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  • Fantasy: Biggest Surprise Performers of the 2017 Season (so far)

    October 18, 2017 • Fantasy, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    With the first six weeks of the 2017 NFL season down, typical fantasy leagues are nearing the midway point in their season.

    Here’s a look at some of the biggest surprises, with plenty of young guys stepping in and making an impact for their respective teams. Not only that, but they have been game-changers for anyone who picked them up off waivers in their fantasy football league.

    It’s certainly nice to see three rookies make this list.

    (Note: the “Fantasy Point” numbers are according to the standard ESPN.com fantasy league and are PPR-driven. The fantasy points vary from league to league depending on the scoring set-up).

    Quarterback

    Deshaun Watson, Texans (R) — 168 fantasy points (28.0/game)

    The Houston Texans may finally have found their long-term franchise quarterback in their 12th overall draft pick. He’s already a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year winner and could even find himself in the running of the Most Valuable Player award if he can keep this kind of pace up. In his four starts (five games played overall), Watson has tossed a league-leading 15 touchdowns with just five picks. His 101.1 QB rating is sixth-best in the league. Houston may have lost J.J. Watt for the second consecutive year, but having Watson under center gives the Texans a great shot at the AFC South title this year. Having DeAndre Hopkins to throw to certainly boosts his fantasy value as well.

    Alex Smith, Chiefs — 149 fantasy points (24.8/game)

    I never truly felt Alex Smith was a viable and consistent fantasy option at quarterback, but he’s slowly proving himself to be an option. But he’s now found himself not only as a QB1 option in most leagues, but he’s even entered into the early-season MVP talk. His 149 points is behind only Watson and Tom Brady. He has over 1,600 passing yards and 12 touchdowns and has yet to throw a pick. His 119.2 QB rating is the best in the National Football League.

    Running back

    Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (R) — 148 fantasy points (24.7/game)

    Incredibly enough, the third-round draft pick has taken the league by storm through the first six weeks of the season. Hunt, 22, leads the league in rushing yards (630) on 106 attempts. He sits behind only Ravens rookie RB Alex Collins in yards per carry, posting a 5.9 average. He has racked up six total touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving).

    Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (R) — 133 fantasy points (22.2/game)

    Fournette’s fast start to the 2017 season is a big reason for Jacksonville’s 3-3 start to the season. It also helps that Jacksonville’s defense is stepping up in a big way, but the rookie runner is second in the league in rushing yards (596) behind only – yes, you guessed it, Kareem Hunt. He’s also racked up six touchdowns on the ground (most in the league) with another one through the air.

    Wide Receiver

    Tyreek Hill, Chiefs — 87 fantasy points (14.5/game)

    As a rookie last season, Hill made an impact in the passing game for Kansas City. But I’m not so sure people truly saw him emerging as a top 10 fantasy talent this quickly in his young career. His 87 fantasy points in six games is good enough for seventh among receivers.

    Chris Hogan, Patriots — 82 fantasy points (13.7/game)

    I guess this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, given Tom Brady’s ability to turn former nobodies into somebodies. But with targets like Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks, it’s interesting to see Hogan leading the team in receiving touchdowns (5). His 82 fantasy points puts him at 10th among receivers. There’s no doubt that the 29-year old Hogan will surpass career-highs in catches and yards this season. He’s already done so in receiving touchdowns.

    Tight End

    Zach Ertz, Eagles — 94 fantasy points (15.7/game)

    Ertz may finally proving to be a top five tight end option in fantasy. Now that Philadelphia has a long-term franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, Ertz is poised to put up career-high totals this season. At this point in the year, his 94 fantasy points is No. 1 among tight ends. Ertz’s 34 catches, 405 yards and 4 TD are all ranked at the top of the TE list.

    Cameron Brate, Buccaneers — 71 fantasy points (14.2/game)

    Tampa Bay selected TE O.J. Howard in the draft last spring, yet somehow Brate is seeing enough targets come his way to rank fourth in fantasy points among tight ends. He’s third on the team in catches (21) and yards (281) and has reeled in a team-high four touchdowns. He has now caught a touchdown in four straight games for Tampa Bay.

    Defense/ST

    Jaguars — 91 fantasy points (15.2/game)

    Jacksvonille has the highest fantasy point total among defensive and special teams units, scoring 11 more points than second-place Detroit. The defense returned two Ben Roethlisberger interceptions for touchdowns two weeks ago. The team leads the league in interceptions (10) and has surrendered the third-least touchdown passes (4). They’ve also recorded a league-high 23 sacks and have the lowest opposing QB rating (60.0). Impressive, Jacksonville.

    Kicker

    Jake Elliott, Eagles — 50 fantasy points (8.3/game)

    Caleb Sturgis started the season as Philadelphia’s starting placekicker. Now, after having been signed off Cincinnati’s practice squad in mid-September, the 22-year-old Elliott may be the most beloved Eagles kicker since David Akers. His 50 fantasy points is sixth among kickers, and he’s three of four field goal attempts from 50+ yards. Not to mention his 61-yard game-winner against the G-Men in Week 3.

