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  • NCAA: Spruill Scores Twice as Delaware Football Shuts Down Albany

    November 11, 2017 • Front Page, Game Recap, NCAA, Press Release, University of DelawareComments (0)

    Press release courtesy of Bluehens.com

    NEWARK, Del. — The University of Delaware defense was dominating once again and freshman running back Khory Spruill enjoyed the finest day of his young career with two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Blue Hens ran past Albany in a 22-3 Colonial Athletic Association Football victory at festive Delaware Stadium Saturday afternoon.
     
    Delaware (7-3, 5-2 CAA) won for the fifth time in the last six games and kept its postseason playoff hopes strong heading into the regular season finale next Saturday at longtime rival Villanova.
     
    The Blue Hen defense was fierce as usual on Saturday afternoon, holding Albany to just six first downs – five of them on one first quarter drive – and 120 total yards while forcing four turnovers. The Great Danes (3-7, 1-6 CAA), who could muster only a first-quarter field goal to take a brief 3-0 lead, lost for the sixth straight game. Albany managed just 31 yards rushing on 21 carries and quarterback Will Brunson was 12 of 25 for 83 yards and was intercepted three times and sacked once.
     
    Spruill, pressed into action when starter Kani Kane went down with an injury early in the second half, carried 20 times for a game and career-high 86 yards and scored on touchdowns of six and one-yard over in the final quarter as Delaware pulled away.
     
    On one drive, Spruill carried seven straight times and ran the final 43 yards to cap off a scoring drive. He had entered the game having carried the ball just 22 times this season and just nine times over the last six games.
     
    Delaware junior quarterback Joe Walker (#3 at bottom), who has moved into an all-purpose role as a runner, receiver, and passer, also ran for 85 yards on 11 carries. He went over the 1,000 career-yard mark in the process and became just the fifth quarterback in Delaware history to accumulate both 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a career.
     
    Defensively, junior safety Ray Jones, senior defensive tackle Blaine Woodson (seven tackles), and senior linebacker Anthony Jackson (#11 below) each intercepted a pass, sophomore linebacker Christian Lohin blocked a punt out of bounds for a safety, and senior linebacker Jalen Kindle recorded a team-high nine tackles.
     
    Sophomore punter Nick Pritchard punted five times and twice pinned Albany inside its own two-yard line with pinpoint accuracy as Jones settled under both punts to down the ball. In additon, junior kicker Frank Raggo converted field goals of 29 yards to end the first and 36 yards late in the third quarter to give Delaware a 6-3 lead.
     
    A special ceremony took place at halftime as Delaware announced the launching of Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware, the new university-wide fundraising and engagement campaign.
     
    Athletics facilities are a top priority for the campaign with a $60 million goal to renovate Delaware Stadium and build a new state-of-the-art Athletic Center for student-athletes. Additionally, Delaware golf alum Ken Whitney, ’80, and his wife, Liz Whitney, have made a transformational lead gift of $10 million to name the Whitney Athletic Center, pushing the total individual commitments towards this campaign to $23 million and marking the largest individual gift in Delaware Athletics history.
     
    HEAD COACH DANNY ROCCO
    “Our defense was really extraordinary today. They (Albany) had only one real drive (first quarter field goal) that they were able to put together. We really played to our strengths. I was comfortable with the 3-3 tie at halftime because we were playing so well defensively, we had finally scored, and we were getting the ball first in the second half. We really responded in the second half, which is something we have done a lot of this season. Our kids really have a lot of talent and resolve. We wore Albany down and that was our objective. On offense, we were at our best when it mattered the most.”
     
    “Our senior class has been extraordinary with how they have been receptive to our message, the themes, and our goals. They have responded and they have led. We really need each other and everybody in our program as we move to make November meaningful. We have to have everyone on board. We have a lot of guys on this team that just want to win and sacrifice for the good of the team.”
     
    KHORY SPRUILL
    “Coach (Rocco) always tells me to be ready every game. It’s really about being ready when your number gets called and today I was ready. It really felt good (to get my first touchdown).”
     
    RAY JONES
    “We made a few changes today at halftime that really made a difference in the second half.  You hold a team to three points and 120 yards, you can’t do a lot better than that. We have a chip on our shoulder. We are going to go up there (next week at Villanova) with confidence and effort and give it our all and keep this thing going.”
     
