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  1. #31
    Teams to Watch - NFC
    July 10, 2018

    Several up-and-comers made their move in the National Football Conference last season, and their offseason transactions have given them staying power. Five teams that didnít reach the postseason in 2016 qualified last season, one of those being the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Thus, Philly is the favorite to repeat as conference champions, but like we saw, anything can happen.

    Itís easy to go with the defending champs after posting a league-best win total and claiming their first Super Bowl title Ė with a backup quarterback no less. But itís much tougher to win with a target on your back. And the NFC is stacked in 2018. The Rams reached the postseason for the first time in 13 years and strengthened their defense during the offseason to complement the NFLís highest scoring offense.

    Minnesota landed Kirk Cousins in an effort to lift them to Super Bowl glory. And Green Bay will have two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers back behind center after they stumbled without him in 2017.

    NFC Odds

    Philadelphia Eagles +365
    Los Angeles Rams +498
    Minnesota Vikings +535
    Green Bay Packers +700
    New Orleans Saints +850
    Atlanta Falcons +1000
    San Francisco 49ers +1385
    New York Giants +1430
    Dallas Cowboys +1800
    Carolina Panthers +2300
    Detroit Lions +3150
    Seattle Seahawks +3500
    Washington Redskins +4000
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4350
    Chicago Bears +6300
    Arizona Cardinals +7200


    Philadelphia Eagles
    Current Odds: +365

    With all the contributing pieces returning, the Eagles are in a good spot for another run at a Super Bowl and they hit the board as the favorite at +365. Carson Wentz is back from his knee surgery that cost him the final few games of the regular season and the postseason run. Wentz led the offense with 33 touchdown passes before getting hurt in a Week 13 matchup with the Rams. And it looked like he took any championship hopes with him. Nick Foles got all the glory leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl win over the Pats, earning MVP honors along the way. And heís back to help form the best quarterback duo in the league.Philly snuck up on the pack last season going from worst in the NFC East in 2016 to Super Bowl champions. With that comes the added pressure of trying to repeat while playing a first place schedule. Only one NFC team has repeated since 1998 and the field is as strong as ever. A good sign for the Eagles is that they donít rely on one player. We saw them overcome the loss of Wentz, Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks to win it all last year.

    Atlanta Falcons
    Current Odds: +1000

    There is value with Atlanta at +1000 to win the NFC. The Falcons are the only NFC team to reach the postseason in each of the last two seasons and they are just two years removed from a Super Bowl trip. They led the league in scoring in 2016 only to have a significant drop last season under first year OC Steve Sarkisian. The addition of Calvin Ridley to go along with Julio Jones should put some pop back in the passing game and Sarkisian should feel more comfortable after taking over for Kyle Shanahan. This is his offense now. The scary part about the Falcons is their defense. Dan Quinn built a beast during his days in Seattle and he has Atlanta looking like a top unit. And thatís necessary in the NFC South.

    New Orleans Saints
    Current Odds: +850

    Fellow South member New Orleans also looks scary good heading into 2018. After three straight seven-win seasons, the Saints busted loose last year to win 11 games and the division. They have a solid group of young players acquired through the draft and Drew Brees is showing no signs of slowing down at his advanced age. They had the top two rookies from each side of the ball last season and the defense improved significantly. Brees needs to stay healthy since there is no Plan B in place yet, and the Saints could be a bargain at +850.

    Minnesota Vikings
    Current Odds: +535

    Minnesota landed the biggest free agent prize in Kirk Cousins and they could be the scariest team in the conference. The offense wasnít poor under Case Keenum last season, but the addition of a high-caliber signal caller could be what gets them to their first Super Bowl since the 1976 season. The Vikings had the NFLís stingiest defense last season and theyíve been strong under Mike Zimmer. They should again be good at stopping opponents. Cousins has a better supporting cast than he had at Washington with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs among the best pass-catchings duos in the league.

    Los Angeles Rams
    Current Odds: +498

    It was a season to remember for the Rams under first-year head coach Sean McVay. They had a seven-game improvement from 2016, won their first division title since 2003 and ended a 12-year playoff drought. Sustaining success is much tougher but the Rams have a core group that could rule the NFC West for a few years. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley had breakout years as the Rams went from the lowest scoring team in 2016 to the highest scoring club last season. Adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib will also help a defense that ranked 19th in yards allowed per game.

  2. #32
    NFL notebook: Bills' McCoy denies domestic violence accusations
    July 10, 2018

    Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy denied accusations of domestic violence, child abuse, animal cruelty and performance-enhancing drug use in a statement posted on his Instagram account on Tuesday.

    Earlier on Tuesday, a woman posted a graphic image that showed McCoy's reported former girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, bruised and bloodied. The post also accused the 29-year-old McCoy of beating his dog until it developed kidney failure and "viciously" beating his son.

    "For the record, the totally baseless and offensive claims made against me today on social media are completely false," McCoy wrote. "Furthermore, I have not had any direct contact with any of the people involved in months."

    Police in Milton, Ga., released a statement in response to the incident, detailing how officers responded to a home invasion at 3:18 a.m. Tuesday, although McCoy was not mentioned by name.

    "The preliminary investigation indicates that this residence was specifically targeted by the suspect or suspects, and not a random incident," the statement read. "When officers arrived they found one victim who had been physically assaulted by a lone intruder. During the altercation, the suspect demanded specific items from the victim. An adult female victim was treated and released at North Fulton Regional Hospital. A second adult female victim also sustained a minor injury during the incident."

    --The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the league's new national anthem policy.

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced in May that the league would enact a national anthem policy for the 2018 season that requires players and league personnel to either stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room. The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other personnel do not show respect for the anthem.

    "Our union filed its non-injury grievance today on behalf of all players challenging the NFL's recently imposed anthem policy," the NFLPA said in a statement. "The union's claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL's governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights.

    "In advance of our filing today, we proposed to the NFL to begin confidential discussions with the NFLPA Executive Committee to find a solution to this issue instead of immediately proceeding with litigation. The NFL has agreed to proceed with those discussions and we look forward to starting them soon."

    --Former NFL cornerback Brandon Browner was charged with multiple felonies, including attempted murder.

    Police in La Verne (Calif.) also charged Browner with three other felonies -- robbery, burglary and false imprisonment -- in the wake of his arrest Sunday for allegedly breaking into a home of an ex-girlfriend who has a restraining order against him.

    Browner also faces two misdemeanor charges of child endangerment for allegedly attacking the victim with her two children present. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

    A Super Bowl winner with both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, Brown could face a possible maximum life sentence in prison if convicted.

    --Former Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander will not have to worry about one issue entering Wednesday's NFL Supplemental Draft.

    Alexander, one of five players available in the draft, received a clean bill on his drug tests, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.

    There have been character concerns surrounding Alexander, who was dismissed from Virginia Tech in May due to academics. Alexander also was arrested on a marijuana-related charge in 2016, but he has passed all of his drug tests over the past eight months, Garafolo reported.

    Alexander, Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal and Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant are considered the top players in the supplemental draft. Oregon State linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu and Grand Valley State running back Martayveus Carter are also available.

    --New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to create a more open "family" atmosphere in the wake of the troubles that surrounded previous owner Jerry Richardson.

    Tepper addressed this topic, the Richardson statue outside Bank of America Stadium and the team's coaching staff during Tuesday's introductory press conference with reporters.

    "I like to have an open environment. Where everybody feels safe like a family," said Tepper, the founder of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, based in Miami Beach, Fla. He paid $2.275 billion for the right to own the team.

    The Panthers came under fire in December when Sports Illustrated published a report alleging that Richardson was accused of racial and sexual harassment. The 81-year-old Richardson, who elected to sell the team amid a league investigation, was fined $2.75 million by the NFL on June 28.

    Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill weighed in on the recent alcohol-related arrest of general manager Steve Keim, vowing there will be consequences for what he termed "inexcusable" behavior.

    Bidwill told radio station KFYI on Tuesday that Keim made an "enormous mistake," referring to the general manager's arrest on charges of driving under the influence in Chandler, Ariz., on Wednesday.

    "First of all, I'm extremely disappointed," said Bidwill. "It's inexcusable. He did bring it to our attention right away that night and has been extremely remorseful and contrite. He's taken steps to make things right, but the reality is that there is a process in place that the league has and there are going to be consequences here."

    Keim could be subject to disciplinary action for a violation of the NFL policy on personal conduct. More details from the incident became available Tuesday with the release of the police report, which noted that Keim refused to participate in a number of sobriety tests. Keim willingly provided his name to officers, according to the report, but he identified himself as the team's director of security.

    --DeMarco Murray was quite complimentary of both fellow running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Marcus Mariota when asked about their respective futures with the Tennessee Titans.

    Murray, who was released by the Titans in March, addressed both players when talking to ESPN's Adam Schefter recently.

    "I think Derrick's a smart guy. He's a fast guy, very physical, athletic, and now that I'm not there I think he can hone in on being the guy," the 30-year-old Murray said, via Titans Wire. "And if they use him the right way and if he can consistently be the every down back, I think he has a great future, a bright future."

    Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur told reporters last month that the running game will remain the focal point of the offense with free-agent signee Dion Lewis joining incumbent starter Henry in the backfield.

    --Washington Redskins rookie running back Derrius Guice continued his generous offseason by surprising his mother with a new car.

    Guice, who was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, shared a video on Twitter of his mother's reaction as he arrived at her Baton Rouge, La., home in a white Jaguar SUV with a bow on the hood.

    His mother, Beulah, could barely contain herself before her son christened the car with a bottle of champagne.

    Guice was raised by his mother after his father was murdered when he was young. The 21-year-old Guice's most recent gift comes on the heels of raising money for cancer research and taking random Redskins fans to the movies.

    --New Orleans Saints stars Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore are looking to elevate the bar after becoming the first teammates since 1967 to win NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

    "We talk about it all the time, we're just trying to be the best," the 22-year-old Lattimore said, via the New Orleans Advocate. "We won rookie of the year, now we're trying to win Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year."

    Lattimore, a cornerback, is focusing his attention on his technique as opposed to "training for the 40" at the combine like he did prior to the 2017 draft.

    "That process, the draft-combine-pro day, it's a tiring process," Kamara said. "It's hard, coming from college, transitioning from being an amateur to a pro. It's hard, there's some growing pains. I was learning as I go, but now I have some experience, I know how to manage my time."

    --Tony Romo may have retired from playing in the NFL, but that doesn't mean he is through with competitive sports.

    The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst matched his old jersey number by breezing to a staggering nine-stroke win at the Racine Tri-Course Amateur Championship. He also won the tournament in 2004.

    "I stayed aggressive," Romo told The (Racine) Journal Times. "I took mostly conservative lines and aggressive swings, and that's the approach you take when you have a lead. When you're hitting it as solid as I've been hitting it, you can trust it -- commit to the swing and hit it.

    "I was able to do that throughout the week. It was hard to do when you're not hitting it where you're aiming, but I was (doing that) this week."

    -- New York Giants defensive tackle A.J. Francis went on a profane tirade on Twitter after the Transportation Security Administration allegedly left open the urn carrying his mother's ashes.

    Carrie Leanne Francis died on June 26, according to a post on her son's Instagram account. A.J. Francis posted a picture Monday of his clothes covered with what appeared to be ashes in his suitcase along with a notice of inspection from TSA.

    "Hey you (expletive) at TSA next time you (expletive) feel the need to go thru my mother's ashes for no reason, make sure you close it back so her remains aren't spilled on all my clothes... the least you pieces of garbage can do is your (expletive) job," the 28-year-old Francis said in a tweet.

    AskTSA responded to Francis' complaints with an explanation, apology and condolences.

  3. #33
    First Coach to be Fired
    July 11, 2018

    NFL Props Ė First Coach Fired in 2018 Regular Season

    Teams usually wait until the season is over to make coaching changes, thatís why the first Monday after the regular year ends is termed ďBlack Monday.Ē Thatís not always the case, however.

    Sometimes a club is so bad or fails to reach expectations that a move is made during the season. There were seven coaching changes following the 2017 season with only one Ė Giants Ben McAdoo Ė relieved of his duties prior to the end of the season.

    Coaches are hired to be fired and five other coaches were dismissed after the conclusion of the 2017 regular season and one retired, leaving the door open for seven new men to test their luck.

    We can eliminate those seven from our list, and the odds at for the first coach fired during the regular season doesnít include any of them.

    The heat is on Clevelandís Hue Jackson, who is the favorite at +317 to get the axe first. He has the highest losing percentage of any coach thatís been around for two seasons and it was amazing he was retained after going winless last year.

    The Browns have just one victory in Jacksonís tenure and with an upgraded roster, the pressure is on him to win and win early.

    Odds For First Head Coach Fired During 2018 NFL Regular Season

    No Coach Fired +306

    Cleveland Browns - Hue Jackson +317

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dirk Koetter +516

    Denver Broncos - Vance Joseph +548

    Field (any other coach fired) +621

    Miami Dolphins - Adam Gase +781

    New York Jets - Todd Bowles +1330

    Washington Redskins - Jay Gruden +1387

    Dallas Cowboys - Jason Garrett +1829

    Baltimore Ravens - John Harbaugh +1879

    Seattle Seahawks - Pete Carroll +2113

    Houston Texans - Bill O'Brien +2201

    Cincinnati Bengals - Marvin Lewis +1167

    Carolina Panthers - Ron Rivera +4500

    Coaches To Watch

    Hue Jackson
    Current Odds +317

    Itís hard not to put Jackson at the top of the list and the odds are favorable. In his two years the Browns have won just one game and last season they became the second club ever to go winless during a 16-game regular season. Ownership made changes elsewhere within the organization and you can bet Jackson has a short leash entering 2018. Much more than just a few victories are expected for the Browns this season and if they stumble out of the gate, Jacksonís shelf life will have expired. He isnít a bad coach, enjoying success as an assistant and coordinator. However, some guys are meant to be in the background and Jackson is one of them.

    Dirk Koetter
    Current Odds +516

    The Tampa Bay coach was given the job to mentor Jameis Winston, and that hasnít worked out. With the 2015 No. 1 overall pick stagnant in his development, the Bucs havenít progressed after going 9-7 and narrowly missing the postseason in 2016. The team stumbled to a 5-11 record last season and failed to win a number of close games. With Winston suspended for the first three games in 2018 with matchups against New Orleans, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the seat will get warm quickly under Koetterís derriere.

    Jason Garrett
    Current Odds +1829

    Cowboysí owner Jerry Jones doesnít go for the quick fix and make changes on a whim. He also doesnít care for mediocrity. And thatís what the Boys have been under Jason Garrett, who enters his eighth full season with just two playoff appearances and one victory. When those two playoff years are eliminated, Garrett has a record of 42-46. Heís failed to build a consistent winner and even has former players calling out his competence as a head coach. The Boys need to be better because thatís what their owner expects, giving Garrett has plenty of value at +1829.

