National Football Post NFL and College football insiders Sat, 31 Oct 2015 15:05:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In Battle of Unbeaten Teams, Broncos vs Packers Tickets Exceeding $700 Average on Resale Market Sat, 31 Oct 2015 15:05:47 +0000 Super Bowl 50 may be more than three months away, but this Sunday’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos could be an early look into who will play in Santa Clara come February.

Sunday’s game at Sports Authority Field is generating playoff-like ticket prices on the secondary market, too. According to TiqIQ, the average secondary market price for Broncos vs Packers tickets is now $703.04, making it the most expensive remaining game in Denver this season. If looking just to get in, the cheapest ticket available is listed for $414.

While ticket prices are high for the Week 8 showdown at Sports Authority Field, many hotels can still be found in the Denver area at affordable rates. Denver hotels on start for as low as $60 per night this weekend while four-star hotels begin at $164 each night. Flight options are also available on Hipmunk for those traveling from out of state.

Both the Broncos and Packers are 6-0 on the season ahead of their Week 8 game, two of five teams that are still unbeaten entering Week 8. Alongside the obvious threat of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning the Broncos own one of the most feared defenses in the NFL, who have allowed a league-leading 281.3 YPG.

The pass rush will be a decisive factor in how well Aaron Rodgers plays for the Packers. The Broncos have recorded 26 sacks through the first six games of the season, which is tied for first in the league alongside the 7-0 New England Patriots. Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks have traded places all season long for the Packers without much consistency and will only have a bigger mountain to climb Sunday against the a Broncos defense that allows just 3.6 yards per carry.

Of course, Peyton Manning will also be susceptible to a formidable Packers defense, so a runaway game won’t likely be in the cards for the Broncos. Manning has had a nightmarish start to the season despite his team’s overall success, throwing just seven passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions en route to a 72.5 QBR – his lowest since his rookie season. The Broncos can hold their own defensively, but have been forced to carry a larger workload with Manning’s slow start. Manning will again have his hands full against a defense that leads the league with just 101 total points allowed.

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SQ College Football Power Rankings: Week 9 Sat, 31 Oct 2015 14:59:08 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The ACC was the main focus of the college football world last week with Clemson handing Miami its worst loss ever, and Georgia Tech pulling off an improbable miracle to beat undefeated Florida State. Needless to say, the rankings have been shook up as a result. Before today’s games kickoff, check out where these teams rank in our Top 25.

1. Ohio State

Previous SQ Rank: 1

Coaches Poll Rank: 1

“For the first time this season, the Ohio State Buckeyes finally lived up to their first-in-the-country billing. The Buckeyes were excellent in their Week 8 49-7 rout of Rutgers. Most importantly, the decision to start sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett over Cardale Jones turned out to be a great one for Head Coach Urban Myer. Barrett completed an efficient 14 of 18 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 101 yards and two scores. This is the kind of quarterback play that will instill fear in the hearts of opposing defenses for the Buckeyes.” – Ray Boone

2. Baylor

Previous SQ Rank: 2

Coaches Poll Rank: 2

“Everyone wants to know, can the Bears keep rolling without Seth Russell? Baylor’s defense still leaves plenty to be desired as teams are averaging 25 points per game against them.” – Brian Peel

3. Clemson

Previous SQ Rank: 6

Coaches Poll Rank: 6

“Clemson’s 58-0 thrashing of Miami was exactly what this team needed to put them atop the higher echelon of teams this season. The most impressive stat of the week for Clemson was forcing three interceptions from a Miami team that had only thrown one in the six games prior.” – Sean Berger

4. LSU

Previous SQ Rank: 5

Coaches Poll Rank: 4

“Another week, another win for the LSU Tigers. This team is rolling behind Heisman hopeful RB Leonard Fournette and QB Brandon Harris, whose performance has been encouraging over the past three games (716 yards passing, 62.7% completion percentage and seven touchdowns).” – Sean Berger

5. TCU

Previous SQ Rank: 4

Coaches Poll Rank: 3

“TCU’s 40-10 win against West Virginia has this team yet again looking strong this week. Trevonne Boykin made some incredible plays against the Mountaineers as well as his case to add yet another QB to the list of Heisman Trophy winners (currently second in the nation in total offense with 431.4 yards per game).” – Sean Berger

6. Alabama

Previous SQ Rank: 10

Coaches Poll Rank: 7

“Alabama probably has the best talent in the country, but their offensive inconsistency could spell doom. They’re the kind of team that could either be National Champs or lose three games.” – Brian Peel

7. Michigan State

Previous SQ Rank: 7

Coaches Poll Rank: 5

“Michigan State struggled with Indiana much more than the final score indicated. The Hoosiers only trailed by five points with under five minutes left to play before the Spartans scored three late touchdowns. That’s not surprising considering MSU seems to save their best for the best.” – Brian Peel

8. Stanford

Previous SQ Rank: 15

Coaches Poll Rank: 8

“Stanford continued their roll over Pac-12 competition by dominating Washington 31-14 at home last week. The Cardinal should get a big test in the Palouse on Saturday against a Washington State team averaging 415 passing yards per game.” – Brian Peel

9. Notre Dame

Previous SQ Rank: 14

Coaches Poll Rank: 9

“The Fighting Irish had a BYE week in Week 8, so there’s not much to say. However, I will say that they should probably fix their defense — specifically their pass defense. The Irish gave up 440 passing yards and three touchdowns to USC in the Irish’s 41-31 victory. Overall, Notre Dame has an 80th ranked rushing defense and a 34th ranked passing defense.” – Ray Boone

10. Florida

Previous SQ Rank: 9

Coaches Poll Rank: 12

“Florida is in control of its own destiny when it takes on SEC East rival and foe Georgia this week. A win likely puts the Gators in the SEC title game for the first time since Tim Tebow was under center for the team. Florida’s favored in this game, so far, but expect Georgia to put up a strong fight as they’ve won three of the last four meetings.” – Sean Berger

11. Iowa

Previous SQ Rank: 18

Coaches Poll Rank: 11

“The Hawkeyes are looking to build off a really solid Week 7 performance of crushing the previously highly-ranked Northwestern squad, winning the game 40-10. Defense was always the handicap with this team, but their performance against the Wildcats provided some hope. If this team is to be taken seriously, they need to have similar performances against the quality teams on their schedule.” – Ray Boone

12. Oklahoma State

Previous SQ Rank: 16

Coaches Poll Rank: 10

“Oklahoma State has been a pleasant surprise, starting off the season 7-0. However, they’ve mostly been unchallenged beating teams like Kansas, Texas and Central Michigan. This week offers an interesting challenge against a Texas Tech team that has averaged 46.6 points per game this season.” – Sean Berger

13. Oklahoma

Previous SQ Rank: 20

Coaches Poll Rank: 13

“The 6-1 Oklahoma Sooners took care of Texas Tech in Week 8 with a dominating 63-27 win. However, the play of outstanding quarterback Baker Mayfield was not the reason for the huge win. The Sooners racked up a whopping 405 yards and seven scores on the ground. Running back Samaje Perine pounded Tech’s defense to the tune of 201 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries.” – Ray Boone

14. Utah

Previous SQ Rank: 3

Coaches Poll Rank: 14

“The perfect season is no more after being thrashed by USC but Utah is still fighting for a Pac-12 South title. QB Travis Wilson, who threw four interceptions against the Trojans, needs to play better for that to be a reality.” – Brian Peel

15. Michigan

Previous SQ Rank: 11

Coaches Poll Rank: 17

“The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a Week 8 BYE — and boy, did they need one. The Wolverines suffered one of the most painful losses in College Football history in Week 7, losing to Michigan State in the final seconds of the game. Michigan’s punter fumbled the snap, which was then recovered by the Spartans and returned for a touchdown for a walk-off 27-23 victory. However, I believe in this Michigan team. Their No. 1 ranked defense is legit, and they were only seconds away from beating a Top-10 team. Look out Ohio State, the Wolverines are hungry.” – Ray Boone

16. Memphis

Previous SQ Rank: Not Ranked

Coaches Poll Rank: 16

“Memphis is one of the most underrated teams in the country, but is finally starting to get the recognition that it deserves. After all, the Tigers are tied for second in the nation in scoring (48.9 points per game) and is sixth in total offense (557.3 yards per game).” – Sean Berger

17. Houston

Previous SQ Rank: 24

Coaches Poll Rank: 19

“Houston has been one of the most productive offensive teams in the country under Tom Herman’s leadership (561.1 yards per game). And even though they’re taking on a lowly Vanderbilt squad, don’t underestimate the Commodores defense. The ‘Dores have held opponents to 16.3 points per game, good for 13th in the country.” – Sean Berger

18. Florida State

Previous SQ Rank: 12

Coaches Poll Rank: 15

“Can you really blame Roberto Aguayo for being such a poor tackler? The guy is so accurate at 89% for his career that he probably doesn’t even watch the ball after he kicks it anymore.” – Brian Peel 

19. Ole Miss

Previous SQ Rank: 13

Coaches Poll Rank: 21

“Lots of talent, lots of inconsistency. No, I’m not talking about Meryl Streep, I’m talking about Ole Miss. I could see them blowing out a struggling Auburn, but could also see them choking against a down Auburn team.” – Brian Peel

