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NFL Week 3 Props: Steelers vs Buccaneers

The Tampa Buccaneers are off to roaring start this season. Through two weeks, they lead the league in two offensive categories - total yards, and passing yards.

The Bucs are averaging 37.5 points per game and have already scored 10 touchdowns. However, if there's one offensive area they're lacking, it's in the rushing department. Tampa

The Tampa Buccaneers are off to roaring start this season. Through two weeks, they lead the league in two offensive categories – total yards, and passing yards.

The Bucs are averaging 37.5 points per game and have already scored 10 touchdowns. However, if there’s one offensive area they’re lacking, it’s in the rushing department. Tampa Bay rank 27th in total rush yards and Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only player with a rushing touchdown. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are starring in a different film. While they are 2nd in the NFL in both pass yards and overall yards, they sit in 4th place in the AFC North at 0-1-1.

Their last regular season win came on December 31st, 2017 and since that day, the Steelers lost a shootout to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round, tied the Cleveland Browns, and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Le’Veon Bell doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to return to the huddle until terms are met. At while Antonio Brown is set to play Monday night, Le’Veon Bell doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to return to the huddle until terms are met.

It would appear the Buccaneers have all the momentum, while the Pittsburgh faithful grow antsier each week.

Will Monday night provide evidence that the Buccaneers are a legitimate threat in the NFC, or will the Steelers nab their first win and gain back some much-needed confidence?

Here are a handful of player, game and team props for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.

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Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Falcons RB Freeman, DE McKinley to sit Sunday vs. Saints

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Falcons also will be without starting defensive end Takk McKinley when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Coach Dan Quinn declared both players out Friday, extending a rash of injuries that

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Falcons also will be without starting defensive end Takk McKinley when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Coach Dan Quinn declared both players out Friday, extending a rash of injuries that have plagued the Falcons (1-1) already this season.

Freeman went down with a bruised knee in a Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, while McKinley sustained a groin injury that kept him off the field in the closing stages of last weekend’s 31-24 victory over Carolina.

Tevin Coleman took over as the primary running back against the Panthers, rushing for 107 yards, and rookie Ito Smith also was effective. The loss of McKinley means Brooks Reed will likely move into a starting role vs. the Saints.

The Falcons also will be missing backup end Derrick Shelby, ruled out with a groin injury, and reserve linebacker Corey Nelson (calf).

Atlanta already has lost safety Keanu Neal and offensive guard Andy Levitre to season-ending injuries. Linebacker Deion Jones (foot) will have to miss at least eight games after going on injured reserve.

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Maliek Collins out, Randy Gregory in for Cowboys at Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Seattle with a knee injury and pass rusher Randy Gregory is set to return after missing a week with a concussion.

Collins missed the preseason recovering from surgery for a broken foot sustained during offseason workouts. He injured the knee in

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Seattle with a knee injury and pass rusher Randy Gregory is set to return after missing a week with a concussion.

Collins missed the preseason recovering from surgery for a broken foot sustained during offseason workouts. He injured the knee in last week’s win over the New York Giants.

Gregory had missed 30 of the previous 32 games because of substance-abuse suspensions before sustaining a concussion in the season-opening loss at Carolina. He was a full participant in practice all week.

Safety Xavier Woods could make his season debut against the Seahawks after sitting the first two games with a hamstring injury. Woods is listed as questionable along with linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) and receiver Cole Beasley, who injured an ankle in practice Thursday. Lee was limited in practice this week but said he expected to play.

Four-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick will miss his third straight game with a nerve disorder that has sidelined him indefinitely.

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Yes, folks, Belichick does know Gordon is with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It took a few days before Bill Belichick finally admitted Friday that troubled but talented wide receiver Josh Gordon is a New England Patriot.

The trade bringing Gordon, who played in just 11 games with the Cleveland Browns since 2013 due to NFL suspensions, was announced by both teams on Monday.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — It took a few days before Bill Belichick finally admitted Friday that troubled but talented wide receiver Josh Gordon is a New England Patriot.

The trade bringing Gordon, who played in just 11 games with the Cleveland Browns since 2013 due to NFL suspensions, was announced by both teams on Monday. Gordon and a seventh-round draft pick went to New England for a fifth-rounder. The New England coach then refused to talk about it on Tuesday when it hit the NFL transactions wire. Belichick then said the trade still wasn’t done on Wednesday, when Gordon was on the practice field.

Belichick doesn’t talk to the media on Thursdays. On Friday, he said matter of factly, as usual, “Since the last time we met, we officially added Josh and Cyrus (Jones, re-signed) to the roster, so it’s good to get them here. I’d say really in both cases, those two guys have done about as much as they can do in the few days that they’ve been here, or been back in Cyrus’ case. We’ll see how it goes.”

Belichick refused to talk about Gordon’s off-field problems, but noted his new receiver was learning quickly. “I think Josh is a smart kid,” he said. “He’s worked hard. He picked up a lot.”

Asked if Gordon, who played in the first Browns games this season and is hampered by a sore hamstring, is the type of talent that doesn’t often come available on the trade market, Belichick added, “Look, all players in this league are talented players or they wouldn’t be in this league. We’ll see.”

Limited in practice, Gordon, who missed 43 of his last 48 games, could make his debut with his new team Sunday night in Detroit when the Patriots (1-1) face former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and his Lions (0-2).

“(He’s) been eager to get in there and learn everything we’re doing and, you know, just trying to acclimate himself to what the program is,” Tom Brady said Friday.

As far as Gordon playing Sunday after limited exposure to the Patriots’ complicated playbook, Brady said, “It’s just up to the coaches. I think if they’re in there it’s up to the coaches to decide those things. I don’t think anyone is going to put anyone out there if they don’t know what they’re doing. Now you can limit the number of plays and try and do that, I think we’ve done that plenty of times; anytime you get new players that’s what you try to do.”

Asked Thursday about Gordon, who had a big game against New England in 2013, Devin McCourty, stumbled a bit and said, “That’s a lot of, ‘I don’t knows.’ I don’t . he’s only been here for I think two days now so I wouldn’t say I can formulate an opinion on him. But, we all know he’s a good player.

“Excited to have him here and he seems excited to get to work. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

NOTES: Brady completed his first NFL pass against the Lions on Nov. 23, 2000, but that was at the Pontiac Silverdome. He was 1 for 3 for 6 yards, the completion to Rod Rutledge in a 34-9 Thanksgiving Day loss. That was the only game Brady saw any action in his rookie season. . The Patriots lead the series with the Lions 7-4 and come into this game 16-9 on “Sunday Night Football,” 10-2 in their last 12. . New England hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2015 and is 12-1 since 2002 (the loss in 2012) after a September loss. . Jones, the Patriots’ second draft choice in 2016 and injured all last year, was cut by the club at the end of camp and was on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad when New England decided to bring him back.

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RB Cook, DE Griffen out for Vikings

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen are out for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

 

Cook left the overtime tie at Green Bay last week with a hamstring injury he described as a cramp. But Cook was unable to complete a practice this week, giving way to backup Latavius

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end Everson Griffen are out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

 

Cook left the overtime tie at Green Bay last week with a hamstring injury he described as a cramp. But Cook was unable to complete a practice this week, giving way to backup Latavius Murray.

 

Griffen was also out of practice on Friday and ruled out for Week 3. He’s dealing with a toe injury.

 

Because Cook is coming back from a season-ending knee injury sustained in 2017 as a rookie, the Vikings are likely to be overly cautious with any injury.

 

Cook has 26 carries for 78 yards (3.0-yard average) this season, and Murray has 15 carries for 61 yards (4.1).

 

–Field Level Media

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FANTASY PLAYS: Burning fantasy questions for Week 3

A look at some key fantasy questions going into Week 3:

ARE THE CARDINALS REALLY THIS BAD? CAN YOU STILL START DAVID JOHNSON?

The Cardinals are 0-2. They've scored just 6 points and given up the sixth most points in football through the first two games. Their passing attack has suffered through the awful play

A look at some key fantasy questions going into Week 3:

ARE THE CARDINALS REALLY THIS BAD? CAN YOU STILL START DAVID JOHNSON?

The Cardinals are 0-2. They’ve scored just 6 points and given up the sixth most points in football through the first two games. Their passing attack has suffered through the awful play of quarterback Sam Bradford. He’s averaging just 4 yards per pass attempt and will likely be replaced by rookie Josh Rosen soon. David Johnson was a top 3 overall pick in point-per-reception scoring leagues but he’s 27th in PPR scoring.

With the Cards playing from behind for virtually the entire season, Johnson has been limited to just 22 rushing attempts, 26th most in the NFL. Arizona also hasn’t been taking advantage of Johnson’s pass-catching skills. He was targeted just twice last week. Head coach Steve Wilks claims he’ll line up out of the slot on occasion moving forward, which should help Johnson’s fantasy production.

Based on your investment in his draft slot, Johnson remains a must-start for now. However, if you try trading him based 2018 production you’ll be dealing him based on extremely low fantasy value. It still wouldn’t hurt to put his name on your league’s trading block. Someone might surprise you and offer a trade based on his preseason value.

SHOULD YOU START BUCCANEERS QB RYAN FITZPATRICK THIS WEEK?

Fitzpatrick leads all QBs in passing yards and all position players in total fantasy points. He faces a Steelers team that is having issues playing on the road, and also gave up six TDs to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes last week. Fitzpatrick has gotten the most out of his top offensive weapons, including WR DeSean Jackson and TE O.J. Howard. If your primary fantasy QB’s performances have been less than stellar, Fitzpatrick provides you with an opportunity to reap the benefits of one of the hottest performers in fantasy sports.

SHOULD YOU START PATRICK MAHOMES EVERY WEEK OR TRY TRADING HIM?

Mahomes’ consensus average draft position made him the 16th QB selected overall in preseason drafts. Through two games, Mahomes has scored the second-most fantasy points among all position players. Owners most likely also have a QB on their roster they originally thought would have a better chance of being more productive. If you own Mahomes and a good backup QB in leagues where you’re starting one QB per week, it might make sense to try to trade one. Which one? Well, Mahomes’ fantasy value may never be higher than it is right now.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR RB HAS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR A BIG WEEK?

Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been ruled out this week against the Bills with a hamstring injury. Latavius Murray could provide RB1 fantasy production in his place. The Bills can’t stop the run and have given up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. The Vikings are heavily favored this week and if they take an early big lead they may move away from their passing game as early as the middle of the third quarter. Murray could pile up some significant fantasy points to close out the game.

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR WR HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR A BIG WEEK?

The Giants don’t have a very good pass rush. They’ve played their first two games without their best pass rusher, Olivier Vernon, due to his high ankle sprain. Without any pressure from the Giants defensive line, mobile Texans QB Deshaun Watson will have plenty of time to connect with his open receivers; especially Will Fuller. In five career games with Watson under center Fuller has caught eight TDs, and with CB Eli Apple battling a groin injury, Fuller could have a big day.

WHAT IMPACT WILL NEW PATRIOTS WR JOSH GORDON HAVE ON THE PATRIOTS OFFENSE?

There’s no denying that when he’s on the field, Gordon is a super-talented WR that opposing defenses need to focus on. We wouldn’t be surprised if he had a modest outing in Week 3, and at the same time it wouldn’t shock us if he had a monster game, either. Patriots receivers Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett could benefit just by having Gordon on the field, simply because defenses will have to shift their focus. However, Tom Brady probably gains the most by adding Gordon to the Patriots roster. His receivers are Gordon, Hogan, Dorsett, TE Rob Gronkowski and after Week 4, wideout Julian Edelman will be reinstated. In his last three seasons in which he’s played at least 14 games, Edelman has averaged just over 98 receptions.

SHOULD I START EAGLES QB CARSON WENTZ THIS WEEK?

Wentz was having a phenomenal 2018 season before he tore his ACL and LCL in Week 13. His ability to move in the pocket contributed mightily to his 2017 success. Can he be as mobile this week or will it take a game or two for him to get in game shape? We don’t know for sure. In addition, the Eagles receiving corps is hurting. Alshon Jeffery is unlikely to play and they signed Jordan Matthews as a replacement for Mike Wallace, who was placed on injured reserve. That move might do more harm than good since that could force Nelson Agholor to have to play on the outside instead of in the slot, where he enjoyed a lot of success last season. If you’ve been able to work without Wentz for the first two weeks of the season and have a viable backup, keep Wentz on your bench and watch how things unfold this week.

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Browns appear set to switch to Mayfield as starter

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns coach Hue Jackson isn't ready to "officially" make Baker Mayfield his starting quarterback.

Everyone else has.

Jackson said Friday that he'll wait until talking to his players before publicly announcing a decision that seems inevitable after Mayfield replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor on Thursday night and led Cleveland to its first

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns coach Hue Jackson isn’t ready to “officially” make Baker Mayfield his starting quarterback.

Everyone else has.

Jackson said Friday that he’ll wait until talking to his players before publicly announcing a decision that seems inevitable after Mayfield replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor on Thursday night and led Cleveland to its first win since 2016. Taylor is in concussion protocol.

Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, brought the Browns (1-1-1) back from a 14-0 deficit to win 21-17 over the New York Jets and end a 19-game winless streak.

Jackson gave his players the weekend off and will wait until Monday before saying who will start at quarterback on Sept. 30 at Oakland. Jackson gave strong indication during a teleconference that he’ll go with Mayfield, telling reporters, “you guys all feel good about where things are headed.”

Mayfield completed 17 of 23 passed for 201 yards in just more than a half.

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Bowles insists ‘tough-minded’ Jets won’t let loss linger

NEW YORK (AP) — This isn't exactly where the Jets expected to be right now. At least, not this way.

Todd Bowles' bunch is 1-2 after an embarrassing flop in Cleveland, falling 21-17 on Thursday night to a Browns team that hadn't won since 2016. Two losses in five days have New York looking for

NEW YORK (AP) — This isn’t exactly where the Jets expected to be right now. At least, not this way.

Todd Bowles’ bunch is 1-2 after an embarrassing flop in Cleveland, falling 21-17 on Thursday night to a Browns team that hadn’t won since 2016. Two losses in five days have New York looking for answers and hoping things don’t quickly spiral before the season is even a month old.

“It’s a 24-hour rule and you’ve got to have tough skin,” Bowles said Friday morning. “We’re a tough-minded team and it’s not going to drag. We’ve got a couple of days to get some rest and get some guys back and get healthy and move on to Jacksonville next week — no different from if we had won the ballgame.

“We’ll be fine that way. I think we’re mentally tough.”

Judging from the mistakes, penalties and missed opportunities in the Jets’ losses to Miami last Sunday and then at Cleveland, the team hasn’t backed up its coach.

