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Last week the Indianapolis Colts didn't look like a Super Bowl-worthy team. Yes, it was just Week 1, but last week’s 27-14 loss in Buffalo exposed many, if not all, of the Colts’ most glaring weaknesses.
The offensive line looked inept, the defense was consistently pushed around, and there was zero semblance of a rushing attack. Quite frankly head coach Chuck Pagano’s team looked frighteningly under prepared. Luckily for Colts fans, rebound games have been sort of an MO for Pagano, as his Colts teams have won 14 of their last 15 games played following a loss.
On the other sideline, the Jets aren’t expected to even sniff the playoffs this season, but after last week's 31-10 drubbing of the Browns, Gang Green has caught a few people’s attention. Granted, yes, it was against Cleveland Browns, but first-year head coach Todd Bowles has a lot that he can build upon after a solid Week 1 victory especially when it comes to establishing a run game and making stops on defense.
New York at Indianapolis
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Colts -7
Three Things To Watch
1. Andrew Luck Rebound Game
Luck looked completely flat last week against Buffalo, completing just 26 of 49 passes with two touchdowns and two picks. Luck’s protection up front is going to be an issue all season long, and is an issue that has been failed to be addressed by GM Ryan Grigson over the last couple of offseasons. Tonight’s task against a Jets defense that forced five turnovers last week doesn’t get any easier. New York’s defense is going to put pressure on Luck all night long, hopefully forcing him from the pocket and exposing his turnover-prone tendencies.
Luck’s favorite target T.Y. Hilton is a game-time decision with a banged-up knee, and will no doubt be covered by All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Take away Hilton and Luck still has a vast amount of options in tight ends Colby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and wide receivers Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief and rookie Philip Dorsett. Luck is the best young quarterback in the league, if the Colts’ offensive line can stymie the Jets’ pass rush this week, Luck could have a nice bounce-back performance.
2. Jets' Running Backs vs. Colts’ D
Last week running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell totaled 153 yards rushing in the Jets' win over the Browns. While that is a respectable, not necessarily amazing stat, the Browns' defense is probably more stout than that of the Colts' at this point. The Colts' defense looked improved last weekend compared to last season against the rush, holding LeSean McCoy to just 41 yards on 17 carries, but the defense allowed Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to do pretty much anything he wanted, both throwing or running the ball.
Indy’s defense lacks any playmakers outside of shutdown corner Vontae Davis, or injured LB/DE Robert Mathis. Mathis is questionable after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles, and defensive backs Greg Toler and Darius Butler have already been ruled out. To say the Colts are thin defensively is an understatement.
With Davis effectively shutting down half of the field for journeyman Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, look for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to dial up a multitude of running plays for Ivory and Powell and test the Colts' front seven, keeping Fitzpatrick’s throwing numbers under 30 attempts, and keeping Andrew Luck off the field.
3. Colts' Running Game, Does It Exist?
Since the Pagano era began in Indianapolis three seasons ago, the head coach has vowed that the Colts would be a power-running team, which seems pretty laughable given who he has playing quarterback. The Colts’ backfield in the Luck era has been a constant recycling plant for running backs just trying to stay in the league. Sadly, promising back Vick Ballard could never stay healthy and was eventually waived by the team last week. But Pagano and Grigson essentially doubled down on their desire to run the ball by signing veteran running back Frank Gore this offseason after the failed Trent Richardson experiment never took flight — or found a running lane, ever.
Last week Gore was nonexistent but not for lack of effort, but more for lack of touches. Gore had just eight carries last week against the Bills for 31 yards. Quite frankly (pun intended), Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has to do better. Relying on Luck to throw the ball 49 times with an offensive line that has failed to do its job for three seasons now, is inexcusable. For Luck’s sake, and safety, a running game must be established.
After last week’s uninspired loss to the Bills, the Colts' weaknesses were exposed to the rest of the league. Look for the Jets to blitz, blitz, blitz, and then probably blitz again, forcing Andrew Luck into errant throws and allowing their talented secondary to make plays.
That being said, Luck is statically the best signal-caller in the NFL against the blitz, so rush with caution. The Jets' defense can expect a heavy dose of Frank Gore as the Colts attempt to establish some semblance of a run game. If the Colts can get Gore’s wheels turning on the ground, look for Luck to have a big night through the air as well, as the Colts bounce back from a Week 1 downer.
Prediction: Colts 31, Jets 17
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @JakeRose24.
The Ole Miss Rebels scored a dramatic 43-37 victory over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night. It was the first win for the Rebels in Tuscaloosa since 1988, and the first time ever that Ole Miss has beaten the Crimson Tide in back-to-back seasons. But, most importantly, the victory gave head coach Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss an all-important 1-0 record in SEC play and the inside track on the road to the championship game in Atlanta.
College Football Podcast: Week 3 Recap and Analysis
Yes, Ole Miss beat Alabama in 2014, which improved the Rebels’ record to 2-0 in conference play, yet they lost three of four league games late in the season to derail hopes of making it to the SEC Championship Game for the very first time.
However, there is a different feeling following this win. Last year, beating Alabama came as a shock – even to players and coaches, it seemed. This season, the Rebels were confident that they not only could beat the Tide, but also that they would beat the Tide. Ole Miss controlled the tempo of the game from the opening kickoff – which resulted in the first of five forced turnovers - and set the Rebels up with a quick three-point lead.
Yes, there were some lucky plays. With the Rebels leading 17-10, quarterback Chad Kelly grabbed a high snap after it bounced off his hand and shot into the air, then spun and made what appeared to be a horrific decision to throw into double coverage. The pass deflected off of wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and an Alabama defender, but Quincy Adeboyejo – following the play at full speed - grabbed it and raced to the end zone to complete a 66-yard touchdown.
It was a play that immediately brought back memories of Auburn’s Miracle at Jordan-Hare, in which Nick Marshall’s desperation heave on fourth down bounced off of two Georgia Bulldogs and into the waiting hands of Ricardo Louis. It was a play that kept the Tigers in the unexpected position of controlling their destiny to the SEC Championship Game. Which of course, they completed with another miraculous play – the Kick-Six – in the season finale against Alabama.
And that’s another item to consider: with the Rebels in firm control of their own destiny, the schedule sets up quite nicely moving forward. For the second consecutive season, the largest hurdle has already been crossed, but unlike 2014, the Rebels host their toughest opponents in Oxford.
Following next week’s cross-divisional rivalry game with Vanderbilt (how lucky that the Rebels get to play Vandy every year), they travel to The Swamp. It is always tough to beat the Gators at home, but Ole Miss is likely to be favored because they are a more talented team and Florida, though currently 3-0, is still struggling to consistently move the football.
Following two non-conference matchups with New Mexico State and Memphis, the Rebels face a much-improved Texas A&M squad, but at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. A Halloween trip to Auburn now looks much more manageable because the Tigers have struggled so much on both sides of the football, and the following week’s matchup at home against Arkansas appears to be a likely win for similar reasons.
Then, an off week falls on the most ideal weekend imaginable – preceding a Nov. 21 date with LSU. The Tigers ended Ole Miss’ magical run last year with a 10-7 victory in Death Valley, but must travel to Oxford after what are sure to be back-to-back slugfests with Alabama and Arkansas. After its own dominant performance against Auburn Saturday, LSU appears to be the team most likely to challenge Ole Miss for the division title, and hosting the Tigers with an extra week to prepare gives the Rebels a big advantage.
Finally, Ole Miss travels south to Starkville for the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State – an always difficult opponent more for the mutual hatred between the two schools than the makeup of the respective rosters (and at this point early in the 2015 season, it’s clear that the Rebels are a far more talented team capable of snapping their five-game losing streak in the series away from home).