    Vance Joseph
    Current Odds +548

    John Elway went out on a limb with the hiring of Joseph, and after a 5-win campaign the branch is about to snap off. Three years removed from a Super Bowl victory, the Broncos were atrocious in Josephís maiden season. Elway isnít shy about pulling the trigger on any move and if he feels the club isnít responding, you can bet Joseph will be the scapegoat.

  4. #34
    NFL Notebook: Giants, Redskins pick up DBs in Supplemental Draft
    July 11, 2018

    In today's pass-happy era, one can never have enough defensive backs.

    That likely was the mindset that led NFC East rivals New York and Washington to invest third- and sixth-round selections in the NFL's Supplemental Draft, making it the first time since 2010 that multiple players were picked in the league's annual second-chance draft.

    The Giants invested an early pick -- technically the third selection of the third round of the draft -- into the draft's top-rated prospect, Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal.

    Washington, which was slotted 20th, selected Virginia Tech defensive back Adonis Alexander three rounds later.

    With the selections, both clubs forfeit the corresponding selections in next spring's draft.

    Once the players come to a financial agreement with the clubs, they are eligible to practice and potentially play immediately.

    --Running back LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills reportedly has hired a prominent attorney as police investigate a home invasion in Milton, Ga., in which his ex-girlfriend was assaulted.

    According to in Atlanta, defense attorney Don Samuel will represent McCoy, who has not been charged or even mentioned by authorities as a suspect.

    Samuel, who defended former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis during his 2000 murder trial in Atlanta, said he is "getting up to speed" on the case and added that he will be speaking with the Milton Police Department.

    McCoy's former girlfriend, Delicia Cordon was bruised and bloodied in what Milton Police called a "targeted" home invasion early Tuesday morning. A friend of Cordon's accused McCoy on social media of being responsible, even though he was in South Florida training at the time of the incident. McCoy has denied any involvement.

    --Free-agent cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was involved in a physical altercation in which he was attacked by an employee associated with an Atlanta airport, according to a published report.

    Per TMZ Sports, Jones was at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Tuesday night when Frank Ragin -- an employee of the facilities management company ABM -- "made a gesture" toward him. Police said the two exchanged words before a fight ensued, with Ragin causing a laceration to Jones' face following a strike with a closed fist.

    TMZ Sports reported that police said Ragin also hit Jones' female companion at some point during the fight, injuring her hand. Jones soon knocked Ragin to the ground with a punch to the face. He then hit Ragin one more time before another man helped break up the fight.

    Police determined that Ragin was the primary aggressor, and he was arrested on two counts of battery. Ragin was taken to an area hospital to be treated for his injuries.

    --Jeff Fisher, who has coached in the NFL for 22 seasons, is in talks with FOX about joining the network's team as an analyst in the studio or the booth, the Sporting News reported.

    FOX will begin hosting Thursday Night Football this season with its No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth. Indications are that means Buck and Aikman will take some Sundays off.

    The 60-year-old Fisher has said he would prefer another coaching job in the NFL, but FOX has invested an additional $550 million per year for the broadcast rights to "Thursday Night Football" and might make him an offer he can't refuse.

    Fisher has coached the Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, compiling a 173-165-1 in the regular season and 5-6 mark in the postseason. His 165 regular season losses are tied for the most in NFL history.

    --Eli Manning admitted to being pleased that the New York Giants opted against selecting a quarterback of the future with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    The Giants passed over Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen to select Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed 217 times for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. The 6-foot-3, 233-pound Barkley also caught 54 passes for 632 yards and two scores, as well as returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

    "It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still," Manning told Sirius XM NFL Radio.

    "And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that. I want to go out there and do great things, do my job and lead this team and make guys around me better and do what I'm supposed to do to put us in position to win those games."

    --Free-agent linebacker Connor Barwin is setting the bar high for his next employer.

    Barwin told Sirius XM NFL Radio that he's looking for something specific from a team looking to add him to its roster.

    "We've had interest from a number of teams all offseason," Barwin said. "The offers I have, I think I'll make my decision before camp starts. I'm not going to go somewhere that I don't think can win a Super Bowl."

    Barwin recorded 34 tackles and five sacks in 14 games for the Los Angeles Rams last season. The 31-year-old was playing in his first year with the Rams after four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He admitted that he had conflicting emotions after watching the Eagles win the Super Bowl.

    --Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown turned 30 years old on Tuesday.

    A signature birthday in one's life to be certain, but Brown wasn't worried about that number representing a potential decline in his skills on the football field.

    "I don't pay attention to my age," the six-time Pro Bowl selection said, via ESPN. "I'm feeling great, I'm healthy and I'm in great shape. I feel as long as I have that, I can continue to be productive. ... Life is all about challenges and working to be the best. You never want to limp away from the game."

    Brown hasn't limped much at all during his NFL career. In fact, his 733 receptions for 9,910 yards are more than any other wideout since he entered the league as a sixth-round pick of the Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft.

    --Safety Brandon Bryant of Mississippi State, who was passed over in the NFL Supplemental Draft, is expected to sign with the New York Jets, the NFL Network reported.

    Bryant was one of three eligible prospects who were not selected in the Supplemental Draft. Only two players, Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal by the New York Giants and Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander by the Washington Redskins, were chosen.

    Bryant is expected to be a backup to Jets' starting safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who both were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

    --The Cleveland Browns didn't make a selection during the NFL Supplemental Draft, but they did hold a workout with defensive back Jordan Holland, the NFL Network reported.

    Holland most recently played last season with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL and is the son of assistant coach Johnny Holland of the San Francisco 49ers.

    Jordan Holland, 23, is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound cover man who was undrafted out of Prairie View A&M in 2016.

    The Browns have been rebuilding heir secondary, selecting cornerback Denzel Ward in the first round of the NFL Draft, signing E.J. Haines and Justin Durrie, and trading for safety Damarious Randall.

  5. #35
    NFL notebook: McCoy's house visited by police 3 times
    July 12, 2018

    Police have visited the Georgia home of Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy three times in the past year, according to a published report.

    McCoy is the subject of a police investigation in which his ex-girlfriend was assaulted at his home early Tuesday morning in Milton, Ga. The incident has been termed a home invasion by police.

    The Athletic reported Thursday that Milton police were called to McCoy's residence for domestic disputes three times since July 2017, although they found no evidence of violence in either instance.

    McCoy's former girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, was bruised and bloodied in what Milton Police called a "targeted" home invasion early Tuesday morning.

    A friend of Cordon's accused McCoy on social media of being responsible, even though he was in South Florida training at the time of the incident. McCoy has denied any involvement in the incident.

    --Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been named in two separate lawsuits by women who claimed he sexually assaulted them while they were unconscious.

    One day after a Jacksonville, Fla., station reported that Dareus was being sued for sexual assault stemming from an incident in April, he also was named in a suit involving a different woman that dates to January 2017, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    The earlier incident occurred on Jan. 7, 2017, in Lutz, Fla., two days before the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, the newspaper reported.

    The woman alleged that Dareus groped her at a party, which featured alcohol, drugs and up to a dozen strippers. She said she later woke up in bed with Dareus and "began to immediately realize that there had been sexual physical acts upon her person."

    --The Pro Football Hall of Fame will ostensibly ignore former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens during this year's induction proceedings.

    Joe Horrigan, the Hall's executive director, told Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network that Owens will not be individually introduced at the Gold Jacket ceremony. In addition, Owens will not be announced the following night at Canton's annual induction ceremony.

    Owens announced last week that he will return to his alma mater of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga to celebrate his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement on Aug. 4.

    "The focus is on the guys who are here," Horrigan said. "... There's no reason to bring him up as an individual. He's not here."

    --Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt donated $10,000 to help the family of a Wisconsin firefighter killed in an explosion, multiple media outlets reported.

    Watt, who is the child of a firefighter, was born in Waukesha (Wis.) and played collegiately at Wisconsin.

    The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year donated to a GoFundMe page created for Sun Prairie (Wis.) Fire Department Capt. Cory Barr, who was killed Tuesday evening.

    A natural gas leak in Sun Prairie led to an explosion that injured 15 and killed Barr on Tuesday evening. Barr leaves behind a wife, Abby, and 3-year-old twin daughters.

    --Former NFL referee Terry McAulay said the NFL's revised rules on kickoffs could cause issues for the officials this season.

    McAulay retired last month and will serve as an on-air rules analyst for games on NBC Sunday Night Football.

    The 59-year-old spoke to about the rules, specifically where players line up prior to the kick, the elimination of wedge blocking and where the receiving team's players are permitted to initiate blocks.

    "It isn't getting as much press, but the kickoff change, this may be the biggest change I've ever seen," McAulay said. "People know so little about it. There are so many restrictions on what either side of the ball can do. ... I spoke with a special-teams coordinator who is excited about it, and I know we all feel it can be great for the game. But (officials) have to wait and see. There are a lot of intricate rules in terms of what (players) can and cannot do."

    --Adonis Alexander wound up in the NFL Supplemental Draft due to some off-field transgressions in college. He vowed not to be tripped up by similar issues at the professional level.

    Alexander, who was taken by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of Wednesday's supplemental draft, said he will not repeat the same mistakes that he did at Virginia Tech.

    Academic issues led to the defensive back's dismissal from the school in May. Alexander also was suspended twice by the Hokies, including once for a marijuana-related charge in 2016.

    "I have definitely used it as a learning tool," said Alexander via the Redskins' official website. "I definitely made some mistakes at Virginia Tech but I'm using those -- just learning from them. Using them to help form a better character, form myself as a man. I'm trying to benefit from the things I did in the past in a good way."

    --Las Vegas will become home to the Oakland Raiders in 2020 and the city's long wait for an NFL franchise finally will be realized.

    A $1.8 billion stadium is about 15 percent complete and is being built on the far south end of the famed Las Vegas Strip.

    And on Wednesday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Personal Seat Licenses will cost up to $75,000 apiece.

    PSLs are agreements that give fans the opportunity to purchase season tickets. According to the Las Vegas newspaper, there are three tiers of PSLs and in total they will generate $160 million.

    --Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara has set the bar extremely high for this season.

    "I'm really looking for a 10-pick season," Amukamara told the Chicago Tribune.

    A lofty goal to be certain since Amukamara has just seven interceptions over the span of his entire seven-year NFL career. In fact, his last pick was in September 2005 when he intercepted then-Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

    "I'm reaching for the stars, right?" the 29-year-old Amukamara said. "But at the same time, I know what I'm capable of. I know how hard I've worked. And every year I keep putting those goals out there. Because when it finally does happen, I can circle back to the time that I said it."

    --A current Dallas Cowboys star player will join a prominent former one when the second National Fantasy Football Convention gets underway this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas.

    Per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has joined former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo as a part owner of the group. Executive Director Andy Alberth and business partner Mark Hulme are also part owners.

    Elliott is expected to attend the event which reportedly will include Los Angeles Rams star running back Todd Gurley and Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon as well as Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

    "It's more than doubled from where it was last year," Alberth told the newspaper. "The players are excited. The fans are excited. It's Disneyland for fans of all ages.

    --Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and wife, Ciara, tagged a pair of rhinos during their recent trip to South Africa.

    The duo participated in a rhino microchipping trip outside of Cape Town as a means to combat poaching.

    "Ciara and I worked to help save two Rhinos from poachers by microchipping them today!" Wilson wrote on Instagram. "It's an important task because over 5,000+ Rhinos have been killed by poachers in the past 6 years. We all need to play a part in an effort to Save the Rhinos in Africa from being wiped off the earth.

    "We were able to name them after our kids' middle names, Zahir and Princess! We can't wait to meet again! Run safe & free babies! #SaveTheRhinos"

    --The New York Giants had a changing of the guards, signing Zac Kerin and waiving Ethan Cooper.

    Kerin has appeared in 14 regular-season games, making one start, in four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions.

    An undrafted free agent out of Toledo, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Kerin appeared in four games in 2015 and nine in 2016 for the Vikings, but he was waived at the start of training camp a year ago. The Detroit Lions claimed Kerin on waivers and he made his first NFL start on Sept. 24 last season.

    Cooper has never appeared in an NFL game. He spent most of the 2016 season on New York's practice squad and spent the past offseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers before he was cut in early September.

    --The Baltimore Ravens placed rookie center Alex Thompson on the reserve/did not report list.

    The move came one day after Baltimore's rookies were schedule to report for training camp on Wednesday.

    Thompson signed with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Monmouth. He started 44 of 45 games at the school.

    --Former NFL coach Jeff Fisher will serve as an analyst for FOX in at least one game next season, according to a published report.

    Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that Fisher will be joined by play-by-play announcer Dan Hellie for the Sept. 30 game pitting the New York Jets against the host Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Marchand reported that more opportunities could be in line for Fisher, who was dismissed by the Los Angeles Rams with three games remaining in the 2016 season.

    FOX will begin hosting Thursday Night Football this season with its No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth. Indications are that means Buck and Aikman will take some Sundays off.

    --Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II will stand trial after a judge in Vista, Calif., ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to move forward with the case.

    Winslow will face a number of felony charges, including rape and kidnapping, as well as multiple misdemeanor charges including indecent exposure and trespassing, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Superior Court Judge Harry Elias set bail at $2 million for Winslow, who may face additional charges during a hearing scheduled for later Thursday afternoon.

    The 34-year-old Winslow stands accused of raping two women and exposing himself to a third. He also was accused of entering the homes of two other women with the intent to rape, prosecutors alleged.

    --The Alliance of American Football hopes to generate fan interest by stocking team rosters with players who have local ties.

    J.K. McKay, the head of football operations for the Alliance, told Pro Football Talk that the league will put an emphasis on keeping players as close to the colleges where they played.

    The eight-team AAF is scheduled to begin its inaugural season in February 2019, one week after the Super Bowl is played. The league has franchises in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego.

    "You want to keep local kids home when you can," McKay told PFT. "It creates fan interest. Our Birmingham team will have Alabama and Auburn, and that will draw some fan interest."

  6. #36
    NFL notebook: Owens reveals why he's skipping HOF
    July 15, 2018

    Terrell Owens shared a glimpse as to why he has elected against attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony next month.

    Owens, who will celebrate his big day on Aug. 4 at his alma mater of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, responded to a person on Twitter who was criticizing the wide receiver for citing Jerry Kramer's decades-long snub.

    "I'm SO HAPPY for JERRY (Kramer)!!" Owens wrote. "(He) shouldn't have had to wait that damn long either! I'm doing this for guys like him. Past, present and the future."