    HEN SCRATCHINGS
    • Delaware’s seven wins is the most since the 2013 team went 7-4 but did not make the postseason
    • Spruill’s previous career-high rushing game was 39 yards vs. Cornell on Sept. 14
    • Delaware’s defensive effort of holding Albany to six first downs and 120 yards was its best performance since holding Delaware State to four first downs and 112 yards as part of a 45-0 win in 2011
    • Junior WR Jamie Jarmon returned from a one-game layoff due to an injury and caught a pass to extend his pass-catching streak to 15 straight games
    • Raggo, who is now 11 of 14 on field goals this season, also converted two extra points to extend his consecutive made streak to 64 straight, just three shy of the school record
    • The Blue Hens went 5-1 at home this season and outscored opponents 154-75
    • Delaware blocked a punt for the second straight game and the Hens have now intercepted 10 passes over the last five games while forcing 13 total turnovers
    • Delaware heads to Villanova next Saturday, Nov. 18, for the regular season finale. The Hens will be looking for revenge after losing five straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings vs. the Wildcats
    • Delaware honored its 18 seniors and their families in a pregame ceremony as part of Senior Day

    Photo: BlueHens.com/Mark Campbell

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  • NCAA: No. 21 Michigan Drops Terps Saturday Afternoon

    November 11, 2017 • Big Ten, Front Page, Game Recap, NCAA, University of MarylandComments (0)

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Brandon Peters threw two touchdown passes, Chris Evans ran for two scores and No. 21 Michigan (8-2, 5-2 B1G) topped Maryland, 35-10, Saturday afternoon.

    Sophomore Ryan Brand thew for 136 yards and a score in his first career start for the Terps (4-6, 2-5 B1G).

    In the second half, Maryland scored on a 20-yard field goal by Henry Darmstadter and a 10-yard pass from Brand to Taivon Jacobs. Jacobs caught eight balls for 92 yards. Running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison III combined for 24 carries for 148 yards. Maryland outgained the Wolverines 340 to 305.

    Before the second quarter was halfway over, Michigan had a 28-0 lead thanks to Peters’ passing. Peters threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Zach Gentry and 3 yards to Sean McKeon. Henry Poggi and Evans ran for scores. Evans, who scored from a yard out in the second quarter, added a 17-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

    Maryland returns to action next Saturday at No. 12 Michigan State.

    Photo: UMTerps.com

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  • Philadelphia Extends Win Streak, Stays Atop NFL Standings

    November 6, 2017 • Front Page, Game Recap, NFC, NFC East, Philadelphia EaglesComments (0)

    Another week, another Philadelphia victory.

    The Eagles improved to 8-1 on the year with today’s 51-23 victory over the struggling Denver Broncos. The victory stretches Philly’s win streak to seven games.

    Philly’s 51-point onslaught marked the third consecutive game in which Carson Wentz’s offensive attack put up 30+ points against the opposing team’s defense.

    On 15-of-27 passing, Wentz tossed for 199 yards and four touchdowns. The second-year quarterback has thrown 23 touchdowns and five interceptions through just nine games this year.

    Oh, and as if that’s not enough to pump Philly fans’ self-confidence through the roof … it’s just the fifth time in team history that Philly has started the season with an 8-1 record. The other four times? Philadelphia reached either the NFL championship game or the Super Bowl.

    That is quite the stat.

    Next up for Philadelphia? Bye week, Dallas, Chicago to finish out November. Expect to see a 10-1 Eagles heading into December.

    Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

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  • Best Foote Forward: Jordan’s Week 9 NFL Picks

    November 5, 2017 • Features, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    We’re here! 8 weeks of football are in the books and things are getting interesting. We’re beginning to get a picture of who’s a contender and who’s a pretender.

    Aside from the Ravens’ 40-0 beatdown of the Dolphins, everything went as expected last week. We went 9-4 in picks last week and with the same amount of games on the slate this week, let’s shoot for at least 10-3!

    On Thursday, the Bills traveled to New York to play the pesky Jets in an AFC East showdown. The Jets came out big winners in that one (we had Bills winning it 27-21).

    On Sunday night, we’ll see a battle of struggling teams when the Raiders square off against the Dolphins in Miami. On Monday night, the slumping Lions will play in Green Bay against the Rodgers-less Packers. Let’s get into the picks!

    This week’s byes: Chicago Bears (3-5), Cleveland Browns (0-8), Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), Minnesota Vikings (6-2), New England Patriots (6-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2).

    Indianapolis Colts (2-6) @ Houston Texans (3-4) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Houston has needed a game like this, and now they’ve got it. They’re so much better than the Colts; this is their chance to prove it. Indianapolis will continue to look like a laughing stock and the Texans will get back to .500 after a blowout.