20. Toledo

Previous SQ Rank: 23

Coaches Poll Rank: 20

“If you’re scheduled to play football on three straight Tuesday nights, you probably aren’t one of the 25 best teams in the country. But give it up to the Rockets, who are undefeated and in the Top 25 in offensive points per game and defensive points allowed per game.” – Brian Peel

21. Duke

Previous SQ Rank: 25

Coaches Poll Rank: 18

“David Cutcliffe really has this team playing well again, and people are now more aware that Duke actually has a football team. Thanks to a stellar defense (has allowed 281.3 yards per game and 14.1 points per game), the Blue Devils have a great shot to get to the ACC title game.” – Sean Berger

22. Temple

Previous SQ Rank: Not Ranked

Coaches Poll Rank: 22

“It’s Week 8, and the Temple Owls are still undefeated. Quarterback P.J. Walker continued with his steady season, throwing for 250 yards and one touchdown. He has thrown nine touchdowns to only three interceptions all year. Temple’s 14th ranked defense has also continued with its spectacular ways, coming up with an interception in the win.” – Ray Boone

23. Pittsburgh

Previous SQ Rank: Not Ranked

Coaches Poll Rank: 24

“First-year head coach Pat Narduzzi has Pitt rolling at 6-1. The Panthers are 16th in the country in total defense, allowing only 308 yards a game to their opponents. No real surprise considering the Nard Dog was Michigan State’s defensive coordinator for eight seasons.” – Brian Peel

24. UCLA

Previous SQ Rank: 17

Coaches Poll Rank: 25

“Josh Rosen continues to impress with three more touchdowns and 399 yards against Cal. The Bruins could have been a playoff contender, if not for several defensive injuries early in the year.” – Brian Peel

25. Mississippi State

Previous SQ Rank: Not Ranked

Coaches Poll Rank: 27

“The Bulldogs’ offense has been great as of late, averaging 44 points over their last three games. Dak Prescott has been a major reason why, picking up 846 yards of total offense over the past two weeks.” – Sean Berger

Others Receiving Votes: Texas A&M

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Ravens safety Matt Elam suspended one game for violating substance-abuse policy Fri, 30 Oct 2015 21:30:28 +0000 Already on injured reserve with a torn biceps, Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has been suspended one game without pay for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

The suspension will cost Elam a $60,010 game check as part of his guaranteed $1.02 million guaranteed base salary.

“We have been aware of this situation for a while,” the Ravens said in a statement. “Matt has been in our building rehabbing his injury on a regular basis, and he will continue to do so.”

Elam has been a major disappointment. Drafted in the first round in 2013, Elam has 26 starts, 123 tackles and one interception.

Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL

Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle

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Stanford Is The Struggling Pac-12’s Only Hope For Playoffs Fri, 30 Oct 2015 18:59:12 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

There is a deep, dark, ancient secret that those on the East Coast might not want you to know about. Every Saturday night, when Nick Saban is swaddled in his footie pajamas and Urban Meyer is eight slices deep into a Papa John’s Meat Lover’s Pizza, college football is just getting underway in a land where Pumpkin Spice Lattes flow like water. I’m speaking of course of the West Coast, home of the Pac-12. Yes, the Pac-12 is used to getting no respect from East Coast media. But perhaps this season those critics have a point.  

The truth is, the Pac-12 has only itself to blame this season for being one of the forgotten Power Five conferences in 2015. Compared to the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12, which have a combined 13 teams in the Top 25 in either the AP or Coaches Poll and seven of the top ten teams, only three Pac-12 teams find themselves in the Top 25 and it doesn’t help that the conference continues to cannibalize each other, especially at the top. Last week No. 3 Utah’s perfect season was obliterated by USC, 42-24 in Los Angeles which few outside of Las Vegas saw coming. The Trojans of course are the conferences’ most talented team once again but just as the case has been every year in the post-Pete Carroll era, inconsistency has been their downfall. USC was ranked as high as No. 6 in the country before dropping three games amid the Steve Sarkisian scandal. Things look just as bad up North in Eugene, with Oregon already falling three times including a astonishing 42-point loss to Utah in Autzen Stadium. The rest of the conference has looked mostly mediocre to bad with no team even close to challenging for a playoff berth. That is, besides the smart guys of course. 

Flashback to week one of the college football season and you might think any chance of Stanford making the Playoff was as unlikely as Donald Trump hosting the Latin Grammys. The Cardinal, a team known for their bullying, physical style of play since Jim Harbaugh rebuilt the program in 2007, got a taste of their own medicine when Northwestern dominated them from start to finish, coming away with a 16-6 victory. Stanford’s power run game was held in check against the Wildcats as the Cardinal only managed 85 rushing yards while giving up 225 rushing yards of their own. One big factor why Stanford struggled so much may have to due with the fact that the Cardinal had to travel half-way across the country and play a game that started at 9 a.m. Pacific time. 

Whatever the reason may be for Stanford’s sluggish start to the season, things have certainly turned around since. After their opening loss, the Cardinal have won their last six games by an average of 21 points. Stanford is undefeated in the Pac-12 at 5-0 in the conference, including dominate victories over then No. 6 USC and then No. 18 UCLA. The Cardinal win over the Bruins may best be known for when receiver Francis Owusu made the catch of the year in college football. 

In their six game winning streak, Stanford is at 42.6 points per game and have rediscovered their run game, averaging 244 yards on the ground. After falling out of the top 25 following the loss to Northwestern, the Cardinal is now ranked No. 8 in both polls. 

Northwestern Average in Last Six Games 
Rushing Yards 85 244
Total Yards  240 490
Points  6 42.6

Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan has been his usual steady self, tossing 14 touchdowns and limiting his turnovers. Hogan has done his job but who the Cardinal have really leaned on is multidimensional superstar Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, the son of former Denver Broncos Receiver Ed McCaffrey, is technically a running back but this season he has proven to be much more. The sophomore from Denver has 1,818 total yards which leads the entire nation and has put him in the Heisman conversation. Not only has McCaffrey run for 953 yards but he has also made 21 catches for 284 yards and returned a combined 27 punts and kickoffs that give him another 581 yards. Wearing the number five jersey, McCaffrey looks a little like USC’s most recent Heisman winner Reggie Bush who finished the 2005 season with 2,611 total yards and got the ball in every way possible as well.    

Stanford’s spectacular offense has been needed as the Cardinal defense has yet to look like the dominant unit it has been for the past few seasons. While the defense hasn’t been poor, ranking 32nd in the country in both defensive yards allowed and points allowed, they have yet to play some of the most explosive teams on their schedule. One of the most glaring deficiencies in this year’s defense is the lack of an elite pass rush, which is what Stanford’s defense has been built on in the past. This year, the Cardinal only have ten total sacks which is tied for 103rd in the nation and second to last in the Pac-12. Since David Shaw took over as head coach in 2011, Stanford has been near the top in the country in sacks which means it is less about the scheme and more about the players. Six players have a sack for Stanford but four of those players have only one. 

This lack of pressure could spell doom for Stanford down the stretch starting at Washington State on Saturday. The Cougars are second in the country in passing, averaging 415 yards through the air and are finally looking like Mike Leach era Texas Tech. If the Cardinal do survive Saturday up in the Palouse, they still have a tough gauntlet of Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame, and a potential Pac-12 Championship Game to close the season. 

Fans of West Coast football know what kind of program Stanford has built. They know that despite a brutal opening loss that the Cardinal can rebound and make themselves relevant again. They know that Stanford is tough enough to close out a season even against good competition. They know that David Shaw and his team are mentally strong enough to play well even when the stakes are raised late. If all that does come to fruition, perhaps the East Coast will finally know as well.  

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Three Reasons Why Tennessee Won’t Lose Again This Season Fri, 30 Oct 2015 18:59:09 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

Tennessee has had a rough going so far this season. If you’ve been paying any attention to college football this year, you would know that is an understatement.

The Volunteers (3-4, 1-3 SEC) played a close one against No. 8 Alabama in Tuscaloosa last week, falling 19-14 after entering the 4th quarter with the lead. It was the latest in a series of heartbreaking losses for the Vols this year.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that has suffered more demoralizing defeats. Tennessee has lost all four of their games by a combined total of 17 points. 

However, it would be even harder to find a better team with a losing record. Tennessee may be 3-4, but they are the best 3-4 team in the nation.

The Vols should not lose another game this season.

Here are three reasons why:

Remaining schedule

Up to this point, Tennessee has had quite a tough schedule. They opened their season with a win against a veteran Bowling Green squad, a team that is now 6-2 with their only other loss coming to No. 16 Memphis.

With an out-of-conference game against No. 14 Oklahoma, an away game against No. 11 Florida, and last week’s game against No. 7 Alabama, it is not hard to see that Tennessee’s first half of the season was filled with quality opponents.

As the Vols move into the second half of their schedule, the challenge looks to be much more manageable:

Oct. 31  @ Kentucky
Nov. 7 vs. South Carolina
Nov. 14 vs. North Texas
Nov. 21 @ Missouri
Nov. 28 vs. Vanderbilt

Tennessee has beaten Kentucky 29 times in the last 30 years. Butch Jones is 2-0 against the Gamecocks, and Steve Spurrier is no longer coaching for them. Tennessee is 0-3 against Missouri since they joined the SEC, but the Tigers lost to Vanderbilt last week and were subsequently ranked dead last in ESPN’s SEC power rankings.

Battle-tested Vols

Tennessee has been starting one of the youngest teams in the SEC this year. The close losses the Vols have suffered starts to make sense when you look at the youth of the team.