That assessment will certainly be tested, though. New York’s upcoming schedule includes some tough defenses — at Jacksonville, vs. Denver, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Minnesota and at Chicago — that will be licking their chops at the prospect of facing rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

“Going in, watching the schedule after he won starting job, I thought this would be his toughest game from a scheme-coverage standpoint because of the things they do on that side of the ball,” Bowles said. “I thought he handled that well.”

It’s not that the No. 3 overall pick has been bad. Darnold hasn’t been particularly great, either.

In the Jets’ two losses, he has one touchdown pass and four interceptions, although the two against Cleveland came late in the game while he was trying to rally New York to a comeback.

“It’s not acceptable the way that I played tonight and I know that, but also take it like a man,” Darnold said after the game. “I feel like I’m responsible for some of the stagnant offense that we had. I just have to play better. That’s really it. I have to find completions and continue to do what I’ve been doing.”

Darnold was 15 of 31 for 169 yards and the two INTs against Cleveland. He has said all the right things, showing the maturity of a veteran. But the 21-year-old face of the franchise is going through the rookie rollercoaster of ups and downs.

“He has a fire within that you really can’t see, but I thought he competed his butt off yesterday,” Bowles said. “I thought yesterday was one of his better ballgames from a mental standpoint and a toughness standpoint and a grit standpoint.”

But Darnold was easily overshadowed in front of a prime-time crowd by Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick who replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor and energized the Browns while leading them to their first win since Dec. 24, 2016.

While Mayfield was zipping passes all around the field, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates seemed to play it mostly conservative with Darnold. Bowles thought the offense was “well-balanced,” but added that the Browns’ defense negated some of the Jets’ game plan in the second half.

“I mean, we can run it better, we can protect better, we can run routes better and he can make some decisions better,” Bowles said. “But it’s a team effort. It’s not just Sam. From that standpoint, I’m not saying that people weren’t helping him out. We can do a better job all around helping him out.”

Not committing silly penalties — on both sides of the ball — would be a start.

There was Isaiah Crowell’s touchdown celebration when he pretended to wipe his rear end with the football before firing it into the crowd, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson had two penalties during one drive, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call on a third-down play when he flipped the ball to Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, and an unnecessary roughness call two plays later.

Also, Mayfield was sacked on a 2-point conversion attempt at the end of the third quarter, but cornerback Morris Claiborne committed a holding penalty. The Browns converted the 2-point try, with Landry throwing to Mayfield, tying the game and shifting the momentum to Cleveland.

“Well, the penalties are definitely on the players,” Bowles said. “I mean, coaches can’t play for them. We understand situations and we know what to do and what not to do. Guys have got to be calmer in certain situations.”

Perhaps the biggest swing came with the Jets leading 14-3 in the third period when Darnold completed a 17-yard pass to Robby Anderson, who then fumbled. The Browns kicked a field goal four plays later, making it a one-score game.

“I know we have character and I know that we’ll fight and I know we have a decent team,” Bowles said. “We’ve just got to cut down and fix some things.”

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Gurley gets top RB spot in AP rankings with Bell still out

The role and value of the running back in the NFL has evolved as much as any position over the past decade, with a league-wide trend favoring versatile players who can contribute equally to the passing attack as to the ground game.

Todd Gurley embodies the postmodern ball carrier as well as anyone.

After racking

The role and value of the running back in the NFL has evolved as much as any position over the past decade, with a league-wide trend favoring versatile players who can contribute equally to the passing attack as to the ground game.

Todd Gurley embodies the postmodern ball carrier as well as anyone.

After racking up 2,093 yards and 19 touchdowns from scrimmage last year for the Los Angeles Rams to bounce back from a rough 2016 season, Gurley is again off to a running start with 220 total yards and four touchdowns in his first two games. Arizona’s perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson aptly summed up the strategy for containing Gurley prior to the Rams-Cardinals game last week.

“Just be like flying missiles,” Peterson said, “always hitting him and getting 11 hats on the ball.”

With Le’Veon Bell still waiting to sign his contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and resume his equally electric career, Gurley was ranked as the NFL’s top running back by a panel of 10 football writers from The Associated Press. He received nine first-place votes.

“With offensive guru Sean McVay using him in all the right ways, Gurley has established himself as not only the NFL’s No. 1 running back but one of the league’s finest offensive pieces at any position,” wrote the Washington-based Howard Fendrich. “He shows how a running back can still matter in today’s game.”

The Rams gave Gurley 343 touches last season, his third in the league, but 64 of those were catches for a whopping 788 yards. Not only does this increased emphasis on throwing to running backs keep defenses off-balance, it can reduce wear and tear by cutting down on time running between the tackles. So the Rams had no qualms about giving Gurley a contract extension this summer worth $60 million, two years before he was eligible for free agency.

“Gurley is proof No. 1 that drafting running backs high can be a very good idea,” said Barry Wilner, the AP’s national football writer in New York.

Bell, who took first billing in the rankings last season , finished second despite spending the first two weeks of the season at home — and counting. The lowest he placed on any ballot was fourth.

“Worth every penny he’s holding out to get,” wrote the Philadelphia-based Rob Maaddi.

Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing yards per game in each of his first two years with the Dallas Cowboys, was close behind Bell for third place.

“Just look at how much Dallas struggled during Elliott’s suspension last year,” said Josh Dubow, who’s based in the Bay Area.

Rounding out the top 10: Alvin Kamara (fourth, New Orleans Saints), David Johnson (fifth, Arizona Cardinals), Kareem Hunt (sixth, Kansas City Chiefs), Saquon Barkley (seventh, New York Giants), Leonard Fournette (eighth, Jacksonville Jaguars), Melvin Gordon (ninth, Los Angeles Chargers) and LeSean McCoy (10th, Buffalo Bills).

Hunt, who had to share the rookie spotlight last season with Fournette and Kamara, was the only one outside the top three who appeared on all 10 ballots. McCoy, who turned 30 this summer, was the only one older than 26 on the list. He was fourth in the NFL last year in yards from scrimmage, behind Gurley, Bell and Hunt.

Barkley was the lone rookie on the list, a testament to his potential despite playing in only two professional games. The Denver-based Arnie Stapleton ranked him second, the same spot where Barkley was taken in the draft this spring ahead of quarterback Sam Darnold of the New York Jets.

“The average lifespan of an NFL running back is much shorter,” Stapleton said, “but what a life it could be for the Giants with Barkley leading the way.”

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Mayfield comes off bench, ends Browns’ winless streak

Mayfield comes off bench, ends Browns' winless streak

Rookie No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield relieved a concussed Tyrod Taylor and rallied the Cleveland Browns from a 14-point deficit past the visiting New York Jets for a 21-17 win to break a 19-game winless streak Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Mayfield comes off bench, ends Browns’ winless streak

Rookie No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield relieved a concussed Tyrod Taylor and rallied the Cleveland Browns from a 14-point deficit past the visiting New York Jets for a 21-17 win to break a 19-game winless streak Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Mayfield, in his NFL debut, finished 17 of 23 for 201 yards in a little over one half of work for the Browns (1-1-1), who tallied their first victory since Dec. 24, 2016. It was just Cleveland’s second win in 38 games.

Running back Carlos Hyde’s second 1-yard touchdown, with 2:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, put the Browns ahead for good at 21-17. Linebacker Joe Schobert and cornerback Terrance Mitchell intercepted Jets quarterback Sam Darnold on the next two possessions, sealing the game.

Hyde totaled 23 carries for 98 yards, and Jarvis Landry had eight catches for 103 yards.

Darnold, whom many thought the Browns would take No. 1 overall in the April draft, finished 15 of 31 for 169 yards and the two picks. He has thrown five interceptions through three games.

The Jets (1-2) grabbed a 14-0 lead on a pair of touchdowns by former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell. A blocked punt set up Crowell’s 7-yard waltz on the first play of the second quarter, and he capped the next possession with a 2-yard score.

Mayfield entered the game with the Browns down 14-0 and 1:42 remaining in the first half after Taylor was hurt. The rookie completed his first three passes for 47 yards and led the Browns to a field goal for a 14-3 halftime deficit.

After another field goal by new Browns kicker Greg Joseph cut the deficit to eight, Hyde scored from a yard out to make it 14-12 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. Mayfield caught a pass from Landry on a variant of the Eagles’ famous “Philly Special” for a two-point conversion to tie it at 14.

The Jets went 65 yards in 12 plays for a 28-yard Jason Myers field goal to lead 17-14 with 8:58 remaining, setting the stage for the Browns’ winning drive.

Taylor was concussed when his head hit the turf on a sack by Jets linebacker Avery Williamson, but he might have been replaced even if healthy.

He went 4 of 14 for 19 yards, taking three sacks and an intentional-grounding penalty as the Browns punted on their first six possessions. Taylor underthrew wide-open rookie wideout Antonio Callaway for a potential 75-yard touchdown four minutes into the game.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Taylor was the first QB to throw for fewer than 20 yards on 14-plus attempts in the first half of a game since 2011.

Cleveland still has not won on a Sunday under Hue Jackson, as its lone 2016 victory came in a Saturday Christmas Eve game.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks’ Wagner says he’s learned from previous injuries

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Stuck at home while out with a groin injury, Bobby Wagner met up with former Seattle teammates Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to watch the Seahawks' game in Chicago.

Sitting there as his team lost wasn't very enjoyable for Wagner.

"I'm definitely a guy who yells at the TV. I'm calling

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Stuck at home while out with a groin injury, Bobby Wagner met up with former Seattle teammates Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to watch the Seahawks’ game in Chicago.

Sitting there as his team lost wasn’t very enjoyable for Wagner.

“I’m definitely a guy who yells at the TV. I’m calling out plays and think they’re going to hear you,” Wagner said Thursday.

Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker is expected back in the lineup Sunday when the Seahawks host Dallas looking to avoid falling to 0-3 for the first time under Pete Carroll. For the most part, the defense wasn’t the problem on Monday night against the Bears. The Seahawks held them to 271 total yards and only 10 offensive points after Chicago scored on its opening drive.

But having Wagner back will certainly be a boost in what’s essentially become a must-win game just three weeks into the regular season.

Wagner said he was initially injured in the second quarter of the season-opening loss at Denver. He didn’t believe it was going to be an issue until after the game.

Sitting out Week 2 showed Wagner had gained a new perspective after the issues he had with a lingering hamstring injury last season.

Wagner wouldn’t sit a year ago to let his hamstring have at least a week off to get better. The result was a muscle injury that got worse until Wagner was on the field unsuccessfully trying to play on one leg.

“Last year I was kind of in the same situation with my hamstring and I can say I didn’t necessarily trust the trainers in that situation and it kind of lingered for the last eight games,” he said. “It wasn’t something I wanted to do again so I made the grown up decision and did the right thing this time.”

Asked why he was so stubborn a year ago, Wagner said he believed he could play through the injury and still contribute at a high level. It wasn’t until Seattle’s Week 14 loss at Jacksonville that it became a significant issue and it was completely evident a week later in a blowout loss to the Rams.

“I felt like I fared pretty well up until the Jacksonville game. I think that’s when it really got worse and it kind of lingered into the Rams game, which if you watch the film you see it,” Wagner said. “Kind of dealing with that I didn’t want to do that again and was smarter this time.”

An unintended benefit of Wagner’s injury this season was the opportunity for Austin Calitro to make his first start. Seattle has struggled to find a clear backup for Wagner since his rookie season, at times shifting K.J. Wright into the middle for games Wagner has missed. Calitro received positive reviews from his first start, and has now played significant snaps at two linebacker positions in the first two weeks.

“He played a really good football game and it’s more than just the plays and getting lined up and all,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was making the calls, handling situations, handling the adjustments that we made during the game, communicating to guys around him. He played like a veteran player and I was really pleased with that.”

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Browns Missing Starting LB Kirksey for Matchup with Jets

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns starting linebacker Christian Kirksey will sit out Thursday night's game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury.

One of Cleveland's captains, Kirksey also missed last week's game at New Orleans, the first time he sat out a game in his NFL career after playing in 65 straight. James Burgess

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns starting linebacker Christian Kirksey will sit out Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury.

One of Cleveland’s captains, Kirksey also missed last week’s game at New Orleans, the first time he sat out a game in his NFL career after playing in 65 straight. James Burgess will start for Kirksey as the Browns try to snap a 19-game winless streak.

New York starting safety Marcus Maye is sitting out with a foot injury. He’ll be replaced by Doug Middleton, who has 11 tackles after two games.

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry will play. He had been listed as questionable with a knee injury. Landry leads the team with 12 catches for 175 yards.

The Jets are also without outside linebacker Josh Martin and tight end Neal Sterling due to concussions. Martin has not played since getting hurt in the Jets’ third preseason game. Sterling was injured last Sunday against Miami.

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‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro and College Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL

The post ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 3 Picks And Insight From CG Technology’s Jason Simbal appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro and College Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports). Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He has wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

The Cleveland Browns -3 and New York Jets kick off NFL Week 3 on Thursday night with the Browns playing the unfamiliar role of favorite. This episode we have a great guest in Jason Simbal (@jsimbal), Vice President of Risk Management for CG Technology, to offer behind-the-counter thinking and strategy as he and Eric talk through the entire NFL slate.

Time codes for the episode follow below. Listen on Spotify here. Tell a friend.


2:10: Setting the line: Perspective from the bookmaker.

5:18: Simbal identifies the most consistently public teams in the NFL. And how quickly people exit the wagon. 

9:46: Conversation amongst the bookmakers. What do they do with the Chiefs scoring ability?!

11:45: Cleveland Browns come into Week 3 as favorites! When was the last time this happened? Why Jason is surprised about the public when it comes to the Browns.

14:10: When do people tend to bet the moneyline? Jason explains how to take advantage of it.

15:41: New Orleans Saints +3 at Atlanta Falcons: The most popular public bet in Week 3? Seven times more action on the Saints this weekend (so far). Eric talks about why he might be leaning against the field.

18:41: Does the kicker mean anything to the spread? Jason addresses.

21:10: Simbal breaks down the intricacies of in-game betting and live action.

22:45: New York Giants +6 at Houston Texans: A sore spot for Jason as he breaks down his favorite team.

25:05: Eric talks about why it’s just as important to understand when to bet as who to bet on.

28:00: How trades and injuries affect the line movement in the NFL and even a look into what the LeBron James Saga meant for NBA futures.

30:30: The situational element in line movement. Jason breaks down the impact of Khalil Mack’s trade on the line.

32:49: Green Bay Packers -3 at Washington Redskins: Home dog alert. Jason talks about why the public has bet the Packers 12 times as much as Washington this weekend and why he’ll be rooting for the Redskins.