    Kramer, 82, was a pivotal member on Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers teams that won five NFL championships as well as the first two Super Bowls. The guard was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1960s and -- for the time being -- remains the lone member of the league's 50th Anniversary Team that resides outside of the Hall of Fame.

    Prior to his modern-era eligibility expiring in 1988, Kramer was a Hall of Fame finalist nine times. He also was a senior finalist in 1997.

    A finalist for the past three years, Owens was selected for enshrinement in the Class of 2018 along with linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and safety Brian Dawkins. They will be joined by Bobby Beathard (contributor) and seniors committee nominees Kramer and Robert Brazile.

    Owens caused a stir last month by declaring that he would not be in attendance for the festivities in Canton, Ohio.

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Thursday that it will ostensibly ignore the 44-year-old Owens during this year's induction proceedings.

    --Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas criticized Terrell Owens for his decision to boycott this year's enshrinement ceremony.

    Thomas, who starred for the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s, said he is upset that Owens will not attend the Aug. 4 ceremony in Canton, Ohio.

    Owens will instead celebrate his big day at his alma mater of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

    "I'm a little ticked off that he's not coming," Thomas told the Professional Football Researchers Association Convention on Saturday, according to the Buffalo News. "But it's his choice. ... I think it was a bad P.R. move on his part, but I do get it. ... Every guy thinks they should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I remember Deacon Jones telling me after I didn't get in the first time ... he said, 'Whether you're going to get in the first time, the second time, the third time, it's when you get in that you should enjoy it.' "

    --Defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah are expected to play on the franchise tag this year, according to a published report.

    NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that both players likely will not receive long-term deals with their respective teams prior to Monday's deadline, "barring a significant turn of events."

    If deals are not signed and approved by the league before 4 p.m. ET, the sides cannot agree to new contracts until after the regular season is over.

    Lawrence, who has been seeking a long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys, is set to play for just over $17 million in 2018 with the franchise tag.

    The 26-year-old Lawrence started all 16 games last season and amassed a career-high 14.5 sacks.

    Ansah recorded a team-high 12 sacks, 44 total tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season with the Detroit Lions despite missing two games with a back injury.

    The 29-year-old Ansah has registered 44 sacks over his first five seasons, including 14.5 sacks in 2015. He had just two sacks the following year while being bothered by a high ankle sprain that limited him to 13 games.

    --The Los Angeles Rams chose to slap a franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner back in April. The two sides have been talking, but no long-term deal is expected to be reached, a league source told ESPN.

    They have until Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline to agree to a multi-year deal. If a new contract isn't signed, Joyner will play this season on the franchise tag. The Rams could then tag him again next offseason or he would become a free agent.

    The Rams decided to franchise Joyner instead of receiver Sammy Watkins, who later left for the Kansas City Rams. The 27-year old played slot corner his first three years in the league before moving to safety in 2017, where he notched his first three career interceptions.

    --Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is thinking positive as it relates to the franchise tag negotiations surrounding superstar running back Le'Veon Bell.

    Tomlin told WAVY Channel 10 in Virginia that he would like the Steelers to sign Bell to a long-term contract prior to Monday's deadline (4 p.m. ET).

    "Obviously we want to get a deal done, he wants to get a deal done, everybody has said that," Tomlin said. "Now it's just about the negotiators getting into a room and doing what it is they need to do. I'm excited and hopeful. Hopefully we'll have some exciting news before Monday."

    Tomlin expressed a similar sentiment prior to last year's deadline, when the Steelers failed to sign Bell. The running back didn't report until training camp ended and signed his $12.12 million tag on Sept. 4.

    Should Bell and the Steelers fail to come to terms this time around, he will play on this year's tag -- worth $14.5 million. Multiple media reports have Bell seeking at least $17 million annually.

    --Tony Romo's admittedly early prediction of the Green Bay Packers facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Super Bowl LIII drew a response from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

    The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned CBS analyst.

    Brady, who is a five-time Super Bowl champion and three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, opted to chime in on Instagram.

    "We will see tony, we will see !" the 40-year-old Brady wrote.

    Romo picked the Jaguars in part because they "had the Patriots on the ropes" in the AFC Championship Game. With that said, Romo was quick to praise the Patriots for their consistency over the years.

    "You can never count out New England," Romo said. "As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are breathing, the easy pick is them."

    --Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles signed a one-year, $1.415 million contract extension in May. That appears to be his last NFL deal as he announced his decision to retire after the 2018 season.

    In a blog post, the 35-year-old Sproles said he plans to play just one more NFL season. He had planned to make 2017 his final season but he tore his ACL in Week 3 so he decided to return for 2018.

    "I feel like I left a lot out there, and I couldn't let my career end like that," Sproles wrote in the post.

    "I'm excited to come back and I am even more excited to come back to the defending Super Bowl champion, Eagles," Sproles wrote. "We have something special here with the team, the fans, and the city. We made history bringing the first Lombardi trophy to Philly and now we want to go back-to-back."

    --Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah is ready to take the next step in his development, according to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

    "I'm so excited to see how well (Ogbah's) doing out here this year," Williams said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He's night and day more relaxed and doing things more instinctively, not overthinking and not as afraid to make a mistake as he was last year because we moved him into a new position. Knock on wood, staying healthy, he's going to really stand out this year."

    Ogbah, a second-round pick in 2016, had 29 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 10 games last season before a broken foot landed him on injured reserve.

    The 24-year-old will also have another year under his belt with fellow defensive end Myles Garrett, who was the top overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    --Doug Pederson took the high road and turned a negative into a positive when addressing former New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo's comments about the Philadelphia Eagles' chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

    McAdoo lobbied the following shot last week to the New York Post:

    "I think Philly, how much success has Philly had?" McAdoo said. "I think they're gonna have a hard time handling success."

    While Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills quickly dismissed McAdoo's words as "irrelevant," the Philadelphia coach took a different approach.

    "I think there's a point there," Pederson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I mean, quite honestly, complacency can set in. You can skip an OTA, you can maybe skip a workout or whatever. But what I saw from our players was not that. Our players showed up for OTAs, they spent time getting themselves ready.

    "... It is my job to make sure they don't get complacent and we stay hungry and there is an edge. And we're going to get everybody's best each week and that's what we want. I think anybody that plays on Sunday wants to play the best.

    "So now we've got the targets on our backs and we're going to embrace that and get ready this training camp and we are going to try to defend. But at the same time, we're going to take it one week at a time and build the season just like we did last year."

    --Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles may be willing to take less money in the future so the team can fill other needs to make the team better, he recently said in an interview.

    Bortles could have played out his $19 million fifth-year option for this season but instead signed a three-year, $54 deal a month after helping the Jaguars reach the AFC championship game. The deal includes $26.5 million guaranteed over the first two years.

    Bortles said he preferred the security of the multi-year deal because he did not "really care about how much money" was in the one-year option.

    Bortles praised New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for taking less money over the years to free up resources to improve other areas of the team. Bortles hinted he may do the same in the future.

    "I think definitely the way the Tom has done it is the way to try to model," Bortles recently told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Having guys and putting pieces around him was definitely something. When you take up a ton of money you kind of limit your team and who they can help you out with and put around you. I'm not naive enough to say that we don't need a run game. We also need a good defense, we need good receivers, we need all these pieces. You can't play as a quarterback and do it yourself so I'm more than willing to take less money than somebody else might in my position to put good guys around us."

    --Arizona Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson has praised rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, but believes veteran Sam Bradford should still be the starter.

    Earlier this month, Peterson said he has been very impressed with Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. However, Bradford signed a one-year, $20 million contract with the Cardinals in March and is the presumed starter.

    Peterson told NFL Network recently that he agreed the veteran should get the starting nod.

    "Well, right now I'd probably take Sam due to his experience," Peterson said. "Due to some of the records that he has in the league. Because when Sam is healthy and is on the field and has talent around him, he's a top-10 quarterback."

    The 30-year-old Bradford has a lengthy injury history, appearing in only two games with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. He has played 80 of a possible 112 regular-season games. If he can stay on the field, the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in 2010 is expected to be under center in Week 1.

    --Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has routinely shown a soft spot in his heart for children.

    Kelce surprised 10 kids at his first annual Elite Pro Skills Camp on Saturday with a free shopping spree at DICK'S Sporting Goods.

    "It's something that my mother taught me," the 28-year-old Kelce said Saturday of the gesture, per the Kansas City Star.

    Kelce's charity, Eighty-Seven & Running, shared some photos from the experience over social media. Per its Twitter account, Eight-Seven & Running is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and support to empower disadvantaged youth to cultivate their talents and achieve success.

    The generosity is nothing new for Kelce, who hosted a private shopping experience for 50 underserved children in December 2016 at a JC Penney in Independence, Mo.

    --Odell Beckham Jr. is recognized wherever he travels, due in large part to his colorful wardrobe and daring sense of style.

    Perhaps it comes as little surprise that the New York Giants wide receiver was named Sports Illustrated's Most Fashionable Athlete of 2018, which will be on newsstands Monday.

    "Everybody was getting their suits and I was wondering, what can I do to be different?" the 25-year-old Beckham told Sports Illustrated. "That blazer might have been a size too big at the time, but I just had to have it. To me, it was the hottest thing in the world."

    Beckham made the list during its inaugural issue in 2016. The three-time Pro Bowl selection won the "Swag" Award last year.

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also made the "Fashionable 50" list, despite receiving questionable reviews from several of his peers for wearing an all-black suit with elaborate designs on the lapels at a recent Met Gala.

    --Former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson is best known for two memorable plays during his NFL career.

    Although he famously fell short of the goal line during the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, Dyson wasn't denied in his doctoral pursuit recently -- and he couldn't be happier.

    "A lot of people have looked at me crazy when I've said this, but to me this is a lot greater accomplishment than being drafted in the first round, than my football career," the 43-year-old Dyson told The Tennessean. "... I went to school so I could play sports. I had to be eligible. I didn't take education nearly as seriously as I should have and as I do as an adult. So this was greater because I've never considered myself academic. ...

    "Athletically, I was blessed with some gifts and I enhanced those skills. Until a few years ago, I never wanted to do anything like this. That's why it's my greatest personal accomplishment. It's my Mount Everest."

    Dyson's two-year climb ended in him claiming a doctorate in education in leadership and professional practice. He also has two master's degrees from Trevecca, in education and leadership.

  7. #37
    Wagers to Watch - Week 1
    July 17, 2018

    Early NFL week 1 odds roundup: Top Betting Lines

    The opening week of the NFL season is still about a month and a half away, but with the lines for Week 1 are already up at, which means that it might be time to start thinking about getting some wagers on. No matter what people think, it is never too early to bet on football, so keep in mind that the odds posted now may well be the best that you get for the games you like.

    The odds will start to shift, and not necessarily in your favor, once preseason begins and injuries and other issues start to taint some teams that you may otherwise have liked.

    Letís take a quick look ahead to Week 1 to see what games & odds you should start betting right now.

    Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (OVER 46 Ĺ)

    The opening game of the new season looks as though it might well be a good one. The defending Super Bowl champions are not being given an easy game after they hoist their championship banner, as they are going against what is potentially the best offense in football. The Eagles are going to want to put on a show in their first game back home after being crowned, while the Falcons will know that they are going to need to put some points on the board to get out of Philly with a win. I think we could well be in shootout territory here, which is why I really like the OVER.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) at Cleveland Browns

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have absolutely owned the Cleveland Browns over the past few seasons, going 9-1 SU in their last 10 meetings. Things are not quite so concrete ATS, though, as the Steelers are just 5-4-1 there, which may lead you to believe that the Browns can keep this one close. If you look at those last 10 games, though, you will see that the Steelers have outscored the Browns by an average of over 7 PPG, which is why I believe the 6-point spread here is a decent pick at good odds. Yes, the Browns have made some big moves, but it is still going to take time for this group to gel, assuming they even do.

    Tennessee Titans (-1 Ĺ) at Miami Dolphins

    2017 was a breakthrough year for the Tennessee Titans, as they made it to the playoffs and managed to win a game there. I think that this team is ready to take another step forward this season, and they may end up being your eventual AFC South winners. They have a tricky opening day game against the Dolphins on the road, but you have to wonder what we are going to get out of Miami this season. They are coming off a 6-win season and donít look to have done much to improve. Games between these two are traditionally tight, but I think the Titans can win and cover this small spread.

    Kansas City Chiefs (+3) at LA Chargers

    Yes, there are some doubts about the Chiefs this season given that they will have a young QB starting under center from day 1. There are sure to be some mistakes made along the way, but the general consensus on Patrick Mahomes is that he has what it takes to be a solid starting QB in the NFL. I am betting that we find that out early on, as I like the Chiefs to head into LA and get the win. KC are 8-2 against the Chargers in their last 10 meetings, outscoring them by an average of around 10 PPG.

  8. #38
    Handicapping 49ers (8.5)
    July 17, 2018

    The team with the most hype surrounding them heading into the 2018 NFL regular season is definitely the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers won their last five games a year ago and they look to be even better this season.

    San Francisco will have a full season with Jimmy Garoppolo under center and the 49ers went out and added big time free agents in Richard Sherman and Jerick McKinnon. They also got Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey in the first round of the NFL Draft. Expectations are sky high for the 49ers this season.

    Letís look at the win total for the 49ers, their schedule for the 2018 regular season and our win total prediction.

    San Francisco 49ers 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-120)

    San Francisco 49ers 2018 Schedule Analysis

    Sept. 9, at Minnesota

    The opener for the 49ers is a difficult one, as the Vikings have a tough defense. What might help San Franciscoís cause is that this will be the first regular season game for Kirk Cousins with the Vikings. It is also a bit of a revenge game for McKinnon who plays against his former team.

    Sept. 16, vs. Detroit
    The 49ers should be able to handle the Lions, as it may take new head coach Matt Patricia some time to get everyone on the same page in Detroit.

    Sept. 23, at Kansas City
    The early season schedule is definitely difficult for the 49ers, as they have to travel to take on Kansas City in Week 3. The Chiefs have a new starting quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, but winning at Arrowhead is never easy.

    Sept. 30, at L.A. Chargers
    The Chargers donít have much of a home field edge, so there may be as many San Francisco fans in the stands for this one as Charger fans. This is a winnable road game for the 49ers.

    Oct. 7, vs. Arizona

    The Cardinals have a new quarterback in Sam Bradford and a healthy David Johnson, so this may not be an easy home game, but it is one that the 49ers need to win.

    Oct. 15, at Green Bay
    This is a Monday night contest and it figures to be a shootout between Garoppolo and Rodgers. It is not out of the question that the 49ers could find a way to win this one.

    Oct. 21, vs. L.A. Rams
    This is a Sunday night game and a huge one for the 49ers, as the Rams are considered the team to beat in the NFC West. The winner of this one will likely take the early lead in the division.

