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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /115-funny-fantasy-football-team-names
Body:

The 2015 NFL season is nearly upon us, which means one very important thing — fantasy football. While only one person will take home the league championship, you can automatically win over the hearts of your fellow players by having a truly funny, silly, crazy, cool or dirty fantasy football team name. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for the season:

 

DeflateGateChronic Masterdeflater


Check My Balls


Discount Belichick


​I Spygate

 

Marcus Mari...otto

 

Jamaal About That Bass


My Ball Zach Ertz

 

Turn Down for Watt


JJ S.W.A.T.T. Team

 

1.21 JJ WATTS

 

The JPP Fireworks Incident

 

You Down With JPP?


Hernandez Hit Men


Wham! Bam! Thank you Cam!


You Kaepernick the Future


The Walking Dez

 

Dez Does Dallas


Erect Dicker


Geno 911!

 

Show Me Your TDs


Multiple Goregasms


InstaJimmyGraham


Ladies and Edelman


Julio Think you are?


Backfields and McCoys


My Favorite Marshawn


InGorious Staffords


Mike Vick in a box


Montee can buy you happiness


My Percy’s on Broadway


In a Van Down by the Rivers


Beats by Ray


Le’Veon a Prayer


Pitch a Trent


Drake's New Favorite Team


Mount Douchemore


Waka Flacco Flame


U Mad Bro?


Taste My Rainbow


12th Man Records


Bout That Action, Boss


Trolling Crabtree

 

Kung Suh PandaKung Suh Panda

 

Suh Girls, One Cup

 

Boy Named Suh


Vince Young's Steakhouse


Cry Me a Rivers


Connecticut Cholos


It's a Hard Gronk Life


Party Like a Gronk Star


We Wilfork You


Wilfork Dance Party


Keyshawn Beliebs

 

No Money Manziel

 

Brown-out Drunk

 

Touchdown Germany


Evil Empire


Revis' Vineyard

 

Bend it like Beckham Jr.

 

OBJYN


Jay-Z's My Agent


Off to Tennessee the Whiz


Remember the Titans


I Don't Want Your Life


Kissing Suzy Kolber


Pouncey Bouncers


Smokin' Jay Cutler

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles


Dirty Sanchez Butt-Fumblers


Purple Jesus Juice


Kaepernick Swag


Mannings' O-Face


Peyton Manning's 5-Head


Omaha! Omaha!


Mile High Manning


Welker, Texas Ranger


Sherman's Last Rant


The Boldin the Beautiful

 

Gisele's Bundchens

 

Mr. UGG Boots

 

Brady Gaga


Call Me the Brees


No Romo


Monte Kiffin's 401K


80% Mental, 40% Physical


Laces Out


Show Me the Money


Four Horsemen


Titletown TDs


Titletown Cheeseheads


Big Ol' Bortles


RG 3000


Not Racist Redskins


Hard Knocks Life


Motown Megatrons

 

Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe


K.C. Kool-Aid Man


Drinkin' Fortes


Turn Your Head and Coughlin


Tampa Bay Terminators


Polk High Panthers


Jim Haslem's Accountants


Forgetting Brandon Marshall


It's Always Runny in Philadelphia


Favre Dollar Footlong


Van Buren Boys


Crab-leg Bootleg


Makin' It Wayne


Luckness Monster


Irsay's $29K


Red Hot Julius Peppers


Slow White Bronco


Going Incognito


Wham, Bam, Michael Sam


Straight Cash Homey

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans
Path: /2015-usc-trojans-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 USC football schedule kicks off in Los Angeles, where the Trojans take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Viewers can watch the game at 8:00 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Arkansas State Red Wolves