37:00: San Francisco 49ers +6.5 at Kansas City Chiefs: Eric identifies his favorite side. Jason explains how Patrick Mahomes’ recent play has shifted this weekend’s line from the lookahead.

41:55: Los Angeles Chargers +7 at Los Angeles Rams: Battle of L.A.! Big ‘Pros vs. Joes’ game shaping up. Who’s that lone Chargers in-person bettor?

44:50: New England Patriots -7 at Detroit Lions:  Sunday Night Football. Belichick’s former assistant Matt Patricia is not inspiring much confidence.

48:10: Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Monday Night Football. The legend of FitzMagic grows. What’s the difference between Winston and FitzMagic besides a gorgeous beard?

50:10: Jason gives one final insider look into the book: What percentage of the money comes in on the spread, props, teasers and futures?

53:55: Eric’s 5 SuperContest Picks of the Week.


Come back on Monday for the NFL Week 3 recap and a look ahead to Week 4. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericsports and Sports Handle @sports_handle.

Bonus! Check out this week’s episode of  ‘The Pro Football Handle’ featuring Robert Walker And Matt Perrault:.

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Bullock perfect on kicks, gets 2-year extension from Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) — While Minnesota and Cleveland changed kickers after only two games, the Bengals gave Randy Bullock a two-year contract extension for his perfect start.

He's made every field goal and extra-point attempt, helping the Bengals remain unbeaten.

The seventh-year kicker has settled into the job after beating out fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott

CINCINNATI (AP) — While Minnesota and Cleveland changed kickers after only two games, the Bengals gave Randy Bullock a two-year contract extension for his perfect start.

He’s made every field goal and extra-point attempt, helping the Bengals remain unbeaten.

The seventh-year kicker has settled into the job after beating out fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott last year, prompting the Bengals (2-0) to offer the contract extension through 2020. He signed it on Tuesday.

Bullock is one of 11 kickers in the NFL who have yet to miss.

“Randy has come in here, grown in his role and has developed a trust through the building,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s morphed his body and feels confident about things. He’s been consistent, and he’s just got to keep working at it. Now is not the time to relax.”

Bullock arrived in Cincinnati in 2016 after Mike Nugent was released . He filled in while Chris Boswell was hurt in Pittsburgh, and the Bengals claimed him off waivers for the final three games. They drafted Elliott and staged a competition for the job in training camp last year. Bullock won, and Elliott wound up with the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

Bullock went 18 of 20 in field-goal attempts and made 31 of 33 extra-point tries last season, earning the Bengals’ trust. He spent the offseason lowering his body fat and strengthening his core muscles.

“I feel like a new person,” he said Thursday after practice. “I feel a lot stronger.”

Heading into a game on Sunday at Carolina (1-1) , Bullock is 4 for 4 on field goals and 8 for 8 on extra points.

Kickers are part of a closely knit group. They compete for jobs, stay in touch during the season, work out together in the offseason on occasion, and offer congratulations or support, depending upon how the last game has gone. Bullock got congratulatory messages from other kickers when he signed his extension.

“A lot of guys have reached out to me in the last couple of days,” Bullock said. “Even Jake Elliott reached out to me, so that was cool. I’ve stayed in touch with him a little bit.”

He’s been on the other side as well. He started his career with Houston from 2012-15, and also has kicked with the Jets, Giants, Steelers and Bengals.

Bullock keeps up with how other kickers fare each week. He saw clips of Minnesota’s Daniel Carlson missing three field goals in a 29-29 tie with Green Bay on Sunday, and Cleveland’s Zane Gonzalez missing a pair of field goals and extra points during a 21-18 loss at New Orleans . Both kickers lost their jobs.

“It’s tough to watch anybody struggle, whether they’re a rookie or a second-year guy or somebody older,” Bullock said. “Unfortunately that’s the growing pains. You’re not going to make every kick, even though you go out with the mentality that you will.

“You can see the look on their face when they miss. Every day your job’s on the line to perform at a high level. Everybody knows that. Nobody knows that better than the person who’s just missed.”

TRA CARSON RETURNS: Running back Tra Carson cleared waivers and reverted to the Bengals’ injured reserve list on Thursday, a day after the team waived him with an injured hamstring. Carson was hurt in practice on Monday.

GIO BETTER: Running back Giovani Bernard had a full practice on Thursday, a day after he was limited by a sore knee. Bernard is the Bengals’ only veteran running back with experience in their system heading into Sunday’s game. Starter Joe Mixon is out for a few weeks following knee surgery, and Carson — No. 3 on the depth chart — got hurt as well.

Linebacker Preston Brown and defensive end Michael Johnson went through limited practices. Brown sat out last Thursday’s 34-23 win over Baltimore with a sprained ankle. Johnson went out early with a strained knee. Center Billy Price (sprained foot) also got hurt in the game and is sidelined several weeks.

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Texans-Giants game features top WRs in Hopkins, Beckham

HOUSTON (AP) — It will be a showcase of two of the NFL's best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. when the Houston Texans and New York Giants meet on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win.

Hopkins likes Beckham's determination and grit, and sees similarities between himself and the New

HOUSTON (AP) — It will be a showcase of two of the NFL’s best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. when the Houston Texans and New York Giants meet on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win.

Hopkins likes Beckham’s determination and grit, and sees similarities between himself and the New York star.

“Of course. He makes plays no matter where the ball is,” Hopkins said. “He’s not the tallest, I’m not the tallest, but he (goes) up and gets it. He just makes plays.”

Beckham is a fan of Hopkins and said he has been admiring him since he was in college.

“I love his game,” Beckham said. “I remember when we were playing them here and he had that catch against Prince (Amukamara) down the field and they called it back. Trust me, I have been watching him, watching him a long time.”

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt raved about the knack both players have for making difficult catches look easy.

“I know they both can catch anything you throw their way,” he said. “I know they both find a way to get open and find a way to make catches that 99 percent of people wouldn’t be able to make, so they’re obviously special playmakers, both of them.”

Hopkins has 188 yards receiving with a touchdown this season and Beckham has 162 yards receiving. Giants coach Pat Shurmur noted that 6-foot-1 Hopkins is a bit bigger than the 5-11 Beckham, but also sees many of the same qualities in the two receivers.

“Their production can be similar in a lot of ways (and) I think they’ve got a lot of similar traits in terms of their competitive nature, their spirit, their ability to win their one-on-one matchups. There’s really a lot of similarities. I think Hopkins is a little bit bigger, if I’m not mistaken, but for the most part, they’re very similar guys.”

Both teams will be looking for a big game from their star receivers to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole. The Texans lost to Tennessee 20-17 last week and the Giants fell to the Cowboys 20-13.

Some things to know about New York’s game against Houston:

BARKLEY’S RECEIVING

New York running back Saquon Barkley set a franchise record with 14 receptions last week against the Cowboys and tied the NFL mark for most catches by a rookie. The second overall pick in this year’s draft was asked if getting that many catches was a surprise.

“If any running back told you that he expected to have 14 catches in a game, he’ll be lying to you,” he said. “So obviously I did not expect that, but … (the) Dallas Cowboys did a great job defensively taking away the deep threats and as a quarterback you got to go through your progressions and sometimes you go through your progressions and there’s a check down to your running back. It just happened to be more times this game.”

Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney raved about the young running back.

“He catches all the balls for them,” he said. “He does everything for them. He’s a very versatile back. He can catch it, run it. There’s nothing the guy can’t do. It’s going to take a whole team effort to get him down on the ground.”

SEARCHING FOR A SACK

Watt had a solid performance last week in his second game since sitting out the final 11 games last year after breaking his leg, recording two tackles for losses and forcing a fumble. But the player who has twice led the NFL in sacks in his career still hasn’t taken down the quarterback this season. It’s been more than two years since Watt last recorded a sack after he also missed 13 games in 2016 because of a back problem. His last sack came Sept. 18, 2016, when he had 1 1/2 against the Chiefs.

He joked about needing to up his game since nose tackle D.J. Reader already has two this season.

“He leads the team in sacks from the nose guard position, so I need to start doing my job a little better,” Watt said.

INJURY WATCH

There are definite areas of concern for the Giants. Veteran John Greco is now the starting center. He replaces Jon Halapio, who broke his lower right leg and ankle last week. LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) has not played this season and is not full speed. Without their best pass rusher, New York has one sack this season. The biggest weakness might be at cornerback with starter Eli Apple nursing a hamstring. B.W. Webb replaced him in the third quarter and the Cowboys went after him. Expect the Texans to do the same with Will Fuller and Hopkins.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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Carson Wentz makes long-awaited return for Eagles vs Colts

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz has been waiting for this moment since he tore up his knee last December.

No. 11 will be back under center for the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) against the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday after watching his teammates win the Super Bowl without him in February, and missing the first two

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz has been waiting for this moment since he tore up his knee last December.

No. 11 will be back under center for the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) against the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday after watching his teammates win the Super Bowl without him in February, and missing the first two games this season.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wentz said. “It’s been quite the grind of an offseason. There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of built-up almost anxiety over when it was going to be that time, and almost relief finally being cleared to get back out there.”

Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP in Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England, returns to the sideline to make way for Wentz, who finished third in NFL MVP voting after setting a single-season franchise record with 33 touchdown passes and helping the Eagles go from 7-9 to 13-3.

Wentz will wear a brace on his left knee — he tore his ACL and LCL in Week 14 diving into the end zone on a scramble. He doesn’t plan to change the way he plays, but understands the importance of avoiding hits.

“I feel extremely confident moving around, on the run,” he said. “Even last year, I never said I’m a running quarterback. I never want to be. But I’ll find ways to extend time in the pocket and make plays down the field. I don’t think that’s ever going anywhere.”

Eagles coach Doug Pederson isn’t going to alter his game plan or his philosophy to accommodate a quarterback returning from injury, even if it’s the face of the franchise.

“I’m not going to coach scared. I’m not going to coach paranoid,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to go in thinking, ‘Oh no, we can’t do ‘this,’ we can’t do ‘that.’ We just have to continue to go play and I (have) to coach that way. That’s where the confidence with the team comes, by doing that.”

Here are some things to know about the Colts-Eagles matchup:

REICH’S RETURN:

Colts coach Frank Reich was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons and is one of the most liked guys to come through the team’s building. He has a close relationship with Pederson and texted back and forth with him this week.

“I am as close with Doug as I am with anybody in this profession,” Reich said. “I just think the world of him. I think he’s a superior coach. He’s an incredible coach and an incredible person.”

The familiarity could give the Colts an advantage.

“We feel like they know us and we know them, even though we don’t see each other every year,” Pederson said. “I’m excited to see Frank again. But at the same time we’re up on the things that he could make them aware of.”

FAVORITE TARGET

Wentz will have Jordan Matthews back in the huddle with him. Matthews was traded to Buffalo last August but signed with the Eagles this week to bolster a depleted receivers corps. He was Wentz’s top target in 2016 and the two were close friends off the field.

“Obviously, with Jordan, I feel good with him,” Wentz said. “He was gone only one season. He’s picking up things pretty quickly.”

CAPTAIN ANDREW

The Colts got Andrew Luck back in Week 1 after playing without him for an entire season. Luck is benefiting from Reich’s new offense that’s designed for quick passes. His completion rate is 71.4 percent, but he does have three picks.

“I feel I have a lot to improve on and that’s exciting,” Luck said. “It makes practice fun.

BURNED DEEP

Ryan Fitzpatrick torched Philadelphia’s secondary last week in Tampa’s 27-21 win, throwing for 402 yards and four TDs, including a pair of 75-yard scores. The Eagles know they have to eliminate the big plays.

“We were a sloppy defense in that game,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Our tackling wasn’t as good as it normally is, our technique wasn’t as good as it normally is. Our pursuit and things like that got a little bit sloppy at times. We need to do a better job.”

MISSING MAN

The Eagles traded up in the second round to select tight end Dallas Goedert and expectations were high after an impressive preseason. But Goedert has only played 34 snaps and has one catch through two games. Considering the Eagles were missing two of their top three receivers last week, it’s surprising Goedert wasn’t part of the offense.

“We have a talented player in Dallas, and we need to find more ways to get him involved,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.

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Vikings RB Cook still sidelined by hamstring injury

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook did not practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

 

Cook is fighting a hamstring injury and also sat out Wednesday's practice, opening reps for Latavius Murray, who would start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday if Cook can't play.

 

Cook said after last week's overtime tie at

 

 

Running back Dalvin Cook did not practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

 

Cook is fighting a hamstring injury and also sat out Wednesday’s practice, opening reps for Latavius Murray, who would start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday if Cook can’t play.

 

Cook said after last week’s overtime tie at Green Bay that he was cramping, but not injured.

 

Because Cook is coming back from a season-ending knee injury sustained in 2017 as a rookie, the Vikings are likely to be overly cautious with any injury.

 

Cook has 26 carries for 78 yards (3.0-yard average) this season, and Murray has 16 carries for 61 yards (4.1).

 

–Field Level Media

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FanDuel to Pay Out on Erroneous Tickets

According to an Associated Press report, FanDuel will pay out more than $82,000 on an erroneous sports betting ticket. New Jersey’s Anthony Prince on Tuesday shared his story with local media, saying he placed an in-game wager on the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders when the Broncos were down with 1

According to an Associated Press report, FanDuel will pay out more than $82,000 on an erroneous sports betting ticket. New Jersey’s Anthony Prince on Tuesday shared his story with local media, saying he placed an in-game wager on the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders when the Broncos were down with 1 minute, 10 seconds to play. He placed his bet at the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, and the printed ticket showed +75000, when it should have showed -600. The cashier did not catch the error and after the Broncos won by a point on a last-second field goal, Prince tried to collect.

Initially, FanDuel declined to pay Prince, but after investigating, on Thursday announced that it would make good on not only Prince’s bet, but on several others made during the same time span.

The company reportedly decided to pay because it said “sports betting is supposed to be fun.”

According to FanDuel, the ticket that should have been generated would have shown that Prince had to bet $600 to win $100. Instead, his $110 bet is now good for a total payout of $82,610. On Sunday, when FanDuel declined to pay on the ticket, it reportedly offered Prince $500 and tickets to several NFL New York Giants games, but he declined. The company then opened an investigation, though its rules clearly state that erroneous tickets will be paid out at the “correct odds.”

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Gruden says he can pronounce Tannehill, but can he stop him?

MIAMI (AP) — With this week's game preparations completed for the Oakland Raiders, coach Jon Gruden is confident he knows the Miami Dolphins' playbook, personnel and pronunciations.

It's TAN-uh-hill.

