The NBA and rap are linked in a few ways. This article acts as a thought experiment for what the world would be like if certain rappers were NBA draft prospects. *Certain songs may contain explicit lyrics* NBA references are littered throughout rap music since the two became culturally connected long ago. Jay Z used to be a minority owner of the Nets, Drake is the unofficial face of the Toronto Raptors, Snoop Dogg is one of the biggest LA Lakers fans, while Gucci Mane can be routinely seen sitting courtside rooting on his hometown Atlanta Hawks. Rap and basketball (specifically the NBA) will always be linked, and it seems only fitting to make the link only stronger with this thought experiment. Kendrick Lamar: Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia 76ers Why not start at the top? Fultz, the clear-cut best prospect in the 2017 draft, glides around the court with ease, weaving through defenders while already being to create his own shot. Fultz is the best prospect to come out of college in a few years, and is joining a 76ers team that has promise down the road. If all goes according to plan and Fultz reaches his ceiling, Philadelphia will have a promising young core that will be able to compete for years to come. Fultz will be the jewel at the center of that core. Kendrick Lamar has joined a selective group of rappers that can be referred to with only their first name, and everyone knows exactly who he is. Think, Tupac, Biggie, Rakim, Jay/Hov, Nas, Eminem, Dre, etc. Kendrick Lamar’s debut album was Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, a classic that still plays well years after its initial release. GKMC details the story of one boy in Compton, CA, dealing with life and his interactions with the many temptations he is presented with each day. Lamar followed up his fantastic debut with the critically acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly, an album that is simultaneously introspective and thought provoking. Kendrick’s most recent album DAMN, is radically different that his previous two albums. However, that does not make the album any worse. DAMN is nothing short of excellent, with messages that affirm certain aspects of society while condemning others. Kendrick, like Fultz, are on a level of their own right now. Only time will tell if someone is unable to dethrone them from the top. Listen: Now or Never (feat. Mary J. Blige) – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Watch: Markelle Fultz at Washington Chance The Rapper: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics The Celtics shocked teams throughout the league by trading their first overall pick to Philadelphia. In that trade, they received the Sixers number three overall pick. There was plenty of fanfare and questioning over what Boston would do with their pick, leading to numerous quotes from the ultimate smokescreen of a General Manager, Danny Ainge. Ainge and the Celtics elected to choose Tatum, a combo forward with a great offensive feel for the game. Jayson Tatum burst onto the scene as a freshman at Duke, acting as the second leading scorer on the team, played a great two man game with Luke Kennard, leading Duke to the second seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tatum also excels in isolation, one area that will directly translate to the NBA, especially with several other offensive weapons surrounding him. Chance The Rapper, similar to Tatum, had some fanfare heading into his freshman album. Chance amassed some underground fans with the release of his debut mixtape, 10 Day, and then exploded with the release of Acid Rap. Chance has never put out a bad project, as his debut album, Coloring Book, was well received by critics and music fans alike. Both Chance and Tatum have a promising future ahead of them, one where both have an incredibly high floor and practically limitless upside. Listen: Blessings (Reprise) – Coloring Book Watch: Jayson Tatum at Duke Lil Yachty: Jonathon Isaac, Orlando Magic Isaac, a freshman out of Florida State, is a long, lanky prospect that will make defense his calling care in the NBA. His upside is capped on just how good he can develop offensively. If he continues to improve, similar to how he did at Florida State, he could reach All-star status, becoming the centerpiece of a currently young and struggling Magic team. However, Isaac was also given one of the highest bust potentials by ESPN, signaling that if these improvements are not made, Isaac could flame out of the league within a matter of years. Lil Yachty, the freshman rapper who is known for his red dreadlocks and “bubblegum trap” rap, has found his way into the public eye after his debut mixtape, Lil Boat. Yachty, who recently released his debut album, Teenage Emotions (Yachty is only 19) to mixed reviews, is an incredibly raw talent who could one day become as well known and respected as artists like Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper. However, if Yachty (real name: Miles Patrick McCollum) coasts off of the early success that he has accumulated and does not try to tap into the talent that he has, he could find himself in the rearview mirror of the rap world. Listen: Minnesota (Remix) [feat. Quavo, Skippa Da Flippa, & Young Thug] – Lil Boat Watch: Jonathon Isaac at Florida State Travis Scott: De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings Fox, the lengthy point guard from Kentucky, started out the season slow, eventually becoming a two-way terror that shredded Lonzo Ball twice in one season. Fox is a tenacious defender that has the foot speed and physical ability to fight through screens, while also being quick enough to stay in front of even the shiftiest of guards. Fox grew into Kentucky’s system as the season went on, validating his selection within the top five. Questions remain about his ability to shoot from long range, but with the work ethic that Fox has illustrated throughout his playing career, this is an issue that can be improved upon. Travis Scott, who gained a large following after dropping his debut album, Rodeo, is one of the hottest commodities in rap at this very moment. Following the release of his sophomore project, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, Scott has been collaborating with Migos front man Quavo, with a joint project allegedly in the works and nearing completion. Scott has a distinct voice and rapping style, with most of music being categorized as a unique mix of trap and rap. Ever since Rodeo was released, he has stepped up his lyricism as well, all while collaborating with new more and more artists to expand his brand and influence. Scott, similar to Fox, is a hot commodity, someone who plans on being not just relevant, but one of the premier figureheads in rap for years to come. Listen: Night Call (feat. Swae Lee & Chief Keef) – Rodeo Watch: De’Aaron Fox at Kentucky Meek Mill: Harry Giles, Portland Trail Blazers Meek Mill was once one of the most prominent and up and coming rappers of his time. Meek Mill has had a few solid albums and mixtapes (Dreamchasers). Many of his mixtapes were critically acclaimed, with many critics claiming Meek Mill would be one of the next great rappers. His most recent album, Dreams Worth More Than Money had a few notable tracks on it, but there was one in particular that eventually led to his downfall. The song R.I.C.O., a quality song, featured Drake leading off the song. After his verse was recorded and the album released, Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own lyrics, citing R.I.C.O. as a prime example. Drake responded with two different diss tracks, the second, titled Back to Back, a song that showed Drake as the superior rapper, crippling Meek Mill and his credibility, a “Major Key” in the game of rap. Meek Mill has built back some credibility and has upside down the road, but there are concerns he may never truly capture what he is ultimately capable of. Giles at one point in his career was projected to go number one in the 2017 draft. In his senior year of high school though, Giles tore his ACL. Giles would require another knee surgery before his freshman year at Duke, forcing him to miss valuable time to honing his craft. As a result, his minutes were restricted, some of his athleticism sapped, not looking like the same player that he was before the knee injuries. If Giles is able to recapture some of the athleticism that he played with in high school, Portland would have one of the biggest steals in the draft. Whether he is able to do this is a tall task, even for someone as skilled and talented as Harry Giles. Listen: Dreams and Nightmares (Intro) – Dreams and Nightmares Watch: Harry Giles in High School DMX: Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, Miami Heat Bam Adebayo is a raw prospect, but if there is one thing the NBA is certain of, it’s that Adebayo will be able to rebound and body with anyone in the NBA. Merely looking at Bam shows that he is already a mountain of a man, with biceps frighteningly reminiscent of peak Orlando Magic Dwight Howard. Questions remain around Adebayo and his defensive instincts and outside shooting ability, but his physical tools will keep him around the league, filling in wherever needed. DMX, although not as prevalent today as he was perhaps a decade ago, raps with a sense of tenacity and terror. When DMX lays down a rap, he does so with reckless abandon. DMX, a troubled man and rapper, has no problem rapping about any controversial topic under the sun. His tone is rife with anger, his lyrics full of rage. DMX raps like Adebayo will play in the NBA: physical, with a plenty of anger and the occasional touch of finesse. *Obligatory reminder that DMX once had a concert so large it looked like he sold out an entire country* Listen: Where the Hood At? – Grand Champ Watch: Edrice “Bam” Adebayo at Kentucky Drake: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers The debut album from Drake, Thank Me Later, is one that is often an afterthought when people think of Drake’s discography. The album was concerned average by most critics, with Over, perhaps being the most notable song on the tape. Since then, Drake has dominated much of the sphere of rap, producing Grammy nominated albums and mixtapes. Drake boasts a vocal range unmatched by other rappers, while he also is able to seamlessly transition from rapping about his everyday life to something much more meaningful – perhaps passionate. Drake has proven, time and time again, that he can rap with the likes of the best, while simultaneously being able to write and perform a song merely one track later on his album that changes tempo and content completely, leaving the listener in awe. When one thinks of Lonzo Ball, one might not think of someone is humble, capable of being reserved, similar to that of some of the music from Drake. For a quick thought experiment, imagine Lonzo Ball. Ball and only Ball. When you focus on just Lonzo, you forget about his brothers, following in his footsteps and playing at UCLA after their high school careers. Most importantly, you forget about his shamelessly brazen father LaVar, someone who will say practically anything to stay in the spotlight. Subtract the distractions from Lonzo, and you have a relatively humble kid, one who has the drive to be the next great Lakers point guard. Ball also possesses the rare ability to score in droves while also drop enough assists to make Steve Nash blush. Ball led the NCAA in assists during his lone year at UCLA, while also acting as the third leading scorer on the team. Both Ball and Drake have long, promising careers ahead of them. Assuming their outside distractions (Meek Mill/Nicki Minaj/LaVar Ball) do not get the best of them, you might be hearing about both individuals listed among some of the greats. Listen: Uptown (feat. Bun B & Lil Wayne) – So Far Gone Listen (Bonus): Houstatlantavegas – So Far Gone Watch: Lonzo Ball at UCLA
