Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-12-thanksgiving-games-fantasy-injury-updates-alshon-jeffery-matt-forte-calvin-johnson-sam-bradford

Happy Thanksgiving! While Week 11 was brutal for many fantasy owners of top running backs in the league, it's a new week and a new chance to start again. (And be thankful for the waiver wire).


There are some notable injuries in the Thanksgiving Day games, and in order to help you set your lineups, we will take a separate look at the injuries for Thursday's games. As always, please check the inactive listings before the games are played, just in case.


Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Groin

Jeffery was limited in practice this week, but it’s no guarantee he will play tonight. It’s hard to trust him playing through multiple injuries and not being able to practice. In his last game (Week 10), he had three catches for 23 yards. It was a tough matchup, but if he was banged up, it makes it even more difficult. In Week 1, when the Bears played the Packers, he had five receptions for 78 yards. The Packers are in the top 10 in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing WRs, so it is another tough matchup for a player that is clearly not at 100 percent. At best, Jeffery is a WR2 with upside.


Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Knee

All signs point to Forte playing this week after missing the last three games. Forte has been a no-brainer RB1, but the emergence of Jeremy Langford makes this backfield a little cloudy. If Forte is active, and it looks like he will be, he is a RB2 this week. Langford also is a RB2, which makes it tough to feel confident about starting either one. Both players will get work and it likely depends on game flow and how Forte's knee responds to game action on which one gets the most touches. Green Bay's defense has been solid, although the Packers did allow Forte to put up 166 yards from scrimmage in Week 1 (plus a touchdown).


Related: Why You Should Start Eddie Lacy and Other Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for the Week 12 Thanksgiving Games


Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles (12:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Ankle

Don't worry, fantasy owners. Megatron will play and is a solid WR1. Matthew Stafford has historically been solid on Thanksgiving and look for Johnson to benefit from that. He only has one 100-yard game and three touchdowns on the year, but he should find the end zone this week. He has at least 80 yards in the past five games. While he isn't playing at the level of years past, Johnson is still is a solid WR1. Start him with confidence.


Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Shoulder, Concussion

While Bradford has been cleared from his concussion, he still has an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that he’s dealing with. While Mark Sanchez wasn’t exactly terrific in Week 11, he may still be the starting QB in Week 12. He did throw for 261 yards, two touchdowns, but the three interceptions certainly hurt. Bradford wasn't exactly lighting the team on fire when he was the starter either. The Eagles are not tipping their hand on who will get the nod this afternoon, so Bradford will be a game-time decision. Fantasy owners should do all they can to avoid both.


Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers (4:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Back

Romo is fine and will play, however, this is a tough matchup for him. In the two games that he's played in full, he has thrown over 225 yards in each and at least two touchdowns. That is the about what fantasy owners should expect in this game against a Panthers defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. Romo did look a little rusty in Week 11 and should be better in Week 12, but it still is a short week. He's a low-end QB1.


Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers (4:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Foot

Bryant's foot isn't a concern; the matchup is. He will play, but he will be covered by Josh Norman, who has consistently shut down opponents’ No. 1 wide receivers this season. Bryant is an elite WR, so fantasy owners should still start their No. 1 option, but be prepared for lower-than-expected numbers.


Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers (4:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Groin

McFadden will play through the groin injury again, and will have more of a role in this game because of the strength of the Panthers’ pass defense. Playing through the groin injury in Week 11, McFadden had 129 rushing yards and three receptions for 20 yards. He hasn't found the end zone since Week 7, which is tough for fantasy owners, but he's had at least 100 yards from scrimmage in three of the past four games. He's a RB1 this week because of the expected workload.


Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears (8:30 p.m. ET)

Probable – Ankle

While Adams' ankle isn't a concern, his expected usage in Week 12 is. He was listed as limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday, but earned a Probable tag and will play tonight. After returning from his initial ankle injury, Adams had a 7-93-0 line in Week 9 (on 11 targets) and a 10-79-0 stat line in Week 10 (on 21 targets!). However, he had four targets in Week 11 and converted three of them for 36 yards. Either James Jones or Adams will have a big game, and it's hard to predict which one it will be from week to week. Adams is a high WR3 with upside for Week 12


Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (8:30 p.m. ET)

Out – RIbs

Bennett put in limited practices on Monday and Tuesday, but he’s already been ruled out for the Thanksgiving night clash at Lambeau Field. The resurgent Zach Miller will take over as the starting tight end for the Bears. Green Bay allows the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing TEs, so this is a good matchup for him. Miller has three touchdowns in the past three games and is a TE2 option.


Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET)

Out – Concussion

Mathews has already been ruled out for this afternoon’s game, but this shouldn't be a surprise. He hasn’t even been spotted on the practice field. Mathews’ absence gives DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles a boost. In Week 11, Murray had 13 carries for 64 yards and four receptions for 27 yards. Sproles had six carries for 21 yards and three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. He has value in PPR leagues while Mathews is out. Murray is a RB1 because of the volume he'll receive; Sproles is a RB3 in PPR leagues.


Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m. ET)

Out – Concussion

Ertz suffered a concussion in Week 11 and the team has already ruled him out from playing this afternoon. Brent Celek will be the starting tight end for the Eagles. He had 10 targets in Week 11 with Ertz out and caught seven of them for 79 yards. In Week 10, Celek had four receptions for 134 yards. While the quarterback situation is up in the air, it seems that Celek will have a boost in value should Mark Sanchez get another start. He's a TE2 with either quarterback.


Eddie Royal, WR, Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (8:30 p.m. ET)

Out – Knee

Another week, more practice time missed by Royal, who will miss yet another game. Fantasy owners know the drill by now; Marquess Wilson will take over. He will be an interesting start if Alshon Jeffery can’t go again or is limited. Wilson’s outlook hinges on Jeffery’s status. He’s a WR2 with upside if Jeffery is out, but just a WR3 with less appeal should Jeffery play. In the meantime, keep an eye on Royal’s practice participation next week to get a feel for his Week 13 availability.


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Week 12 Thanksgiving Games Fantasy Injury Updates: Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Calvin Johnson, Sam Bradford
Post date: Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, NFL
Path: /nfl/carolina-panthers-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Carolina Panthers are 10-0 yet they enter their next game as slight underdogs against a team with seven losses.


That team is the Dallas Cowboys, who are led by quarterback Tony Romo, who has not lost a regular season game since Dec. 4, 2014. Romo is riding a personal wining streak of seven games, although his team just won their first after losing seven straight. However, it is the "Romo Streak" that EVERYONE seems to be focusing on. After just his first game back from a broken clavicle, the sports world seems to think that the Cowboys will rattle off six more wins, overtake the rest of the NFC East, and storm through the rest of the NFC all the way to Super Bowl 50.


The Panthers, by now, are probably and most certainly deeply offended by the insinuation that a 3-7 team should even be compared to them, let alone thought to be able to beat them. The Panthers’ defense has played tremendously all year long, but it is their offense that has come on recently.


The Panthers will enter Thursday's game coming off a 44-point showing in last week’s win over Washington. Cam Newton seems to be settling in to a groove and will look to continue it against a Cowboy team that gives up 22 points a game. The Panthers didn't need any extra motivation for this game, but being seen as underdogs certainly has helped.


Carolina at Dallas


Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)


Spread: Dallas  -2


1. Tony Romo vs. Cam Newton
All eyes will be on the quarterbacks of both teams. The Cowboys have found their pulse, winning last week against Miami, following the return of Romo. There was rust, but Romo lifted the entire Cowboy offense up, and inspired the defense with enough confidence to push through to victory. The problem with the perception of the performance is that it probably looked better than it actually was. Miami is not Carolina, and Ryan Tannehill is NOT Cam Newton. Newton has six rushing TDs alone. Newton also has thrown 20 TD passes, including five last week against the Redskins. Newton is playing at an MVP level and he has the Panthers believing that they can beat anyone. The Cowboys are rediscovering their mojo, but it will be interesting to see on a short week, how they respond against a stout defense that only gives up 19 points per game. Romo is good, but is he THAT good?


2.  Defense by Offense
The Cowboys’ offense looked great in the second half against Miami and the defense played well enough to win. The Panthers’ offense looked outstanding against Washington and gave their defense the opportunity to play loose and reckless. This game may come down to which offense can play better. If the Cowboys can put together some sustainable drives, it may help their defense minimize the opportunities the Panthers get on offense. If the Panthers continue to click on offense like they have recently, it makes their defense that much tougher to overcome, as they no doubt will look to put as much pressure as possible on Romo.


3. Darren McFadden aka the Cowboys’ Entire Running Game
The x-factor for this game may be McFadden and the success he is able to have running the football against Carolina’s defense. Since taking over as the No. 1 ball carrier, the Cowboys are averaging around 100 yards per game on the ground. He is getting about 24 carries per game, and to this point hasn’t been hampered by injuries like has in the past. McFadden is running strong and has been able to do so consistently over an extended period of time. The questions regarding his durability won’t go away, but as long as he’s productive, the Cowboys’ offense should find success now that Romo is back under the center. Whether that is the case this afternoon will go a long way in deciding how this game turns out.


Final Analysis


The Cowboys are a desperate team, and they need victories. The Panthers are a team looking for respect and, as bizarre as it may sound, beating the Cowboys may be the game that gives it to them. There is a lot at stake on Thanksgiving for both teams, and this one will come down to late-game execution.


The Panthers have been great all season in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have given up leads in six of their last eight games, a big reason the defending NFC East champs are just 3-7 record. Tony Romo is also great in the final 15 minutes, as he showed once again against the New York Giants back in Week 1. The team that has the ball in the final seconds of this game will leave AT&T Stadium the winner.


Prediction: Cowboys 31, Panthers 30


— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s, and ESPN Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.

Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/week-13-college-football-picks-against-spread

Seriously, I am cruising right now.


In fact, I am scared to pick any games because strange things happen on rivalry weekend, and I don't want to screw up my sterling 11-2 record over the last two weeks.


