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Path: /nfl/cleveland-browns-vs-cincinnati-bengals-preview-and-prediction

Tonight’s battle for Buckeye State supremacy is by far the most nationally relevant matchup between the Cleveland Browns (5-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-2-1) since the expansion Browns returned to the league in 1999 and will be must-see TV on the NFL Network. Although Cleveland’s sports scene is providing a feel-good story — complete with a national ad campaign featuring LeBron James — it’s too soon to overreact (on the gridiron or hardwood). The Browns’ five wins have come against teams with a combined 13–28 record (7–25 if Pittsburgh’s 6–3 mark is removed) and they are the only team to lose to lowly Jacksonville (24–6 in Week 7).


Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: Cincinnati -6.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Mirror Images

The statistical similarities between these two Buckeye State rivals are uncanny. The Bengals are averaging 361.6 yards of total offense per game, the Browns 352.3. Cleveland averages 241 yards through the air, Cincinnati 240. The two teams have both allowed precisely 1,117 rushing yards on the season (although Cincinnati has done so on two fewer carries). Cleveland is allowing 392 yards per game, Cincinnati 395. Both teams come in having won two in a row following disappointing losses. You get the idea. These two evenly matched squads are even mirroring one another in the pregame respect department. "This will be the best opponent we've played in a few games so it will certainly be a good measuring stick," said Browns tackle Joe Thomas. Bengals safety Tashaun Gipson countered with, "(The NFL) definitely (knows) about the Cleveland Browns. They take the Browns seriously. They have no choice. You don't win five games by mistake."


2. Super Sub

Jeremy Hill's play against Jacksonville in relief of Giovani Bernard was spectacular, although the fact that it came against Jacksonville gives the rookie from LSU’s performance a bit of an asterisk. With Bernard nursing shoulder and hip injuries, Hill exploded with 154 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, including a decisive 60-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run after the Jaguars had trimmed the Bengals' lead to 26–23. "We challenged him," said quarterback Andy Dalton. "We knew he was going to get a lot of carries with Gio out. He answered and had played pretty well. Even besides that 60-yard run, he was having a really good day. I'm sure this is one he'll remember for a long time." With Bernard listed as Doubtful on the injury report and unlikely to play tonight, Hill will have no time to rest on his laurels.


3. Road Woes

For as well as the Browns have played this season, there is still an albatross hanging around their necks that will dog the Dawg Pounders until they shed it: Cleveland has lost a staggering 17 consecutive divisional games on the road. The last time the Browns ventured away from Cleveland and beat a divisional opponent? Sept. 28, 2008, late in the administration of George W. Bush. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the longest such drought by any team since the 1970 NFL merger. To add to their ledger of road futility, the Browns haven't won more than two road games in a season since that same 2008 season. Conversely, the Bengals have not lost a regular season home game since Week 14 in 2012. This glaring contrast could provide a significant mental edge for the home team. 


Final Analysis


This is a different Browns team — at home. Their only road win so far this season came in Week 5 against a struggling Tennessee team that suffered an epic collapse in Cleveland's 29–28 win. Until the Browns prove that they can win a divisional road game, something that they last did before America had elected its first black president, we have to go with the home team. 

Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Cleveland 17
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Florida State’s Thursday night victory over Louisville garnered most of the attention last weekend in the ACC, but the conference had three games decided by a touchdown or less, including Duke’s critical win over Pittsburgh in overtime.

Heading into Week 11, there’s not a marquee national matchup on the slate, but five matchups with conference implications provides some intrigue. Louisville’s trip to Boston College should be the best game of the weekend, while Duke travels to Syracuse, Florida State hosts Virginia and Georgia Tech hits the road for a matchup against NC State.

Duke maintains a lead in the Coastal Division, but the Blue Devils can’t afford a misstep with Miami a game behind in the standings, while Georgia Tech needs to beat NC State with a tough matchup against Clemson ahead in Week 12.


Week 11 Previews and Predictions:


ACC Week 11 Game Power Rankings


1. Louisville (-3) at Boston College
7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2


The first meeting between Louisville and Boston College as ACC members highlights the Week 11 slate in the ACC. The Cardinals nearly upset Florida State last Thursday but fell short after a furious second-half rally by the Seminoles. The Eagles seem to be finding their stride recently by winning three out of their last four games. The only loss in that span was a four-point defeat to Clemson. The battle in the trenches is under the spotlight in Chestnut Hill, as Louisville’s run defense allowed a season-high 173 yards on the ground to Florida State. Boston College features a veteran offensive line and ranks second in the ACC with an average of 274.9 rushing yards per game. Four players have rushed for at least 263 yards this year, with quarterback Tyler Murphy closing in on 1,000 (965) to lead the Eagles. Louisville has the personnel to devote extra attention at the line of scrimmage, as its cornerbacks Terell Floyd and Charles Gaines lead a secondary that ranks first in the ACC in pass defense efficiency. When the Cardinals have the ball, keep an eye on an offensive line that has allowed 28 sacks this year. Boston College has recorded 25 sacks in nine games and has generated 69 tackles for a loss. Of Louisville’s four highest scoring games this year, two have occurred in the last two weeks. That’s largely due to the return of receiver DeVante Parker, along with the emergence of Michael Dyer at running back. Quarterback Will Gardner is also coming off his first 300-yard game of the season (330 against Florida State). Will the run-first style of Boston College win out? Or can Louisville slow down the Eagles’ rushing attack and jump ahead on the scoreboard to force Boston College out of its gameplan on offense? This should be the best game of the week in the ACC.


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2. Georgia Tech (-5.5) at NC State
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3


This is the first meeting between these two teams since 2011, and there’s plenty at stake for the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack after both programs picked up key wins last Saturday. Georgia Tech needs to win out to have any shot at claiming the Coastal Division title, while NC State is a win away from bowl eligibility. In order for the Wolfpack to get their sixth win, stopping the run has to be a priority. Georgia Tech leads the ACC by averaging 319.7 rushing yards per game, while NC State is allowing 171.1 yards per contest. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the catalyst for the Yellow Jackets’ offense, but running back Synjyn Days has recorded back-to-back 100-yard efforts with Zach Laskey and Charles Perkins sidelined by injury. Establishing the run and controlling the clock is a priority for Georgia Tech with a defense that is allowing 6.4 yards per play in ACC games. NC State’s offense scored at least 41 points in four of its first five games but has not managed more than 24 points in a contest over its last four matchups. Playing better opponents has factored into the drop in production, and the Wolfpack need better play from an offensive line that has allowed 17 sacks in five ACC games.


3. Duke (-3.5) at Syracuse
12:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


Duke’s overtime escape last week in Pittsburgh kept the Blue Devils atop the Coastal Division. And with three of Duke’s next four games at home, coach David Cutcliffe’s team has a good chance at repeating as division champs. Syracuse has lost six out of its last seven games, with the only victory coming in that span at Wake Forest (30-7). The Orange is struggling on offense (13th in ACC in yards per play), but the defense ranks fourth in the conference in fewest yards per play allowed (4.8). Syracuse’s defense will be tested against a Duke offense that is one of the most-balanced attacks in the league. The Blue Devils have passed for 755 yards and rushed for 654 yards in ACC play. Protecting quarterback Anthony Boone has been a strength for Duke all season – four sacks allowed in eight games – but Syracuse (61 tackles for a loss) will be aggressive in sending pressure. Another factor in Duke’s success this year has been its lack of turnovers. The Blue Devils have lost just five in eight games. The Orange needs to get pressure on Boone and force a couple of turnovers to have a shot on Saturday. True freshman quarterback A.J. Long has showed promise in four appearances this year, but the Orange has to do a better job of establishing a presence on the ground. Over the last two games, Syracuse has managed just 126 rushing yards. Duke gave up 358 rushing yards in last week’s win over Pittsburgh and has allowed seven scores on the ground over the last three contests.


4. Virginia at Florida State (-19.5)
6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


Florida State’s win streak stands at 24, and the Seminoles should make it 25 on Saturday against a Virginia team that has lost its last three games. The Cavaliers were the last ACC team to win in Tallahassee, recording a 14-13 victory in 2011. In order to pull off the upset this year, Virginia needs several things to bounce its way. The offense is averaging only 19.4 points in ACC games, and quarterback Greyson Lambert has tossed four interceptions in his last two games. The strength of the Cavaliers rests with their defense, limiting opponents to five yards per play in ACC games and ranking in a tie for fourth in the league with 62 tackles for a loss. Florida State’s offensive line has struggled at times this year and should be challenged by a Virginia defensive line that features standout end Eli Harold (seven sacks) and a linebacking corps that ranks among the best in the ACC. Quarterback Jameis Winston suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over Louisville, but the ailment is not expected to prevent him from playing on Saturday. If Winston’s offensive line provides adequate protection, the sophomore will test a secondary that has allowed 12 (second-most in ACC) in conference play this year. As if trying to stop Winston, receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary wasn’t enough, Florida State has three true freshmen – running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph – ready to emerge over the final month of the season. With a game against Miami next week, the Seminoles have avoid a letdown against Virginia, especially with this team entrenched at No. 2 in the college football playoff rankings.

5. Clemson (-21.5) at Wake Forest
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)


Clemson won the last two meetings in this series by a combined score of 98-20, and the Tigers are a heavy favorite once again on Thursday night. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to miss his third consecutive game due to a hand injury, leaving senior Cole Stoudt back under center for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. Stoudt is completing 63.2 percent of his throws but has just one passing score against Power 5 opponents in 2014. The Tigers won’t need a huge effort from their offense, as the defense is one of the best in the nation, and Wake Forest is averaging just 2.7 yards per play in conference games. Offensive line play is a huge problem for the Demon Deacons and this group will be challenged against a veteran and talented Clemson defensive front. Wake Forest has allowed 31 sacks in eight games and has not rushed for more than 71 yards in an ACC game this year. The Tigers need a lot of help to pass Florida State in the Atlantic Division, but Clemson still has plenty to play for with a potential berth in the Orange Bowl on the table if the Seminoles make the playoffs.