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2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT The number of storylines that have popped out of seemingly nowhere this year in the NBA is practically countless. If you start last offseason, you have the well-documented Kevin Durant saga, Westbrook vowing revenge, while the Cavs were celebrating their most recent championship. Fast forward through the bulk of the regular season and a predictable playoff season, we have reached the first few weeks of the NBA offseason. All seemed calm in the world, and then everyone’s favorite breaking news Twitter account dropped one of his patented Woj Bombs. Adrian Wojnarowski, basketball insider extraordinaire, has been busy as ever, first breaking the news of the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers swap of the first pick, giving Boston one more addition to their treasure chest of assets. This was hardly the end of Woj and his tweets, though. There was news about Paul George and his talks of leaving Indiana, Jimmy Butler being linked to the Cavs, plus D’Angelo Russell being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Woj has been a busy man All these trades are leading up to one of the most important (and in this writer’s opinion, exciting) moments of the NBA season: the draft. Franchises are made (GSW- Steph Curry, MIA- Dwayne Wade) and destroyed (MINN- Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio over Curry, Darko Milicic) during the draft. For some teams, the 2017 draft will give a franchise a chance to draft their franchise players. For others, they have a chance to draft one more quality player that can give their championship aspirations a much-needed boost, while others (*cough* LA Clippers, *cough*) will have no picks. Without further ado, the NBA draft: Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston) Markelle Fultz, G – Washington Perhaps one of two done deals in the draft, the 76ers would not have given up a first rounder next year if they were not going to take Fultz, the clear cut best prospect in a stacked draft. Fultz is not only the safest player in the draft, but also the one with the most obvious upside. Comparisons range from James Harden to Russell Westbrook. Some question the ability and work ethic of Fultz due to his subpar record at Washington. Although his team did poorly this season, Fultz dominated despite seeing frequent double teams while playing with subpar players. That, coupled with Fultz winning Team MVP on a stacked Team USA U-18 Roster while only playing 20 minutes a game should alleviate thoughts of Fultz and his work ethic. Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball, G – UCLA The other sure thing of the draft became solidified Tuesday night when the Lakers packaged 2015 No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell and salary albatross Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn, receiving Brook Lopez (aka an expiring contract after this season) and the number 27 pick in the 2017 draft. With no current point guard, it is practically already a done deal, much to the delight of LaVar Ball. Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia) Josh Jackson, F – Kansas The Celtics whose swap of picks with the 76ers will see Boston move down two spots, will choose the wing they believe can be paired with last year’s number 3 pick Jaylen Brown for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of hype around Duke forward Jayson Tatum as a possible selection here, but I believe Ainge likes the defensive game and slashing ability of Jackson more than he likes the Rudy Gay-clone Tatum. Phoenix Suns De’Aaron Fox, G – Kentucky There really is no such thing as having too many Kentucky guards. The Suns pick Fox on his slashing ability and defensive upside. Pairing Fox with Devin Booker allows for a formidable one-two punch down the road, one that will allow Fox to distribute and cover up any of Booker’s defensive shortcomings. If Fox improves his shooting to average or slightly above average for an NBA point guard, he could be top 10 at his position. If his shooting never improves, his floor will still keep him in NBA rotations somewhere in the league. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia) Jayson Tatum, F – Duke The Kings need a point guard and need one badly. However, Sacramento has never been one to draft based on need (see last year’s draft picks). As a result, they take the polished scorer from Duke, someone who plays very similar to current unrestricted free agent and former Sacramento King Rudy Gay. If Tatum can bring some consistent scoring and work on his defense and rebounding, he can reach a ceiling above that of Gay. Orlando Magic Dennis Smith, G – NC State The Magic could go several ways with this pick, but I believe that Smith would prove to be the most significant upgrade at point guard after Elfrid Payton has been stuck in neutral since being drafted. Smith comes as a proven scorer and can provide some pop in a Magic lineup that desperately needs some. Minnesota Timberwolves Jonathon Isaac, F, - Florida State The T-Wolves can add a lanky and mobile forward to a team that already boasts several long and lanky players. Isaac will always be solid defensively due to his enormous wingspan and excellent quickness, but his ceiling will be determined by how well he matures offensively. New York Knicks Malik Monk, G, Kentucky The best-case scenario for the Knicks would be having Fox or Tatum somehow dropping to them at pick number eight. However, the more realistic pick of Monk would do the Knicks just fine, as they get a scorer who will become one of the best shooters in the league within a few years, provided Phil Jackson avoids hampering the Knicks further. Dallas Mavericks Frank Ntilkina, G – France Although I am not as high on Ntilkina as others, I have heard the Mavericks believe he can be the best point guard they have had since early Steve Nash. Those are some big shoes to fill for the 19 year old from France, a prospect that is extremely raw and needs molding, but he has the physical tools to become an impact player at one point in his career. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans) Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona The Kings draft another tall big man, but Markkanen is one that can prove to be a better fit for the Kings. Paired with Cauley-Stein, Markkanen and his defensive deficiencies will be masked, while Markkanen will show himself to be a sharp and polished shooter, allowing the Kings to spread the floor and open up their frequently clustered offense. Charlotte Hornets Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville I would have penciled in Zach Collins here before yesterday, but Charlotte just traded for Dwight Howard, giving them another post player. Mitchell can be the leader of the second unit off the bench, backing up Kemba Walker for the near future, or playing at shooting guard in a small ball lineup with his explosive athleticism. Detroit Pistons Zach Collins, F, Gonzaga Collins exploded onto draft boards towards the end of his freshman year at Gonzaga, putting up solid games during the end of the NCAA tournament to pad his draft stock. Pairing Collins with Andre Drummond will allow for Detroit to space the floor, as Drummond lives around the hoop and in the paint. Denver Nuggets OG Anunoby, F – Indiana The Hoosiers beloved OG gets taken in the lottery despite his injury risks and history. If OG comes back with no hindrances, he could be the steal of the draft at 13. However, if he is plagued by injuries during his professional career and never fixes his shooting, his upside is limited to that of a Tony Allen of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Miami Heat Luke Kennard, G, Duke The second Blue Devil off the board represents the best pure shooter in this year’s draft. Monk likely has the leg up shooting off screens, but the length and spot up shooting ability of Kennard will gel nicely in Miami, a team that had only three players with a 3 point shooting percentage of over 35 percent. Portland Trail Blazers Justin Patton, C – Creighton Patton turned into the majority of the Creighton offense this season, taking big strides offensively in the process. Portland has Indiana product Noah Vonleh on their roster still, but much of Portland questions whether Vonleh will ever be able to piece it all together. With Patton, the Blazers are not only getting a solid offensive big man, but also a big man that battles on the glass, something to counteract the subpar rebounding rates by the guards in Portland. Chicago Bulls John Collins, F – Wake Forest Collins polished his game a significant amount this year, posting better rates in shooting percentage, rebounding rate, and points per game. Collins has been working on his outside shooting, something that will allow him to play in the NBA if his low post game does not translate well. There are questions about Collins and his defensive instincts, something that could hamper his immediate impact to Chicago. However, seeing as the Bulls will not be title contenders for the near future, they have the luxury of waiting on Collins and watching him progress for a few seasons. Milwaukee Bucks Jarrett Allen, C – Texas Allen has shown he can be a solid stretch five at the next level. He can play inside as well, but is not truly excellent at any one part of his game. The Bucks cannot get enough of long players with versatility, meaning that if Allen is around at 17, the Bucks will take him. Indiana Pacers Justin Jackson, F – North Carolina Jackson, who possesses versatility offensively and defensively, could be a steal for the Pacers if he falls this far. The ACC Player of the Year would provide much needed outside shooting and defensive ability for a team that appears to be rebuilding in the very near future due to the fragile nature of Paul George. Atlanta Hawks J. Leaf, F – UCLA Leaf, when paired with Paul Millsap (and especially without Dwight Howard in the paint) will allow Atlanta to spread the floor in a way that will bring the Hawks up to speed with the way the NBA is being played today. Although Leaf is not a great defender, his offensive game will keep him on the floor for years to come. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis) J. Wilson, F - Michigan Wilson has shot up draft boards in large part to his feathery touch he displayed throughout this season. Wilson can be the ideal stretch four or small ball five, who can defend several positions with his length as well. Wilson would mesh nicely with Patton, as their games compliment each other well. Oklahoma City Thunder Tyler Lydon, F - Syracuse Brooklyn Nets Semi Ojeleye, F - SMU The Duke transfer became a stats beast at SMU, shooting his way up to the first round in the process. Toronto Raptors (from LA Clippers) Ike Anigbogu, C - UCLA Utah Jazz Derrick White, G - Colorado Orlando Magic (from Toronto) Anzejs Pasecniks, C - Latvia Portland Trail Blazers Terrance Ferguson, G - Australia Los Angeles Lakers Harry Giles, C - Duke The Lakers can afford to take a flier on a player once considered to be in the conversation for number one overall a few years ago. Two knee surgeries have scouts worried, but if he were able to reach his full potential, the Lakers would get a major steal. Los Angeles Lakers (from Brooklyn) Tony Bradley, C - UNC San Antonio Spurs Caleb Swanigan, F - Purdue Swanigan was an excellent college player, one that defenses would have to constantly double and triple team. In the NBA, his flaws of being too small for his position and not being able to shoot well enough will be exposed throughout his career. However, Gregg Popovich would be able to mold Swanigan into a serviceable and productive NBA player. Utah Jazz Ivan Rabb, F - California Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn) Frank Jackson, G - Duke Phoenix Suns Jordan Bell, F - Oregon Orlando Magic (from LA Lakers) Jawun Evans, G - Oklahoma State Evans knows how to score and score in bunches, and will provide good competition for Dennis Smith in training camp to start the year. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia) Jonah Bolden, F - Australia The former UCLA product has high upside, and competing and playing with De’Aaron Fox will only increase his value down the road. Orlando Magic Wesley Iwundu, G – Kansas State Philadelphia 76ers (from New York) Thomas Bryant, C – Indiana Trust the Process. Boston Celtics (from Minnesota) Josh Hart, G – Villanova Chicago Bulls (from Sacramento) Dillon Brooks, F – Oregon Philadelphia 76ers (from Dallas) Kyle Kuzma, F – Utah Reports on Kuzma show he can go anywhere from the late first round to late second round. Although he was the leading scorer for Utah this season, he lacks good physical tools and shooting ability, skills that are crucial to making an impact at the next level. New Orleans Pelicans Isaiah Hartenstein, F – Lithuania Charlotte Hornets Sterling Brown, G - SMU Utah Jazz (from Detroit) Bam Adebayo, C – Kentucky I am not high on Adebayo. His draft stock varies dramatically – there are concerns about whether or not his defensive instincts and shooting ability outside of 12 feet will translate to the NBA. Although Adebayo will be an excellent finisher around the rim and possesses elite level strength, it will be the improvements in his game that will be the deciding factor for how far his NBA career lasts. Houston (from Denver) Jonathon Motley, F - Baylor New York Knicks (from Chicago) Alec Peters, F – Valparaiso Peters, one of the most versatile players in all of the NCAA, is a strong bet to make any roster as a second round pick in large part due to his ability to score and defend several different positions. Houston (from Portland) Tyler Dorsey, G – Oregon Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami) Frank Mason, G – Kansas Indiana Pacers Sindarius Thornwell, F – South Carolina Milwaukee Bucks J. Dozier, G – South Carolina Denver Nuggets (from Memphis) Dwayne Bacon, F – Florida State Philadelphia 76ers (from Atlanta) Cameron Oliver, F – Nevada Denver Nuggets (from Oklahoma City) Edmond Sumner, G – Xavier Sumner was at the helm of a solid Xavier team this season. Sumner could spell Emmanuel Mudiay at times, as he possesses the skill to take over the backup point guard role from aged veteran Jameer Nelson. Washington Wizards Monte Morris, G – Iowa State Boston Celtics (from Cleveland) George de Paula, G – Brazil Phoenix Suns (from Toronto) Devin Robinson, F – Florida Utah Jazz Nigel Williams-Goss, G – Gonzaga Boston Celtics (from LA Clippers) J. Peak, G – Georgetown Brooklyn Nets (from Boston) Jaron Blossomgame, F – Clemson Blossomgame acted as the leader and main source of offense for the Tigers this season. He could very well carve out a niche role as someone who can defend multiple positions and chip in at times offensively. New York Knicks (from Houston) Alpha Kaba, F - France San Antonio Spurs Peter Jok, F – Iowa Atlanta Hawks Melo Trimble, G - Maryland