    Photo: Logan Bowles/Getty Images

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  • Jordan’s Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Who’s Rising & Falling?

    October 18, 2017 • Features, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    Another crazy week in the NFL. On Thursday, we saw a thrilling matchup between the Eagles and Panthers that told us a lot about each team.

    On Sunday, the craziness of the season was in full effect when the Bears beat the Ravens, Minnesota defeated Green Bay, Miami squeaked by Atlanta, New Orleans hung 52 on the Lions, Pittsburgh dominated Kansas City and finally the Giants beat Denver on Sunday evening.

    What a week.

    Let’s see where each team ranks in The Best Foote Foward’s Week 7 Power Rankings!

    32: Cleveland Browns (LW: 32) 0

    Quarterback Kevin Hogan didn’t look like much of an upgrade over DeShone Kizer on Sunday. How does a stat line of 140 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions sound? Horrific. Things don’t get better for the NFL’s worst team when it hosts the resurgent Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

    31: San Francisco 49ers (LW: 31) 0

    Things got a bit better for San Francisco on Sunday. A loss is a loss, but it was refreshing to see non-terrible QB play out of the team. Rookie C.J. Beathard completed just 53 percent of his passes, but managed to throw for 245 yards and a touchdown. The one interception was expected out of a young signal caller, but the Niners might as well give this kid a look. The next winnable game for San Francisco won’t come until November 12 against the Giants. 0-9 should be here before we know it. Hang in there, 49ers fans.

    30: Indianapolis Colts (LW: 29) -1

    19-15 at the beginning of the 4th quarter was shocking to see from this team. After the 4th began, Tennesee took over like we figured they would. Jacoby Brissett continued to not lose this team games – but he didn’t go out and win Monday night, either. The young QB completed 57 percent of his passes, totaled 212 yards through the air and also tossed a touchdown. This team needs Andrew Luck… bad.

    29: New York Giants (LW: 30) +1

    The Giants dominated Denver for most of Sunday night, but I can only move them up one spot in the rankings. Eli Manning didn’t throw an interception in this game, which is a plus. If it weren’t for a pick-six in the second quarter, this game would have been 10-3 Giants going into the half, much less daunting than 17-3 looked to Denver. Don’t expect this defense to put points on the board every week – especially on Sunday against the Seahawks.

    28: Baltimore Ravens (LW: 18) -10

    Four touchdown passes in 6 games is unacceptable for Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Eight interceptions in six games is even worse. Until Flacco plays like even an average quarterback, this team is going nowhere. Baltimore might be the 3rd best team in the AFC North at this point.

    27: Oakland Raiders (LW 22) -5

    Derek Carr returned on Sunday, but didn’t really change anything for this offense. The Raiders’ offense currently ranks 30th in yards per game. Keep in mind this team scored 71 points in its first two games this year. Until the offense figures itself out, this team will perform very poorly. Things don’t get easier as the Raiders play the Chiefs this Thursday night.

    26: New York Jets (LW: 24) -2

    Props to the Jets for a well-played, close game against the Patriots. They may have even emerged victorious if it weren’t for this play:

    It turns out, the Jets ended up losing by a touchdown. I have to bump them down a couple spots due to the nature of a loss, but it was a quality loss. Are the Jets legit? No, not at all. Are they capable of stealing a win this week against Miami. Yes.

    25: Chicago Bears (LW: 25) 0

    Mitchell Trubisky is a winner! Well, not exactly. His 1-1 record provides hope for Bears fans, but the stats don’t. 8/16 for 113 yards and a touchdown is not what you want from your starting quarterback. If your guy is completing 50 percent of his passes, there’s an issue. Growth should come with experience but for now, the Bears are going to need luck in order to win games, especially with the Panthers in town this week.

    24: Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 23) -1

    The Bengals move down a spot without playing a game last week due to the nature of how crazy this season has been so far. There had to be someone sliding down a spot; the Bengals are that team. A win over the Steelers this week would be a huge boost for a team that still has hope to turn the season around.

    23: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 19) -4

    Tampa Bay looked bad on Sunday. Ryan Fitzpatrick filled in for an injured Jameis Winston and the team somehow scored 27 points in the 4th quarter to make it an interesting game but in reality, it was anything but interesting. Winston should be able to play this week, but it’s not like the Bucs were world-beaters even with him in the lineup. Here’s a list of teams Tampa Bay has beat this year: Bears. Giants.

    That’s not convincing. There’s still hope for Tampa to turn it around, but it’s not looking too good.

    22: Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 27) +5

    The Los Angeles (I’m finally used to referring to them as LA) Chargers are winners of two games in a row. Both wins have been close ones against struggling teams, but wins are wins nonetheless. The Bolts will look to make it three games in a row and back-to-back divisional wins this week when hosting the Broncos. LA plays teams very close and Trevor Siemian didn’t look good for Denver last week – maybe LA can pull off the upset.

