Football has never been this football man’s area of expertise.

When the Raiders were enjoying their breakout 2016 season under coach Jack Del Rio, some thought they were built to beat the Patriots. Derek Carr was unfazed by weak pass defenses, and Del Rio’s unpredictable, aggressive style was just enough to throw Bill Belichick’s team off.

But Johnson said his boss didn’t want to make the 1989 Herschel Walker trade to Minnesota that set up the dynasty. A quarter century later, Jones wanted to draft Johnny Manziel, who’s out of the league, over Zack Martin, who has been named to three Pro Bowls in three years.

Football has never been this football man’s area of expertise.

It has become part of the week’s normal order of events with Dallas: The league tries to enforce the running back’s six-game suspension, Elliott and his attorneys get a temporary restraining order, he has a normal practice week and he starts on Sundays. Meanwhile, opponents plan to face Elliott, who hasn’t missed a game all year.

He’ll be well-rested, and his talented supporting cast gets an extra boost with Jay Ajayi ready to step into a full feature ole. The Cowboys will get better play from Dak Prescott without Ezekiel Elliott, assuming Tyron Smith is back. But the loss of Sean Lee will open things up for the Eagles to go to town more consistently in the running and short-to-intermediate passing games.

The Eagles again fail to pick up a first down and they punt with two seconds to go before halftime. The Eagles scored a touchdown on their opening drive but have struggled to create anything on offense since. All nine Cowboys points have come from field goals.

Field goal, Dallas. The Cowboys string together a 15-play, 59-yard drive that eats up 7:19 of game time. Prescott throws an incomplete pass on third down but Dallas takes a 9-7 lead with 55 seconds left before halftime on a 47-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.
dolphins_034

Martellus Bennett claimed by Patriots after release by Packers

Martellus Bennett is headed back to New England.

Train wreck: Including the game he got hurt, the Packers are now 1-4 without Aaron Rodgers this season, averaging 13.4 points per game in those contests. This looked like it would be a promising season for Green Bay, but after a shutout loss to the Ravens at Lambeau Field, it’s hard to see the remainder of the season being anything short of a mess.

Train wreck: Following a 3-1 start, the Broncos have dropped six straight games for the first time in a single season since 1990. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy already has lost his job, and there’s no clear-cut No. 1 QB on the roster. This season couldn’t get much worse for Denver.

The Redskins running back was carted from the field with his right leg in an aircast following an ugly injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Saints. Washington coach Jay Gruden said following the game Thompson had a broken fibula.

Thompson was engaged with Saints safety Vonn Bell while blocking for a scrambling Kirk Cousins. When the Redskins quarterback was brought down by Sheldon Rankins, the Saints defensive tackle fell into the back of Thompson’s right leg.

Thompson, who had four carries for 17 yards and a 16-yard touchdown reception, had a towel over his face while he was carted to the locker room at the Superdome.

The fifth-year running back from Florida State was in the midst of the best season of his career. Cousins was also injured on the play after taking a big hit from Bell, but returned to deliver a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant to give Washington a 24-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
broncos_090

No. 1 NHL story of October? The Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights completed a seven-game homestand on Friday with a 7-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Seven players scored as the Golden Knights celebrated Nevada Day — which commemorates Nevada’s admission to statehood on Oct. 31, 1864 — with their fifth consecutive victory. According to Elias, that five-in-a-row run matches the longest win streak by any team during its inaugural NHL season, joining the 1926-27 New York Rangers and 1979-80 Edmonton Oilers.

“You like paying money to people who are currently working for you, right?” Stricklin said. “What’s done is done, and what’s in the past is in the past.”

With 5:37 left in the fourth quarter, cubsfan333’s tight end — Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks — caught his first touchdown. Things were getting very interesting.

With Penn State and TCU losing, two spots were up for grabs in this week’s top four. And with a convincing win over NC State — after last week’s triumph over USC — Notre Dame works its way into the playoff picture.

“I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack out there,” Correa said.

Won the third and fourth Cups of the Gretzky-Messier Era in 1987 and 1988.

Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles shortly after leading the Oilers to their fourth Cup in five years. The hangover was palpable. Edmonton went just 38-34-8 to finish third in the Smythe.

Messier and company faced Gretzky and the upstart Kings in an emotionally charged opening-round series. The Oilers took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven only to get outscored 14-6 over the final three games as Gretzky fueled a rally. The Great One opened Game 7 with a goal 52 seconds in and finished off his old team with an empty netter.

Messier emerged from Gretzky’s shadow the following year, sweeping the Kings in the division finals before topping Boston to give the Oilers their fifth – and final – Cup in a decade.nike_patriots-098

Who’s your favorite player that you came out to see today?

USC got its mojo back after the letdown in South Bend, dominating Arizona State on both sides of the ball.