Some quick analysis – it is a break after all Carolina 23, New Orleans 20 The rally of the Saints came short as Newton and the Panthers continue their late season rally Minnesota 30, Arizona 23 Carson Palmer was responsible for two defensive TDs as the Vikings snapped their losing streak Buffalo 16, Cincinnati 12 The Bengals lost not only the game, but Gio Bernard and AJ Green for the season as well NY Giants 22, Chicago 16 Jay Cutler might be done for the year, all but cementing 2016 as a lost year for the Bears Pittsburgh 22, Cleveland 9 Despite the poor play of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers beat the hapless Browns Tampa Bay 19, Kansas City 17 Roberto Aguayo made all his FG and PAT attempts to lead the Bucs in an upset Dallas 27, Baltimore 17 Ezekiel Elliot found sledding to be tougher against Baltimore, so Dak Prescott led the team to their NFL leading 10th win Detroit 26, Jacksonville 19 The Detroit defense stifled the Jaguars, who were sent to their eighth loss of the season Indianapolis 24, Tennessee 17 Andrew Luck, despite sustaining a concussion, finished the game and led the Colts to a win Miami 14, Los Angeles 10 Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins on a fourth quarter comeback to spoil Jared Goff’s NFL debut New England 30, San Francisco 17 The Patriots, without Rob Gronkowski, still dominated the 49ers Seattle 26, Philadelphia 15 Seattle appears to be in peak form as they shook off Carson Wentz and the Eagles Washington 42, Green Bay 24 Rob Kelley ran for 3 TDs as Green Bay lost again Oakland 27, Houston 20 Bill O’Brien decided to punt the ball down 7 with three minutes left; his team would not see the ball again Week 12 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/23) Minnesota (+3) over DETROIT DALLAS (-6.5) over Washington Pittsburgh (-3) over Indianapolis HOUSTON (-1) over San Diego Tennessee (Pick) over CHICAGO BUFFALO (-6.5) over Jacksonville BALTIMORE (-3) over Cincinnati Arizona (+4) over ALTANTA San Francisco (+8.5) over MIAMI NEW ORELEANS (-6.5) over Los Angeles Seattle (-6) over TAMPA BAY NY Giants (-6.5) over CLEVELAND OAKLAND (-4.5) over Carolina DENVER (-3.5) over Kansas City New England (-7.5) over NY JETS Green Bay (+3) over PHILADELPHIA Byes: None Last Week: 8-5-1 All Time: 78-61-2 Week 10 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/11/15/week-10-nfl-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
NFL Week 10 Recap Denver’s defense scored the game winning 2-point conversion, the Chargers fourth quarter woes reemerged, the Cowboys won in dramatic fashion, and more analysis The playoffs are rapidly approaching – you might be happy, you might be sad Defense Leading to Offense Ever since Hall of Fame and chicken parm eating quarterback Peyton Manning began his steady decline in productivity, the Denver defense has become the calling card of the Broncos organization. Through the first 58 minutes of the game, the defense was surprisingly average. The defense did force three turnovers, but Saints QB Drew Brees was still able to throw for 303 yards and 3TDs with a completion percentage of over 72 percent. One of those TDs was a 32-yard bomb to WR Brandin Cooks with 1:22 left in the game that tied the score at 23. Before the game tying TD, the Broncos appeared to be in control, despite a less than dominant effort from their defense. The Broncos led 10-0, before faltering slightly in the third quarter when they fell behind 17-10. After going down 7, Denver proceeded to score 13 unanswered points, in large part to kicker Brandon McManus’ accuracy along with being relatively inefficient within the red zone. New Orleans then received the ball one more time with the chance to go ahead for good. After Brees marched the Saints down the field for the tying TD, the Saints were given the opportunity to kick a PAT that would put the team ahead by one point. What happened next was to the dismay of every Saints fan. The ball was snapped, the hold was perfect, but there was one small problem. Rookie Justin Simmons hurdled the long snapper, timing his jump perfectly, blocking the kick. The ball then bounced to Will Parks, who (allegedly) returned the ball for a safety, scoring two more points for the Broncos, giving them a 25-23 win. The result came as a surprise, especially because this was just the third time this season that an extra point had been returned for a safety by the other team. The win notwithstanding, the Broncos offense once again sputtered at times. Despite starting the season on a strong note, Trevor Siemian has posted subpar efforts in several of the past weeks. The running game was not moving even when CJ Anderson was healthy, and ever since going down, Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs have not been much of an improvement. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, both heralded as potential number one receivers, have struggled with drops and separation. Furthermore, the tight end play has been almost nonexistent this season, a factor that has been in effect since the departure of Julius Thomas two seasons ago. Looking forward, the Denver Broncos (7-3) head back to Denver to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, while the New Orleans Saints (4-5) travel to Carolina to take on the Panthers on Thursday Night Football. La Caida de Felipe Rios / The Downfall of Philip Rivers When the front office of the San Diego Chargers decided to move past franchise QB Drew Brees in order to pursue their future with Philip Rivers, the expectations have been sky high. Rivers has delivered at times, while at others, he has greatly struggled. Sunday was an example of the latter. With a line of 23/44 for 326 yards, 3TDs/4INTs, Rivers struggled to connect with his receivers all throughout the game. Despite his struggles, the Chargers still were locked in a competitive game going into the fourth quarter. Down 21-17, San Diego had many opportunities to win the game. The Chargers went up 24-21 late in the fourth quarter, but their defense faltered quickly, allowing a FG to Miami to tie with 2:57 left in the game, a mere 1:04 after they scored. With just under three minutes remaining, it was officially Philip Rivers time. The ensuing possession, Rivers, while targeting leading receiver Tyrell Williams (7/125/1), threw the ball right into the hands of Kiko Alonso, who promptly returned the INT 60 yards for the game winning TD. This was a crippling blow to the chances of a Chargers victory, but the game was not over yet. The Chargers were given the ball with a chance to tie with 1:01 left. Rivers, again while leading the Chargers down the field, threw another INT to Byron Maxwell, his fourth of the game. This INT proved to be the final nail in the coffin. The win was the Dolphins fourth win in a row, while the Chargers remained in the cellar of their division with the loss. The running game of each team is a large part of the offensive game plan of each team, as both the Chargers and Dolphins feature a young second year running back that is having a career year. In this game, however, both running backs ran into brick walls while trying to move past the front seven of the opposing defense. Jay Ajayi, he of the consecutive 200-yard performances, carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards, while Melvin Gordon, crowned as this year’s most improved running back, toted the rock 24 times for 70 yards. Gordon was able to contribute 5 catches for 62 yards, while Ajayi caught one reception for one yard. Next week, the Miami Dolphins (5-4) face the Los Angeles Rams in LA, while the San Diego Chargers (4-6) will face Tampa Bay in San Diego next week. Zeke Parting the Red Sea Many attribute QB Dak Prescott to being the main reason why the Dallas Cowboys hold an NFL best 8-1 record through 10 games. Although Prescott has exceeded nearly every expectation that was laid out for him thus far, much of the success can be attributed to the great play of the Cowboys offensive line and star rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot, who rushed 114 yards and 2 TDs while catching two catches for 95 yards and a TD, scored the game winning TD with 35 seconds left to knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-30 at Heinz Field. This game was one that seesawed back and forth throughout its entirety. Dallas led 23-18 going into the fourth quarter, and the leads would only continue to change. The game saw 7 different lead changes, with Dallas ultimately finishing on top. The final drive to score was not at all guaranteed however. The Steelers, down five points at the time, were given the ball with 1:55 left and a chance to win. Ben Roethlisberger (37/46, 408 yards, 3TDs) drove the Steelers down the field, capitalized by a fake spike TD pass to Antonio Brown with 44 seconds left to take what many believed would be the final score of the game. The Cowboys had other ideas, however. Dak Prescott (22/32, 319 yards, 2 TDs) quickly drove the Cowboys down the field, moving into field goal range with a mere 20 seconds left in the game. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett decided that, instead of kicking the field goal right off the bat, to continue handing the ball off to Ezekiel Elliot. The result was a TD with nine seconds left that sent Dallas to their eighth consecutive win, and sent the Steelers to their second consecutive loss. Next week, the Dallas Cowboys (8-1) will head back home to take on the Baltimore Ravens, while the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-5) will head to Cleveland to take on the Browns. Quick Hits Baltimore 28, Cleveland 7 Despite leading at one point 7-6, the Browns faltered and lost their tenth game in a row – but don’t fret, they aren’t out of the playoffs just yet Kansas City 20, Carolina 17 Eric Berry led the Chiefs and helped score 20 unanswered points to overcome the Panthers Los Angeles 9, NY Jets 6 A real thriller that saw the Rams barely defeat the Jets Tennessee 47, Green Bay 25 DeMarco Murray did it all as the Titans rolled the Packers Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 15 The Eagles overcome a few mental errors to limit the NFL’s number one offense to their lowest point total all year Washington 26, Minnesota 20 Perhaps a new catchphrase from Kirk Cousins will start a winning streak in the nation’s capitol Houston 24, Jacksonville 21 A late rally made by the Jags fell short as the Texans defense won another game to stay atop the division Tampa Bay 36, Chicago 10 Jameis Winston defied standard football wisdom while Jay Cutler committed four (!) turnovers Arizona 23, San Francisco 20 The Cardinals won a much closer than anticipated game in large part to David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald Seattle 31, New England 24 The scrappy Seahawks held on at the goal line (this time) as the Patriots were handed their first loss at home NY Giants 21, Cincinnati 20 Odell Beckham scored for the second consecutive week as the Giants held on to beat the Bengals Week 11 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/15) CAROLINA (-4.5) over New Orleans INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5) over Tennessee DETROIT (-6.5) over Jacksonville KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over Tampa Bay NY GIANTS (-6) over Chicago Arizona (Pick) over MINNESOTA Buffalo (+4) over CINCINNATI Baltimore (+7) over DALLAS CLEVELAND (+8.5) over Pittsburgh Miami (Pick) over LOS ANGELES SAN FRANCISCO (+14) over New England SEATTLE (-4.5) over Philadelphia WASHINGTON (-3) over Green Bay OAKLAND (-3.5) over Houston Byes: Atlanta, Denver NY Jets, San Diego Last Week: 7-7 All Time: 70-56-2 Week 9 Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/11/10/nfl-week-9-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