That's not the way Gruden said the name when he was a network TV analyst talking about Ryan Tannehill.

"He always pronounced my name funny: 'Tanney-hill,'"

MIAMI (AP) — With this week’s game preparations completed for the Oakland Raiders, coach Jon Gruden is confident he knows the Miami Dolphins’ playbook, personnel and pronunciations.

It’s TAN-uh-hill.

That’s not the way Gruden said the name when he was a network TV analyst talking about Ryan Tannehill.

“He always pronounced my name funny: ‘Tanney-hill,'” the Dolphins quarterback recalls with a laugh.

Gruden stands corrected.

“I called him that on Monday Night Football a time or two,” the Raiders’ first-year coach says. “I knew a guy named Steve Taneyhill who played quarterback at South Carolina. You can’t fault me; I’m human like everybody else. But I know his name now for sure.”

With that issue settled, here are other things to know about Sunday’s matchup between Miami (2-0) and Oakland (0-2):

KEEPING IT GROUNDED: Tannehill’s name may be foremost for the Raiders’ defense, but he has handed off more than he has thrown in the first two weeks. That’s a big change from last year, when the Dolphins threw 64 percent of the time, the NFL’s highest rate.

With Miami 2-0 for the first time since 2013, Tannehill’s happy to pass less.

“I’m good with whatever is winning,” he says. “Whatever scores points.”

Oakland’s soft run defense makes it likely Miami running backs Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore will get plenty of touches. Broncos rookie Phillip Lindsay ran for 107 yards last week against the Raiders, and they’re allowing an average of 5.7 yards per rush, worst in the league.

ON TARGET: The Raiders’ Derek Carr bounced back from a three-interception performance in the opener to complete 29 of 32 passes in a one-point loss at Denver. His 90.6 completion percentage was the best ever for a QB with at least 30 attempts, and would have been better if not for a key drop on fourth-and-1 by Keith Smith.

Carr says he’s already able to anticipate what play Gruden will call next.

“We’re building that, and it’s going to take time to continue to build that,” he says. “But it’s kind of cool to already be thinking what he’s thinking before it even comes out.”

NELSON’S TURN: Oakland’s biggest offseason addition at the skill positions hasn’t paid off yet: Jordy Nelson has just five receptions for 53 yards.

Tight end Jared Cook was the focal point of the passing game in the opener with nine catches for 180 yards, and receiver Amari Cooper got into the act last week with 10 catches for 116 yards.

“It’s just matchups and opportunities,” Nelson says. “Obviously, Jared had a great game Week 1, Coop had one last week, so maybe I’m in the rotation this week.”

VERSATILE: Dolphins newcomer Albert Wilson has become a multiple threat, lining up as a boundary receiver and occasionally in the backfield. He has six catches for 68 yards and a score, and four rushes for 15 yards.

“I’ve been around a few guys over my time who were similar, but I don’t think as dynamic as what he is,” coach Adam Gase says. “He’s legitimately a guy that is almost built like a running back but plays like a wide receiver.”

The speedy Wilson says the way he’s being used takes him back to his days as a high school quarterback.

“It’s just coach Gase bringing it out, just challenging me to be a better player,” Wilson says. “He’s definitely bringing it out of me.”

PRESSURE POINT: The Raiders did a better job generating heat on the quarterback last week when they had nine pressures, compared with four in the opener, according to SportRadar. But Oakland has just two sacks, tied for second-fewest in the league.

The Raiders traded Khalil Mack before the season, and he has two sacks and 10 pressures for Chicago. Oakland is looking for a replacement elite rusher.

“It’s hard to find a great one. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one,” Gruden says.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.

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Patriots’ Gronkowski limited in practice with ankle issue

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tight end Rob Gronkowski is dealing with an ankle issue as the Patriots prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Lions.

Gronkowski was a limited participant in practice Thursday after participating in Wednesday's workout. He has started both games for New England this season. He has nine catches for 138

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tight end Rob Gronkowski is dealing with an ankle issue as the Patriots prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Lions.

Gronkowski was a limited participant in practice Thursday after participating in Wednesday’s workout. He has started both games for New England this season. He has nine catches for 138 yards and touchdown.

Defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung both missed practice for the second straight day as they continue to go through the league’s concussion protocol.

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Jaguars’ Fournette feels ‘way better’ than he did last week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette practiced in a limited capacity for the second straight day Thursday and feels "a lot better, like way better" than he did a week ago.

Fournette strained his right hamstring in the season opener at the New York Giants and sat out last week's victory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette practiced in a limited capacity for the second straight day Thursday and feels “a lot better, like way better” than he did a week ago.

Fournette strained his right hamstring in the season opener at the New York Giants and sat out last week’s victory against New England.

The Jaguars (2-0) host AFC South rival Tennessee (1-1) on Sunday.

Fournette says his playing status is “up to the coaches at this point” and adds that “it’s still early in the season.”

Fournette also says he doesn’t “want to rush anything. It’s a long season.”

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Fournette has missed four games in two seasons. The Jaguars are 4-0 without him.

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Rodgers, Peterson meet again when Packers visit Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Adrian Peterson has played against Aaron Rodgers more than a dozen times and knows not to be surprised by anything.

So when the prolific quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to a comeback victory in Week 1 and played well on an injured left knee in Week 2, it was par

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Adrian Peterson has played against Aaron Rodgers more than a dozen times and knows not to be surprised by anything.

So when the prolific quarterback led the Green Bay Packers to a comeback victory in Week 1 and played well on an injured left knee in Week 2, it was par for the course.

“You see him hobbling around last week and how effortless he was making plays,” Peterson said. “That’s one thing I learned: When you’ve got Aaron Rodgers on your team, you’ve always got a chance to win a game.”

Peterson and Rodgers meet on an NFL field for the 15th time Sunday. While Rodgers is showing he can still produce at less than 100 percent health, Peterson is now 33 and with the Washington Redskins, who have their sights set on containing Green Bay’s offense in the hopes of bouncing back from a bad loss to Indianapolis.

“You’ve got to prepare every day like it’s a championship game,” Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. “You’ve got to give (Rodgers) different looks on defense, you’ve got to confuse him and you’ve got to send pressure at him. That’s the only way you beat the greatest — by moving him off the spot and switching up the looks.”

Rodgers’ ability to keep plays alive and ad-lib when options aren’t there are things that make him one of the NFL’s best. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Rodgers: “You don’t want anyone to be injured, but that’ll help a little bit because one of the strengths of his game is his ability to create off schedule.”

Neither Packers coach Mike McCarthy nor Rodgers will say how injured the 34-year-old is. Rodgers said his knee was still sore even as he continues to play through the pain.

“It’s just going to be something you’ve got to deal with for a while,” Rodgers said. “Take it week by week. It doesn’t seem like there’s a major setback at this point, so just being smart about it and trying to get ready to play.”

One way to limit Rodgers and the Packers (1-0-1) is holding on to the ball, something the Redskins (1-1) struggled with against the Colts when they went 5 of 15 on third down. Part of that is getting Peterson going like he did in Week 1, and this may be the perfect opportunity because his 1,779 yards rushing against Green Bay are the most of any opponent during his career.

“I don’t think anything brings out the best,” Peterson said. “Any game I’m a part of, I’m giving 110 percent. Obviously, the Vikings and Packers is a rivalry game, highly anticipated, so I don’t know if other guys play extra hard. I was giving all I had each time I played those guys.”

Some things to watch when the Packers visit the Redskins:

SMITH GROWS UP

Redskins QB Alex Smith is on his third team since the 49ers took him first overall in 2005, the same draft Rodgers slipped to 24. While Rodgers said the two quarterbacks have developed a good friendship, McCarthy was San Francisco’s offensive coordinator during Smith’s rookie season and has been impressed by his ability to handle expectations, moving around and continue to make plays.

“I was always amazed just to watch him continue to have success in the National Football League,” McCarthy said. “What he’s dealt with as far as the amount of change just speaks volumes about him as a football player and a person.”

THE OTHER AARON

The Packers should have their three-man backfield back this weekend with the expected return of Aaron Jones. The tailback was suspended by the NFL for the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

McCarthy has said Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery remain atop the depth chart, though it can’t hurt for the Packers to have another option on offense especially with Rodgers banged up. Jones, who showed flashes of potential as a rookie last season, can bring a slashing, physical presence to the backfield.

BRUISED LINE

Washington’s offense line that paved the way for a league-best 182 yards in Week 1 was not at its best last week and could use the upcoming time off after the Green Bay game. Left tackle Trent Williams is still dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, right guard Brandon Scherff injured his right knee against the Colts and left guard Shaun Lauvao could miss some time with a calf injury.

With the of shifting center Chase Roullier to left guard and inserting journeyman center Tony Bergstrom into the starting lineup.

ON THE CORNER

It appears that the Packers might be without one of their top cornerbacks against the Redskins in Kevin King. He left the tie with the Vikings with a groin injury.

If King can’t play, it will leave more snaps for rookie cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson and veteran Davon House. Alexander, the Packers’ first-round draft pick, is off to a good start in his NFL career in showing the potential to make big plays. His fourth-quarter interception last week against Minnesota was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer call on linebacker Clay Matthews.

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AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in Green Bay, Wisconsin, contributed.

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Odell Beckham Jr. upset with losing and frequent PED tests

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. is sick of losing and frustrated with seemingly being asked to take tests every other week by the NFL for performance-enhancers.

Beckham tweeted about the tests Thursday before the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday's game in Houston against the Texans (0-2).

"It's actually funny how I 'randomly'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. is sick of losing and frustrated with seemingly being asked to take tests every other week by the NFL for performance-enhancers.

Beckham tweeted about the tests Thursday before the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday’s game in Houston against the Texans (0-2).

“It’s actually funny how I ‘randomly’ get tested every other week,” Beckham wrote. “Dear @NFL please stop sending these people, ur takin away from meeting times and film… thanks.”

Beckham has never been suspended by the NFL for using a banned substance.

As far as losing, Beckham hasn’t been on the field for a win since the end of the 2016 season. He was hurt in Game 5 last year, breaking his ankle against the Chargers.

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Jaguars RB Fournette ready for ‘fistfight’ vs. Titans

 

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he plans to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

 

Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury last week. He left the Week 1 win over the New York Giants with a strain and said he felt a pop.

 

The

 

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he plans to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

 

Fournette did not play because of a hamstring injury last week. He left the Week 1 win over the New York Giants with a strain and said he felt a pop.

 

The Titans beat the Houston Texans 20-17 last week.

 

“That team is talented,” Fournette said. “We respect their D-line. It’s going to be a fistfight once again, like it always is.”

 

The Jaguars are 4-0 in games in which Fournette does not play.

 

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Mahomes making home debut as 49ers visit Arrowhead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never lost an NFL game as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, beating the Broncos last season and the Chargers and Steelers to start this season.

He's also never started a game at Arrowhead Stadium.

That moment comes Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never lost an NFL game as the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, beating the Broncos last season and the Chargers and Steelers to start this season.

He’s also never started a game at Arrowhead Stadium.

That moment comes Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and it’s one that Mahomes has thought about ever since the Chiefs traded up to select him 10th overall last year.

Because as much fun as it was to win a trio of games on the road, performing for his home fans figures to be quite a party.

“I’m extremely excited,” Mahomes said. “I can’t wait to run on the field and hear them roar.”

You can bet there will be plenty of noise for Mahomes, given the way he’s performed two games into the season. He’s tossed an NFL-record 10 touchdown passes, has yet to throw an interception, and he already has Chiefs fans wondering whether this is the season their playoff nightmares end.

“Remember, it’s only been two games,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I understand the excitement. I get it. But when you’re in the grinder like he is, like I am — the rest of the team — you don’t worry about all that other stuff. You worry about a really good team coming in here.”

Besides, the 49ers (1-1) have a fairly high-profile quarterback of their own.

Jimmy Garoppolo was perfect in five starts to finish last season, and while he’s had trouble with interceptions the first two weeks, he’s also a big reason why San Francisco won a shootout against the Lions last week. Garoppolo threw a pair of touchdown passes in the 30-27 victory.

“I think it’s good to have a mindset of you hold yourself to a high standard,” he said, “so when you do that, you want to perform at your best. You try to not make any mistakes.”

Mahomes and Garoppolo each had time to learn that lesson under quarterbacks that rarely make an error: Alex Smith with the Chiefs last year and Tom Brady when Garoppolo was with the Patriots.

“I think it’s tremendous for a quarterback to sit his first year,” Garoppolo said. “You kind of try to put yourself in that situation, how to learn from it, what you would do if you were in the spot they were in. There’s a ton of things that you could benefit from.”

Such as how to win in a tough road environment like Arrowhead Stadium.

Or in the case of Mahomes, how to win in one of the most favorable home venues in the NFL.

“I know he’s looking forward to it,” Reid said. “Should be a heck of a game.”

SPREADING THE WEALTH

The Chiefs have already had three different receivers with 100-yard games, while running back Kareem Hunt is coming off a 75-yard rushing performance against Pittsburgh.

In other words, the Chiefs may boast the deepest, most versatile set of skill position players in the NFL.

“We can all contribute to the game, no matter how many targets, no matter how many yards,” wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. “We’re really about winning. That’s all we’re about.”

STEPPING UP

The 49ers faced questions at running back after projected starter Jerick McKinnon went down with a season-ending knee injury a week before the opener.

Second-year back Matt Breida has filled in nicely and leads the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 184 yards.

“A lot of people thought this year that I wasn’t going to get as much playing time as I did last year,” Breida said. “It sucks that Jet went down, but I feel like me and (Alfred Morris) are going to be able to help this team out a lot and have a great year.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE

There should be points-a-plenty on Sunday. The Chiefs are allowing 430 yards passing and 508 yards per game, last in the league, while the 49ers are in the 20s in each of the statistical categories. San Francisco is also minus-2 in turnover margin.

FOSTER RETURNS

San Francisco figures to get a big boost on defense from Reuben Foster, who was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse and personal conduct policy.

The linebacker excelled in 10 games when he was healthy last season, showing an ability to shut down the running game and the athleticism to guard running backs and tight ends.

Those skills could be crucial this week against Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce.

LOCKDOWN SHERMAN

Opposing quarterbacks are staying away from 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, even as he comes back from last year’s season-ending Achilles’ tendon surgery. Sherman has allowed one catch in 99 coverage snaps and only been targeted four times, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Sherman is a very instinctual player,” Mahomes said. “They have a big defensive line. It’s going to be a big challenge, especially our first home game. We just have to keep getting better.”

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Case Keenum returns to Broncos practice after missing 1 day

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with a sore knee.