    21: Arizona Cardinals (LW: 28) +7

    Adrian Peterson is back! Although it was one good game out of 6 this season, last week was huge in proving the doubters wrong. The Cardinals put up 38 points and got a big win over the Bucs on Sunday. Here are some highlights from Peterson’s great game:

    20: Miami Dolphins (LW: 26) +6

    The Falcons blew a 17-0 lead. That’s what the headline of this game will be.

    I’ll give Miami a bit of credit for coming back, though. The two guys named Jay on the ‘Fins offense were totally different players in terms of production. Jay Ajayi ran for 130 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry, leading the offense to a win. Jay Cutler threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns, continuing his theme of mediocrity for the season. Cutler just looks like he doesn’t care – and he doesn’t. As long as the Dolphins’ defense plays well, this team will win some games. A matchup with the Jets this weekend can go a long way in terms of creating some momentum.

    19: Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 14) -5

    A 10-point loss to the Rams was expected from this team. If you take away a kickoff return and a blocked punt, however, the final score of this game is 17-13 Jaguars. Blake Bortles wasn’t bad and Leonard Fournette continued to run wild, but the Jags still found a way to lose. On the bright side, the offense wasn’t the primary reason for the loss. This team has a big opportunity to get back on track this week with a trip to Indianapolis on the horizon.

    18: Dallas Cowboys (LW: 17) -1

    The Ezekiel Elliot saga continues.

    Who knows when and if Zeke will be allowed to eat again. Your guess is as good as mine. The Cowboys fall a spot in the rankings due to (insert random probability) losing one of the best players in the NFL for the next 6 weeks. The ‘Boys should have no problem handling the 49ers without Elliot but things will get serious when they face the Redskins and Chiefs in the coming weeks.

    17: Green Bay Packers (LW: 3) -14

    Colin Cowherd sums it up well. The Packers’ season is over without Aaron Rodgers, who broke his collarbone on Sunday against the Vikings. Unless third year QB Brett Hundley can turn into something resembling Rodgers and discount double check his way to a respectable record for when (or if) Rodgers is ready to come back, it’s a wrap. 14 spots may not have been harsh enough. This roster is terrible if you take Rodgers off it. Back-to-back games against the Saints and Lions (two high-scoring offenses) doesn’t bode well for the Pack.

    16: Tennessee Titans (LW: 21) +5

    Marcus Mariota means a lot to this team. He was clearly not 100% healthy on Monday night, but he played well nonetheless (23/32, 306 yards and a TD). Not bad for a guy who isn’t used to being stuck in the pocket. Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray totaled 171 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns and made the offense look very explosive. This team will be just fine, especially once Mariota begins running again.

    15: Buffalo Bills (LW: 13) -2

    Much like the Bengals, the Bills will have to fall due to the rest of the NFL shaking it up again this week. Nonetheless, the Bills are set up for success with three winnable games in a row on the docket (Buccaneers, Raiders, Jets). If they can manage to win all three of those, a 6-2 record will be hard to ignore. This stretch will show whether or not this is a legit team.

    14: Denver Broncos (LW: 8) -6

    Denver simply looked bad on Sunday night against the Giants. The defense wasn’t bad, holding the Giants to a touchdown and 3 field goals. The offense, on the other hand, was bad. Trevor Siemian was injured in the game and came back in to finish it, but was mainly ineffective (50 passing attempts, 376 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions). Jamaal Charles was the team’s leading rusher with a whopping total of 19 yards. Until this offense can perform at a consistent level, Denver will bounce in and out of the top ten spots in the rankings.

    13: Minnesota Vikings (LW: 16) +3

    The Vikings are big winners after beating the Packers 23-10. Aaron Rodgers is injured and the Lions were beat down by the Saints, so things are looking up for Minnesota. The defense is going to be great but the offense has a big opportunity to take a step forward if Teddy Bridgewater is able to return this year. No one knows when Sam Bradford will be healthy and since Bridgewater is coming off a major injury, this team will win based on average QB play from Case Keenum and elite defense. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’ll see how far it gets them.

    12: Washington Redskins (LW: 11) -1

    Washington struggled to beat the 49ers. They did end up winning, but they’re moving down a spot for allowing 24 points and having to play a close game well into the 4th quarter against a terrible opponent. Until the Redskins can get consistency out of the defense, they will be stuck in the good-but-not-great tier of the NFL. A key divisional matchup against the Eagles this week will show just how good the ‘Skins are.

    11: Detroit Lions (LW: 6) -5

    Ugly loss for the Lions against the Saints. At one point, the score was 45-10. Detroit was able to bring the score to 45-38 but in the fourth quarter, Cameron Jordan’s interception in the end zone led to a Saints’ touchdown.

    The 0-yard INT return sums up the game pretty well. The Lions have a lot to work on going into their bye week. A match-up in Pittsburgh in two weeks doesn’t look promising.

    10: Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 20) +10

    That’s part of how the Steelers beat the Chiefs. The first half defense for Pittsburgh was amazing: 6 total yards allowed (yes, 6). Kansas City came back and made it an entertaining game, but the offense for Pittsburgh did just enough to get out of KC with another victory over the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t wow anyone with his stats (252 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception), but running back Le’Veon Bell continued to terrorize the Chiefs as he usually does (179 rushing yards and a touchdown). Pittsburgh needs just a couple more games like this to enter the top-5 in the rankings.

