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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Harden and Gordon are a tad shrimpy.

At least the sieve in the Rockets’ super-small, anti-Golden State units is their best offensive player — James Harden. Houston has a deep, versatile roster that can shape-shift depending on the opponent. When the Warriors engage Death Lineup mode, Houston can slot two of P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Eric Gordon and Troy Williams around the Chris Paul/Harden/Trevor Ariza trio in ultra-small groups.

If Tucker and Mbah a Moute hit enough corner 3-pointers — they shot 40 percent combined last season — those lineups approach anti-Warriors optimization. But Golden State will still slough away from them to clog the lane, and recover in a flash to contest shots; Golden State holding opponents to 32.4 percent from deep, lowest in the league, wasn’t complete luck. The Warriors are long, and they are ferocious, and they do not make mistakes.

Insert Ryan Anderson to juice Houston’s shooting, and the Warriors will eat him alive on the other end. Three-guard setups with Paul, Harden and Gordon are a tad shrimpy.

The Celtics decided to call Bradley first thing the next morning, and the Pistons were going to do the same with Morris. But Bradley didn’t pick up his phone and when the team finally tracked down his wife, Ashley, the Celtics found out Bradley had caught an early flight from Austin, Texas, to Seattle to attend a wedding. It would be impossible to alert Bradley before news of the deal leaked, as Detroit had already successfully informed Morris.

Bradley told Bleacher Report over the summer that he turned on his phone late in his flight and, connecting to the on-board Wi-Fi, was so inundated with messages that he knew immediately he had been dealt. Instead of even scrolling through his messages, he opened a browser window and Googled his name. The first result told Bradley he was headed to Detroit.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Todd Gurley hurdled a Washington defender like it was nothing on his way to a touchdown

The Rams are trying to keep up with Washington in Los Angeles, and Todd Gurley did everything he could to make sure that happened. That included this incredible hurdle.

Hurdles in the NFL aren’t as rare and eye popping as they used to be, but this one by Gurley was as clean as they get. He even finished the play with a touchdown to make it a 20-17 game.

The best we can do to project how long this may take is look at a similar appeal. There’s clearly a big difference between domestic violence and deflating footballs, but because these are actually labor law matters, the federal court process would be the same for Tom Brady and Elliott.

Green Bay’s loss to Atlanta last season was the only one the team has suffered over its last 10 games, going 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS over that stretch. The Packers won with their defense on Sunday against Seattle, holding the Seahawks to just nine points in a 17-9 victory.

Aaron Rodgers’ presence under center ensures that Green Bay will have one of the best offensive attacks in the league this season, but the Packers will be especially dangerous if the defense is able to perform at a high level. Green Bay is 3-7 SU in its last 10 road games against Atlanta.

Sunday night’s total is set at 55.5 points. The OVER is 9-1 in Atlanta’s last 10 games and 7-1 in Green Bay’s last eight games.

The Packers and Falcons have combined for an average of 70 points per game in their last three games against each other. Both teams looked good on defense last Sunday, but recent history tells us that this one will be a shootout.nike_chargers_1137

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bengals’ Andy Dalton historically atrocious in shutout loss to Ravens

Cincinnati’s 2017 NFL season got off to a horrendous start, as the Bengals were shut out at home by the Ravens, 20-0.

Culprit No. 1 for the Bengals? Andy Dalton, who tossed four interceptions (three in the first half) and coughed up a fumble in the red zone in the third quarter.

To be fair, it was an uncharacteristic performance for Dalton. He’s had only one multiple-interception game in each of the last two seasons and hasn’t thrown three picks in a game since a 24-3 loss at home to Cleveland on Nov. 6, 2014. Also, Sunday was the first time he’s committed four turnovers in one game since 2013.

“It’s always a huge blow to lose a top player,” Arians said at a news conference Monday. “But it’s not the end of the world. We’ve got quality guys on our team. It’s an opportunity for somebody to step up. David Johnson became David Johnson because of somebody’s injury.”

Hue Jackson wants to have a run-first offense, especially to take pressure off his rookie QB. But Isaiah Crowell had only 33 yards on 17 carries. The Steelers, however, have a stonewalling run defense and were geared up to try to make Kizer beat him, which he almost did. Crowell can expect more loaded boxes until Kizer can find his groove on deep shots.

They were supposed to run away from the Browns with a rested Bell pounding out big yardage all afternoon. So much for volume — he got only 13 touches and managed only 47 yards. Chalk it up more to rust for now, but the heat is on Bell to rebound against a tough Vikings defense at home next week.steelers_104

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Texans have shown that they can win with replacement-level quarterbacks

yankees_1406_a71cbc10c21ba74a-180x180The first order of business for McVay and LaFleur is to teach Goff how to take care of the ball and not force his throws. Based on the early comments from the coaching staff, they feel confident that their project can be successful.