Being thrust into meaningful roles has been a baptism by fire of sorts for many young Vols. But these snaps have given Tennessee’s underclassmen valuable experience against quality opponents.

After losing another game they could have won, Tennessee should look to take out their frustrations on their remaining opponents.

The improvement is there

For Tennessee players and fans alike, the phrase “moral victory” is one they are tired of hearing. But after last week’s game in Tuscaloosa, the Vols’ performance couldn’t be more accurately described. 

The Vols have lost to Alabama for nine straight years now, and most of the losses they have suffered have not been close. But last week, the Vols were competing on Alabama’s level for the first time in a long time. Tennessee lead to open the 4th quarter, a feat they have not accomplished since 2006.

Tennessee’s home upset against a ranked Georgia team is further proof of their improvement throughout the course of the season. 

The Vols are almost there, they just haven’t quite turned the corner yet.


An 8-4 finish for the Vols might not meet the lofty expectations that were set by fans before the season began. But at this point, it’s the best Tennessee can do. 

With such a finish, the Vols would find themselves in a solid bowl game with a chance to finish 9-4. After last season’s 7-5 record, finishing 9-4 is undeniable improvement.

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Jerry Kill: A Coaching Rarity Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:59:06 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

Earlier this week, Jerry Kill announced he was stepping down as the Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach due to health concerns. His exit isn’t like Steve Spurrier’s at South Carolina, or Steve Sarkisian’s at Southern California, and no where close to Al Golden and Randy Edsall being sent their walking papers – all of those guys suffered from self-inflicted problems within their programs, whether it be not winning enough or personal struggles with the rigors of coaching.

Kill had to make this decision: live out your dream and deal with life-altering health problems, or get healthy and give up your dream. We’ve seen press conferences and statements from coaches that show little to no emotion, and then we get a farewell presser like the one Kill issued.

“Last night, when I walked off the practice field … I feel like a part of me died.” – Jerry Kill

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 28, 2015

Right there, is pure, raw emotion in it’s physical form. You get teary-eyed watching his presser because you can feel in his voice the sadness of giving up the only thing he knew: coaching football.

When you dig into the coaching career of Kill, you find out why he was beloved in the college football world: he worked hard to move up the ladder.

There was no stop as a coordinator at a powerhouse program like Ohio State. The ascension to FBS head coach was a process that took over 20 years to complete – and that was just to get to Northern Illinois.

Stops at Pittsburg State paved the way for Kill to go to Saginaw Valley State, which then led to a return to Kansas at Emporia State. Notice how none of these schools are remotely close to being an FBS school; and Kill spent 15 years fighting upriver in the coaching world.

Let’s look at some other coaches and their climb up the ranks:

Nick Saban started out at Kent State, an FBS school, in 1972 as a graduate assistant. Within 18 years, he made stops at Syracuse, Ohio State, the Houston Oilers in the NFL and Toledo as a head coach.

Randy Edsall spent the first 10 years of his coaching career at Syracuse. Edsall had the advantage of formally being the quarterback at ‘Cuse, and was taken under the wing of Tom Coughlin, who was one of the coaches of the Orange. 

Those are just two examples, but they highlight the important example of life: it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Jerry Kill is college football. A heartbreaking day all around.

— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) October 28, 2015

However, Kill took that concept and threw it out the window. From one dusty road in the middle of the country to the next, Kill kept on trucking along, and finally hit paydirt with an FBS coaching gig in 2008 with Northern Illinois – but this was after a stop at Southern Illinois for seven seasons.

If you’re doing the math, that’s about 14 years of head coaching at small colleges before the FBS came calling. Not regular coaching, but head coaching. Tack on the other, roughly, nine years worth of high school and coordinating coach positions, and you finally have the picture of what it took to make it to the top division of football coaching.

Now, let’s look a little closer at the numbers. 

While at Southern Illinois, this was the production Kill had:

Year Record Result in I-AA/Division Playoffs
1 1-10
2 4-8
3 10-2 First Round Loss
4 10-2 First Round Loss
5 9-4 Second Round Loss
6 9-4 Second Round Loss
7 12-2 Semifinal Loss

Steady improvement, that’s what Kill had going for him. Every year, his teams got better – or stayed consistent. The dream scenario for any program is the formula Kill had created over the course of 20 years. A formula of getting better year-in and year-out. It may seem obvious, but that formula is hard to obtain – you have a better chance of finding out the secret formula to the Krabby Patty, or trying to understand what the secret ingredients are for KFC chicken. 

Talk is cheap, what Jerry Kill gave you were solid results that you would be proud of.

Fast forward to Minnesota , the Gophers were on a trajectory that could’ve rivaled what they had in the 1960’s. I’m not kidding, given four more years following the Kill formula the Gophers would’ve been in a situation to be vying for a Big Ten title and possibly a Rose Bowl.

But, like anything, the universe will step in and taketh away. All the sleepless nights spent looking over film, recruiting, driving around, and strategizing are taken away in the snap of a finger. 

And it sucks. The guy who fought to get to where he is has to step down due to something out of his control. Even after cutting out the sugary drinks and doing everything he could to get better, the universe basically said, “yea… we are still collecting dreams, Jerry. Time to pay up.” 

We won’t see another Jerry Kill caliber coach for a long time. He truly is a one-of-a-kind coaching gem that was pulled up from the rural dirt in Kansas. 

Combine Kill’s sudden departure with the even more sudden death of Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, and the state of Minnesota has plenty of reason to grieve. 

Like any sudden event, ordinary people rise up and become extraordinary. Whether it’s a team effort – like Ohio State clicking on all cylinders in both football and wrestling after the death of Kosta Karageorge – or an individual effort, people rally. Yes, the Gophers head coach isn’t there, but the values and beliefs instilled on the players by Kill will still be there. The imprint left by Kill will be there for as long as the players and coaching staff allow it to be there. Looking at Kill’s track record and the subsequent years after leaving a destination, the imprints left shine; there aren’t smudges. 

The way Jerry Kill rose up the college ranks through hard work is lyrical. There was a chorus, hard work; a verse, consistency; and a melody, anchored by being successful. But like any great song, it ends too soon.

Kill’s final press conference ended his career on a minor chord. However, that won’t take away from the major chords he had throughout his career. If there is anything we learned from Jerry, it’s this: hard work will get you to the top. It may take time, but you’ll get there if you truly want it. 

I talked about how the universe takes away, but it can also give you the objects of your desire. You have to ask for it, though. 

Coach Kill used hard work as the language to the universe, and he received. While just for a short amount of time, he got the dream.

At the end of the day, that’s what we all are chasing. Let’s look to Jerry Kill as the example of how to finish the chase.

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft takes shot at Colts Fri, 30 Oct 2015 14:30:43 +0000 New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft took a shot at the Indianapolis Colts during a speech honoring Willie McGinest.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than saddling the Indianapolis Colts with a loss, something the Patriots did 16 times in Willie McGinest’s career,” Kraft said after the two-time Pro Bowl linebacker was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame at halftime of New England’s 36-7 win against Miami.

The video showed McGinest making a tackle against the Colts in a 2003 win.

Of course, the Patriots don’t care for the Colts after the ‘Deflategate’ scandal that started when Colts general manager Ryan Grigson reported the Patriots were using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game.

Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL

Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.


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Dolphins’ Cameron Wake tears Achilles in loss to Patriots Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:24:05 +0000 Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake tore his left Achilles tendon during a loss to the undefeated New England Patriots.

Wake may be out for the season. He was on crutches after the game.

“We’ll find out on Cam,” coach Dan Campbell said. “If something happens there, that can hurt us. I don’t know if, what or how long it will be.”

Wake had seven sacks in the past three games.

“I would feel horrible, and I know his teammates would, too, if that’s the case,” Campbell said of losing Wake for the rest of the season. “We’ll see what happens with this. But if you lost a guy like Cam, it would hurt. Not only is he a leader, but he’s a very productive player.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL

Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.

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Breaking Down Memphis Quarterback Paxton Lynch Fri, 30 Oct 2015 11:00:24 +0000 A player who has stepped up and made a name for himself so far in the 2015 college football season is Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. To date he has led Memphis to a perfect 7-0 record and a number 16 ranking.

Lynch is a fourth-year junior and a three-year starter for the Tigers. The former three star player redshirted as a true freshman in 2012 and has been a starter the last three seasons. The thing that stands out about Lynch is that he has shown tremendous improvement in each of the last three seasons.

According to many scouts and agents, Lynch will most likely enter the 2016 draft.

In 2013 he completed 203 of 348 throws for a 58.2% completion percentage, 2056 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In 2014 he went 259 of 413 for 3031 yards, a 62.7% completion percentage, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. This year he has completed 174 of 243 passes for a 71.6% completion rate, 2366 yards, 17 touchdowns and only one interception. He has also carried the ball 46 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Lynch is listed as being 6’7″ – 245 but I don’t really think that he is that tall. He looks to be more on the 6’6″ side. He has a lean frame with very good length. If he truly weighs 245, then he can easily add 10 pounds to his upper body as he looks thin and a bit underdeveloped.

For his size, he is a very good athlete. I can say that he may be the most athletic tall quarterback I have ever seen. Most 6’5 or taller quarterbacks are very stationary but that isn’t the case with Lynch. He has quick feet, good speed and a burst. His overall body control is very good.