    9: New Orleans Saints (LW: 15) +6

    The Saints made a statement with their win against the Lions on Sunday. The defense allowed 38 points to the Lions, but let’s keep in mind that Detroit abandoned the running game and was playing comeback football for the entire second half. Three defensive scores is no joke for this squad. If the defense can play at anywhere near an average level, this team might be a pleasant surprise in the NFC.

    8: Houston Texans (LW: 12) +4

    DeShaun Watson is legit. It wasn’t a flashy game for him, but the rookie QB was able to complete 59 percent of his passes, throw for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was more than enough to get the job done. The Texans head into the bye week in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. The Texans have a big game against the Seahawks after the bye that can help or hurt their case as a legit team.

    7: Los Angeles Rams (LW: 9) +2

    The Rams won on Sunday. That’s about all I can say. It wasn’t a pretty performance from Jared Goff (124 yards and a touchdown) but the special teams unit and defense did their jobs well. Todd Gurley rushed for 116 yards. This team will be fine, but Goff’s production (or lack thereof) is something to keep an eye on these next few weeks.

    6: Atlanta Falcons (LW 4) -2

    Tough loss for the Falcons. They have a problem with blowing leads.

    How you allow 20 points in a half to Jay Cutler is beyond me, but the Falcons did a pretty good job doing so. Don’t get me wrong, Atlanta is still a great team. The only problem here is the Falcons are sitting at 3-2 and have lost back-to-back games. Let’s see what they manage to do this week against the Patriots.

    5: Carolina Panthers (LW: 5) 0

    It’s truly amazing that the Panthers only lost by 5 points on Thursday night in spite of a terrible performance from Cam Newton, who threw 3 interceptions and was only able to complete 54 percent of his passes. That goes to show just how talented this team is on all sides of the ball. Newton has a prime opportunity to get back on track this week against the lowly Chicago Bears; let’s see if he takes advantage of it.

    4: New England Patriots (LW: 10) +6

    New England spent too much time outside of the top 5. It was a lot closer than many expected, but the Pats emerged victorious against the Jets on Sunday. Touchdown-turned-fumble aside, it was a win. The defense didn’t look terrible and Tom Brady led the offense to a win despite having an off day (QB rating of 80.7). A Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons this week should bring out the best in this offense – it’ll be interesting to see if the defense is up to the challenge of shutting down Matt Ryan and company.

    3: Seattle Seahawks (LW: 7) +4

    The Seahawks are big risers in this week’s rankings despite not having played a game last week. The top-10 has had such a shakeup with the many upsets last week that the ‘Hawks get bumped up four spots simply for not losing. A convincing win against the Giants this week can solidify this ranking, otherwise Seattle could drop back down to the 6-9 range in next week’s list.

    2: Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 2) 0

    The Wentz Wagon is legit. In his past two games, Carson Wentz has totaled 526 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Oh yeah, his quarterback rating is 119.5 on average during this stretch. He’s growing up before everyone’s eyes, and so is the team around him. The front seven continues to strike fear into opposing QB’s and now opponents have to game plan for one of the better-performing signal callers in the NFL. I really wanted to put Philly in the #1 spot in the rankings, but I didn’t forget the matchup with Kansas City earlier in the year, one the Eagles weren’t able to win.

    1: Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 1) 0

    Very, very bad game for Kansas City on Sunday and they still almost won. If Andy Reid kicks a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 2 in the third quarter, the Chiefs might win the game. If Phillip Gaines learns how to bat the ball down instead of letting it bounce off his helmet, the Chiefs possibly win the game. If Reid makes any type of adjustments in the first half to get his team going offensively, the Chiefs probably win the game. The fact that they were in it until their last drive just goes to show how good this team is. Looking back on the season, Andy Reid may be able to pick this game out and say it was his team’s worst performance of the year. Kansas City only lost by 6. That says a lot. A bad game against Oakland on Thursday might change Kansas City’s spot in the week 8 rankings, though.

    That’s it for this week’s Power Rankings.

    Last week was arguably the craziest of the season thus far. Maybe things will get back to normal this week? Whether they do or not, expect a much-different list a week from today.

    Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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  • Is That … Is That Adrian Peterson … in a Cardinals Uniform?

    October 17, 2017 • Arizona Cardinals, Features, Front Page, NFC WestComments (0)

    Adrian Peterson is already a lock for the Hall of Fame.

    There’s no question about that.

    In 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, the 32-year old running back piled up nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns on the ground with seven Pro Bowl appearances and seven All-Pro selections.

    He’s one of seven players to ever amass 2,000 rushing yards in a single-season.

    He will be inducted on the first ballot one day.

    But I’m not going to lie to you, I did not expect to see Peterson do much of anything this season once I saw him rack up just 81 yards on 27 carries in four games with the New Orleans Saints.

    Following his first game with the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday, however, I have now changed my tune.

    The 11th year veteran put up 134 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, recording his 50th career 100-yard game.