ACC Week 11 Predictions
UL (-3) at BCBC 28-21UL 24-23UL 27-24BC 24-20
GT (-5.5) at NC StateGT 31-21NC State 34-33GT 34-27GT 37-27
Duke (-3.5) at SyracuseDuke 28-10Duke 30-24Duke 31-20Duke 37-19
UVa at FSU (-19.5)FSU 31-21FSU 31-14FSU 34-13FSU 31-10
Clemson (-21.5) at WakeClemson 42-7Clemson 30-7Clemson 34-7Clemson 41-10
Last Week:6-04-25-14-2
Season Record:65-2166-2068-1864-22


ACC 2014 Week 11 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-11-preview-and-predictions

All offseason long, the Big 12 pointed to Nov. 8 as its season-defining weekend, featuring a showdown of epic proportions that will likely decide the league championship and a possible College Football Playoff berth.


We all just thought that game would be taking place in Norman rather than Fort Worth. Kansas State visiting TCU is a matchup of two top 10 teams and could not only end up deciding the Big 12 this fall, but the winner also has an inside track on a spot in the inaugural playoff. Baylor-Oklahoma still has plenty of juice and will be equally as entertaining — as does West Virginia's trip to Austin — but all eyes will be focused on two shades of purple in Amon Carter Stadium.

Week 11 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Big 12 Week 11 Game Power Rankings


1. Kansas St (+6) at TCU
7:30 p.m., FOX

This is why you join the Big 12. TCU has played big games in Fort Worth before but none like what will take place on Saturday. There couldn't be more on the line for both teams and this matchup will feature two great signal-callers and two historic coaches. Jake Waters and Bill Snyder bring a blue-collar approach and toughness into the battle while Gary Patterson and Trevone Boykin are winning with a finesse offense. Boykin posted season lows in most categories against WVU last weekend and now faces the Big 12's top scoring (18.6 ppg) and total defense (321.0 ypg). This is a unit that has stuffed Auburn and Oklahoma so Boykin will need to be at his best against a very physical front seven. On the flip side, the Wildcats will line up and run downhill against a TCU front that has given up some yards on the ground (169.2) in league play. Both teams have excelled against ranked teams this fall and won't shy away from the big stage. Kansas State appears to be the better team, but the buzz on campus should buoy the Horned Frogs. Snyder is 2-0 against Patterson in the Big 12. Pick your shade of purple and sit back and enjoy, folks.


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2. Baylor (+5) at Oklahoma
Noon, FS1

Certainly, some luster has been removed from this meeting after three combined losses in the first 10 weeks, but the Bears' trip north is still must-see TV. Baylor, who is clearly "Ready for OU," has never won in Norman in the history of the program (0-11) but has gained significant ground in the series by winning two of the last three overall. Traditionally, this rivalry has been an offensive affair with the winner topping 40 points in four straight and 30 in the past 15 meetings. But both defenses could take center stage, as each unit gets after the quarterback and create turnovers. So as expected, Bryce Petty and Trevor Knight will have to protect the football, make quick decisions and possibly make plays outside of the pocket.


3. West Virginia (-3.5) at Texas
3:30 p.m., FS1

Defense will be the name of the game in Austin. West Virginia and its 3-3-5 defense has done an excellent job stopping big-time offenses of late after holding both TCU (389 yds) and Baylor (27 pts, 318 ids) to season-low performances. Texas has held five of its last six opponents to less than 400 yards of offense and 5.0 yards per play allowed. And both quarterbacks are coming off lackluster showings. Clint Trickett posted season lows in yards (162), attempts (26), completions (15) and passer rating (107.34) in the loss to TCU, while Tyrone Swoopes was very efficient but didn't make many plays (224 total yards) in the win over Texas Tech. The good news for Texas, aside from being at home, is the running game posted its best outing of the year last weekend with 241 yards on the ground. If the Horns can find room on the ground, it could neutralize the Mountaineers' effective 3-3-5.


4. Iowa St (-4) at Kansas
3:30 p.m.

Someone has to win a Big 12 game, right? Both teams are in desperate need of a victory and this is likely the best chance for either to get into the win column in the Big 12. Iowa State has had some painful final scores, losing by four to Kansas State and Texas. Kansas hasn't been nearly as competitive, losing only once all year by only one score (Oklahoma State). With three elite games in the Big 12 holding national implications and Paul Rhoads relatively safe in Ames despite the record, it's hard to make any case whatsoever to keep an eye on this game. Other than the loser likely goes winless in the Big 12.


Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU (+6) at TCUKSU, 34-30TCU, 33-24TCU, 28-21TCU 30-27
Baylor (+5) at Okla.OU, 31-24BU, 34-27OU, 35-31OU, 34-31
WVU (-3.5) at TexasTexas, 30-28Texas, 23-20WVU, 27-20WVU 27-24
Iowa St (-4) at KansasISU, 40-28ISU, 27-13ISU, 14-10ISU, 34-24
Last Week:5-05-05-05-0


Big 12 2014 Week 11 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Three contenders have huge showdowns in Week 11 out West, two of which will be on the road. Oregon, after abusing Stanford, must travel to Utah while UCLA, after totally shutting down Arizona, must travel to Washington.


Elsewhere, out in the desert, Arizona State and Arizona are in must-win situations against two totally different opponents. The Sun Devils battle a top 10 foe while the Wildcats should land their first South Division win.

Week 11 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Pac-12 Week 11 Game Power Rankings


1. Oregon (-8.5) at Utah
10 p.m., ESPN

Playing a team like Stanford normally would provide plenty of body blows, making victory the following week that much more difficult. The question is how many body blows did Oregon really take in its relatively easy win over the Cardinal last week and how will that impact the trip to Salt Lake City? Utah, which is leading the nation at 4.9 sacks per game, will get after the Ducks' offensive line with a myriad of pressure packages and formations. Marcus Mariota has grown accustomed to dancing away from oncoming defenders but his running game has come to his rescue of late. The Ducks are averaging over 250 yards rushing per game since getting left tackle Jake Fisher back four games ago. The Utes will have to stop the run as well as pressure Mariota to stand a chance at the upset. Utah will turn once again to co-starters at quarterback with both Travis Wilson and Kendal Thompson competing for snaps. Wilson struggled last week in the overtime loss to Arizona State but has done an “exceptional job” protecting the football while Thompson gives Kyle Whittingham a more dynamic athlete. Expect the hot hand to get the bulk of the workload against the mighty Ducks.


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2. Notre Dame (+2.5) at Arizona St
3:30 p.m., ABC

Is Arizona State overrated? Is Notre Dame underrated? All of that will be sorted out on Saturday afternoon when two of the more hotly discussed teams in the latest playoff rankings meet in Tempe. The Irish won a back-and-forth high-scoring affair in Arlington last season in which Tommy Rees (sort of) out-dueled Taylor Kelly (362 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT) for the 37-34 win. Now, Everett Golson is under center and will be much tougher to stop than Rees despite the fact he has thrown an interception in five straight games. Jaxon Hood, the Sun Devils’ most veteran defensive player, will not be on the field for ASU so coordinator Keith Patterson will have to get creative in trying to pressure and stop Golson. For all intents and purposes, this is a playoff elimination game for both teams and whoever has the ball last could be the victor. And whichever quarterback protects the ball is likely to be on the field last.


3. UCLA (-5) at Washington
7 p.m., FS1

Last week broke some trends for both UCLA and Washington. For most of this season, the Bruins' defense has struggled to get off the field on third downs, create turnovers or pressure the quarterback. In the win over Arizona, UCLA did all three, sacking Arizona three times and stopping the Wildcats on 14-of-20 third down tries. Washington has struggled on offense all season but posted a season-best 7.5 yards per play last week and rolled up the most yards in a game (442) since beating Illinois in Week 3. Two-way star Shaq Thompson is proving to be extremely effective on offense (215 yards from scrimmage last week) and is expected to play on both sides of the ball against the Bruins. For UCLA, it was the offense and Brett Hundley that slogged through the win over Arizona last week and will now be facing one of the more physical front sevens in the league. On the road in a hostile environment, the Bruins' offensive line may have a tough time stopping a unit that is second in the league in sacks (37.0) and tackles for a loss (67.0).


4. Colorado (+16) at Arizona
8 p.m., P12 Net

Rich Rodriguez’ offense had the worst game of the coach’s short tenure in the desert against UCLA last weekend. Fans should expect a down game from a redshirt freshman every now and then, but seven points and 30 incompletions is unacceptable. Solomon has a great chance to get back on track this weekend against a defense that allows 6.5 yards per play (121st nationally) and 444.1 yards per game (98th). Sefo Liufau and his 304.2 yards of offense per game will try to keep pace on the road but the Buffs will be hard-pressed to match Arizona's output.


5. Washington St (+8) at Oregon St
4 p.m., P12 Net

Most Pac-12 fans felt the pain Cougars nation felt when watching Connor Halliday’s career end last weekend. Luke Falk stepped in and threw for 370 yards in roughly three quarters against USC and will be charged with keeping Mike Leach’s offense churning. Few games are as winnable for Wazzu as Oregon State and the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer Sean Mannion are struggling in a big way. The Beavers have lost three straight and four out of five but will get four of their last five games at home, starting with the Cougars.


Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Ore. (-8.5) at UtahOre., 38-28Ore., 34-13Ore., 42-20Ore., 34-24
ND (+2.5) at ASUASU, 34-31ASU, 24-17ASU, 21-14ND, 34-31
UCLA (-5) at Wash.Wash., 27-24Wash., 26-21UCLA, 35-31UCLA, 27-24
Colo. (+16) at ZonaZona, 40-24Zona, 41-24Zona, 28-13Zona, 40-27
WSU (+8) at OSUOSU, 40-31OSU, 47-35OSU, 35-10OSU, 41-30
Last Week:5-15-15-16-0


Pac-12 2014 Week 11 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-11-preview-and-predictions

The annual Nick Saban vs. Les Miles showdown highlights the Week 11 slate in the SEC. Elsewhere, Georgia looks to get back on track against Kentucky; struggling Texas A&M visits red-hot Auburn; and Florida hopes to make it two straight SEC wins as it visits Vanderbilt.