Keenum didn't want to miss Wednesday's workout but said he understood that being cautious in September will give him a better chance of staying in the lineup all season.

Keenum has led the Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with a sore knee.

Keenum didn’t want to miss Wednesday’s workout but said he understood that being cautious in September will give him a better chance of staying in the lineup all season.

Keenum has led the Broncos (2-0) to a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks, pushing his record over the last two seasons to 13-3.

He helped the Minnesota Vikings reach the NFC championship game last year before signing a two-year, $36 million free agent contract with Denver.

Right tackle Jared Veldheer (concussion) was cleared to return to activity but not contact Thursday. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) and cornerback Adam Jones (thigh) were held out again.

The Broncos play at Baltimore (1-1) on Sunday.

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Chiefs have invested heavily in protecting Patrick Mahomes

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It's a good thing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes prefers takeout to dining in these days, because the first-year starter would be recognized in any restaurant in Kansas City.

Not just because of his Mohawk, either.

Mahomes is off to a record-setting start to the season, and he has the

 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It’s a good thing Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes prefers takeout to dining in these days, because the first-year starter would be recognized in any restaurant in Kansas City.

Not just because of his Mohawk, either.

Mahomes is off to a record-setting start to the season, and he has the Chiefs at 2-0 heading into their home opener Sunday against San Francisco.

And that has just about everyone buzzing, from busboys to restaurant owners, about the possibility of another AFC West title and some postseason success.

“I can only imagine it’s going to be pretty interesting to be Patrick Mahomes around town,” Chiefs center Mitch Morse said with a sly smile.

Morse doesn’t have as much trouble when he dines out, of course. Nor do the rest of the Chiefs’ offensive linemen, even though they’re a big reason Mahomes has had so much success.

A group that returned largely intact from last season, when it helped Kareem Hunt win the NFL rushing title, has proven it can keep Mahomes clean as well.

The line has allowed just two sacks despite going on the road to face the Chargers and Steelers, two fairly salty defenses, and that has translated into offensive numbers that rank near the top of the league.

Most importantly? The Chiefs are averaging 40 points per game.

“I think jelling is a great word,” Morse said. “It’s four years for some of us together, and with offensive line continuity is the biggest thing. The more we play together helps.”

The Chiefs have certainly invested in their offensive line.

Their first draft pick of the Andy Reid era was Eric Fisher, who was selected first overall in 2013 and has played well enough to sign a $63 million, six-year deal.

Morse was a second-round pick in 2015, and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was a sixth-round flyer who panned out so well he also signed a long-term contract to the tune of $42.36 million over five years.

Kansas City solidified the right tackle position by signing Mitchell Schwartz to a $33 million, five-year deal a couple of years ago, and shored up the only remaining spot on the offensive line when former first-round pick Cam Erving was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.

He’s played so well that the Chiefs signed him to a $15.75 million extension last offseason.

It’s easier to tie up money in the offensive line when the quarterback, often the most expensive position on the roster, happens to be on a rookie deal.

But it also shows how much value the Chiefs put in protecting Mahomes, and how much confidence they have in the group they’ve assembled.

“They’ve worked very hard at coming together and working,” Reid said.

“We have a ton of things we can improve on. As defensive coordinators study and see these things, they will throw different wrinkles at you and you have to rise up every week.

“That’s not a simple part of this. In this business it’s not so much about what you did the week before, it’s about what you do today.

“We have to keep answering these different challenges,” Reid said. “We did OK last week, now we will prepare ourselves for this week.”

Indeed, the challenge presented by the Steelers was unique. Their defense tends to disguise blitz packages better than most, and that could have created problems for an inexperienced quarterback.

But beyond keeping Mahomes upright, the offensive also was instrumental in helping him diagnose what the Steelers were doing. It was a true team effort in calling out the blitzes.

Now the challenge is San Francisco, led by sack specialist DeForest Buckner.

“It’s the same type of scheme that the Chargers ran and originated in Seattle. They have a lot of good players,” Mahomes said.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us, especially being our first home game. We have to stay in process. Keep doing what we do well, keep getting better, fixing our mistakes and hopefully come out with the win.”

Notes: Safety Eric Berry (Achilles tendon) remained out of practice Thursday, making it unlikely he will make his season debut against San Francisco. He’s been out since early in training camp. … DT Chris Jones returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s workout with a groin injury. … FS Armani Watts was excused from practice for personal reasons.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Sit Rodgers? Worth at least mulling for W3

Patrick Mahomes is good. 2018 David Johnson looks nothing like 2016 David Johnson. The Rams defense has not only replaced the Seahawks as the NFC's most dominant unit, but may be the best the NFL has to offer.

Week 3 will go a long way toward helping fantasy football owners decide how those clear early

Patrick Mahomes is good. 2018 David Johnson looks nothing like 2016 David Johnson. The Rams defense has not only replaced the Seahawks as the NFC’s most dominant unit, but may be the best the NFL has to offer.

Week 3 will go a long way toward helping fantasy football owners decide how those clear early observations play out. Mahomes, Johnson and the Rams defense are certain starts, but the same can’t be said for some others whose fate will hinge on the faith of their owners.

START: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers: FitzMagic’s next act won’t be too hard as the Steelers defense looks easily disappears. Pittsburgh is 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and will have to contend with the withering assault that will come from Fitzpatrick firing the ball to the likes of Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson. Mahomes’ historic start is the only reason that Fitzpatrick’s 699 yards and eight touchdowns aren’t the story of fantasy football. Playing Fitzpatrick on Monday night will give his owners plenty of confidence in pulling out a Week 3 victory.

SIT: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Seriously. The threat of his injured knee giving way blends in with a road game against a Redskins defense that has allowed 161 passing yards per game and a mere 5.1 yards per attempt. Rodgers saw his Week 1 fantasy output nearly cut in half by the Vikings last week and the Redskins will be focused on forcing him to make plays on his bad leg. Under normal circumstances, Rodgers is a must-start on a weekly basis, yet there’s too much risk in play with his injury. Those who have a QB2 who is healthy and has a favorable matchup may want to go in that direction.

START: Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: He’s not going to repeat his 12.5 yards per carry from last week against the Lions, but Breida is in line for another big afternoon against a Chiefs defense that is giving up yardage in big chunks. While Kansas City is seventh overall versus the run, its inability to stop pass-catching backs is why it’s 30th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing runners. Alfred Morris will still get his touches but in a game with two bad defenses, Brieda is the clear choice, especially in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.

SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: A hamstring issue led Cook to miss practice on Wednesday and with a battered Bills defense on the Sunday docket, this could lead Minnesota to either put him on a tight “pitch count” in favor of Latavius Murray or have him sit out. Buffalo is 29th in fantasy points allowed per game against opposing backs, making Cook a tempting play, but don’t be surprised if the Vikings play the long-term game and make Murray an intriguing flex option.

START: Corey Clement, RB, Eagles: It’s unlikely that Jay Ajayi and/or Darren Sproles will be available against the Colts, making Clement a sneaky good start in PPR leagues. Clement caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in last week’s loss against the Buccaneers and gets a meaty matchup against Indianapolis. The Colts are allowing 11 catches and 93 yards per game to opposing running backs. With Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz as the only reliable options in the Philadelphia passing game, look for the returning Carson Wentz to help get Clement 12-15 touches as a dual threat.

SIT: Corey Davis, WR, Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota’s status remains in question, which means Blaine Gabbert will again be cast into the role of game manager for a run-heavy attack. It doesn’t help Davis’ cause that he’ll see plenty of All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey much of the afternoon. The Jaguars are ninth in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers and if Gabbert is indeed the starter, don’t count on Davis putting up big numbers.

START: Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Leonard Fournette should return to the lineup, but it shouldn’t keep Cole from having a solid encore performance after last week’s seven-catch, 116-yard outing against the Patriots that included his first touchdown of the season. Cole has caught 10 of his 12 targets in the early going and has shown his big-play skills, having pulled in four passes of 20-plus yards. Tennessee has allowed a staggering 70 percent completion rate to opposing passers and if the Titans put too much focus on slowing down Fournette, Cole and Blake Bortles will be able to put up solid numbers.

SIT: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: C.J. Uzomah is beginning to steal targets from Eifert and it doesn’t help his cause that the Panthers have been solid when it comes to containing opposing tight ends. Eifert could have red zone potential, but the Bengals will look to exploit a Carolina defense that is 28th in completion percentage (73.7) by using running back Gio Bernard to help take attention off A.J. Green.

START: Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Detroit is 30th in rushing, which is more reason for Stafford to fire away against a New England defense that was scorched by Blake Bortles last week. The Pats have allowed 276 passing yards per game and Stafford comes off a 347-yard, three-TD performance in the loss at the 49ers. This should also be a good game to play Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, who has seemingly passed by Marvin Jones and could have a huge Sunday night.

SIT: Josh Gordon, WR, Patriots: Tom Brady will get to deploy his latest weapon on Sunday night, but Gordon won’t be on the field enough to justify starting him. Gordon will probably get 15-20 plays, which means he will get three to four targets with at least one a downfield shot. It will be best to wait a game or two before going all-in with Gordon, whose upside has never looked better now that he is with a franchise who can help him mature on and off the field.

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Colts’ Hilton, Doyle, Castonzo miss practice again

 

 

Four key offensive pieces missed practice on Thursday for the Indianapolis Colts, raising questions about their availability for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) all sat out Wednesday and Thursday.

 

 

Four key offensive pieces missed practice on Thursday for the Indianapolis Colts, raising questions about their availability for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and running back Marlon Mack (foot, hamstring) all sat out Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Hilton, who has missed just eight of the team’s 143 snaps through two games, said Wednesday his injury is “nothing to worry about,” but questions will remain if he does not get in at least a limited practice Friday. He leads the team in receptions (12) and yards (129) and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (2).

 

Doyle has missed just seven snaps through two weeks, though he has taken a backseat to free agent signee Eric Ebron (seven catches, 77 yards, two scores) in the passing game.

 

Castonzo has yet to play after sustaining a pair of setbacks — the most recent coming last week — since he initially hurt his hamstring during training camp. He had previously expected to return in Week 2.

 

Mack made his season debut last week after a preseason hamstring injury, tallying 36 total yards on 11 touches, but he picked up a foot issue in the game. Head coach Frank Reich said Monday that Mack was “a little banged up” but “fine.”

 

The Colts’ offense has been inconsistent through two weeks, ranking 26th in yards per play and tied for 18th in points while ranking No. 1 in the NFL on third downs and eighth in sacks allowed per pass attempt.

 

Luck has been sacked just three times on 87 dropbacks, with Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark combining to replace Castonzo on the blind side and rookie Quenton Nelson solidifying the left guard spot.

 

The Eagles are tied for eighth in the NFL with six sacks this season.

 

–Field Level Media

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As AB Turns; Brown says he’s upset Steelers are losing

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown says he doesn't want to be traded and admitted he's got to do a better job of limiting distractions going forward.

Brown raised eyebrows in the aftermath of Pittsburgh's loss to Kansas City last Sunday when he skipped mandatory meetings on Monday for what he

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown says he doesn’t want to be traded and admitted he’s got to do a better job of limiting distractions going forward.

Brown raised eyebrows in the aftermath of Pittsburgh’s loss to Kansas City last Sunday when he skipped mandatory meetings on Monday for what he called personal reasons.

Brown also responded to criticism on social media by suggesting the team should trade him if it wants to find out how productive he can be when not playing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Brown stressed Thursday he wants to remain with the club and that he’s simply upset because Pittsburgh is winless through two games.

Though the team disciplined Brown for unspecified reasons, Brown said he expects to be on the field at the start of Monday’s game in Tampa Bay.

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Giant concern: Protecting Manning vs. Watt, Texans

 

 

Even during the practice week, the hits keep coming for Eli Manning and the winless New York Giants as they prepare for the Houston Texans.

 

Already saddled with a beleaguered offensive line that left Manning under frequent duress last Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants added injury to insult by

 

 

Even during the practice week, the hits keep coming for Eli Manning and the winless New York Giants as they prepare for the Houston Texans.

 

Already saddled with a beleaguered offensive line that left Manning under frequent duress last Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants added injury to insult by placing starting center Jon Halapio on injured reserve after he suffered fractures in his lower leg and ankle in the third quarter of their seventh loss in eight games.

 

The Giants (0-2) replaced Halapio, who started six games at right guard in 2017, with 11-year veteran John Greco. Greco spent his first three seasons with the then-St. Louis Rams before playing six years with the Cleveland Browns prior to signing with the Giants last November.

 

Manning has been sacked eight times, six by the Cowboys in that 20-13 loss. The Giants have struggled to shift their offense out of neutral, ranking 28th in total yards (579), 29th in yards per play (4.5), and 30th in scoring (28 points). Still, in advance of the only meeting between winless teams on the NFL schedule this weekend, Manning expressed confidence that a smooth transition is afoot with the Giants visiting the Texans (0-2) on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

 

“Greco, he’s a vet, he’s been here,” Manning said. “He came here last year; he’s been here all training camp. We’ve worked together, we’ve gotten snaps throughout training camp so that shouldn’t be a problem. He knows what’s going on.

 

“We’ve met this week and talked a bunch on calls and making sure we’re seeing the same thing and hearing things the same way.”

 

Despite featuring a defense that has performed decently in road losses at New England and Tennessee, the Texans aren’t in a position to enter their home opener brimming with confidence over the Giants’ struggles. The Cowboys might have offered a blueprint for harassing Manning, but the Texans are mired in an eight-game skid and continue to find ways to lose, whether by untimely penalties or deflating turnovers, namely from quarterback Deshaun Watson.

 

“Obviously, Dallas did a good job in that game of getting to the quarterback,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ve got to make sure that No. 1, we stop the run. That’s our deal every week. Then, when they drop back to pass, we’ve got to spin the dial. I think that’s the big thing, too.

 

“Part of that is every week, getting pressure on the quarterback. How you do that is another ball of wax but I think that’s all part of what we’re trying to do this week.”

 

Watson is just two games into his return from an ACL repair that cut short his dynamic rookie season. Reconciling that fact and his unsurprisingly spotty play against outsized expectations has been a challenge for most everyone, Watson included. He bristled at questions concerning the Texans’ poor start after their 20-17 loss to the Titans and didn’t appear to soften his stance days later when asked to assess his three turnovers, including two end-zone interceptions.

 

With just eight starts on his ledger, Watson still needs time to mature. That process can sometimes be painstaking.

 

“I don’t have no regret from throwing those,” Watson said. “You live and you learn, shot plays, throwing it to my guy, try to give him a chance. The other team made plays. They get paid just like we do, they’re professional athletes, so we’ll continue to do what we do and whatever OB (O’Brien) asks me to do.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Analyst who fed NFL player tips pleads guilty to fraud

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The former investment bank analyst who fed confidential stock tips to NFL player Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to securities fraud.