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

8:00 p.m. PT

Pac-12 Network

9/12/15Idaho Vandals

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

5:00 p.m. PT

Pac-12 Network

9/19/15Standford Cardinal

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

5:00 p.m. PT

ABC

9/26/15Arizona State Sun Devils

Sun Devil Stadium

Tempe, AZ

TBA
10/3/15Open Date----
10/8/15Washington Huskies

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

6:00 p.m. PT

ESPN

10/17/15Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

4:30 p.m. PT

NBC

10/24/15Utah Utes

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

TBA
10/31/15California Golden Bears

California Memorial Stadium

Berkeley, CA

TBA
11/7/15Arizona Wildcats

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

TBA
11/13/15Colorado Buffaloes

Folsom Field

Boulder, CO

6:00 p.m. PT

ESPN

11/21/15Oregon Ducks

Autzen Stadium

Eugene, OR

TBA
11/28/15UCLA Bruins

L.A. Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies
Path: /2015-texas-am-aggies-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Texas A&M football schedule kicks off in Houston, where the Aggies take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Viewers can watch the game at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN.  Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Arizona State Sun Devils

NRG Stadium

Houston, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/12/15Ball State Cardinals

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPNU

9/19/15Nevada Wolf Pack

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

11:00 a.m. CT

SECN

9/26/15Arkansas Razorbacks

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

TBA
10/3/15Mississippi State Bulldogs

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
10/10/15Open Date----
10/17/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
10/24/15Ole Miss Rebels

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Oxford, MS

TBA
10/31/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/7/15Auburn Tigers

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/14/15Western Carolina Catamounts

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/21/15Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Stadium

Nashville, TN

TBA
11/28/15LSU Tigers

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /2015-clemson-tigers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Clemson football schedule kicks off in Clemson, where the Tigers take on the Wofford Terriers. Viewers can watch the game at 12:30 p.m. ET on ACCN and ESPN3. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Wofford Terriers

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

12:30 p.m. ET ACCN/ESPN3
9/12/15Appalachian State Mountaineers

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

12:30 p.m. ET

ESPN3

9/17/15Louisville Cardinals

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

Louisville, KY

7:30 p.m. ET

ESPN

9/26/15Open Date----
10/3/15Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/10/15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/17/15Boston College Eagles

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/24/15Miami Hurricanes

Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens, FL

TBA
10/31/15NC State Wolfpack

Carter-Finley Stadium

Raleigh, NC

TBA
11/7/15Flordia State Seminoles

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
11/14/15Syracuse Orange

Carrier Dome

Syracuse, NY

TBA
11/21/15Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
11/28/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Williams-Brice Stadium

Columbia, SC

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Path: /2015-nebraska-cornhuskers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Nebraska football schedule kicks off in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers take on the BYU Cougars. Viewers can watch the game at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15BYU Cougars

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

2:30 p.m. CT

ABC

9/12/15South Alabama Jaguars

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

7:00 p.m. CT BTN/BTN2GO
9/19/15Miami Hurricanes

Sun Life Stadium

Miami Gardens, FL

2:30 p.m. CT ABC/ESPN2
9/26/15Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

11:00 a.m. CT

TBA

10/3/15Illinois Fighting Illini

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/10/15Wisconsin Badgers

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/17/15Minnesota Golden Gophers

TCF Bank Stadium

Minneapolis, MN

TBA
10/24/15Northwestern Wildcats

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

TBA
10/31/15Purdue Boilermakers

Ross-Ade Stadium

West Lafayette, IN

TBA
11/7/15Michigan State Spartans

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln, NE

6 or 7 p.m. CT ABC/ESPN/2
11/14/15Rutgers Scarlet Knights

High Point Solutions Stadium

Piscataway, NJ

TBA
11/21/15Open Date----
11/27/15Iowa HawkeyesMemorial Stadium, Lincoln, NETBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /2015-baylor-bears-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Baylor football schedule kicks off in Dallas, where the Bears take on the SMU Mustangs. Viewers can watch the game at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15SMU Mustangs

Gerald J. Ford Stadium

Dallas, TX

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/12/15Lamar Cardinals

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
9/19/15Open Date----
9/26/15Rice Owls

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

2:00 p.m.

CT FSN

10/3/15Texas Tech Red Raiders

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

TBA
10/10/15Kansas Jayhawks

Memorial Stadium

Lawrence, KS

TBA
10/17/15West Virginia Mountaineers

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
10/24/15Iowa State Cyclones

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
10/31/15Open Date----
11/5/15Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder Family FB Stadium

Manhattan, KS

6:30 p.m.