It was just one game – and it certainly wasn’t perfect. Ole Miss gained only 92 rushing yards on 32 carries against Alabama (2.9 yards per attempt), and the Rebels allowed more than 500 yards of offense (including 5.1 yards per carry) and 29 first downs.
But Ole Miss has already overcome what we believed to be the most difficult task on their schedule – a trip to Tuscaloosa against the defending SEC champs, who also happened to be the nation’s No. 2-ranked team. Time will tell whether or not the Rebels have what it takes to take care of business and make it to Atlanta – but they now have the inside track.
— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on SaturdayBlitz.com and FanSided.com. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.
Julio Jones' hands are some amazing things.
The Falcons receiver made an incredible catch over a defender in the game against the Giants. The scary part? Jones makes it look effortless.
Jones knows how to rise up (no pun intended).
It's no secret Stephen A. Smith is not a fan of Jay Cutler, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, right?
During the Bears game against the Cardinals, Cutler threw an interception and got injured trying to make the tackle. Peak Cutler.
Smith, being very Stephen A. Smith, couldn't help but to chime in on the injury with a not-so-nice hashtag.
OMG! Did y'all here the terrible news? Jay Cutler had to leave the game -- after throwing an INT! Awww! I hope he's okay:/). #WasteOfTimeQB— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) September 20, 2015
Smith has made his feelings toward Cutler known, recently calling him an "absolute joke." Hopefully he has no plans to visit Chicago anytime soon.
Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox break down the three biggest games of Week 3 - where we were wrong about pretty much everything.
How do the guys handicap the SEC West moving forward? Is there a national title team in the Pac-12? Who is the team to beat in the Big 12? What the hell is going on with Ohio State? All of that and so much more on this edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.
At a team's home opener, you never know what you're going to find.
During the Vikings' game against the Lions, a parachute jumper almost delayed the game with his antics trying to entertain the crowd. A little too much wind probably got in the way as the parachuter landed directly onto the Lions sideline. Luckily no one was hurt.
A video posted by Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) on
There are a couple things we learned from the movie, "The Blindside." One of them is the movie had a negative effect on Michael Oher's NFL career, and the other is that Leigh Anne Tuohy loves her Rebels.
After Ole Miss took down No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 43-37, the proud alum took to Twitter and mentioned that ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit wasn't too kind to her school. He picked Alabama to win and add that on to the fact that he called the game, the Hoddy Toddy community wasn't too fond of him.
It's safe to say Herbstreit won't be watching the movie anytime soon.
You're embarrassing yourself. Please stop and enjoy your victory. And to think I was a fan of Blindside. https://t.co/ObzPSTiCnn— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 20, 2015
The "College GameDay" host said his mentions were on fire from the Ole Miss fans that didn't like the way he picked against them and the way he called the game.
Wow, didn't realize Ole Miss had a lunatic fringe that was so vocal. Think they'd be happy they just beat Bama in T-Town. #EmbarrassingFans— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 20, 2015
Herbstreit issued an apology to Mrs. Tuohy this morning.
Like to apologize to @LeighAnneTuohy Its never my intent to be disrespectful to any1-just surprised to see some comments on my TL. Good luck— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 20, 2015
Numbers and statistics are a huge part of college football. Every Sunday, reading updated box scores and stats is like Christmas for fans and media members. Some stats like total offense and total defense are overrated, but each help paint a picture for a team or particular game.
Whether the stats are historic, advanced or just an observation from a box score, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 3
12.0: LSU RB Leonard Fournette’s School Record YPC Against Auburn
Fournette was simply unstoppable in Saturday’s 45-21 victory over Auburn. The sophomore gashed the Tigers for 228 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 19 attempts. Fournette showcased his big-play ability on his 19 carries, averaging a new LSU single-game record of 12 yards per carry. Additionally, Fournette’s 387 rushing yards are the most by any LSU player through the first two games in a season.
96.0%: Georgia QB Greyson Lambert Sets NCAA Record
Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert took a huge step forward on Saturday night, setting a NCAA record by completing 96 percent (24 of 25) passes in the win over South Carolina. The 96 percent completion mark is a new NCAA record (minimum of 20 completions), which broke the previous mark held by Tee Martin and Geno Smith (95.8). In addition to setting a new NCAA record, Lambert threw for 330 yards and three scores in Georgia’s 52-20 rout over South Carolina.
3: Wins Over Power 5 Opponents by Notre Dame in 2015
Behind a strong defensive effort and an efficient game from new quarterback DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech 30-22 on Saturday. The victory over the Yellow Jackets secured three wins by the Fighting Irish over Power 5 opponents to open the 2015 season. Notre Dame is the first program since 2012 to accomplish that feat.
1: Touchdown Allowed by Northwestern So Far in 2015
While Northwestern hasn’t faced a gauntlet of offenses (Stanford, Eastern Illinois and Duke) so far, the Wildcats have been stellar on defense. Through three games, Northwestern has allowed only one touchdown – the fewest in college football – and is limiting opponents to just 3.8 yards per play. Additionally, the Wildcats have forced seven turnovers and have yet to allow a play of 40 yards or more. Tougher games and better offenses are ahead, but Northwestern could be a dark horse contender in the Big Ten West Division if this defense continues to perform as it has through the first three weeks.
-5 and 43: Alabama’s Turnovers, Points Allowed Against Ole Miss
Despite outgaining Ole Miss 503 to 433 and holding a 100 to 65 edge in plays, Alabama lost 43-37 in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. Two stats sum up why the Crimson Tide lost: -5 in turnover margin and 43 points allowed. The Crimson Tide’s defense was placed into a couple of bad situations as a result of five turnovers by the offense, but this is the second consecutive SEC game where the Crimson Tide allowed at least 40 points. Alabama has to do a better job of taking care of the ball and settle on a quarterback, but the pass defense shouldn’t be overlooked after giving up an average of 18.9 yards per completion against the Rebels.
3: Interceptions by Ohio State QBs J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones in Week 3
Ohio State was supposed to have the best quarterback situation in college football this season. However, through three weeks of the season, coach Urban Meyer is still trying to sort out the J.T. Barrett versus Cardale Jones quarterback battle. Both signal-callers have struggled at times, including Saturday’s sluggish 20-13 win over Northern Illinois. Barrett completed 11 of 19 attempts for only 97 yards, while Jones threw for 36 yards on four completions. The two quarterbacks combined for three interceptions, which tied the most for the Buckeyes in a game since the Sept. 6, 2014 loss to Virginia Tech.
527: Texas QB Jerrod Heard’s Total Yards Against California
Texas has found its quarterback. While the Longhorns came up short to California on the scoreboard on Saturday night, Heard’s huge performance should answer any lingering questions about the quarterback position. The redshirt freshman accumulated 527 total yards against the Golden Bears, which set a new single-game record at Texas. Heard rushed for 163 yards and three scores and completed 20 of 31 passes for 364 yards. While the Longhorns aren’t happy with a loss, Heard is an exciting and talented piece to build around for the rest of 2015.
4: TCU Defensive Starters Lost for the Season Due to Injury
TCU coach Gary Patterson is one of the top defensive minds in college football, and his ability to adapt and develop personnel is going to be tested in a big way in 2015. The Horned Frogs lost cornerback Ranthony Texada for the season to a knee injury against SMU, which adds to the growing list of ailments for this defense. In addition to Texada’s injury, three other starters – linebacker Sammy Douglas, end James McFarland and safety Kenny Iloka – are missing for the rest of 2015. Starting linebacker Mike Freeze is taking a leave of absence, and defensive linemen Davion Pierson, Mike Tuaua and Terrell Lathan have missed action due to various ailments. While TCU still has one of the nation’s top offenses, the losses on defense are starting to add up and could cost the Horned Frogs a shot at the College Football Playoff.