    Oct. 28, at Arizona
    This is not a sure win for the 49ers, as they have lost their two at Arizona, both by three points. If the 49ers are serious division contenders, they simply have to win games like this on the road.

    Nov. 1, vs. Oakland
    This will be a Thursday night game and it should be an interesting one with Shanahan facing his former mentor Jon Gruden.

    Nov. 12, vs. N.Y. Giants
    This is another Monday night game for the 49ers and they get some extra time to prepare. The 49ers should be able to control this game throughout and get the home win.

    November 19 Ė BYE

    Nov. 25, at Tampa Bay

    The 49ers get a lot of time to prepare for this one and that should help them, as they travel to the East Coast. The 49ers have only played the Bucs in Tampa once in the last 14 years.

    Dec. 2, at Seattle
    This is a Sunday night game and huge one for Richard Sherman as he faces his former team for the first time. The Seahawks are not the power they once were and this is a winnable road game for San Francisco.

    Dec. 9, vs. Denver
    This is a letdown spot for the 49ers after facing the Seahawks, and this yearís Denver team should be much better with Case Keenum under center.

    Dec. 16, vs. Seattle
    This will be the second matchup in four weeks between the 49ers and Seahawks. The Seahawks had won nine straight in this series before the December 2nd game.

    Dec. 23, vs. Chicago
    This will be the fifth straight season these teams have played and it has been even, with each team winning twice. This should be a home win for the 49ers, as they are farther along than the Bears.

    Dec. 30, at L.A. Rams
    The regular season finale could be a huge one, as these two teams are expected to battle for the NFC West this season.

    2018 San Francisco 49ers Win Total Prediction

    There is no question the 49ers are going to be a team to watch this season and they may very well be good enough to win the NFC West. The schedule is difficult and the win total is high at 8.5, but the 49ers have the look of a playoff team in 2018 and that means they should win at least nine games and go over their win total.

  9. #39
    Futures Outlook - AFC East
    July 17, 2018

    NFL Futures Ė Odds To Win AFC East

    The AFC East has been owned by the New England Patriots over the last nearly two decades and 2018 doesnít appear to be any different. There are questions surrounding the Pats, mainly the age of Tom Brady and the loss of Julian Edelman for the first quarter of the season. But even that isnít enough to deter oddsmakers from setting the Pats as a heavy favorite. In fact, New England is the heaviest favorite at -680 to win any division in the NFL.

    The Pats have won the East for a league record nine straight seasons and 15 times in 17 seasons since Brady became the starter. We can throw away the 2008 campaign when Brady went down in the opener with a knee injury and the Pats finished second. That means the duo of Brady and Bill Belichick were denied the division crown just one time. Thatís a remarkable run. The Pats could slip to nine or 10 wins and still claim the division with a group of rebuilding teams.

    2018 AFC East Odds

    New England Patriots -680
    Miami Dolphins +845
    Buffalo Bills +1400
    New York Jets +1500

    Division Breakdown

    Are the Pats really worth taking a wager on? Thatís the big question. Bettors will have to put down a good chunk to see a worthwhile return, but it will likely pay off for the 10th season in a row. New Englandís dominance starts within the division where the Pats have won nine of the last 10 games against their AFC East foes. Over the last five seasons they are 22-8 against the Jets, Bills and Dolphins with Buffalo and New York winning just two games in that time.

    New England is easily the best team in the division heading into 2018, but that will change soon. Brady will be 41 by the time the season starts and he looked old and slow in the Patsí Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia in February. But despite that unusual showing, Brady had another MVP season, throwing for a league-best 4,577 yards with 32 touchdowns. He threw the most passes in the NFL last season and was intercepted only eight times.

    There will be some changes to the roster in 2018. Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks are gone and Edelman will miss the first four games due to a suspension. That leaves holes in the receiving corps. But it also opens up Rob Gronkowksi to have a big season. It doesnít seem to matter who the Patriots are missing, Belichick is a master at bringing in players to fill needs. Heís done it his entire career and who doesnít want to play for a team that contends every season?

    We thought Brady was done last year, and the year before that. But he keeps coming back for more. As long as heís running the offense, there are no problems. The Pats led the NFL in total yards last season while finishing second in scoring. Theyíve finished among the top-four in points every year since 2010 twice leading the NFL. Defense was an issue in 2018. The Pats ranked 29th in yards allowed, but they stiffened when it mattered, giving up 18.5 points per game to place fifth in the league.

    The battle is for second place in the division with the Dolphins getting the early edge at +845. The return of Ryan Tannehill plays a part in that, but the Fins lost some important pieces to their offense. Jay Ajayi, who was leading the team in rushing, was dealt during last season, and the NFLís leader in receptions Jarvis Landry was traded to Cleveland this offseason. The defense lost Ndamukong Suh and itís hard to imagine the Dolphins competing, despite the moves that improved team chemistry.

    It was a season fans in Buffalo have waited nearly two decades for. The Bills ended the longest active playoff drought by qualifying for the playoffs last season for the first time since the 1999 season. It didnít last long with an excruciating 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in the wild card game. And itís hard to argue that the Bills are better heading into 2018. Tyrod Taylor was traded away and A.J. McCarron is the new starter, at least for now, keeping the seat warm for Josh Allen. Buffalo was arguably one of the worst playoff teams and the cloud surrounding LeSean McCoy could be a factor in their expected return to non-playoff combatant in 2018.

    The Jets are the longshot at +1500 and they showed competitiveness that few expected last season. With the No. 3 overall pick in the draft the Jets landed what many believe is their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. Gang Green hasnít had one of those since the days of Joe Willie Namath in the early years of the franchise and Todd Bowles isnít in a hurry to rush the youngster. That means the Jets are at least a year away from contending, but they could finish second if things go their way.

  10. #40
    Fade Alert - Bills
    July 17, 2018

    A strange thing happened to the Buffalo Bills last season on their attempt to to miss the playoffs for an 18th straight year.

    They made it.

    They gave it their best not to make it tanking by trading down from 10th to 27th in the draft, dealing Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby - two of their best players - for draft picks and letting Stephon Gilmore walk to the Patriots.

    Yet the Bills snuck into the playoffs by virtue of the fourth tiebreaker when the Bengals scored on a 49-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds left to beat the Ravens, 31-27, in Week 17. That play eliminated Baltimore and put Buffalo in the postseason.

    Buffalo was outscored by 57 points last season. The Bills were fortunate going 6-2 in one-score games and that it was an overall down year in the AFC. The Chargers, Ravens, Texans, Broncos and Colts all figure to perform better this year.

    The Bills figure to perform worse because of a downgrade at quarterback from Tyrod Taylor to either A.J. McCarron, or rookie Josh Allen, losing perhaps their three best offensive linemen, the expected continued downward trend of LeSean McCoy - if he's not suspended - and perhaps the league's most brutal first-half schedule.

    McCarron is immobile and unproven far more suited to being a backup than starter. The Bills are really going to miss Taylor's legs and toughness with offensive left tackle Cordy Glenn going to the Bengals, center Eric Wood retiring and left guard Richie Incognito in retirement, too, at least for now. Buffalo also has one of the worst group of wide receivers in the league.

    McCoy is 30. His 3.9 rushing average per carry was the lowest of his nine-year NFL career. He's looking at defenses stacked against the run and nearly a new offensive line.

    Buffalo had a below average defense last season ranking 18th in points allowed and 26th in yards given up. So the Bills' defense isn't nearly equipped to carry a weak offense.

    Then there's the schedule. The Bills open up with a road game against the Ravens. Then host the Chargers, who beat them by 30 points last year. That's followed by consecutive road games against the Vikings and Packers.

    Buffalo is home to the Titans in Week 5. But then are away matchups against the Texans and Colts. If you count the final preseason game against the Bears in Chicago, Buffalo will have played six of eight games on the road since Aug. 30. The Bills are home in Week 8 - but that's against the Patriots. So it's entirely realistic to project the Bills to be 1-7, if not 0-8.

    If the Bills fall out of contention, they probably would turn to Allen, who completed just 56 percent of his throws in college and was intercepted in 21 of his last 25 games. He would be a disaster if he had to start as a rookie. The Bills are used to disasters having started Nathan Peterman against the Chargers last year. Peterman lasted a half having thrown five interceptions and trailing, 37-7, before mercifully being pulled. I have to wonder just how much defensive-minded coach Sean McDermott knows about offense with his decision to bench Taylor for Peterman in that game.

    I'm not sure how good of a coach McDermott is right now. I do know this: The deck is stacked against him. These Bills aren't winning seven games.

  11. #41
    NFL notebook: Bell likely to skip training camp
    July 17, 2018

    Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell plans to repeat last year's script by skipping training camp before reporting ahead of the season opener, his agent said on Tuesday.

    "Barring something exceptional ... that is correct," agent Adisa Bakari said on Sirius XM NFL Radio after being asked if Bell plans to follow his steps from last year. Bell has been unable to reach a long-term deal with the Steelers after receiving the franchise tag in consecutive offseasons.

    The Steelers report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., for training camp on July 25. They open their season on Sept. 9 against the AFC North-rival Browns in Cleveland.

    Bell is set to make $14.5 million this season under the franchise tag. He will become a free agent after this season.

    "His intention was to retire as a Steeler," Bakari told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is this now likely will be Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."

    Bell, who signed on Sept. 4 last year, struggled to get going in the early weeks of the 2017 season before finding his stride. In last season's Sept. 10 opener against the Cleveland Browns, Bell had 10 carries for 32 yards and three receptions for 15 yards in the Steelers' 21-18 victory.

    The 26-year-old was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2017, when he led the NFL in regular-season carries with 321 while gaining 1,291 rushing yards. He also had 85 receptions for 655 yards.

    --Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly will undergo an unexpected checkup after "something came up" in his recovery from surgery that removed oral cancer and reconstructed his upper jaw.

    Kelly said the upcoming visit to New York will occur during the second week of August.

    "I'm not sure what's going on," Kelly said Tuesday at his football clinic for children at St. John Fisher College, per ESPN. "I have some things that I want to have looked at, and then we'll go from there. I don't know whether I'm going to be here for two days, four days or in and out. And then hopefully I pray when September has rolled around that I can finally bite into a piece of meat and not soup every day."

    Kelly underwent planned follow-up surgery on his upper jaw in June in preparation for permanent dentures to be inserted in September.

    The 58-year-old announced in March that scans showed evidence of cancer returning in his upper jaw.

    Kelly was diagnosed with cancer in his jaw in 2013 and underwent surgery. After doctors determined the cancer had spread to his nasal cavities, he underwent additional treatments and had another surgery in March 2014.

    --Even though television ratings for NFL games were down last year, the league's revenue was up.

    Each of the league's 32 teams took in $255 million in national revenues in 2017, according to a report by ESPN's Darren Rovell. That adds up to $8.16 billion for the entire league, and that is a 4.9 percent increase over 2016.

    Financial figures were revealed Monday by the Green Bay Packers, a team that is a public company.

    National revenue comes from a variety of sources, including the league's TV deals with NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN and DirecTV, as well as licensing and merchandise revenues. The television contracts make up most of that total revenue.

    That money is divided evenly among the 32 teams.

    --One of football's most famous voices could be returning to the broadcast booth but this time on the radio side.

    According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday, Brent Musberger agreed to a three-year deal to serve as the Oakland Raiders radio play-to-play.

    Citing two sources, the newspaper said the move could be made official later this week.

    The final year of the deal is 2020 when the Raiders are slated to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas.

    --Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was suspended for five weeks after pleading guilty to extreme DUI, the team announced Tuesday.

    Keim was arrested July 4 in Chandler, Ariz. and his blood-alcohol content was .19.

    He also was fined $200,000 and the team said it will donate the money to the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

    "Once again, I apologize to everyone who has been negatively impacted by my actions and incredibly poor judgment, in particular the Cardinals, our fans and my family," Keim said in a statement released by the team. "I fully deserve and accept the punishment that has been issued. My goal is to do everything I can to grow from this personally and help others learn from my inexcusable behavior."

    --Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones attended quarterback Matt Ryan's passing camp, per rookie Calvin Ridley's Snapchat post.

    Ridley, who was the 26th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, posted a picture of an 11-person group that included Jones. In addition to Ridley, Jones and Ryan, tight ends Austin Hooper and Eric Saubert, wide receivers Justin Hardy, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Hall, Reggie Davis, rookie Russell Gage and assistant equipment manager Kenny Osuwah are in the photo that has since been posted by the team.

    Jones elected against participating in the Falcons' voluntary offseason program and did not attend the team's mandatory minicamp in a bid to rework his contract. The five-time Pro Bowl wideout is set to make $10.5 million in 2018 in the third season of a five-year, $71.25 contract extension he signed in 2015.

    --Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has committed to play in his 15th season in 2018.

    While Fitzgerald hasn't decided on 2019 and beyond, the 11-time Pro Bowl selection did reveal he'd only play for the Cardinals if he does suit up.

    "If I'm not playing in Arizona, I won't be playing anywhere," Fitzgerald said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I've built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing."

    Fitzgerald, who reportedly mulled retirement the past two seasons, said in January that he'd play for as long as he can perform at high level.

    --Disenchanted Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas has made it known that he's interested in playing for the Dallas Cowboys and he was at it again Monday.

    In an Instagram post on Monday, he said, "Always been the underdog ain't nothing new. Extend ... if you don't want me let's make a trade happen. I understand it's a bizz."

    Thomas began following the Cowboys' official Instagram account just recently. That comes after he told Dallas coach Jason Garrett after the Seahawks' win over the Cowboys last year that when Seattle "kicks him to the curb, please, the Cowboys, come get em."

    Thomas skipped the Seahawks' mandatory minicamp in June. He is demanding a contract extension for a trade. In 2018, he will make $8.5 million during the final year of his contract with the Seahawks.

    --Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Taven Bryan agreed to a four-year contract worth $10.2 million with a $5.5 million signing bonus, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday.

    The contract also includes a team option for a fifth year on Bryan, who was the 29th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old is expected to join the Jaguars rookies at training camp on Wednesday.

    Dane Brugler of wrote the following of the 6-foot-5, 291-pound defensive tackle heading into the draft:

    "One of the most gifted interior players in this draft class, Bryan has outstanding athleticism and upper body power, but is currently a liability vs. the run and needs to turn his splash plays into consistency."

    --Tom Stephens, who was an original member of the Boston Patriots, has died. He was 82.

    The New England Patriots said in a release on Tuesday that Stephens passed away while surrounded by loved ones at his home last Thursday in Naples, Fla. No cause of death was given for Stephens by the team.

    Selected in the 11th round by the Baltimore Colts in the 1959 NFL Draft, Stephens signed with the then-Boston Patriots of the AFL for their inaugural season in 1960. He appeared in 49 games over five seasons as both a defensive back and tight end, recording 41 receptions for 506 yards and five touchdowns.