CT FS1

11/14/15Oklahoma Sooners

McLane Stadium

Waco, TX

TBA
11/21/15Oklahoma State Cowboys

Boone Pickens Stadium

Stillwater, OK

TBA
11/27/15TCU Horned Frogs

Amon G. Carter Stadium

Fort Worth, TX

6:30 p.m.

CT ESPN

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs
Path: /2015-georgia-bulldogs-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Georgia football schedule kicks off in Athens, where the Bulldogs take on the ULM Warhawks. Viewers can watch the game at 12:00 p.m. ET on SECN. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15ULM Warhawks

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

12:00 p.m. ET

SECN

9/12/15Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Stadium

Nashville, TN

3:30 p.m. ET

CBS

9/19/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

6:00 p.m. ET

ESPN

9/26/15Southern Jaguars

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/3/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/10/15Tennessee Volunteers

Neyland Stadium

Knoxville, TN

TBA
10/17/15Missouri Tigers

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/24/15Open Date----
10/31/15Florida Gators

EverBank Field

Jacksonville, FL

3:30 p.m. ET

CBS

11/7/15Kentucky Wildcats

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
11/14/15Auburn Tigers

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
11/21/15Georgia Southern Eagles

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
11/28/15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Bobby Dodd Stadium

Atlanta, GA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football
Path: /alabama-crimson-tide-2015-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Alabama football schedule kicks off in Arlington, where the Crimson Tide take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Viewers can watch the game at 7:00 p.m. CT on ABC. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Wisconsin Badgers

AT&T Stadium

Arlington, TX

7:00 p.m.CT

ABC

9/12/15Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

3:00 p.m. CT

SECN

9/19/15Ole Miss Rebels

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

8:15 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/26/15ULM Warhawks

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
10/3/15Georgia Bulldogs

Sanford Stadium

Athens, GA

TBA
10/10/15Arkansas Razorbacks

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
10/15/15Texas A&M Aggies

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
10/24/15Tennessee Volunteers

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
10/31/15Open Date------
11/7/15LSU Tigers

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
11/14/15Mississippi State Bulldogs

Davis Wade Stadium

Starkville, MS

TBA
11/21/15Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
11/28/15Auburn Tigers

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
12/5/15SEC Championship Game

Georgia Dome

Atlanta, GA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /2015-notre-dame-fighting-irish-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Notre Dame football schedule kicks off in South Bend, where the Fighting Irish take on the Texas Longhorns. Viewers can watch the game at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Texas Longhorns

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

7:30 p.m. ET

NBC

9/12/15Virginia Cavaliers

Scott Stadium

Charlottesville, VA

3:30 p.m. ET

ABC

9/19/15Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

3:30 p.m. ET

NBC

9/26/15UMass Minutemen

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

3:30 p.m. ET

NBC

10/3/15Clemson Tigers

Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC

TBA
10/10/15Navy Midshipmen

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

3:30 p.m. ET

NBC

10/17/15USC Trojans

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

7:30 p.m. ET

NBC

10/24/15--Open Date--
10/31/15Temple Owls

Lincoln Financial Field

Philadelphia, PA

TBA
11/7/15Pittsburgh Panthers

Heinz Field

Pittsburgh, PA

TBA
11/14/15Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Notre Dame Stadium

South Bend, IN

3:30 p.m. ET

NBC

11/21/15Boston College Eagles

Fenway Park

Boston, MA

7:30 p.m. ET

NBC

11/28/15Standford Cardinal

Stanford Stadium

Stanford, CA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC
Path: /2015-auburn-tigers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 Auburn football schedule kicks off in Atlanta, where the Tigers take on the Louisville Cardinals. Viewers can watch the game at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15Louisville Cardinals

Georgia Dome

Atlanta, GA

2:30 p.m. CT

CBS

9/12/15Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

11:00 a.m. CT

SECN

9/19/15LSU Tigers

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

2:30 p.m. CT

CBS

9/26/15Mississippi State Bulldogs

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
10/3/15San Jose State Spartans