“From what I’ve seen on tape, he’s got some of the key attributes that you always look for in a quarterback,” LaFleur said in February. “He’s a natural thrower. You never want to see your quarterback getting hit too much, but he doesn’t shy away from contact. That’s true of any good quarterback in this league.”

In March, Rams general manager Les Snead sat down with NFL Network’s Steve Wyche and laid out another task for McVay and Goff this year: understanding the offense around him.

“Because at that point, during the course of a game he should know where his protections are weak and strong, and know ‘uh oh, we’ve got a problem coming — but the offense has a built-in answer and I’ve got to get to that answer real quick.’”

In May, Snead said Goff was “exceeding expectations,” which is what you’d expect him to say. We’ll soon find out if that’s just rhetoric or if Goff is where the team needs him to be heading into his second season.

The Texans have shown that they can win with replacement-level quarterbacks. Two straight division titles is evidence of that. However, to truly get over the hump, O’Brien and Co. need more production out of the position.

When Osweiler hit free agency last year, he was expected to be in high demand because teams are desperate to find anyone resembling a starting NFL quarterback these days. Denver didn’t make a serious effort to retain him despite Peyton Manning’s retirement. But that didn’t stop the Texans from opening up the checkbook and signing Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million, including $37 million in guaranteed money.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL schedule 2017: The best and worst games this season

After much anticipation, the NFL released its entire schedule for the 2017 season. There are 256 regular season games in each season, and while plenty will be worth watching, we want to highlight the best and worst matchups of each week.

This list isn’t just focused on how last year’s playoff squads could fare in their most exciting matchups, either. It also aims to find some of the lesser-known games that could be of interest, as well as the games whose on-field product won’t match the hype.

With that, here are the best and worst matchups for all 17 weeks of the 2017 season.

Those two make up the top tier of quarterbacks in the draft. The next one consists of DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech. They’re also similarly rated with Kizer coming in at No. 33 and Mahomes at No. 36. To a large degree, the rating on both is mostly a projection.

That’s the same for Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, one of the draft’s more polarizing prospects. After playing all over the field at Michigan, it can be hard to rate Peppers but I have him at No. 16 overall.

No position in the top 100 is featured more than cornerback, where there are 17 ranked. However, Lattimore is the only one in the top 20. What this class lacks in top end cornerback talent it more than makes up for in depth. Ten of the top 64 are cornerbacks, and expect that many to go in the first two rounds of the draft.yankees_808-115x115

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL needs a new officiating czar. Mike Carey is the only person for the job.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s senior vice president for officiating, is leaving the league to pursue a career in television. The league notified teams Friday morning with a memo.

Blandino’s been in charge of officiating and interpreting the rulebook since 2013. He’s been synonymous with replay in the NFL. His first major task as part of the officiating department was to oversee the implementation of instant replay in 1999.

Under his watch, the NFL moved to a centralized replay system — approved just last month to begin with the 2017 season — the culmination of a project that started in 2015 when refs began consulting with Blandino’s team in New York to expedite the replay process and, ideally, iron out its kinks.

Wall was hugely helped on Sunday by his finishers, namely Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris, who made his passes look great. But those passes were there over and over again, as Wall beat whomever was guarding him repeatedly. He set up a small business in the middle of the floor underneath the three-point line, where he could ship the ball to either side or down low with molecular precision.

In another season, if there weren’t historic MVP candidates who demanded our focus, we could have talked a lot more about Wall. He’s averaging career highs in points, assists, and field goal percentage, and his constant pushing of the ball and full-court blurring when he takes off makes Washington’s offense into a deadly transition attack all by himself. Here’s one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Smith is the perfect quarterback of the 2017 New York Jets for all the wrong reasons

Jenkins’ connection with this North Carolina team is well told at this point: he grew up playing basketball with UNC guard Nate Britt, and was adopted by his parents in 2007 when his biological mother was struggling to provide.

Jenkins was with the Britts on Monday, but this time he was wearing a North Carolina T-shirt. As the Tar Heels trailed by three at halftime, I asked Jenkins if being back at the national championship game gave him the itch to play.

“Nah, they got this,” he said. WWE’s flagship show, RAW, got filled with some of the top stars in the company. Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, and eventually the current Universal Champion, Bill Goldberg. The women’s division is strong, with Charlotte Flair and Sasha banks anchoring the division from day one, with Nia Jax getting drafted from NXT and current WWE RAW Women’s Champion Bayley joining the show not long after the draft. Talents like Samoa Joe have shown up since then, and injured star Finn Balor will soon be returning to action eager to reclaim the Universal Championship that was first held by him.