    Honestly I think the most shocking thing about Peterson from this past Sunday against Tampa Bay, is seeing him don a #23 Cardinals jersey. It just feels odd. Almost like seeing Joe Montana in a Chiefs uniform or Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform. Just … weird.

    Without David Johnson until at least Thanksgiving, having Peterson breaking out for 134 yards is huge for the aging Arizona Cardinals.

    Perhaps those guys out there in the desert came across fountain of youth?

    Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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  • NaVorro Bowman has Already Found His New Home

    October 16, 2017 • AFC, AFC West, Breaking News, Front Page, Oakland RaidersComments (0)

    Just three days after the rather shocking news that the San Francisco 49ers had made the decision to release 29-year old veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman, the 29-year old already has found his new home.

    And he’s not traveling far.

    The Oakland Raiders have found a spot on their roster for the seventh-year pro, signing him to a one-year, $3 million contract, according to the always-reliable Adam Schefter.

    Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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  • Rodgers Set to Miss Some Time with Broken Collarbone

    October 16, 2017 • Breaking News, Front Page, Green Bay Packers, Injuries, NFC NorthComments (0)

    Yet another NFL star went down with a potentially season-ending injury in yesterday’s Week 6 action.

    Future Hall of Fame signal caller Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone after being hit by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.

    He underwent surgery and, while it’s unknown exactly how much time he’ll miss, things certainly look grim for the Green Bay Packers (4-2) at this point.

    Minnesota ended up winning 23-10 yesterday with former UCLA standout Brett Hundley taking over for Rodgers, and he’ll likely be the No. 1 guy on GB’s depth chart from here on out.

    Former Division III Wesley College quarterback Joe Callahan was brought back up from the team’s practice squad, and it’s likely the Packers’ front office will target a veteran quarterback to bring in as well. But, for the most part, I believe it will be Hundley’s job to lose.

    Since taking over the full-time starting job for Green Bay (2008 NFL season), the 33-year old Rodgers has missed only nine games.

    In those nine games, Green Bay is 3-5-1 and had Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace taking those snaps for Rodgers.

    In 2013, Rodgers went 6-3 in nine games, but in the seven games he missed due to – yes, you guessed it – a broken collarbone, Green Bay went 2-4-1 and lost to San Francisco in the NFC Wild card game.

    So, yeah, I guess you could say the Packers are in trouble without Rodgers under center.

    Photo: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

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  • Undefeated No Longer: Steelers Upset Chiefs at Arrowhead

    October 16, 2017 • AFC, AFC North, AFC West, Front Page, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh SteelersComments (0)

    It happened again – the Steelers came into Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs in a close game.

    This game felt a lot like the 2016 divisional round matchup between these two teams.

    Last year, it was running back Le’Veon Bell who ran for 170 yards for the Steelers, leading the team to an 18-16 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs. This year, it was Bell rushing for 179 yards, leading the Steelers to victory (again).

    The Chiefs had relative success scheming against QB Ben Roethlisberger in both games, but had no answer for Bell. Enough of the comparisons to last year, let’s talk about what happened today.

    The scoring began when fill-in center, Zach Fulton, snapped the ball well above the head of QB Alex Smith in the first quarter of the game. The ball went through the end zone and gave the Steelers a safety.

    On the ensuing punt, the Chiefs recovered the kick in an awkward sequence. This led to a field goal for Kansas City. The Chiefs offense would struggle for the entire first half, mustering only six total yards. Here’s something to put that into perspective:

    It was that bad. Pittsburgh would put up 10 points in the second quarter on a field goal by Chris Boswell and (you guessed it) a rushing touchdown by Le’Veon Bell.

    Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter. Not too much to talk about there.

    The 4th quarter is where it got interesting. Here’s a story.

    First:

    Great play by Alex Smith. He has the wheels to get out of the pocket and extend the play and he has the willingness (this year) to push the ball down the field.

    Right when the Chiefs thought they were back in the game, this happened:

    What concentration and skill on display by Antonio Brown. With Odell Beckham Jr. out for the season, Brown is undoubtedly the best receiver in the NFL right now.

    Alex Smith marched the Chiefs back down the field, but missed what would have been a huge touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson.

    K.C. was able to kick a field goal and get the ball back, where Smith again started to lead the team down the field. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Smith missed a simple throw to Robinson (one that would have moved the chains) and a James Harrison sack led to an improbable 4th and long. Kansas City was unable to convert, thus giving Pittsburgh the ball back with 53 seconds and a victory in hand.

    This was a tough game to watch. The Chiefs defended Roethlisberger fairly well, but could not stop Le’Veon Bell to save their lives. Part of the loss goes on the defense for not being able to stop Bell. Hats off to him for a great game.

    Another small share of the blame should be placed on Chiefs QB Alex Smith. He got nothing done for the team in the first half (more on that in a second) and missed two throws that could have changed the game. He didn’t play like an MVP today. Chiefs fans should feel a bit more comfortable with Smith at QB in a playoff situation after watching today’s second half, but it’s hard to not blame him for missing those throws. You can attribute some of Smith’s poor performance to his offensive line, but not all of it.