3: Losses by USC Under Steve Sarkisian to Unranked Teams
Steve Sarkisian is 11-5 as USC’s coach, but three of those losses were against unranked teams. The Trojans were a double-digit favorite against Stanford but lost 41-31 on Saturday night, largely due to their inability to stop the Cardinal offense. The loss to the Cardinal won't help Sarkisian, as the second-year coach was already facing criticism after an underwhelming 9-4 debut and an incident at the program’s kickoff event in August. The loss to Stanford doesn’t end USC’s playoff hopes, but three defeats to unranked teams is not a good trend for Sarkisian.
35-24: Kliff Kingsbury’s Revenge over Bret Bielema
Texas Tech waited over a year to get revenge against Arkansas, but the Red Raiders scored a payback win on Saturday night. After watching the Razorbacks gash the Texas Tech defense for 438 rushing yards last season, the Red Raiders used a strong effort from quarterback Patrick Mahomes (three scores and 301 total yards) to upset Arkansas in Fayetteville. While the game itself was entertaining, it wasn’t as interesting as the post-game comments by Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury about Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.
Several elite wide receivers missed a fair amount of practice time leading into their Week 2 matchups. Are any of these important pass catchers in danger of not playing today or should you consider not starting them for your fantasy team? Get the latest information on these wideouts and a few tight ends below before setting your lineup. And don't forget about the running backs and those key players involved in the later games either.
Alshon Jeffery, WR Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals
Questionable – Hamstring
Jeffery played through the injured hamstring in Week 1, but only had five receptions for 78 yards. He suffered a setback this week in practice, and earned the Questionable tag once again for Week 2. This is a case where Jeffery may end up sitting, but fantasy owners will know early. Even if he does play, it's not a great matchup and he's clearly not at 100 percent. He's a WR2 with a lot of risk this week. If you do have safer options, play them. If Jeffery is out, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson and Martellus Bennett get a boost.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Questionable – Hamstring
Evans did miss Week 1 with the hamstring injury. He was able to put in limited practices this week, but until he tests the hamstring at full game speed, it will be hard to tell if he can play. Evans says he's fine and will play, but the decision is not up to him. If he is active on Sunday (and we will know early this week), he's a high WR2 with the fear he may exit the game early.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
Probable – Hamstring
While Jones did miss some practice this week, he did put in a full practice on Friday. Given the probable tag and the full practice, Jones should be fine to play on Sunday. He's a clear WR1.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
Questionable – Wrist
Walker has a strained ligament in his wrist and missed the majority of practice this week. While he did get out on the field a little on Friday, his playing status will likely depend on how his wrist feels during warmups to determine if he plays today. Even if he is active, try to find a substitute tight end as he may be limited in the game.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. St. Louis Rams
Questionable – Thigh
Reed hurt his quadriceps muscle in practice on Wednesday. He put in limited practices on Thursday and Friday and believes he will play. He is a TE2 if active, because of the risk of re-injury.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Out – Hamstring
Not that many fantasy owners were starting Pettigrew, but this does give Eric Ebron's value a boost. Ebron is a high-end TE2 with Pettigrew ruled out.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
Never change, Marshawn Lynch.
Only the Seahawks running back could be in a commercial and not say a word. Pepsi tapped Lynch for their newest commercial and the does it in the best fashion.
Clemson went on the road for the first time this season and opened its ACC schedule by winning 20-17 at Louisville. It was anything but easy as the game went down to the final moments. But the Tigers held on and remained undefeated.
Everyone that witnessed Dabo Swinney’s postgame locker room dance understands that he was clearly pleased with the victory. But after watching the game film, the Clemson head coach will have plenty of teaching moments to talk to the Tigers about when they get back to practice.
Here are five thoughts on Clemson following the Louisville game.
1. The Clemson Defensive Front Seven is Nasty
Coming into the season, much was made of all the players Clemson lost up front on defense, especially after injuries and other departures hit the team in August. There are no worries now. The Tigers are big and bad on the front seven. Defensive end Shaq Lawson has been a monster and linebacker Ben Boulware has been all over the field. This group may be young, but they are also very good.
2. Cordrea Tankersley Played Very Well
The junior from Beech Island, S.C., played quite a bit last season and is now stepping into the starting cornerback spot opposite Mackensie Alexander. That means that he will see a lot of action because opponents won’t be testing No. 2 all that often. Tankersley had a nice game against Louisville with six tackles and a big interception. If Tankersley continues to excel, it will make Clemson's defense even more suffocating.
3. Deshaun Watson Must Be Healthy
Watson had 12 rushing attempts in the game, including three designed runs in a five-play stretch in the fourth quarter. That would be a pretty good indication that the coaching staff has no reservations about the sophomore’s knee. Watson ran with a much greater purpose in this game, which gives future opponents something to think about.
4. The Offensive Line Must Stay Healthy
Center Ryan Norton was out on Thursday night, so there were some injury concerns coming in. When right tackle Joe Gore left the game and freshman Maverick Morris came in, the results were not good. Even without the injuries, the offensive line is the biggest question mark on that side of the ball and Watson did face pressure on a number of occasions. That being said, it wasn’t all bad. Wayne Gallman ran for 139 yards and the line played a big part in his success.
5. Kicker Greg Huegel Looked Solid
Kicker Ammon Lakip is now eligible to re-join the team following his three-game suspension. But Swinney said that it is no given that he will get his job back and Huegel looks like he wants to keep kicking. The guy Swinney said he found kicking a can in a Bi-Lo parking lot was on target from 27 and 36 yards and is 4-for-5 on field goals this season.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.
Week 2 of the 2015 NFL regular season for the Seattle Seahawks takes them on the road for a rematch of the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers but this time it will be at legendary Lambeau Field. The Packers hold a 10-8 series advantage with the Seahawks, with Seattle winning the last meeting in the conference title game, 28-22 in overtime at CenturyLink Field on Jan. 18.
The Seahawks were all over the map with their play in a season-opening 34-31 loss in St. Louis last Sunday. Offensively, the pass protection had its issues, as expected, as the Rams were in Russell Wilson’s face non-stop, collecting six sacks. And when the Rams did not get to him they were getting plenty of shots at him. In the passing game as a whole Wilson was very accurate, completing 32 of 41 attempts for 251 yards and new tight end Jimmy Graham did get involved with six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. However, the defense was the true disappointment and it was more than just Kam Chancellor not being in the secondary, as the tackling was horrendous. It will not matter how long Chancellor holds out if the front seven can't do its part when it comes to making the stop or brining an opposing ball carrier down to the turf.
Green Bay continued its mastery of NFC North archrival Chicago in a 31-23 road victory last Sunday. Aaron Rodgers was efficient in the passing game, throwing for 189 yards and three touchdowns, as the Packers' offense was successful in its first game without wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Eddie Lacy helped out nicely in the running game chipping in 85 yards on 19 carries, which kept the Bears at bay defensively. Defensively, the Packers kept quarterback Jay Cutler in check like they always do, but did allow Matt Forte to run for 141 yards on 24 carries. So of course they will have to be on guard for a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch Sunday night.
Seattle at Green Bay
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Green Bay -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Pete Carroll
After another illogical decision at the start of the overtime to have kicker Steven Hauschka do a horrendously executed onside kick that effectively gave away the game to St. Louis. It is high time for Carroll to stop acting hormonal now with the pass at the one-yard line in the Super Bowl instead of giving Marshawn Lynch the ball and this botched onside kick decision. If Carroll continues to put the team in tough situations by taking illogical risks at the wrong time you could put very easily see the Seahawks implode and underachieve with a 9-7 or 10-6 type of season in 2015 instead of making a serious push to get back back to a third straight Super Bowl.