Jenkins watched the confetti, Carolina blue and white, rain down from the University of Phoenix Stadium ceiling as he tried to mouth a message to his brother. He had seen Nate Britt come full circle, from a devastating loss in the title game because of his shot to a national championship one year later. He started to get emotional just thinking about it.

Smith is the perfect quarterback of the 2017 New York Jets for all the wrong reasons, but mostly because he is incredibly inconsistent. Just as New York has alternated wins and losses, Geno is alternating turnovers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

They’ve got a huge matchup against the rival Chicago Bears on Sunday

With their victory on Thursday night over the Washington Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings may have effectively removed themselves from the race for the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. With both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both winless to this point in the season, the Vikings are now two games clear of both those teams. The Vikings now find themselves with the other two-win teams in the NFL, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, and Houston Texans.

And you know what I say? Good. Fantastic. Out-freaking-standing, even.

But as it stands, they’re 5-3 and in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC North. They’ve got a huge matchup against the rival Chicago Bears on Sunday, and if they manage to pull it off, it’d be easy to see them keeping it up and marching into the playoffs.

It’s possible that the Lions go out and lose every game from here on and finish 5-11, but for now, we’re going to shift focus away from Schwartz, who has done a commendable job thus far. There are a couple other coaches who could find themselves off the hot seat with a few more wins, namely Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys, Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans and Ron Rivera of the Carolna Panthers.

There are others still who are unlikely to lose their jobs due to past success, such as Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they remain on the list due to just how poor their teams have been. The full list of coaches on our watch is below:

Tom Coughlin (New York Giants), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Rex Ryan (New York Jets), Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys), Dennis Allen (Oakland Raiders), Mike Munchak (Tennessee Titans), Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings) and Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top-10 2018 WR recruit Jacob Copeland favors Clemson, Florida, and Auburn

Jacob Copeland, the Pensacola, Fla. four-star, currently ranks as one of 2018’s top 10 receiver recruits and one of the state’s top 10 overall recruits, per the 247Sports Composite. He says at the New Orleans regional camp of Nike’s The Opening tour that Clemson co-OC Jeff Scott has referred to him as a Sammy Watkins-type.

CU, Florida, and Auburn are his biggest standout colleges. He plans to attend each of their spring games, but “I really ain’t trying to take visits right now,” in order to focus on his grades. He recently changed high schools amid a coaching change. North Carolina and Miami are also near the top of the list. He plans to commit at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.

Swanigan finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. He was a constant presence inside and out, taking advantage of an undersized Iowa State front line while hitting three three-pointers. He also came up with the biggest rebound of the night, a late offensive board off a missed free throw that sealed the victory.

Purdue led by as many as 19 at one point. A likely Sweet 16 matchup against top-seeded Kansas was right there in front of the Boilermakers. Then Iowa State roared back, led by twin stars Monte Morris and Deonte Burton.

Morris helmed the attack early, making plays at both ends of the floor for himself and others. College basketball’s consummate True Point Guard rallied his teammates to trim the deficit. Burton took it from there.

Burton hit threes and threw down monstrous dunks, as he is known to do. Iowa State rallied back, but Purdue proved to be too strong.17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

HonorTheCall was furious when he saw the response

Martin was in his Orlando home when he filmed a video response. It began with the admission, “Tom and I were in LA, at a rooftop pool at a hotel, and we were just kinda enjoying our afternoon, swimming around, eating good food,” when they started talking about skins gambling. “We really liked those sites,” he went on, but he said he felt that certain “improvements” could be made. Calling himself “the type of person who always looks for a problem and wants to solve it,” he decided to launch one of his own.

Martin denied rigging bets in his favor. He even pointed his hand-held camera at his pet Labrador and said, “I swear to God, on Cooper’s life.” But inexplicably, a minute later he conceded that he used his own skins on only 70 percent of his bets; the rest were skins belonging to the site, which had been raking in gains from customers’ losses.

HonorTheCall was furious when he saw the response. “Trevor was just ignoring the facts,” he told Outside the Lines in a recent interview near his Toronto home. So he emailed a friend on Reddit who had an online relationship with Martin and asked him to open a channel. To his surprise, Martin responded via Skype with what seemed like an olive branch: “I will be a man and tell you that I made a mistake not being totally transparent.”

Top-ranked Andy Murray had no problem rebounding from a bum right ankle to beat Sam Querrey in third-round play at the Australian Open. Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also won.

“Today, I was put on my back foot on every single shot,” Berdych lamented. “And I couldn’t get out of it.”

If you didn’t know Federer shut it down after reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, this was the kind of lopsided score line you’d expect. The 17-time major champion has now beaten Berdych six times in a row — and won all 14 of those sets. Overall, Federer holds a 17-6 head-to-head edge.

“I didn’t expect it as such,” Federer said. “It was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay in the match. From the baseline, I felt worlds better than in the first couple of rounds.