    Back to where the majority of the game should be placed: Andy Reid.

    Reid failed to make any adjustments in the first half and his offense ended up with six total yards. His play calling was very suspect throughout the half. Screen passes and runs to parts of the field where your personnel is outnumbered don’t tend to have good success rates in the NFL, and Reid called a lot of them.

    In the second half, Reid opened up his playbook a bit and once the Chiefs got rolling, they looked like the Chiefs we’ve come to know this year. Pittsburgh had played a fantastic game defensively through three quarters and managed to force the Chiefs to kick a field goal (or so we thought) after a long drive. The decision that puzzled me in the second half was going for it on 4th and 2 in the red zone.

    If you trot Harrison Butker onto the field to make what very well may have been the easiest kick of his NFL career thus far, you close the gap to 6 points.

    Instead, the Chiefs failed to score a touchdown and ended up getting no points on that possession. They ended up scoring on their next possession, but wouldn’t a 1-point lead be better than a 2-point deficit? I don’t quite understand the call by Reid.

    Overall, this game was rough. Kansas City might still be the best team in the NFL, but they showed vulnerability today.

    The offense showed just how bad it can play when it faces a stout defense and Andy Reid is making bad play calls. Pittsburgh is very comfortable coming to Arrowhead to play the Chiefs. This is something that should worry Kansas City in the playoffs. Pittsburgh will look to keep the momentum going when hosting the Bengals next week while the Chiefs have to recover quickly and prepare for a Thursday night battle in Oakland.

    Will we see a Chiefs vs. Steelers matchup in the postseason this year? We can only hope.

    Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images

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  • Best Foote Forward: Jordan’s Week 6 NFL Picks

    October 15, 2017 • Features, Front Page, Lists, PredictionsComments (0)

    Check out the first article from our new staff writer, Jordan Foote:

    Week 6 of the NFL season continues this afternoon.

    This week features a lot of marquee match-ups, but a few games that might be tough to watch (Baltimore and Chicago, sorry).

    Regardless, it’s bound to be another exciting week in what has been an amazing season thus far. I’m looking to improve on my mediocre 6-8 record from last week. This week features another 14-game slate as the Bills, Bengals, Cowboys and Seahawks have bye weeks. Let’s get right into the picks!

    Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Joe Flacco is still getting away with highway robbery. He’s making over $20 million this year for 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions worth of work. Project that out to a full year and you’re looking at about 12 touchdowns to 18 picks. That’s not going to work. It’ll work this week against a Bears team that is downright terrible, but not against many others. Expect a mediocre game from both QB’s and a Ravens win.

    The Pick: Ravens 20, Bears 14

    Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Against the Chiefs defense. That’s about all you need to know for this pick. Cleveland is transitioning from DeShone Kizer to Kevin Hogan at QB. Houston is missing two of its best defensive players and should still dominate the Browns. DeShaun Watson is the real deal.

    The Pick: Texans 34. Browns 14

    Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    He did it again last week. With a minute left in last Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, Aaron Rodgers marched his team down the field and threw a game-winning touchdown with less than 20 seconds left. The Vikings struggled to beat a Bears team that had Mitchell Trubisky making his first at QB. This one isn’t a hard pick to make.

    The Pick: Packers 27, Vikings 17

    Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    This is big. Matthew Stafford is the Detroit Lions offense. If he can’t go, the Saints will blow out the Lions. I’m banking on Stafford playing through the pain and playing hero ball this week. He’ll have plenty of time to rest during his upcoming bye week but for now, the Lions need him to win a shootout with the Saints.

    The Pick: Lions 34, Saints 28

    Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Atlanta is coming off a bye week and is in a prime position to create some momentum this week against a struggling Dolphins team. The final score of this game could be a lot more than 27 for the Falcons and less than 17 for the ‘Fins. I tried to give the Dolphins the benefit of the doubt and envision a situation where Jay Cutler hangs with Matt Ryan, but I couldn’t. Smokin’ Jay will put up some points, but not nearly as many as Matty Ice.

    The Pick: Falcons 27, Dolphins 17

    New England Patriots @ New York Jets (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    New England is too good to lose this game. They cannot afford a loss to the Jets. Imagine the internet and the NFL world if Tom Brady’s Patriots handed first place in the AFC East to Josh McCown and the Jets. Tom Brady has a sprained AC Joint in his left shoulder but the good news is – he throws with his right. He’ll put up a big game and the panic button will be silenced for another week.

    The Pick: Patriots 42, Jets 21

    San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Kirk has been pretty good. I’ve been trying to give the 49ers a win for weeks and every time I pencil them in for one, they blow it. This week, I’m not having it. Kirk Cousins will throw for 3 touchdowns and the 49ers will drop to 0-6.

    The Pick: Redskins 21, 49ers 10

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, 4:05 PM ET)

    Jameis Winston > Carson Palmer. Bucs > Cardinals. Another pick that wasn’t too difficult to make. Winston quietly threw for 334 yards and a touchdown against New England and should throw for another 300 against the Cardinals. The difference in talent between these teams is significant enough that I feel comfortable with picking Tampa Bay on the road.