Week 11 Previews and Predictions:

SEC Week 11 Game Power Rankings


1. Alabama (-6.5) at LSU


This matchup is always appointment viewing, but LSU’s recent rise — the Tigers have won three straight after an 0–2 start in the SEC — has made this game far more dangerous for Alabama. LSU has leaned on its running attack of late, averaging 254 rushing yards in wins over Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss. During this three-game stretch, the Tigers have completed a total of 25 passes for 372 yards. This plan of attack has worked well — though two of the wins were by only three points — but the Tigers will have to be a bit more balanced against an Alabama team that has been dominant against the run. Nick Saban’s club is allowing only 78.1 yards rushing per game and 2.7 yards per rushing attempt — both No. 1 in the SEC by a wide margin. At some point, LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings will need to make a big play in the passing game.

2. Georgia (-10) at Kentucky


Georgia’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff took a huge hit with last Saturday’s loss to Florida, but the SEC East title is still a very realistic goal. To reach Atlanta, Georgia likely will need to win its final two SEC games (at Kentucky, vs. Auburn) and Missouri must lose at least once. The Tigers still have games at Texas A&M and Tennessee and close the season at home against Arkansas. Kentucky fans were talking about the SEC East title after their team beat South Carolina in early October to improve to 2–1 in the league. Now, after three straight losses, the Wildcats are simply hoping to become bowl-eligible. And with a tough closing slate — vs. Georgia, at Tennessee, at Louisville — the odds might be against Kentucky hitting the six-win mark for the first time since 2010.

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3. Texas A&M at Auburn (-21.5)
3:30 ET, CBS


Auburn stamped itself as a serious contender in the SEC West last season when it went to College Station in mid-October and rolled up 615 yards in a 45–41 over Texas A&M. The Tigers’ offense hasn’t slowed down since. This Saturday, Auburn should have little trouble moving the ball and scoring points against an Aggie defense that is allowing 483.2 yards per game and 7.0 yards per play against SEC opponents. Texas A&M, for the first time in the Kevin Sumlin era, is struggling on the offensive side of the ball. The Aggies were held to 172 yards in a stunning 59–0 loss to Alabama on Oct. 18 and then managed only 243 yards (and 3.5 per play) in a too-close-for-comfort 21–16 win over ULM. True freshman Kyle Allen, who completed only 13-of-28 for 106 yards last week, will make his second career start.

4. Florida (-14.5) at Vanderbilt
7:30 ET, SEC Network


Florida heads to Nashville fresh off the most improbable win of the Will Muschamp era — a 38–20 victory that featured an astounding 418 rushing yards by the Gators (more than they had in the previous three games combined). The game plan doesn’t figure to change too much. Vanderbilt has allowed at least 200 yards rushing in three of its last four SEC games, including 244 in a 24–14 loss at Missouri two weeks ago. On a positive note, Vanderbilt finally has some stability at the quarterback position. Redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 646 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the last two-plus games.

5. Presbyterian at Ole Miss
12 ET, SEC Network

Ole Miss is wounded — both physically and emotionally — after dropping consecutive games to LSU and Auburn by a combined seven points. The Blue Hose from Presbyterian will allow the Rebels to heal. They are a respectable 5–2 against FCS competition but lost their two games against FBS opponents (Northern Illinois and NC State) by a combined score of 97–3.

6. UT Martin at Mississippi State

4 ET, SEC Network

Mississippi State steps out of the SEC for a week before its big trip to Alabama. UT Martin has had a strange season; the Skyhawks opened the year with a 1–5 record (with the win coming against Cumberland, an NAIA school) but have since won four straight, all against OVC opponents. They opened the season with a 59–14 loss at Kentucky. This will not be close.

SEC Week 11 Predictions

Alabama (-6.5) at LSUAlabama 28-14Alabama 31-21Alabama 27-17Alabama 28-17
Georgia (-10) at UKUGA 21-17UGA 34-27UGA 31-24UGA 28-24
TAMU at Auburn (-21.5)Auburn 38-21Auburn 38-24Auburn 48-24Auburn 44-24
Florida (-14.5) at VandyUF 21-7UF 20-9UF 27-17UF 24-16
Presbyterian at Ole MissOM 38-7OM 40-7OM 55-3OM 41-0
UTM at Miss. StateMSU 42-10MSU 44-7MSU 58-7MSU 44-10
Last Week:4-35-24-34-3
Season Record:64-1866-1665-1768-14


SEC 2014 Week 11 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Finally. A Big Ten game with national import.


For weeks, the season has been pointing toward Ohio State-Michigan State as the game of the year in the Big Ten, perhaps overshadowing the conference title game.


Indeed, the stakes have been building after both teams have been able to rebuild their reputations despite Week 2 losses.


The showdown in East Lansing will play a major role in deciding the Big Ten East division, but the battle for the West is just starting when Iowa and Minnesota meet for the Floyd of Rosedale.


In other words, the best of the Big Ten this week boils down to a big prize and a pig prize (sorry, everyone).

Week 11 Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 


Big Ten Week 11 Power Rankings

All games Saturday. All times Eastern.


1. Ohio State at Michigan State

8 p.m., ABC

In the short term, this game will determine a leader in the Big Ten East and end the College Football Playoff hopes for the winner. For the long term, either team could stake a claim to being the Big Ten’s dominant program, a title Michigan State has by virtue of a 34-24 win over the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game a year ago. Before last season, Ohio State had won eight of the previous nine meetings. Including the playoff and Big Ten implications and the backstory, everything about this game indicates a powerhouse matchup. These are the top two offenses in the Big Ten and two of the top four defenses. Not surprisingly, the game may be decided by the quarterbacks. Against two solid defenses in Virginia Tech and Penn State, Ohio State redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett has completed 21-of-48 passes with two touchdowns and five interceptions. Meanwhile, last year’s game against Ohio State was a turning point for Michigan State’s Connor Cook, who has completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 9.14 yards per attempt with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 games since the first meeting.


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2. Iowa at Minnesota

Noon, ESPN2

The Big Ten West will be decided in November, starting with this matchup for the Floyd of Rosedale. Both teams still have fellow West contenders Wisconsin and Nebraska during the next four weeks, and Nebraska visits Wisconsin next week. Minnesota’s hopes of sneaking into the Big Ten title game were dented when the Gophers lost at Illinois two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Iowa had the look of a division champion a week ago with a 48-7 win over Northwestern. Jake Rudock had his best game of the season, completing 12-of-19 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown. That said, Iowa isn’t that far removed from giving up 316 rushing yards to Indiana and 212 to Maryland. Run-oriented Minnesota will try to replicate that success against the Hawkeyes’ defense.


3. Wisconsin at Purdue


Wisconsin will have one more game against the lower tier of the Big Ten before the pivotal stretch of the season against Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota in the final three games. The Wisconsin offense continues to be Melvin Gordon first and Corey Clement second, but the Badgers’ defense has been solid in the last two games. Wisconsin has held opponents to 2.7 yards per carry and 35.7 percent passing. Granted, that was against Maryland and Rutgers. Purdue will try to regroup at home after its progress was stalled in a 35-14 loss at Nebraska.


4. Penn State at Indiana

Noon, Big Ten Network

Penn State still has a good chance to be bowl eligible despite a four-game losing streak. The Nittany Lions have Indiana, Temple and Illinois in the next three games, but only Temple plays in Happy Valley. As for this week, the Indiana defense will be a welcome sight. The Hoosiers are 12th in the Big Ten in yards allowed per play and 12th in sacks. If Penn State can’t move the ball against Indiana the outlook might not be promising. Penn State is averaging 3.1 yards per play and 1.2 yards per carry during its losing streak. The Hoosiers aren't faring much better. Indiana’s prolific offense has come to a halt without starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld. The Hoosiers averaged 77.5 plays and 500 yards per game in the first six games and 51 plays and 207.5 yards in the last two. The move to a third-string quarterback couldn’t come at a worse time as IU faces three of the best defenses in the Big Ten (Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State).


5. Michigan at Northwestern

3:30 p.m., ESPN2

It’s the Make-it-Stop Bowl. As recently as Oct. 6, 2013, both of these teams were ranked in the AP poll. Now, Michigan is 6-11 in its last 17, and Northwestern is 4-12 in its last 16. The latter may be in bigger trouble. Northwestern has lost three in a row since an increasingly shocking win over Wisconsin. Michigan will need to win this game and defeat Maryland to reach bowl eligibility unless the Wolverines have something truly shocking in store for Ohio State to finish the season.


Big Ten Week 11 Staff Picks

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Penn State (-7) at Indiana

PSU 17-10PSU 27-24PSU 27-13IU 24-20

Iowa (-1 1/2) at Minnesota

Iowa 21-14Iowa 30-27Iowa 27-24Iowa 27-20

Wisconsin (-17) at Purdue

Wisc 31-13Wisc 40-17Wisc 34-17Wisc 41-17

Michigan (-1 1/2) at Northwestern

Mich 27-21NW 23-21Mich 24-20Mich 21-14

Ohio State at Michigan State (-3 1/2)

MSU 28-24MSU 38-31MSU 31-24MSU 30-20
Last Week4-25-15-14-2
This Season65-2164-2265-2159-27


Big Ten 2014 Week 11 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 08:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-10

Tom Brady won his most recent head-to-head showdown with Peyton Manning, but that’s not enough to knock the reigning MVP from his spot atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 10. For one, Brady is on bye this week (as is Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers). But more importantly, Manning and the Broncos have a chance to get back into the win column courtesy of 0-8 Oakland, and it’s not like No. 18 had bad numbers (438-2-2) against the Patriots. But no quarterback has had better numbers the past two games than Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben tossed another six TD passes on Sunday night against AFC North archrival Baltimore, giving him an NFL-record 12 in the last two games. That’s 105.5 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) in the last two weeks alone. Next up for Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense is a Jets defense that’s giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Will more records fall Sunday?