    The Pick: Texans 34, Colts 13

    Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Cincinnati somehow finds itself 3-4 at this point in the season. The eye test says otherwise, which is why Jacksonville should feel good about this matchup. The Jags’ defense is one of the best in the league and as long as Leonard Fournette plays well/Blake Bortles plays okay, this team will win games.

    The Pick: Jaguars 21, Bengals 13

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) @ New Orleans Saints (5-2) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Tampa Bay has been perhaps the most disappointing team in the NFL this season. New Orleans has been one of the most pleasant surprises this year. New Orleans has allowed 20 points or less in four of its last five games, and I expect this trend to continue. Jameis Winston’s shoulder concerns me – and so does the rest of his team.

    The Pick: Saints 28, Buccaneers 17

    Los Angeles Rams (5-2) @ New York Giants (1-6) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    This is one of the easier picks of the week. New York is a terrible team and is facing an improving Rams defense this week. Jared Goff should have another solid game and allow Todd Gurley to run wild in a game that could get ugly fairly early.

    The Pick: Rams 27, Giants 14

    Atlanta Falcons (4-3) @ Carolina Panthers (5-3) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    I can’t express enough how important this game is for both of these teams. Atlanta has been very inconsistent this season and is looking to create some momentum going after narrowly defeating the Jets. The problem with that previous statement is that… they narrowly defeated the Jets. Carolina has also been a rollercoaster to watch this year, even more so after trading stud WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills. Cam Newton needs to win this game to keep pace with the Saints and to keep his spirits high, and that’s what he’ll do this Sunday.

    The Pick: Panthers 31, Falcons 24

    Denver Broncos (3-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    Call me crazy, but I think this will be a close game. By close, I mean it will be a one-score game. Brock Osweiler may not be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, but he can’t be much worse than Trevor Siemian (9 TD, 10 INT) has been this season. Denver’s defense is still one of, if not the best units in the league. Philly won’t come back down to Earth this week, but they’ll be tested.

    The Pick: Eagles 28, Broncos 23

    Baltimore Ravens (4-4) @ Tennessee Titans (4-3) (Sunday, 1:00 PM ET)

    This one is an interesting pick. Tennessee won two games in a row before the bye, but those wins came against the Colts and Browns. Until this team performs consistently, it will be a struggle to pick them each week. Baltimore severely outperformed its ability last Thursday. The Ravens aren’t a playoff-calibre team with Joe Flacco under center and a shaky offense in general. Coming into the year, many picked Tennessee to grab a playoff spot. This win will be big in helping them get to that point.

    The Pick: Titans 27, Ravens 20

    Arizona Cardinals (3-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-8) (Sunday, 4:05 PM ET)

    This won’t be fun to watch. Drew Stanton is a capable backup, but he’s no Carson Palmer. He’s enough to beat San Francisco, though. CJ Beathard is still the starter for the 49ers until the newly-acquired Jimmy Garoppolo learns the playbook. That spells doom for San Fran in a battle between two bad teams.

    The Pick: Cardinals 17, 49ers 10

    Washington Redskins (3-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (5-2) (Sunday, 4:05 PM ET)

    Washington is struggling and needs a bounce-back game. Naturally, they have to play Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks recently acquired some offensive line help in the form of Duane Brown and should roll over the Redskins in this one. The ‘Hawks are going to get a head start on rounding into playoff form.

    The Pick: Seahawks 34, Redskins 24

    Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3) (Sunday, 4:25 PM ET)

    This is tough. Being from Kansas City, I support the Chiefs and wish them the best in every contest. There are going to be times where I pick against them. This is not one of those times. With Ezekiel Elliot, perhaps I would’ve picked Dallas, but I think his absence is enough to prevent his squad from winning a shootout against the Chiefs.

    The Pick: Chiefs 34, Cowboys 24

    Oakland Raiders (3-5) @ Miami Dolphins (4-3) (Sunday, 8:30 PM ET)

    Oakland’s season is looking grim and Miami came crashing back down to Earth last week. Both of these teams desperately need a win. Jay Cutler returning is actually a positive for the Dolphins, who couldn’t muster a single point last week against the Ravens. Smokin’ Jay isn’t built to win high-scoring games, which is exactly what this one will be… for Oakland.

    The Pick: Raiders 38, Dolphins 21

    Detroit Lions (3-4) @ Green Bay Packers (4-3) (Monday, 8:30 PM ET)

    Green Bay doesn’t have Aaron Rodgers. That’s going to be a reason to pick against them this week: it’s going to be a reason to do so again and again. The Lions desperately need a win after losing three games in a row: this is a perfect opportunity for the offense to score touchdowns and for the defense to get its mojo back.