But, like going back for that third plate of food, I just can't help myself.


Last Week: 6-1

Year-to-date: 47-31


Iowa (-1) at Nebraska

The Hawkeyes have been mentally tough all year long, trailing in the second half one time all season (Iowa State). After moving into the top four of the College Football Playoff Committee rankings, Kirk Ferentz will have his team incredibly focused against what is turning into a nice season-ending rival. The line is too low. Prediction: Iowa -1


Navy (+1) at Houston

Greg Ward could be back and that could be dangerous for the Middies. But the conference title, New Year's Six Bowl berth and Heisman Trophy could all hang in the balance. Navy is cruising along right now beating teams by nearly 30 points per game. Prediction: Navy +1


Indiana (-7) at Purdue

The Hoosiers have played good football all season in the Big Ten despite losing all but one conference game. When healthy, this offense is as good as any in the league and it showed last week (why IU was an underdog was beyond me). Purdue has lost three straight by an average of 20.3 points per game. Take the Hoosiers to roll. Prediction: Indiana -7


Texas A&M (+5.5) at LSU

The Tigers will be playing an emotional game in what could be Les Miles final game in Baton Rouge. Miles is also the only coach who has owned Kevin Sumlin since the Aggies joined the SEC. So, naturally, I'm taking Texas A&M. The Aggies offense played one of its best games last weekend, and LSU's defense is non-existent. And don't overlook John Chavis returning home either. Prediction: Texas A&M +5.5


Northwestern (-3.5) vs. Illinois (Chicago)

The Wildcats' defense is legit after destroying the Badgers' offensive line last weekend. Illinois has allowed more than 5.7 yards per play in three of its last four games (Purdue) and that could be just enough for Northwestern to cover the small spread at Soldier Field. Prediction: Northwestern -3.5


Best/Worst Records Against the Spread


Best TeamsRecordWorst TeamsRecord
Southern Miss9-2UCF2-9
Washington St9-2Oregon St2-9
Toldeo8-2Fresno St2-8-1
C. Michigan8-2-1Old Dominion2-8-1
N. Illinois8-2-1  
Week 13 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, AFC East, AFC NFC, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, Alex Smith, Alfred Morris, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Antonio Brown, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Bishop Sankey, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Carlos Hyde, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Chris Ivory, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Colin Kaepernick, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Derek Carr, Detroit Lions, Devante Adams, Dez Bryant, Dion Lewis, Doug Martin, Drew Brees, Eddie Lacy, Eli Manning, Giovani Bernard, Green Bay Packers, Heath Miller, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jamal Charles, Jameis Winston, Jason Witten, Jeremy Hill, Jimmy Graham, Johnny Manziel, Jonathan Stewart, Jordan Matthews, Jordan Reed, Jordy Nelson, Joseph Randle, Julien Edelman, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Lamar Miller, LeSean McCoy, Lev’eon Bell, Louis Rams, Marcus Mariota, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, Nick Foles, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randall Cobb, Rashad Jennings, Rob Gronkowski, Russel Wilson, Ryan Mallet, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St, T.Y. Hilton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Teddy Bridgewater, Tennessee Titans, Tevin Coleman, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Travis Kelce, Tyler Eifert, Tyrod Taylor, Washington Redskins, Zac Ertz, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-should-start-eddie-lacy-other-startsit-fantasy-advice-week-12-thanksgiving-games

While there are plenty of things to be thankful for, one of them for football (and fantasy) fans is three games on Thanksgiving Day! And speaking of these three, oh-so-tasty matchups, what is a fantasy owner to do?


While some decisions, like starting Aaron Rodgers vs. the Bears or Calvin Johnson vs. the Eagles, are along the lines of do you want that second helping of mashed potatoes or another piece of pumpkin pie, there are some others that are a little more difficult.


So let me help you with a couple of those decisions by offering up a couple of guys I think you should start and a couple you should strong consider leaving on your bench. Dig in!


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Start These Guys


Sam Bradford, PHI (at DET)

Believe it or not there were some people out there that thought that Mark Sanchez would seize his opportunity and light it up last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and thereby steal the starting job away from Bradford. After all, it’s not as if Bradford was lighting up before he got a concussion and sprained his AC joint in his shoulder in Week 10.


It looks as if Bradford will be back this week and that’s good news as this is a must-win game for the Eagles if they are going to salvage their season. It also helps that Bradford is going up against the lowly Detroit Lions defense, which is currently giving up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season (even though they stymied Derek Carr last week). Look for Bradford and the Eagles to air it out in this one and Bradford should finish the day with 300 passing yards and at least two touchdowns.


Eddie Lacy, GB (vs. CHI)

Talk about a big-time gamble, but hopefully Lacy started the smell the roses with all the talk about him being out of shape, overweight and losing his starting job to James Starks. Finally, Lacy had a good game, rushing for 100 yards for the first time this season last week. That’s pretty crazy when you consider the fact that Lacy was easily a first-round pick in almost all fantasy drafts this year.


Just like last year, Lacy is going to come on strong during the stretch drive and if you were smart enough to keep him or trade for him, you’re about to reap the rewards. The Packers host the Bears in prime time on Thanksgiving night and even though the Bears have a decent run defense (currently giving up the 14th-most fantasy points to RBs on the year), the Packers need to run the ball successfully if they are going to be able to set up the pass. Look for Lacy to have another 100-yard rushing game this week.


Brent Celek, PHI (at DET)

It looks like Zach Ertz is going to miss the Thanksgiving game with a concussion because he might not have enough time dealing with a short week to pass all the necessary tests to be cleared to play. That makes Celek an easy must-start. Just look at his numbers the last two weeks. In Week 10 he had four catches for 134 yards and last week he caught seven more passes (on 10 targets) for 79 yards. Getting 10 targets means he’s being featured in the game plan and this week the Eagles visit the Lions. Detroit's defense is currently giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends. If you stream tight ends or just want to be cheeky, start Celek this week.


Sit These Guys


Matt Forte, CHI (at GB)

Forte appears likely to return to action this week after missing the last three games due to a knee injury. That’s the good news, the bad news is that even though he gashed Green Bay for 166 total yards and one touchdown in Week 1, the Packers are playing excellent run defense right now, just ask Adrian Peterson (13 att., 45 yds., TD. Throw in the fact that Forte probably isn’t 100 percent and backup Jeremy Langford has played extremely well in his absence, and it’s likely that Forte will be eased back into the fold. There also is the possibility that Aaron Rodgers lights it up and put the Packers so far ahead that the Bears have to abandon the run all together. There’s just too many variables in play this week to trust Forte for much fantasy production.


Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. CAR)

Of course this sounds crazy. Who in their right mind would sit Bryant with Tony Romo back? Well no one is actually going to sit Bryant of course, but you should. Why? There’s only one reason really and he goes by the name of Josh Norman, Carolina’s No. 1 shutdown corner. Norman has shut down the elite of the elite this year and will lock down Bryant this week who probably still isn’t playing at 100 percent. The Cowboys desperately need to win this game to have any chance of making the playoffs, and they know how dominant Norman is. Look for the Cowboys to use Bryant as a decoy and nothing more this week.


— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Why You Should Start Eddie Lacy and Other Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for the Week 12 Thanksgiving Games
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:30
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-stanford-cardinal-preview-and-prediction-2015

Notre Dame and Stanford are still alive for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff, but Saturday night’s matchup on The Farm is essentially an elimination game with two weeks left in the regular season.


The Fighting Irish fell from No. 4 to No. 6 in the latest release of the committee rankings after struggling against Boston College last Saturday. Coach Brian Kelly’s team has to win (and probably win impressively) to move up next week, but Notre Dame might need an upset loss by Michigan State or Iowa, Oklahoma, Clemson or Alabama just to get into the top four. Stanford’s playoff hopes require a lot of chaos and lengthy explanation. However, none of that matters if the Cardinal lose on Saturday night.


Notre Dame owns a 19-10 series edge over Stanford. The home team has won the last four games in this series and the last three matchups were decided by a touchdown or less.


Notre Dame at Stanford


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Stanford -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Stopping Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey

Stanford’s offensive line is one of the best in the nation and will challenge a Notre Dame defense allowing 168 rushing yards per game this year. McCaffrey is one of the leading candidates to win the Heisman, and the sophomore ranks first nationally with an average of 255.2 all-purpose yards per game. No defense has managed to hold McCaffrey under 100 yards over the last nine contests, and the sophomore is coming off a 192-yard effort against California. Stopping Stanford’s offense starts with winning the battle up front and limiting the big plays by McCaffrey. The Fighting Irish aren’t hurting for talent in the trenches, but this unit has struggled to stop the run at times. Boston College recorded 214 yards on the ground last week, while Pittsburgh posted 175 and 150 for USC. Notre Dame’s rush defense totals are skewed due to playing two option teams – Georgia Tech and Navy – but opportunities will be there for McCaffrey. Can defensive lineman Sheldon Day and linebacker Jaylon Smith find a way to slow down the Stanford ground attack? Getting Stanford into obvious, third-and-long passing situations is critical for the Fighting Irish.   


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. Notre Dame’s Rushing Attack

Despite losing starter Tarean Folston to a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Texas, Notre Dame’s ground attack ranks 29th nationally at 207.5 yards per game. C.J. Prosise is a big reason why this offense hasn’t missed a beat, recording 1,029 yards and 11 scores so far this year. However, Prosise’s status is in question due to a high ankle sprain suffered against Boston College. Assuming Prosise can’t go, freshman Josh Adams will get the start – and the bulk of the carries – on Saturday. Adams has rushed for 592 yards and four touchdowns on 84 attempts this season. Stanford’s defense isn’t as dominant up front as it was last season, but this unit is still holding opponents to 4.1 yards per carry. Will Adams pickup where Prosise left off and help reduce the pressure on quarterback DeShone Kizer? Or will Notre Dame’s offense struggle to replace its leading rusher?