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
10/10/15Open Date----
10/15/15Kentucky Wildcats

Commonwealth Stadium

Lexington, KY

6:00 p.m. CT

ESPN

10/24/15Arkansas Razorbacks

D.W.R. Razorback Stadium

Fayetteville, AR

TBA
10/31/15Ole Miss Rebels

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
11/7/15Texas A&M Aggies

Kyle Field

College Station, TX

TBA
11/14/15Georgia Bulldogs

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
11/21/15Idaho Vandals

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
11/28/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn, AL

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers
Path: /2015-lsu-tigers-football-schedule
Body:

The 2015 LSU football schedule kicks off in Baton Rouge, where the Tigers take on the McNeese State Cowboys. Viewers can watch the game at 6:30 p.m. CT on SECN Alt.  Here's a look at the team's entire season schedule.

 

DateOpponentLocationTime/Channel
9/5/15McNeese State Cowboys

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

6:30 p.m. CT

SECN Alt.

9/12/15Mississippi State Bulldogs

Davis Wade Stadium

Starkville, MS

8:15 p.m. CT

ESPN

9/19/15Auburn Tigers

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

2:30 p.m. CT

CBS

9/26/15Syracuse Orange

Carrier Dome

Syracuse, NY

TBA
10/3/15Eastern Michigan Eagles

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
10/10/15South Carolina Gamecocks

Williams-Brice Stadium

Columbia, SC

TBA
10/17/15Florida Gators

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
10/24/15Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
10/31/15Open Date----
11/7/15Alabama Crimson Tide

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tuscaloosa, AL

TBA
11/14/15Arkansas Razorbacks

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
11/21/15Ole Miss Rebels

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Oxford, MS

TBA
11/28/15Texas A&M Aggies

Tiger Stadium

Baton Rouge, LA

TBA
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/bovada-releases-updated-heisman-odds-july
Body:

The 2015 college football season is just over 50 days away, and media days are just around the corner. And once August hits, teams will report to camp and start the official preparations for the upcoming season.

 

Bovada released Heisman odds earlier this offseason, but the sportsbook has updated its list on Wednesday.

 

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is now the favorite by Bovada, with Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott a close second.

 

Here’s the full list of odds:

 

Player/Position/TeamOdds
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU6/1
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State7/1
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State10/1
Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn10/1
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia10/1
Cody Kessler, QB, USC12/1
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State12/1
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU14/1
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama16/1
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson16/1
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State20/1
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA20/1
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma20/1
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State25/1
Everett Golson, QB, Florida State251
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State25/1
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon33/1
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor33/1
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami40/1
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin40/1
D.J. Foster, WR, Arizona State40/1
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State40/1
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh40/1
Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech40/1
Jared Goff, QB, California50/1
Malik Zaire, QB, Notre Dame50/1
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State50/1
Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona50/1
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU50/1
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State100/1
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee100/1
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina100/1
Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona100/1
Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh100/1

 

Teaser:
Bovada Releases Updated Heisman Odds for July
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 16:56
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/nascar-balancing-risk-reason-after-austin-dillons-terrifying-wreck-daytona
Body:

Racing is a risky sport. No matter the size of the SAFER Barrier, the helmet on your head or the strength of the roll cage, safety can only go so far when you’re hitting speeds of 200 miles an hour down the straightaway. It’s been 14 years since NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt tragedy, the death of “The Intimidator,” but dark moments keep intimidating other racing series, worst nightmares too often becoming reality. Just ask Tony Stewart, whose car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. on-track following a sprint car incident last year. Take a look at off-road racing, where Robby Gordon struck and injured a fan last month. Or sneak a peek at IndyCar, which experienced its own tragedy with the death of star Dan Wheldon during its 2011 Las Vegas event and left the open-wheel circuit, one built around the Indy 500, wondering if it should keep on racing oval tracks — period.