Lynch plays from mostly a spread formation but he will take some snaps from under center. The Memphis offense is unlike many spread offenses in that they throw the ball down field a lot more than many of the current college spread offenses. That makes his 71% completion percentage that much more impressive.

While there are a lot of half field type plays, you also see Lynch read the entire field and have to go through a progression and make decisions. To date this season, his decision making has been very good. You see him make good reads and he seldom forces throws.

For a tall guy, Lynch has a fairly tight delivery and a quick release. Many tall quarterbacks have a very long delivery and that isn’t the case here. His arm strength is as good as any quarterback in college right now. For the most part he throws a tight catchable ball with very good zip. He shows he can throw on the run going to either his left or right. He can easily make all the throws you want an NFL quarterback to make.

The biggest fault I see in Lynch’s mechanics is that he is very inconsistent with his footwork and staying in balance before his throws. When he sets his feet and steps into a throw he can really zing it with both accuracy and excellent ball placement. When he doesn’t set his feet, the ball can sail on him and he loses some accuracy. You see this both from in the pocket and when he throws on the run.

Lynch shows poise in the pocket and doesn’t seem to rattle. He has a good feel for pass rushers and does a good job stepping up and making a good throw. With his athleticism he can avoid rushers and extend plays with his feet. Memphis uses some read options and Lynch is very effective when running these types of plays. He runs hard, has the ability to change direction on the move and shows a burst to pull away.

As I said in the Connor Cook report, the physical aspect is only half the evaluation process with quarterbacks. His intelligence, leadership and overall football character have a lot to do with the where he will eventually getting drafted. Looking at just the physical, he has the makings of becoming a very good NFL quarterback who has the talent to start early in his career. Like most college quarterbacks he will need some work on his mechanics but the natural tools are there. If he plays the second half of the season like he has the first and the intangibles check out, he will be a very high selection in the draft. In fact it wouldn’t shock me if he was the first quarterback selected. He is way more talented than Blake Bortles was in the 2014 draft.


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DFS Corner: Draft Kings Week 8 Plays Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:40:46 +0000 Welcome back to yet another week of NFP’s DFS Corner. I hope everyone utilized my advice and plays from last week’s section as I was spot on a lot of plays. I was able to double up my investment this past weekend by having my lineups range from 180-210 points.

Let’s get into this week by looking at the teams on Byes and Vegas’s Top O/U’s for the week

NFL Week 8 Byes: Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins

Vegas Top 5 Total (O/U) for Week 8

53: New England Patriots (-8) vs. Miami Dolphins

50.5: Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. San Diego Chargers

49.5: New Orleans Saints (+3) vs. New York Giants

48.5: Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals

48: Atlanta Falcons (-7) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback Plays:

High Priced Options

Matt Ryan ($7,100) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the only high priced QB I target this week besides Tom Brady in Thursday Night Leagues. Despite Ryan’s recent struggles, his price has not changed much on DraftKings. Regardless, I am going with my gut due to a very favorable matchup at home vs. the Bucs. The Bucs just allowed turnover prone Kirk Cousins throw for 305 yards, 3 TDs and 0 interceptions last week and allowed over 4 touchdowns from Blake Bortles the week before. They have given up the second most touchdowns through the air this year with 15, so I am all in on Matt Ryan and Julio Jones righting the ship this week.

Mid Priced Options

Philip Rivers ($6,600) @ Baltimore Ravens will be staple QB play again for me this week as he leads the league in passing TD’s and passing yards so far this year. They are facing a Baltimore Defense that has given up the most points to opposing fantasy QB’s and have been getting torched through the air. While I am always nervous investing too much into a player going across the country for an early 1pm game, Rivers has not been impacted by that throughout his career. The Chargers O Line is a mess, and they have no running game, so I fully expect to see another 40+ pass attempts from Rivers this week.

Cam Newton ($6,800) @ Indianapolis Colts should bounce back this week after a 3 interception game vs. Philly last week. Newton is the entire offense and gets to face the Colts Defense ranked 29th in the NFL. They have given up the 12th most points to opposing fantasy QBs and over 285 passing yards a game. Furthermore, Newton is the main red zone threat as evidenced by his 4 rushing touchdowns over the past 5 games. He should be active on the ground and air and safely reach his value.

Low Priced Options

Matt Stafford ($5,800) @Kansas City Chiefs (London Game) will be a lower priced option to strongly consider this week. After an abysmal start to the year, Stafford has begun to right the ship with over 6 passing touchdowns and 1 interception over the past 2 weeks. I know the Lions just fired their Offensive Coordinator, Joe Lombardi, but I see that as more of a positive as this will allow Stafford to get vertical more. Stafford should easily reach value facing a Chiefs Defense that is currently ranked 23rd against the pass while allowing over roughly 260 passing yards per game. They also have let up over 15 touchdown passes through the air, and I can easily see Stafford throwing for 2 plus touchdowns this week, putting him safely over value.

Alex Smith ($5,000) vs. Detroit Lions will be another low priced streaming option at QB this week. While not for the faint of heart, Smith should have top receiving option Jeremy Maclin back in the lineup after being held out with a concussion last week. Smith gets to face a Lions’ pass defense that is ranked 24th, allowing over 260 yards through the air per game and has given up 12 passing touchdowns on the season. All Smith needs is 200 yards passing and 1 td to reach value, and I will bank on that versus that Detroit secondary all day.

Other Quarterbacks to target: Andy Dalton ($6,000) @ Pittsburgh, Brian Hoyer ($5,300) vs. Tennessee 

Running back Plays

High Priced Options

Devonta Freeman ($8,000) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been the most dominant player in fantasy over the past few weeks and is facing a Bucs’ defense that has given up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They are allowing over 108 running yards per game but have steadily improved over the past few weeks due to reemergence of Gerald McCoy. They held the Redskins and Jaguars to a combined 105 rushing yards the past two weeks. Regardless, it’s hard to shy away from the most dominant player in fantasy, but I will say I won’t be playing Freeman in nearly as many lineups as weeks before. I feel like Atlanta should get it done through the air, which Freeman will still benefit from, and he is in a great situation to score TD’s. I just think there are cheaper options that represent better value this week.

Mid Priced Options

Todd Gurley ($6,300) vs. San Francisco 49ers will most likely be in all my lineups again this week. Its crazy that DraftKings still hasnt put him over the $7k mark, but I will gladly continue to take advantage of his price. Gurley has been on an absolute tear receiving well over 70 touches the past 3 weeks. He gets to face a 49ers’ defense that has given up the 5th most points to opposing RB’s and 7 rushing touchdowns over 7 games. Furthermore, the Rams are big favorite which sets up Gurley with a perfect game script for more production.

Justin Forsett ($6,000) vs. San Diego Chargers will be another staple RB play of mine this week. Since Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on IR, Forsett has been on the field for 80% of the snaps. That is good news as he gets to face a Chargers defense that has given up the most points to opposing backs this year. Furthermore, the Chargers’ defense has given up the second most rushing yards per game this season with over 131 yards given up on the ground to go with 7 rushing touchdowns in 7 games. The matchup and price are there for Forsett to cash in this week.

Doug Martin ($5,500) @ Atlanta Falcons is another “Go” this week as he gets ready to face an Atlanta defense that has allowed the 3rd most points to opposing backs and 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. Martin has been rolling the past 3 weeks, and the Bucs know they must control the clock with the ground game if they want to slow this Atlanta defense down. While I am cautious of this game getting out of hand forcing the Bucs to throw and play catch-up, Martin should still safely reach his value with his meager $5.5k price tag.

Low Priced Options

Charcandrick West ($4,700) vs. Detroit Lions will be a player I roll the dice with this week after breaking out last week to the tune of 110 yards and 1 TD. Knile Davis had only one carry last week, and West took all of the goal line carriers. The Lions have given up 11th most points to opposing backs, but their run defense is 24th in the NFL allowing over 123 yards per game on the ground. They have also given up a league high ten rushing touchdowns. $4.7k for a guy getting 20 plus touches versus a very bad rushing defense is something I will take all day.

Danny Woodhead ($4,500) @ Baltimore Ravens will be in my lineups again this week. The Chargers inept running game has allowed Woodhead to be on the field more this season. He registered 11 catches and 2 receiving touchdowns last week, and I expect him to be highly involved in what should be a high scoring game. While I don’t think he will repeat last week, he is a very safe play to reach 3x value.

Darren McFadden ($3,800) vs. Seattle Seahawks will be a player I flex in some of my cash games this week. While the matchup itself isn’t as appealing as I’d like, anytime you can get a starting running back that catches passes for under $4k it is a steal. Coming off a 152 rushing yard game and just being named the starter, Ill roll with him at his current price point.

Other Running backs to target: Le’Veon Bell ($8,300) vs. Cincinnati, Gio Bernard ($4,800) @ Pittsburgh, Charles Simms ($3,600) @ Atlanta, Chris Johnson ($4,600) @ Cleveland 

Wide Receiver Plays

High Priced Options

Julio Jones ($9,200) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be my highest owned WR this week as I expect a break out game for Jones, who has been quiet the past few weeks. The Bucs allow the 9th most points to opposing WRs, and Jones will most likely be guarded by Johnathan Banks, who is average at best. As I said earlier, the Bucs have begun to right the ship with regards to their run D, so I fully expect Atlanta to get after in the air.