2. Marshawn Lynch
Lynch grinded out 73 yards on 18 carries against the Rams and was given the ball on the 4th-and-1 play in overtime at St. Louis' 42-yard line. Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell is going to need to feed Lynch heavily as the Packers showed in Week 1 that they can be susceptible to the run and continue to shut out the outside noise, such as Lynch’s mom Delisa calling for Bevell’s firing this past week. Lynch just needs to continue to be Beast Mode and pound on the Green Bay defense all game long and wear them down in the second half.
3. Aaron Rodgers vs. Seahawks' Defense
With Kam Chancellor out it is going to be fascinating to see how Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers attack the Seattle secondary. Nick Foles was able to get his share of big plays against the Seahawks last Sunday, so the vulnerability is very real for this defense. Without the presence of Jordy Nelson as a deep threat look for a steady diet of Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and James Jones, who had four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago. Also, Rodgers is going to attack Richard Sherman to some degree, especially if the Seahawks have to move Sherman around from his usual left cornerback position.
Logic says that Green Bay should beat Seattle by double figures as everything is aligned for the Packers to do so with the Seahawks in a heightened state of chaos. But, the Seahawks during the reign of Pete Carroll have defied logic and the odds whenever their backs have been against the wall over the past couple of seasons. Thus, Seattle is going to find a way to get the game into the fourth quarter with a chance to win but will fall short. They will fall short as this time Aaron Rodgers will have the ball in his hands with Green Bay leading by one score and, unlike the game on Sept. 24, 2012, will get the first down needed to salt away the game. It is very simple Seattle is the underdog and not expected to win and the Packers and their fans especially have absolutely zero excuses for not beating the Seahawks on Sunday night.
Prediction: Packers 23, Seahawks 17
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow him on Twitter @scottwhittum.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)
If it’s possible this early in the season, there will be some desperation in the stadium Sunday when the Cowboys visit Philadelphia, thanks to the Eagles’ week-one belly-flop in Atlanta. You know the statistics by now. Fewer than 10% of teams that open the season 0-2 reach the playoffs. For the Eagles, who entered 2015 expecting to trample the NFC East, avoiding those odds is vital.
Dallas, meanwhile, is enjoying the fruits of the Giants’ late-game gaffe last week and is the only East Division team with a 1-0 record. But the Cowboys have problems of their own. They will be without top receiver Dez Bryant, defensive end Randy Gregory and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. That won’t make life easy against an angry Eagles team looking to get its 2015 season back on track.
Dallas at Philadelphia
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET
Point spread: Eagles -5
Three Things to Watch
1. Running on Empty
The Eagles rushed for a meager 63 yards on just 16 carries against the Falcons, and for a team that wants to move the ball on the ground, that is unacceptable. New starting guards Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre did not look too dominant on the interior, and the vaunted trio of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles never got going.
“The down linemen, we weren’t getting much movement,” tackle Lane Johnson said. “We started going more outside zone, trying to put bigger guys on smaller guys in space. That worked well in the second half.”
It did, but if the Eagles can’t run their inside zone plays, their offense will be far less potent than it could be.
Bryant had a screw inserted into his foot Monday and will be out four-to-six weeks. That means Dallas must rely on Terrance Williams, Devin Street and Cole Beasley as the main targets for Tony Romo. That isn’t exactly a trio capable of scaring an opposing secondary. But you know who does cause problems, especially for the Eagles? Tight end Jason Witten. And if the Eagles can’t get a pass rush on Romo, as they struggled to do in the first half against Atlanta last week, it won’t matter who is running the pass routes, because they will have time to get open.
3. Max-ed Out
The Eagles spent a lot of money on Byron Maxwell during the off-season, hoping the ex-Seahawk could improve Philadelphia’s weak secondary. Against the Falcons, Maxwell spent a lot of time watching Julio Jones catch passes. Matt Ryan targeted receivers Maxwell was covering 10 times and completed nine passes for 154 yards. Even without Bryant in the lineup, Dallas could still have a big passing day if Maxwell plays like he did in the first game.
The Cowboys have a chance to establish themselves as the NFC East favorite with a win, and even though they have a few key players out, they still have one of the best offensive lines in football and a quarterback in Romo who excels if given some time. It will be interesting to see if running back Joseph Randle can improve on last week’s unspectacular 65-yard performance, especially since former Cowboy Murray is on the other sideline.
Murray would like to have a big game against his former team, but the Eagles’ need for good ground production goes beyond any revenge factor. Philadelphia’s pass-run balance was awful last week (52-16), and that’s not how Chip Kelly wants his teams to operate. If the Eagles can’t run the ball successfully in the middle, they’ll have to resort to sweeps again, and that’s not the best way to thrive. The Eagles had better play 60 good minutes defensively, too, and that depends on a consistent pass rush and more reliable play in the secondary.
Prediction: Eagles 30, Cowboys 24
— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.
The Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars meet each other for the seventh time on Sunday afternoon. The Dolphins have a 4-3 (including postseason) series advantage. Both teams enter their Week 2 matchup in different ways.
Miami defeated the Washington Redskins 17-10 in Week 1 behind a late punt return touchdown by wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Jacksonville lost to the Carolina Panthers 20-9 at Everbank Field. The Panthers forced three turnovers, including a Josh Norman interception for a touchdown.
Miami at Jacksonville
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Miami -6.5
Three Things to Watch For
1. Miami Defensive Line
The Dolphins defensive line had a lot of hype surrounding it coming into the regular season. The team acquired All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and some experts expected the Dolphins to become one of the best defenses in the league. Miami’s defense looked far from great last week against Washington.
The Dolphins gave up 161 rushing yards to the Redskins last week. Washington ran away from Suh and used a lot of zone blocking to keep the Miami defense off balance.
Suh said he graded his performance as “poor” and the defensive line will play better as time goes on.
“At the end of the day it’s individual rushers that come together as a unit", said Suh. “So over time, obviously you have to play with guys to get a good feel for them and how they like to rush and do different things so over time you’ll be able to get good and be able to play off each other and do different things like that. I think we’ve done that in the past. I think we can continue to do it and have success in the future.”
This week, the Dolphins defensive line will have the task of slowing down running back T.J. Yeldon and the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Despite the win last week, the Miami defensive line hopes they can perform better in Jacksonville.
2. Blake Bortles
Last season, Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles had a very rough rookie season. In 14 games, Bortles threw for 2,908 yards and 11 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. Now that he had a full season to adjust to the NFL, Bortles is a player many expect to improve this season, but he had a mediocre performance in Week 1.
Bortles finished 22-of-40 for 183 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. He also completed 55 percent of his passes against the Carolina defense.
With the Dolphins focusing on improving on their rush defense this week, Bortles will have to make plays in order for the Jaguars to win the game.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Bortles wasn’t the only quarterback who comes into this game not playing well in Week 1. While the numbers say Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill played a solid game, the fourth-year player believes he can play better.
“Obviously, I wasn’t happy with how I played, but we got the win", said Tannehill. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re working for and we’re looking to correct the things that we didn’t do so well.”
Tannehill completed 22-of-34 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown pass last week against the Redskins, but he left a number of plays out on the field. He missed on a number of passes, including a pass to tight end Dion Sims, which Sims stretched out and suffered a concussion in the end zone.
If the Dolphins are going to win the AFC East like many experts predicted, Tannehill will have to play a lot better than he did in Week 1. He looked like the same inconsistent quarterback Tannehill has been the last three seasons and that won’t get the Dolphins to the playoffs.
In spite of their below average performance on offense last week against Washington, the Dolphins defense forced two interceptions. Against another inexperience quarterback in Bortles, the opportunities will be there to force turnovers.
Unless the Jaguars can run the ball like the Redskins did last week, it will be hard to control the ball like Washington did. While T.J. Yeldon has a lot of talent, he isn’t nearly as talent as Washington running back Alfred Morris, who had 121 yards on 25 carries against the Dolphins defense in Week 1.
