as well.
Apparently not. And his players were right there with him.
Shortly after I tweeted this:
What exactly does Markus Wheaton bring to the table?
— 87 Sportsfans (@87sportsfans) October 10, 2017
Wheaton goes and holds a defensive lineman to call back a long TD run by Howard. Insert “at least he held on to something” joke here. Then you had LT Charles Leno, Jr. getting the equivalent of an atomic wedgie by Vikings DE Everson Griffen on the way to knocking the ball out of Trubisky’s hand and the Vikings recovering in the red zone. Sure, the comparisons to Jay Cutler’s propensity for strip-sack-fumbles came to mind, but there’s only so much any QB can do when they have literally 1.5 seconds to pass. And to Trubisky’s credit, he was winding up to get rid of it when he was hit.
Then you had a tipped ball TD pass by Trubisky which was important not only because it was his first career passing score, but because how many times have Bears QB’s not been able to get a single break? Let alone one that happened in the end zone on a ball that shouldn’t have been thrown? At the end of the day, if the only think Mitchell does is break that curse, it’s worth it.
That three-man-weave 2-point conversion? Pure beauty. Imagine if the Bears were only that creative with their everyday offense.
The Bears must miss Matt Forte because they were in 22-personnel all day. A lot of times, 3 TE’s. How much are you going to do with that many big pass catchers? The Bears need to fix this soon if Trubisky is going to have any success.
Then, with a little over 2 minutes left and the Bears in need of a game-winning drive, Trubisky tries to do too much again, throws back across his body and promptly gets picked by S Harrison Smith. The Vikings score. Game. Set. Match.
An uneven night, to be sure. However, the Bears are now must-see TV. Something they haven’t been since Lovie Smith was sent packing.
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What the hell is going on with the NFL? More specifically, how has Roger Goodell’s quest for respectability turned into a place where past decisions are now amended to justify current controversial decisions?
When Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott was slammed with a six game suspension for multiple alleged encroachments on the league’s personal conduct policy, one question that was universally asked was: “How was what Zeke did 5 games worse than what Josh Brown did?”
And now we have an answer: it wasn’t. Not now, anyway.
Which makes the commissioner’s policy and procedures look even more sketchy. I get what he’s trying to do, but there needs to be some kind of codified consistency in place. Otherwise, you end up with the kind of confusion and perceived- perhaps verified- unfairness. Discipline wielded wildly and randomly does not build trust for a commissioner that is probably facing a protracted negotiation for the next CBA.
What Goodell just did to justify his apparent mistake should embolden any legal effort Elliott and NFLPA have. It’s an admission that there isn’t semblance of consistency and the possibility for unfairness in the process indeed exists. The quagmire that was known as “Deflategate” lingered on for this very reason: questions about fairness from a person in position to dictate discipline as he sees it.
Goodell may have the best of intentions by trying to insist that players who are, or could be, the faces of the league act accordingly but he may be losing the war trying to win all these battles.
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill was about as good as anyone can expect anyone to be on a Major League pitcher’s mound. His teammates let him down.
In a season where the Dodgers are poised to be the best team in baseball, they left a man behind in Pittsburgh.
Hill was perfect through eight innings Wednesday. In the bottom of the ninth, the perfect game went away thanks to an error by 3B Logan Forsythe. Then, in the bottom of the tenth, Pirates 2B Josh Harrison ended everything: the no-hitter, the shutout, and the game with a solo, walk-off shot.
The Dodgers managed to tally 8 hits without pushing across a single run in nine innings of play. Thanks a lot, guys.
As hard as it is to hit a baseball at the Major League level, it’s even harder to pitch that well for that long. For the Dodgers to be this good and not be able to score 1 run in support, while going 0-for9 with runners in scoring position and leaving a small village on base, is an incredible amount of accidental BS.
In the end, if the Dodgers win the World Series, none of this will matter much- except to Rich Hill who will probably never admit it.
Baseball is the perfect combination of individual responsibility to the overall goal of the group. Each man has his job to do singularly so that he and his teammates can ultimately claim victory. On Wednesday, Rich Hill did his part.
No one else showed up.
If it was me, I’d need a weekend away to process everything and move on. But that’s probably why I’m sitting at home writing this.
Well, one of the reasons anyway.