3. The Quarterbacks

Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer aren’t that far apart in terms of skill sets or statistics this season, but there’s one area where Hogan has a significant advantage – experience. The senior enters Saturday night’s game at 33-10 as Stanford’s starter, while Kizer is 8-1 after taking over following Malik Zaire’s season-ending injury against Virginia. Hogan feeds off McCaffrey’s play on the ground, opening up plays downfield on play-action attempts. Kizer may have to carry more of the offensive workload for Notre Dame with Prosise unlikely to play due to an ankle injury. Considering both quarterbacks do a good job of limiting mistakes, one or two bad throws could be costly. Kizer should be able to make plays downfield to receiver Will Fuller against Stanford’s young cornerbacks, but Hogan will also test a Notre Dame secondary missing starter KeiVarae Russell due to injury.


Final Analysis


As mentioned in the opening, this is an elimination game for the College Football Playoff. The loser is out, and the winner keep its slim playoff hopes alive for another week. Notre Dame has managed to overcome injuries all year. However, the task got a little tougher this week, as cornerback KeiVarae Russell was likely lost for the remainder of the year, and running back C.J. Prosise is not expected to play on Saturday night. This matchup should be a good battle in the trenches, and Notre Dame’s hopes of winning on the road are likely going to rest on stopping McCaffrey. In his last home game, Hogan delivers in the fourth quarter to edge the Fighting Irish in one of the weekend’s must-see games.


Prediction: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 24
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Stanford Cardinal Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:15
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-wide-receiver-rankings-week-12

Happy Thanksgiving Week everyone! I hope the joys of watching football (and your fantasy teams), eating great food, and spending time with family is wonderful. I also hope everyone that is unable to be with their families for any reason has as good of a day as they possibly can.


Big week with no byes going forward so there are plenty of options at wide receiver this week, and no excuses to be starting the wrong ones! That is unless all of your top WRs are injured, which is sort of the situation the New England Patriots are in right now. Good luck to everyone this week!


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros


— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Fantasy Football 2015 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-flex-rankings-week-12

For most fantasy leagues only a few weeks remain, and with this being Thanksgiving week (i.e,, THREE games on Thursday!) you may need these flex rankings more than ever.


Plenty of injuries and new faces to be considered once again especially at running back in Week 12. Will Devonta Freeman play? What does Matt Forte's return mean for Jeremy Langford? Can Thomas Rawls pick up where he left off now that Marshawn Lynch is probably out a few weeks? And what about the Ravens — will it be Javorius Allen or Terrance West carrying the load (or a little of both)? And that's just the RB situation, we haven't even discussed which WR is going to catch passes for the Patriots since it seems like everyone is hurt on that roster.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Best of luck to you all, and I sincerely hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!


Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros


— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.

Fantasy Football 2015 Flex Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-tight-end-rankings-week-12

Here we are about to enter Week 12 of the NFL and fantasy season, which means no more byes to work around! The availability of players on all 32 teams (depending on health and other factors) helps deepen what has been an inconsistent tight end pool.


With the playing field leveled, so to speak, the dust should settle and the best of the best should finally emerge at tight end. While the usual suspects (Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce, etc.) should remain among the top choices, this could be the time some less heralded names emerge. It also could mean more a return to normalcy for guys like Gary Barndige now that the Browns have turned back to Josh McCown as their starting quarterback.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


So which tight end will finish at the top this week? Here is one man's opinion:


1Rob GronkowskiNEat DEN
2Greg OlsenCARat DAL (Thurs.)
3Delanie WalkerTENvs. OAK
4Tyler EifertCINvs. STL
5Gary BarnidgeCLEvs. BAL (Mon.)
6Travis KelceKCvs. BUF
7Jordan ReedWASvs. NYG
8Antonio GatesSDat JAC
9Ben WatsonNOat HOU
10Crockett GillmoreBALat CLE (Mon.)
11Brent CelekPHIat DET (Thurs.)
12Jimmy GrahamSEAvs. PIT
13Jason WittenDALvs. CAR (Mon.)
14Jacob TammeATLvs. MIN
15Charles ClayBUFat KC
16Eric EbronDETvs. PHI (Thurs.)
17Julius ThomasJACvs. SD
18Richard RodgersGBvs. CHI (Thurs.)
19Coby FleenerINDvs. TB
20Clive WalfordOAKat TEN
21Vance McDonaldSFvs. ARI
22Jordan CameronMIAat NYJ
23Kyle RudolphMINvs. ARI
24Martellus BennettCHIat GB (Thurs.)
25Ladarius GreenSDat JAC
26Heath MillerPITat SEA
27Darren FellsARIat SF
28Jared CookSTLat CIN
29Vernon DavisDENvs. NE
30Larry DonnellNYGat WAS

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Fantasy Football 2015 Tight End Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-running-back-rankings-week-12

Is it just me or is the NFL and fantasy season flying by? Can you believe that it’s Thanksgiving already? The really good news is that since we are now in Week 12, every team has had their bye. So that means from here on out we have a full schedule of all 32 teams playing. Which also means we finally have true position rankings.


There are of course injury concerns to deal with, as workhorses like Devonta Freeman (concussion) aren't locks to play this week, while others like Matt Forte are scheduled to return and backups Javorius Allen and Terrance West also will get their opportunity to fill Justin Forsett's shoes for the Ravens.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Here are the Week 12 running back rankings. Don't forget about the Thanksgiving triple-header! 


1Adrian PetersonMINat ATL
2Thomas RawlsSEAvs. PIT
3DeAngelo WilliamsPITat SEA
4Todd GurleySTLat CIN
5Doug MartinTBat IND
6Devonta Freeman*ATLvs. MIN
7Mark IngramNOat HOU
8DeMarco MurrayPHIat DET (Thurs.)
9Darren McFaddenDALvs. CAR (Thurs.)
10T.J. YeldonJACvs. SD
11Javorius AllenBALat CLE (Mon.)
12Matt ForteCHIat GB (Thurs.)
13Eddie LacyGBvs. CHI (Thurs.)
14Lamar MillerMIAat NYJ
15LeSean McCoyBUFat KC
16Charcandrick WestKCvs. BUF
17Giovani BernardCINvs. STL
18Latavius MurrayOAKat TEN
19Jonathan StewartCARat DAL (Thurs.)
20Shaun DraughnSFvs. ARI
21Chris JohnsonARIat SF
22Chris IvoryNYJvs. MIA
23Alfred BlueHOUvs. NO
24LeGarrette BlountNEat DEN
25Danny WoodheadSDat JAC
26Antonio AndrewsTENvs. OAK
27Jeremy HillCINvs. STL
28Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. BAL (Mon.)
29Matt JonesWASvs. NYG
30Frank GoreINDvs. TB
31Ronnie HillmanDENvs. NE
32Theo RiddickDETvs. PHI (Thurs.)
33Melvin GordonSDat JAC
34Charles SimsTBat IND
35Terrance WestBALat CLE (Mon.)
36Duke JohnsonCLEvs. BAL (Mon.)
37Ameer AbdullahDETvs. PHI (Thurs.)
38Rashad JenningsNYGat WAS
39Jeremy LangfordCHIat GB (Thurs.)
40Darren SprolesPHIat DET (Thurs.)
41David CobbTENvs. OAK
42Jonathan GrimesHOUvs. NO
43Ahmad BradshawINDvs. TB
44Robert TurbinDALvs. CAR (Thurs.)
45Karlos WilliamsBUFat KC
46Bilal PowellNYJvs. MIA
47Tevin ColemanATLvs. MIN
48C.J. SpillerNOat HOU
49Chris ThompsonWASvs. NYG
50Andre EllingtonARIat SF

*In concussion protocol. Monitor practice reports closely.


— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Fantasy Football 2015 Running Back Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-kicker-rankings-week-12

While Mason Crosby has struggled a bit this season, after a 22-point game in Week 11, he is the top-ranked fantasy kicker for Week 12.


The Packers face the Bears on Thursday night, and plenty of points should go around in that game, which means plenty of opportunities for Crosby. He's only missed two field goals this season (one from over 40 yards and one from over 50 yards) and he hasn't missed any extra points.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


The rest of the Week 12 kicker rankings are below:

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Fantasy Football 2015 Kicker Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-12

Even though San Francisco's Blaine Gabbert did look capable against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11, there's no disputing that the Arizona Cardinals will be a tough test for him and a depleted 49ers offense. The Cardinals have been a solid fantasy DST all season, and are the No. 1 option for Week 12.


The Kansas City Chiefs, since their Week 9 bye, have put up 20 points in standard DST scoring over the past two weeks. Justin Houston and his running mates are a solid option as well. Typical top defenses, Seattle and Denver, have tougher matchups this week, and fall a bit down the rankings.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Here are the Week 12 DST rankings:


Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Fantasy Football 2015 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2015-quarterback-rankings-week-12

Be prepared to set your fantasy lineups early this week! With three games on Thursday, a lot of big-name players are going to play before you fall asleep in a tryptophan-induced coma. Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford will try their best not to play like turkeys on Thanksgiving, along with whichever quarterback — Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez — the Eagles decide to trot out there.


This week's No. 1-ranked quarterback is Rodgers, whose Packers will host the Bears on Thanksgiving night. Way back in Week 1, Rodgers threw for three touchdowns against Chicago, a team he has enjoyed considerable success against in his career. With no teams on bye, all quarterbacks are in play this week, except for Joe Flacco, who is done for the season (torn ACL).


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Here are the Week 12 quarterback rankings:


Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Fantasy Football 2015 Quarterback Rankings: Week 12
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-buckeyes-vs-michigan-wolverines-preview-and-prediction-2015

The annual matchup between Ohio State and Michigan is easily one of college football’s top rivalries, and there’s an added layer of intrigue for 2015 with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. The former Michigan quarterback has brought immediate improvement, guiding the Wolverines to a 9-2 record in his first season and pushing the program back into the national conversation. There’s plenty at stake for Harbaugh and Ohio State in this one, as the winner of Saturday’s matchup has a chance to win the Big Ten title if Michigan State loses to Penn State.