    --Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has reached agreement with the Los Angeles Rams on a five-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday.

    The extension puts Cooks under contract through the 2023 season.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Adam Schefter of reported the extension is worth $80 million. It means Cooks is on the books for $88 million over six years with the Rams,

    "Brandin Cooks has shown himself to be a class act on and off the field since the first day he joined our team," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "He's a proven professional in this league and signing him to a long-term contract was always our goal. We're excited to keep Brandin in a Rams uniform through 2023."

    Los Angeles acquired Cooks during this offseason. The Rams traded their 2018 first-round selection (No. 23 overall) and sixth-round selection (No. 198 overall) to the New England Patriots in exchange for Cooks and a fourth-round pick (No. 136 overall).

    --Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has been reinstated by the NFL after sitting out last season because of a substance-abuse policy violation, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.

    Gregory's lawyer, Daniel Moskowitz, told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that the NFL did not oppose Gregory's petition to be reinstated.

    "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life," Moskowitz said. "I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of his family."

    Gregory's most recent game was the final game of the 2016 regular season. He played in just two games that season and recorded one sack with nine total tackles. Gregory played in 12 games with no starts in 2015 as a rookie, and he had 11 total tackles and no sacks that season.

    --The Carolina Panthers announced Richard Rodgers as the secondary coach on Tuesday in the wake of former defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller resigning for inappropriate conduct.

    Fuller resigned May 4 amid complaints about inappropriate workplace conduct. The Charlotte Observer reported that Fuller, 39, who joined the Panthers as a coaching assistant in 2013, sent inappropriate texts and emails to an unknown number of female staff members.

    Rodgers is in his seventh season with the Panthers and was the assistant defensive backs coach since 2015 after initially joining the team as a special teams' assistant in 2012.

    Last season, seven of Carolina's nine interceptions in the final nine weeks were from its secondary, helping the Panthers accumulate the league's third-best turnover differential at plus-eight. Since 2015, Carolina's 51 interceptions are second in the NFL.

  12. #42
    Musberger agrees to Raiders radio deal
    July 17, 2018

    One of football's most famous voices could be returning to the broadcast booth but this time on the radio side.

    According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday, Brent Musberger agreed to a three-year deal to serve as the Oakland Raiders radio play-to-play.

    Citing two sources, the newspaper said the move could be made official later this week.

    The final year of the deal is 2020 when the Raiders are slated to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas.

    Oakland's current radio voice is Greg Papa, who might not be aware of the change according to the newspaper. Papa has been the Raiders' play-by-play man since 1993 after taking over for Bill King.

    Musberger, 79, currently writes a weekly sports betting column for the Review-Journal and helped launch the VSIN (Vegas Stats and Information Network) after retiring from a 27-year broadcasting career with ABC and ESPN. With the legalization of sports betting in several states, content from the service are published in various newspapers.

    Before his stint with ABC and ESPN, he hosted "NFL Today" from 1975 to 1989 on CBS. where he was best known for his catchphrase "You are looking live". At CBS, he also did play-by-play for the NBA finals, college basketball, college football and the Belmont Stakes.

    After leaving CBS in 1990, he was the halftime host of Monday Night Football on ABC from 1990 to 1995.

  13. #43
    Futures Outlook - AFC North
    July 18, 2018

    NFL Futures Ė Odds To Win AFC North

    The biggest surprise coming out of the AFC North is that the Cleveland Browns ( +1000 ) have the same odds as the Cincinnati Bengals to win the division. Not surprising is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are overwhelming favorites at -257 to win their third straight division title and fourth in five seasons.

    On the surface everything looks great in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger hasnít hinted at retirement this offseason and the Killer Bís are back to form one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. However, there is no Ryan Shazier playing defense, LeíVeon Bellís contract continues to be a mess, as does Antonio Brownís head.

    While that probably doesnít lead to the Steelers falling from their perch at the top, it could be just enough of a distraction to give the Baltimore Ravens a chance. The best bet is that the Browns and Bengals will be battling for last place and itís hard to think the Ravens have done enough to make up the difference from last season. Itís been three seasons since Baltimore has been to the playoffs, their longest stretch since their first four years in Maryland, and they are hungry.

    AFC North Odds

    Pittsburgh Steelers -257
    Baltimore Ravens +374
    Cleveland Browns +1000
    Cincinnati Bengals +1000

    Division Breakdown

    Itís Pittsburghís division to lose, and much like the Patriots in the East, the Steelers have a soft division schedule. The price isnít as steep as the Patsí but itíll take a healthy wager to get some return. With Big Ben slinging the ball to Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Bell doing what he does, scoring points wonít be a problem. Bellís ongoing contract dispute with the club could be a distraction, but this is a veteran group with stern leadership that will stick to playing football once the bell rings.

    Finding a leader on defense to take over for Shazier is an absolute necessity. The Steelers were solid when he played, but they struggled after he was injured and giving up 45 points to the Jags in the playoffs was an embarrassment. Without help defensively, the Steelers arenít good enough to win the AFC, but getting through the division is a likely scenario.

    Itís hard to pick the second-best team in the division and one could make an argument that it isnít Baltimore. The Ravens, and especially Joe Flacco, have regressed the last few seasons and the club drafted Lamar Jackson to push the veteran signal-caller. The Ravens have always been about defense and theyíve won a lot of games behind one of the best units in the NFL. That was the case last season as Flacco averaged less than 200 yards passing per game.

    There were some issues, mainly with the receivers, and the Ravens addressed those by bringing in Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead to help out the 29th ranked passing game. Alex Collins was a stud over the final month of last season and Terrell Suggs is still plugging away on defense. I think the Ravens have a good shot at toppling the Steelers as long as the injury bug doesnít sink them.

    The Browns had another good haul in the draft and should win some games this season. Expecting them to compete for a division title is too much, though. This is a club that has only one victory in the past two seasons after all. And winning 10 games, which is the minimum it would take to get to the top, is an exaggeration. Winning six games would make a great season, and the earlier in the season the better for Hue Jackson.

    Jackson staying in Cleveland after an ohfer last season was perplexing, but not as much as Marvin Lewis still being gainfully employed in Cincinnati. The Bengals havenít won a postseason game under Lewis, but they got there seven times in an 11-year stretch. That was enough to keep him around. But after two sub-.500 seasons there is reason to be concerned. After playing near the top of the division and conference for many years, maybe itís time the Bengals sneak up on the pack. The talent is there and the offense can be good with its bevy of weapons. The onus is on Andy Dalton and Lewis to pick up the rest of the club and if they do the stripes could make some noise in the North.

  14. #44
    Futures Outlook - AFC South
    July 19, 2018

    NFL Futures Ė Odds To Win AFC North

    The Jacksonville Jaguars made it to the AFC Championship game in 2017 and nearly knocked off the mighty New England Patriots for a berth in the Super Bowl. They have their ferocious defense back and will be the favorites to win the AFC South as the Jaguars prep for another deep playoff run.

    However, the division title is no given as there are a couple of up-and-coming teams competing with them.

    The Houston Texans were riddled with injuries a season ago but flashed some serious talent. They have superstar defensive end J.J. Watt teaming with Jadeveon Clowney on the line, while safety Tyrann Mathieu was added in free agency and will aim to get back to his All-Pro ability after past knee injuries. The teamís hopes will likely come down to the star power of Deshaun Watson, the second-year quarterback who looked like a star a season ago before tearing his ACL.

    The Tennessee Titans are another interesting team. They made the playoffs a year ago after an up-and-down campaign and hope the offseason additions of running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler will help their cause. Marcus Mariota regressed in 2017 and will need to live up to his vast potential for this team to have a shot at the AFC South title.

    The longshot among the group is the Indianapolis Colts. They do not have a lot of talent across the board and the teamís entire hopes will ride on the arm of Andrew Luck. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury and it remains to be seen if he will ever return to the level of a star. It will be tough for the Colts to remain a competitor unless Luck is a Pro Bowler again in NFL betting.

    Jacksonville Jaguars +171
    Houston Texans +208
    Tennessee Titans +277
    Indianapolis Colts +570

    AFC SOUTH STANDINGS (2017 Season)
    Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
    Tennessee Titans (9-7)
    Indianapolis Colts (4-12)
    Houston Texans (4-12)

    Odds Analysis

    The Jaguars were a much better team than the Titans last season even though they only finished one game apart in the standings. However, there are some worries. The offense isnít that good as quarterback Blake Bortles needs to prove he is a better-than-average quarterback for the team. The defense is great but had fantastic health in 2017 and must hope none of its stars like Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye or Calais Campbell go down with ailments. Despite the worries, Jacksonville has the right odds.

    The Texans are the only team that can realistically knock them off. If Watson can build on last year and Watt stays healthy, this team is dangerous on both sides of the ball. Itís a bit of an unknown on both fronts but Houston has some of the best talent in the division and should be in the mix.

    The Titansí odds are much too good, as are the Colts. Neither team has a legitimate shot at winning the AFC South as the other two teams are much better. Avoid Tennessee at all costs as the team may not even finish above .500 this year and do not pay out very well at all. The Colts are at least a bigger underdog but there is a lack of talent around Luck that makes another losing season likely.

    Donít over thing the pecking order in the AFC South as the Jaguars will win a second straight division crown in NFL wagering.

    AFC South ATS Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars to win the AFC South

  15. #45
    Handicapping Ravens (8.5)
    July 19, 2018

    The Baltimore Ravens have missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, including the last three. The pressure is mounting on head coach John Harbaugh, who begins his 11th season with the Ravens. Baltimore has a schedule that does them very few favors, so getting to 10 wins and into the playoffs will be difficult.

    Letís look at the win total for the Ravens and their 2018 schedule to see if they will go over or under 8.5 wins.

    Baltimore Ravens 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 8.5 (+100)
    Under 8.5 (-130)

    Sept. 9 vs. Buffalo Bills

    The opener for the Ravens is simply a game they have to win if they are to go over 8.5 wins. The good news is that the Ravens have never lost at home against an AFC East opponent when favored under Harbaugh. They are 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS.

    Sept. 13 at Cincinnati Bengals

    The Ravens are definitely capable of winning on the road in Cincinnati. This will be an early test to see if Baltimore is going to be a challenger in the AFC North this season.

    Sept. 23 vs. Denver Broncos

    The Broncos are going to be much better than they were a year ago, as they now have Case Keenum at quarterback. This is definitely not a sure home win for the Ravens.

    Sept. 30 at Pittsburgh Steelers

    The first of the two wars between the Ravens and Steelers takes place in Pittsburgh. Baltimore has proven in the past that they can challenge the Steelers on the road in Pittsburgh.

    Oct. 7 at Cleveland Browns

    The Ravens have owned the Browns with Flacco at quarterback. They are 17-2 and 12-7 ATS with Flacco under center against Cleveland. This may not be easy, but it is a game the Ravens should win.

    Oct. 14 at Tennessee Titans

    This is a watershed type of game for Baltimore, as it will show just how good the Ravens are against teams competing for a Wild Card spot. You can make a case that the Ravens may need to win this game to get to 9 wins.

    Oct. 21 vs. New Orleans Saints

    The Ravens have two straight games against NFC South teams and neither one will be easy. They face a very good New Orleans team, but the game is at home.

    Oct. 28 at Carolina Panthers

    The Ravens face a difficult road test against the Panthers following the home game against the Saints. This has the look of a road defeat.

    Nov. 4 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Ravens wonít have it easy before their bye, as they get the Steelers for the second time this season.

    Nov. 11 BYE

    Nov. 18 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    The second half of the season has been a problem for the Ravens and this is not a sure win, even though the Ravens will be coming off their bye.

    Nov. 25 vs. Oakland Raiders

    The Raiders should be improved this season with Gruden as their head coach and Baltimore is nothing special as a home team. This could be yet another home loss.

    Dec. 2 at Atlanta Falcons

    It is hard to see the Ravens going into Atlanta and winning, but the Falcons were untrustworthy last season at home, so perhaps Baltimore can surprise.

    Dec. 9 at Kansas City Chiefs

    The Ravens get another tough road game in early December, as they travel to take on the Chiefs in Arrowhead. The Ravens may need this game to stay in the playoff hunt.

    Dec. 16 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    This is simply a must-win game for the Ravens given their schedule this season. The Bucs are a team that shouldnít challenge in the NFC this season.

    Dec. 23 at Los Angeles Chargers

    The Chargers are expected to be a contender in the AFC this season, so this is another home game that wonít be easy. The Chargers have a good pass rush and teams that rush the passer effectively have given Flacco problems through the years.

    Dec. 30 vs. Cleveland Browns

    The Ravens have to hope this game actually means something. The schedule for Baltimore is difficult and they may already be out of playoff contention before this game begins.

    Baltimore Ravens 2018 Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    The 2018 schedule for the Ravens is no bargain, but Baltimore won nine games a year ago and easily could have won 12, as they blew three winnable games to Cincinnati, Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Ravens made some nice additions at receiver, so the passing game should be improved and the running game is solid. If the defense plays well the Ravens have a chance to win nine or ten games and go over their win total of 8.5 in 2018.

  16. #46
    Games to Watch - Preseason
    July 23, 2018

    Winning Picks for NFL Preseason Week 1

    We are about a week and a half away from the start of the NFL preseason, with the Hall of Fame Game on August 2nd being the first game of the bunch. We want to get a jump start on the season by taking a look at the Week 1 preseason schedule and picking some straight up winners. As you all know, wagering on preseason games is notoriously tough, especially in the opening couple of weeks when the projected starters on each team see very little of the action.

    Still, the preseason always brings a great chance to get back into the swing of betting on football before the regular season finally gets underway, so make sure to visit and start gearing up for some football action.

    Without further ado, letís get to the straight up picks for NFL preseason Week 1.

    Chicago Bears vs Baltimore Ravens
    Date/Time: Thursday, August 2, 8:00 p.m. ET

    Ravens coach John Harbaugh is coming into the season on the hot seat after his team once again missed out on the playoffs last season. The Ravens made some moves in the offseason to try and improve this year, which adds even more heat to a simmering pot. The Chicago Bears have been on a downturn for several years now, although they finally look to have their franchise QB in Mitch Trubisky, although this season will give us a better indication of what we can expect from the young man. As we said earlier, we wonít see many of the big names here, but I think itís the Ravens who will get the win.

    Pittsburgh Steelers vs Philadelphia Eagles
    Date/Time: Thursday, August 9, 7:00 p.m. ET

    Sure, itís only preseason, but this match-up jumps right off the calendar. For the Eagles, itís time to put aside the happy times of winning the Super Bowl and get back to the serious business of playing football again. The Eagles are going to have a tough time getting back to the big game, as they are in a conference that is totally stacked with great teams this season. For the Steelers, this year is finally about getting over the hump and getting past the Patriots in the AFC. These two are almost certainly playoff bound this season, but I like the Eagles in the preseason opener.