Damilare Sonoiki, who also wrote for the television show "Black-ish" for a season, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday. Prosecutors allege Sonoiki provided four separate non-public tips about companies to Kendricks,

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The former investment bank analyst who fed confidential stock tips to NFL player Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to securities fraud.

Damilare Sonoiki, who also wrote for the television show “Black-ish” for a season, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday. Prosecutors allege Sonoiki provided four separate non-public tips about companies to Kendricks, a former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, in exchange for Eagles tickets, invitations to music video shoots and parties and about $10,000 in cash.

Authorities say the tips netted about $1.2 million in illegal profits.

Kendricks pleaded guilty earlier this month to insider training. He was released from the Cleveland Browns when the charges were filed and has since been signed on a week-to-week contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

Sentencing for both Kendricks and Sonoiki are scheduled for January.

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Mahomes already chasing Manning and Brady

Patrick Mahomes is already chasing Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Mahomes tossed six touchdown passes at Pittsburgh after throwing four in the opener at the Chargers. His 10 TDs are the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his team's first two games of a season. Manning has the most through three games with

Patrick Mahomes is already chasing Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Mahomes tossed six touchdown passes at Pittsburgh after throwing four in the opener at the Chargers. His 10 TDs are the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his team’s first two games of a season. Manning has the most through three games with 12 in 2013 for Denver and Brady is second with 11 in 2011.

Mahomes, who turned 23 Monday, is the youngest quarterback with at least six TD passes in a single game. He also had more TDs than incomplete passes in that game.

The second-year pro makes his first career start at home when the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) host San Francisco on Sunday.

Here’s a look inside more numbers going into Week 3:

FITZ-MAGIC: Ryan Fitzpatrick is only the third quarterback to have 400 yards passing and four TDs in consecutive games, joining Hall of Famer Dan Marino (1984) and Billy Volek (2004). No one has done it three straight games.

Fitzpatrick leads the surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) against Pittsburgh (0-1-1) on Monday night.

STILL SLINGIN’: Drew Brees needs only 14 completions to break Hall of Famer Brett Favre’s career record for most complete passes (6,300). Brees also has tied Manning with two consecutive games of at least 30 pass attempts and 80 percent completions.

JERRY HAS COMPANY: DeSean Jackson’s 75-yard touchdown catch against the Eagles, his former team, gave him 23 career TDs of at least 60 yards, tying him Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for most scores from that distance.

EVERYBODY SCORES: The 174 touchdowns scored through Week 2 are the most at this point in NFL history. The 1,506 points scored rank second all-time through Week 2. There were 1,556 in 2012.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Already 21 games have been decided by one score, third-most in league history through Week 2. That equals 66 percent of games played. Four more games have been within 8 points in the fourth quarter.

COMEBACKS: Nine teams have come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter. The Packers, who overcame a 20-3 fourth-quarter deficit in a win over Chicago in Week 1, wasted a 20-7 lead after three quarters in a 29-29 tie with Minnesota.

RECORD PACE: Michael Thomas has 28 receptions through two games for New Orleans and is on pace to catch 224 passes, which would shatter Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143.

STILL WINLESS: Four of the NFL’s seven new coaches this season are 0-2, including Oakland’s Jon Gruden. Giants coach Pat Shurmur, Detroit’s Matt Patricia and Arizona’s Steve Wilks are also 0-2. Patricia faces former boss Bill Belichick when the Lions host the Patriots on Sunday night.

THE PERCENTAGES: Seven teams are 2-0 — Bengals, Broncos, Jaguars, Chiefs, Dolphins, Rams, Buccaneers. Since the current playoff format began in 1990, 62.3 percent (142-228) of teams that opened 2-0 made the playoffs.

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Seahawks struggling to protect quarterback Russell Wilson

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll has a firm belief that the protection the Seattle Seahawks offensive line is providing Russell Wilson has improved from where it was in recent years.

The statistics tell a far different story.

No team in the NFL has seen its quarterback sacked more often through the first two weeks

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll has a firm belief that the protection the Seattle Seahawks offensive line is providing Russell Wilson has improved from where it was in recent years.

The statistics tell a far different story.

No team in the NFL has seen its quarterback sacked more often through the first two weeks of the season than the Seahawks. It’s been a disastrous mix of mistakes by the offensive line, Wilson holding the ball too long at times, and facing a pair of elite pass rushers that has led to the quarterback being sacked 12 times already.

Since the sack became an official statistic in 1982, there have been 26 instances of a team allowing 12 or more sacks in the first two weeks of the regular season. But only three of those — Jacksonville in 2014, Houston in 2017 and Seattle this year— have come in the past 10 seasons. Jacksonville and Houston each allowed 13 sacks in the first two weeks, both on their way to terrible seasons. The Jaguars went 3-13; the Texans 4-12. But neither of them had an established, top-tier quarterback like Wilson calling the shots.

All of which puts the Seahawks in the kind of company they’d rather not be a part of so early in the season.

“We’ve tried to make him more confident in the protection. Even though the sack numbers are there, our protection is more solid than it’s been,” Carroll said. “It was throughout the preseason and Russell is counting on that rhythm to help him. He’s moving in the pocket a little bit because that’s what he’s had a lot of times. But the other part of it, the miscues and all are new. We’re missing this, missing that, and we can fix all of those things.”

The competition Seattle has faced didn’t help the situation. The Seahawks opened the year having to deal with Von Miller and Denver’s front, then followed up in Week 2 facing Khalil Mack in his first home game with Chicago. The final result was Wilson getting sacked six times in each game, which compounded other mistakes that have left the Seahawks sitting at 0-2.

While coming home this week to face Dallas removes the challenge of playing in a loud environment, others have emerged. Starting center Justin Britt injured his shoulder late in the loss to Chicago while trying to get on a fumble Wilson lost while being sacked.

Carroll said Britt was sore and would be day-to-day, but he did not practice Wednesday. Also sitting out practice was left guard Ethan Pocic, who was considered a candidate to potentially replace Britt at center. Pocic has an ankle injury.

If Britt can’t play and Pocic is an unknown, Seattle may plug in backup Joey Hunt at center and shift guard J.R. Sweezy. D.J. Fluker, who started at right guard before suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason, is expected to return this week after missing the first two games.

“We have to be better. The numbers aren’t solely on the offensive line but as a lineman you never want to see your quarterback on the ground,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “We have to do everything we can to correct it. We have to win our individual battles, communicate protections better, picking up blitzes better. We’ll get there quick.”

The Cowboys are second in the NFL with nine sacks through two games and last season sacked Wilson three times and limited the Seahawks to 136 total yards. But Dallas still watched Seattle come away with a 21-12 win.

“Lot of movement up front, line stunts, things like that. They don’t like to sit still. They like to move around and throw your scheme off,” Brown said.

NOTES: Carroll said the team received indications from the league that LB Mychal Kendricks will be able to play this week. Kendricks, who pleaded guilty to federal insider trading charges, made his debut with the Seahawks on Monday and had three tackles, including a sack, against Chicago. … LB Bobby Wagner (groin) and CB Tre Flowers (hamstring) were full participants in practice Wednesday and are expected to play Sunday after missing the loss to Chicago.

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NFL notebook: Rodgers (knee) will play

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers' perennial MVP candidate is worried his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

"Obviously that's a concern," Rodgers said Wednesday. "Hopefully it goes the other way."

 

Rodgers did not

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers’ perennial MVP candidate is worried his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

“Obviously that’s a concern,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Hopefully it goes the other way.”

 

Rodgers did not practice last week until a light workout Saturday before playing Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. He was hurt in the first half of the season opener against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. It’s unlikely Rodgers will practice much this week, if at all, but he does plan to be on the field Sunday when the Packers (1-0-1) visit the Redskins (1-1).

 

“Obviously, I’d love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise, but there’s some factors that are out of my control,” Rodgers said.

 

–Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook did not practice, calling himself day-to-day as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained last Sunday against the Packers.

 

Cook departed in the fourth quarter of the 29-29 tie, but after the game, he downplayed his removal and attributed it to cramps.

 

After sitting out practice Wednesday, Cook confirmed his hamstring issue to the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and said, “I’m just taking it day by day. I’ll see how I feel at the end of the week, but it’s going to be day by day.'”

 

–Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was a limited participant in practice due to ankle and thumb ailments, according to the team’s injury report. The Texans (0-2) host the New York Giants (0-2) on Sunday.

 

Hopkins, who also dealt with the issue last week, leads the Texans with 14 catches for 188 yards and one touchdown through two games.

 

Fellow receivers Keke Coutee and Will Fuller V were also limited in practice because of hamstring issues, as was linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (back), who missed Sunday’s loss to Tennessee. Defensive end J.J. Watt (knee) and safety Kareem Jackson (ankle) were listed on Houston’s initial injury report, but both participated in practice.

 

–Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was back at practice on Wednesday, two days after skipping team meetings.

 

Brown was a no-show in Pittsburgh on Monday when the team gathered in the aftermath of a 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Mike Tomlin, who confirmed the absence, said Wednesday that Brown was disciplined. Even so, the wideout is heavily involved in the Steelers’ Week 3 game plan.

 

Defensive end Cam Heyward, one of four team captains, said he also met with Brown but declined to divulge any additions from their chat. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he spoke to Brown and wasn’t worried, adding that the wide receiver didn’t address teammates.

 

–Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had hoped to return from his left ACL injury to start the season. Even though he is a few weeks behind schedule, he told reporters Wednesday he is thrilled to have all the doubts behind him as he prepares to start on Sunday.

 

Wentz, 25, said he is confident that his knee has healed sufficiently for him to play effectively. He will wear a brace during games.

 

“I feel comfortable with it,” he said. “We’ll see after this season how I feel with it, but I feel good with it right now. It’s definitely something the doctors recommend and so I’ve gotten used to it by now and I feel really comfortable with it.”

 

–Quarterback Case Keenum sat out the Denver Broncos’ practice with a sore knee, according to KUSA-TV.

 

Backup Chad Kelly, selected by the Broncos with the final pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, ran the first-team offense in Keenum’s absence. The TV station reported that Denver expects Keenum, 30, to return to practice on Thursday.

 

The Broncos signed Keenum to a two-year, $36 million contract in March. So far this season, he has thrown for 551 yards with three touchdown passes and four interceptions. He also has a rushing touchdown.

 

–Shortly before Josh Gordon took the practice field with the Patriots for the first time, New England coach Bill Belichick was still insisting the trade for the wide receiver had not yet been finalized. Gordon suited up wearing No. 10.

 

During his media availability, Belichick refused to address the newest weapon for the Patriots.

 

“I’m not going to talk about players that are not actually, I would say, on our roster totally,” Belichick said, per NFL.com. “When that happens, that happens. If it happens.

 

“There are terms that have to be met before the trade is finalized. And when those are completed, then we’ll have a completed trade. Until they are completed, I’m not going to get into it.”

 

–The Cincinnati Bengals signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls to shore up their backfield depth with Joe Mixon expected to miss time. Rawls had joined the New York Jets in the offseason but failed to make the 53-man roster. Running back Tra Carson was waived to make room for Rawls.

 

Mixon, one of the heroes of Cincinnati’s hard-fought victory over AFC North rival Baltimore on Thursday night, had minor knee surgery on Saturday that is expected to keep him out for approximately two weeks. He was in and out of the game because of the right knee injury. Originally hurt in the first half, he finished with 84 rushing yards on 21 carries and was noticeably limping afterward.

 

Giovani Bernard is expected to take over starting duties with Mixon out.

 

–Field Level Media

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NFL fines Ravens $200,000 for rules violation

 

 

The NFL fined the Baltimore Ravens $200,000 on Wednesday for preseason violations of the league's coach-to-player communications policy.

 

The team was fined because several Ravens wore helmets with coach-to-player communications while on the field at the same time, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said.

 

The Ravens issued a statement on social media:

 

 

The NFL fined the Baltimore Ravens $200,000 on Wednesday for preseason violations of the league’s coach-to-player communications policy.

 

The team was fined because several Ravens wore helmets with coach-to-player communications while on the field at the same time, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said.

 

The Ravens issued a statement on social media:

 

“The Ravens’ equipment staff misunderstood that this league rule applied in the preseason. Ravens coaches were unaware that multiple players had communication devices in their helmets while on the field at the same time.”

 

 

 

Baltimore already was fined earlier this year for an infraction of the collective bargaining agreement. In June, an undisclosed infraction forced the team to forfeit two organized team activities. Owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh were fined $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

 

In 2016, the Ravens and Harbaugh were fined $343,057 and $137,223, respectively, for an infraction in OTAs. The team also had to cancel some workouts in 2010 for another violation.

 

–Field Level Media

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Browns WR Landry questionable to face Jets with knee issue

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns top receiver Jarvis Landry is questionable to play in Thursday night's game against the New York Jets because of a knee issue.

Landry, who has 12 catches for 175 yards in his first two games for Cleveland, has been limited during workouts this week and the team listed him as questionable

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns top receiver Jarvis Landry is questionable to play in Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets because of a knee issue.

Landry, who has 12 catches for 175 yards in his first two games for Cleveland, has been limited during workouts this week and the team listed him as questionable on Wednesday’s injury report.

Landry said he was confident he would play when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

Linebacker Christian Kirksey is doubtful as he continues to recover from an ankle and shoulder problem. Kirksey sat out Sunday’s loss in New Orleans, and with a short week, it’s possible the Browns (0-1-1) will rest him again.

Starting defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah will sit out his second consecutive game with a left ankle injury sustained Week 1 against Pittsburgh, and tight end Seth DeValve with a hamstring injury.

Also, starting safety Damarious Randall is questionable with a heel injury.

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Cam Newton learning to become more efficient passer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton appears on his way to becoming a smarter, more efficient passer.

It's only been two games, but the Panthers' eighth-year quarterback is completing a career-best 69 percent of his passes — well above his career completion mark of 58.3 percent — entering Sunday's game against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton appears on his way to becoming a smarter, more efficient passer.

It’s only been two games, but the Panthers’ eighth-year quarterback is completing a career-best 69 percent of his passes — well above his career completion mark of 58.3 percent — entering Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals.

Those numbers may not turn a lot of heads, but the Panthers (1-1) believe it’s a sign that Newton is gaining a solid grasp on new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme and developing as a passer. He’s being more patient, often working through his progressions and finding his second, third and sometimes fourth options on pass plays.

That was evident last Sunday when Newton completed 14 passes to running back Christian McCaffrey resulting in 102 yards — most of those on “check downs,” where Newton was forced to read the defense and wait until the play developed before releasing the football.