    The Pick: Lions 30, Packers 13

    Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

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  • NFL Week 9: Jaguars Bench Rookie RB Leonard Fournette vs. Bengals

    November 5, 2017 • AFC South, Fantasy, Features, Front Page, Jacksonville JaguarsComments (0)

    Ahead of this afternoon’s Week 9 showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville has made the decision to bench rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

    It appears as though he’s a healthy scratch. According to the trusted Ian Rapoport, he violated a team rule and will be inactive for the 1 p.m. ET kick-off.

    The rookie runner leads the 4-3 Jaguars in rushing this season, putting up 596 yards and 6 TDs on the ground in his six starts this fall.

    Against the Bengals, it’s not a big deal. But if you’re a Fournette fantasy owner, it might be a big deal. Quick, pick up a replacement if you don’t already have a guy sitting and waiting on your bench!

    ((UPDATE: It didn’t matter. Jaguars shut down the struggling Bengals, 23-7, to improve to 5-3 on the season.))

    Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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  • Reeder’s Scoop & Score Pushes Delaware to 31-17 Win over Maine

    November 4, 2017 • Front Page, Game Recap, NCAA, Press Release, University of DelawareComments (0)

    PORTLAND — The University of Delaware won its fourth Colonial Athletic Association football game of the season Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens used a big second half to defeat Maine 31-17 at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

    The turning point of the game occurred early in the fourth quarter when Maine punt returner Micah Wright was stripped of the ball by Delaware defensive back Nasir Adderley.

    Blue Hens freshman Colby Reeder scooped up the ball at the Maine five-yard line and dove into the end zone for the crucial touchdown that gave the Blue Hens the lead for good at 24-17 with 13:22 remaining.

    On the next Maine drive, the stingy Delaware defense held the Black Bears (4-4, 3-4 CAA) to just four yards.

    On the ensuing Delaware drive, the Blue Hens (6-3, 4-2 CAA) went 58yards on 13 plays. The drive, which took nearly eight minutes off the clock (7:39), was capped by quarterback J.P. Caruso’s one-yard rushing touchdown with 4:07 left in the final period to seal the victory. The drive was the team’s third longest in terms of time this season.

    For the afternoon, the Blue Hens accumulated 346 yards of total offense. Joe Walker provided a massive spark for UD as the junior quarterback turned all-purpose threat compiled 165 total yards between rushing, receiving and passing, including a huge 56-yard reception in the second quarter that set up the Hens first touchdown.

    Tight end Brandon Whaley caught his first career touchdown pass at 5:42 of the second quarter to give the Hens their first points of the day while safety Tim the made his first career interception in the third quarter. Linebacker Troy Reeder made a career-high 17 tackles in the victory and also blocked a punt while his brother, Colby, also recorded a sack in the final quarter and finished with seven tackles.

    Junior Kani Kane also for 99 yards and his seventh rushing touchdown of the season, a one-yard burst with 21 seconds left in the second quarter that give Delaware a 14-10 advantage at the break. Kane just missed surpassing the 100-yard mark for the third straight game.

    Adderley, one of the nation’s leaders with five interceptions, recorded a career-high 14 tackles while Bilal Nichols had seven tackles, a sack, a pass breakup, and a blocked field goal. Delaware kicker Frank Raggo added a 48-yard field goal three minutes into the second half to give Delaware a 17-10 lead.

    The win was Delaware’s fourth victory in its last five games and snapped a personal four-game losing streak against Maine. The Hens also snapped Maine’s season-best three-game winning streak.

    Maine held a 451-346 advantage in total yards thanks to the play of running back Josh Mack, who ran for 173 yards and caught six passes for 38 yards. He entered the game leading all NCAA FCS runners with 139.9 yards rushing per game.

    The Blue Hens return home next Saturday, hosting Albany for Senior Day. Kickoff from Delaware Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

    Head Coach Danny Rocco:
    “Our special teams kept us in the game today, and then we got going on offense. We did a lot today with Joe Walker. We knew that Jamie Jarmon (out with an injury) was most likely not going to play, so we put a plan together for Joe to do some of the things that Jamie has been doing. That gave us the explosive plays that we needed to have in the game. Joe did a great job. I thought our ability to run the ball and get some first downs bleeding the clock down, was as significant as anything. Maine is very talented defensively and physical. Offensively they know what they’re doing with the ball. Their running back is very special. So we’re fortunate to get out of here with a win. I’m certainly excited to secure a winning season and to get a win in November. We’re excited to go home this week and continue our quest this season. We’re finding ways to remain relevant. Today was a great team win. The offense did things when they had to, and the defense made stops when they had to. Ultimately the special teams and kicking game made a lot of big plays.”