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Peyton ManningDENat OAK
2Aaron RodgersGBvs. CHI
3Ben RoethlisbergerPITat NYJ
4Drew BreesNOvs. SF
5Carson PalmerARIvs. STL
6Russell WilsonSEAvs. NYG
7Matt RyanATLat TB
8Jay CutlerCHIat GB
9Matthew StaffordDETvs. MIA
10Cam NewtonCARat PHI (Mon.)
11Colin KaepernickSFat NO
12Joe FlaccoBALvs. TEN
13Mark SanchezPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
14Tony RomoDALvs. JAC (London)
15Andy DaltonCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
16Kyle OrtonBUFvs. KC
17Ryan TannehillMIAat DET
18Eli ManningNYGat SEA
19Alex SmithKCat BUF
20Derek CarrOAKvs. DEN
21Brian HoyerCLEat CIN (Thurs.)
22Austin DavisSTLat ARI
23Michael VickNYJvs. PIT
24Josh McCownTBvs. ATL
25Blake BortlesJACvs. DAL (London)
26Zach MettenbergerTENat BAL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-10

DeMarco Murray saw his record streak of 100-yard games come to an end, but the NFL’s leading rusher retains his position atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 10. The Cowboys are in London to face the Jaguars and Murray could find more running room this Sunday compared to last should Tony Romo return under center. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill led all backs last week with 154 yards rushing. Hill checks in at No. 9 in this week’s rankings, as Giovani Bernard will likely miss the Bengals’ Thursday night divisional tilt against the Browns. Other injury situations to keep an eye on include Lamar Miller (shoulder), Fred Jackson (groin) and Reggie Bush (ankle).


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1DeMarco MurrayDALvs. JAC (London)
2Matt ForteCHIat GB
3Marshawn LynchSEAvs. NYG
4Jamaal CharlesKCat BUF
5LeSean McCoyPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
6Le'Veon BellPITat NYJ
7Andre EllingtonARIvs. STL
8Ronnie HillmanDENat OAK
9Jeremy HillCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
10Eddie LacyGBvs. CHI
11Mark IngramNOvs. SF
12Justin ForsettBALvs. TEN
13Bobby RaineyTBvs. ATL
14Denard RobinsonJACvs. DAL (London)
15Lamar MillerMIAat DET
16Joique BellDETvs. MAI
17Chris IvoryNYJvs. PIT
18Frank GoreSFat NO
19Steven JacksonATLat TB
20Reggie BushDETvs. MIA
21Ben TateCLEat CIN (Thurs.)
22Anthony DixonBUFvs. KC
23Terrance WestCLEat CIN (Thurs.)
24Andre WilliamsNYGat SEA
25Tre MasonSTLat ARI
26Darren SprolesPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
27Darren McFaddenOAKvs. DEN
28Bishop SankeyTENat BAL
29Charles SimsTBvs. ATL
30DeAngelo WilliamsCARat PHI (Mon.)
31Chris JohnsonNYJvs. PIT
32Lorenzo TaliaferroBALvs. TEN
33Jonathan StewartCARat PHI (Mon.)
34Benny CunninghamSTLat ARI
35Carlos HydeSFat NO
36Bryce BrownBUFvs. KC
37Knile DavisKCat BUF
38Travaris CadetNOvs. SF
39Juwan ThompsonDENat OAK
40James StarksGBvs. CHI
41LeGarrette BlountPITat NYJ
42Cedric PeermanCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
43Toby GerhartJACvs. DAL (London)
44Chris PolkPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
45Peyton HillisNYGat SEA
46Isaiah CrowellCLEat CIN (Thurs.)
47Shonn GreeneTENat BAL
48Devonta FreemanATLat TB

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-10

Wide receiver depth will be tested once again with six teams on bye, but Antonio Brown continues to pace the position in fantasy points and also leads off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 10. While Brown has a comfortable lead over his peers in fantasy scoring, thanks to a league-leading 71 receptions and 996 yards, Jeremy Maclin has kept up with him in the touchdown department (8 each). In the last two weeks alone, Maclin has racked up 18 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns (70.1 fantasy pts, Athlon scoring). Sunday also should mark the return of Calvin Johnson, who has missed the past three games because of an ankle injury. Provided Johnson stays healthy, he’s pretty much locked in as a top-five fantasy option moving forward.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Antonio BrownPITat NYJ
2Demaryius ThomasDENat OAK
3Jordy NelsonGBvs. CHI
4Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
5Calvin JohnsonDETvs. MIA
6Emmanuel SandersDENat OAK
7Dez BryantDALvs. JAC (London)
8Julio JonesATLat TB
9Randall CobbGBvs. CHI
10A.J. GreenCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
11Brandon MarshallCHIat GB
12Alshon JefferyCHIat GB
13Kelvin BenjaminCARat PHI (Mon.)
14Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. KC
15Mike WallaceMIAat DET
16Golden TateDETvs. MIA
17Steve SmithBALvs. TEN
18Larry FitzgeraldARIvs. STL
19Roddy WhiteATLat TB
20Mike EvansTBvs. ATL
21Mohamed SanuCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
22Vincent JacksonTBvs. ATL
23Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat SEA
24Percy HarvinNYJvs. PIT
25Doug BaldwinSEAvs. NYG
26Torrey SmithBALvs. TEN
27Martavis BryantPITat NYJ
28Brandin CooksNOvs. SF
29Michael CrabtreeSFat NO
30Eric DeckerNYJvs. PIT
31Michael FloydARIvs. STL
32Marques ColstonNOvs. SF
33Terrance WilliamsDALvs. JAC (London)
34Anquan BoldinSFat NO
35Rueben RandleNYGat SEA
36Kendall WrightTENat BAL
37Allen RobinsonJACvs. DAL (London)
38Andre HolmesOAKvs. DEN
39Justin HunterTENat BAL
40James JonesOAKvs. DEN
41Dwayne BoweKCat BUF
42Allen HurnsJACvs. DAL (London)
43Andrew HawkinsCLEat CIN (Thurs.)
44Davante AdamsGBvs. CHI
45Wes WelkerDENat OAK
46Cecil ShortsJACvs. DAL (London)
47Markus WheatonPITat NYJ
48John BrownARIvs. STL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-10

He’s not leading the way anymore, but Jimmy Graham has looked much more like his usual self recently, which is why he is back atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 10. Rob Gronkowski is the top scoring TE in fantasy after back-to-back huge games, but Gronk is on bye this week, ceding the spotlight to Graham. After a no-show in Week 7, Graham has caught at least five passes and a touchdown in each of his past two games. He’ll look to continue this streak at home against San Francisco. As well as Gronk has played recently, Julius Thomas continues to lead not just his position, but the NFL in touchdown catches. After going two straight games without a score, Thomas caught a 15-yard touchdown last week in New England, his league-leading 10th of the season. This Sunday, Thomas and the Broncos should be able to score some points in Oakland against the 0-8 Raiders.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Jimmy GrahamNOvs. SF
2Julius ThomasDENat OAK
3Greg OlsenCARat PHI (Mon.)
4Martellus BennettCHIat GB
5Travis KelceKCat BUF
6Jason WittenDALvs. JAC (London)
7Owen DanielsBALvs. TEN
8Larry DonnellNYGat SEA
9Delanie WalkerTENat BAL
10Zach ErtzPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
11Heath MillerPITat NYJ
12Charles ClayMIAat DET
13Vernon DavisSFat NO
14Mychal RiveraOAKvs. DEN
15Jared CookSTLat ARI
16Clay HarborJACvs. DAL (London)
17Jace AmaroNYJvs. PIT
18Scott ChandlerBUFvs. KC
19Jermaine GreshamCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
20Austin Seferian-JenkinsTBvs. ATL
21John CarlsonARIvs. STL
22Luke WilsonSEAvs. NYG
23Andrew QuarlessGBvs. CHI
24Eric EbronDETvs. MIA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-10

Jacksonville is in London to play Dallas, but this time the Jaguars’ opponent doesn’t lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 10. The Cowboys do check in at No. 3, but this week’s top billing goes to the Seahawks. The defending Super Bowl champions appear to be getting some of their swagger back on defense, and are usually tough at home. It also doesn’t hurt that the Giants will likely be without their top running back and have plenty of issues on offense. Other strong starting options for Week 10 include Arizona at home against St. Louis, Denver in Oakland against the winless Raiders and Detroit coming off of its bye and hosting Miami. But don’t sleep on the Dolphins’ DST either, as it is No. 1 in fantasy points (Athlon scoring) for the season thanks to 54 points (8 sacks, 5 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 TDs and a blocked kick) in the last two games.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Seattle Seahawksvs. NYG
2Arizona Cardinalsvs. STL
3Dallas Cowboysvs. JAC (London)
4Denver Broncosat OAK
5Detroit Lionsvs. MIA
6Buffalo Billsvs. KC
7Kansas City Chiefsat  BUF
8Philadelphia Eaglesvs. CAR (Mon.)
9Miami Dolphinsat DET
10Cincinnati Bengalsvs. CLE (Thurs.)
11Baltimore Ravensvs. TEN
12Pittsburgh Steelersat NYJ
13Green Bay Packersvs. CHI
14Cleveland Brownsat CIN (Thurs.)
15San Francisco 49ersat NO
16Carolina Panthersat PHI (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points


Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-10

The numbers may not jump out, but Seattle’s Steven Hauschka remains a reliable starting fantasy option, as he checks in near the top of Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 10. Hauschka is currently 10th among kickers in fantasy points (Athlon scoring), after finishing sixth in 2013. Through eight games, Hauschka is on the same pace (16 made field goals, 20 PATs) that he was last season (17, 21), and he’s only missed two field goal attempts thus far. Hauschka and the Seahawks are home Sunday against the Giants, a team that’s giving up nearly 27 points per game on the road.


Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.


Positional Rankings: I I I I I


2014 NFL Week 10 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington


1Justin TuckerBALvs. TEN
2Steven HauschkaSEAvs. NYG
3Dan BaileyDALvs. JAC (London)
4Cody ParkeyPHIvs. CAR (Mon.)
5Mason CrosbyGBvs. CHI
6Chandler CatanzaroARIvs. STL
7Phil DawsonSFat NO
8Dan CarpenterBUFvs. KC
9Cairo SantosKCat BUF
10Shayne GrahamNOvs. SF
11Brandon McManusDENat OAK
12Shaun SuishamPITat NYJ
13Robbie GouldCHIat GB
14Mike NugentCINvs. CLE (Thurs.)
15Matt BryantATLvs. TB
16Matt PraterDETvs. MIA

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 10
Post date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /nba/sacramento-kings-and-denver-nuggets-collaborate-hilarious-triple-flop

If you’ve never seen the end of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which nearly all of the characters die at once, here’s DeMarcus Cousins, Kenneth Faried and Rudy Gay performing it for you amidst the Sacramento Kings' 110-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets:


Three men never feigned their fall so hilariously on a basketball court. Well, okay, let’s not forget about Lance Stephenson’s playoff-intensity flop from last spring:


And the trio of Gay, Faried and Cousins even had some competition down south on the same night. Watch Boston Celtics rookie Marcus Smart show his theatrical stuff against the Mavericks in Dallas:


It’s nice to see the NBA’s players are doing everything they can to win games — even if it means delving into a little deception of the referees.

Cousins and Gay, though, haven’t had to resort to too many dirty tactics to collect victories so far in 2014-15. The oft-maligned Kings duo has propelled the team to an unlikely 3-1 start, aided by a surging Darren Collison at point guard, who the Kings enticed to Sacramento after a stellar job backing up Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers last year — a stint that included in the postseason.

Collison, like much of his roster, is an afterthought to a lot of the game’s followers. Between his overlooked skills and the frequent character assassinations of Cousins, analytical takedowns of Gay’s inefficient game and the Kings nearly relocating to Seattle a year and a half ago — before a final political push by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson — this has become a team on a mission to throw success in the faces of their skeptics. And the quest for redemption (coupled with the unstoppable post play of dark horse MVP candidate Cousins) has made them a compelling underdog to watch in this young NBA season.

See if the Kings can keep it up as they host the Nuggets in a rubber match tonight, at 10:00 PM ET in the Sleep Train Arena.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 16:14
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-legitimate-college-football-playoff-sleeper

The last time Arizona State was on this kind of stage, coach Todd Graham exited Sun Devil Stadium using words like “atrocious” and “pathetic.”


More than a month after the 62-27 loss to UCLA, Graham still calls that defeat a “disastrous game.”


Perhaps the game was disastrous on the field but not disastrous for Arizona State’s 2014 goals.


Arizona State moved to No. 9 in the selection committee’s rankings Tuesday evening, giving the Sun Devils a five-spot jump from last week. The leap puts more attention onto an already-critical game against No. 10 Notre Dame in Tempe on Saturday.


Of any team in the top 10, Arizona State may be the biggest question mark, but College Football Playoff’s mystery team won’t be a mystery much longer.


The Sun Devils are 7-1, riding a four-game winning streak since the loss to UCLA. They’ve held their last three Pac-12 opponents to one offensive touchdown apiece. They’ve won despite a three-game absence by veteran quarterback Taylor Kelly.


Yet the lingering question is how much faith should anyone have in Arizona State as a true playoff contender?


During its worst moment of the season, Arizona State allowed UCLA free reign in the end zone. The Sun Devils gave up 35 points in 8:46 of game time thanks to two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, a pick six and a kickoff return.


Since then, Arizona State has allowed 328 yards per game and 4.0 yards per play, both the best averages in the Pac-12 since Oct. 1.


Graham has good reason to see this as a trend. His defense replaced nine starters from last season, broke in a new defensive coordinator (Keith Patterson from West Virginia) and fielded four junior college or Division I transfers among the top six tacklers.


In other words, this should be a defense that gets better as the season goes along.


“Early on it was tough because what we do defensively is complex,” Graham said. “It wasn’t a whole bunch of errors it was just critical errors that were being made. Once they’ve got the system and got to where we can execute, we’re able to execute at a high level.”


The question here, though, is if the defensive numbers is as much a product of playing lackluster offense more than anything. Stanford, Washington and Utah combined for a total of 36 points against Arizona State in the last three weeks.


Those three teams are in the bottom five in the Pac-12 in yards per play. Two of them (Washington and Utah) rank 100th or worse nationally in that category.


Notre Dame isn’t Oregon, but the Irish rank 36th in yards per play for the most prolific offense Arizona State has faced since UCLA.


Arizona State has needed its defense to stifle opponents during the last three games because its offense has sputtered despite the return of Kelly, who is working himself into game shape after suffering a broken right foot Sept. 13.


Kelly is completing 57.7 percent of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt in three games since his return, both figures are lower than his numbers from the first two games for 2014 and his season-long numbers from 2013 and 2012.


“When you think of a guy who broke his foot, had surgery, had a pin put in his foot, didn’t do anything for six weeks and then came back and then got put into the Washington game,” Graham said. “He played against two of the best defenses getting after you in attacking and blitzing in the Pac-12.”


Now, Arizona State will find out if its quarterback and defense are ready for what could be the defining moment of the season against Notre Dame.


Graham knows his team has received a reprieve from its loss to UCLA and still has an outside shot at the playoff.


“We talk about it differently than we had in the past,” Graham said. “Once we lost a game, we said it’s a single-elimination tournament from here on out. You can’t expect to lose another game and reach our goals.”

Is Arizona State a Legitimate College Football Playoff Sleeper?
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 15:35
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-5-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 5:


• Brains, beauty, brawn: .






. Well, at least .


• Today's least shocking confession: .


. At least they're getting serious with that show.


• If this is your thing, .






• Unsettling headline of the day: .


• Watch a pretty one-hander by Vladimir Tarasenko.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 11:19
All taxonomy terms: Memphis Grizzlies, Tony Allen, NBA
Path: /nba/memphis-grizzlies%E2%80%99-tony-allen-fined-15k-smacking-cameraman

Tony Allen is known as many things. A savant defender, and a cornerstone of the Memphis Grizzlies’ lava-speed mentality. But today, he’s looking like a bit of a reckless jerk. Watch as Allen causes this cameraman some grief over a foul call he wasn’t in love with.


The league fined Allen $15,000 for the incident, which happens to be the same amount   after making a clutch shot late against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

For Allen, this sort of outburst is just part of the process of being one of the most intense basketball players alive. The 32-year-old Chicago native is a relatively diminutive 6’4” — Allen regularly guards players with several inches on him, and up to fifty extra pounds. Like a mongoose trapping a snake, though, there’s nothing surprising about Tony shutting down any star once you’ve become familiar with his scrappy, relentless style.

The Grizzlies ended up winning the contest over the New Orleans Pelicans, 93-81. They’ll need every ounce of insanity they can find from their guard if they’re to find themselves well-positioned in the brutal Western Conference, where 50 victories might not get you into the playoffs. The Monday night contest against New Orleans was arguably one of Memphis’ easier contests of recent days — and it came with the assignment of shutting down .

Allen and the Grizzlies take on the Phoenix Suns in Arizona tonight, a squad they fought for bottom Western playoff spots until the very end of the 2013-14 season. The Suns added speedy guard Isaiah Thomas this summer, who with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic makes Phoenix one of the faster teams in the league. Catch the epic contrast in the team’s two styles at 9:00 PM ET.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 10:23
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, waiver wire, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-waiver-wire-week-10

One monster bye week down, one to go, or at least that’s a way to describe the fantasy landscape as we enter Week 10 of the NFL season. The good news is that Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee all return to action this week. The downside is that fantasy owners instead will have to make do without Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego and Washington. That means no Andrew Luck, no Tom Brady, no Arian Foster (perhaps for more than one week since he injured his groin Sunday), no Rob Gronkowski, and the list goes on. At least there’s the waiver wire, right?


Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.


Teams on bye: Houston, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington




Week 9 Recap: Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes, but he also had two picks, one deep inside the red zone, which took some of the steam out of his fantasy output (18.4 pts., Athlon scoring). Michael Vick was roughed up by the Chiefs, as he left the game for a brief period after hitting the back of his head on the turf, and he managed just 196 yards passing, 18 yards rushing and a touchdown (no turnovers) in a losing effort.


Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Foles broke his collarbone on Sunday, meaning Sanchez will get another chance. He did toss two touchdown passes after taking over for Foles, but also had two interceptions. The key with Sanchez is that he is at the helm of a much more potent offense than anything he ever had when he was with the Jets, so the opportunity for him to do some damage is clearly there. What he does with it remains to be seen, but Sanchez’ Monday night matchup at home against Carolina doesn’t seem all that scary, at least on paper. The Panthers are just 24th in the NFL in total defense and are giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.


Other possible fill-in options*: Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Josh McCown


Running Backs


Week 9 Recap: Jeremy Hill got the start in place of an injured Giovani Bernard and went off to the tune of 154 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Cincinnati’s short turnaround for its Thursday game against Cleveland should mean another steady diet of touches for Hill, even if Bernard plays. Mark Ingram continued his strong play, putting up 100 yards and two scores against Carolina. Travaris Cadet meanwhile is nothing more than a role player right now (30 total yards on four touches vs. CAR) and he will likely see less work as soon as Pierre Thomas (shoulder) or Khiry Robinson (foot) return. Bobby Rainey was the Buccaneers’ workhorse against the Browns and he delivered (121 total yards on 20 touches), as Charles Sims was not activated for this game. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams each got eight carries against the Saints, with Stewart faring much better in the yardage department (46 to 20). Williams did have one catch for 30 yards, but this may be one timeshare to stay away from.