Keenan Allen ($7,700) @ Baltimore Ravens will be another WR I try to get into as many lineups as possible this week. Not only do I expect this to be a high scoring game, but Allen is the main target in the NFL’s pass-happiest offense. Facing off against a defense that has given up the second most points to opposing WRs this year, Allen should have a field day facing off against Jimmy Smith.

Mid Priced Options

Alshon Jeffrey ($6,400) vs. Minnesota Vikings will be a staple in a lot of my lineups this week. Jeffrey should be well rested and ready to go after a bye and should be in for another high volume game after receiving over 11 targets in his first game back. He gets to face Xavier Rhodes this week, who has struggled shadowing opposing WR #1’s this year and should easily have his way as Calvin Johnson did last week. Jeffrey is great value at his current price.

Martavis Bryant ($5,3oo) vs. Cincinnati Bengals will be a very intriguing play if Big Ben does in fact start. If he doesn’t, disregard this selection. But with Big Ben in the lineup, this Pittsburgh offense can begin operating at full force again, and Bryant should be the beneficiary as Brown receives extra attention. In a division game with two high powered offenses, Bryant is an attractive play at $5.3k.

Low Priced Options

Nate Washington ($3,600) vs. Tennessee Titans was a savior for a lot of teams last week as he racked up the points in garbage time. If Cecil Shorts remains out (which it’s looking like), Washington should be in store for 8 plus targets this week as the Houston Texans have been averaging the most plays per game so far this season. The loss of Foster will only make the Texans more reliant on passing the ball down the field, and the volume should be there. Not to mention, it is also a revenge game, as he gets to face his former team.

Stefon Diggs ($4,800) vs. Chicago Bears will continue to be in my lineups until his price is properly adjusted. Clearly the Vikings #1 WR, the former Terp gets to face a Bears defense that has given up the 7th most points to opposing WRs. Over the past 3 games, Diggs has seen 28 targets and registered 19 catches to go along with 324 yards receiving.

Other Wide Receivers to target: Mike Evans ($6,800) @ Atlanta, Jeremy Maclin ($6,200) vs. Detroit, Eric Decker ($5,300) @ Oakland

My results from one of last week's entries

My results from one of last week’s entries

Tight End Plays

High Priced Options

Rob Gronkowski ($8,000) vs. Miami Dolphins is an easy decision this week. Miami gives up the second most points to opposing Tight Ends and Gronk is no ordinary Tight End. With Dion Lewis’s status up in the air and Edelman struggling with drops due to that hand issue, expect Gronk to be heavily involved tonight.

Medium Priced Options

Tyler Eifert ($5,300) @ Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of my staple tight end plays this week as he gets to face a Steelers defense that gives up the 4th most points to opposing tight ends. He’s tied for second on the team with 9 red zone targets and has converted 6 of them. In a game that is expected to be high scoring, Eifert is a good bet to find the endzone.

Low Priced Options

Ladarius Green ($3,000) @ Baltimore Ravens will be another TE and Flex player I use this week. With Gates likely to sit out, Green should be highly involved and offers a tremendous ceiling given his price range. Green had 9 targets last week in which he caught four passes and a touchdown. His price range and upside is just too much to pass up in this pass heavy offense.

Defenses to Target

St. Louis Rams ($3,200) vs. San Francisco 49ers

Arizona Cardinals ($4,000) vs. Cleveland Browns

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Dolphins Face Patriots In Pivotal TNF Divisional Battle Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:24:00 +0000 The New England Patriots’ assault on the NFL continues tonight when they host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. The Thursday Night Football matchup will be a pivotal AFC East game for the Dolphins, who at 3-3 face the Herculean task of taking down the unbeaten 6-0 Patriots.

The Dolphins head to Foxboro on the heels of a dominant 44-26 win over the Houston Texans last week. That momentum has allowed ticket prices to remain firm on the secondary market, dropping ever-so-slightly before the 8:25 p.m. kick-off. According to TiqIQ the average secondary market price for Patriots vs Dolphins tickets is now $273.25, down 8% from last Saturday’s average of $297.53. If looking just to get past the gates at Gillette tonight, the cheapest available ticket is currently listed for $155.

The Dolphins look to avoid being the Patriots’ latest victim this season and will have their work cut out for them if they hope to keep the game close. Fans still coordinating traveling plans to tonight’s game can find the best deals on flights and hotels on Foxboro hotels on start at $105 per night while Airbnb options can be found for as low as $53 per night.

It has been smooth sailing for Bill Belichick’s Patriots, who made a big statement last week with a 30-23 win over the surging New York Jets at home. At 4-2 the Jets will now need to make up considerable ground and hope the Patriots waver down the stretch if they have any chance of claiming the division. For the time being, however, the Patriots are laying waste to anything and everything in their way.

The Patriots have a favorable record against the Dolphins at home in recent years. Since the 2010 season, the Dolphins have traveled to Foxboro five times and have lost each affair, with three of those games being dropped by 28 points or more. The Dolphins hold the series lead all-time at 52-47-0 dating back to 1966, but the Patriots have lost just once in Foxboro over their last 22 home games, including the playoffs.

Tonight’s game will be a telling one for the Dolphins, who play four of their next five games on the road and three of those coming against divisional opponents. They could very well be buried by Week 10 when they return home to take on the Eagles but could just as well be in the divisional hunt by with a string of wins. Expect a high scoring affair tonight and the train to keep rolling for the Patriots.

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SQ Heisman Power Rankings: Sixth Edition Thu, 29 Oct 2015 15:59:07 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

We have a new entry in our top five. Who is it? And who got bumped out? Find out all of this and more in our new edition of Heisman Power Rankings. 

How the Scoring Works 

Each of our SQ writers was asked rank the top five current Heisman contenders from 1-5. This 1-5 ranking was then used as a points system. I tallied up how many points each athlete got and ranked them based upon those points. The lower one’s total, the higher on the rankings.  

For example, if Trevone Boykin receives two second place votes, two first place votes, and a fifth place vote, his total would come out to 11. If Leonard Fournette receives three fifth place votes and a fourth place vote, his total would be 19. Thus Boykin would be higher up on the rankings than Fournette (these are not the actual numbers, just a hypothetical). 

Without further ado, here is the Sixth Edition of the SQ Heisman Power Rankings:

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, 2 points (unanimous #1)

(Last week: 1)


Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports27 touches, 152 yards, one touchdown vs. Western Kentucky

183 touches, 1410 total yards, 15 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Among the monsoon that hit Baton Rouge last Saturday night, Fournette was able to make it rain yet again. Although everyone didn’t even bat an eye at Fournette’s performance against a mediocre defense during an unattractive game, that is exactly what makes Leonard so good. Nobody found anything significant during this game, yet Fournette still managed to go for 150 yards. What’s even better is that it was, statistically, his worst game of the year. When was the last time someone rushed for 150 yards and it was considered a disappointment? The answer to that would be never. Leonard Fournette is on another level right now and nobody has been able to knock him off his pedestal. LSU takes on Bama in two weeks, a perfect chance for Fournette to cement his Heisman legacy.    

Brian Peel: Leonard Fournette is that rare talent that can bore people when he is “held” to 150 yards rushing and a score. The Western Kentucky game probably won’t make his highlight reel when he is accepting the Heisman Trophy in December, but Fournette’s performance certainly didn’t take away votes from his campaign. With 18 yards being his longest run of the day on Saturday, the Hilltoppers did a decent job of limiting Fournette to 5.8 yards per carry, his lowest of the season. On the year, Fournette is still averaging an outstanding 7.7 yards per carry, which is even more ridiculous when considering LSU is not running a wide-open spread attack like you see at Baylor or Ohio State. 

2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU, 4 points

(Last week: 2) 


Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

27 of 32, 510 total yards, five touchdowns vs. Iowa State

166 of 250, 2979 total yards, 30 touchdowns, five ints. this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Just like Fournette, Boykin is on his own level. For those who may be misled by that statement, Boykin in no way is close to knocking Fournette out of number one. On the other hand, nobody else in any way is close to knocking Boykin out of number two. The only way I see Boykin falling out of this spot is if he beats himself. Boykin will finish the season with tough games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor. Unless Boykin severely underperforms in several of these matchups, he’ll stick at the second spot. Outside of Fournette, Boykin is the most unstoppable player in the nation. The only person who could stop him is Boykin himself, and I just don’t see that happening.  

Brian Peel: With Seth Russell now out for the year, Trevone Boykin stands alone as the only quarterback generating any serious Heisman buzz in 2015. While a few other quarterbacks have better statistics so far this season, Boykin is leading TCU to an undefeated start at 7-0 and a top five ranking. TCU was off this week, but Boykin’s 2,539 yards passing, 25 touchdowns, and 66.4 completion percentage in only seven games are all on pace to blow past last season’s tremendous totals. The meat of TCU’s schedule is still to come starting Nov. 7 when the Horned Frogs travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State, but Boykin should be right behind Fournette come mid-December.

3.  Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State, 6 points

(Last week: 4) 


22 touches, 171 yards, two touchdowns vs. Rutgers

190 touches, 1290 total yards, 13 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Regardless of the controversy that surrounds the quarterback position for the Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott has played extremely well. He’s been the only consistent source of offense for the team throughout the first half of the season. Ohio State might have just had their statement game, the one to silence all critics, when they blew out Rutgers last Saturday. Elliott played a huge role in that win as he contributed 171 total yards. He averaged nearly eight yards every time he touched the ball. Elliott has consistently been able to excel throughout the year and will most likely continue to lead the Buckeye offense even when they figure out the quarterback situation. 