For the first time since Week 2 of the 2014 college football season, Ohio State is preparing for a game after a loss the prior Saturday. The Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak came to an abrupt end last week, as Michigan State won a 17-14 slugfest in Columbus. The defeat turned Ohio State from one of the favorites to win the College Football Playoff into a team just fighting to get back in the conversation to be in the top four. Needless to say, the Buckeyes need a lot of help to get into the playoff mix.


Michigan holds a 58-46-6 series edge over Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes have won 10 out of the last 11 games in this rivalry.


Ohio State at Michigan


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at Noon ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Michigan -1


Three Things to Watch


1. Ohio State’s Offense

How will the Buckeyes respond from the worst statistical performance under coach Urban Meyer? Ohio State managed only 132 yards on 45 plays (2.9 yards per play) in last week’s loss to Michigan State. Additionally, the Buckeyes recorded just five first downs, 86 rushing yards and never had a play go longer than 16 yards. Several areas need attention for Meyer’s offense, and it’s tough to make drastic changes in just a week. Meyer mentioned in press availability that he would take on a bigger role in the play-calling going forward. Can the Buckeyes get this offense back on track and generate a few big passing plays against a standout Michigan secondary in a must-win situation to keep playoff hopes alive?


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. The Battle at the Line of Scrimmage

It’s an old cliché, but winning games starts in the trenches. Last week, Ohio State was dominated at the point of attack, as running back Ezekiel Elliott was limited to just 33 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback J.T. Barrett also failed to make an impact on rushes, recording only 44 yards on 15 attempts. Can Michigan contain Elliott and Barrett and disrupt the timing of the passing game? On paper, the Wolverines should have a good chance to match what Michigan State was able to do. Michigan leads the Big Ten in rush defense and held Penn State to just 70 yards on the ground after allowing 307 yards to Indiana on Nov. 14. On the other side of the battle, can the Wolverines generate a push against an Ohio State defensive front limiting opponents to 3.4 yards per carry? Michigan has been held to 150 or fewer yards on the ground in each of its last five games. This unit will also be under pressure against an aggressive Ohio State pass rush, which includes standout Joey Bosa (15 TFL) and tackle Adolphus Washington. After Michigan State dominated Ohio State in the trenches last week, will the Buckeyes respond with a better effort up front? Or will Michigan’s lines of scrimmage control the point of attack?


Related: 5 Significant Moments in the Ohio State-Michigan Rivalry


3. Michigan QB Jake Rudock

Michigan’s offense has improved its scoring average by 11 points from last season. Harbaugh’s return has played a huge role in the improvement, but Rudock is quietly putting together a solid year and appeared more comfortable within the offense as the season progressed. The Iowa transfer tossed six touchdown passes in the 48-41 win over Indiana and threw for 256 yards and two scores against Penn State last week. The senior also has three reliable targets in receivers Amara Darboh (52 catches) and Jehu Chesson (14.5 ypc) and tight end Jake Butt (43 catches). The Buckeyes are stingy against the pass, limiting opponents to a completion percentage of 49.1 and surrendering only 11 scores all season. Rudock has a chance to cement a place in Michigan history with a win over Ohio State this Saturday. With the Wolverines dealing with an up-and-down ground attack, there’s a lot of pressure on Rudock’s shoulders to deliver this week.


Final Analysis


This is a tough matchup to get a read on this Saturday. Ohio State’s offense can’t be as bad as it played last week, right? The Buckeyes have to do a better job of committing to the ground attack and clearing rushing lanes for Ezekiel Elliott. Additionally, Meyer and his offensive staff have to be willing to take chances downfield. That’s a tough matchup against a Michigan secondary limiting opponents to just six passing scores all year. However, Ohio State’s offense has to be willing to be more aggressive than it was last week. The intensity of this rivalry is only going to increase with Harbaugh back in Ann Arbor. And there’s no question motivation is on Michigan’s side after losing three in a row in this series. However, the guess here is Ohio State’s offense shows sign of life, while the defense makes just enough stops in the second half to leave Ann Arbor with a win.


Prediction: Ohio State 24, Michigan 20
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 12:50
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-auburn-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015

It's rivalry week in college football and there's arguably none bigger than Alabama-Auburn. The Yellowhammer State teams will meet for the 80th time in the 2015 Iron Bowl Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Alabama holds a 43-35-1 series lead and won last year's matchup 55-44, as well as five of the last seven games. The Tide currently sits at No. 2 overall in the College Football Playoff rankings and can clinch the SEC West division title — as well as an SEC Championship Game appearance — with a win on Saturday.

Auburn is just looking to play spoiler to its biggest rival's title hopes in a season full of disappointment. The Tigers had preseason expectations of challenging Alabama for the division title and a playoff spot, but have fallen to last place in the SEC West.

Here's a preview and prediction for this year's Iron Bowl matchup:

Alabama at Auburn


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Alabama -14


Three Things to Watch


1. Derrick Henry as the Heisman favorite
Derrick Henry has been outstanding throughout the 2015 season. But ever since his performance against LSU — which fittingly was the downfall of Leonard Fournette's reign at the top — Henry has been the best player in college football.


The junior rushed for more than 200 yards in two of his last three games, but was limited to just nine carries last week against Charleston Southern. Still, he recorded 68 yards, a 7.56 yards per carry average and a pair of touchdowns.


Henry will have more touches against Alabama's biggest rival on Saturday and should be one step closer to college football's biggest award.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. How will Auburn's defense limit Alabama's offense?
So far, the Will Muschamp experiment has been a disappointment at Auburn. Muschamp coached defenses all ranked in the top-10 since 2009.


But Auburn's ranks last among SEC teams and No. 84 nationally, 18 spots lower than the unit from last season that he was hired to improve. Granted, Auburn's defense showed signs of progress in several games after an awful start to the season.


But the Tigers will have a tall task looking to stop Henry and an Alabama offense that is averaging 35 points per game.


Jeremy Johnson3. Will improved Jeremy Johnson pressure Alabama defense?

Jeremy Johnson had a miserable start to the 2015 season. After receiving preseason Heisman hype, the junior quarterback struggled and was benched before Auburn's fourth game of the season.


But Johnson earned back the starting job several weeks ago and has shown poise and confidence. He's thrown for three touchdowns and one interception and has completed more than 63.6 percent of his passes in his last three games.


Still, there isn't much hope for Johnson facing an Alabama defense that has possibly the best front seven in college football. The Tide should bring constant pressure in the backfield and halt runs at and beyond the line of scrimmage.


Final Analysis 

In most cases, the Iron Bowl provides a memorable matchup between two of the SEC's best teams. This year was supposed to be a perfect example, but instead, should be the complete opposite.


Auburn never seemed to work out its problems and bounce back from a disappointing start, rather barely earned a postseason berth and should finish the season at 6-6. It would be shocking if the Tigers can even stay in striking distance of Alabama, who has been one of the nation's best teams since its lone loss to Ole Miss.

Prediction: Alabama 42, Auburn 10


— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.

Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 11:50
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/rams-wr-stedman-bailey-critical-condition-after-being-shot-head-st-louis

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey was shot twice in the head Tuesday night.


The third-year receiver is expected to undergo surgery Wednesday and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.



The Rams released a statement citing they didn't have all the details of the situation.


"We are aware Stedman Bailey was involved in an incident this evening. We have spoken with Stedman and he is in the hospital in critical, but stable, condition. We are gathering facts about the situation and will provide updates as we learn more."


Bailey was in a car with several other people when he was shot, a source confirmed to ESPN. 


Rams teammates reacted to the news and sent their support via Twitter.







Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 10:06
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-13-2015

Last weekend, we watched the defending national champions lose, Notre Dame lay an egg and the Big 12 beat itself up even more. The landscape looks quite a bit different than it did one week ago. That's why they play the games.


Don't get comfortable.


As much as it looks like Week 12 changed the narrative of the 2015 season, Week 13 threatens to potentially restore order in some places while simultaneously turning everything on its head in others.


Here are the outrageous predictions for Week 13 of the college football season.


Ohio State qualifies for the Big Ten Championship game

You didn't think that was it, did you? You really thought a field goal would ruin the entire season for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes? Not a chance.


Consider this prediction a 2-for-1 deal.


Not only will the Buckeyes rebound by blasting the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, look for Michigan State to go down at home to Penn State. It's one thing to ride an emotional high to a win over Ohio State. It's another to close the deal against a team that matches up so well. Buckeyes win, Sparty loses and Ohio State faces Iowa for all of the B1G marbles — and maybe more.


Georgia Tech ends Georgia's Mark Richt era

Forget the Les Miles drama, the door is open and waiting for Mark Richt to walk out of it in Athens as well. Another disappointing regular season during the Richt-era will culminate in his Bulldogs roaming the field aimlessly on defense, trying to shut down Paul Johnson's option with no success. The Yellow Jackets will come away with a sound win over a team that has lost its heart, and Richt will likely be gone the next day.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


Stanford ends the dream for Notre Dame

I had a conversation at Fenway with a couple of Notre Dame assistants on Saturday. They tried to convince me that a one-loss Notre Dame would get into the College Football Playoff ahead of an unbeaten Iowa. I politely disagreed. Then I watched Notre Dame stumble their way to a win over Boston College, losing their starting running back along the way. Our conversation was moot. If Boston College had a legit tailback to help sustain drives, Notre Dame loses that game by 10. Look for Stanford to roll a battered and broken Irish team with a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey.