Jacksonville has a very questionable offensive line, so that should create more opportunities for Suh, Cameron Wake and the Dolphins defensive line to make more plays this week.
Expect the Dolphins to run the ball more to running back Lamar Miller, which will take pressure off of Tannehill. Jacksonville finished fifth in the NFL in sacks a season ago and the Miami offensive line gave up three sacks to an inferior defensive line.
If Bortles can avoid the major mistake, Jacksonville should keep it close at halftime before Miami pulls away in the second half.
Prediction: Dolphins 28, Jaguars 13
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
We did take an early at some of the big-name players that were injured heading into Week 2 on Thursday, but now we have an official list of the running backs (and one quarterback) that may affect your fantasy lineup decisions heading into the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs on Sunday. Some of these ball carriers are likely to play, others may end up being the dreaded game-time decision, and a few have already been ruled out.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
Questionable – Hamstring
McCoy played through his hamstring injury in Week 1 and looked okay. He put up 87 total yards, but he suffered a setback on Thursday and left practice early. McCoy had a limited practice on Friday and the word out of Buffalo is that he'll play. However, know this is a risky situation as he may suffer a setback during the game. Start him if he's active, but try to grab Karlos Williams as a handcuff in case he doesn't play.
C.J. Spiller, RB, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Questionable - Knee
After missing Week 1, Spiller may play today. He had a surgical procedure done on his knee during the preseason. He did put in limited practices this week, which typically puts a player on track to play on Sunday. However, since he has been out, his role may be smaller than usual. Mark Ingram will still be in for a big role as Spiller is eased back in the offense. He's a low RB3 for Week 1.
Tre Mason and Todd Gurley, RBs, St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins
Questionable – Thigh, Questionable – Knee
Both running backs are questionable this week, although it looks like Mason will play and Gurley will sit. Benny Cunningham's value takes a hit if Mason does play. If both Mason and Gurley play, Cunningham is a RB2. If Mason plays, he's a RB2. If Gurley plays he likely will be on limited snaps, so leave him on the bench for another week to see how this RBBC shakes out.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears
Out – Knee
Ellington injured his PCL in Week 1 and the original reports were that he was day-to-day. However, given Ellington's injury history and the nature of a PCL injury, it seemed likely he would miss Week 2. It is possible he misses Week 3 as well; watch the practice reports for more information in the coming week. Chris Johnson will be the lead back with David Johnson taking some carries as well. Chris Johnson is a RB2; David Johnson is a RB3.
Reggie Bush, RB, San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Out – Calf
Bush has already been ruled out for Week 2, leaving the door open for Carlos Hyde to have another big week against the Steelers. Bush says he'll play in Week 3, but watch the practice reports this week.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns
Out – Concussion
McCown has been ruled out for Week 2, leaving Johnny Manziel to start the game. Ignore as much of the Browns’ offense for fantasy purposes as you can.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
While most of the questionable players were in the 1 p.m. ET games this week (fantasy owners breathe a sigh of relief), there are still several noteworthy players on the injury reports for the later games. Take a look at the early game injury report for RBs and WRs/TEs and as always, monitor the actives and inactives when they are posted. In the meantime, here are the players to be concerned with for fantasy purposes for the later games, including two key ones for Monday night.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (Mon.)
Questionable – Groin
After being limited in Thursday's practice, it was revealed that Ivory pulled his groin, although the team said it was minor. He did put in a limited practice on Friday, and should be on track to play on Monday night. Because fantasy owners will have to make a decision before knowing his status, this will be tough. Bilal Powell could be added as a handcuff, but it does appear that Ivory will play. And if he does, you may want to strongly consider taking your chances with this Jet.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets (Mon.)
Questionable – Knee
Hilton bruised his knee in the Colts’ Week 1 loss in Buffalo and fantasy owners rushed to the waiver wire to pick up Donte Moncrief. The knee injury was never serious, and just a matter of managing the pain and discomfort. With treatments all week, Hilton was able to get in a limited practice on Saturday. He will likely be a game-time decision and fantasy owners should play it safe and not count on having Hilton this week.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Probable – Shoulder
Cobb practiced on a limited basis all week, but he didn't suffer a setback from his preseason shoulder injury in last week's game either, so it was not a question that he would play in Week 2. He's a WR1 even with a matchup with Richard Sherman.
Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders
Probable – Shoulder, Probable – Knee
Forsett was disappointing in Week 1, and he didn't have Taliaferro active on the roster behind him. However, the matchup against the Raiders is better than the one against Denver. Both running backs should play, given the probable status and the full practices on Friday. However, Forsett is still a RB1 and Taliaferro isn't on the fantasy radar except as a handcuff to Forsett.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins
Probable – Hamstring
With Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Rashad Greene ahead of Lee on the Jaguars’ WR depth chart, and Blake Bortles as the quarterback, Lee doesn’t have fantasy value at this point. However, he did not play in Week 1 and will likely play in Week 2.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
At 59 years old, Sugar Ray Leonard stays busy in Los Angeles with his wife, four children, three dogs, charity work, broadcasting and, of course, golf. We caught up with the man whose ambitions — “I tried to be like (Muhammad) Ali. I tried to be like Bruce Lee. I tried to be like Elvis Presley. I tried to be like Sugar Ray Robinson. I wanted to be more than just a boxer but an entertainer and a star,” Leonard says — led to an illustrious boxing career that includes winning an Olympic gold medal and becoming the first boxer to win world titles in five different weight classes.
Tell me a little bit about the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation?
Well, it’s been what? Six years now. It’s a foundation I started with my wife, Bernadette, some time ago. And the reason being is because, first off my father’s diabetic and I’ve come to see that my friends kids are diabetic. And it seems to be more prevalent among African-Americans, Hispanics and also a result of obesity and what have you. So it was one of those things that really hit home and became personal and we started the foundation with the hopes of raising awareness and raising funds that we could give to certain programs.
We’ve teamed up with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, providing funds that go towards outreach programs so that those kids in inner cities can learn how to eat better. Again, it’s tough, because they have what they have but when it’s family-oriented it has a better impact because they help each other. Show them how to exercise and things that are so simple yet so important in everyday lives. It’s very dear to me.
You’re a motivational speaker as well, explain your “POWER” message.
Well, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, maybe even longer. And my philosophy is POWER — “prepare, overcome, win every round.” Because I’ve always felt that people are fighters outside the ring and the same principles that I have applied to become a champion and a winner are applicable in everyday life. You get knocked down, you need a great corner, all those things that I needed, I needed everywhere, on every platform. It’s been a wonderful journey, if you will, of doing that.
Speaking of winning every round, you beat Floyd Mayweather Sr. Do you think in your prime you could’ve beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
You know it’s so funny you mention that. What’s so funny about it, there’s really not a day goes by that I’m not asked about Mayweather and I did beat his father back in 1978. And I was in Vegas a few weeks ago and I was walking to my car and I was walking in the hallway and all the sudden I saw like 20 people walking towards me. I’m like, “What the hell is this?” And all of the sudden, who comes out from the middle? It’s Floyd. And he walks up to me and we stand almost like nose-to-nose.
Like at a weigh-in?
Right. Yeah, exactly. He said, “Ray, in my era, I could beat you.” And I said, “You know what man? In my era, I could beat you.” He said, “I could take you down.” I said, “I could take you down.” He looked at me and said, “You know what? I know you beat my father but this is me.” I said, “Check this out. Like father like son.”
I read that you’re the godfather of Khloe Kardashian. What’s it like being around that kind of nonstop media attention?