Chris Johnson, New York Jets

Johnson openly campaigned to be more involved in the Jets’ offense and he got his wish on Sunday. He not only led his team with 69 yards rushing, he also got more carries (11) than Chris Ivory (8). Ivory had been the Jets’ most effective rusher this season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with five touchdowns, but apparently something’s changed. Whether it’s Johnson is a better fit in the backfield with Michael Vick or his abilities as a receiver (2 rec., 32 yds. vs KC), this is at least something that’s worth keeping an eye on. If Johnson gets back to seeing 15 or more touches per game, he may likewise work his way back towards fantasy relevance.


Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles

LeSean McCoy is the No. 1 guy for the Eagles, but even though Darren Sproles returned on Sunday from a knee injury, it was Polk who backed up McCoy. Polk picked up 50 yards rushing against Houston, including an eight-yard touchdown run while Sproles got one carry. Sproles will remain involved in this offense, but his role may be shifting primarily to a pass-catching one. The point is that Polk got eight carries and the Eagles ran the ball 40 times (for 190 yards) against the Texans. Chip Kelly is going to continue to run the ball, especially now that Nick Foles is sidelined indefinitely with a broken collarbone, and any guy who gets 20 percent of his team’s carries in a game is worth paying attention to.


Terrance West, Cleveland Browns

Ben Tate remains atop the Browns’ backfield depth chart, but now it looks like West, and not fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell, is No. 2. West led the Browns in both carries (15) and yards (48) on Sunday with Tate getting 10 (for 3 yds.) attempts. Crowell was active, but did not get on the field at any point. West also caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer and after the game head coach Mike Pettine said that West had “earned” his touches. Pettine previously voiced concerns about Crowell’s ball-security issues, which has allowed West the opportunity to pass his teammate on the depth chart. This is a fluid situation in many ways, but for now, West appears to be the Brown backup to target, especially given Tate’s injury history.


Other possible fill-in options*: Denard Robinson, Steven Jackson, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Bishop Sankey, Darren McFadden, Anthony Dixon, Andre Williams, Bryce Brown, Carlos Hyde


Wide Receivers


Week 9 Recap: Sunday night produced two more touchdowns for rookie Martavis Bryant, who has five in his first three career games. With Pittsburgh’s passing offense humming (NFL-record 12 TD passes for Ben Roethlisberger in consecutive games), Bryant and Markus Wheaton should both be on everyone’s radars. John Brown caught just two passes for 10 yards (and had one rush for -3 yards) in a forgettable showing in Dallas. Donte Moncrief was a no-show on Monday night, catching one pass for a measly two yards.


Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

The Packers are coming off of their bye and the offense has an appealing matchup against the Bears’ porous defense. Even though Aaron Rodgers already has Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to throw to, Adams has worked his way into the mix as well. He has two touchdown catches over his last four games and is coming off of a season-best seven catches against New Orleans in Week 8. In that game, Adams played practically every snap, which pretty much cements the fact that he has replaced Jarrett Boykin as the Packers’ No. 3 wide receiver. Even with a couple of guys ahead of him in the pecking order, Adams is someone worth adding to your roster because of the offense he plays in.


Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams

This is not a hearty recommendation by any means, but someone has to catch passes for the Rams and it looks like the top two targets right now are Britt and tight end Jared Cook. Britt has just 18 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but with Brian Quick out for the rest of the season (shoulder), Britt is the closest thing St. Louis has to a No. 1 WR. He’s very much a boom-or-bust option, but opportunity (playing time, targets, etc.) is knocking.


Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

No Gordon didn’t get his suspension reduced. He’s still got two more games to sit out, but if Gordon is still somehow sitting on your waiver wire, go get him now. Gordon probably represents the best chance of landing a late-season lottery pick, considering his All-Pro talent and potential. He has absolutely no competition in front of him for targets upon his return in Week 12 and this is a guy who averaged 19 yards per catch last season, went over 125 yards receiving seven times and over 200 twice (in back-to-back games no less). Even though Gordon still carries a fair amount of risk, the potential reward is well worth dropping someone else to add the troubled, yet equally talented wideout to your roster. Provided he behaves, Gordon is a legitimate difference-maker when it comes to this season’s fantasy playoffs.

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans

Entering this season, few expected Wright to end up in this space, as the third-year pro was a borderline top-30 wide receiver by most accounts. However, the Titans’ offense has struggled, which has had an impact on Wright’s numbers. In eight games, Wright has 35 receptions for 350 yards and four touchdowns. The good news he’s already doubled his touchdown total from last season and now may be the perfect opportunity to grab someone who hauled in 94 catches last season. Tennessee is coming off of its bye, which means Wright has had some extra time to work on his chemistry with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Justin Hunter is the Titans’ wideout with the most big-play ability and fantasy upside, but Wright carries plenty of appeal of his own, especially in PPR leagues.


Other possible fill-in options*: Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin, Odell Beckham Jr., Allen Hurns, Andre Holmes, Cecil Shorts, Dwayne Bowe, Jarvis Landry, James Jones


Tight Ends


Week 9 Recap: Heath Miller didn’t join in the Steelers’ aerial assault (340 yds., 6 TD passes) Sunday night against the Ravens, catching one pass for 14 yards.


Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders

Rivera hauled in two touchdown catches on Sunday against Seattle, making it his second straight game with at least 12.8 fantasy points. Oakland’s offense is certainly not the most reliable, but the Raiders also are one of the most pass-heavy attacks in the NFL, which bodes well for Rivera’s potential moving forward. Two games is a small sample size, but Rivera and rookie quarterback Derek Carr have been clicking recently. With big guns like Rob Gronkowksi, Antonio Gates, Jordan Reed and Dwayne Allen on bye this week, perhaps Rivera is worth taking a chance on.


Other possible fill-in options*: Larry Donnell, Jared Cook, Owen Daniels, Charles Clay, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Defense/Special Teams


Week 9 Recap: Cincinnati got a safety and blocked a kick, but the Bengals also gave up 23 points to the Jaguars, which capped the DST’s fantasy impact (9 pts). Kansas City picked up three more sacks and held the Jets to just 10 points, but couldn’t manage any takeaways or big plays.


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens gave up six TD passes to Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night, but they also sacked him on three consecutive snaps at one point. Baltimore also forced a fumble and got a 108-yard kickoff return from Jacoby Jones, finishing the night with a respectable nine fantasy points. This is a DST that has recorded at least two sacks in each of its last four games and on Sunday will host a Tennessee Titans offense that’s starting a rookie quarterback. Don’t expect to see the Ravens give up another six TD passes (or 43 points) this week.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have dropped their past two games, but it’s not entirely because of the defense. Dallas’ DST has produced 18 fantasy points over the past two contests and unlike last season, this unit has been able to create turnovers. The Cowboys have at least one takeaway in every game but one, including an interception on Sunday against Arizona that was returned for a touchdown. Dallas is in London this week to face Jacksonville, the team that still leads the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs. The Jaguars have yet to allow any DST score fewer than nine points against it and seven opponents have put up at least 12. With six teams on bye, including Houston, New England and Indianapolis, who wouldn’t take a fairly safe nine points from their fantasy DST?


Other possible fill-in options*: Detroit, Pittsburgh


Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.


*Players owned in less than 70% of Yahoo! leagues.

Fantasy Football 2014 Waiver Wire: Week 10
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-activate-wr-leonard-hankerson

Ashburn, VA ( - The Washington Redskins activated wide receiver Leonard Hankerson from the physically unable to perform list Tuesday almost a year after a knee injury ended his season.


Hankerson, 25, has been out since suffering a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee during a game in Philadelphia on Nov. 17, 2013.


The former third-round draft pick out of Miami has 81 catches for 1,081 yards and six touchdowns in 30 games since 2011, including 14 starts.


The Redskins waived cornerback Chase Minnifield on Tuesday and released tackle Terren Jones from the practice squad. Minnifield had two tackles in six games this season after spending the first three weeks on the practice squad.

Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 09:45
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/tom-coughlin-confirms-giants-cb-amukamara-out-season

East Rutherford, NJ ( - New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin confirmed Tuesday that cornerback Prince Amukamara will miss the rest of the season due to a torn biceps.


Amukamara suffered the injury in Monday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.


Amukamara had been the Giants' best cornerback this year, recording 45 tackles and three interceptions in eight games.


Coughlin said that the Giants will likely bring in a cornerback this week to go with Chandler Fenner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Jayron Hosley and Mike Harris.


In other injury news, left guard Weston Richburg, who left the game with an ankle injury, was having tests Monday.

The Giants play at Seattle this Sunday.

Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 09:40
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/troy-polamalu-ryan-shazier-out-steelers-week-10

Pittsburgh, PA ( - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Ryan Shazier will miss Sunday's game against the New York Jets.


Both players exited last Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens with injuries. Polamalu has a knee sprain and Shazier is dealing with an ankle injury.


Polamalu has 51 tackles and one forced fumble in nine games this season, while Shazier has 26 tackles in five contests.

The 6-3 Steelers will turn to backups Sean Spence and Will Allen for Shazier and Polamalu, respectively.

Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 09:35
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/adrian-peterson-reaches-plea-deal

Conroe, TX ( - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson reached a plea agreement in the child abuse case against him on Tuesday.


Peterson was facing felony charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after he was accused of using a wooden tree branch to hit his 4-year-old son as a disciplinary measure, resulting in visible injuries to the child.