NFL Week 9 Recap A brief (and late) Week 9 recap, with Week 10 picks attached Take WIUX to your email too! Quick Hits Atlanta 43, Tampa Bay 28 The Bucs might have lost, but Mike Evans makes his case for catch (and subsequently, biggest hit) of the year Detroit 22, Minnesota 16 (OT) Minnesota blew another lead (and might not be as good as many thought) while Golden Tate brought the disrespect to win in overtime Baltimore 21, Pittsburgh 14 The longstanding Steelers-Ravens rivalry was renewed, Ben Roethlisberger might have came back from injury a little too soon Miami 27, NY Jets 23 Jay Ajayi rushed for only 111 yards this week; Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured for the Jets Dallas 35, Cleveland 10 Cleveland looked overwhelmed, still has not won Kansas City 19, Jacksonville 14 Travis Kelce is not a fan of the referees; the Chiefs held on for their sixth win of the season NY Giants 28, Philadelphia 23 Odell Beckham makes another great catch; Eagles fall to last in division Carolina 13, Los Angeles 10 The calls for Jared Goff as QB of the Rams keep growing louder as Case Keenum struggles; Cam Newton was swallowed whole New Orleans 41, San Francisco 23 Drew Brees is on a tear at age 37; the 49ers had no chance at stopping the Saints offense San Diego 43, Tennessee 35 Melvin Gordon had a career day as the Chargers offense fired on all cylinders Indianapolis 31, Green Bay 26 The Colts keep their playoff hopes alive due to the success of Andrew Luck Oakland 30, Denver 20 The Raiders took the division lead from the defending Super Bowl champs; the Broncos run defense struggled again Seattle 31, Buffalo 25 A questionable call at the end of the first half mars a good performance by the Seahawks Week 10 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/10) BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Cleveland Green Bay (-2.5) over TENNESSEE Minnesota (+2.5) over WASHINGTON TAMPA BAY (+2) over Chicago Kansas City (+3) over CAROLINA Atlanta (-2) over PHILADELPHIA NY JETS (-1.5) over Los Angeles NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Denver Houston (+2) over JACKSONVILLE SAN DIEGO (-4) over Miami Dallas (+2.5) over PITTSBURGH ARIZONA (-13.5) over San Francisco NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) over Seattle NY GIANTS (Pick) over Cincinnati Byes: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland Last Week: 6-7 All Time: 63-49-2 Week 8 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/11/01/nfl-week-8-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
London was treated to a very familiar tie; New Orleans won a game with its defense, Derek Carr was inches away from the record books, and more analysis Week 8 had several highlights, but perhaps the biggest was saying goodbye to a 7-time Pro Bowl wide receiver London has soccer – they’re used to ties anyway Our neighbors across the pond have created several different inventions – table tennis, color television, to name two – but the one thing they did not was American football. The game that is slowly becoming America’s pastime more and more everyday is consistently playing three games a year in London to try and promote the NFL overseas. The games as a whole have been relatively subpar in general. In the third and final game in London this season, the end result might not have been what fans desired, but the game did not lack drama. The Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals were the two teams sent to London this week, with their game starting at a very early 9:30 AM EST. Dustin Hopkins, previously perfect on field goals from 34 yards or closer in his career missed what would have been the game winning field goal (and his postgame interview) in overtime to send both the Bengals and Redskins to a 27-27 tie, the second tie the NFL has seen in the last week. The game was back and forth from the opening possession, with over 1,000 yards between the two teams. Kirk Cousins was the winner of most gaudy stat line, completing 38 of his 56 pass attempts for 458 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. Robert Kelley, filling in for the injured Matt Jones, rushed 21 times for 87 yards and one TD as well. The Redskins offense as a whole moved the ball with relative ease until the second half, where Cincinnati began to mount their comeback. Andy Dalton registered a stat line of 27/42 with 284 yards and 1TD/1INT. Dalton has been largely inconsistent with receivers not named AJ Green this season, with his completion percentage dipping below 60% on targets to other receivers. With the addition of a fully healthy Tyler Eifert, there is hope that this trend could change. The aforementioned AJ Green was again excellent (18 targets, 9/121), but it was the addition of the big red zone target Eifert that kept the Bengals in this game. Eifert hauled in 12 of his targets for 9 catches and 102 and 1 TD while providing the much needed safety outlet that Dalton was missing the previous seven weeks. Although Hopkins received the majority of the blame for his missed kick, he was not the only kicker who missed what would have been a game winning field goal. Mike Nugent, the kicker for the Bengals, missed what would have lifted the Bengals to a 30-27 win with a missed field goal just before the end of regulation. Hopkins did miss another FG in regulation as well, perhaps adding to the angst that Redskins fans were feeling after the tie. Next week, the Washington Redskins (4-3-1) will take on the Minnesota Vikings in Washington, while the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) will head to New York to take on the Giants. The Saints Defense Comes Marching In The New Orleans Saints have long been known as a team with enough offensive firepower to blow the roof off of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, while having just enough defense to win football games. On Sunday, against a hobbled yet still solid Seattle Seahawks team, it was the Saints defense that propelled them to victory. The Seahawks were held under 100 yards rushing for only the second game all year, Russell Wilson was held without a TD (22/34, 253 yards, 0/1) and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Seahawks of Seattle 25-20. The Seahawks, down five points with 1:57 to go, started their drive with favorable field position. Tyler Lockett returned the kickoff to their own 32-yard line, where Wilson and the Seahawks began to methodically work down the field. Saints fans and onlookers alike began to worry slightly – the Saints defense could once again be the reason that New Orleans would be given another loss. Once Wilson and the Seahawks got into the red zone however, the defense became a very un-Saints like defensive unit. Wilson and the Seahawks had four cracks from the 18 yard line to score, but was unable to, with the Saints defense personifying the “bend don’t break” mantra that so many defensive coordinators instill in their units. The final incompletion as time expired sent the home crowd into a frenzy, while the visiting Seahawks walked off the field, dejected. Although the defense came up in the final moments of the game, the Saints offense was solid against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Drew Brees threw 35 passes, completing 27 of them for 265 yards and 1 TD. Tim Hightower, capitalizing on an early Mark Ingram fumble that saw Ingram sit the rest of the game, toted the ball 26 times for 102 yards. The ball was also spread out to nine different Saints receivers, with Michael Thomas leading the way (6/63), while Brandin Cooks (4/44/1) also chipped in a solid game. Next week, the New Orleans Saints (3-4) head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, while the Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1) will head back home to take on the Buffalo Bills. Penalties only matter when you lose Common knowledge would say that if you commit an NFL record 23 penalties in a single game, you would lose said football game. Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders believe otherwise. Despite trying to lose the game multiple times, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime thanks to Derek Carr’s nearly historic passing day (40/59, 513 yards, 4/0). Had there been drastically less penalties, one might be able to infer that the Raiders would have won this game in regulation. That, coupled with kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s missed field goal attempt as time expired, gave the Bucs new life in a game they played relatively poorly overall. Jameis Winston only completed 16 of his 32 pass attempts for 180 yards and 2 TDs despite a very beatable Raiders secondary. Four different ball carriers combined for 102 yards on the ground, but this was the extent of the Bucs offense in a matchup where many believed it be a higher scoring affair. Mike Evans, largely expected to feast on the Raiders, was limited to four catches for 50 yards on 11 targets, dropping a pair of passes in the process. Oakland also got exceptional games from Amari Cooper (12/173/1) (minus one costly drop), and Michael Crabtree (8/108) to help move the offense forward while the running game saw six different players record a carry, combining for 24 carries for 128 yards. Tampa Bay actually led this game with five minutes remaining, but it was Carr finding Mychal Rivera for a seven yard TD with 1:30 left to knot the ballgame at 24. The Bucs would punt soon after, leading to the Raiders putting together a quick drive, leading to the Janikowski missed field goal. Once overtime hit, it became more of a defensive battle. Each team let in a few first downs, but neither team made a decisive drive until Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal five minutes into overtime. With only four minutes left and the Raiders facing a fourth down and four on the Tampa Bay 41 yard line, Jack Del Rio decided to keep his offense on the field and try and convert the fourth down. Instead, Del Rio and his aggression paid off in the form of a 41-yard TD pass from Carr to Seth Roberts, winning the game for the visiting Raiders. Next week, the Oakland Raiders (6-2) face the Denver Broncos in Oakland, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) will remain at home and face the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Quick Hits Tennessee 36, Jacksonville 22 DeMarco Murray has looked like his former self while Marcus Mariota posted another solid effort Carolina 30, Arizona 20 The dumpster fire that is the Cardinals offense continues while Cam Newton states the NFL is doing a poor job protecting him Houston 20, Detroit 13 Brock Osweiler continues to be subpar, the Texans defense continues to be stout Kansas City 30, Indianapolis 14 Despite losing Alex Smith and Spencer Ware to injuries, the Chiefs shut down the Colts NY Jets 31, Cleveland 28 Ryan Fitzpatrick is still not inspiring confidence, Jets hang on to beat winless Browns New England 41, Buffalo 25 Tom Brady is playing at unprecedented levels, while Rob Gronkowski scored his franchise leading 69th career touchdown Denver 27, San Diego 19 Philip Rivers was on the wrong side of some bad luck, while Denver and their defense stopped the Chargers on their final drive to hold onto a win Atlanta 33, Green Bay 32 Matt Ryan looked every part of the leading passer in the NFL, while Green Bay’s rally fell short Dallas 29, Philadelphia 23 (OT) Tony Romo might be back soon, but Dak Prescott continues to win Chicago 20, Minnesota 10 Vikings drop their second in a row due to a career day from Jordan Howard Week 9 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/1) Atlanta (-2) over TAMPA BAY KANSAS CITY (-8) over Jacksonville MINNESOTA (-7) over Detroit NY GIANTS (-2) over Philadelphia Dallas (-7) over CLEVELAND NY Jets (+3) over MIAMI Pittsburgh (+2.5) over BALTIMORE New Orleans (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO LOS ANGELES (+2) over Carolina GREEN BAY (-6.5) over Indianapolis Tennessee (+5.5) over SAN DIEGO Denver (Pick) over OAKLAND SEATTLE (-5.5) over Buffalo Byes: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington Last Week: 5-7-1 All Time: 57-42-2 Week 7 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/10/27/nfl-week-7-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