 

Now racers at NASCAR’s top levels are well compensated, like most athletes. They understand the risks associated with what they do. But after yet another ugly Daytona wreck, this one in the wee hours of Monday morning, the near-death experience it created for driver Austin Dillon grew the risks too large for their paycheck. Suddenly, for daredevils whose success is based on confidence in their demeanor, staring five fan injuries in the face became marked with the type of emotion that can kill American motorsports.

 

Fear.

 

“That scared the hell out of me,” said Coke Zero 400 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. His crew, the first to reach Dillon’s wounded No. 3 car, was so shaken up they could care less about the victory.

 

“It was a frightening moment,” added runner-up Jimmie Johnson, who initially wondered if Dillon even survived.

 

“[NASCAR] got what they wanted,” eighth-place runner Ryan Newman told USA Today in a fit of frustration. “Cars getting airborne, unsafe drivers, same old stuff. They just don’t listen.”

 

The trauma expressed by these drivers, both in their faces and words tells you the NASCAR Driver’s Council could be convening for an emergency meeting this week. Will this wreck be the one that has them refusing to race at Daytona and Talladega, the only tracks who use the dreaded restrictor plates without major changes? In NASCAR’s defense, the safety equipment worked exactly like it should, keeping Dillon from serious injury while the catchfence ensured a 3,500-lb stock car wasn’t launched into the stands like a weapon. At the same time, CEO Brian France reiterated Monday there’s only so much the sport can do to minimize the danger.

 

“It’s a moving target,” he said on SIRIUS XM Radio. “It’s never simple. An accident like last night, boy, it takes your breath away and it should. But that’s auto racing. We’re working on solutions all the time to make racing safer and better.”

 

To a point, that’s a legitimate statement. The sport’s Research and Development Center will be hard at work on more safety changes, improvements NASCAR hopes to make for this fall’s Chase race at Talladega (the next one with plates). But after 27 years of using restrictor plates, initially a “temporary” solution for high speeds, the drivers are sounding like they’ve had enough. Jeff Gordon called the racing at Daytona a “video game,” only with actual human beings inside the cars risking their lives. Kurt Busch was so exasperated he was willing to take the plates off, running Daytona at a just-as-dangerous 230 miles an hour.

 

That’s the problem, really; since these plates came into effect, keeping speeds down at NASCAR’s fastest tracks there has been no better solution offered. What you get is drivers unable to escape, trapped together in some type of accordion circus where they’re running three-, four-, even five-wide at times. Unable to put some distance between themselves, it guarantees nearly every mistake will cause a multi-car “Big One” for the ages. Fans love the drama, or at least they did before the number of death-defying wrecks and overall destruction left them guilty, not giddy over this style of racing.

 

The drivers, who like to at least control their risk, feel helpless, like animals in a cage for entertainment. Who wants to spend their day at work being tortured? Where death could be around every corner? No wonder why the drivers are so upset. Back in 1987, the wreck that brought on plates in the first place tore down the catchfence at Talladega. We’ve seen that fence go down multiple times since then, a strong suggestion plates aren’t the solution but they all keep trotting on out there like a pack of sheep.

 

“I’m glad I only have one plate race left,” said Gordon Sunday night. “It just created chaos.”

 

For many others, such uncontrolled chaos has made one more plate race in this sport one too many. NASCAR has gotten plenty of publicity this week, Dillon appearing on NBC’s “Today Show” and trumpeting the excitement combined with their safety initiatives that kept him safe at Daytona. I just hope they realize how fine a line they’re walking; that conversation was far too close to not even happening after that early Monday morning disaster heading to the checkered flag.

 

Here’s what else to take away from Daytona as we cycle Through The Gears…

 

FIRST GEAR: Dillon OK To Race, Breathing A Sigh Of Relief

 

Dillon, who appeared on a NASCAR teleconference Tuesday talking about his wreck, maintained he’s none the worse for wear. Claiming “he’s been hurt worse in football,” a slightly bruised tailbone and a sore groin are the only remnants from a crash that left his No. 3 car in pieces from the start/finish line all the way through to the entrance of turn 1.