    Washington Redskins vs New England Patriots
    Date/Time: Thursday, August 9, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Itís never easy to bounce back after losing in the Super Bowl the previous season, and we have historically seen teams struggle when put in that position. We are talking about the New England Patriots here, though, so perhaps those rules do not apply. Their preseason may be a little more interesting than most, as they need to find a WR who can slot in for Julian Edelman while he serves a 4-game suspension to start the season. These games will be a test of sorts for the bench guys, so look for the Patriots to get one over on the Redskins at home.

    Atlanta Falcons vs New York Jets
    Date/Time: Friday, August 10, 7:30 p.m. ET

    There are several teams who are just not going to be very good this season, and there is a distinct possibility that the New York Jets could be among that group. After all, this is a team that has won just 5 games in each of its past two seasons, and who are going to be fielding a young, inexperienced team this year. But while most teams will take the preseason to try their new players and play with their lineups, the Jets have much to prove, and chances are, they will play more intensively than their rivals. There is going to be a lot of competition for spots, though, so look for the Jets to play a little harder than most in the preseason. That said, they are probably still looking at a beating versus the Falcons.

  17. #47
    Handicapping Panthers (8)
    July 26, 2018

    The Carolina Panthers are coming off a very disappointing 6-10 season, but oddsmakers expect a rebound from Carolina in 2018, as they set the win total for the Panthers at eight games.

    New ownership decided to keep head coach Ron Rivera, but some other people lost their job including offensive coordinator Mike Shula. The Carolina offense could look different this season with Norv Turner calling the plays.

    Letís look at Carolinaís schedule for 2018 to see if they will go over or under their win total of eight.

    Carolina Panthers 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 8 (-140)
    Under 8 (+110)

    Carolina Panthers 2018 Schedule Analysis

    Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, vs. Dallas Cowboys

    The Panthers are opening a season at home for the first time since 2013. This is basically a coin flip game, as the Panthers are listed as 2.5-point home favorites.

    Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Atlanta Falcons

    The Panthers have had all kinds of trouble of late against the Falcons, losing four of the last five meetings. That streak will probably go to five out of six after this one is over.

    Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    The last time these teams met was in 2015 in Cincinnati and the game ended in a 37-37 tie. The Panthers look to be a slightly better team than the Bengals and this game is at home, so they should get the win.

    Week 4: Bye

    Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. New York Giants

    This may not be the easy win for the Panthers that it appears to be, as the Giants are expected to be improved this season. It is also worth noting that the Giants GM is former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman.

    Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Washington Redskins

    The Redskins have a new starting quarterback in Alex Smith, but the focus on this one will be on cornerback Josh Norman. This is the second of three straight games for the Panthers against NFC East teams.

    Sunday, Oct. 21, at Philadelphia Eagles

    The Panthers face a difficult road test against the defending Super Bowl champions. This game has some intrigue, as the Panthers have former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith.

    Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, vs. Baltimore Ravens

    This game against the Ravens looks like a letdown spot for the Panthers after playing the Super Bowl champs.

    Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Panthers should be able to handle the Bucs at home in this one. This is one of those must-win games for Carolina this season.

    Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 8, at Pittsburgh Steelers

    This game comes on short rest and Rivera has said he doesnít like Thursday night games. He wonít like them any better after the Panthers lose this one.

    Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Detroit Lions

    The Panthers get extra time to prepare for this one. The Lions have a new head coach and they are at home, so this will not be an easy game for Carolina.

    Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, vs. Seattle Seahawks

    It seems like the Panthers play the Seahawks every season even though they are in different divisions. They have played seven times since 2012 with Seattle winning five. This yearís Seahawks are nowhere near as good as in past seasons, so the Panthers should get the home win.

    Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Panthers will need to make a late season push to reach the playoffs and this is another game they have to win.

    Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Cleveland Browns

    The time to play the Browns may not be in December, as the Browns will have the home field edge and Carolina will be playing in cold weather. This could be a tough one for Carolina.

    Week 15: Monday, Dec. 17, vs. New Orleans Saints

    The Panthers and Saints on Monday Night Football. This could be a huge game in terms of the division title if the Panthers are still in contention. Cam Newton is 5-1 on Monday Night Football.

    Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, vs. Atlanta Falcons

    The Panthers have had trouble against the Falcons and even though this game is at home, it could be yet another loss.

    Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at New Orleans Saints

    The Panthers and Saints play twice in the final three weeks of the season. This one is in New Orleans and the Saints should have the edge.

    Carolina Panthers 2018 Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    The Panthers are one of the tougher teams to predict for 2018. They should rebound from last season, but it is hard to know how everything will come together on offense with Turner running the show and the Panthers will be without stud linebacker Thomas Davis for the first four games of the season.

    The schedule is difficult for the Panthers, so weíll lean under the total of eight for Carolina in 2018.

  18. #48
    Futures Outlook - NFC South
    July 26, 2018

    NFL Futures - Odds to win NFC South

    The NFC South was one of the most talented divisions in the NFL in 2017 and it is stacking up to be so again this year.

    The New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons all made the playoffs a season ago and each finished within a game of each other in the standings. The Saints won the NFC South by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Panthers and made it to the NFC Divisional Round before a last-second touchdown by the Vikings knocked them out of the postseason.

    New Orleans returns a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, led by Drew Brees, and will enter this season as the favorite to capture the division once again. The Saintsí odds have improved because they have finally put a solid defense on the field to avoid forcing Brees to win shootouts. The running back addition of Alvin Kamara was also huge last season and the mixture of balance and Brees makes the Saints tough to beat.

    The Falcons were on the precipice of winning the Super Bowl two years ago and then made it back to the playoffs a year ago, but the offense never quite performed like it did in 2016 under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The main pieces are still in place and if the offense can find its magic again this team has the potential to be very dangerous.

    The Carolina Panthers have a solid defense once again and star quarterback Cam Newton. The team has been inconsistent often but always seems to find a way to win its share of games. The Panthers have lost many key members of their defensive coaching staff the past two years and it is fair to wonder if the departure of some smart minds will take its toll.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the extreme longshot in a three-team race. The Bucs are the least talented team in the division and wonít have suspended quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season. This team is likely going to fall into a hole early and have trouble getting out of it unless the three others in the division manage to beat up on each other and allow the Bucs to hang around.

    New Orleans Saints +150
    Atlanta Falcons +173
    Carolina Panthers +296
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers +995

    NFC SOUTH STANDINGS (2017 Season)

    Saints 11-5
    Panthers 11-5
    Falcons 10-6
    Buccaneers 5-11

    Odds Analysis

    Everything seemed to go right for the Saints last year while there were plenty of stumbles for the Falcons, and yet they only finished one game apart in the standings. Brees is a year older and itís fair to wonder if heís going to start slowing down at some point. The Saints are a chic pick because of Brees and some young talent, but the Falcons at higher odds are a better choice in NFL betting lines.

    Atlanta has a star quarterback in Matt Ryan as well as some great weapons, led by Julio Jones, and a solid offensive line. The offense should take a step forward this year while the defense is good enough to get the job done with a lead.

    The Panthersí odds arenít favorable enough to choose them, while Tampa Bay is going to finish in last place by a significant amount, so that is not a worthwhile flier. This should end up being a two-team race with the Falcons the pick to win the NFC South even as both they and the Saints make it into the playoffs in NFL gambling.

    NFC North ATS Pick: Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South

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  19. #49
    Futures Outlook - NFC West
    July 27, 2018
    By Bookmaker

    NFL Futures - Odds to win NFC West

    The NFC West has flipped upside down. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals were the teams to beat in recent years but now have the longest odds to win the division. The Los Angeles Rams are the new power in the division after surprisingly winning it in 2017 and then loading up with talent in the offseason.

    The arrival of coach Sean McVay last year kicked off a renaissance and now the Rams are expecting to be Super Bowl contenders. Quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald highlight the list of returners, while the team also added Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to the defense. With all of this talent it is easy to see why the Rams are the prohibitive favorites to claim the division for a second straight year.

    The San Francisco 49ers are the toughest team to judge in the division. They struggled for most of last year but played extremely well with Jimmy Garoppolo under center down the stretch after he arrived via trade. Cornerback Richard Sherman and others joined the team in free agency and now San Francisco is aiming to take a big step forward into playoff contention.

    The Seattle Seahawks are no longer the team to beat in the West after a fantastic run. Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett are gone from a terrific defense, while safety Earl Thomas is unhappy with his contract and holding out. Seattle still has Russell Wilson and some good players on defense, but itís hard to imagine the Seahawks being as good as they have been the past few years.

    The Arizona Cardinals have extremely long odds to win the division. They made the NFC Championship game in 2015 but havenít finished above .500 in either of the past two years and now have a new coach in Steve Wilks and a new quarterback in Sam Bradford. The Cardinalsí defense is underrated but the offense will need to play better than expected for the team to be competitive, and they have a tough schedule in NFL betting.

    NFC WEST ODDS - per
    Los Angeles Rams -193
    San Francisco 49ers +300
    Seattle Seahawks +523
    Arizona Cardinals +2027

    NFC WEST STANDINGS (2017 Season)
    Los Angeles Rams 11-5
    Seattle Seahawks 9-7
    Arizona Cardinals 8-8
    San Francisco 49ers 6-10

    Odds Analysis

    The Rams are definitely the best team but these odds are pretty tough. Los Angeles may get hit with an injury to a key player which would torpedo the season, something that happened to multiple teams a year ago. If everything goes as expected, the Rams should win the NFC West, but at -193 itís not a great payoff.

    The 49ers might look attractive but they are getting too much credit for the end of last season. Garoppolo looks good but it is still a small sample size and +300 is not enough of a longshot.

    The Seahawks and Cardinals are the more attractive bets. While itís easy to understand while the oddsmakers have made them longshots, each team has more talented players than given credit for. The Rams are the team to beat for a reason but if things donít go right for Los Angeles, it would open up the door for one of these underdogs to win the division.

    The Rams are the pick but itís best to stay away from them at these odds in NFL gambling.

    NFC West ATS Pick: Los Angeles Rams to win the NFC West

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  20. #50
    KC enters camp with loaded backfield
    July 28, 2018

    ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) Three years ago, a little-known and undersized running back out of Abilene Christian led the Kansas City Chiefs in rushing, filling in admirably for an injured Jamaal Charles.

    These days, Charcandrick West finds himself fighting for a job.

    That alone is a sign of just how much deeper and more talented the Chiefs' stable of running backs is this season. Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing as a rookie, but there is a crush of ability and experience nipping at his heels.

    ''There's a good number of backs here that we have,'' offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said, ''and we're very, very blessed and fortunate. We just want to watch these guys compete.''

    These guys: West, who managed just 72 yards on 18 carries last season; Spencer Ware, who led the Chiefs in rushing two years ago before sustaining a season-ending injury in preseason; Kerwynn Williams, who started six games last season for Arizona; Damien Williams, who appeared in 58 games over the past four seasons in Miami; and Darrel Williams, perhaps the biggest dark horse of the bunch.

    Williams backed up Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice the past few years at LSU, a big reason why he went undrafted this past April. But many scouts believe he has the talent to succeed, noting he averaged 5.7 yards a carry last season - better than Guice, a second-round pick.

    ''I probably say this every year, but the talent pool has gotten deeper,'' Bieniemy said. ''I look forward to it. Why? Because it brings out the best in each and every one of them.''

    There are a multitude of reasons why the Chiefs have invested so heavily in the position.

    For one thing, the value of running backs has swung back to the positive after many had written them off in the era of the pass-happy NFL. Offensive coordinators have started to utilize them in creative ways, employing them as pass-catchers and blockers along with running.

    No wonder three running backs were selected in the first round of the draft, and four more in the second round, headlined by Saquon Barkley going to the Giants at No. 2 overall.

    Then there's the misfortune that has befallen Kansas City at the position.

    Twice the franchise lost Charles to season-ending injuries in his prime, the first time resulting in Jackie Battle leading the team in rushing. Then, after Ware's transition from fullback to running back led to a breakout season, he tore up his knee in last year's preseason game against Seattle.

    The Chiefs were fortunate that Hunt emerged as a bona fide star, but they nonetheless headed into the season with a relatively shallow backfield. West handled some spot duty, and Akeem Hunt and an aged C.J. Spiller saw action, but it was quarterback Alex Smith that was second on the team in rushing.

    General manager Brett Veach hardly wants new quarterback Patrick Mahomes II to do likewise

    ''In my mind and obviously in Brett's mind - because he's the one who did this - you can't have enough of those guys,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''We figured, listen, if we have a chance to get good players lets go ahead and better ourselves, let the competition be there and see what happens. I'm expecting Spencer to be back, but you never know, and you've got kids that can play.''

    The depth has already paid off the first week of camp, giving Hunt a chance to rest a stiff hamstring Friday and Ware an opportunity to slowly get back into game shape.

    ''I've never shied away from competition,'' Ware said. ''My ultimate goal is to make my team better and to get better as a player - to make myself more valuable for my team and let them be able to use me in any way they can.''

    NOTES: Rookie FS Armani Watts was back on the field Saturday after tweaking his ankle. ''He needs reps now,'' Reid said. ''If you're going to make this team you have to show it.'' ... West took a shot to the head during the team's first padded practice and was being evaluated by team doctors.

  21. #51
    Titans' TE Walker's hard work pays off
    July 28, 2018

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Delanie Walker will leave the white suit to celebrate a new contract to teammate Taylor Lewan. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end going into his 13th NFL season is too busy working to be better than last season.

    And now Walker is under contract through 2020 with yet another contract extension.

    ''It feels good,'' Walker said Saturday. ''You know I feel like I worked hard on the field and especially off the field with the community. So it feels good that the organization recognizes that and see what I did and rewarded me would have a nice contract. So I'm excited about that.''

    The Titans announced the extension after practice Friday, their second signing of the day with their Pro Bowl left tackle celebrating his new five-year, $80 million deal with a white suit and hat mimicking Boss Hogg from the TV show ''The Dukes of Hazzard.'' Walker had been going into his final season under contract before the extension.

    ''I couldn't top Taylor, so sorry to disappoint,'' Walker said with a laugh. ''I couldn't find a white suit in time.''

    Originally a sixth-round pick out of Central Missouri State, Walker spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers never catching more than 29 passes in any season. The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Walker knew he could do much more and gambled on signing with Tennessee in 2013 as a free agent.