Arizona State’s defensive renaissance appears to be over. The Sun Devils were overmatched by USC’s size and speed, unable to put up much resistance while falling two games behind the Trojans in the Pac-12 South.

Arizona State entered as the nation’s third-least penalized team at 31 yards per game. The Sun Devils were unusually sloppy against USC, racking up 10 penalties for 99 yards, including four personal fouls.

“I had a tear in my eye,” said Sharks center Joe Thornton, Marleau’s teammate for 12 seasons. “You spend so much time with him, he’s like a brother. You spend 13 years with the guy, you create such a big bond with him. It was classy.”

Stephanie: That’s really tough. I’m wearing a [Kiira] Dosdall jersey. She is the longest tenured player now. I really love Rebecca Russo, I’m excited to see Erika Lawler this season, she’s getting her legs back and going to be a force.

Cardinals. The Carson Palmer era is all but done in Arizona. They’re probably good enough to hang around .500, so they won’t be in position to draft someone high. They also have a veteran team, which means Cousins makes more sense than a youngster.

Last week’s 35-3 loss at Boston College marked the first time in 125 games (Sept. 20, 2008, vs. Wake Forest) that the Seminoles failed to score a touchdown.patriots_118

The banged-up Cardinals will be missing left tackle D.J. Humphries, who injured a knee in the first quarter of the season opener.

“Baby, even the losers get lucky sometimes. Even the losers keep a little bit of pride. They get lucky sometimes.” The Jets are 2-2 with Josh McCown running the show, Bryce Petty in limbo and Christian Hackenberg still looking for the handle on his opportunity to show something. Can it sustain itself? Will we see one or both of the younger guys start at some point this year? Is the Jets’ quarterback of the future on their roster? Going with no, yes, no on those three questions, but in the meantime — and in the absence of confidence — I do hope Jets fans are enjoying watching their team win. Yeah, I know you want a high draft pick to get your hands on one of those 2018 rookie quarterbacks. But those guys aren’t even playing that well, and what’s the point of watching sports if you’re not going to enjoy surprise success?

Rookie kicker Jake Elliott continued his strong play one week after kicking a franchise-record 61-yard field goal to defeat the New York Giants. Elliott, who connected on a 53-yarder against the Chargers, has made six field goals in a row.

The banged-up Cardinals will be missing left tackle D.J. Humphries, who injured a knee in the first quarter of the season opener.

“He reinjured (his knee),” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters during his Monday press conference. “There’s another slight little tear when we were in pads last week.”

The Cardinals are also without outside linebacker Markus Golden for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.texans_076

Leonard Fournette makes Jaguars history with impressive debut

Jaguars fans enjoyed a rare moment of bliss Sunday while watching Jacksonville dismantle the Texans 29-7 in Houston.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette set a Jaguars record by becoming the first player in the team’s history to rush for over 100 yards in his debut.

Beckham injured his ankle in the Giants’ second preseason game against the Browns when cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit him just above the right knee as Beckham landed from a leaping attempt to catch a high pass from Eli Manning.

Beckham has not practiced since suffering the injury, though he was seen doing straight-line running while working with a trainer Wednesday and Thursday.

Beckham, 24, caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. It’s the sixth game he’s missed with the Giants — five due to injury and one stemming from a suspension.

Titans: “The running game isn’t working anymore with DeMarco Murray.”

Run-blocking was Tennessee’s huge asset last season, but the team sputtered on the ground, which reined back Marcus Mariota through the air. Murray, who wore down in the second half of last season, looks like the big mileage is catching up to him. It might be time to feature Derrick Henry soon.

Raiders: “Khalil Mack has a big-time defense around him, too.”

Oakland played over its head, given its significant deficiencies at linebacker and in the secondary behind Mack. It will probably look better than it is again vs. the Jets next week.
nike_chargers_119

The most unexpected takeaway from Sunday’s loss to the Ravens was the poor play of Andy Dalton.

Chris Baker is sitting on a bench with some little kid, and they’re both singing along. DeSean Jackson is dancing on the practice field. Everyone is having a great time, because as Gerald McCoy points out, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when that song is on.

And Jameis Winston made up his own lyrics.

“‘If you know what I’m sayin’, Austin Johnson’s gonna be playin’.” Well done, Jameis.

It was a great intro to a great episode. The Bucs finally got to enjoy their new locker room, defensive coordinator Mike Smith said his guys couldn’t stop a marching band, and a bunch of players looked surprised when the cannons fired in Raymond James, even though they do it for every score.

I’m still looking to find someone on a team that projects to score a lot of points and has a solid market share of his team’s red zone looks. I’m just trying to do it on the cheap, and the pricing at DraftKings typically allows for that.