    On play of Joe Walker:
    “I have supported Joe since I arrived here. I have made comments about his athleticism. He is one of our guys that can take the ball the length of the field on a run, a pass or a scramble. He’s that athletic. He’s going to give us some energy here and some explosive production as we continue. Hopefully, we’ll have Jamie (Jarmon) back next week because that will give us a few more options.”

    Junior Joe Walker:
    “Today felt great being a guy who made plays and gave a spark when we needed. I always knew I could catch the ball, I just never played wide receiver. Today was the first time playing it. I was just trying to play my role and do as much as I could. We planned to have Jamie in the game with me, we didn’t know until yesterday that he wasn’t going to play. I think today was about building a routine so that when we both play teams don’t know what we’re going to do.”

    Defensive Tackle Bilal Nichols:
    “Today we did a great job of staying together as a team. That’s one thing we’ve done very well this season. We’ve stayed together and created unity. Coach Rocco always says our strength is in the unity of this group. We really believe that. Whenever times get rough we count on each other. We never give up. This team is so resilient and that’s what I’m most proud of. We come each day and work hard and count on each other. We played our best when it mattered the most today. When we really needed stops, we got them. When we really needed to control the line of scrimmage, we did. When we needed to get to the QB, we did. I feel that we made plays at the biggest moments of the game.”

    HEN SCRATCHINGS:
    • By winning their sixth game of the season, Delaware secured its first winning season since going 7-5 in 2013. Delaware head coach Rocco has now posted a winning campaign in all 12 of seasons as a college head coach
    • Delaware played Maine in Portland for the first time in school history. The game marked the first time since 2005 that Maine played a game in the state’s largest city
    • Delaware downed Maine for the first time since 2010 and won in the state of Maine for the first time since 2009 after two straight setbacks
    • Rocco is now 26-12 (.684) during his head coaching career in games following a loss, including a 3-0 mark at Delaware
    • Troy Reeder blocked a punt for the second straight season after also posting one at Richmond in 2016
    • Delaware has now forced 22 turnovers this season, the fourth highest total in the nation and No. 2 in the CAA
    • The Hens lost two fumbles in the first half, marking the first time Delaware had lost a fumble since the James Madison game on Sept. 30. Delaware had gone 265:43 minutes of playing time since its last lost fumble
    • Raggo now has three field goals over 48 yards this season, has hit on 9 of 13 field goal attempts overall, and has converted 59 straight extra points

    Photo: Mark Campbell/BlueHens.com

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  • NCAA: Maryland Terrapins Fall at Rutgers, 31-24

    November 4, 2017 • Front Page, Game Recap, NCAA, University of MarylandComments (0)

    Press release from UMTerps.com

    PISCATAWAY (N.J.) – Maryland junior running back Ty Johnson scored a rushing and receiving touchdown for the first time in his career, but Rutgers mounted a fourth quarter rally to top the Terps, 31-24, Saturday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium.

    Maryland (4-5, 2-4 B1G) held a 24-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but Robert Martin scored on a 10-yard run on the first play of the final stanza to tie the game.

    Rutgers (4-5, 3-3 B1G) used a Gus Edwards 23-yard touchdown catch with 7:30 remaining to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

    The Terps drove down the field late looking to tie the game behind the play of quarterback Ryan Brand, who replaced an injured Max Bortenschlager during the final drive of the game.

    Brand led a 16-play drive that got the Terps down to the Rutgers 15, but Scarlet Knight cornerback Isaiah Wharton broke up a fourth-down pass to DJ Moore in the corner of the end zone.

    Moore, who has caught a pass in 30 straight games, finished with eight receptions for 75 yards. Senior Taivon Jacobs posted career-highs in catches (7) and yards (97).

    Sophomore running backs Jake Funk and Lorenzo Harrison III tied for the team lead in rushing with 61 yards each. Harrison had a two-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that gave the Terps a 17-14 halftime advantage.

    Sophomore Isaiah Davis paced the defense with a career-high 11 tackles.

    Maryland returns to Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium next Saturday to take on Michigan. The game is set to kick at 3:30 p.m.