Brian Peel: After weeks of swapping back and forth and inconsistent play, it looks like Ohio State finally settled on J.T. Barrett as their starting quarterback and I’m sure you won’t be hearing any complaints from Ezekiel Elliott about that. The entire Buckeyes team looked much more like the machine they were last season when they blew past Rutgers 49-7 on Saturday and a more stable passing game will only make Elliott better, if that is even possible. With his 142 yards against the Scarlet Knights, Elliott has now rushed for 100 yards in all eight games this season. Elliott is great alright, but there is still a large gap between him and the two front runners. 

4. (tie) Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State, 9 points

(Last week: 2) 

USA Today Images

21 touches, 132 yards, one touchdown vs. Georgia Tech

142 touches, 1218 yards, 12 touchdowns this season 

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Unfortunately, because Dalvin Cook did not rush for over 200 yards and multiple scores, he ends up falling down the list. Losing to unranked Georgia Tech didn’t help his case either. The Seminoles will host Syracuse this week, a team which allowed Leonard Fournette to explode for a career high 251 total yards. Cook will need to have a game like that if he wants to keep his Heisman hopes alive. 

Brian Peel: Too little Cook, too little Cook. Dalvin Cook had a rather mediocre performance for his standards Saturday when Georgia Tech held him to 82 yards rushing and only 4.8 yards per carry. Cook did manage 132 all-purpose yards and a score, but maybe the most shocking stat from FSU’s first loss of the season was the fact that Cook only got the ball six times in the second half, perhaps due to a still sore hamstring he tweaked in early October. Cook is undoubtedly one of the best players in the country and a future NFL first round pick, but I’d say his chance at a Heisman in 2015 is all but over. 

4. (tie) Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor 9 points

(Last week: Not Ranked) 

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Six catches, 85 yards, two touchdowns vs. Iowa State

47 catches, 962 yards, 18 touchdowns this season

What Our Writers Thought: 

Erik Weiss: Out goes Myles Garrett, and in comes Corey Coleman. Don’t get me wrong, Garrett is the best defender in the country and undoubtedly deserves to be in the Heisman talks. But Corey Coleman is just flat-out better. Coleman knows how to find the end zone better than anyone else in the country. He is currently scoring on 38% of his catches, which is well above anyone else in the nation. Coleman is an elite athlete and thrives through Baylor’s pass-first offense. Hopefully, the loss of Seth Russell doesn’t affect his performance that much. 

Brian Peel: Baylor’s Corey Coleman makes an appearance on the Heisman list because all the guy does is score touchdowns. How many you ask? Well, Coleman might very well break the single season touchdown reception record of 27 held by Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards that was set back in 1998. In just seven games, Coleman already has 18 touchdown catches. Coleman found himself in the end zone two more times Saturday against Iowa State, but he will be tested greatly without quarterback Seth Russell the rest of the way. 

Honorable Mentions 

Although you did not see these guys on this week’s list, keep a close eye on them throughout the season for upcoming rankings: 

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (Last week: Honorable Mention)


John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

28 touches, 143 yards, two touchdowns vs. Tennessee

188 touches, 1113 yards, 14 touchdowns this season 

Erik Weiss: Last week, I said that Derrick Henry plays best when the spotlight is the brightest. Well, he did it again in a primetime game against Tennessee. Henry went over 100 yards for the fifth time this season and could not be stopped the entire game. Just when Tennessee seemed to have eliminated any championship hopes for the Tide, Derrick Henry comes back and scores the game-winning touchdown in the winding minute. Henry’s next game will come against a young yet stout LSU defense. This game should ultimately determine who will represent the SEC West in the conference title game. More importantly, for our sake at least, is the one-on-one battle Henry will have with Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette.  

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (Last week: Not Ranked) 

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

31 touches, 300 total yards, three touchdowns vs. Washington

201 touches, 1818 yards, eight touchdowns this season 

Brian Peel: It isn’t easy to lead the country in all-purpose yards and still be under the radar, but that is exactly what Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is doing in 2015 with his 1818 total yards. Saturday was another stellar performance for the sophomore when he gashed the Washington Huskies for a total of 300 yards and three touchdowns. What sets apart McCaffrey and all the other Heisman contenders is how he gets the ball in so many different ways. Not only is McCaffrey second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards with 953, he also has 284 yards receiving and 581 yards returning punts and kickoffs. 

Tune in next week for the seventh edition of SQ Heisman Power Rankings!

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Bengals clear Vontaze Burfict to practice Thu, 29 Oct 2015 14:49:10 +0000 The Cincinnati Bengals cleared middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict to resume practicing.

Burfict remains on the physically unable to perform list.

Burfict is coming off a knee injury.

He can be activated anytime in the next three weeks.

A Pro Bowl linebacker, Burfict led the Bengals in tackles in 2012 and 2013.

Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL

Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle.


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Breaking Down Michigan State’s Connor Cook Thu, 29 Oct 2015 11:00:58 +0000 Going into the 2015 college football season, the odds on favorite to be the first quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft was Michigan State’s Connor Cook. While that may no longer be the case right now, Cook is still going to be drafted early and he has the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback.

Cook is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter for Michigan State. Over the course of his career, he has attempted 1016 passes, with 590 completions and a completion percentage of just over 58%. He has thrown 64 touchdown passes to just 17 interceptions and this season has thrown 17 TD’s to only two interceptions in 254 passing attempts, which is excellent.

Looking at his numbers, you might not think they are that impressive when you compare them to quarterbacks in spread schemes. You can’t think that way, because Michigan State plays from a run-first NFL style scheme. Since he has been at Michigan State, Cook has never played in those high percentage spread schemes.

Cook will measure at about 6’4″ – 222 with good overall athleticism. While he is not considered a running quarterback, he has good overall athleticism with quick feet. He is not a burner by any means but should run in the high 4.7’s to low 4.8’s at the Combine.

Looking at his mechanics, you can’t find much fault in Cook. He has a tight overhand delivery with a quick release. He plays from both under center and from the shotgun and when under center, he shows a quick setup.

Cook shows poise in the pocket and is able to go through a progression to find the open receiver. He shows the ability to look off a receiver and come back to him after he has gone through his reads. He has a good feel for pass rushers and enough mobility to extend a play if he has to. Cook does a good job reading defenses and for the most part he is a very solid decision maker.

He throws a tight ball and he has very good arm strength. He shows good but not great overall accuracy and ball placement. He is not what I would call a pinpoint passer, but he is way above the “enough” level. While he will force some throws, he is usually very careful and that leads to his low number of interceptions.

Some evaluators don’t like to look at a quarterbacks winning record as being important. That is ludicrous! It is one of the most important stats for a quarterback. How a QB plays and wether or not he wins in big games is huge in the evaluation process. In the last three seasons at Michigan State, Cook has a won/lost record of 32 – 3. That includes a win over Baylor in last year’s Cotton Bowl and a win over Stanford in the Rose Bowl following the 2013 season. In big games, Cook usually plays good football.

When evaluating quarterbacks, the physical aspect is only part of the evaluation process. For a quarterback, the intangibles are at least 50% of the evaluation process. Is the player smart and instinctive? How well does he know and understand the offense? Does he love the game and does he want to become a great player? Is he liked and respected by both his teammates and coaches and is he a leader? Without making a school call and talking to people around the program, I can’t answer those questions.

One thing is fact, he is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter and he wasn’t elected by his teammates a captain. For a quarterback, that is a red flag! There have also been unsubstantiated reports about his personality and ability to get along with coaches and teammates. Again, I don’t know if they are true or false. Because those questions are out there, team scouts and decision makers will do their due diligence in finding out the right answers. What they find out, will have a big effect as to how high he gets drafted as will the interview process.

On talent alone, Cook has the tools to be drafted high and be a solid NFL quarterback. He has multiple years in a pro- style offense and this will give him a jump on most of the competition. He is much more ready to come in and play than any of the spread quarterbacks.

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NFL 2015 Picks Week 8: Expert Analysis and Betting Strategies Thu, 29 Oct 2015 00:59:08 +0000 Follow Prediction Machine on Twitter @predictmachine

To view this week’s free pick analysis in the Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos game for 11/1/2015, please sign up.

Picks for every NFL game, including our Play Value Key and Calculator recommendations for optimal bankroll management, access to the Play Analyzer and Halftime pick analysis can be purchased for the week or season in the Shop or by individual game here.

For Week 8 in the NFL, seven picks cover the number more than 57% of the time to be considered “normal” or better plays and a total of 11 of the 13 games feature a playable against-the-spread opinion. Normal or better plays are an undefeated 8-0 (100% ATS and O/U) over the last three weeks with normal or better ATS picks 11-2 (85% ATS) on the season. All playable picks are 49-33 (60% ATS) on the year.

10/26/2015 Highlight: Using the ResultsFinder for the week of October 19-25th, one could find that all “normal” or better (greater than 57% to cover) NFL plays in Week 7 went 2-0, including the Lock of the Week (Jets +9) covering at New England. Normal or better NFL picks are undefeated over the last three weeks (8-0 O/U and and ATS). For the season, all “normal” or better against-the-spread picks in the NFL are 11-2 (85% ATS). Meanwhile, all playable against-the-spread picks in the NFL this year are 49-32 (61% ATS).