A brief (and late) Week 7 recap, with Week 8 picks attached Get hype for Week 8! Quick Hits Green Bay 26, Chicago 10 Brian Hoyer is on IR; John Fox is done with Jay Cutler, which means it could be the Matt Barkley show in Chicago NY Giants 17, Los Angeles 10 Another game in London, another sloppy product Kansas City 27, New Orleans 21 The Chiefs held off a late rally despite a big outing from Drew Brees Philadelphia 21, Minnesota 10 Sam Bradford (and Carson Wentz) were less than stellar; Vikings handed first loss of the year Indianapolis 34, Tennessee 26 Andrew Luck has his best statistical performance of the year; outduels Marcus Mariota Miami 28, Buffalo 25 Jay Ajayi was an animal, becoming the fourth RB to run for 200 yards in back to back weeks Detroit 20, Washington 17 Josh Norman couldn’t handle Marvin Jones; Detroit comes back with 15 seconds left to win Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 17 The Browns QB woes continue; Kevin Hogan ran for over 100 yards Oakland 33, Jacksonville 16 A messy game on both sides of the ball that saw the Raiders come out ahead NY Jets 24, Baltimore 16 Geno Smith started for one half, tore an ACL, and it’s back to Ryan Fitzpatrick San Diego 33, Atlanta 30 (OT) Matt Ryan regressed slightly while San Diego came back (!!) for a change Tampa Bay 34, San Francisco 17 A hotly attended game ended in the Niners uttering some questionable quotes New England 27, Pittsburgh 16 Landry Jones looked out of sorts filling in for Ben Roethlisberger while Tom Brady continues to dominate Seattle 6, Arizona 6 (OT) Missed field goals in OT plagued both teams and led to the first tie in three years Denver 27, Houston 9 Brock Osweiler returns to Denver and is beaten by his angry teammates handily Week 8 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 10/27) TENNESSEE (-3) over Jacksonville Washington (+3) over CINCINNATI (London) INDIANAPOLIS (+2.5) over Kansas City Oakland (Even) over TAMPA BAY Seattle (-2.5) over NEW ORLEANS Detroit (+2.5) over HOUSTON NY Jets (-3) over CLEVELAND BUFFALO (+6) over New England Arizona (+3) over CAROLINA San Diego (+5.5) over DENVER Green Bay (+3) over ATLANTA DALLAS (-4) over Philadelphia Minnesota (-5) over CHICAGO Byes: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, NY Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco Last Week: 8-7 All Time: 52-35-2 Week 6 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/10/18/week-6-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
Zeke ran wild, Buffalo is 4-0 since the firing of Greg Roman, a questionable no call dooms the Falcons, and more analysis In other news: it is safe to say that certain teams are not fans of the NFL’s new social media policy -------- Zeke Runs Wild in Green Bay Ever since becoming the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the expectations for the crop top wearing Ezekiel Elliot have been sky high. Elliot brought with him a pedigree of success and excellence at every level he has played at, a large reason as to why Jerry Jones and the Cowboys defied conventional wisdom and chose a RB so early in the draft. Through a few weeks however, it appears that Jones and the first place Dallas Cowboys are having the last laugh. Through 6 weeks, Elliot leads the NFL in rushing by a rather wide margin with 703 yards, 157 of them coming in their Week 6 romp in Green Bay against the Packers and their league leading rush defense, who had given up the fewest total yards and yards per game rushing going into this game. Dallas dominated the trenches from the first possession, as Dallas defeated Green Bay in emphatic fashion by a score of 30-16. Elliot was fed the ball early and often, rushing for 28 times in all, in addition to catching two passes for 17 yards, bringing his total to a whopping 30 touches. Although Elliot did dominate the game, the game would not have been won without the strong play of QB Dak Prescott, who turned in another excellent effort to bolster his already strong rookie year. Despite throwing his first NFL INT, Prescott 67% of his passes for 247 yards and 3 TDs, captaining the Cowboys to their fifth win in six tires. Terrance Williams, who has filled in admirably during Dez Bryant’s absence, led the ‘Boys with 4 catches for 75 yards and 1 TD. The recent of success of Prescott has caused for a great deal of controversy throughout the NFL because of the man that Prescott replaced – Tony Romo. Romo, known for his gutsy play and propensity to getting injured, fractured a vertebra in his back in the preseason. Many wrote the Cowboys off for the year, not expecting Prescott to play well in during his time under center. However, Prescott has captained the Cowboys to their best record in five years, with the team eyeing a NFC East title and subsequent playoff birth. The decision will be difficult, as almost either way; the decision will be criticized, especially if the Cowboys begin to play poorly after the decision is ultimately made. As for Green Bay, questions are piling up for a third consecutive week. Aaron Rodgers (31/42, 294, 1/1) has posted career low completion percentages and yardage totals this season, and his INT totals are up in relation to this point of the year. Jordy Nelson (5/68) has played well at times, but often struggles to create separation from certain defensive backs. Randall Cobb (7/53) has played inconsistently all year. Eddie Lacy (17/65) has been on and off, and is currently dealing with a balky ankle. Lacy’s replacement, James Starks, tore his meniscus and is out for at least a month, leading to a trade for the perennially underwhelming Charcandrick West. The offensive line is one of the lone bright spots, where Rodgers has only been sacked 6 times this season. Otherwise, the secondary is a mess, the run defense is solid, and a home game against the equally underwhelming Chicago Bears looms, where Green Bay will have a chance to right the ship. Next week, the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys will go on bye, heading back to Dallas to take on Philadelphia after the bye. The 3-2 Green Bay Packers will take on the 1-5 Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bills Trounce Hapless 49ers Although many media and news outlets were only covering Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protests, many forget that Kaepernick was the starting QB for the San Francisco 49ers this week for the first time all season. His outing, however, was less than stellar. With an abysmal final line of 13/29 with 187/1 plus 8/66 rushing, Kaepernick routinely looked out of sync with his receivers. Despite rocking an excellent Afro, Kaepernick struggled in nearly every facet of the game, piloting the 49ers already struggling offense to a 45-16 drubbing to the Buffalo Bills. Carlos Hyde had a line of 14/52, with Torrey Smith chipping in 3/76/1, but this game was over as soon as the third quarter began. Despite being only ahead by a score of 17-13 at halftime, Rex Ryan and his halftime adjustments changed the whole landscape of the game once the third quarter began. LeSean McCoy, the second leading rusher in the league, had a fantastic line of 19/140/3, while the Bills combined for 312 yards in total on the ground. Totals such as these make it no surprise that the Bills are the number one rushing team yardage wise in the NFL, but perhaps what is more important is that the Bills, even if you were to take out their yards taken after contact, would still be fourth overall in overall rushing yards. With the likes of Tyrod Taylor, McCoy, Reggie Bush, and Mike Gillislee, the Bills are simply trampling teams on the ground. This change in philosophy comes after the firing of Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, who believed in airing the ball out early and often. This offense, although feasible with certain personnel, was not applicable for QB Tyrod Taylor, a more mobile and run first type of QB. However, the change to dedicate the offense to the running game has paid dividends, as the Bills are 4-0 since the firing of Roman. Next week, the rejuvenated Buffalo Bills (4-2) head to Miami to take on the Dolphins, while the San Francisco 49ers (1-5) head back home to take on Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seahawks Ground the Falcons in Seattle Richard Sherman is known for many things. Although he is one of the great shutdown cornerbacks the league has seen, he is perhaps known for his trash talk first and foremost. Despite having a propensity to talk smack, Sherman was noticeably silent after a very questionable final play that saw Sherman use some questionable defensive tactics to break up a pass with Julio Jones to seal the Seattle Seahawks win over the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 26-24. The Falcons played well, with their top ranked offense playing well despite the Seahawks top ranked defense in terms of yards allowed. Matt Ryan, the leading passer in the league, had a line of 27/45 with 335 yards and 3/1. Julio Jones, despite being held on the final play, had a line of 7/139/1, becoming the yardage leader for receivers in the process. Their ground game was halted as a whole, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combining for 17 carries for 50 yards. The front seven of Seattle was able to bottle up Freeman and Coleman, limiting their big play ability and holding on for a win. Seattle saw a gutsy performance from QB Russell Wilson, who registered a line of 25/37 for 270 yards, to lead the Seahawks to the win. Although the stat line was not stellar, Wilson continued moving the chains when needed, leading the Seahawks down the field with less than two minutes left for a Steven Hauschka game winning field goal. The Falcons were given the ball with about a minute and a half left, but with the missed holding call on fourth down, the Falcons were forced to leave Seattle the losers in the contest, falling to 4-2, while the Seahawks defended CenturyLink Field yet again, improving to 4-1 on the year. Next week, the Seahawks head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, while the Atlanta Falcons head back home to take on the San Diego Chargers. Quick Hits San Diego 21, Denver 13 Trevor Siemian struggles in his return to the lineup; Von Miller is still a beast; Chargers hold onto a fourth quarter lead Washington 27, Philadelphia 20 Carson Wentz was the least accurate QB of Week 6; Washington has won four straight Miami 30, Pittsburgh 15 Pittsburgh overlooks weak Miami team, but the bigger issue is the torn meniscus of Ben Roethlisberger Tennessee 28, Cleveland 26 Despite the AP being less than impressed with the Titans, they move past the lowly Browns New England 35, Cincinnati 17 Tom Brady keeps dominating, the Marvin Lewis led Bengals fall to 2-4 NY Giants 27, Baltimore 23 Odell Beckham and the kicking net might be getting married, while Beckham breaks out of his slump to the tune of 8/224/2 Detroit 31, Los Angeles 28 Jim Caldwell used all his emotion last week, yet the Lions defeat the stingy D of the Rams Kansas City 26, Oakland 10 Derek Carr struggled in a sloppy one while Dontari Poe scored his second career TD Houston 26, Indianapolis 23 The Colts choke (or puke all over the carpet) away a 14 point lead in the last 8 minutes Arizona 28, NY Jets 3 David Johnson had 3 TDs as Cardinals crush the hapless Jets Week 7 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 10/18) Chicago (+8.5) over GREEN BAY NY Giants (-3.5) over LOS ANGELES (Played in London) Minnesota (-2) over PHILADELPHIA KANSAS CITY (-7) over New Orleans Washington (+2) over DETROIT CINCINNATI (-9.5) over Cleveland Buffalo (-2.5) over MIAMI Oakland (Even) over JACKSONVILLE Indianapolis (-2.5) over TENNESSEE Baltimore (Even) over NY Jets ATLANTA (-5.5) over San Diego Tampa Bay (-1) over SAN FRANCISCO New England (-7.5) over PITTSBURGH Seattle (+1) over ARIZONA DENVER (-6.5) over Houston Byes: Carolina, Dallas Last Week: 7-6-1 All Time: 45-28-2 Week 5 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/10/11/10617/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