    Photo: UMTerps.com

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  • Week 9 NFL Power Rankings: Who’s Rising and Who’s Falling?

    November 1, 2017 • Features, Front Page, ListsComments (0)

    As I predicted in my Week 8 NFL Picks, “Separation Sunday” was a real thing.

    Many contenders rose to the top of the food chain and sent the pretenders into a frenzy.

    We’re beginning to get a feel for how good some teams truly can be this season or, if you’re the Cleveland Browns, just how terrible things are going to be moving forward. Where does everyone rank heading into Week 9? Let’s find out in TBFF’s Week 9 NFL Power Rankings!

    Last week’s byes: Arizona Cardinals (3-4), Green Bay Packers (4-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3), Los Angeles Rams (5-2), New York Giants (1-6), Tennessee Titans (4-3)

    This week’s byes: Chicago Bears (3-5), Cleveland Browns (0-8), Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), Minnesota Vikings (6-2), New England Patriots (6-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

    32. Cleveland Browns (LW: 32) 0 *Bye Week*

    The Browns head into their bye week 0-8. The only good news for this team is that DeShone Kizer played the entire game vs. Minnesota without getting benched, which is a positive. The Cleveland should win a game by the end of the season, possibly two or three. Cincinnati, Baltimore, Green Bay and Chicago are still on the schedule within the next couple months.

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

    San Francisco finds itself 0-8 after last week’s loss to the Eagles. This is a bad team. We already knew this. What we didn’t see coming was Jimmy Garoppolo being traded to the Niners for a second-round pick. Jimmy G. could potentially help this team play spoiler later this season and he also gives them some hope at the quarterback position for the first time in awhile. Back-to-back home matchups against the Cardinals and Giants are both winnable – will the 49ers finally get a win? It’s possible.

    30. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 30) 0

    Jacoby Brissett had his second-best game of the season on Sunday… and his team lost. That sums up the season for Indy. There are two games left on the schedule that are winnable (Denver and Baltimore) but other than that, things are about to get lucky for this team.

    29. New York Giants (LW: 29) 0

    The G-Men remain at the 29th spot (for the week). A weekend matchup with the Rams might drop them a spot, but it’s pretty difficult to get below 29. This team is truly going to miss Odell Beckham Jr.

    28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 24) -4

    Tampa has been perhaps the most disappointing team in the NFL this season. Sitting at 2-5, the season is pretty much over for this team. With New Orleans having won five consecutive games, the Bucs should be looking at 2-6 come Sunday evening after losing on the road.

    27. Miami Dolphins (LW: 20) -7

    Who knew Jay Cutler was that important to the success of this team? Matt Moore and the Fins literally laid an egg on Thursday. 40-0 is unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances. Cutler will return this Sunday against Oakland in an effort to help spark the league’s worst offense. Let’s hope he can put at least some points on the board.

    26. New York Jets (LW: 27) +1

    The Jets move up a spot after playing another gritty game against a superior opponent. This bunch is exceeding expectations. 3-5 may not sound like a big deal but if you project that out to a full season, that’s 6 wins. Some predicted this Jets team wouldn’t win a game at all. So much for that.

    25. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 26) +1

    Arizona somehow, some way finds itself just 3-4 after seven games. Likely without Carson Palmer for the rest of the season, though, the losses could start piling up for this team. The Cards will be favored this weekend against San Francisco but barring an upset, shouldn’t be favored again until December 24th against the Giants.

    24. Chicago Bears (LW: 23) -1 *Bye Week*

    The Bears head into the bye week as another team that has exceeded expectations, sitting at 3-5 on the year. Rookie QB Mitch Trubisky still hasn’t looked good (47% completion rate, 2 touchdowns) but is getting very important reps. Once this offense performs well, the Bears will win games. A chance to get to 4-5 is available directly after the bye when Chicago faces the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers.

    23. Denver Broncos (LW: 21) -2

    Denver looked bad before Monday. Five turnovers against Kansas City didn’t help much. Trevor Siemian may find himself without a starting job within a few weeks, but who’s going to replace him? Brock Osweiler? Paxton Lynch? Colin Kaepernick!? Who knows. We do know that this offense is struggling. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Philly’s defense isn’t very forgiving.

    22. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 28) +6

    Baltimore simply isn’t as good as they played on Thursday. 40-0 will not happen again for this team. Nonetheless, I have to move them up a few spots and since the bad teams are beginning to be consistently bad, the Ravens find themselves six spots higher than they were last week. A win against the inconsistent Titans this Sunday can bump them up even higher.