In College Football Week 8, the historically very strong “normal” or better over/under picks had one of their best weeks of the season at 6-3 (67% O/U). All-time (since start of 2010 season), normal or better over/under plays in college football have been profitable in over 75% of all weeks.

On the ice, all NHL puck-line plays went 14-11 (57% PL), including going 2-1 (67% PL) on normal puck-line plays. All playable over/under picks topped .500 yet again. Such plays have generated a profit of +$230 for a normal $50 player using play value recommendations just three weeks into the season.

With the NBA starting this week, all-time full season over/under win total picks in the NBA with greater than 57% confidence (“normal” or better) are 31-16 (66% O/U).

Check out the Shop or Individual Picks pages now to learn more.

This article originally appeared on is the leader in sports simulation. Founded in 2009, its advanced statistical technology is able to hypothetically play a game 50,000 times before it’s actually been played and after each and every play during the live game (Live ScoreCaster). Using hundreds of inputs down to the smallest factor, the simulation engine (Predictalator) produces proprietary data available for consumers as well as business partners and media. The technology and algorithms built and tested at are amongst the most advanced in the world of sports statistics and simulation.

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Retired NFL Players Congress and NFL Sign Historic Deal Thu, 29 Oct 2015 00:06:44 +0000 This past week, the Retired NFL Players Congress and the NFL were able to finalize a landmark deal. For those of you not familiar with the Retired NFL Players Congress, here is a little background.

They represent the Retired NFL Players and their Widows. It is controlled by and operates for the benefit of same. The Congress works to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of Retired Players both collectively and individually. Its aim is to reduce litigation battles and dependence on charity so that they can focus their resources and efforts on identifying new revenue sources for their 18,000+ members. They give the retired players and their family members a voice that has been missing for far too long.

Below are some quotes from the Retired NFL Players Congress Press Release, which can be read in full here.

Greetings Retired/Former Players and Widows:

We are pleased to announce that the Retired NFL Players Congress has entered into a historic apparel licensing  agreement with National Football League Properties, the NFL Player Care Foundation, and JH Design Group on your behalf. This is a profit making venture that the Congress has been working on for the past eighteen months to generate real income for retired players while supporting the many other benefits/programs that are already in place.

Former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, Eugene Upshaw, properly advised us before his death that he did not work for, or legally represent us. “The bottom line is I don’t work for them,” Upshaw told the Observer. “They don’t hire me and they can’t fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote. That’s who pays my salary.” He went on to compare our value as retired players to “dog food” that no one wanted.  Mr. Upshaw was correct in his first statement. We accepted what he publicly stated and verified the legality of his statement. That is why we went to work filing the necessary legal paperwork to insure that we as retired/former NFL players have a legal entity that does represent us independently and directly. (Retired NFL Players Congress, Inc.)  Upshaw, then Executive Director of the NFL Players Association was wrong, we have found, on the $$$ value that we have  to the NFL and other companies in corporate America who recognize our contribution to the game.

We know retired players need tangible ways to supplement pensions, retirement income and beneficial programs that the Owners already fund and contribute to both directly and indirectly. This innovative NFL licensing initiative is the first in a series of money producing business ventures planned by the retired players and widows of the NFL who are now the Retired NFL Players Congress.

Our aim is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate the seemingly never ending litigation battles and dependence on charity and focus our resources, efforts and energy on identifying new revenue sources for all of our family. We intend to work toward including our unvested 1, 2 and 3 year men into our pension programs.  Another goal is to raise our pension programs to the same level as that of Major League Baseball. The question is not one of whether or not it can be done, it is rather one of what can we do to make that happen. The Congress also plans to purchase various tangible assets that will directly benefit the Congress and its members.

Our goal this year is to fund and institute, with our earnings, the first of two programs for financial assistance to the roughly 70 former players who are 90+ years old and have received less than we believe they are entitled to. We believe this oversight should be addressed immediately and  we have strong support from the League office and some of the team owners. The apparel licensing program is one of thetools that the Players Congress, working with the NFL Player Care Foundation will use to fund improved payouts to these deserving men and their families. This new relationship between the NFL and the Players Congress is an important step in addressing the decades long missing business link between the NFL Owners and retired NFL players collectively.  The Retired NFL Players Congress is “The Missing Link” and it has the support of all of the living men who formed the original NFLPA and the Players Union back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Through our new NFL apparel licensing and sales program, which allows us to manufacture and sell an exclusive line of high-end NFL team jackets in leather, wool, and mixed leather and wool, the Congress will provide income, education, training, and other opportunities for NFL alumni. We are partnering with JH Design Group, one of the nation’s leading sportswear apparel manufacturing and licensing companies.

NFL Player Care will help structure the 90+ year old program and some of our other benefit programs so that we can minimize administrative expenses. Initially, revenues may be reduced because we have a limited product line, and we are getting a late start on season sales for 2015. Nevertheless, we are excited at the prospect of becoming an actual business participant in the upcoming 50th Anniversary Super Bowl. We are also confident that with your support and small membership payment, we can grow our licensing program and
expand business relationships and opportunities, in the long term, with others in corporate America…

Read further at

I understand the Players Congress also hopes to improve the current pension program for players that played prior to 1993 to that of Major League Baseball. According to Vice Sports, former MLB Players become eligible for pensions after spending 43 days on the active roster. Once that feat is accomplished, MLB Players are eligible for $34,000 a year pension. Furthermore, former MLB Players are rewarded with a $100,000 a year pension if they play 10-plus years in the Majors. It would take a Pre-1993 NFL player 11 credited seasons to earn the MLB’s 43 day (not game) pension and 30 seasons to earn the $100,000 a year pension. Not to mention, the average NFL player’s tenure is roughly three years compared to the MLB’s 5.5 years.

Furthermore, Vice Sports states that roughly 3,641 former players receive an average monthly pension of $1,656 and 90% of former players also receive $723 a month from the Legacy fund. Those amounts roughly equate to $28,550 dollars a year, which is far less than Major League Baseball players and far harder to obtain.

The Retired NFL Players Congress, which represents retired NFL Players and their widows, will continue to work tirelessly to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of the Retired Players.

I hope I was able to shed some light on what a tremendous job this organization is doing and to spread the word to all players, current and retired, in the hopes that they will become members and stand with their brothers who fought for them so long ago.

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Sorrow Strikes Again In Stillwater Wed, 28 Oct 2015 22:59:14 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

It started early Saturday morning, during Oklahoma State’s homecoming parade. In broad daylight, among hundreds of fans, a young woman drove her car into a crowd of people alongside the parade.

She killed four people, including a two-year old boy, and injured 47 more. Four victims remain in critical condition.

The homecoming parade, usually a joyous mid-autumn event on college campuses, turned into a tragedy. “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration,” as they call it in Stillwater, was anything but.

Police arrested Adacia Avery Chambers at the scene for driving under the influence. She was unscathed, and is currently facing second degree murder charges. 

Oklahoma State considered cancelling their homecoming game against Kansas, but the school went through with the game. The Cowboys won 58-10 in front of 59,486 fans. Head coach Mike Gundy iterated the grandeur of the situation:

We were in football meetings when we found out about it and the first thing you do is you call and find out where your family is. Football all of a sudden doesn’t become very important… There are no words. There’s just nothing you can say. It just has to be the absolute worst thing that can happen to a family and loved ones.

Brody Schmidt - AP

Cowboys players prayed before kickoff, and the stadium joined in with a moment of silence for the victims.

Taking a backseat was the game. The rout was impressive and important – the Cowboys are now ranked #12 and are undefeated. At 7-0, the Big 12 is a toss-up between Oklahoma State and also undefeated TCU and Baylor. But more importantly, the tragedy in Stillwater is the third in recent memory. On January 27, 2001, a small plane crashed in the Colorado Rockies. All ten people aboard perished on impact. Eight of the ten had ties to the Oklahoma State Cowboys Men’s Basketball team: two broadcasters, four coaches, and two players. 

Stillwater was in shock. They placed a memorial, “Remember The Ten,” outside of Gallagher-Iba Arena and people wore bright orange ribbons in memoriam. The plane was taking the Cowboys back from a loss against the Colorado Buffaloes when the pilots lost control in a snowstorm.

It is considered one of the worst days in Oklahoma State history, and it was followed ten years later by another strikingly similar disaster.

On November 17, 2011, a plane crashed near Perryville, Arkansas. All four of the people aboard perished on impact: Oklahoma State Women’s Basketball head coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna, former State Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife.

Branstetter allegedly lost control of the aircraft, veering it into a ridge of land. There were no signs of inclement weather, malfunctioning equipment, or record of the pilot having a medical condition.

Again, Stillwater was caught in shock. Ryan Wylie, a student at the time, voiced the thoughts of Cowboys everywhere:

Lightning is not supposed to strike twice, but it did.

Context is incredibly important in understanding the emotional turmoil the people of Stillwater, Oklahoma are feeling. Oklahoma State is a proud university that has suffered a third irreconcilable disaster. When Gundy said “Football all of a sudden doesn’t become very important,” he genuinely meant it. A man who has made his living on sport realizes the seriousness of the moment: this is a community that has weathered unimaginable turmoil being literally smacked into by another catastrophe.

And yet, in a different way, football did matter.

Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis chose to play the game in order to “remember the victims at the game.” Just as the Cowboys did a day after the 2011 crash, they played football. The only way to truly heal from tragedy like this is to return to normalcy. For the Cowboys, normalcy is college football in October. 