You guessed it, Auburn upsets Alabama...again

Alabama has looked good against largely overrated SEC West this season. Now, they'll try to use the recipe that has worked so far (an elite tailback and an above average defense) to defeat a hated rival in a game where records don't matter. This is the Iron Bowl. It's a big game for both sides, but for Auburn, it's their season. They have little else to play for and nothing to lose. Look for the Tigers to load the box and force Jake Coker to beat them. It's a strategy that'll work, and it — along with the rest of the outrageous predictions this week — will open the door for the Ohio State Buckeyes to defend their national championship.


— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/chicago-bears-vs-green-bay-packers-preview-and-prediction-2015

After three weeks in which they couldn’t gather the necessary consistency to keep their fast start going, the Packers summoned a big-time effort in a huge game. Thursday night, back at Lambeau Field, Green Bay tries to exert its North Division primacy even further against its oldest rival. Another strong outing could prove that the 30-13 win over Minnesota was not a fluke and that the Pack’s three-game losing streak was an aberration.


Meanwhile, the Bears will try to keep their flagging wild-card hopes alive after a crushing, 18-16 home loss to Denver last week. Chicago had won two straight heading into the game and had a late two-point conversion attempt thwarted. The upshot is that another loss could push the Bears onto the extreme outskirts of the playoff race and signal another long offseason of questions.


Chicago at Green Bay


Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Green Bay -9


Three Things to Watch


1. Offensive Maneuvers

It’s a little early to say that Green Bay has solved all of its offensive woes after just one game, but Packers fans had to be quite happy that their team was able to score 30 points against the Vikings. Granted, the team had to settle for five Mason Crosby field goals, rather than cashing in with touchdowns, but big steps were made. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said receiver James Jones, who broke out of his own slump with six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. “We came in, watched the film, and there were a lot of plays we still left out there that we felt like could have really busted that game open. Yeah, it got better, but still a lot of work to do to get to where we’re trying to go.” A big part of the improved offense was the play of Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 100 yards after being demoted to second string. Even though quarterback Aaron Rodgers was just 16-of-34 against the Vikings, Green Bay looked crisper on offense and was more productive.


2. Welcome Back

The Bears faced a stout defense last week, but they were hampered by the absences of wideout Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder) and running back Matt Forte (knee). Both are expected to be back against Green Bay, and that means Chicago will be more potent. Of course, it won’t matter whether Gale Sayers and Willie Gault are back if quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t cut back on the turnovers. Last week, he threw an interception and lost a fumble, key gaffes in a close game.


3. Stuff ‘Em

Even though the Packers have lost three of four, their defense has been stout the past two weeks, allowing just 18 points against Detroit and 13 versus Minnesota. There were those who thought the unit was in big trouble after surrendering plenty of points and yards against San Diego, Denver and Carolina, but Green Bay registered six sacks last week and held NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson to just 45 yards and 3.5 yards/carry. Expect the Pack to give Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense trouble all game long.


Final Analysis


It’s too early to say the Packers have returned to the form that keyed a 6-0 start, but they showed plenty of grit in beating Minnesota on the road and grabbing a share of the North lead. There is still work to be done, particularly on offense, but if Lacy continues to run with authority, Jones contributes, and Rodgers regains the accuracy he showed early in the season, a strong playoff run can be expected.


Chicago, meanwhile, has precious room for error. The 4-6 Bears have to stage a big finish to sneak into a wild-card spot, even in the mediocre NFC. As always, much of the game relies on whether Cutler can be consistent and avoid turnovers. It’s unlikely he can do enough of either to beat Green Bay.


Prediction: Green Bay 24, Chicago 17
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/ucla-bruins-vs-usc-trojans-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Pac-12 South will be decided by tradition this coming Saturday. With Stanford's place in the conference championship already secured by virtue of its win over Cal in the Big Game, USC and UCLA will duke it out at the Coliseum for the right to represent the South. For the Trojans to win and have a shot at facing the Cardinal, they will have to do something they have not been able to and beat Jim Mora.


USC interim head coach Clay Helton had a chance last week in Oregon to put his stamp on this program. Much like the previous interim head coach, Ed Orgeron, Helton failed to deliver on USC's biggest stages and now he will have one last chance to audition for a job he was likely never going to get. For Helton, UCLA will likely be the first game he is coaching where the pressure is not on and that could work to USC's favor.   


With the pressure all but off Helton, he should be free to call a pearl of a game and USC has the athletes to do serious damage when they're running free. The returns of running back Tre Madden, offensive guard Viane Talamaivao, and safety Marvell Tell will add weapons across all three phases of the game for the Trojans. A stocked cabinet for the Trojans may just give them the edge they need in this game with UCLA missing many key players because of season-ending injuries earlier in the year.


Quarterback Cody Kessler will enter the Coliseum for the final time as USC's signal caller. The senior leader has been through more than most of his peers and has stood tall for the Trojans during it all. After a 30-of-41 for 238 yards and two-touchdown performance against Oregon, Kessler will be hungry to close out his career on a high note. A win over UCLA is something Kessler has yet to experience as a starter and you can be sure it's near the top of his bucket list.  


On the flip side, UCLA will be aiming for its second Pac-12 Championship Game appearance under Jim Mora and its third overall since the creation of the game back in 2011. Mora has yet to lose to the Trojans and his wins over USC have come by an average of 16.33 points. In fact, none of Mora's wins have been by fewer than 10 points. The job Mora has done with the Bruins has been nothing short of impressive. Mora has completely reenergized the program and the university.


What happens on Saturday will go a long way toward shaping the college football landscape in Los Angeles. Mora's name will surely be on the list of people doing the hiring at the professional and collegiate ranks. With over 10 jobs open in college alone, many of which are big programs, Mora could be at the top of the list for any number of jobs. A fourth straight win over USC might encourage him to take his show to an LSU or even a South Carolina. On the flip side of that, a dominant win over UCLA could increase Helton's chances of landing the job he covets so dearly.


Simply put, there is far more than a conference championship on the line this Saturday.




Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: USC -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. USC's Pass Rush and Protection

The Trojans have had major issues protecting Cody Kessler. While there should be no mistaking the fact that Kessler hangs on to the ball too long, this is a USC offensive line that is ranked No. 102 in the nation in sacks allowed. The Trojans have had four games where their opponents have had four or more sacks. They allowed five sacks on three different occasions — Arkansas State, Oregon, and Washington. UCLA enters the game No. 37 in the nation in total sacks.


USC has been able to generate pressure and that is something it will need to do against UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. The Trojans' much maligned defensive line has launched itself to No. 12 in the nation in total sacks. Rosen has struggled when he's been placed under duress, but he has proven himself more than capable of creating when the blitz is on. The Trojans will need to get pressure on Rosen, but they will also need to contain his legs and ability to create out of the pocket. It's a daunting task and one that the Trojans failed at against Oregon. True freshman or not, Rosen can beat you in many different ways.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. Expect the Flags to Fly Freely

The Trojans are checking into this game averaging 70.4 penalty yards per game (No. 116) and they are 113th in the nation in penalties per game (7.6). UCLA is even worse. The Bruins come in at No. 123 in the nation in total penalties, averaging 75.5 yards of penalties a game and 8.6 flags a game. The Bruins are No. 125 in the nation in flags per game. This game should truly make Pac-12 officials thankful and may even qualify as an early Christmas present.


At this point in the season, it's ridiculous to think USC will trim the penalties. But perhaps it can avoid making mistakes when it matters most, starting with the offensive line. If the Trojans can eliminate costly procedural penalties and holds, their offense is one of the most dangerous in the country. More often than not, USC stalls out its own drives with mistakes more than anything its opponents do. Coaches won't win big games using this as a strategy.


3. Enjoy the Show

With rivalries falling by the wayside due to conference realignments, personal issues, and any other number of reasons, the Trojans and Bruins playing in a game that matters is a breath of fresh air. There are a dearth of important rivalry games coming up this Saturday because of the way the season has unfolded, but this won't be one of them. It's certainly something to enjoy in a season filled with chaos.


The winner of this game has a real chance to upset Stanford's outside hopes for a bid for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Even though the Cardinal are on the outside looking in, they are only a small bit of help away from being right back in the thick of things. The Trojans would love nothing more than a second bite at an apple they felt was theirs. UCLA hasn't been able to shed the Stanford monkey from its back, in fact that monkey is beginning to turn into a gorilla. Neither team would be short of motivation going into the Pac-12 Championship game.


Final Analysis


USC simply has not shown enough improvement under Helton to think that UCLA can't do exactly what it has been doing in the past. Oregon proved the Trojans haven't really addressed what ails them and Mora is smart enough to take advantage of that. Whether it's the penalties that hurt USC on promising drives, the tendency to put USC behind the chains on first down, or a general lack of awareness that the middle of the field exists, the Trojans simply are who they are and UCLA is built to exploit that.


What the Bruins do so well is where the Trojans come up short. Mora's quarterbacks have always excelled at creating out of the pocket and improvising on the run. USC defenders have struggled to make tackles in the backfield and missed chances have come back to bite them in the worst ways. UCLA's rushing attack is more than adequate and has been crucial in bringing Rosen along as well as they have. It just hasn't been a good matchup for the Trojans in recent years.


The Trojans normally win at home, but Mora has proven he can beat USC handily in the Coliseum and did so the last time USC had an interim coach. With all of the same problems still there for USC, wouldn't it be illogical to expect a different result while trying the same thing over and over again?


Prediction: UCLA 38, USC 27


— Written by Josh Webb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Webb is a recruiting analyst for BarkBoard, Scout’s Fresno State affiliate. A contributor to, Scout’s USC affiliate. He is also a regular guest and contributor for Reign Of Troy, USC’s FanSided affiliate. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.

Tradition is alive and well in Los Angeles as the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins are set to do battle for the right to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship against Stanford.
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:55
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-detroit-lions-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) and Detroit Lions (3-7) are two teams headed in different directions leading into their Thanksgiving matchup on Thursday.