    21. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 25) +4

    Cincy is another team that we know isn’t good, but benefitted from playing a bad opponent last week. Andy Dalton may not fare well against an elite Jacksonville defense this week and if Blake Bortles plays like he has been lately (not great, not terrible), the Bengals could find themselves 3-5 by the end Sunday.

    20. Green Bay Packers (LW: 22) +2

    Green Bay benefits in the rankings from the teams around it not playing well last week. The Packers play the slumping Lions on Monday Night Football this week, looking to avoid falling to .500. If Green Bay wants to stay alive in the playoff hunt, it needs to win games like this.

    19. Los Angeles Chargers (LW: 19) 0 *Bye Week*

    Los Angeles finishes the second quarter of the season with a record of 3-1. If this pace continues in the second half of the season, 9-7 will be the result. This year, that might get you into the playoffs in the AFC. With conference games against other playoff hopefuls such as Oakland, Jacksonville, Buffalo and Kansas City still on the schedule, Philip Rivers has every incentive to play his best football each and every week going forward.

    18. Oakland Raiders (LW: 17) -1

    Oakland is an interesting team to watch. Derek Carr undoubtedly makes this offense a juggernaut, but the defense remains so bad. With a more difficult schedule this year compared to last, maybe we all set the bar too high for the Raiders? I’m not sure. 3-5 isn’t anywhere near playoff football.

    17. Washington Redskins (LW: 16) -1

    The ‘Skins are 1-3 in their last four games. That isn’t good, to say the least. Here are their next three opponents: Seahawks, Vikings, Saints. That’s tough. The next three games will make or break Washington’s season.

    16. Tennessee Titans (LW: 18) +2

    Tennessee comes off the bye week looking to forget an up-and-down first half of the season. This offense is talented enough to score bunches of points and the defense is already good enough to prevent them, but consistency is key. We’ll see how the next few games go before we move this squad too high or too low.

    15. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 15) 0

    It was very tempting to move Dallas down a few spots after hearing that Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension has been reinstated, but I have a feeling the end isn’t near. With how weird this process has been, I anticipate another change in verdict. Nonetheless, Dallas is an underperforming team that needs to get it together – and quick.

    14. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 14) 0

    Jacksonville’s defense is the real deal. Leonard Fournette appears to be the real deal. The jury is still out on Blake Bortles being even average. The good news for this team is that with average QB play, the playoffs are entirely possible. That’s how good Jacksonville’s defense is.

    13. Detroit Lions (LW: 11) -2

    Detroit won one game out of four in October. Matthew Stafford continues to play good football (12 TD, 4 INT) but his lack of help is beginning to get exposed. This team eerily reminds me of Green Bay – built, but not built well, around a star QB the rest of the bunch is overly-dependent on. Imagine how bad the Lions would be without Stafford. With Detroit already three wins behind the division-leading Vikings, it’s time to wake up.

    12. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 12) 0

    Atlanta is somehow 4-3 after all of this talk of the team falling apart. There has been a lot of panic-button hitting the past few weeks, and it’s not slowing down much after a near-loss to the Jets. Matt Ryan has severely underperformed this season, thus his team has as well. This is still a playoff-caliber bunch but a loss to the Panthers this Sunday would make it quite a bit harder to get in.

    11. Carolina Panthers (LW: 10) -1

    Carolina was very unimpressive on the offensive side of the ball against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Attempting to keep pace with the division-leading Saints, a win over the underperforming Falcons this week would be a huge confidence boost to a team that desperately needs it – especially after making a strange decision by trading WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday afternoon.

    10. Buffalo Bills (LW: 13) +3

    Speaking of Buffalo; HOW ABOUT THEM BILLS? Not many people saw this coming – and it’s not like it’s a fluke, either. Wins against the gritty Jets, the (then-great) Broncos, the (again, then-great) Falcons, the Bucs and the offensive juggernaut Raiders are very solid. Adding Kelvin Benjamin is a big plus for this offense. Buffalo has the look of a playoff team this year, especially in a shaky AFC.

    9. Houston Texans (LW: 8) -1

    Houston fought valiantly in a loss on Sunday against the Seahawks. This team sits at 3-4 despite playing some of the toughest opponents in the NFL thus far (Chiefs, Seahawks, Patriots). Houston is so much better than its record.

    8. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 9) +1 *Bye Week*

    Minnesota goes into the bye week about as happy as possible. Sitting at 6-2 with the return of Teddy Bridgewater approaching, the Vikings look like a legitimate threat in the NFC. With Green Bay down their star quarterback and the Lions struggling, this division looks like it’s Minnesota’s. Time to get Bridgewater ready for playoff football.