“He’s made a lot of good decisions these first two games,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I’m real excited about the progress Cam has shown in terms of understanding and getting a feel for what coach Turner wants.”

The 2015 league MVP completed 32 of 45 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-24 loss to the Falcons on Sunday — although those numbers would have been higher had his receivers not dropped five passes, including one bobbled ball that resulted in Newton’s only interception of the season.

Despite the loss, Rivera praised Newton’s performance.

“He was patient, he went through his reads and he didn’t force balls in,” Rivera said. “And he threw check downs when he needed to. And that was huge. … Not always do you have to force the ball in or take off running.”

Rivera expects Newton’s completion percentage will increase the more time he spends in Turner’s offense.

Newton said it’s just a matter of learning to take what the defense gives him.

One of the biggest keys, he said, is trusting teammates around him to do their jobs — the offensive line giving him time to work through his progressions and receivers making plays with the ball in their hands.

That happened against Atlanta when Newton found D.J. Moore — his second option — with a pass over the middle that the speedy rookie wide receiver caught and turned into a 51-yard touchdown.

“Wherever the read takes (me) I have to get the ball out of my hands and allow those guys to” make plays, said Newton, whose completion percentage ranks 15th in the league.

“That has been a bigger part of what they doing, no doubt,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of the check downs.

McCaffrey was drafted last year with the purpose of giving Newton an option when things begin to break down, instead of having to tuck and run as often.

The running back from Stanford set a franchise rookie record with 80 receptions. This year, he’s on pace to double that output.

McCaffrey is unlikely to get to 160 receptions because at some point teams are going to adjust and take him away. But the Panthers are counting on that, figuring it will open things up downfield for other receivers.

“Eventually teams will have to start to play that,” McCaffrey said, “and that’s when it all opens up.”

While Newton’s intended target may change as the season unfolds, Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith said Newton has a good chance of maintaining that 69 percent completion rate — or even improving on it.

“Cam has been working his tail off and he has been making great decisions,” Smith said.

Newton said he couldn’t care less about his completion percentage, as long as the team wins.

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Packers QB Rodgers fears knee will get worse

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers' perennial MVP candidate is concerned his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

"Obviously that's a concern," Rodgers said Wednesday. "Hopefully it goes the other way."

 

Rodgers did not

 

 

Aaron Rodgers plans to play with a left knee injury for the third consecutive game on Sunday, and the Green Bay Packers’ perennial MVP candidate is concerned his condition will get worse before it improves.

 

“Obviously that’s a concern,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Hopefully it goes the other way.”

 

Rodgers did not practice last week until a light workout Saturday before playing in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. He was hurt in the first half of the season opener against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

 

It’s unlikely Rodgers will practice much this week, if at all, but he does plan to be on the field Sunday when the Packers (1-0-1) visit the Redskins (1-1).

 

“Obviously, I’d love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise, but there’s some factors that are out of my control,” Rodgers said.

 

The Packers are not concerned about Rodgers’ mobility after he appeared improved both laterally and moving forward in Week 2. He credited the relatively high temperatures in Green Bay last week for loosening up his knee.

 

“We’re still in a day-by-day mode, I mean, just how he’s progressing,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

 

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars continue Payback Tour against AFC South rival Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars might as well dub this the Payback Tour 2018.

It started last week against two-time defending AFC champion New England, which ended Jacksonville's season in January. The Jaguars won the rematch going away, a 31-20 victory that arguably made them the favorite in the conference.

Now, the Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars might as well dub this the Payback Tour 2018.

It started last week against two-time defending AFC champion New England, which ended Jacksonville’s season in January. The Jaguars won the rematch going away, a 31-20 victory that arguably made them the favorite in the conference.

Now, the Jaguars (2-0) get AFC South rival Tennessee. The Titans (1-1) swept the season series in 2017 and have won four of the last five meetings.

“Losing to a team twice, at their house and here, that wasn’t cool,” linebacker Myles Jack said Wednesday. “We’re not too happy about that. That’s obviously being talked about this week. The New England game was one thing, but this is a team that literally beat us twice in one year. We’ve got to fix that.”

Tennessee scored 30 unanswered points in the first meeting last year, running for 179 yards, taking advantage of three turnovers and winning 37-16.

The Jaguars weren’t much better three months later, turning the ball over four times in a 15-10 loss in the final week of the regular season . Jacksonville played all its starters despite having secured the division title.

“The Titans were the one team we really didn’t have an answer for,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “They outplayed us in every facet of the game. We were truly outmatched, from the home opener last year to the game before the playoffs.

“Obviously, we want to get our lick back in a sense.”

What really irked the Jaguars was talk in Tennessee’s locker room suggesting the Titans should have been AFC South champs.

“I know a lot of people heard about that,” Gipson said. “We feel like we’re the better team and we feel it’s time for us to show it. These are games we’re supposed to win.”

The Titans have been less chatty and more complimentary this week.

“At the end of the day, they’re the division champs and they got that title, so it’s going to be key for us to go out there and take it,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “It doesn’t matter what happened last year. They’re the champs right now and they got the lead in the division.”

Jacksonville’s Payback Tour doesn’t end this week, either. The team hosts New York Jets next week. The Jets beat Jacksonville in overtime last year.

Throw in the season opener at the New York Giants — Tom Coughlin’s first game against the team that pushed him out the coaching door — and it’s essentially a four-game stretch of revenge.

“We’ve got a lot of rivalries, so to speak, on the schedule,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “It’s a good temperature gauger of where we are and where we want to be.”

No team has beaten Jacksonville more times than Tennessee.

The Titans handed the Jags their most heartbreaking loss in franchise history, a 33-14 setback in the AFC title game in January 2000. Jacksonville had the NFL’s best record, home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and even led 14-10 at halftime before collapsing. Tenneesse was the only team to beat Jacksonville that season, accomplishing it three times.

The Titans also handed Jacksonville one of its most embarrassing losses in team history, a 36-22 drubbing in 2016 that was much worse than the fine score indicated. The Jags trailed 27-0 at halftime on national television, getting outgained by nearly 300 yards.

“They really did just beat the (crap) out of us,” said defensive tackle Abry Jones, one of seven current Jags defenders who started that game.

The Titans have won six of nine in the series.

New England had won eight straight against Jacksonville before last week’s breakthrough victory. Players spent eight months counting down the days until they faced Tom Brady again.

They’ve waited even longer to play the Titans.

“Anyway you can find a way to get yourself up for a game,” Jack said. “For example, us losing to the them twice would be my motivation. You’ve got to find a way to hate your opponent.”

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AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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Passed up: Darnold can show Browns what they’re missing

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sam Darnold once thought he'd be wearing an orange helmet just a few shades brighter than his hair color.

But the former USC star wasn't precisely what the Browns were looking for in a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft. Darnold checked most of the boxes, but not all of them and

CLEVELAND (AP) — Sam Darnold once thought he’d be wearing an orange helmet just a few shades brighter than his hair color.

But the former USC star wasn’t precisely what the Browns were looking for in a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft. Darnold checked most of the boxes, but not all of them and Cleveland passed on him with the No. 1 overall pick, selecting Baker Mayfield instead.

On Thursday night, Darnold can show the Browns they made a mistake.

Another one.

The youngest quarterback to start a season opener since 1970, Darnold will perform on a national TV stage for the second time already as a pro when he leads the New York Jets into FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Browns, who have played well enough to win their first two games but are still searching for their first victory since Dec. 24, 2016.

Heading into April’s draft, Darnold was considered the top of the deep 2018 QB class and it appeared he would wind up in Cleveland, where quarterbacks have come and gone like restaurant busboys over the past two decades.

“Yeah, I thought I could’ve ended up there or several other teams,” Darnold said this week. “I was excited to go anywhere. “Whoever wanted me, whoever wanted to pick me as a top pick, to me it was a dream come true right when it happened.”

After the Browns nabbed Mayfield and the Giants grabbed running back Saquon Barkley, the Jets took Darnold and have been more than satisfied by his early development.

He rebounded from throwing an interception that was returned for a TD on his first pass attempt in the opener and led the Jets to a 31-point win, and last week the 21-year-old became the youngest QB to pass for 300 yards.

Darnold insists he’s not seeking any revenge or trying to prove anything to the Browns.

“No,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and play ball.”

The Jets and Browns are on divergent paths with their rookie quarterbacks. New York has chosen to start Darnold, while Cleveland is holding Mayfield out to watch and learn behind Tyrod Taylor.

It’s not a race and the Browns feel no need to rush their plan.

“We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”

After facing Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees — two future Hall of Famers — in Weeks 1 and 2, the Browns aren’t looking at Darnold as any break.

“I don’t think that any game in the NFL is a breather,” said linebacker Joe Schobert.

“He’s got a big arm. He’s doing good things as their quarterback. The hardest thing to do is come into the NFL and play quarterback and be successful. And he’s so far shown himself to be pretty poised and good at it.”

PRESSURE PACKED

The Browns are down and desperate. They need a win, and after stubbing their toes twice already, need to beat the Jets. A 1-1-1 record seems light years from 0-2-1.

“Our team is excited, hungry, disappointed, anxious — all of those words you want to use,” said Jackson, who is 1-32-1 in two seasons. “We just need to get it done.”

BACK ‘HOME”

The Dawg Pound will be a homecoming of sorts for several current Jets, who are former Browns.

Running back Isaiah Crowell played the past four years in Cleveland. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor spent two seasons with the Browns, including a breakout campaign in 2016 when the former quarterback had 1,007 yards. His QB for parts of those seasons was Josh McCown, now Darnold’s backup and mentor.

Cornerback Buster Skrine played in Cleveland from 2011-14. Jets coach Todd Bowles, too, has Cleveland connections as an assistant under Butch Davis from 2001-04.

ALIVE & KICKING

Greg Joseph was on the beach hanging out with friends last weekend, “you know, just living the South Florida life.” Things changed quickly.

The rookie is now in the spotlight — or crosshairs — as Cleveland’s new kicker. Joseph signed this week after the Browns cut Zane Gonzalez for missing two field goals and two extra points last week.

Joseph, who spent the preseason with Miami, is excited about the opportunity.

“My film’s out there. My stats are out there,” he said. “I learned a lot about me, the athlete I am and the competitor I am. I’m ready to bring it here.”

Q IS THE ANSWER

Darnold’s favorite target through two games has been wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who has a team-leading 13 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. Enunwa has been targeted 21 times, more than Pryor (11), Robby Anderson (six) and Jermaine Kearse (two) combined.

SACK RACE

The Jets got their first four sacks of the season last Sunday against Miami, the most since getting to Taylor seven times when he played with Buffalo in Week 9 last season.

“The whole unit, we definitely picked it up last week,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “We didn’t have any sacks in the first week, even though they got the ball out pretty quickly. At the same time, I don’t want to make excuses. We definitely picked it up last week and I hope we continue to make strides on that.”

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Bengals down to Gio Bernard as only experienced running back

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — Giovani Bernard is the last veteran running back standing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and even he was limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Bengals (2-0) head to Carolina (1-1) with Bernard as their only experienced back who knows their system. No. 3 back Tra Carson was waived Wednesday after suffering a

 

CINCINNATI (AP) — Giovani Bernard is the last veteran running back standing for the Cincinnati Bengals, and even he was limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Bengals (2-0) head to Carolina (1-1) with Bernard as their only experienced back who knows their system. No. 3 back Tra Carson was waived Wednesday after suffering a hamstring injury in practice.

The Bengals signed free agent running back Thomas Rawls, who was released by the Jets at the end of training camp.

The running game has shown significant improvement over last year, helping the Bengals get off to their fast start. The challenge is to keep it going with only one proven option to carry the ball.

“I feel like people are freaking out but my goodness, it’s football,” Bernard said Wednesday before his limited practice. “Guys are going to go down and the next man has to step up and be prepared.”

Joe Mixon hurt his right knee during a 34-23 win over Baltimore on Thursday night. He had a surgical procedure over the weekend to remove a piece of torn cartilage. He walked without a limp or a brace Wednesday, saying the knee felt good. He’ll be sidelined for a few games as the knee recovers.

“I’m not sure of the timetable and however the recovery process is going to be or whatever they are going to let me do,” Mixon said.

Mixon’s injury opened the way for Carson to move into a bigger role behind Bernard, but he got hurt during practice on Monday.

The Bengals decided they needed another healthy runner and signed Rawls, who played for Seattle from 2015-17, starting 17 games.

Rawls did his best in his rookie season, carrying 147 times for 830 yards and a 5.6-yard average. His production dropped each of the next two seasons, and he was released after carrying 58 times for 157 yards in 2017.

The Bengals also have rookie Mark Walton, a fourth-round pick in 2018. Walton had only 21 yards on 22 carries in the preseason.

“I was hesitating, second-guessing myself,” Walton said. “I had a lot of cutbacks.”

Provided he’s healthy, Bernard will get the ball a lot at Carolina, moving into a role that he’s filled on occasion during his five-year career. He’s been used more as a complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jeremy Hill and Mixon over the years, pressed into a featured role when the starter was injured.

“He may be 5-foot-8, 200 (pounds), but he’s about 6-foot-4, 250 in heart,” running backs coach Kyle Caskey said. “So he’s one of those guys who’s going to be more productive and explosive than you think he’s going to be with his size.”

Bernard has carried the ball 20 or more times in three games during his career, including a 23-carry, 116-yard performance during a 26-17 win over Detroit on Dec. 24.

Bernard’s biggest contribution to the offense has been as a receiver. He’s caught at least five passes in a game 23 times, with nine as his career high. He has two 100-yard receiving games.

“He does the same things I do,” Mixon said. “I have complete faith in Gio and however they are going to use him. I’m not worried about any downfall in the running game and passing game. He’s done it for years.”

PRICE IN THE BOOT

Rookie center Billy Price was walking with a boot on his injured right foot Wednesday. He sprained the foot when it was stepped on during the win over the Ravens. Doctors concluded on Wednesday that the injury won’t need surgery.

He’ll wear the boot continuously for two weeks and get treatment.

“We’ll reevaluate in two weeks and see where we’re at,” Price said.

ALSO SIDELINED

Defensive end Michael Johnson hurt his left knee early in the game against the Ravens and was limited in practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Preston Brown missed the Ravens game with a sprained right ankle and also had a limited workout.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 3 Picks

After a week that saw us get brutalized as much as the rest of the NFL betting population last week, NFL’s Week 3 provides an opportunity for us to get back on track. To recap how bad last week was for everybody: the 10 most popular team picks in the Vegas Super

After a week that saw us get brutalized as much as the rest of the NFL betting population last week, NFL’s Week 3 provides an opportunity for us to get back on track. To recap how bad last week was for everybody: the 10 most popular team picks in the Vegas Super Contest went a total of 2-8. Pretty much no one had a good week. However, there is plenty to like this week, at least on paper.