The Eagles lost in embarrassing fashion on Sunday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, allowing rookie quarterback Jameis Winston to set a career-high with five touchdown passes in a 45-17 beat down at home. The Lions, meanwhile, come in on a two-game win streak after defeating the Raiders 18-13 last week due in large part to another dominating defensive performance.


Both teams (mathematically, maybe not realistically) have an outside shot at a playoff spot still which should at least keep players on both sides thinking about a win more so than the feast to come postgame. Does that mean compelling football too?


Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions

Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET 
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Eagles -1


Three Things to Watch


1. Martha Effect
Since owner Martha Ford made sweeping changes across the organization, firing both team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew, the Detroit Lions are 2-0. Coincidence? In her address to the team and fans following the firings, Ford stated that this season was not over despite the 1-7 record, and that she expected the team to compete, improve and ultimately win football games in 2015. The last two games...that is exactly what has happened. The defense is suddenly reverting back to their 2014 form as one of the tops in the league, allowing just 14.5 points per game in the last two weeks. The offense has moved the football more consistently with Jim Bob Cooter now calling the shots as the team's coordinator. Improvements on both sides have the Lions finally playing the kind of football most expected from the onset of the year.


2. Mark Sanchez to Start Once Again for the Eagles?
Mark Sanchez did more Mark Sanchez things in his first start this season, throwing three costly second-half interceptions that completely took the Eagles out of the game against Tampa Bay last week. When asked Tuesday if he will start again this week against Detroit, Sanchez’s response was simply “I don’t know.” Sanchez and Sam Bradford have both taken reps in practice this week, but no starter has been named of yet, leading to the speculation that Bradford has not been medically cleared for play to this point. Whichever quarterback gets the start will be going against a Detroit defense that has allowed just 29 combined points the previous two weeks.


3. Shutdown Corner

During the Lions two-game win streak, third-year corner Darius Slay has allowed just one completed pass in his direction. After not giving up a single reception against Green Bay, Slay blanketed standout rookie Amari Cooper all day long, holding the first-year receiver to just one reception for a measly four yards. One side of the field taken away clearly had an effect on quarterback Derek Carr who completed just 52 percent of his passes for 169 yards – a season-low. Slay will have another stiff challenge this week against Jordan Matthews who will undoubtedly be shadowed all game long as the only true threat in the Eagles receiving corps.

Final Analysis


Football is a game of momentum and Lions have plenty of it headed into turkey day, especially on the defensive side of the football. While the offense has put up just 36 combined points in two games, the defense is looking more and more like the 2014 version that ranked second overall in the league. The Eagles, on the other hand, are hoping that the short week can quickly erase last week’s debacle against the Bucs and springboard them back into an NFC East race that is far from over. If Detroit’s defense continues to play lights out as they have the previous two weeks, it won’t matter who is starting at quarterback for the Eagles.


Prediction: Lions 24, Eagles 19


— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.


Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/baylor-bears-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-preview-and-prediction-2015

Baylor’s late November road trip at TCU was supposed to be one of the biggest matchups in college football this preseason. Fast forward to November and the Friday night showdown in Fort Worth is still a big game, but this matchup has lost some of its appeal with TCU losing two out of its last three games and Baylor just outside of the playoff picture. The Bears still have Big 12 title hopes but need a win on Friday and a loss by Oklahoma on Saturday night against Oklahoma State.


Injuries – including ones to starting quarterbacks Trevone Boykin (TCU) and Seth Russell (Baylor) – have hit both teams hard this season. Boykin was sidelined for most of the win against Kansas and missed last week’s game against Oklahoma due to an ankle injury. Boykin’s ankle problem is just the beginning of TCU’s injury report. Receiver Josh Doctson is sidelined for the rest of the year, while two key members of the offensive line – center Joey Hunt and guard Jamelle Naff – are also sidelined. Hunt could return in a bowl game, but Naff is out for the rest of the year. The Horned Frogs’ defense has also suffered through some key injuries, as well as a turnover on the depth chart after returning five starters from last year’s group. Baylor’s injury report isn’t as extensive as TCU’s this season, but the Bears have lost some key players in November. Starting quarterback Seth Russell suffered a season-ending neck injury on Oct. 24, and top backup Jarrett Stidham is likely out for Friday night’s game with a leg injury. Additionally, running back Shock Linwood and key defenders Beau Blackshear (DT), Byron Bonds (DT) and Orion Stewart (starting safety) are questionable.


Baylor holds a 52-51-7 all-time series edge over TCU. The Bears are 3-2 against the Horned Frogs under coach Art Briles, including a thrilling 61-58 victory last season.


Baylor at TCU


Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Baylor -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. The Quarterbacks

As mentioned above, both teams have been hit hard by injuries at the quarterback position. Who will get the nod for both teams under center on Friday night? TCU's Trevone Boykin is practicing this week and could be ready to go against the Bears. Boykin’s ankle may not be at full strength, but he’s still the team’s best option if he can start (and throw effectively) with limited mobility. If Boykin can’t go, Bram Kohlhausen is expected to get the nod over Foster Sawyer. Kohlhausen completed 5 of 11 passes for 122 yards and two scores in relief of Sawyer last week against Oklahoma. For Baylor, all indications point to Chris Johnson making his first career start at quarterback. Freshman Jarrett Stidham is dealing with an ankle/leg injury and is out indefinitely. Johnson came to Baylor as a quarterback but converted to receiver in the offseason. The sophomore is more of a dual-threat option than Stidham or Seth Russell and played well in limited snaps against Oklahoma State (5 for 10 for 138 yards and two scores and 42 rushing yards and one touchdown on six attempts). How will Johnson handle the pressure of his first start in a difficult environment? How far along is Boykin in his recovery from an ankle injury? 


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Team in Week 13


2. Stopping the Run and Big-Play Threats at Receiver

Although both teams have explosive passing attacks, the ground attack is still a key cog in the offensive gameplan. Baylor leads the Big 12 with an average of 293.4 rushing yards per game, while TCU ranks fourth at 224.7 per contest. With Chris Johnson expected to start for Baylor, along with Boykin’s ankle injury, the performance of the supporting cast will be even more critical for both offenses. The Bears could be without starter Shock Linwood due to a knee and ankle injury, but there’s depth in the form of Johnny Jefferson (461 yards) and Devin Chafin (265 yards and six scores). As evidenced by his 42 yards last week, Johnson is also a threat to run. Aaron Green (1,100 yards and 10 scores) leads the way for TCU’s ground attack, but Boykin (596 yards) and Trevorris Johnson (6.2 ypc) also chip in. Even though the Horned Frogs won’t have Josh Doctson, there’s still plenty of weapons for Boykin. Kolby Listenbee (21.2 ypc and five scores), KaVontae Turpin and Shaun Nixon are three big-play threats in the passing attack. Baylor counters with the nation’s best receiving corps, including Corey Coleman (19.8 ypc and 20 scores) and KD Cannon (19.85 ypc). The bottom line about the skill talent for both teams is pretty simple. With the injuries at quarterback, there’s extra emphasis on the supporting cast to step up. Which one of the skill players will deliver on Friday night?


3. Limiting the Big Plays Allowed on Defense

Baylor or TCU’s defense won’t be considered elite this season, but both teams are holding opponents to 5.5 yards per play. That’s not bad. While both defenses are going to give up their share of yards, the Bears and Horned Frogs want to put the clamps on opposing offenses in the red zone, on third downs and create havoc plays. TCU leads the Big 12 in third-down defense, while Baylor ranks third. The Bears have struggled in the red zone on defense (ninth in the Big 12), but the Horned Frogs are third in the conference. While those totals are critical, keep an eye on the big plays allowed by both defenses. Baylor has allowed 27 plays of 30 yards or more and TCU has surrendered 31. Which defense will limit the big plays allowed and force the opposing offense to drive the length of the field?


Final Analysis


This matchup lost some of its appeal due to injuries and losses by both teams, but there’s still plenty at stake in this rivalry. Baylor can keep its Big 12 title and playoff hopes alive with a win, while TCU can improve its postseason destination by defeating the Bears. Revenge should be on the Horned Frogs’ mind after last year’s loss in Waco. However, with all of the injuries TCU has suffered this season, and potentially Boykin at less than full strength, Baylor is a slight favorite by the Vegas odds. While Chris Johnson is making his first career start, Briles and his staff have a strong track record of developing quarterbacks and there’s a strong supporting cast in place. This one is a coin flip, but Baylor's offense makes one big play in the fourth quarter to keep the Bears' playoff and Big 12 title hopes alive.


Prediction: Baylor 38, TCU 34
Baylor Bears vs. TCU Horned Frogs Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-rebels-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015

The players, coaches and fans have waited a full calendar year. Countless words have been spoken in coffee shops and on sports talk radio in the Magnolia State, and countless words have been written in newspapers, magazines and online. Following a 31-17 victory last season in Oxford, Ole Miss Rebels supporters have held bragging rights over their rivals from Starkville. And now, after 365 days, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have an opportunity for retribution in the Egg Bowl.


One of the most heated in-state rivalries in the nation, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will meet for the 112th time Saturday. The winner will hoist the Golden Egg trophy for the 88th time, and a victory for the Rebels would keep their hopes alive for an SEC Western Division title.


Ole Miss at Mississippi State


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7:15 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Ole Miss -1


Three Things to Watch


1. The SEC’s Premier Quarterback Matchup

Ole Miss and Mississippi State are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense, respectively, and it’s not even close when compared to the rest of the league. The Rebels average 342.5 passing yards per game and the Bulldogs average 316.3 per contest. The Arkansas Razorbacks are a distant third with 279.0 passing yards on average.


A major part of that prolific passing production for Ole Miss is quarterback Chad Kelly, who leads the SEC with 3,504 passing yards – and needs only 39 yards to break Eli Manning’s single-season record. In his first year with the Rebels after transferring from junior college, Kelly has completed 64.8 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns (six shy of Manning’s single-season record) and 12 interceptions. The junior also has 353 rushing yards and a team-high nine touchdowns on 86 attempts.


Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott ranks second in the SEC with 3,159 passing yards, which is just 290 yards shy of his own school record for passing yards in a season (one of 36 records Prescott owns, including every school career passing record). This season, Prescott has completed 66.2 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The senior signal caller also leads the Bulldogs with 478 rushing yards and 12 TDs on 127 carries.


Prescott is one of just 12 players in college football history to pass for more than 8,000 yards in his career with more than 2,000 rushing yards. He is also just the fourth quarterback to throw for more than 60 touchdowns (he has 64 after last week’s five-score performance) and to also score 40 TDs on the ground.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. Does Either Defense Stand a Chance?

In addition to the two best quarterbacks in the SEC, the 2015 Egg Bowl also includes some of the most dynamic wide receivers in the league – and arguably in the nation. Ole Miss junior wideout Laquon Treadwell is widely expected to become a first round pick in the next NFL Draft because of his combination of size, speed and athletic ability. The 6-foot-2, 229-pound Illinois native leads the SEC with 72 receptions and 1,060 receiving yards, and he ranks third in the league with eight touchdown catches.


Of course, Treadwell isn’t Kelly’s only weapon in the passing game. The Rebels also have the benefit of wide receivers Quincy Adeboyejo (35 receptions, 545 yards, 7 TD), Cody Core (30 receptions, 536 yards, 3 TD), Damore’ea Stringfellow (31 receptions, 419 yards, 3 TD) and tight end Evan Engram (30 receptions, 325 yards, 2 TD).


Mississippi State has a pro prospect of its own at wide receiver in 6-foot-5 junior De’Runnya Wilson, who is one of the best red zone receivers in the league and ranks second in the SEC with nine touchdown grabs. Wilson is State’s second leading receiver with 50 catches for 757 yards. Fred Ross leads the Bulldogs with 69 receptions and 816 receiving yards with four touchdowns.


Such talent at the quarterback and receiver positions will be a major challenge for two pass defenses that rank in the bottom half of the SEC statistically. Mississippi State has allowed 215 passing yards per game this season, which ranks No. 9 in the league and opponents have completed 61.2 percent of their passes against the Bulldogs, which ranks No. 10 in the league. Ole Miss has surrendered 255.2 passing yards per contest this year, which ranks No. 13 in the conference, and the Rebels have allowed 21 passing touchdowns this season, which is more than every other team in the SEC.


Related: 10 Greatest Games in Egg Bowl History


3. Who Will Make a Big Play on Defense?

On the bright side, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State rank in the top half of the SEC in interceptions. The Rebels have picked off 14 passes this season, which is tied for the second most in the league and the Landshark defense’s 20 takeaways this season are the third most in the conference. Mississippi State has 11 interceptions this year, which ranks No. 6, but the Bulldogs have recovered only one fumble and therefore have the fewest takeaways in the league with 12.


MSU also ranks sixth with 25 sacks this season, but Ole Miss has only recorded 19 sacks, which ranks tenth in the league, and both teams have a negative turnover margin. Mississippi State ranks No. 12 in the SEC with a minus-3 ratio while Ole Miss, but because the Rebels have a tendency to turn the football over more on offense, Ole Miss ranks No. 10 with a minus-2 ratio.


The game is expected to be a high-scoring affair, but the outcome is likely to hinge on a turnover or a pivotal fourth-down stop.


Final Analysis


Though they are the most recent winners in the Battle for the Golden Egg, Ole Miss has not beaten Mississippi State in Starkville since 2003. The last time the game was played at Davis Wade Stadium, Prescott became a folk hero after coming off the bench in the fourth quarter and almost single-handedly leading the Bulldogs to a 17-10 victory in overtime. Prescott’s legend has only grown since, as he’s become the most decorated quarterback in Mississippi State history and emerged as one of the greatest players ever in the SEC. With Prescott behind center and the home crowd behind him, expect Mississippi State to pull out a hard fought victory.


Prediction: Mississippi State 35, Ole Miss 34


— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on and Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-florida-gators-preview-and-prediction-2015

Bragging rights in the Sunshine State and positioning for some of college football’s top bowl games will be up for grabs on Saturday night, as Florida hosts Florida State in Gainesville. This rivalry has been dominated by the Seminoles recently, as coach Jimbo Fisher has won four out of his five matchups against the Gators. But Florida has a chance to stem the momentum within this series, as new coach Jim McElwain has guided the program to a 10-1 record in his first season.


Even though the fate of both teams in terms of conference championships has already been determined, there’s still plenty at stake in this rivalry. The Gators have clinched the SEC East title and will play in Atlanta next week. However, a win against Florida State would bolster Florida’s resume and help position McElwain’s team for a shot at the Sugar Bowl – assuming it loses in the SEC Championship. The Seminoles are also fighting for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl, and a win over the Gators would move Fisher’s team one step closer to a spot among the top 10-12 teams and in discussion for a berth in the Chick-fil-A Peach or Fiesta Bowl.


Related: The Greatest 26 Months in the Florida State-Florida Rivalry


Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 34-23-2. The Seminoles have won two in a row in Gainesville.


Florida State at Florida


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -2


Three Things to Watch


1. Florida’s Defensive Line Against Florida State’s Rushing Attack

Florida’s rushing defense has been stingy this season, limiting opponents to just 108.3 yards per game. Only two opponents – LSU and Tennessee – managed more than 145 yards on the ground against this defense, and the Gators have allowed just one rushing score in their last four games. But this defensive line is banged up entering Saturday night’s matchup against the Seminoles. Coach Jim McElwain could be playing mind games with his injury report, but it’s notable the first-year coach mentioned standouts Jonathan Bullard and Alex McCalister as unlikely to play. Is that correct or is the first-year coach exaggerating the injury report? Additionally, Jordan Sherit, Joey Ivie and Taven Bryan are also dealing with ailments that could sideline them for this matchup. Even if all of those players are sidelined, Florida’s defensive line still has plenty of talent to make life difficult for Florida State’s ground attack, which is led by Dalvin Cook. The sophomore ranks third nationally by averaging 147.5 rushing yards per game and has recorded at least 106 yards in five out of the last six games. Can Florida State’s offensive line win the battle at the point of attack? Or will Florida’s defensive line – with or without their injured stars – contain Cook and force quarterback Sean Maguire to win this one through the air?


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. The Quarterbacks

Both teams enter Saturday night’s matchup with their preseason No. 2 quarterback now running the show on offense. For Florida State, Sean Maguire replaced Everett Golson after the loss at Georgia Tech and has started three out of the last four games. Golson helped the Seminoles start 6-0, but Maguire brings a stronger arm and more of a big-play element to the passing attack. The junior has tossed only two picks on 117 attempts and has completed at least 64 percent of his passes in three out of the last four games. This matchup against Florida will be Maguire’s toughest since the road matchup at Clemson. Florida’s defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and the secondary is headlined by All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. For the Gators, Treon Harris was inserted into the starting lineup after Will Grier was lost for the season due to a suspension. Since taking over the starting job, Harris has passed for six touchdowns and tossed four interceptions. He’s also capable of making plays on the ground, recording 198 yards on 62 carries this season. In a matchup with little margin for error on either side, both quarterbacks have to maximize their opportunities and limit any turnovers or mistakes.


3. Florida’s Offensive Line

Florida’s offensive line entered the season as one of – if not the No. 1 - biggest concern for McElwain. This unit returned only one starter and has experienced its share of ups and downs in 2015. The Gators have allowed 33 sacks through 11 games and are generating just 3.6 yards per carry. In last week’s overtime win over FAU, Florida managed only 130 rushing yards on 44 attempts. Additionally, three starters – Martez Ivey and David Sharpe, along with center Cam Dillard – are dealing with injuries. That’s not ideal with Florida State’s defensive line up next. The Seminoles’ defensive front has benefited from the addition of former Florida assistant Brad Lawing to coach defensive ends. Florida State is allowing 143.1 rushing yards per game but has surrendered only seven scores on the ground. This group also has 25 sacks, which is eight more than it had all of last season. Will this group hold up to give Harris enough time to throw and to open rushing lanes for running back Kelvin Taylor?


Final Analysis


Points will be at a premium on Saturday night. Florida State has more weapons on offense but is averaging only 16.8 points per game in road matchups this season. The Gators need a mistake-free game from quarterback Treon Harris, while the offensive line will be under heavy pressure from an aggressive and athletic Florida State defensive line. In a tight game, turnover margin will be critical to watch. Florida has an edge over the Seminoles in that department, sporting a healthy +10 margin to a plus-four mark for Fisher’s team. In a tight game, field goals and generating big plays could decide who wins on Saturday night. Florida State has the edge on field goals with kicker Roberto Aguayo, as well as the top skill player in this game (Dalvin Cook). It won’t be pretty, but the Seminoles pick up their fifth win in six years over the Gators.


Prediction: Florida State 20, Florida 17 
Florida State Seminoles vs. Florida Gators Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:35
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2015

Had Oklahoma State won last week against Baylor, we’d be talking about this Saturday’s match-up as the biggest game in the history of the Bedlam rivalry. Nevertheless, the Sooners and Cowboys have plenty to play for, not the least of which being bragging rights in the state.


OSU’s loss to Baylor leaves the Pokes playing the familiar role of spoiler to OU’s postseason aspirations. Historically, the Sooners have taken care of business in such spots against OSU, but you only have to look back a year for a stark reminder of how well Mike Gundy prepares his team to play OU.


Oklahoma at Oklahoma State


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: OU -5


Three Things to Watch


1. Is Baker Mayfield ready to rock?

OU’s offense stagnated in the second half, as second-string quarterback Trevor Knight misfired repeatedly in Mayfield’s absence. Point blank, Knight simply doesn’t have the tools to succeed as a pure Air Raid quarterback. If Mayfield can’t go, OU needs to change its offensive game plan to better capitalize on Knight’s skill set. Luckily for the Sooners, it sounds as though Mayfield will take the field on Saturday night in Stillwater.