Week 5 NFL Recap The Cardinals scraped out a win in the Golden State, Denver was handed their first loss of the year, Tom Brady is back and taking no prisoners, and more analysis Stiff arm your Monday with this recap; 5 weeks down and only one undefeated football team remaining Cardinals Strike Gold in San Francisco -------- Had you predicted that five weeks into the season, the leader for all QBs in rushing attempts was none other than Blaine Gabbert, you likely were one of a (very) few. Gabbert has 39 rush attempts through five weeks, more than Gio Bernard, Alfred Morris, Jeremy Langford, Derrick Henry, Rashad Jennings, and ten attempts more than the next closest QB (Cam Newton). Gabbert, as a whole, played an okay game, especially by Blaine Gabbert standards. With a line of 18/31 with 162 yards 1TD and 2 INTs (plus 10/70 on the ground), Gabbert led the 49ers on several solid drives down the field, some looking better than others. Although the 49ers played a solid game as a whole, they were no match for David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals. Johnson toted the ball 27 times for 157 yards (the most in the league so far) with 2 TDs to go with 3 catches for 28 yards as the Cardinals won 33-21. Despite the overall ineptitude of backup QB Drew Stanton (11/28, 124 yards 2 TDs), the ground and pound offense of Arizona was able to milk the clock and defeat a normally stingy San Francisco run defense. The game began with no points in the first quarter, something Arizona has grown accustomed to this season. Once the second quarter began, there was some offensive firepower. The 49ers got on the board first, with a nine-yard TD pass to Jeremy Kerley (8/102/1) to put San Francisco up 7-0. Not to be outdone, the Cardinals would tie the game up not much later, with a 21-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald that would send the game to halftime tied at 7 apiece. Once the second half came, the game belonged to the Cardinals. Gabbert began to unravel, Carlos Hyde (22/78/1) began to lose his footing, and David Johnson began to pick up more steam. The Cardinals scored twice in the third quarter, and then scored 12 more points in the fourth; salting the game away with David Johnson carries that milked the clock until the 49ers were dead in the water. Going into the season, much of the hype was on the defense of the Arizona Cardinals, a billing that the unit had not lived up to for much of the season. In this game however, the Cardinals forced two fumbles, recorded a safety, two interceptions and seven sacks, along with nine tackles for a loss. The defense was swarming, with the lone bad play being blown coverage on Jeremy Kerley for his 7-yard TD pass. Moving forward, the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) head to Buffalo to take on the 3-2 Bills, while the Arizona Cardinals (2-3) head back home to take on the NY Jets. Falcons Soar at Mile High The hallmark of the Denver Broncos is their physical and vaunting defense, with a secondary that has allowed a shade over 185 yards per contest to opposing QBs. The Broncos defense has seen subpar efforts from the likes of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Jameis Winston. However, when the Atlanta Falcons visited the state of Colorado, it was QB Matt Ryan that had the last laugh. Ryan threw for 267 yards to go with 1 TD while orchestrating multiple TD drives to defeat the Broncos 23-16. Because of his superhuman effort last week, the Broncos went full on attack mode when defending Julio Jones, limiting him to a mere two catches for 29 yards. Because of the constant double teams that Jones was facing, it was left up to the other Falcon receivers to pick up the slack. Ex-IU standout Tevin Coleman rushed for 31 yards on six carries, and chipped in an astounding four carries for 132 yards and one TD to lead the Falcons in receiving. As for the Broncos, they sorely missed the presence of Trevor Siemian, who was out with a shoulder injury, leaving first round rookie Paxton Lynch as the man under center for Denver. Lynch was adequate during his time as the captain of the offense, passing for 223 yards while completing 23 of 35 passes for 1 TD and 1 INT. When called upon to move the ball during crucial parts of the game, however, Lynch was unable to do so. Despite the absence of Siemian, the Broncos did not lean towards running the football more often, as evidenced by the only 24 total carries, only 11 of which were taken by CJ Anderson, while six were taken by Lynch. The typically hungry Denver defense also only managed only 2 sacks with 4.5 TFL while recovering one fumble. Atlanta, on the other hand, (much to the delight of Dan Quinn) forced three fumbles (recovering one), had one interception, registering six sacks and six TFLs in the process. In a game where the Broncos number one ranked defense was supposed to beat the Falcons number one offense, the Falcons proved that, even if defense wins championships, you need a little bit of offense to win too. Next week, the Denver Broncos (4-1) will head to San Diego to take on the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, while the Atlanta Falcons (4-1), will face another stern defense, this time in Seattle where they will play the Seahawks. Brady is Back for Revenge With four weeks in the books, there was only one thing that was happening for sure in Week 5. That occurrence was the return of Tom Brady. Regardless of how one feels about Brady and the Patriots, his return had New England firing on all cylinders in their 33-13 drubbing of the Cleveland Browns. Brady had a stat line of 28/40 with 406/3/0, with all three TDs going to Martellus Bennett. Brady was sure to get his other weapons plenty of usage as well, finding Rob Gronkowski for 5/109 and Chris Hogan for 4/114. As for the Browns of Cleveland, they are the only winless team remaining in the NFL. With Cody Kessler going down with a rib injury in the second quarter, it was up to Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst to captain the Browns to their fifth consecutive loss. Whitehurst went 14/24 with 182/1/1, and managed to exit the game (relatively) unscathed. The Browns were even less effective on the ground, with 22 total carries going for a meager 27 yards, led by Isaiah Crowell going 13/22. From the opening Patriots, possession, the Browns looked overwhelmed. From the injury to Kessler, to Tom Brady going scorched Earth on the Browns throughout the whole game, Cleveland and their vaunted Dawg Pound were overmatched. It appears at this point, despite the massive haul they got for the second overall pick (Carson Wentz), they could greatly use a franchise QB, where they will turn to the 2017 draft with hopes of (finally) not striking out. Next week, the New England Patriots (4-1) head back home to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Cleveland Browns (0-5) will go to Tennessee to take on the Titans. Quick Hits Indianapolis 29, Chicago 23 The Bears could be Brian Hoyer’s team; Colts and T.Y. Hilton come up clutch down the stretch while the Bears faltered Detroit 24, Philadelphia 23 Despite some jarring hits by the Eagles, the Lions held on and gave Carson Wentz his first career turnover Tennessee 30, Miami 17 Marcus Mariota had his first good game of the year; Miami is winless (and Ryan Tannehill is in pain) against all teams that are not the Browns Washington 16, Baltimore 10 Jamison Crowder had a punt return TD, and the Redskins held on in a sloppy game on both sides Minnesota 31, Houston 13 Brock “Brock Lobster” Osweiler struggled while the Vikings fired on all cylinders Pittsburgh 31, NY Jets 13 Le’Veon Bell set his career high in catches (9) while Sammie Coats had 172 yards and 2 TDs; no INTs for Ryan Fitzpatrick! Dallas 28, Cincinnati 14 Ezekiel Elliot ran for 134 yards, and Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a dominant win Buffalo 30, Los Angeles 19 Despite Tyrod Taylor not knowing where to line up, LeSean McCoy and the Bills held off the Rams Oakland 34, San Diego 31 The Chargers – despite having a lead in the fourth quarter in each game so far – are 1-4 on the year Green Bay 23, NY Giants 16 Green Bay continues their strong play at home while Odell Beckham Jr. made up with the kicking post Carolina, Tampa Bay Week 6 Picks Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 10/11) Denver (-2.5) over SAN DIEGO BUFFALO (-7.5) over San Francisco Philadelphia (+1) over WASHINGTON TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Cleveland NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) over Cincinnati NY GIANTS (-3) over Baltimore Carolina (Even) over NEW ORLEANS Pittsburgh (-7) over MIAMI Jacksonville (+2) over CHICAGO Los Angeles (+3.5) over DETROIT OAKLAND (-1) over Kansas City Atlanta (+7) over SEATTLE Dallas (+4.5) over GREEN BAY Indianapolis (+3) over HOUSTON ARIZONA (Even) over NY Jets Byes: Minnesota, Tampa Bay Last Week: 8-5-1 Week 4 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/10/05/nfl-week-4-recap/ Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
NFL Week 4 Recap Atlanta and their vaunted offense is for real, the Raiders showed grit to earn their 3rd win of the season, Drew Brees extracted revenge against his old team, and more analysis Four weeks down, thirteen to go; in other news, the suspended one is back Matt Ryan, or as he is colloquially known, Matty Ice, has had a resurgence in his age 31 season in the NFL, captaining the Atlanta Falcons to a 3-1 record through the first four weeks of the season with a stat line of 1,473 yards, 11 TDs, and 2 INTs, with 503/4/1 coming in this weeks’ beating of the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers by a score of 48-33. (That line extrapolates to an eye-popping 5,892/44/8 over the course of a whole season). Despite the throwing prowess of Ryan, this game singularly belongs to one man: Julio Jones. As you might know if you had Jones in your fantasy football lineup (or were playing against him), Jones had an afternoon for the record books. With 12 receptions on 15 targets, Jones went for 300 yards even and one TD for good measure (as seen with this brutal TD run), showing no regard for the Panthers weak secondary. Jones routinely made defensive backs look dumb, gaining 173 yards at halftime alone. The Ringer also did an excellent article regarding Jones, making the praise of the article appropriate after this dominant performance. Rushing wise, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 21 carries for 76 yards as well, with Freeman scoring one TD. On the flip side of the ball, the Carolina Panthers obviously struggled defending the pass (spurning comments like this), but the biggest story was again an injury to star QB Cam Newton. Cam finished with a line of 17/23 with 172/2/2, to go with 5 carries for 30 rushing yards. Newton, however, seemingly not expecting to get hit in a game of football, tried to walk into the end zone on a two-point conversion, and was quickly met by a jarring hit to stop the conversion cold in its tracks. Newton is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and is questionable for this week. The good news for the Panthers is they have backup Derek “He’s Definitely Not Cam Newton” Anderson to throw the ball in the meantime. Next week, the 1-3 Panthers head back home to take on the 1-3 (and equally struggling) Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. Conversely, the 3-1 Atlanta Falcons take on the 4-0 Denver Broncos in Denver, in what is surely to be a hotly contested game for both teams. Del Rio Grinds Out Another Jack Del Rio and the Raiders keep finding new ways to win. After going for the game winning two-point conversion in Week 1, Del Rio and Oakland were able to fight off a feisty Baltimore Ravens squad to win 28-27 on the back of Derek Carr’s 4 TD passes and 199 yards. Looking poised in the pocket against a Ravens defense that ranks in the top half of essentially every defensive category, Carr delivered strikes to 9 different Raiders receivers, including a 7/88/3(!!) line to Michael Crabtree. The game winner was a beauty, a perfectly placed strike to Crabtree that tied the game, allowing for Sebastian “The Polish Cannon” Janikowski to hit the PAT that won the game for the Raiders. Despite being touted as one of the premier defenses in the league this preseason, the Raiders have ranked in the bottom five in passing defense and total yards allowed. This game was arguably their best they had played all year, limiting the Ravens when it mattered most. Despite giving up over 410 yards, the defense prevented the Ravens from moving the ball on their final two drives, one to extend