Instead, he pleaded no contest and reached an agreement to a lesser charge of one count of misdemeanor reckless assault and will avoid jail time. He is also expected to get probation, pay a $2,000 fine and serve 80 hours of community service.


"I truly regret this incident," said Peterson outside the courthouse after the agreement was reached. "I take full responsibility for my actions. I love my son more than anyone of you can imagine. I am anxious to continue my relationship with my child. I am glad this over... so me and my family can move forward."


Peterson is currently on the NFL exempt list while the court proceedings continued. It is unclear when or if the star running back will be reinstated.


The Vikings said in a statement Tuesday evening that they were aware of the plea agreement and would have a further comment "at the appropriate time."


Peterson was initially deactivated prior to a Week 2 game against New England after being indicted in September, then was reinstated by the team the following Monday.


However, after backlash from sponsors, fans and the Minnesota government, the Vikings reversed course and placed Peterson on the NFL's exempt/commissioner's permission list. He is being paid despite not playing.

Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/10-things-will-shape-college-football-playoff-final-five-weeks-2014

College football’s new playoff format has added a layer of intrigue to the regular season. While finishing in the top two – just like the old BCS format – is important, two additional teams have a chance to win the national title in a four-team postseason format.

The first release of the playoff committee's rankings provided some insight into the process, but with five weeks to go until the four teams are officially announced, plenty of changes are ahead in the weekly top 25 rankings.


What are some factors that will shape how the final rankings look? Scheduling is a huge element to consider, but quarterback play, defenses and emergence of freshmen are other factors to watch.

Here are 10 things to watch over the next five weeks:


10 Things That Will Shape CFB Playoff in Final Five Weeks
1. Showdowns in the SEC West

A significant piece of the inaugural College Football Playoff will be shaped by what happens in the SEC West. Will Mississippi State win out? If the Bulldogs win out, a victory over Alabama would seem to eliminate the Crimson Tide from the playoff picture. And what happens to Auburn if a two-loss Crimson Tide squad wins in the Iron Bowl? But that’s not all. What about the SEC Championship Game if the East winner (Georgia or Missouri) beats the West champion? That’s a huge wrench in the final ranking. It’s safe to say the SEC gets at least one team in the playoff this year. However, getting two will largely be determined on what happens in the remaining showdowns in November.


2. Florida State’s Emerging Young Talent

Florida State’s 2014 team isn’t as dominant as its '13 version. But that’s not a huge issue for coach Jimbo Fisher, as this team is pretty good in its own right. The biggest concern for the Seminoles remains in the trenches, but the offensive line showed some promise by clearing the way for 173 yards and three scores against Louisville. The defensive line is probably Florida State’s biggest concern, especially on the interior where Nile Lawrence-Stample was lost for the season. Even if the Seminoles allow 30 points a game, their offense could score 35-40 each week. Quarterback Jameis Winston is the headliner, but the sophomore has emerging stars at his disposal in a trio of true freshmen — running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane. Cook is averaging 5.6 yards per rush, while Rudolph has 14 of his 19 catches over the last three games, and Lane caught a touchdown pass against Louisville. Florida State’s offense was already lethal without Cook, Rudolph and Lane. But this unit is even more deadly with the emergence of these talented first-year players on offense.


3. Ohio State-Michigan State Showdown

Barring major upsets and a complete shake up at the top of the playoff committee's rankings, the Big Ten is only getting one team into the four-team playoff. And as of Nov. 4, Michigan State and Ohio State need a lot of help to reach the top four. The Spartans have the better resume so far, with their only loss coming at Oregon in early September. The Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech in September and do not have a win over a ranked team heading into Week 11. With all of that in mind, Saturday’s showdown in East Lansing is critical to the Big Ten getting one team in the mix. If Michigan State beats the Buckeyes handily, and Ohio State wins out to finish 10-2, coach Mark Dantonio’s team should be in the mix for a playoff spot. But what happens if the Spartans win a close game and the Buckeyes lose to Minnesota? That scenario would hurt the Big Ten’s case for a team in the top four. Regardless of what happens after Nov. 8, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan State game is the only playoff contender left from the Big Ten.

4. Alabama QB Blake Sims

Quarterback play was the biggest concern in Tuscaloosa this offseason. Sims has been steady through the first eight games, completing 65.5 percent of his throws and tossing 15 touchdowns to just three picks. However, in Alabama’s only loss (Ole Miss), Sims had a costly interception. One week later against Arkansas, Sims threw for just 161 yards in a 14-13 win. With one of the nation’s best rushing attacks and defenses on his side, Sims doesn’t have to post huge numbers for the Crimson Tide to win each week. However, the senior has to be efficient and will be under scrutiny in upcoming games against LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. It’s not unrealistic to suggest Sims’ play could determine whether or not Alabama wins the SEC or finishes 10-2.


5. Oregon’s Defense

If the Ducks win out, it’s a safe bet coach Mark Helfrich’s team will be in the four-team playoff. But Oregon still has three games and, presumably, the Pac-12 Championship Game remaining, including a road trip to Utah on Nov. 8. Of the remaining three regular-season games, the Utes should be the toughest opponent for the Ducks, but the Pac-12 title game also looms large against (potentially) offensive-minded teams like Arizona State or USC. Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Oregon, but the defense is allowing 28.2 points per game in Pac-12 contests, 5.7 yards per play and is last in the conference in third-down defense. Will this cost the Ducks a game before the playoff? Maybe not, but it could prevent Oregon from winning the national title. Can the Ducks' defense make strides over the final month of the season?


6. Kansas State’s Road Trips

No team has a tougher road schedule over the final five weeks than Bill Snyder’s Wildcats. Kansas State plays at TCU this Saturday, followed by a road date at West Virginia on Nov. 20 and then a matchup at Baylor on Dec. 6. Navigating that road schedule without a loss is challenging, but certainly not impossible for the Wildcats. The Big 12 has more depth than most anticipated at the start of this year, and an 11-1 K-State team should make the playoff. Let’s also not forget the Wildcats have just one loss (Auburn, 20-14) in a game where they had three turnovers and missed three field goals.

7. Receivers at Ole Miss

Ole Miss is going to miss Laquon Treadwell. The sophomore was one of the SEC’s best receivers and led the team with 48 catches through the first nine games. Without Treadwell, the Rebels are looking to Vince Sanders, Cody Core, Quincy Adeboyejo and tight end Evan Engram to pick up the slack in the passing game. Why this is position critical? Even though Ole Miss has two losses, this team still has a chance to impact the four teams in the playoff with a game against Mississippi State on Nov. 29. Finding a way to replace Treadwell’s production for quarterback Bo Wallace is a huge priority for coach Hugh Freeze over the next two weeks.

8. Notre Dame’s Defense

Three of top four outputs (yards per play) against Notre Dame has taken place over the last three weeks. The Fighting Irish’s schedule has increased in difficultly during that span, so it’s not a surprise the defensive numbers aren’t as promising as they were earlier in the season. Notre Dame allowed 5.7 yards per play against Florida State, 5.9 against Navy and 6.1 against North Carolina. Linebacker Joe Schmidt was a key piece of the defense, and he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the win over Navy. Add in the recent performance, combined with Schmidt’s loss and a challenging remaining slate - at Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville and USC – and it’s easy to see why this unit will be under the microscope over the next four games. Notre Dame’s offense averages 35.4 points per contest, and coach Brian Kelly may need that type of production each week to help his young defense survive the Irish's most critical stretch of their season.


9. Todd Gurley’s Return at Georgia

Gurley’s return to the Georgia lineup on Nov. 15 is an interesting late-season development to consider in the overall playoff picture. The Bulldogs have a capable option in freshman Nick Chubb (501 yards in last three games), but prior to his suspension, Gurley may have been the best player in the nation. In five appearances this year, Gurley rushed for 773 yards and eight scores on 94 attempts. The junior is slated to return against Auburn, which is a game that is critical to the Bulldogs’ SEC East title hopes. And of course, the Tigers have their own playoff implications to deal with each week, as coach Gus Malzahn’s team ranked No. 3 in the first committee rankings. Is Gurley’s return enough for Georgia to knock off Auburn?


10. The Darkhorses and Upsets

College football changes drastically from week-to-week and upsets (see Florida over Georgia) are bound to happen over the final five weeks. Pinpointing the upsets is impossible, but there are a few teams to consider. Could Duke threaten Florida State in the ACC Championship Game? Probably not. Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State? That’s an interesting rematch scenario. If Arizona State reaches the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Sun Devils’ offense would be a tough matchup for Oregon’s defense. And we can’t forget about the SEC East champion (likely to be a heavy underdog) against the West. All of those scenarios don’t include a team like Miami taking down Florida State as an upset possibility or Utah beating Oregon. Count on an upset or two happening and changing the playoff outlook before college football's Final Four is released.

10 Things That Will Shape the College Football Playoff in Final Five Weeks of 2014
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-11

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.


The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 11.


Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.


A quarterback in East Lansing will enter the Heisman race


Connor Cook and JT Barrett will square off in the biggest and most pivotal Big Ten game of the year this weekend in East Lansing when Ohio State visits Michigan State. Cook and Barrett are the top two QBs in the Big Ten in terms of efficiency and are posting great numbers. Cook (1,868 yds, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 44 rush, 2 TDs) is one of the most underrated players in the nation and Barrett (1,856 yds, 23 TDs, 7 INTs, 496 rush, 6 TDs) has posted some big numbers of his own. One of these two will be squarely in the Heisman race following this weekend (my bet is Cook).


Marcus Mariota will have the worst game of his season… and will still win


Marcus Mariota will have the worst game of his season this weekend on the road against Utah and the nation’s best sack-masters (39.0 sacks). Mariota will throw for a season-low in yards (currently 210), post a season-low in total offense (277) and account for a season-low in terms of total touchdowns (two), but the Ducks will still win. Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall will literally carry Oregon to a critical road win over the Utes.