A lot of us follow sports because they are an escape from the bad things happening in the world – they are games, after all. Oklahoma State has been struck with disaster after disaster after disaster, and yet they keep on playing.

That’s what sports are all about: a way for a community to come together, no matter the circumstance.

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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Jarrett Stidham Keeps Baylor’s Playoff Hopes Alive Wed, 28 Oct 2015 22:59:10 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Baylor Bears are riding high in the AP polls and are the most dominate offensive team in the country, ranked first in total yards with 4,803 (686 per game) and first in scoring, averaging 61.1 points. Currently ranked second in the polls, Baylor is seen as the favorite to win the BIG 12 Conference and have the second best odds to win the 2016 National Championship at 5 to 1 according to Vegas 

Junior quarterback Seth Russell is a big part of the Bears’ success. He leads the country in passer rating and touchdowns and is being talked about as being the best Baylor quarterback in history, even better than Robert Griffin III.  

However, Baylor’s playoff chances may have suffered a setback after Saturday’s game against Iowa State. Late in the fourth quarter, Russell took a hit and was immediately taken out of the game. No one seemed to notice at the time, but it’s now known that Russell broke a bone in his neck and is out for the remainder of the season.  

How is Baylor going to compete without a proven quarterback running their high-powered offense? Enter freshman Jarrett Stidham. 

Stidham steps into the starting role as a true freshman, but don’t let that fool you. Coming out of Stephenville High School in Texas, ESPN had Stidham as the 38th overall recruit and second rated duel-threat quarterback. He accounted for almost 4,000 total yards and 50 touchdowns during his time at Stephenville.   

But how well does he actually fit into Baylor’s offense? Coach Art Briles has been known for running a spread offense and some of his quarterbacks have been given the label of a ‘system quarterback’. Guys like Griffin and Bryce Petty ran the offense to perfection, but Russell may be the best of the bunch. Luckily, Stidham has the skill set to step right in and pick up where Russell left off. 

Stidham won’t be going into the game against Kansas State in a few weeks completely inexperienced. Thanks to Baylor scoring points in bunches and essentially wrapping up games early, Stidham has seen playing time. So far this year, he has completed 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and 6 touchdowns. He saw the majority of snaps against Kansas in Week 5 where he went 9 of 10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns. 

The young quarterback won’t have to do it all on his own either. Baylor has the athletes on offense to help ease the transition. Corey Coleman is arguably the best receiver in the country, leading the nation with 18 touchdowns, which is also a Baylor single-season record. Having a top rated receiver as the primary target for a freshman is only going to make things easier. Running back Shock Linwood takes pressure off the passing game accounting for 974 yards and adding 9 touchdowns as part of Baylor’s rushing attack which has gained 2,368 yards on the ground, second in the country.

Baylor could easily struggle with the hardest part of their schedule coming up. Luckily, the Bears have a bye week to get Stidham up to speed and comfortable with the offense before heading to Kansas State. Three of the last five games are on the road, including trips to No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 5 TCU. Baylor’s biggest test will be TCU whose offense is just as lethal as the Bears’. Stidham and Coleman could have a rough time keeping pace with TCU quarterback Treveon Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson, both of whom are on Heisman watch. 

No true freshman quarterback has led their team to a national championship since 1985, when Jamelle Holieway lead the Oklahoma Sooners to a title, but Stidham could easily be the next. In a quarterback-friendly system, he should be able to quickly find success and lead Baylor into the CFP.

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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More Than A Feeling: Are Rushing Plays Becoming More Extreme? Wed, 28 Oct 2015 20:18:04 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

Last Sunday, rookie running back Todd Gurley burst onto the NFL scene with a monster 19-carry, 146-yard day on the ground. Given his 7.7 yards per carry mark for the game, you would expect that Gurley did most of his damage with very good six- to nine-yard runs, mixed in with a couple of stuffs and a few monster plays.

Turns out that you would be wrong. In fact, not a single one of Gurley’s runs fell within the six- to nine-yard range. Actually, four of his carries, or 21.1 percent, went backwards. Another five, or 26.3 percent, resulted in a gain of two yards or less. Another five went for three to five yards. The remaining five all went for at least twelve yards.

This feels like the norm in the NFL today. It feels like the five-yard run is an endangered species, and running backs are becoming increasingly dependent on the 20-plus-yard runs to keep their yards-per-carry numbers respectable.

But as Peyton Manning, who has managed to lead the Denver Broncos to a 5-0 record without any feeling in his right fingertips, would probably tell you, “It’s not all about the feeling.” So are NFL rushing plays really trending in a more extreme direction, or is that just our imagination?

The following charts illustrate the distribution of yards-per-rush-play in each of the past four seasons (including this one):

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At quick glance, each of the charts seem to have just about the same shape. However, a closer look seems to imply that the 2015-16 graph has some key differences.

Let’s zoom in on the three- to six-yard range:

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Rushes for each yardage value between three and six have been less frequent this season than in each of the previous three. Overall, rushes of three to six yards are down to 32.04 percent, three percent less than the 35.05 percent average of the 2012-15 seasons.

All of those rushes have to go somewhere. This season has thus far marked a four-year high in rushes for negative yards, no gain, nine yards, and ten or more yards. These numbers confirm that our feelings were correct. Take that, Manning!

The increase in the rate of “extreme” rushes is not the only trend the NFL is seeing in the running game. This season has also seen a four-year low in both carries per game and yards per carry:

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It is very possible that all of these trends are related. As teams run less and less, running backs are given fewer opportunities. This puts pressure on running backs to make the most of the carries they do get. Therefore, rather than running in a way that will maximize the expected yards, they are running in a fashion that will maximize their chances at a homerun. When they manage to evade the defender or break a tackle, it’s off to the races. However, they also leave themselves susceptible to being bottled up near the line of scrimmage.

Of course, this is just one potential theory. Feel free to interpret the numbers as you will!

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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An In-Depth Look At The “Struggles” Of Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck’s Success Wed, 28 Oct 2015 20:18:01 +0000 This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

At the surface, there is a legitimate case to be made for Matt Hasselbeck being the best quarterback on the Indianapolis Colts roster this season.

For starters, Hasselbeck sports a 2-0 record to Luck’s 1-2 mark. In addition, Matt Hasselbeck has a 77.2 QBR, and is averaging 247.5 yards per game, 1.5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 63.2% completion rate. Luck, so far, has a 30.9 QBR to go along with 251 yards per game, 1.7 touchdowns, 2.3 interceptions, and 56% completion.

The most striking of these statistics are QBR, completion percentage, and turnovers. These three stats. which often have a strong correlation to winning, are all heavily in favor of Hasselbeck.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers, though, to see if there is any explanation for the difference in play? Let’s look at the opponents that Luck has played and his performance in each game.

Game Starting QB Colt QBR Colt Comp % Colt INT Opp. Avg QBR Opp. Avg. Comp % Opp. Avg INT per game
Wk 1 v. BUF Andrew Luck 38.7 53.1 2 42.3 58.5 1.4
Wk 2 v. NYJ Andrew Luck 20.0 56.8 3 27.7 51.1 1.2
Wk 3 v. TEN Andrew Luck 37.1 60.0 2 52.2 55.2 1
Wk 4 v. JAC Matt Hasselbeck 63.7 63.8 0 60.0 67.8 .2
Wk 5 v. HOU Matt Hasselbeck 92.1 62.1 0 60.9 58.0 .4

*denotes better than opponent average

When looking at how Luck and Hasselbeck performed in their individual games, Hasselbeck still comes out ahead, especially following an extremely impressive showing on the road against Houston in Week 5.

Yet, while Hasselbeck looks good, it does provide a bit of context as to why Luck may have struggled: Luck has faced more impressive teams defensively. One takeaway is that, while not great, Luck has not been very far from average. This isn’t something to write home about for someone who was considered a top five quarterback entering this year, but it should be enough to keep people from hitting the panic button.

These numbers also start to make even more sense when you look at how the pass blocking of the Colts has fared over the weeks.

Week Starting QB Pro Football Focus Pass Blocking Grade
Wk 1 Andrew Luck -0.5
Wk 2 Andrew Luck -3.1
Wk 3 Andrew Luck -11.1
Wk 4 Matt Hasselbeck 5.5
Wk 5 Matt Hasselbeck 0.6

Pro Football Focus grades each play of a football game based on the impact that players had on the game. Their grades support the conclusion that Andrew Luck has had some pretty bad protection these first few games, especially in comparison to Hasselbeck. With the exception of the game against the Tennessee Titans, it hasn’t been terrible, but it’s been below average. Hasselbeck has had solid to good protection in both of his two starts.

So what does this all mean? It means that we need to be patient with Andrew Luck. Three games is by no means a good sample size and a 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck is probably not the savior of the Colts this season.

Luck has faced some good defenses, hasn’t gotten much help from his protection and the result has been average play. Hasselbeck surely has played well these last few weeks, but some of that credit goes to those playing around him and who he’s playing against.

The Colts’ next four opponents are the Patriots, Saints, Panthers, and Broncos. With Andrew Luck healthy, it will be a good test to see if he is able to produce against some other defenses that have had success this year.

This article originally appeared on The Sports Quotient

The Sports Quotient is a digital media company that provides a platform for intellectual conversation about sports. We are home to over 100 analytical young sports writers who specialize in creating stimulating and opinionated content that informs and engages readers.

Follow The Sports Quotient on Twitter @sportsquotient
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