You know, when I see Khloe it’s not like that because either we’re at the house or somewhere private. I’m never in the public like that. I’ve known that family since those girls, or those women were girls, were little girls. It’s amazing how they’ve grown. But when I’m around them, it’s always the privacy of our own surroundings.
You’ve been in the spotlight some yourself since your fighting days. You competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” How was that?
You know what man? I would have preferred to fight (“Marvelous” Marvin) Hagler and (Thomas “The Hitman”) Hearns the same night. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I never worked so hard in my life. You know I lost like 15 pounds doing that thing. They say there’s a correlation between boxing and ballroom dancing. No. No, it’s not. They keep their chin up and my chin should not be up. And my shoulders are more rounded and their shoulders are exposed. But it was the best experience. I really had fun.
What was the transition like from fighter to ex-fighter?
That is one of the most difficult things for any fighter. The transition. And it took me maybe, I don’t know, 10 years before I really finally got it out of my system. Because you never say, “I’m too old.” And you always say, “Well, I haven’t had a fight in five years.” I mean, that’s a factor. But fighters, we fight. And unless we have something that’s going to substitute or even take the attention away from what we’ve done, it’s going to be hard. You have to prepare yourself. But preparation is not that easy because there’s nothing greater than raising your hands and being the best in the world.
It’s so seductive. The fame and the fortune — especially if you’re of that marquee level. The fame and fortune is so seductive that you don’t want to let it go. You always believe you have one more fight left in you. And that’s the fault of most fighters, myself included. We think we have one more. And the fact that we train, we train hard. Training is one thing, that’s the easy part. Getting mentally prepared is another. Because we live the life of the caviar, private planes, suites in hotels and then we try to be that hungry fighter, that gladiator, that warrior who has to dig deep and show intestinal fortitude. But you don’t have it like that anymore. You just don’t have it that way. It’s a natural thing that we all lose at some point. We’re competitive but we’re not that competitive.
Has broadcasting and being around the sport of boxing helped fill the void? Where does broadcasting fit into all of this?
For me, where I am today? Fortunately I’m 59 and my birthday comes around every week it seems like. But broadcasting with PBC on NBC, it’s my life. I love the sport. I know the sport more than most. I’ve lived this thing, I’ve sweat this thing, I’ve bled this thing. And to see up-and-coming stars and these young boxers trying to duplicate or emulate or trying to be like you. It’s humbling. It’s very humbling.
What do you do to stay in shape these days?
I still work out. I play tennis. I run. I’m actually sitting in my gym right now. You know what? I love feeling good. I work out. What do they call it? The endorphins? It’s such a feeling of accomplishment. It’s like a cup of coffee in the morning when I work out. You cannot not work out. You have to work out. For us, we train our hearts out for years and then we just try to do nothing one day. And our body is like a machine, like a classic car. You train hard and you can’t just quit. You can’t just not do anything. You put on the weight. There’s a lot of fighters who just do nothing. But you have to work out. I love it. I truly love working out.
Any fitness tips for the average Joe who may not be a former champion?
First of all, it depends on where you are as far as fitness is concerned. I truly believe it’s just about listening to your body, especially if you’re older. But as a youngster, I think you should just do what you enjoy doing. Whatever you do, whatever makes you break a sweat. I think everyone should break a sweat, minimum of five days a week — whether it’s 20 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour. But do something that you enjoy doing, you know what I mean? I love it. It keeps me going. It wakes me up in the morning.
That’s great advice. I’ve seen you on Sketchers ads. Is there a particular type of shoe you wear while working out?
Memory foam. I love that shoe in particular. I’m a Sketchers man. I love what they produce. Class. Everything is class.
Do you have any hobbies outside of working out?
My golf. That is my hobby. That is my therapy. And tennis. It’s my therapy, it’s my hobby, it’s my sport. I love that. I’m a simple man by nature, so it doesn’t take much to make me happy. As long as I’m productive. As long as I’m talking about something that’s important to me, like my foundation. As long as I am promoting and being a part of something, like Sketchers. All the things that I do, I do them with my heart. My foundation is from the heart. Endorsing Sketchers is from the heart. When I speak, I speak from the heart. And when I was fighting, I fought from the heart. Everything I do is from the heart.
Do you have any pets?
I’ve got a pit bull, a miniature schnauzer and a little Pekingese. I love my dogs. I love my dogs big time.
Looking back, what’s your favorite memory in the ring?
Oh my God. I’ve been blessed with so many. The (Roberto) Duran fight. Unfortunately I lost but came back. 1980. The “No Mas” fight. And then there’s Tommy Hearns. We’re friends now. We call each other and try to brainstorm on what kind of projects we want to do together. Hagler. I bump into Hagler every now and then at some sort of Hall of Fame function. He doesn’t really get out as much or he’s not as much in the country. But c’mon, I had nothing short of an illustrious boxing career.
Without question. Those were the days, man. It’s so funny, I look back now and say, “Man!” And I remember everything vividly. I vividly remember moments, even smells, whether it’s the sweat or looking at my opponent in his eyes and he has a look like he’s trying to kill me or trying to knock me out. And I remember those moments, I remember those times, those defining moments and that will be a part of my legacy.
What role does your family play in your life these days?
I’m one of the lucky ones, my parents are still living. My dad is like 93. My mom’s a feisty 86. They live now in Columbia, South Carolina. I just stopped my father from driving last year. It was so hard. Your parents still living?
Okay. Well, I said, “Hey Pops, you can’t drive anymore.” He looked at me with those eyes and said, “Forever?” I said, “Forever. Pops, you can’t drive forever.” Cause it’s independence, it’s his independence. But I’ve been blessed that my parents are still around for so long. You know?
It’s a blessing.
Back in the day, back in 1976 I nearly lost my father. My father had spinal meningitis and tuberculosis. He went into a coma. And that was the only reason I turned professional, was to make fast money. Because I was going to the University of Maryland. But you know, things happen. Things are pre-destined. Things happen for a reason.
I wasn’t just a fighter, you know. I tried to be like Ali. I tried to be like Bruce Lee. I tried to be like Elvis Presley. I tried to be like Sugar Ray Robinson. I wanted to be more than just a boxer but an entertainer and a star. Special. And I worked so hard, every single day. I mean, we’re talking about when I was 14, 15, 16, 17. I had that vision of becoming something. Didn’t really know what it was but I knew it was worth the sacrifice. And it all came to fruition.
That’s amazing. Speaking of being more than a fighter, did you catch any of the Ronda Rousey fight?
Oh my God. Yeah. In fact, I made sure I taped it. She is a beast. She is special. She is different. She’s a machine. She’s such a tactician. She’s so tactical. She’s so strong and she’s so determined. And I love her. I love her. I watched every bit of, what, 35 seconds? Maybe that was too long. Maybe 34 seconds.
It was unreal. How has MMA impacted boxing?
You know they keep saying that. They keep saying that it’s because of MMA or UFC that they’re the ones responsible for taking boxing away from us, or the fans. That’s not true. They both can coexist. They both are kind of totally different sports. It’s very primal and so real and gladiators. It’s heart, guts and intestinal fortitude. And just everything, man. Everything. It’s all those things wrapped into one. And I look at Ronda Rousey and she’s that. You look at her. She’s pretty but she’s dangerous.
That’s for sure. Concussions have become an issue in all sports, not just boxing. What are your thoughts on long-term concussion issues with boxing, in particular?
I think because of the nature of the sport — you are pounding, you’re hitting, you’re traumatizing. When you become a boxer, you don’t think about that. And now it’s prevalent among football players and any physical contact sport, trauma. But I’m sure that at some point they — “they” meaning scientists or whatever — will find a way to minimize or stop any severe or fatal damage that is done. But you know boxing is a poor man’s sport. I couldn’t afford to play tennis or golf or whatever. They were not in my neighborhood. Those things were not available in my neighborhood. Boxing is a sport that I was able to enjoy and take advantage of and become dominant.