    The Pick: Buccaneers 24, Cardinals 17

    Los Angeles Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 4:05 PM ET)

    Jared Goff has to have a sour taste in his mouth after throwing 2 interceptions and still almost beating the Seahawks last Sunday. Expect him to bounce back with an efficient, winning effort this week. The Jags’ defense is no joke, so I’m giving the Rams 21 hard-earned points. Until Blake Bortles consistently performs at a high level (if he ever does), the Jaguars’ ceiling is limited.

    The Pick: Rams 21, Jaguars 7

    Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET)

    As long as Smith keeps playing MVP-level football, this Chiefs team will be dominant. Pittsburgh should play a lot better than it did last week, but it won’t be enough to upset the Chiefs. Home-field advantage will play a big role on Sunday and might force Ben Roethlisberger into a mistake, which could be the difference in a competitive ballgame.

    The Pick: Chiefs 30, Steelers 21

    Los Angeles Chargers @ Oakland Raiders (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET)

    Upset of the week! Yes, Philip Rivers is going to go into Oakland and spoil Derek Carr’s comeback game. LA always plays games close and Oakland’s trend of bad luck will continue. Whether it be injuries or fans trying to fight offensive linemen, there’s always something bad going on with the Raiders. 2-5 is still terrible, but the Chargers will take it. Very closely-contested battle with Philip finally coming through in the clutch.

    The Pick: Chargers 28, Raiders 27

    New York Giants @ Denver Broncos (Sunday, 8:30 PM ET)

    Denver’s defense will keep them in almost every game. If this team ever gets a franchise QB out of Trevor Siemian, the rest of the NFL better watch out. Even with an off game from Siemian, the Broncos will handle the Odell and Brandon Marshall-less Giants. Sorry, Eli.

    The Pick: Broncos 17, Giants 13

    Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans (Monday, 8:30 PM ET)

    Marcus Mariota is back, thus the Titans offense is back. Andrew Luck is not playing (again) on Sunday, so expect another mediocre offensive effort from the Colts. The Titans have the blowout loss in Houston in the back of their minds – they won’t want another performance like that.

    The Pick: Titans 31, Colts 10

    That’s it for Week 6 Picks! Let me know if you have anything different! It should be a fun week in the NFL, hopefully I can do better than 6-8 this week…

    You can also check this article out at The Best Foote Forward.

    Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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  • NCAA: Defense Dominates as Delaware Blanks William & Mary

    October 14, 2017 • Front Page, Game Recap, NCAA, Press Release, University of DelawareComments (0)

    NEWARK, Del. — The University of Delaware defense rose to the occasion once again Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens held William & Mary to just 196 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 17-0 Colonial Athletic Association football victory before a spirited Parents & Family Weekend crowd at Delaware Stadium.

    The Blue Hens (4-2, 2-1 CAA) won their second straight game and improved to 3-1 at home this season as they intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. The shutout was Delaware’s first since a 21-0 victory over William & Mary in 2011 at Delaware Stadium, a span of 68 games.
     
    Delaware gained just 195 yards itself but used the outstanding defensive effort and a solid performance on special teams to post the victory before a season-high crowd of 18,721.
     
    Junior quarterback J.P. Caruso, who made his first career start for the Blue Hens, threw for 78 yards and tossed a 27-yard scoring strike to junior wide receiver Jamie Jarmon with 9:01 left in the second quarter for all the points the Blue Hens would need.
     
    The Blue Hens made it 10-0 just before halftime as junior Frank Raggo converted a 45-yard field goal as the clock expired. The score was set up by an interception by redshirt freshman linebacker Colby Reeder at the Tribe 26-yard line.
     
    William & Mary (2-4, 0-3 CAA) lost its third straight game despite a solid defensive effort itself, holding the Blue Hens to just 10 first downs and a season-low 195 yards. Freshman quarterback Shon Mitchell, making his first career start, hit on 18 of 36 passes for 101 yards but was intercepted twice.
     
    Delaware concluded the scoring when junior Kani Kane (team-high 50 yards rushing) used a big second effort to bull into the end zone from one-yard out with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter for a 17-0 lead. That score was set up when junior safety Nasir Adderley, who earlier returned an interception 45 yards, recovered a muffed punt by the Tribe’s Jalen Christian at the W&M 14-yard line. Adderley also had six tackles and two pass breakups.
     
    HEAD COACH DANNY ROCCO:
    “I was really pleased with the way this team responded at home. Our defense really stole the show today. They played with great passion, great energy, and great confidence. We have a great structure on defense in place and the players are buying in. I also knew our special teams would be important today and they were really solid. Our offense had a few good drives today but we just couldn’t sustain it. We still have a lot of work to do. We were +3 today (in turnovers) and you are not going to lose many games when you do that.”
     
    LINEBACKER TROY REEDER
    “We are building (on defense) week in and week out. This was really our first complete game on defense today. We are developing and that has been our emphasis. I looked up and saw zeros on the scoreboard and I wanted to keep it like that.”
     