An easy way to quickly identify value is to use the consensus ranking from the experts here at ESPN and then compare them to the price list at DraftKings. If you find someone who’s listed as a top-10 or top-15 player at his position that week but priced way lower than that on the salary list, he is undervalued/mispriced and someone you should definitely target.

The most unexpected takeaway from Sunday’s loss to the Ravens was the poor play of Andy Dalton. Protecting the football has been one of Dalton’s best traits the last two years, but things fell apart on Sunday: 5 sacks, 4 interceptions, a fumble and a 28.4 QB rating. Dalton must play better to turn this thing around.steelers_122

the Celtics fought hard to earn the top seed in the East

Thomas, who had a tooth knocked out by Wizards forward Otto Porter on an incidental play in the first game, needed dental surgery on three teeth Monday. He was not sure he would play in Game 2 and told coach Brad Stevens he was a likely no-go. Thomas had to return to the hospital because of the severity of the postsurgical swelling in his mouth. Worse, Thomas had to wear a mouthguard, and had trouble engaging in his favorite player-to-player dialog because of it.

“I tried, but it wouldn’t let me so I had to take it out,” Thomas said. “I like to talk trash, that’s just the game of basketball, but I had to get used to it. I was stuttering a few times in the first half, I was just — I had to learn how to take it out with my tongue.”

There were hard fouls, like when Al Horford was sent tumbling into the first row after Morris chucked him down in a chase for a rebound — Morris injured his ankle in Game 1 when he landed badly on Horford’s foot after a jump shot, though Morris declined to accuse Horford of trying to hurt him. After the game, though, Morris was vague about whether he was sending Horford a message.

While some teams were resting their stars down the stretch (Cleveland), the Celtics fought hard to earn the top seed in the East. Led by All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, Boston boasts one of the most versatile lineups in the NBA.

Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game this season while hitting 46 percent of his shots. Quick off the dribble and dangerous from beyond the arc, Thomas has the talent and passion to lead this Celtics team deep into the postseason.

But let’s not forget the Bulls. Winners of seven of their last nine games to squeak into the playoffs, they boast a dangerous squad playing its best basketball. The Bulls have looked like a new team since inserting Rajon Rondo into the starting lineup, and Jimmy Butler averaged 23.9 points per game.falcons_109

Kirk Cousins signs his franchise tag and will likely play for Washington in 2017

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tag on Friday morning, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The team placed the exclusive franchise tag on Cousins back on Feb. 28. It’s the second consecutive season the team has placed the tag on Cousins, meaning he will earn nearly $24 million in 2017.

It also virtually guarantees that Cousins will be playing for Washington this upcoming season, despite his earlier desire to go elsewhere:

Kirk Cousins appealed personally to owner Dan Snyder for a trade but was basically told not to get his hopes up, per sources.

A few notes about our top 100 list.

This list, as with any kind of rankings, is subjective. The SB Nation NFL staff worked together to create it. We put a great deal of thought into it, but you will inevitably disagree with it. That’s fine. Save your tweets. We know. This is merely a guide to help the world keep track of which free agents are signing where.

The final salary cap for 2017 has now been set at $167 million. That’s a jump of nearly $12 million over last year’s $155.7 million cap. That’s consistent with the annual bumps we’ve seen since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement went into effect.

We’ll keep this list updated with players who get cut as well as for who’s signing where and for how much. So keep checking back.

OK, enough of the blah blah blah. Let’s get to that list!

One fan says that he was struck by Thiago Motta. His agent denied that report and said that Motta reached out to the fan to get the story straight and make sure he wouldn’t press charges.

20

Do NFL preseason stats mean anything for running backs?

With one week of the NFL Preseason in the books, you may find yourself belly-up to the bar and realize that you’re not only unrepentantly excited about Ameer Abdullah and his 9.6 yards per carry, but you’re equally as excited about that fifth running back on your team’s depth chart, a Zach Zenner, for instance. You may catch yourself re-calibrating your team’s roster in your mind based on a few exciting preseason runs.

Are you wrong to do this? Do “breakout” preseason performances at the running back position translate to breakout performances once the regular season rolls around? Short answer — it depends.

The San Francisco 49ers underwent a mountain of change this offseason, with a new coaching staff and Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Chris Borland and Anthony Davis all retiring. The first three of those players are defenders, so seeing how the first-team defense plays was of particular interest on Saturday. It went poorly.

It’s worth noting that it wasn’t the complete starting defense, with guys like NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite sitting out. Still, it wasn’t an encouraging start for a team that has a whole lot to prove this season. San Francisco’s defense gave up big chunks of yardage in Saturday’s game, and that was already a problem last season. They’ll need to make some adjustments heading into their next preseason game.

But you know what? I wont have to post a instantgram about it to brag to the whole world, because the reward for doing the right thing should be internal, you shouldnt have to need 1,000 thumbs up from strangers online when it comes to depriving a kindergartner of a award.