    He's delivered with 356 receptions since 2013 - most by any tight end in the NFL in that span. Walker's best season statistically came in 2015 when he caught 94 passes for 1,088 yards, and he led the Titans with 74 catches for 807 yards. Walker has gone to the Pro Bowl the past three seasons and was the game's MVP last January .

    Titans coach Mike Vrabel notes Walker didn't come into the league as a first-round pick or starter from the beginning.

    ''He's worked and he's gotten better every year, and he continues to do that and takes great care of his body and football's very important to him,'' Vrabel said.

    Walker said he knew this all was possible, which is why he left the 49ers.

    ''I had something good there,'' Walker said. ''You know they loved me there. They gave me the opportunity to play, but I didn't see myself being that guy that I wanted to be. Knowing that I can be a dominant starter in this league, and the Titans gave me the opportunity. So I'm thankful and I'm blessed to still be able to play the way I'll play and for them to give me an extension.''

    Now 33 and with the most NFL experience on the roster, Walker says people ask him how he stays in such shape at his age. Walker said he learned by watching former teammates like Larry Allen and Bryant Young and copying how they took care of themselves.

    His approach? Be among the first players to arrive and the last to leave. Get all the treatment possible and eat right. Hit the cold tub and steam room. Three massages a week. Lastly, play football like the game that it is. Walker went to the ground to pull in a ball during the offseason program.

    ''It's a kid's game, and I feel like a kid every time I step on a field,'' Walker said.

    Walker almost didn't make it to training camp this year. On Tuesday, his Lamborghini got caught underneath a tractor-trailer with Walker inside on a street in downtown Nashville. Walker thanked the person who flagged down the truck driver, alerting the driver to the car stuck to the semi.

    ''Thank you for stopping the guy because he was still going,'' Walker said. ''He didn't see me at all.''

    Notes: LB Brian Orakpo did not practice Saturday. Vrabel said Orakpo knocked shoulders with TE Luke Stocker on Friday, something that wearing pads would've protected. ... Rookie LB Rashaan Evans limped off the practice field with a trainer, but Vrabel did not have an update on his status.

  22. #52
    Settled in after relocation, Chargers eye playoff contention
    July 28, 2018

    COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) A year ago at this time, the Los Angeles Chargers' lives were still unsettled amid the upheaval of their franchise relocation season. Some were still looking for houses, and others needed to get kids into school.

    When Philip Rivers and his teammates reported to the same sunny spot Saturday for the first practice their second training camp in Orange County, pretty much everyone was feeling perfectly at home.

    ''Now it's just football,'' Rivers said. ''There's not as much wondering about schedules and what the practice field was going to be like. There's not as much of that uncertainty. It's all football now. There's definitely a level of comfort that I think we have now and we can just put our focus on the field.''

    A year after leaving San Diego, the Chargers are eager to take another shot at living up to their enormous potential. Although they already lost two key players to injuries before training camp even began, the Bolts are aware they're still a popular pick to be a playoff team and likely even a Super Bowl contender.

    Those are nothing less than the Chargers' own internal expectations, and they're much more interested in proving themselves right.

    ''We just want to be the team we know we can be,'' running back Melvin Gordon said. ''Yeah, expectations are high, but we make them higher than other people make them.''

    The 36-year-old Rivers has started every game for the Chargers since 2006, and he realizes he has fewer and fewer shots at reaching his first Super Bowl. He won the AFC West and appeared in playoff games during each of his first four seasons as a starter, but the Bolts have made the playoffs just once since that run ended in 2009.

    Rivers understands the excitement around the Chargers after their 9-3 finish to last season. He even welcomes it.

    ''It's interesting, because it's been a while,'' Rivers said. ''I've been on some teams here that had those expectations, and we went out and did it year after year there for a while. It's been a long time, though. There aren't many guys that have been through that on this team. ... We know there are a lot of expectations outside. We have those same expectations on the inside.''

    The Chargers return with remarkable continuity from last season's team, with veteran center Mike Pouncey joining a largely unchanged offense and rookie safety Derwin James moving into a solid defense. Their biggest personnel losses happened recently, and did nothing to shake the Chargers' reputation for soul-crushing injury problems: tight end Hunter Henry was lost for the season in May, and former Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett tore his Achilles tendon Friday in a conditioning test.

    The coaching staff also stayed essentially intact, with second-year head coach Anthony Lynn keeping coordinators Ken Whisenhunt and Gus Bradley. Lynn said he feels more confident as a head coach after getting through his first year in good form - and even finishing up his college degree along the way.

    ''I definitely feel a little bit more comfortable knowing what to expect, not moving and not living out of boxes, knowing where we're going to training camp, and (having a) similar coaching staff and players,'' Lynn said.

    Although the stands at Jack Hammett Sports Complex were filled with an estimated 7,000 fans for the first practice, the Chargers realize they've still got plenty of work to do if they hope to win over the Los Angeles marketplace in the coming years - particularly with the Los Angeles Rams looking like a potential Super Bowl team as well. Fielding a winning team this fall would be the most potent way to do it, the Bolts players and coaches agree.

    But after four consecutive non-playoff seasons, and after the challenges of their relocation year, the Chargers are grateful to settle in for a few weeks of training camp with their thoughts on nothing bigger than the next practice or scrimmage.

    Rivers even had a catchphrase for it: ''Enjoy the boring.''

  23. #53
    Rams grateful for experience Wilson brings at linebacker
    July 28, 2018

    IRVINE, Calif. (AP) With 17 career starts in three seasons, Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Ramik Wilson might not look like a grizzled veteran.

    However, at a position where the second and third-most experienced players have combined for six career starts and the other three are rookies, the 25-year-old Wilson certainly qualifies.

    ''We have a lot of youth at that position. We have a lot of guys, other than Mark Barron, that haven't been starters before. To be able to get (Ramik) in free agency was great,'' linebackers coach Joe Barry said.

    The Rams needed to add experience after trading starting linebacker Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants. Cory Littleton had started five games in two seasons while backing up Barron, but would get the first chance to replace Ogletree at middle linebacker. Bryce Hager's only start came in Week 17 last season when the Rams rested players ahead of their home playoff game.

    Wilson fit the bill after starting 11 games and recording 61 tackles for Kansas City in 2016, but saw his playing time reduced last season after the Chiefs traded for former second-round draft pick Reggie Ragland. When the Chiefs did not tender a contract to Wilson, he agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Rams in March weeks after they agreed to trade Ogletree.

    The opportunity to play for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was something Wilson could not pass up, especially with the chance to move back to his more natural position playing on the weak side.

    ''It just made perfect sense,'' Wilson said. ''I can run to the ball and I can flow. I can make plays. I can do what I'm supposed to do.''

    Barry liked Wilson coming out of college at Georgia, and his subsequent experience as both a starter and backup for the Chiefs made Wilson even more appealing.

    ''As an NFL player, you've got to prepare subtly different if you're the guy as the starter compared to if you're the backup. He's been in both roles, so I think that means a lot,'' Barry said.

    Wilson's ability to adjust was evident during OTAs. With Barron sitting out because of injuries, Wilson was paired with Littleton as part of the first-team defense. The two quickly meshed, and the partnership seems to have only grown as Wilson and Littleton continued to work together early in training camp, with Barron being worked back in cautiously.

    Barry could not take credit for the chemistry Wilson and Littleton have displayed.

    ''When two guys go out and they take over 200 snaps together in OTAs, they are going to build a rapport together. It just happens naturally,'' Barry said.

    Despite the inexperience of the group, Wilson likes how they are progressing. How the linebackers perform might determine whether the play of the Rams defense matches the hysteria created by signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and trading for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peter in the offseason, and Wilson has not seen anything to indicate the inside linebackers are not ready for the challenge.

    ''They are right along and they are ready to go, the whole room,'' Wilson said. ''We've got a lot of expectations, but we know we've got the talent. We're just putting in the work each day now and taking it one day at a time. That's all we are going to do, and the results will show at the end of the day.''

    NOTES: Rams head coach Sean McVay said Saturday there was no update regarding All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald's holdout, but they have been in contact via telephone. ''I spoke with him in the last day or so, and we're just checking in, seeing how he's doing,'' McVay said.


  24. #54
    49ers' Foster says he learned lesson
    July 28, 2018

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster said he is using his legal problems that he feared could cost him his football career this offseason as a learning tool going forward now that he has been cleared of the most serious charges.

    Foster spoke to the media on Saturday for the first time since he was charged in April for felony domestic assault and later exonerated when the accuser recanted her story and a judge found no other credible evidence.

    ''I learned every day I have to go harder at everything I do now to better myself even more,'' Foster said. ''It's like do or die. Just don't mess up. ... It's like how I'm trying to craft my career, I have to craft my life.''

    Foster spent much of his offseason dealing with legal issues rather than preparing for his second season in the NFL. He was charged in January in Alabama with second-degree marijuana possession. That charge was eventually dismissed after he completed a first-time offender diversion course.

    Foster then faced more serious charges for an incident in California in February. He was initially charged in April with felonies for domestic violence, making criminal threats and weapons possession after being accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend.

    A judge ruled there was no probable cause on the first two charges after the ex-girlfriend recanted the allegations and the judge found no other evidence to support the charges. The weapons charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and Foster pleaded no-contest to that in June.

    He was sentenced to two years' probation, 232 hours of community service, and $235 in fines.

    Foster declined to discuss specifics of the case on Saturday and is just thankful to be back with his teammates on the field.

    ''It made me appreciate football a lot better,'' he said. ''It was crazy knowing that football could be gone. Just being back on this field with my brothers and these coaches is a blessing.''

    Foster missed about a month of the offseason program while dealing with the legal issues and will also be suspended without pay for the first two games of the regular season for violating the NFL's conduct and substance-abuse policy.

    He is able to take part in training camp and play the exhibition games, but must sit out San Francisco's games against Minnesota and Detroit before being allowed to return on Sept. 17 before the Niners play Kansas City.

    ''It was painful,'' Foster said of the punishment. ''It's football, something I do, something I love. It is what it is. Accept the consequences, you take it and you move on. You learn from it, too, and you grow from it.''

    The 49ers stood behind Foster even as he was not allowed at the facility. But coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have made clear that Foster must get his life in order and avoid further legal trouble if he wants to remain part of the organization.

    ''I think Reuben's done a great job just handling it,'' Shanahan said. ''What they originally charged him with is as bad of a thing as you can imagine. It's a very embarrassing thing because of how bad it was. To have all that scrutiny on you and to have to go through that, I think would be a challenge for any human being. That would mess a lot of people up.

    ''I've been really, very impressed with Reuben in how he handled it, the process he went through while it was going on and after it got dropped, how he's handled himself since. I know he learned a lot through it. We talked about it a lot at the beginning, that some things seem so bad but if you get through it, it can be a good thing in the long run. If you handle it right, it can enlighten you in some things and help you grow. I really think it has for Reuben and I think it's benefited him in the long run.''

    Foster said he appreciated the support, especially from teammates who came to court in a public show of support. One of those teammates was Richard Sherman, who barely knew Foster after signing with the team in March.

    Sherman and Foster now have lockers next to each other.

    ''That's real. He's a man for that,'' Foster said of Sherman coming to court in April. ''I respect Richard Sherman for that, coming to court and supporting me. Just being there for me at the hard times.''

  25. #55
    GB's Graham builds chemistry with Rodgers
    July 28, 2018

    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Jimmy Graham isn't worried about developing chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers new tight end knows how good his new quarterback is, and through the first three days of training camp, they've already made plenty of progress.

    But when will Graham know that he and Rodgers have truly gotten on the same page?

    ''I'll be with the ball in the end zone,'' Graham said after Saturday's first in-pads practice of camp. ''That's really when you know.''

    That hasn't happened yet in any of the 11-on-11 team periods of the first three practices, but the two have connected plenty of times during drills and expect to be on the same wavelength in time for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against Chicago.

    ''We'll just keep plugging away. We'll just keep doing that each and every day,'' Graham said. ''And come Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . we'll be clicking, I'm pretty sure.''

    The Packers certainly need Graham, a five-time Pro Bowl tight end who came over from Seattle in free agency, to be a force. After cutting wide receiver Jordy Nelson during the offseason, they'll be counting on Graham to be a go-to presence in the red zone. Last year with the Seahawks, all 10 of his touchdown catches came from inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

    Coach Mike McCarthy's offense is at its best when he has a big, athletic tight end in the mix, which is why the team has signed one three years running - Jared Cook in 2016, Martellus Bennett last year and Graham this time around. While the Bennett experiment backfired, Rodgers and Cook developed a strong connection during their one season together after Cook overcame early-season injury problems.

    ''We just need more reps,'' Rodgers said of his exposure to Graham. ''He's a big target, he catches the ball with his hands. We haven't had a guy like that around here in a while. Obviously Jared did a lot of those things, but Jimmy, he's got a great feel for coverages, getting open, he uses his body really well, runs good routes. And he's a matchup issue. We haven't had a consistent matchup issue guy like that for a long time.

    ''So we just need reps together. He needs to hear the language, he needs to hear some of the code words and the verbiage and the signals. I'm not worried about any chemistry issues with him.''

    Graham, who played with elite-level quarterbacks with the Saints (Drew Brees) and Seahawks (Russell Wilson), has been impressed with Rodgers' accuracy and his ability to put the ball in places that protect his receivers from dangerous hits. To Graham, having that type of trust already with Rodgers is a very encouraging sign.

    ''I know when leads me out there that I can just run right through it. I've got no worries in the world because I know he's the eyes in the back of my head,'' Graham said. ''We'll just keep working on that. It's not him getting on my page, it's me getting on his page, you know? He's been in this league a long time, knows too much, and I've got to just catch up and just learn every day and make sure I'm supposed to be where I'm at so I can make that catch and make that big play.''

  26. #56
    Cam: Time to 'take back the division'
    July 28, 2018

    SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) An optimistic Cam Newton says he's adjusting well to a new offensive scheme and boldly proclaimed it's time for the Carolina Panthers to ''take back the division.''

    Wearing a ''Change the culture'' t-shirt and a ''Keep Pounding'' hat, an upbeat Newton was budding with enthusiasm on Saturday even after starting right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a knee injury earlier in practice.

    In his first football-related interview in six months, Newton set a positive tone for training camp for a team that hopes to recapture the NFC South it won in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Carolina went 11-5 last season, but New Orleans won the head-to-head tiebreaker and took the division title.

    Part of Newton's optimism surrounds the hiring of offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the addition of wide receivers D.J. Moore, Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright.

    Newton said Turner has been ''extremely easy'' to work with and joked that his offense is ''Boogie approved.''

    The 2015 league MVP said he likes that Turner is open to listening to suggestions about what plays may work best, even to the point to keeping the names of some of the predecessor Mike Shula's play calls.