the lead and then one to go for the win. Joe Flacco had a line of 32/52 with 298 yards and one TD, while Terrance West posted his first 100-yard game of the year, toting the ball 21 times for 113 yards and one TD. The turnover on downs on the last drive of the game ultimately did the Ravens in, moving them to 3-1 on the year. Defensively, Baltimore was not able to register any sacks, only getting 2 tackles for loss. The lack of pressure on Carr allowed for him to pick apart the Ravens secondary, finding seams for Crabtree and Amari Cooper all game. Oakland was able to account for two sacks and 3 TFL, pressuring Flacco into just enough tough spots to squeak out a win. Moving forward, the 3-1 Raiders take on the 1-3 San Diego Chargers in Oakland next week, while the Ravens at 3-1 will take on the Washington Redskins (2-2) in Baltimore next week. Brees Gets His Revenge In 2005, the San Diego Chargers released Drew Brees because they believed that his labrum, which was torn. The heir to the QB job in San Diego was Phillip Rivers, who still is the QB for the team. However, there is many times since the release of Brees that the Chargers wish they had the future first ballot Hall of Fame QB back on their roster. Sunday was likely one of those times. Playing his former team for the first time, Drew Brees threw for 207/2/2, while leading the New Orleans Saints to a comeback win against the Chargers by a score of 35-34. (Another fun win probability graph, I might add). Philip Rivers did have a gaudy stat line, going 28/43 with 321/2/1, while fumbling twice but losing none. Dontrelle Inman chipped in with 7/120/1, while backup tight end Hunter Henry had 4 catches for 61 yards and his first ever NFL TD. Both teams boasted solid running games, but were limited to a combined 110 yards between the two teams, with Melvin Gordon mustering 36 yards on 19 carries, while Mark Ingram chipped in 18 carries for 56 yards. Perhaps the surprise of the game was fullback John Kuhn having 3 TDs, something virtually no one saw coming. Kuhn went for 13 yards in total on five touches in all. This game appeared that it was going to be won handily by the Chargers, as they appeared to be in control during the duration of the game. However, the Saints had other plans. After digging themselves into a 13-point hole with only seven and a half minutes left, Brees and the offense went to work, capping the drive off with a TD pass to Michael Thomas. The Chargers got the ball back with the intention to milk clock, but this plan was quickly derailed by a Travis Benjamin fumble that gave the Saints the ball back deep in Chargers territory. A few plays later, Kuhn punched in a 1 yard TD run, and the Chargers went ahead for good, allowing for Brees to extract his revenge against his former team. Moving forward, the 1-3 New Orleans Saints head into their bye week, and will take on the 1-3 Carolina Panthers at home the week after. As for the 1-3 San Diego Chargers, they will head to Oakland to take on the Raiders, in what is surely to be another offensive shootout between the teams. Quick Hits Cincinnati 22, Miami 7 AJ Green was dominant, Miami is as bad as the league thought Jacksonville 30, Indianapolis 27 Somehow, the Colts O-line has gotten worse than last year Houston 27, Tennessee 20 Texans won despite Brock “Glock” Osweiler trying to blow it. Also, Will Fuller Washington 31, Cleveland 20 You like that? Seattle 27, NY Jets 17 This tweet and this video sums up the Jets season quite well Buffalo 16, New England 0 Maybe it does matter who plays QB for the Patriots Chicago 17, Detroit 14 Avert your eyes because this one was ugly Denver 27, Tampa Bay 7 No Trevor Siemian, no problem, as Denver cruises with Paxton Lynch and their defense Los Angeles 17, Arizona 13 Arizona could be in trouble; Rams are 3-1, ahead of scheduled 8-8 pace Dallas 24, San Francisco 17 Dak Prescott still has not thrown an INT Pittsburgh 43, Kansas City 14 An all out beat down by the Steelers Minnesota 24, NY Giants 10 Bradford, played well, and the Vikings defense dominated again Week 5 Picks Home team in CAPS (all lines as of 10/4) Arizona (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO New England (-10.5) over CLEVELAND Philadelphia (-3) over DETROIT INDIANAPOLIS (-4.5) over Chicago Tennessee (+3.5) over MIAMI Washington (+4) over BALTIMORE MINNESOTA (-6) over Houston PITTSBURGH (-7) over NY Jets Atlanta (+6) over DENVER Cincinnati (-1) over DALLAS LOS ANGELES (-2.5) over Buffalo OAKLAND (-4) over San Diego NY Giants (+7) over GREEN BAY CAROLINA (Even) over Tampa Bay Byes: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle Last Week: 9-6 All Time: 30-17 Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
The Giants squandered another divisional game, the Bears were bad even without Jay Cutler, the Ravens rolled to 3-0, and more analysis. Only 5 undefeated teams left; still more football! Eli Manning’s stat line, 25/38 with 350 yards one TD and 2 INT is not terrible, but the loss can squarely fall on the shoulders of the younger Manning brother. The Giants played well early in the game, jumping out to a 21-9 lead midway through the second quarter (with a win probability at nearly 70%), seemingly in control. It was not until later in the game that the Kirk Cousins led Washington Redskins would mount a comeback to dash the undefeated hopes of the NY Giants by a score of 29-27 on the back of two fourth quarter INTs by Eli Manning. Despite missing starting RB Rashad Jennings and losing backup RB Shane Vereen to injury, Orleans Darkwa was able to alleviate some of the pressure off on Manning with a productive 10 carries for 53 yards and a TD. That, coupled with the Giants defense holding the Redskins to 9 points on their first six possessions, made it look like the Giants were on their way to 3-0 for the first time in four seasons. However, the Redskins came out of halftime a different team. Josh Norman might not have shut down Odell Beckham Jr. as well as he might have hoped (Beckham had a line of 7/121 on 11 targets), but Norman was more than happy with the defensive effort of the Redskins in the second half. There were of course the two key INTs forced off of Eli Manning, but the Redskins chipped in 2 sacks and 4 TFL as well. The first INT was in the end zone, a back breaker that would have put the Giants up for good. The second one came on a mental mistake by Manning, not seeing a linebacker in coverage on their final drive with less than two minutes remaining, cinching the game for the visiting Redskins while sending the Giants to 2-1. For Washington, Kirk Cousins played his first good game of the season, with a stat line of 21/35 with 296 yards and 2 TDs. Cousins hit his open receivers and made some difficult throws in the process, with DeSean Jackson chipping in with a line of 5/96/1, with the TD came from 44 yards out. The running game only combined for 90 yards on an inefficient 30 carries, with Matt Jones leading the way with 17/65. The Redskins, now 1-2, head back to the nation’s capital where they face the Cleveland Browns, while the Giants head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Tony Who? Taken with the 135th overall pick in this year’s draft, Rayne Dakota “Dak” Prescott led the Cowboys to a rather dominant 31-17 victory over the visiting Chicago Bears with a line of 19/24 with 248 yards and 1TD to go along with 4 carries for 36 yards and another score on the ground. Prescott and crop-top wearing rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliot (30 carries for 140 yards) carried the offense in this one, with the Bears scoring the majority of their 17 points in garbage time. With starting QB and turnover machine Jay Cutler on the shelf with a sprained thumb (he still might have had an INT), it was up to Brian “Hoyer the Destroyer” Hoyer to try and captain the Bears to their first victory of the season. The result was predictable – the Bears defense was a sieve, Jeremy Langford got hurt, and Alshon Jeffrey (5/70 on 9 targets) was underused again. The game was slow at first, but after a few drives, the Cowboys jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back. Hoyer did throw for 317 yards while going 30/49 with 2 TDs to Zach Miller, but he looked erratic at times, missing open receivers early and often. Defensively, the Bears had no answer for the short passing game of Prescott and the Cowboys, and had massive holes open up for Elliot and backup RB Alfred Morris, causing for a lopsided result. Dez Bryant continued his trend of quiet outings, as he had a box score of 3/40/1 on 6 targets. Bryant also was forced to leave the game early in the first drive, but came back to the joy of many Cowboys fans. No Cowboys receiver went for over 88 yards, as Terrance Williams and his 88 yards led them on 4 catches. On the flip side of the ball, despite Jeremy Langford going down with injury, there is now an opening for fifth round rookie and Indiana University product Jordan Howard to take command of the lead back role while Langford and Ka’Deem Carey are out with injuries. Next week, the Bears, owners of a 0-3 record head to Ford Field in Detroit to take on the Lions, while the 2-1 Dallas Cowboys head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Some Cleats with Strong Thread The Baltimore Ravens are 3-0, with kicker Justin Tucker nailing a 54-yard field goal with 1:04 left in the game to send the Jacksonville Jaguars to 0-3 to start the season. The game itself was one large mess; with QBs Joe Flacco and Blake Bortles combining for 5 INTs to 2TDs. Offense was at a premium as well, with neither team cracking over 300 yards as a team. The always-feisty Steve Smith Sr. led the way with 8/87 on 11 targets, to go with one skirmish with Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey, which led Smith to state he had “cleats with stronger thread” than Ramsey. Defensively, the Ravens accounted for 3 INTs, 4 sacks, and 7 TFL. The Ravens defense has been a nice surprise to Baltimore fans, as little was expected of a unit that struggled last year. However, with the first three opponents the Ravens have faced (Jaguars, Browns, Bills) are not exactly the toughest of opponents, so it will be interesting to see going forward how the Ravens fare, especially with games against the Redskins, Giants, Jets, and Steelers on the docket. For Jacksonville, there are few seats hotter than head coach Gus Bradley. Bradley promised to turn around the Jaguars this year. The Jags had a fair amount of preseason hype as well, and played a very competitive game with Green Bay in Week 1, but has looked very flat since then. If Bradley does not rally the troops and find a way to get some wins, there is a very real chance he will not finish the season as the head coach of the team. Next week, the 3-0 Ravens head back to Baltimore to take on the Oakland Raiders, while the 0-3 Jaguars of Jacksonville will head to London where they will be the “home team” and will play the Indianapolis Colts. Quick Hits New England 27, Houston 0 Bill Belichick can win with anyone Buffalo 33, Arizona 18 Carson Palmer became the first QB in 15 years to throw 4 INTs in the 4th quarter Oakland 17, Tennessee 10 A lot of this for Mariota despite a porous Raiders defense Miami 30, Cleveland 24 (OT) Miami struggled, still good enough to beat the Browns Green Bay 34, Detroit 27 Aaron RODGERS! Denver 29, Cincinnati 17 Elway disagrees with your analysis of his job Minnesota 22, Carolina 10 Vikings defense looks to be the real deal, Newton struggles again Los Angeles 37, Tampa Bay 32 Jameis has gaudy stat line, but Bucs still fall Seattle 37, San Francisco 18 When the spread is double digits, go with the favorite Kansas City 24, NY Jets 3 Carson Palmer wasn’t the only one with 4 INTs in the 4th quarter Philadelphia 34, Pittsburgh 3 Fire up the Carson Wentz hype train! Atlanta 45, New Orleans 32 That’s a whole lot of yards given up Week 4 Picks Home team in CAPS (All lines as of 9/27) CINCINNATI (-7) over Miami Indianapolis (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE HOUSTON (-6.5) over Tennessee Cleveland (+9.5) over WASHINGTON Seattle (Even) over NY JETS NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) over Buffalo Carolina (-3.5) over ATLANTA Oakland (+3.5) over BALTIMORE Detroit (-3) over CHICAGO Denver (-3) over TAMPA BAY Los Angeles (+8.5) over ARIZONA SAN DIEGO (-4) over New Orleans Dallas (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO PITTSBURGH (-6) over Kansas City MINNESOTA (-4) over NY Giants Byes: Green Bay, Philadelphia Last Week: 10-6 All Time: 21-11 Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.