    HEN SCRATCHINGS
    • Delaware has now held opponents scoreless for six straight quarters and for 91:38 minutes since last week’s 24-20 win over Stony Brook
    • Delaware’s 195 total yards was its lowest total in a victory since the Blue Hens managed just 172 yards in a 10-6 win over Richmond on Nov. 10, 2001 at Delaware Stadium. That victory marked head coach Tubby Raymond’s 300th career win
    • Jarmon has now caught four touchdown passes on 18 receptions this season and has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games, the third longest streak in UD history and the longest by a UD player since All-American Eddie Conti during the 1998 campaign
    • Former Delaware captain and current Carolina Panthers starting safety Mike Adams was the Honorary Captain and took part in the pre-game coin toss
    • Delaware entered the game ranked last in the NCAA in punt returns (-0.3 yards per return) but Jarmon returned two for 28 yards, including a season-long 15-yarder
    • Junior punter Nick Pritchard punted 10 times for a 40.4-yard average and had five land inside the William & Mary 20-yard line
    • Junior RB Thomas Jefferson upped his career rushing yardage total to 1,798 to move into 20th place on the all-time UD list
    • Delaware will continue action next Saturday, Oct. 21, when the Hens host CAA foe Richmond for Homecoming at Delaware Stadium. The game will match UD head coach Danny Rocco against the team he served as head coach for the  previous five seasons. Delaware will be looking to win three straight games for the first time since 2014
    Photo: University of Delaware Blue Hens official site

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  • Fantasy: 5 Potential Replacements for RB Ezekiel Elliott

    October 12, 2017 • Fantasy, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    Unfortunately, if you spent a first-round pick on Ezekiel Elliott in early September after hearing his suspension would be put on hold, you are probably scrambling for his replacement now that his six-game suspension is likely to be restored.

    Here are five backs you should be able to snag off waivers and slip into your lineup prior to Sunday:

    1. Darren McFadden/Alfred Morris DAL

    The obvious first choice(s), would be the McFadden/Morris duo. One of these backs will benefit highly from Elliott’s absence — the trick will be figuring out which will be receiving the bulk of the workload. Although, with Dallas on bye this week you’ll obviously still need another immediate replacement. Stick either McFadden or Morris on your bench for a week and snag the next guy on your list for this Sunday.

    2. Adrian Peterson, ARI

    In one of my leagues, Peterson is somehow sitting on waivers right now despite his recent trade to the Arizona Cardinals. In Arizona, with David Johnson out, Peterson is sure to get the immediate No. 1 slot for the Cards. His age and his early-season struggles in New Orleans are red flags, but a change in scenery could be just what the future Hall of Famer needs. Worth a shot.

    3. Alvin Kamara, NO (R)

    Chances are, Kamara has already been snagged up by someone in your league after his impressive performance through the passing game last week. With Peterson gone, Kamara’s shot is here and now. Better grab him while you can!

    4. Elijah McGuire, NYJ (R)

    McGuire has received double-digit carry totals for the Jets in back-to-back weeks, and has a highly-favorable match-up with a struggling New England run defense coming to town. He had 11 of the team’s 18 carries against Cleveland last week, and ran for 93 yards and his first career touchdown against Jacksonville two weeks ago. McGuire’s stock is certainly on the rise.

    5. Wayne Gallman, NYG (R)

    Well, New York’s stock-pile of offensive weapons has already been depleted, with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Sheppard all lost to injury. Starting running back Paul Perkins is struggling mightily this season. In steps the rookie Gallman. The only thing is New York’s offensive line is truly struggling, so it’s a risk going with Gallman. But he’s capable of being a decent fantasy starter down the stretch given the lack of weapons for Eli Manning.

    Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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  • TNF: Panthers Preparing to Host Eagles in Primetime

    October 12, 2017 • Carolina Panthers, Front Page, NFC East, NFC South, Philadelphia Eagles, PreviewComments (0)

    Tonight’s Week 6 Thursday Night Football showdown features a pair of 4-1 teams looking to prove they’re legitimate contenders this season.

    Philadelphia’s lone loss this year came at the hands of the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (27-20), and the Eagles were still in it until the end of the game. A few things go their way, and they may be 5-0 right now.

    Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is really coming into his own, and a few of his weapons have impressed so far this year.

    Running back LeGarrette Blount is averaging 5.8 yards per carry on his 56 attempts, while tight end Zach Ertz is leading the team in receiving with 387 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

    For the Panthers offensively, it appears that Cam Newton is finally getting back to what he once was, but with rookie running back Christian McCaffrey struggling (34 carries, 96 yards), the run game is left to 30-year old Jonathan Stewart (251 yards on 77 carries).

    Over the last three weeks, Philadelphia has run the ball 33 or more times. All three games have resulted in wins. Keep Wentz to around 30 pass attempts, run the ball about 30-35 times and Philadelphia should be able to control the time of possession and keep Cam off the field long enough to put up 30 points on Carolina’s defense.

    Prediction: Eagles improve to 5-1 on the season, defeat Panthers 27-17.

    Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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