I read that you were named after your mother’s favorite musician, Ray Charles. Is that true?
That’s so true, man.
Do you have a favorite Ray Charles song?
He sang “America the Beautiful.” He sang at my “No Mas” fight against Duran. I mean, of all the places for me to meet my namesake. A place where I needed him, needed that additional boost was at the “No Mas” fight. And he sang. I felt confident from the very beginning of the fight. But with him singing, I said, “There’s just no way, no way Duran can beat me tonight. Nobody can beat me tonight.” He sang and he walks over to me and gave me a big kiss and says, “Kick his ass.”
You mentioned golfing. Have you played with any celebrities?
Oh my God, yeah. I played with President Clinton.
Nice. How was he?
We had the best time. Check this out. I’ll quickly tell you a story. I was driving home with my wife and my cell phone rings. Pick it up and my boy says, “Hey Ray, you want to play golf with President Clinton?” I said, “No. I’m busy.” And I hung up. My wife says, “Are you crazy?” I said, “He’s just bullshitting me.” She says, “Call him back.” I said, “Hey, just have them call me at the house.” So I get home and the phone rings and this guy says, “Hello, Mr. Leonard. This is Sergeant Tom Johnson, the President will see you at Riviera at about 3 o’clock.” I live across the street from Riviera, so I had to go.
I went over there, messing around, was hitting some balls, chipping. All the sudden I say, “Goddammit, he got me.” So I’m walking back towards my car and all of the sudden President Clinton comes around and says, “Hey Ray, how you doing?” He said, “You tee off first.” I’m like, “Wha-wha-wha-what?” And I held my club so tight and I said, “God, I don’t call you that often but please don’t let me miss the ball.” I swung and I hit the ball like 250 yards down the middle and I was like, “Holy cow.” I shot my best round. I think I shot 41 on the front (nine). We played like 10 or 12 holes. And he signed my card.
How did President Clinton play?
Uh… Well, he kept taking mulligans.
Any other brushes with greatness?
I’ve had some incredible moments. I was in South Africa, giving a speech and Nelson Mandela was there. And they call my office and ask if I’ll have dinner with him that night. I couldn’t believe it, man. I went to his house and he opened the door and he gave me a big hug and said, “My champion, I love you. But one thing I don’t tolerate is people being late.” I just started sweating, right? I started sweating and then he said, “My photographer should have been here a long time ago.” I thought he was talking about me.
Those are the kind of moments and times that I’ve had because of the success I’ve had in boxing. I mean, how do you get better than Nelson Mandela or playing golf with President Clinton.
What did you and Nelson Mandela talk about?
He said, “You really inspire me, son.” I said, “Sir, to the contrary, you inspire me.” He was a boxer. You know he was a boxer, right? He was an amateur boxer. And I actually gave him my championship belt. I mean, being that man and what he’s dealt with, 99 percent of us couldn’t deal with that.
Incredible. I gave him my belt and I said, “Sir, you are the real champion.” And he put it in his house.
The man who contemplated retirement on an annual basis — and actually went through with it a few times, only to change his mind and come back for more — has found peace and happiness now that he’s finally embraced it.
And not even the roar of 67,000 adoring fans welcoming him to home to Lambeau Field in July for his induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, or slinging passes to his old teammates during a charity flag-football game the next day, will change his mind.
“I don’t believe I’ll be making a comeback,” Brett Favre said with a laugh after throwing two touchdown passes and an interception to his fellow “has beens” (his words). “My feet are killing me.”
Favre, 45, played 20 NFL seasons, including 16 with the Packers and two with the rival Minnesota Vikings, a move that infuriated many of his fans at the time but is now all but forgotten by most. We caught up with the legendary QB to ask him about his record-breaking career and life after the game with wife Deanna, daughters Breleigh and Brittany and grandsons Parker and A.J.
What’s your life like nowadays?
I would say fairly normal. One of the things Reggie White told me after he retired was, (doing his best imitation of White’s deep baritone) “I’m telling you, the one thing you’re going to miss is NOT football.” And I thought, “He’s crazy.” And I haven’t missed football. I’ve missed [coach] Mike [Holmgren] chewing my butt, rooming with [best friend] Frank [Winters], bus rides. And that’s what I miss. I don’t miss 3rd-and-15 in the Metrodome and we haven’t won a game there in eight years. I don’t miss that. I miss the camaraderie with the guys. I miss the things that Reggie told me I would miss and he’s right. It’s less about the game and more about the people.
You have two grandsons. You once said that if you had a son, you wouldn’t let him play football. Do you still feel that way?
I still kind of feel that way. Now, my two grandsons, one’s five, one’s a year, and what they’ll do, I don’t know. Brittany’s husband is a soccer guy — he’s actually from England — so they may play soccer, they may play football, I don’t know. But there is this, I don’t know what you’d call it — anxiety, knowing what football can do. Now, in saying that, I had a wonderful career. Did I get my share of hits and bumps and bruises? Of course. What are the long-term effects? Time will tell. I don’t know. I don’t think the cumulative of playing 20 years of football, plus in college, that’s 24, plus high school, has a positive effect on you. I would be nervous, for obvious reasons. It’s a violent game.
You were fearless as a player, but it doesn’t sound like you’re that way with the boys.
[My brothers] and I, we were into everything. If Mom and Dad turned their backs, were we out in the street, we were doing who knows what. And how they got through that, I have no idea. Because now as a parent and as a grandpa, every little move and every little detail, I want to be watching and observing and making sure they don’t get hurt or whatever. I would have never thought that I would be that way. But I’m totally the opposite of what I thought I’d be. I do have anxiety. You’d think I’d be, “Hey, throw ‘em out there. Let ‘em go. They’ve got to be kids.” I understand that, but you also know [the dangers].
How does it feel to have reconnected with the Packers and their fans after how ugly things got in the summer of 2008?
I feel much better now because things are in a much better place and I — like most people, probably — questioned if we would ever get to that point. And not only have we gotten to that point, but we’ve gotten there times 100. I remember leaving the stadium and going home [before being traded to the New York Jets in August 2008], and it was like leaving family, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see them, or if we’ll ever be as close as we have been. I remember thinking as I left, just me, just thinking in the car, “How did it ever get to this? I cannot believe we’re at this point, after 16 great years, wonderful years.”
How then did it feel to have 67,000 fans cheering you upon your return to Lambeau Field?
The emotions were far greater than what I thought they were going to be. And that’s a tribute to the fans. It really is. Amazing. I feel like I’m back home. I can’t stress to you how overwhelming it was, not only for me but for my family. What a great feeling.
If the Falcons hadn’t traded you to Green Bay, do you think you would’ve had the career you did?
Let me say this: I’m glad we don’t have to find out. Had I stayed in Atlanta, I don’t see much upside there. I felt stuck. [Falcons coach] Jerry [Glanville] didn’t like me. I had gotten lost in the shuffle. No one really, I walked past players and no one even knew who I was. And I just don’t know if time would have allowed for that to happen. And then you fall through the cracks — it happens all the time. But the great thing about Atlanta is it got me to Green Bay. And the rest is history. It was a perfect fit. It just all fell into place. I think I related to the fans there more than I would have anywhere else. It could not have happened any better.
Is it tougher for young professional athletes today than when you played?
There’s no doubt today it is tougher. You can criticize your coaches on Twitter, your teammates on Facebook, and things like that and it’s instantaneous. The old-timey coaches are like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” We’re all human. We all make mistakes. But as athletes, celebrities, it’s more visible. You live and learn. I’m thankful that I survived the early stages of my career. I haven’t had a drink since ’98, and I’m very thankful for that. I survived drug addiction and seizures and so forth. God was looking out for me, even though I was not looking out for myself. And a lot of the things that I’ve done, I obviously regret, but it’s about moving on and becoming a better person. I have a long ways to go, never will be perfect, but I do strive to be that person.