As always, remember that we’re ballin’ on a budget, so we have $20 to spend and we’re hoping to spend it wisely on five more games this week. We’re chasing our losses from last week, but that won’t be the case for long. This week, instead of going with three spreads and two over/unders, we’re going with four spreads and just one over/under. Without further adieu, away we go …

Ballin’ on a budget week 3 picks

Packers -3.5 over Redskins (EVEN)

That extra half point is a fickle beast and I debated including this pick in the Week 3 column for that exact reason. With this game being in Washington, there are plenty of scenarios we could see play out where the Packers win by a single field goal and we lose this bet. However, after a frustrating game against the Vikings that they should have won, the Packers should be out for blood in their first road game of the year.

Aaron Rodgers may be on one leg, but he’s better than nearly every other quarterback in the league even with that being the case. Washington showed against the Colts that they are potentially inept on offense without any go-to playmakers. Alex Smith isn’t likely to turn the ball over, but the offense is also more likely to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, which is reason enough to take Green Bay even money at -3.5 instead of -3. The bet: $3 for total payout of $6.

Bills +17.5 over Vikings (-115)

Don’t get me wrong, the Vikings will win this game handily, but 17.5 points in the NFL is a ton. You’re telling me Minnesota has to win by at least three scores to cover the spread. Is that possible? Of course. Is it likely? I don’t think so. Buffalo gets to play indoors and on turf and while they’re facing one of the best defenses in the league, they should be able to move the ball enough, if LeSean McCoy is healthy, to stay within 17 points.

At this point, it appears the Bills and Cardinals are the two worst teams in the league. Most would probably rank the Vikings as one of the best. On any given Sunday, though, I’m not giving the best team in football 17.5 points on the worst team in football. Minnesota could cover, but this line seems like an overreaction to the Bills’ comically bad start. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.61.

Seahawks -1.5 over Cowboys (-110)

This is a real test for Seattle and it might define the rest of Pete Carroll’s tenure with the Seahawks. They sit at 0-2 after losing to two average teams in the Broncos and Bears. Both those games were on the road, though, and they finally get some home cooking in Week 3. This is a huge deal as Seattle traditionally has been an elite home team and an average road team. Over the last four seasons, the Seahawks are a combined 23-9 at home and 18-15-1 on the road.

Dallas is riding high off a 20-13 win over the Giants, whose offensive line looked terrible on Sunday Night Football. Nothing happened in that game to convince me that Dak Prescott is any better than an average quarterback, so he’s not single-handedly going to torch Seattle. Ezekiel Elliott might. The Seahawks’ biggest problem is they don’t have the number of playmakers on that defense that they used to and the offense is banged up. In the end, this game is do or die for Seattle. While they may not make the playoffs this season, they will keep some hope alive by turning away the visiting Cowboys Sunday. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.73.

Panthers -3 over Bengals (EVEN)

With this bet being even money, there’s great value here. Carolina is back at home and in the last few years, we haven’t really seen the Bengals sustain any type of success. Cincinnati has not won three games in a row since it won its first eight games of the 2015 season. We know they will be without starting running back, Joe Mixon, which is a huge deal. Giovanni Bernard is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, but he’s simply not the same playmaker, every-down back Mixon is.

Carolina showed flashes on offense against the Falcons and being back in a comfortable home environment should help them. They know the NFC South is going to be as tough as always to win and a victory at home this week is vital. Getting that field goal advantage on the line is great, because it allows you some breathing room to earn a push if they do win by just three. The bet: $5 for total payout of $10.

49ers vs. Chiefs UNDER 57 points

You might look at this and scratch your head as the Chiefs just played in a game against the Steelers that reached 79 total points last week. Meanwhile, the 49ers reached a total of exactly 57 in their 30-27 win over the Lions on Sunday. San Francisco’s defense is nothing to write home about, but they have an extra week of film on rookie QB Patrick Mahomes that may take him down a notch. Kansas City’s defense is also pretty stout; they gave up a ton of points to the Steelers, because Pittsburgh was playing catch up and K.C. was playing bend-don’t-break defense.

You’d expect this game to be close, although through two games, I’m still not sure how good either of these two teams is. The Chiefs are at home, so you probably give them the nod in the game, but this has the feel of a 24-17 game, which leaves us 16 points beneath the under with plenty of wiggle room in case the game is a little more offensive than anticipated. This looks like the biggest lock of the week. The bet: $6 for total payout of $11.45.

Bonus picks: A couple other picks I like this week, but am not confident enough in to officially include in the column are: Colts +6.5 at Eagles (-110) and Jets-Browns over 39.5 (-110). Indy has looked good through two games and are visiting an Eagles team coming off a road loss to the Buccaneers. Carson Wentz is back under center for Philly, but how effective will he be? That’s a legitimate question mark and enough to make you consider taking the Colts as almost a touchdown dog. If that line moves up to +7 jump all over it.

In the Jets-Browns game, there’s plenty of reason not to bet. Reason No. 1 would be that you have to watch the game. After that, though, there’s actually plenty of reason to bet this over. Let’s say we anticipate a close game: 23-20 or 27-20 is entirely within the realm of possibility. Each of those types of scores would get us our over. We do run the risk that one of these offenses lays a complete egg, but with an over/under so low, it’s hard to resist taking the over. Plus, that will give you something to root for in an otherwise forgettable Thursday Night game.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Saints-Falcons, SF-KC stacks for Week 3

Week 2 was another high scoring slate in the NFL and another week when daily fantasy sports contests were won by rostering the passing attack from just a handful of games.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 300-plus yards and six touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, including two scores to tight

Week 2 was another high scoring slate in the NFL and another week when daily fantasy sports contests were won by rostering the passing attack from just a handful of games.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 300-plus yards and six touchdowns in a 42-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, including two scores to tight end Travis Kelce. Behind early and forced to play catch-up, Ben Roethlisberger aired it out 60 times, leading to a 450-yard performance to go along with three passing and one rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and TE Jesse James both cracked the 100-yard threshold and found the end zone.

In total there were more than 180 fantasy points scored in the Chiefs-Steelers game. Meanwhile at Lambeau Field, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen for 90 combined fantasy points.

Game stacks have been pivotal to winning daily tournaments this year. The Bucs-Saints shootout in Week 1 and the Chiefs-Steelers shootout for Week 2 both led to millions in prizes.

Here are game stacks to target for Week 3:

New Orleans at Atlanta (Over-under: 53, Falcons favored by 3 points)

The Falcons-Saints game has the second-highest Vegas total this week. Matt Ryan and the Falcons host Drew Brees and company in a game that could make a perfect game stack opportunity with the duo of Ryan and Julio Jones plus New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara. Jones has been targeted 28 times to start the season for nearly 500 air yards, a metric that balances target volume with the depth of those targets. Jones has a 40 percent market share of the Falcons passing attack. On the flip side, Alvin Kamara gets to face a Falcons defense that funnels targets to opposing running backs and gave up 14 catches for 100-plus yards to Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey last weekend. Kamara has 18 targets through the first two weeks and is in a prime spot to make a fantasy splash if the game in Atlanta turns into a shootout. Fantasy owners who are building multiple lineups could also consider mixing in Saints WR Michael Thomas and Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu to their stacks.

San Francisco at Kansas City (Over-under: 56, Chiefs favored by 6 1/2 points)

While a lot of the attention will be on Patrick Mahomes this week because of his 10 TDs through two games, winning daily fantasy tournaments requires separation from the crowd.

Jimmy Garoppolo is in a bounce-back spot against a Chiefs defense that has allowed more than 1,000 yards per game of total offense and given up more than 400 yards passing in back-to-back games. While the Chiefs defense should benefit from a home game at Arrowhead, Garoppolo is still in great position to throw for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns and will look to connect with his favorite target as Marquise Goodwin hopefully returns to the 49ers lineup. Garoppolo-Goodwin stacks can also be mixed with 49ers tight end George Kittle — who could be lower owned after disappointing players as a popular pick last week. He will return value for fantasy owners if he can even replicate half of Jesse James’ stat line from last week. Chiefs players Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins are all candidates to “bring it back” and should be inserted into your lineups to make a full-on game stack.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by DailyRoto, http://dailyroto.com

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NFL Week 3: Over and Under Best Bets

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over

 

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles

Total: 47.5

This total is well below 50 because the Indianapolis defense is coming off a shockingly strong performance against the Washington Redskins, while the Eagles have yet to score more than 21 points this season. But the reality is the Colts defense is much more like the unit that surrendered 34 points on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, and the Philadelphia offense is due for a breakout performance. 

Look for an angry Eagles team to bounce back from a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a big number in quarterback Carson Wentz’s return to action. And on the other side of the ball, look for Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Co. to exploit a Philly D that struggled immensely in Tampa. 

There’s a chance the Eagles run away with this at home, but even that would probably enable Indy to rack up some garbage-time points.

Philly should hit the 30 mark, while the Colts should be able to score at least 20 points here.

Predicted score: Eagles 34, Colts 21

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 48

It’s not as though both of these offenses aren’t capable of scoring 30-plus points Sunday in the Battle of L.A., but it’s that both the Chargers and Rams look fantastic on the defensive side of the ball. 

A little too fantastic for that total of 48. 

With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh dominating up front, the new-look Rams defense hasn’t surrendered a point in the last six quarters. Meanwhile, it’s obvious the Chargers can now be forgiven for surrendered 38 points to the out-of-control Kansas City Chiefs in their opener, because they smothered the Buffalo Bills offense on the road in Week 2, holding them to just 13 points before garbage time. 

The Bolts might still give up 24 here, but that strong secondary won’t be embarrassed again. They’ll stick around on offense, but they aren’t likely finding the end zone more than three times against Donald, Suh and Co. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Chargers 18

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 2-2

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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NFL Week 2 Stat Recap Table: QB, RB and WR

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 452 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday - and ended up as the second-best QB on the field. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 326 YDS and 6 TDs.
Other notable performances:

  • Todd Gurley and AJ Green produce 3 touchdowns each
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combine for 259 YDs

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 452 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday – and ended up as the second-best QB on the field. Patrick Mahomes tossed for 326 YDS and 6 TDs.
Other notable performances:

  • Todd Gurley and AJ Green produce 3 touchdowns each
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combine for 259 YDs and 3 TDs
  • New Orleans WR Michael Thomas had 12 catches for 89 YDs and 2 TDs
  • Blake Bortles threw for 377 YDs and 4 TDs


This weeks odds and lines

Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Bengals down to Giovani Bernard as experienced running back

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are down to Giovani Bernard as their only experienced running back who knows their offense.

Joe Mixon had surgery to remove torn knee cartilage and will be out for a few games, leaving the Bengals (2-0) with Bernard and Tra Carson as their experienced running backs at Carolina (1-1) on

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are down to Giovani Bernard as their only experienced running back who knows their offense.

Joe Mixon had surgery to remove torn knee cartilage and will be out for a few games, leaving the Bengals (2-0) with Bernard and Tra Carson as their experienced running backs at Carolina (1-1) on Sunday.

Carson got hurt in practice on Monday and was waived on Wednesday. The Bengals signed former Seattle running back Thomas Rawls, who was with the Jets in preseason and was released in their final cuts. They also have rookie Mark Walton, a fourth-round pick.

Center Billy Price and defensive end Michael Johnson also are recovering from injuries during a 34-23 win over the Ravens on Thursday night.

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Vikings re-sign DT Tom Johnson for more depth

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson, bringing back one of their starters last season for more depth up front.

Johnson's contract was finalized Wednesday, when the Vikings waived defensive tackle David Parry to make room. Johnson was a key offseason addition in free agency by Seattle, but the

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson, bringing back one of their starters last season for more depth up front.

Johnson’s contract was finalized Wednesday, when the Vikings waived defensive tackle David Parry to make room. Johnson was a key offseason addition in free agency by Seattle, but the Seahawks surprisingly released him last week to promote safety Shalom Luani from their practice squad. Luani did not play in their last game.

The Seahawks hoped to re-sign Johnson, but the Vikings swooped in to snag a player who had 16 sacks and started 27 games for them over the last four years. Johnson will back up Sheldon Richardson, who played for the Seahawks last season.

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Eagles bring back receiver Jordan Matthews

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews and placed Mike Wallace on injured reserve.

Matthews played his first three seasons with the Eagles before he was traded to Buffalo in August 2017. He signed with the Patriots in April but was released during training camp.

A 2014 second-round pick from

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed wide receiver Jordan Matthews and placed Mike Wallace on injured reserve.

Matthews played his first three seasons with the Eagles before he was traded to Buffalo in August 2017. He signed with the Patriots in April but was released during training camp.

A 2014 second-round pick from Vanderbilt, Matthews averaged 75 receptions, 891 yards and six touchdowns per season in Philadelphia. He had 25 catches for 282 yards and one TD in 10 games for Buffalo.

The Eagles (1-1) are missing top receiver Alshon Jeffery following offseason shoulder surgery. Mack Hollins and now Wallace are on IR.

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Book: Brady mulled 2018 divorce from Belichick

 

 

A new book about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives the latest glimpse into his allegedly rocky relationship with star quarterback Tom Brady.

 

According to "Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time," by ESPN writer Ian O'Connor, Brady had a tough time deciding whether to return to

 

 

A new book about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives the latest glimpse into his allegedly rocky relationship with star quarterback Tom Brady.

 

According to “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” by ESPN writer Ian O’Connor, Brady had a tough time deciding whether to return to the Patriots this season.

 

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source told O’Connor after the 2017 season. “Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

 

Late last season, multiple media outlets reported about a rift between Brady and Belichick, reportedly over the team’s treatment of Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero. The Patriots reportedly banned Guerrero from the sideline, took away his office at Gillette Stadium and no longer allowed him to fly with the team.

 

Guerrero reportedly has been back in the team’s good graces this season.

 

O’Connor wrote of Brady’s offseason decision-making, “But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade. The moment Belichick moved (Jimmy) Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

 

The book also alleges that Brady was unhappy about Belichick’s response to the Deflategate scandal.

 

A close friend of Brady told O’Connor, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”

 

Belichick, 66, had a 36-44 record in five seasons as the Cleveland Browns coach before starting his legendary run in New England. Since taking over in Foxborough in 2000, he has a 215-75 regular-season mark with the Patriots.

 

He and Brady have reached eight Super Bowls, winning five championships.

 

–Field Level Media

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