    7: Los Angeles Rams (LW: 6) -1

    Los Angeles didn’t play last week, but moves down a spot due to the team one spot ahead of it remaining on fire. This is a very good team that has an easy matchup this week in the Giants. Expect Los Angeles to be 6-2 at the end of week 9.

    6. New Orleans Saints (LW: 7) +1

    Who Dat? New Orleans has won five games in a row! With the terrible Buccaneers coming to town on Sunday, look for the Saints to make it six. If this defense continues to impress, the Saints could find themselves in the playoffs. That’s a big if, though.

    5. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 5) 0

    Kansas City won on Sunday in what was arguably its worst offensive performance of the season, but its best defensive performance thus far. Some changes in the secondary and improved health both seemed to benefit this team. Some of us forget that Kansas City was the last unbeaten team in the NFL not more than three weeks ago. Oh, how quickly things change in the NFL.

    4. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 4) 0 *Bye Week*

    Pittsburgh heads into the bye week with a 6-2 record and one of the most impressive and complete teams in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are firing on all cylinders on offense and the defense is slowly coming into its own. Pittsburgh is going to be a tough out come playoff time.

    3. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 3) 0

    Seattle won in a shootout with the Texans on Sunday, then traded for offensive lineman Duane Brown from – guess who? The Texans. Some much-needed line help should pay dividends for this offense. Seattle is back.

    2. New England Patriots (LW: 2) 0 *Bye Week*

    It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots won again on Sunday. That’s six on the season. Tom Brady is looking great again and with Jimmy Garoppolo now in San Francisco, everyone can fully shift their attention to Brady at QB for this season, next season, and the immediate future following that. Bill Belichick knows what he’s doing.

    1. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 1) 0

    Another week, another win for the Eagles, who have the NFL’s best record at 7-1. Carson Wentz wasn’t exactly a world-beater on Sunday, but the rest of the team did more than enough to get a win. Adding Jay Ajayi into the mix is going to make this squad even more dangerous. Philadelphia is legit.

    That’s it for the week 9 NFL Power Rankings. We’re in for yet another exciting week of football for sure. Let me know what you think about the rankings! I’d love to chat with you about it.

    You can also check out Jordan’s Week 9 Power Rankings here.

    Photo: Getty Images

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  • Eagles Acquire RB Jay Ajayi From Miami Dolphins

    October 31, 2017 • Breaking News, Front Page, NFC, NFC East, Philadelphia EaglesComments (0)

    Who said there are never any exciting deals at the NFL trade deadline??

    In what comes as a bit of a surprise move, the NFL’s top-dog Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) acquire third-year running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    While Ajayi, 24, only has 465 yards on 138 carries with zero touchdowns in seven games so far this year, the 6’0″/215-pound running back amassed 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl selection a year ago.

    With Darren Sproles out, Jay Ajayi will provide a huge boost to a rushing attack that has already accumulated the fourth-most rushing yards in the league this season (thanks for Carson Wentz’s 203 rushing yards).

    LeGarrette Blount has been receiving the bulk of the carries, but having Ajayi in the backfield will take some of the workload off his shoulders and will help Philly form a solid running back duo between the two.

    As if this team wasn’t already scary enough, now the up-and-coming Carson Wentz has one more weapon at his disposal.

    Photo: Rob Foldy/Getty Images

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  • Quarterback Carousel: Niners Acquire Garoppolo, Release Hoyer

    October 31, 2017 • Breaking News, Front Page, NFC West, San Francisco 49ersComments (0)

    Things in the National Football League have been rather interesting over the last 24 hours or so.

    With the NFL trade deadline looming (4 p.m. ET), the winless San Francisco 49ers (0-8) decided to shake things up at the quarterback by position by acquiring back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots. In exchange, the Patriots received a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Subsequently, the Niners released 32-year old veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer. Hoyer started the first six games of the season, completing 58% of his passes for 1,245 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT.

    Currently, 24-year old rookie QB C.J. Beathard has been taking snaps under center over the last two games, but with Garoppolo coming in to town it looks like it’s his team now.

    In his three years behind legendary Tom Brady in New England, the 25-year old Jimmy G started two games, going 2-0 under center last season. He has appeared in a total of 17 games over those three seasons, completing 67% of his passes (63-of-94) for 690 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT.

    It’s a small sample size, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see how much he learned under Brady and Belichick since 2014.

    Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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