How do you view your career?
I had dreams and aspirations. All I thought about was playing pro football and pro baseball as a kid. Now, probably most kids think that way. But I’m one of those that can say, ‘My dreams came true.’ But then, also, say they were surpassed. When things went bad [in Green Bay] … it was unfortunate. It hurt me, it hurt the Packers fans, it hurt the Packer organization emotionally. But I knew what I had done spoke for itself. And it’s kind of like looking in a mirror and liking what you see. We all have flaws, we’ve all made bad decisions, we’ve all made mistakes that we later regret, but just the body of work. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But I played as hard as I could, I did everything I possibly could. I committed myself to the team, the organization and the fans, and more than anything, if there was anything that bothered me, it was that I didn’t do more. But I do know that I did all I could.
by Jason Wilde
After Texas Tech’s road victory at Arkansas, coach Kliff Kingsbury had a few pointed words for Razorbacks’ coach Bret Bielema.
Before we provide you with the postgame quotes from Twitter, it’s important to remember Arkansas won at Texas Tech last season, and Bielema isn’t shy about expressing his opinion:
Kliff Kingsbury just said "(Bielema) just got his ass kicked." Really.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 20, 2015
Kingsbury said Bielema told HS coaches in Texas this summer he'd kick their asses if they didn't play with a fullback or threw it 70 times.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 20, 2015
Clearly, Kingsbury took that very, very personally.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 20, 2015
"He's a prideful guy and says what's on his mind, but it just hasn't worked out for him," Kingsbury on Bielema.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 20, 2015
Kingsbury said he's the son of a Texas HS coach and 90 percent of Texas runs the spread, so yes, he took Bielema saying that personally.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) September 20, 2015
It’s no secret defenses fake injuries when playing up-tempo offenses to get the necessary substitutions on the field or simply catch their breath before the next play.
Against California, Texas linebacker Edwin Freeman appeared to be just fine after a play. However, all of a sudden, Freeman fell as if he was injured. Needless to say, this is a fake injury flop (and not a good one at that).
Yeah bro, you definitely hurt. pic.twitter.com/vm4eunyx7b— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 20, 2015
The Miami Hurricanes did their best to exploit every weakness Nebraska had and it still almost wasn’t enough. Down 30-10 heading into the fourth quarter, the Huskers outscored the ‘Canes 23-3 to tie things up but came up short in overtime.
The immediate takeaways from the Huskers' trip to South Beach:
- What we saw was essentially Tommy Armstrong versus Miami. He didn’t get much help from his running backs, receivers and the defense had him and the Big Red offense back on the field in a hurry.
Yes, you can blame him for throwing the interception that ultimately decided the game, but the Big Red wouldn’t have been in overtime if not for Nebraska’s starting quarterback.
- Miami made a mission of clogging the Huskers’ running game and making them a one-dimensional team. Mission accomplished as Terrell Newby’s day was full of sputtering.
- Not only did Miami plug the middle successfully for the most part, the Hurricanes put so much pressure on and covered Nebraska’s wide outs so well, drops were commonplace.
If half of the Big Red’s drops were catches, this would’ve been a much closer game from the start and maybe, just maybe, the Huskers win in regulation.
- The offensive line’s work was shaky again. It wouldn’t surprise to see Tanner Farmer or Jerald Foster to get a snap or two versus Southern Miss.
Alex Lewis gets his own special call out. As a player, he cost his team major gains and more or less served up the Miami win on a silver platter. As a captain, this is unacceptable.
I have no doubt Mike Cavanaugh will have a little one-on-one with him.
- There is absolutely no pass rush up front. Greg McMullen’s simply…well, there. Even if Big Vince was in with Maliek Collins, I have to think Jack Gangwish would’ve had a similar game as Freedom Akinmoladun.
- Miami did an excellent job taking Nebraska’s linebackers out of the equation, especially when the Huskers moved back into the Nickel formation. Josh Banderas didn’t look 100 percent at all.
- Daniel Davie is officially a liability. Joshua Kalu and Jonathan Rose should be the Big Red’s starting cornerbacks moving forward. Perhaps Chris Jones takes over at cornerback when Kalu get moved out to the nickel back position.
- The Santino Panico-Jordan Westerkamp comparisons can finally stop. While No. 1 is no De'Mornay Pierson-El (who would’ve put up some points versus Miami on returns at the very least), he has some shake and bake.
- Props to Drew Brown for putting a 49-yarder down the middle. Slammin’ Sammy Foltz may have come back a bit too early. A 40-yard average just isn’t him.
- While the loss hurts, much like the BYU loss, Nebraska isn’t in position to win with Bo Pelini at the helm. Many asked how the Huskers were in position to win the game at all. Mike Riley, that’s how.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette was simply unstoppable in the 45-21 win over Auburn on Saturday. The sophomore back gashed Auburn for 228 yards and three scores on 19 carries, averaging a whopping 12 yards per play.
Fournette’s day can best be summed up in a handful of highlights. Here’s seven must-see moments from the sophomore’s huge day in Death Valley:
Leonard Fournette opens with a 71 yard run versus Auburn https://t.co/GsHsElnctJ— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 19, 2015
Leonard Fournette likes to run over defenders. https://t.co/6gmZMCiaWa— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 19, 2015
These Auburn mortals cannot tackle Leonard Fournette. 39 yard TD. https://t.co/SimCyZgcQN— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 19, 2015
Only took six Auburn Tigers to bring down Fournette. pic.twitter.com/eWkYQTMvof— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) September 19, 2015
They can't tackle him pic.twitter.com/spxFwlkcNl— The LSU Logo (@LSU_Logo) September 19, 2015
When it comes to "College GameDay" signs, all's fair on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately there are exceptions to every rule. During a broadcast of the popular ESPN show, they aired a sign that some saw as sexist.
Just no chill. pic.twitter.com/Hn0fWwL9gF— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 19, 2015
Although the worldwide leader made no apologies for airing and tweeting the sign, the analysts did voice their disdain for it.
"I can't condone that type of behavior," Rece Davis said.
"That is unacceptable," Kirk Herbstreit added.
ESPN spokesperson, Keri Potts, told CNN they wouldn't promote the sign anymore but they would not be getting rid of the tweet either.
"Our Twitter handle looks to bring the sights and sounds of the College GameDay experience to the view at home and reflect how the fans on site express themselves."
It's a decent explanation but on the other hand, ESPN does have control over what it shows and what it doesn't. The network's attempt to straddle the fence doesn't quite work here. They had no part in the sign, but they did have a hand in promoting it on Twitter and the show.
ESPN's "College GameDay" twitter account tweeted out a response to all of the backlash it received for the sign.
You never solve anything in the digital conversation by just hitting delete. We apologize. We’re going to be better. pic.twitter.com/dIvTmXzVW2— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 21, 2015
The luck of the Fighting Irish hasn't been too kind when it comes to the injury bug.
In Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, Drue Tranquill went up for a little celebration with a teammate and things took a turn for the worse. The two were celebrating an incomplete pass by Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas, and Tranquill looks to have blown out his need on the landing. He then screams in agony.
(Warning: It may be difficult to watch)
UPDATE: Tranquill is out for the season with a torn ACL.
There's such a thing as trying to be too cute and UConn should understand that now.
In the final moments of their game against Missouri, UConn was trailing 9-6. The responsible thing to do would be to kick a field goal to tie the game with less than a minute left. They were on the Missouri 25-yard line for crying out loud.
Those Huskies, got to give it to them, tried to win the game but ended up throwing an interception. Of all the things that could've happened, this is by far the worst.