Del Rio goes for two, the Pats can’t be slain, Jameis is famous, the Colts prevent D prevents a win, and more analysis. -------- Celebrate - Football is back Down 34-33 with less than a minute left, conventional wisdom says to go for the point after kick and play for overtime. Jack Del Rio, head coach of the Oakland Raiders, threw conventional wisdom out the window. Derek Carr threw a back shoulder fade route to Michael Crabtree, who made the catch in stride and converted the two point conversion to seal a gutsy Raiders 35-34 win over the home New Orleans Saints. The whole game seemed to be dominated by the Saints, including a 98-yard bomb from Drew Brees (423 yards/4TDs) to Brandin Cooks (6 receptions/143 yards/2TDs) that put an emphatic stamp on the game. Brees was finding targets left and right, finding Willie Snead to the tune of 9 catches for 172 yards and a TD, while torching newly acquired, high profile Raiders corner Sean Smith on multiple occasions. The Raiders, despite the tandem of Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, managed only one sack and recovered a fumble as Brees picked apart their secondary. Towards the end of the game, the Raiders mounted a comeback, led in part by a tying 75 yard TD run by rookie Jalen Richard on his first career carry. Not a bad way to start a career. That TD tied the game, and would see the Saints march down the field and score on a Brees to Travaris Cadet TD to go ahead by 7. The Raiders got the ball back with 6:03 left on the clock, scored with 47 seconds, made the 2, and started the season 1-0 for the first time since 2011. Famous Jameis On the second drive of the game, second year QB and alleged crab leg thief Jameis Winston threw an interception. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were down 10-3 at the time, and would never trail again. What audiences witnessed was the maturation of the young QB in front of our eyes. Winston had a 284yd/4TD line with a 69% completion rate, finding 8 different receivers in the process while making throws like this in the process. Mike Evans looked sharp for Tampa, Charles Sims had a Charles Sims-like stat line (4 rushes/9 yards, 3 catches/32 yards/1TD), and rookie receiver Adam Humphries (3 catches, 34 yards) showed promise for down the road. On the flip side of the ball, the Falcons appeared afraid to use their greatest weapon and near 2,000-yard receiver Julio Jones. Jones hauled in 4 receptions for 66 yards and a score on 8 targets, good for third on his own team. Offseason acquisition Mohammed Sanu caught 5 balls for 80 yards, while second year Indiana University product Tevin Coleman led the team in receiving yards, netting 95 on 5 catches, while tacking on 22 yards on 8 carries rushing. Speaking of Coleman, Falcons coach Dan Quinn stated that Coleman and 2015-fantasy football stud Devonta Freeman would be in an even timeshare. Most times, this is coach speak for “ride the hot hand”, but in this instance, Quinn was spot on. Freeman toted the ball 11 times for 20 yards, adding 4 catches for 20 yards while looking relatively slow and inefficient in doing so. As a whole, Coleman showed his trademark pop while hitting holes with speed, while Freeman maintained his status as a plodder. Defensively, the 4-3 scheme the Falcons employed last year was expected to take a leap in how effective it was. There was promise through one quarter, but it appears to be back to the drawing board for Quinn and the Falcons as they racked up no sacks only two tackles for a loss, and the lone interception. The Bucs on the other hand, managed three sacks with continual pressure to QB Matt Ryan and had 8 tackles for a loss. A win was much needed for the Bucs, who see their schedule increase in difficult, with matchups against the Cardinals, Rams, Broncos, and Panthers in their next four weeks. Jimmy G in AZ Many teams institute the motto “next man up” in their locker rooms, but perhaps no team exhibits this better in recent memory than the New England Patriots. Feelings about the Pats aside, what QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the depleted Patriots were able to do against the Super Bowl hopeful Arizona Cardinals was downright impressive. Garoppolo dispatched the feared secondary of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu with a stat line of 264/1TD and a 71 percent completion percentage. Most of the damage was done with shorter, safer routes, but they were able to lead methodical drive after methodical drive, ultimately winning on a Chandler Catanzaro missed 44-yard field goal as time expired. Despite missing two starting offensive linemen, in addition to missing the most lethal non-WR in the league in Rob Gronkowski, Garoppolo played the role of game manager in excellent fashion, leading the Pats on long drives and hitting Chris Hogan (3/60/1TD) on a 37 yard TD reception in the first quarter. The Pats D also played well, limiting the high-powered Cardinals offense to 21 points while racking up 3 sacks and 6 TFL in the process. As for Arizona, they face a tough bounce back against a suddenly strong looking Buccaneers team. Although the Cards still have Larry Fitzgerald (8/81/2TDs), they’ll need no shows like John Brown (1/8yards/4targets) to step up and play to their potential, otherwise Bruce Arians and the Cardinals could be facing 0-2 with another effort such as the one on Sunday Night Football. All Hail Jim Bob Ever since the institution of Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, he has transformed his offense from barely watchable to formidable opponent. Their backwards-hat-on-the-sideline-wearing QB Matt Stafford shredded the Colts depleted secondary, amounting a stat line of 340/3TDs with only 8 incompletions on 39 attempts. Theo Riddick proved to be a true thorn in the sides of the Colts and Colts fans alike, racking up 45 yards on 7 carries and a TD to go along with 5 catches for 63 yards and another score through the air. Seemingly every first down needed down the stretch involved Riddick in some way, as he justified the four year/22 million dollar contract by delivering clutch plays down the stretch. The true story of this game was the Colts defense, seemingly unable to stop the Lions. Despite a herculean effort from QB Andrew Luck (385/4TDS), the Colts were unable to hold onto a one-point lead with a mere 37 seconds left, as Matt Prater drilled a 43 yard field goal with 4 seconds left to dash the hopes of Colts fans. A safety on the last play sent the Colts to their third straight season opening loss, 39-35. Quite the win probability graph, if I do say so myself. Quick Hits Denver 21, Carolina 20 Trevor Simian looked passable (pun intended). Pray for Cam Newton and his brain cells. Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 23 Jacksonville might be good, but Aaron Rodgers is not human. Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7 A snoozer if you enjoy offensive football; the Bills had less than 200 yards. Houston 23, Chicago 14 Lamar Miller was fed the ball, Osweiler played quality football, the Texans D looked stout. Death, taxes, Jay Cutler having at least one turnover. Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10 Carson Wentz shows promise, RGIII out for the year. Make that death, taxes, Jay Cutler having at least one turnover, and the Browns having QB trouble. Minnesota 25, Tennessee 16 No Bradford no offense, so defense scores 2 TDs against Mariota. Cincinnati 23, NY Jets 22 AJ Green sunk Revis Island; Bengals win on last minute FG Kansas City 33, San Diego 27 (OT) Keenan Allen saw his season end, Chiefs complete biggest comeback in franchise history Seattle 12, Miami 10 Nearly ruined sports parlays and eliminator pools around the country; Wilson throws TD pass to Baldwin with under a minute to win NY Giants 20, Dallas 19 Running out of bounds is a foreign concept for the ‘Boys Pittsburgh 38, Washington 16 The Steelers offense is terrifying, and that’s without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant. San Francisco 28, Los Angeles 0 What better way to ring in the new move than with a goose egg Week 2 Picks Home team in CAPS (All lines as of 9/14) NY Jets (Even) over BUFFALO STEELERS (-3.5) over Bengals Tennessee (+5.5) over DETROIT Baltimore (-6.5) over CLEVELAND Dallas (+2.5) over WASHINGTON New Orleans (+5.5) over NY GIANTS San Francisco (+13.5) over CAROLINA NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Miami HOUSTON (-2.5) over Kansas City Los Angeles (+3.5) over SEATTLE Tampa Bay (-7) over ARIZONA Jacksonville (+3) over SAN DIEGO OAKLAND (-5) over Atlanta DENVER (-6) over Indianapolis MINNESOTA (+2.5) over Green Bay Philadelphia (+3) over Chicago Last Week: 0-0 All Time: 0-0