    ''I think the onus is on (Turner) more so than us to take what we have done good and expand on it, rather than just ripping the sheets of paper up and having a this-is-my-way-or-the-highway mentality,'' Newton said.

    Newton said it didn't take long to realize Turner has a high football IQ.

    But he added that it's still a little too early to know exactly what to expect from the Panthers offense when the regular season arrives.

    ''I can't tell you that, (but) I know that the transition as far as philosophies has almost been as easy as anyone could expect,'' Newton said. ''He is super relatable and is someone who has been around this league and been around a lot of egos and lot of different players and knows how to adjust. That alone makes my job easy knowing that he is a person who you can go to and say, `This is how I feel about certain things.' And (he'll say), `OK, let's find out how we can implement it.' He's not a guy who is so egotistical who says, `No, this play is going to work versus this.'''

    Turner has already talked about wanting to improve Newton's completion percentage.

    Newton's has completed just 58.5 percent of his career passes, but Turner would like him to be above 65 percent.

    ''That's a goal of mine and it is certainly attainable,'' Newton said.

    Newton said that means learning to accept what the defense gives him, even if it means short dump-offs over the middle and to outlet receivers.

    ''That has to be my mentality,'' Newton said. ''We have a lot of guys who can take two yards and turn it into 20 yards, or more. But it starts with me and I have to trust those guys and get the ball to them.''

    The 29-year-old Newton said he's feeling healthy heading into the season.

    That's a big difference from last season when he underwent shoulder surgery and missed all of OTAs and minicamp and a large portion of training camp undergoing rehab.

    ''It was very big for me making the proper steps this offseason knowing that I am full go,'' Newton said. ''My body feels great and I always have to mention to TD (linebacker Thomas Davis) that I even look great. I am in a position where I am all smiles.''

    Newton also addressed new owner David Tepper, teasing that ''I'm up for an upgrade'' after seeing he paid $2.2 million to purchase the team from founder Jerry Richardson.

    ''The excitement is something we all should get prepared for knowing we have a lively owner,'' Newton said.

  27. #57
    Wentz looking 'really good' at Eagles camp
    July 28, 2018

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) Carson Wentz lunged to his right and then backpedaled to avoid a rush. After darting forward again, he quickly rolled to his right and took off down the sideline at full speed.

    The only reminder Saturday that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was returning from knee surgery was the brace attached his left leg.

    ''Obviously he's got some of that Kobe Bryant (stuff) in his knee,'' defensive end Michael Bennett said with a smile, referring to the offseason knee treatment in Germany the NBA great used to receive. ''He probably went to Germany or Switzerland or some (stuff), because he's looking really good out there.''

    How upbeat were the Eagles after Wentz went through 11-on-11 drills with the starters at the first padded practice of training camp? Coach Doug Peterson interrupted new offensive coordinator Mike Groh's press conference with the key question for the Super Bowl champions.

    ''I know you don't want to put a timetable on Carson, but what's your timetable?'' Pederson asked, smirking.

    ''Great question,'' Groh said.

    Wentz sure looked close to ready, if not already there, during a humid morning practice. Barely seven months removed from tearing the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee, Wentz participated in full team drills without limitations. While he tossed two interceptions, he drew rave reviews from his teammates and coaches for his arm strength, accuracy and mobility.

    ''He's in the right frame of mind. He's making some good throws,'' Groh said. ''As you can see, we're pretty good on defense. Those guys are making it challenging for us on offense, particularly early, first day in pads.''

    Wentz dazzled in 13 games last season, throwing for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. The Eagles led the NFL in scoring and were 11-2 after Wentz went down on Dec. 10.

    Behind backup Nick Foles, the Eagles went on to win their first NFL title. But it's clear that even though Foles was the Super Bowl MVP, Wentz will become the starter again when he's ready.

    ''When you're rehabbing something, it's not an exponential line. It's not you're slowly getting better and then you rapidly accelerate,'' tight end Zach Ertz said. ''There's going to be times in training camp probably where he doesn't feel great or his knee doesn't feel great and they'll back him off.''

    Because of that, the Eagles remain tight-lipped about whether they expect Wentz under center for the season opener Sept. 6 against Atlanta. It's also uncertain if he'll appear in a preseason game. Wentz didn't speak to reporters after the 2 1/2-hour workout.

    ''To have everybody out there, Carson there, in some people's minds is ahead of schedule,'' Groh said. ''But I know this was his target date. So we're happy to have him out there working. It's only going to make everybody better.''

    NOTES: With several receivers banged up and not practicing, including Alshon Jeffery and Bryce Treggs, the Eagles signed WR DeAndre Carter. The move gives the Eagles the maximum 90 players. ... The team displayed the Lombardi Trophy in a glass case outside the practice fields, allowing fans to snap pictures while standing next to it.

  28. #58
    Falcons hope well-paid offense makes plays
    July 28, 2018

    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Ricardo Allen began listing the weapons on the Atlanta Falcons' offense and shook his head.

    Wide receivers Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Quarterback Matt Ryan.

    The safety said facing those playmakers is like a bad dream he must revisit every practice. But Allen also smiled because that's good news for Atlanta's 2018 outlook.

    ''Oh, man, you've got Julio, you've got Sanu, you've got Ridley on the field at the same time and you've got those running backs,'' Allen said Saturday. ''Who do you match up against? Who do you put your best players on? It's like a matchup nightmare.''

    The front office has taken action to make those playmakers happy - and safe.

    Ryan has a new five-year, $150 million contract extension. Jones was given an adjustment to his five-year, $71.5 million contract and a promise the deal will be renegotiated after the season. Left tackle Jake Matthews agreed to five-year, $75 million extension on Friday, and the team's top offseason acquisition was right guard Brandon Fusco, adding more stability to the offensive line.

    Ridley, a wide receiver from Alabama, was the team's first-round draft pick .

    Ryan is 33. Jones is 29. Coleman can be a free agent after the season. The Falcons are attempting to seize this opportunity to take full advantage of this offense - most of the unit led the league in scoring two years ago.

    ''To go up against it every day, I personally don't think any other offense that has this many weapons from sideline to sideline to give us that much pressure,'' Allen said. ''Then you've got Matty Ice out there putting the ball anywhere he can. It's a hard matchup and every day is a challenge and that's a good thing.''

    The Falcons led the league with 33.8 points a game in their 2016 Super Bowl season with former coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now San Francisco's coach, in charge of the offense. In Steve Sarkasian's 2017 debut as offensive coordinator, Atlanta fell back to 15th in scoring, at 22.1 points per game.

    Center Alex Mack says the Falcons are starting faster in their second year with Sarkasian.

    ''I just see it as a way to start fast and build,'' Mack said Saturday. ''As an offense in training camp, you can start at a more advanced point than you started the year before, so you can get into the details and work on the little things and be really on the same page.''

    The Falcons opened training camp with Freeman and Jones at full health.

    Jones played every game but dealt with a long list of injuries last season. Freeman missed two games with his second concussion of the year, including one last preseason, and also was slowed by a knee injury at the end of the season.

    ''It is awesome to see Free back, feeling like himself,'' coach Dan Quinn said. ''His aggressive nature always comes out and he's off to a great start.''

    Quinn said the familiarity that comes with the offense's second season with Sarkasian is crucial.

    ''I think anytime you're around guys for more than a year, he has such a clear vision of what guys can do,'' Quinn said. ''As small as that may sound to you, it's a big deal.''

    NOTES: DE Takkarist McKinley left practice with an apparent right shoulder injury. He has had surgeries on both shoulders the last two years. Quinn said Saturday's injury is not believed to be serious. ... The Falcons have sold all 60,000 tickets, at $5 each, for their practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. It will be the team's first practice in pads.

  29. #59
    Handicapping Cowboys (8)
    July 31, 2018

    The Dallas Cowboys have made the playoffs in even numbered years recently and missed out in odd numbered years. Will that streak continue in 2018 with the Cowboys making the playoffs? The Cowboys were a big disappointment last season, as they went from winning 13 games in 2016 to winning just nine in 2017. Dallas has really only had two good seasons under head coach Jason Garrett in seven years, but Garrett is back again for 2018.

    Letís look at the win total for the Cowboys for this season and see if they will go over or under their total.

    Dallas Cowboys 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 8 (-135)
    Under 8 (+105)

    Dallas Cowboys 2018 Schedule Analysis

    Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Carolina Panthers

    The Cowboys will have to face a Carolina team that has Norv Turner as their offensive coordinator and that is not good news for the Dallas defense. Carolina is a 2.5-point home favorite at BetDSI.

    Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, vs. New York Giants

    This is a Sunday night game and it wonít be easy for Dallas, as the Giants are expected to be improved this season.

    Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Seattle Seahawks

    The Seahawks are not as good as in past seasons, but this is still the home opener for the Seahawks and winning in Seattle is never easy. The Cowboys could have an edge, as they have former Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

    Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. Detroit Lions

    The Lions have a new head coach in Matt Patricia, but the Cowboys are at home and they should get the win.

    Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Houston Texans

    The Texans are going to be much better this season with a healthy Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt. This one looks like a road loss for the Cowboys.

    Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Is there an easy game on the schedule for the Cowboys this season? They have to face a very good Jacksonville team, but at least this one is at home.

    Week 7: Oct. 21 at Washington Redskins

    The Redskins have a new quarterback in Alex Smith and a solid running game led by their rookie Guice. Dallas has won their last five games at FedEx Field. Will the streak end this season?

    Week 8: Bye

    Week 9: Nov. 5, vs. Tennessee Titans

    The Titans were a playoff team last season and they feature a mobile quarterback in Marcus Mariota. This could be a tough home contest for the Cowboys.

    Week 10: Nov. 11, at Philadelphia Eagles

    The Cowboys have had success at Lincoln Financial Field in recent seasons, but it is still hard to see Dallas going in to Philly and beating the defending Super Bowl champs.

    Week 11: Nov. 18, at Atlanta Falcons

    The Cowboys were destroyed last season in Atlanta, as Dak Prescott was sacked eight times. It could be closer this year, but this still looks like a road loss for Dallas.

    Week 12: Nov. 22, vs. Washington Redskins

    The Cowboys have lost four of their last six games on Thanksgiving, but this one is at home and Dallas should be favored.

    Week 13: Nov. 29, vs. New Orleans Saints

    This will be the second straight Thursday night game for Dallas, but at least they will be playing with a normal week of rest. This could be a shootout that is decided on the last possession.

    Week 14: Dec. 9, vs. Philadelphia Eagles

    The Cowboys will have extra time to get ready for this one, but Philadelphia is still the better team and Dallas could get swept by the Eagles this season.

    Week 15: Dec. 16, at Indianapolis Colts

    The Colts have Andrew Luck back and they are at home, so this will not be an easy road contest for Dallas.

    Week 16: Dec. 23, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Will the Cowboys still be playing for anything when this game starts? The Bucs are not considered a good team, so Dallas should get the home win.

    Week 17: Dec. 30, at New York Giants

    This game could decide a playoff spot and if that is the case, you have to like the Giants, as the Cowboys have faced a must-win at the end of the season under Garrett quite a bit and lost every time.

    Dallas Cowboys 2018 Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    Do you see any easy games for Dallas this season? The only game that looks like a sure win is the home game against Tampa Bay. The Cowboys do have Ezekiel Elliot and Prescott is a capable quarterback, but the defense isnít that great and Garrett is not a good head coach. Weíll look for Dallas to go under their win total of eight this season.

  30. #60
    Defensive ROY Odds
    July 31, 2018
    By Bookmaker

    While the quarterbacks received most of the attention in Aprilís draft, there were plenty of defensive players taken early that are expected to make a big impact as rookies. Leading the way is defensive end Bradley Chubb, who was chosen at No. 5 overall by the Denver Broncos, the second defensive player off the board.

    He is the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Chubb heads into an advantageous situation, joining a Denver defense that has talented pieces. With Von Miller on the other side harassing quarterbacks, opposing defenses will be gearing their protection packages to stop Miller. That could allow for Chubb to put up a nice sack total in his first season and win the Rookie of the Year.

    There is one other player who has solid odds to win the award, but he has yet to report to training camp. Bears linebacker Roquan Smith is trying to hammer out the contract details to his rookie contract but is not there yet. He is expected to make an immediate impact but every missed day of training camp could stall his development. Keep a close eye on the situation because Smithís odds could tumble if he doesnít report and the relationship with the Chicago coaching staff sours.

    Beyond those two the oddsmakers have placed longer odds on the rest of the candidates, but that doesnít mean there arenít some worthy players. The first defensive player chosen in the draft was cornerback Denzel Ward who surprisingly went to the Browns at No. 4 overall. He is in the next tier of candidates and if he can live up to what Cleveland sees in him, Ward could be in the mix.

    Fellow early picks Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety for the Dolphins, and Derwin James, safety for the Chargers, have the same odds as Ward. There is no consensus on who will be the Defensive Rookie of the Year so it might make sense to grab an underdog in NFL odds.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds - per

    Bradley Chubb +401
    Roquan Smith +451
    Denzel Ward +1213
    Minkah Fitzpatrick +1213
    Derwin James +1213
    Marcus Davenport +1558
    Rashaan Evans +1620
    Jaire Alexander +1911
    Josh Jackson +2033
    Harold Landry +2033
    Vita Vea +2550
    Terrell Edmunds +2550
    Carlton Davis +3071
    DaíRon Payne +3071
    Donte Jackson +3071
    Uchenna Nwosu +3071
    Kemoko Turay +3596
    Isaiah Oliver +3596
    Jessie Bates +3596
    M.J. Stewart +3596
    Taven Bryan +3596
    Mike Hughes +4000
    Maurice Hurst +6600
    Field +2000

    Odds Analysis

    Chubb isnít a bad choice because pass-rushers are often able to make an early impact. If he can register seven or eight sacks on the season it would not be a surprise for Chubb to come away with the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

    However, it seems to be too much of a crapshoot to take the player with the highest odds. Davenport at +1558 odds is an intriguing choice. The Saints gave up a pretty penny to move up in the draft and secure his services, and will no doubt want him to succeed, so he should have plenty of chances.

    New Orleans has an elite pass-rusher in Cameron Jordan, so like Chubb, Davenport should benefit from less attention on him. The Saints often play in high-scoring games, which means plenty of passes and a lot of opportunities to rack up sacks.

    Among the favorites, James is a nice pick because he is joining a strong Chargers defense and could make impact plays at his position. But Davenport has better odds and he plays a position where it is easy to get noticed, so he is the choice to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018 in NFL gambling.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year ATS Pick: Marcus Davenport, Saints

    Load your betting bankroll from your smartphone or tablet with BookMakerís new cashier feature! Depositing and withdrawing funds from your account has never been easier. BookMaker's live betting platform means you always have access to odds and lines to every sporting event. Click here and start wagering today!

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