Related: Predictions for Every Week 13 College Football Game


James Washington2. Covering James Washington

The Cowboys lack their customary assortment of weapons at the skill positions, although the explosive receiver Washington, who’s averaging more than 20 yards per reception this season, provides a notable exception. The combination of QB Mason Rudolph’s pretty deep throws and Washington’s speed on the perimeter give OSU the ability to strike from any spot on the field. Look for OU to roll coverage to Washington’s side of the field, forcing OSU to rely on guys like David Glidden and Marcell Ateman to keep the chains moving.


3. OSU’s opportunistic defense

Glenn Spencer, the Pokes’ defensive coordinator, has built a unit with a knack for creating turnovers. OSU is No. 2 nationally in turnovers gained with 27. In particular, the secondary hawks the ball when it’s in the air. Mayfield only has five interceptions this season, but he — or Knight — will have to be extra careful throwing against OSU’s pesky defensive backs.


Final Analysis


“Throw out the record books” is a tired cliche, but it really does fit this in-state rivalry. Bedlam tends to bring out the best in the underdog, leading to strange results. Look no further than last year’s incredible finish as an example.


OU should win this game. OSU is reeling from last week’s season-crushing defeat by Baylor, while the Sooners have thrived since their bizarre loss in the Red River Shootout.


Gundy and his team would love to sink OU’s playoff and conference title hopes, though. It would seem unlikely that OSU would give anything less than a quality effort. Between that and Mayfield’s iffy health, the Sooners could be in some trouble Saturday night.


Ultimately, OSU’s putrid running game will cost the Cowboys in the form of a missed short-yardage conversion late in the contest or settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown. That will be the difference.


Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 28


— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/penn-state-vs-michigan-state-preview-and-prediction-2015

Penn State limps into Saturday's game against Michigan State with a two-game losing streak, having lost three of its last five. The Lions' flickering hopes of winning the Big Ten East were completely snuffed out by Michigan last Saturday. Now all that remains is a possible berth in a New Year's Day bowl with a victory in East Lansing.


Michigan State orchestrated one of the most improbable upsets of the season so far. A back-up quarterback started his first collegiate game. The offense completed a grand total of eight passes during the game; only one of those occurred in the second half. A shaky placekicker nailed a 41-yard field goal as the game clock expired. Multiple offensive linemen and defensive backs played their first game since October after recovering from injuries. The Spartans had not played with such prowess on defense during this season.


Penn State leads the all-time series 14-13-1. In games since Penn State joined the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions hold an advantage of 13-6. The teams have split their six most recent meetings.


Penn State at Michigan State


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3:30 PM ET                       

TV channel: ESPN

Spread: Michigan State +1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Sacking an Inexperienced Spartan QB or Sack-enberg?

Penn State is tied for first in the country with 44 sacks during the season. However, in games in which the Lions only sacked the opposing quarterback two or fewer times, they lost all three of those contests. When they reached their average of four sacks per game or more, they have won six out of seven games.


Michigan State must find a way to minimize the defensive pressure on its little-used reserve quarterbacks Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry. Both played at Columbus with adequate results. However, they must be protected in order to prevent turnovers. A sack of Terry resulted in a fumble recovered by Ohio State, leading to the Buckeyes' first touchdown. Connor Cook is listed as questionable. Therefore, one or both will have to direct the offense since it appears that Cook cannot play.


In Penn State's four losses, the Lions gave up 4.5 sacks on average and at least 2 per game. When Penn State has won this season, they have only permitted an average of 2.57 sacks per game. Clearly, protecting Christian Hackenberg is essential for Penn State's chances to win.


In its 10 victories, the Spartans have sacked opposing quarterbacks three times per game on average. When the Spartans failed to sack opposing quarterback at least once, they are only 1-1. Taking Hackenberg down or at least forcing him into poor throws will greatly aid the Spartans' struggling secondary.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13


2. Outlier of a defensive performance?

The Spartans' defense had allowed 364 yards on average in the first 10 games of the season. Ohio State only gained 132 yards. That was 98 fewer than the second lowest total permitted by opponents. The Spartans had not held an offense to such a low number of yards since the last week of October 2013.


All those impressive numbers begs the question: Was this a one-week aberration or a return to defensive dominance that marked the highly successful seasons of 2013 and 2014? Have the veterans in the secondary recovered enough from injuries and the freshmen gained enough experience to suppress Penn State's passing attack?


3. Spartans' Quarterback Situation

What is the true status of Connor Cook's shoulder? Could he play if needed due to injury to O'Connor or struggles by the duo of back-ups? What about the ability of O'Connor and Terry to repeat their acceptable performances of last week? Mark Dantonio does not want to risk further injury to his starter in a game that his team should win even with his inexperienced reserve quarterbacks. If O'Connor and Terry can manage the game as they did in Columbus, that should suffice.


Final Analysis


Michigan State has the Big Ten Eastern Division title at its fingertips. The Spartans cannot let the euphoria of last week's upset distract them from this goal. As they have done all season, they will not jump out to an early lead and cruise to a win despite having superior talent and more depth. They will plod through the game, keeping Penn State within 10 points for most of the contest. Penn State will sack the Spartans' signal-callers multiple times. However, the return of some key starters along the offensive line will open up the rushing attack. Returning first-stringers in the secondary will give the men in green the deciding advantage in defending against the pass.


Prediction: Michigan State 23, Penn State 16


-Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan State Spartans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:25
Path: /college-football/texas-am-aggies-vs-lsu-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015

Leading into the 2015 season, the Texas A&M versus LSU Tigers matchup had the build of an intriguing chess match between former employee (John Chavis) and former employer (Les Miles). While the battle of wits between LSU coach Les Miles and Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis will still be in play, the recent media storm over Miles' potential ouster from Baton Rouge has certainly overshadowed the SEC talent and actual on-field matchup on Saturday night.


LSU started the season 7-0 but have dropped its last three games to Alabama (30-16), Arkansas (31-14), and Ole Miss (38-17). During that three-game stretch, one-time Heisman Trophy frontrunner and sophomore running back Leonard Fournette has been held to 230 total yards on the ground with just two scores. The 77-yard per game rushing average for the talented tailback is a far cry from the 204 yards per game average he was carrying in mid-October. LSU ascended to the No. 2 team in the nation but are now out of the AP Top 25 rankings.


The Aggies have also fallen from grace after entering their Oct. 17 matchup against Alabama as the No. 9 team in the nation. A&M has wins over two ranked teams but lost favor after back-to-back defeats against Alabama (41-23) and Ole Miss (23-3). The 12th Man has shown patience with head coach Kevin Sumlin and adding John Chavis as the coordinator has given a year or two reprieve from the proverbial hot seat conversation.


Texas A&M at LSU


Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: LSU -5.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Texas A&M’s Offense 

The Aggies started out the season motoring on offense, with 28 points (Arkansas) scored their lowest mark during their five-game winning streak to open 2015. During the mid-year lull that produced a 1-3 record with the lone win coming against a down trodden South Carolina team (35-28), the Aggies offense lost footing only averaging 18 points per contest. Some of the dip may have been an undisclosed injury to quarterback Kyle Allen. The sophomore was replaced by dynamic true freshman Kyler Murray against the Gamecocks.


Murray and Allen split time under center against Western Carolina, but Allen took command of the Aggies' offense in A&M’s last outing against Vanderbilt. The Aggies won 25-0 on the road, and Allen delivered a solid performance for Sumlin, throwing for 336 yards with one score and no interceptions. If there was a concern for the sophomore quarterback, he only completed 50 percent of his passes against the Commodores. Getting the offense clicking again with arguably the best receiver corps in the nation is a must.


Related: Predictions for Every Week 13 College Football Game


2. LSU’s Rushing Attack vs. Texas A&M’s Rush Defense

Despite Leonard Fournette’s recent dip in production, which coincides with playing better defenses and the lack of a consistent passing game, he is still one of the best running backs in the nation. The Louisiana native still leads the nation in rushing with 1,582 yards - 36 yards better than Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and in one less game played.


Chavis has done wonders with Texas A&M's defense overall but stopping the run is not a strong suit for the Aggies. This unit is one of the worst in the nation, allowing 206 yards per game - just what Les Miles and Leonard Fournette need right now.


3. Aggies RB Tra Carson vs. LSU QB Brandon Harris

Each team has a perceived weakness but which team’s weakness is better than the other team’s? Aggies’ running back Tra Carson has quietly put together a solid season, just 10 yards shy of the 1,000-yard rushing mark with six touchdowns scored.


Brandon Harris has been solid in his own right, passing for 1,821 yards with 12 touchdowns against four picks and completing 55 percent of his passes. Harris’ weapons and offensive line are better than what Carson has opening holes for him, especially in the red zone and on short-yardage plays.


Final Analysis


LSU does a good job of limiting the run by allowing just 136 yards per game. However, the Tigers have struggled to stop opposing passing attacks, giving up 216 yards per contest in a year where quarterback play has been average at best in the SEC.


Statistically, Texas A&M is among the best in the nation at stopping the pass, only permitting 168 yard per game - ranked No. 8 nationally. Both teams will have their hands full trying to stop the offensive strength of their opponents knowing that the other’s strength is their weakness.


LSU has to take the air out of the ball and control the pace of the game by allowing Fournette and company to control the line of scrimmage. If Fournette and the Tigers' offensive line wins the battle up front, that will allow the Tigers to limit Harris' time in the pocket and prevent this offense from having to throw 35-40 times. The Aggies average three sacks a game and Harris tends to hold onto the ball too long at times.


The Aggies have too much firepower on offense, but LSU may have more to play for if saving Les Miles’ job is a motivating factor in the locker room. Chavis knows Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s tendencies.


Prediction: Texas A&M 38, LSU 24


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Texas A&M Aggies vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 08:20