24 points will win the Baylor-Oklahoma game


The winner of the Oklahoma-Baylor game has scored more than 40 points in four consecutive games and six of the last seven. In fact, the winner of this tilt (mostly Oklahoma) has scored more than 30 points in every meeting since 1998. So with that information, the winner this season will only need to score three touchdowns (and maybe a field goal) to get the win. Both teams are better on defense than outsiders think. Take the under.


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Trevone Boykin and Jake Waters will account for a combined 10 TDs


I missed on the Boykin-Clint Trickett showdown last weekend, as both defenses showed up in Morgantown. I’m going back to the Big 12 QB well this week, as both Jake Waters (18 total TDs) and Boykin (26 total TDs) are set for a purple-clad battle in Fort Worth. Both defenses are solid, but this league has shown the nation how to play offense in the big games. Look for both QBs to get going both on the ground and through the air much like all of TCU’s other big games (SEE: Oklahoma, Baylor).


LSU will score more than 20 points against Alabama… and will still lose


Nick Saban has won three straight in the series against LSU and has done so in convincing fashion. Over that span, Alabama has outscored LSU 80-34. Even in LSU’s last win in 2011, the Tigers failed to score double-digit points. The Tigers' offense has gotten on track of late, scoring a total of 81 points in three straight wins. LSU may not win this weekend against the Tide at home but it will score at least 20 points against Alabama for the first time since 2010.

Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 11
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /nascar/nascar-rookie-report-kyle-larson-obvious-roy-titlist

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.


Today, David attempts to isolate each rookie from his team and equipment and properly rank the driving chops of each member of this year’s rookie class.



This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie class has collectively lived up to the hype. Billed as the best rookie class since 2006 — one containing Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex — the 2014 crop might be short on wins, but they were big on immediate impact, despite most of the class wheeling less-than-ideal equipment, and produced one bona fide superstar.


They lost the battle if you’re solely staring at top-10 finishes — the 2014 class, led by Kyle Larson has combined for 21 top-10 finishes with two races remaining, while five different drivers in the class of ’06 united for 44 top-10 results. If you’re scoping each driver individually, though, and isolate the driver from his team, the Production in Equal Equipment Ratings (PEER) for the ’14 group are stronger than those of their predecessors.


Denny Hamlin was the last rookie to score a serviceable PEER — a weighted results measurement on — with a rating of 1.986 that ranked seventh in the Cup Series that season. Larson, presently with a 2.324 PEER, will shatter Hamlin’s effort. He currently ranks as the sixth-most productive driver in the series this season.


Of the eight drivers that began the season as rookies, seven (87.5 percent of the class) will end the season with ratings above replacement level, a mark 16 percent better than what the 2006 group was able to accomplish.


No driver in either of the two classes shone brighter than Larson, who ends the season as Athlon Sports’ number one rookie, topping the final Rookie Report Ranking of 2014:



1. Kyle Larson, No. 42 (previous ranking: 1)

Larson ranks fourth among series regulars in adjusted pass efficiency, carrying a 52.96 percent mark to Phoenix this weekend. He ranks fifth among regulars in surplus passing value, passing at an efficiency 2.14 percent better than what a driver with his average running position is expected to produce. He ranks sixth in PEER. Unlike Denny Hamlin, he didn’t make the Chase and he hasn’t won, but that shouldn’t take away from what’s been a brilliant season by a quick-assimilating rookie. The sky is the limit, and his season it worthy of its own column, coming next week.



2. Austin Dillon, No. 3 (previous: 2)

The chatter was somewhat nauseating early on and none of it had anything to do with him (it had everything to do with the color and number of his car). After all the nostalgic nonsense settled, we were left with a young driver still trying to find his identity as a racer while ironing out some wrinkles in his repertoire. He’ll end the season with a sub-serviceable PEER and sub-par passing numbers, but there has been some notable improvement. His current Chase-only PEER stands at 1.034 through eight races, an increase over the 0.632 that spans his entire year to date. Based purely on average finish, Dillon and his Richard Childress Racing team’s 16.7-place mark is better than those of Kasey Kahne (17.7), Brian Vickers (18.4) and Tony Stewart (19.9). Passing remains a sore subject for a driver who struggled overtaking for position in NASCAR’s lower divisions, but it’s clear that if he ever develops a passing game he’ll be a consummate Chase contender.



3. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 (previous: 4)

I’ll remember this team’s closing problem — they’ve lost 59 positions in the final 10 percent of races — above anything else about them in 2014, but it’s mostly due to a disastrous early part of the season. Through the first 21 races, Allgaier and crew chief Steve Addington gave up 74 red zone positions. They’ve gained 15 across the 12 races they’ve competed in since, a sign that things might be coming together in time for a formidable finish to an otherwise decent rookie season. Allgaier is a plus passer through 33 races this year, sporting a 50.88 percent adjusted efficiency and a plus-1.53 percent surplus value.



4. Cole Whitt, No. 26 (previous: 3)

It’s almost as if Whitt and longtime crew chief Randy Cox have built their own wing onto the BK Racing shop, because they don’t appear to be from the same stable that trots out entries for Alex Bowman and whatever other veteran hanger-on the team’s execs fancy on a particular weekend. The cars in which Whitt and Cox invested sweat equity were faster, per NASCAR’s average green-flag speed measurement, than entries from Tommy Baldwin Racing and Front Row Motorsports. Whitt, , cooly learned that 500-mile races were feats of patience, not pizazz. His race approach shifted accordingly and resulted in six of his best eight finishes this year coming in the second half of the season.



5. Michael Annett, No. 7 (previous: 5)

Inconsistency might be tolerable when you’re Kyle Busch, whose 14.0 finish deviation on top of his 16.5-place average result is the most inconsistent among series regulars. When you’re a rookie with a 29.3-place average finish, a relatively inconsistent deviation is troublesome and that’s what is plaguing Annett, with a 7.3 finish deviation, this season. His rookie-year results have very much been trick or treat — his three most recent results at quad-oval tracks were straightforward finishes of 21st at Atlanta, a four laps-down 33rd-place effort at Charlotte and a lead-lap 22nd-place run at Texas. With more consistency — and that should be the focus in his sophomore campaign — he’d be the best driver Tommy Baldwin Racing has ever had.



6. Alex Bowman, No. 23 (previous: 6)

Watch Bowman and you’ll get a sense that he’s capable of more — he passes the eye test and is the youngest driver in the series this season. But his results on paper do nothing to support the senses. His 0.103 PEER is barely above replacement level, his 45.82 percent adjusted pass efficiency is the third worst in the series and his 0.41 per race crash frequency was a smidge too high for a race team on a tight budget. Since I’m not inside the halls of BK Racing, I don’t know whether Bowman will, or did enough to, be back with them next season; however, I don’t believe it’s fair to assume he is as good now as he’s ever going to be. He needs seasoning — he spent exactly one season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, one season in K&N East and competed in a smatter of ARCA Series races over the last three years. The team that provides it might reap the rewards of a young driver coming into his own.



7. Ryan Truex, No. 83

Truex initially struggled and , but he still holds the second-worst pass efficiency (44.9 percent) in the series. BK Racing parted with him following the Chicagoland race. While he is still contractually tied to Richard Petty Motorsports, with whom he signed a development contract in 2013, the future is murky for the two-time champion of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.



8. Parker Kligerman, No. 30

Kligerman had the year from hell, registering five finishes of 40th or worse in eight races. He also amassed a crash frequency of 0.50 — tied as the second highest in the series — and . The good news is that he is currently an entertaining, stat-savvy analyst for NBC Sports; however, he is a talent deserving of a ride somewhere, evident by his past efforts in the Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.



David Smith is the founder of and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projection, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at


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David Smith ranks the eight-driver NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Rookie of the Year crop
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-10-heisman-trophy-voting

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.


Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.


The Panel:


, FOX Sports

, Big Ten Network 

, CBS Sports

, SBNation

, Sports Illustrated


, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio


, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM


The Results:


1.Marcus Mariota64121---
2.Dak Prescott521111--
3.Melvin Gordon23--621
4.Trevone Boykin12-1121
5.Amari Cooper11--221
6.Everett Golson9--122
7t.Ameer Abdullah6--111
7t.Nick Marshall6--111
8.Jameis Winston5---13
9.Shaq Thompson4---12
10.Duke Johnson2---1-
11.Tevin Coleman1----1

Dropped out: None


Listen to the Week 10 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |


The Top 3:

1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Oregon quarterback exorcized some demons against archrival Stanford and landed all but one first-place vote this week because of it. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns, one interception in the air while rushing nine times for 85 yards and two more scores in the blowout win over the Cardinal. He’s 10th nationally at 327.9 yards per game and is tops nationally with a 187.21 rating.


Season Stats: 2,541 yards, 68.1%, 26 TDs, 2 INTs, 410 rush yards, 7 TDs


2. Dak Prescott, Mississippi St

Prescott threw for a career-high 331 yards while running for 61 yards in Week 10. However, he also threw two interceptions and barely defeated Arkansas at home. This gave Mariota a slight edge entering Week 11 over the Bulldogs quarterback. With Tennessee-Martin on the slate this week, Prescott can only hurt his Heisman case before visiting Alabama in two weeks.


Season Stats: 2,025 yards, 61.1%, 16 TDs, 7 INTs, 725 rush yards, 10 TDs


3. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

The Badgers' star tailback rolled up his sixth consecutive game with at least 122 yards rushing by carrying 19 times for 128 yards and two more touchdowns in the easy win over Maryland. He is second nationally at 162.0 yards per game (just 0.5 yards per game behind Tevin Coleman) and is second nationally with 18 rushing touchdowns. Among the top 17 players in terms of rushing attempts, his 7.5 yards per carry is the best.


Season Stats: 173 att., 1,296 yards, 7.5 ypc, 18 TDs, 8 rec., 39 yards, 1 TD  

Expert Poll: Week 10 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 08:00