 

Related: Horrifying Austin Dillon Crash at Daytona (Video)

 

And how did Dillon’s family, including owner/grandfather Richard Childress react in the aftermath?

 

“The worst part for family members is you want to let them know you're OK after a wreck through the radio because they're listening, and the radio cord had ripped or something had ripped to make it — I could hear them but they couldn't hear me, so it was one of those deals where I knew they were upset and I felt bad because I couldn't get to them,” Dillon said. “I could hear in their voice, how scared they were, and they were saying, ‘Talk to me, Buddy, talk to me,’ and I couldn't respond to them, so that was just painful.”

 

Brother Ty, not at the racetrack, also gave Austin a dose of reality when they spoke by phone. The full-time XFINITY Series driver, known for being a “tough guy” was clearly shaken to the point Austin went to watch YouTube and see just how badly the wreck looked to the outside observer.

 

“You can see where a guy watching it from home not knowing how I was and the pit crew kind of running out to the car,” he said, “It was pretty dramatic right there for 30 seconds, 38 seconds or so.”

 

So what happens now? Dillon joined a chorus of drivers, including Kevin Harvick, who started the wreck up ahead by hitting Denny Hamlin in the left-rear, in that there need to be changes slowing the cars down in order to keep them from getting in the air. However, the most important point of all is Dillon, Hamlin, Harvick and 40 others will be racing at Kentucky with no one seriously hurt. None of the five fan injuries were serious (all have been treated and released) so NASCAR will now try and move on from one of the most horrific wrecks in their history.

 

SECOND GEAR: Hendrick, Earnhardt In A League Of Their Own On Plate Tracks

 

The wreck overshadowed a dominant Daytona performance, again by Hendrick Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt, who won his second straight plate race ,has now led 195 of his 204 laps this season at Daytona and Talladega. He led a HMS parade that was often 1-2-3-4 during the race as they somehow seemed to squeeze extra horsepower under a rules package that’s supposed to make it impossible.

 

Perhaps there’s a method to their madness, though. Talladega last fall saw both Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson lose a bid at advancing in the Chase by being in the wrong position late. Well, it’s hard to put yourself in a bad spot when you have 5-10 more horsepower than the rest of the field, right? You can stay up front, become difficult to pass and settle a playoff-advancing race amongst yourselves. Perhaps the only downside for HMS Monday morning is their two “vulnerable” Chase drivers, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne, remained winless on the season. Gordon especially has struggled for speed at other tracks and would have liked a Chase-clinching victory with his farewell tour ramping up.

 

THIRD GEAR: Surprise Winners Wind Up Sitting In Garage

 

Daytona was supposed to be the race where an upset winner emerged from the pack. Last July, it was Aric Almirola of Richard Petty Motorsports and several others positioned themselves as early candidates this time. The problem? All wound up either inside the garage or shuffled back in the closing laps.

 

Almirola, involved in a mid-race wreck was never a factor (more on that in a moment). Landon Cassill, impressive with his single-car No. 40 effort got shuffled back to 13th by the checkered flag. Justin Allgaier suffered a similar fate, muscled out of line by Kurt Busch during the green-white-checkered finish (he wound up 18th). Casey Mears? He had electrical problems and struggled to simply stay on the lead lap at times during the event. The list goes on and on… Hendrick’s power combined with that poor luck left only 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne as the only surprise contender down the stretch. Bayne wound up ninth, his second top 10 in three races, but unfortunately had no other Fords to help him draft in the final few laps, leaving his No. 6 falling backwards at the checkers.

 

FOURTH GEAR: Kyle Busch Dodges Bullet While Painting Clear Picture In Chase

 

Almirola’s wreck, leaving the No. 43 car 34th in the final rundown helps up paint a clear picture inside the Chase. Suddenly, he’s on the outside looking in, Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing pulling 24 markers ahead for the final playoff position on points. With Almirola not known for running up front outside of a few select events – he’s yet to lead a single lap this season – his bid for the postseason may be done.

 

Bowyer, then may be looking over his shoulder at whether Kyle Busch can muscle inside the top 30 in points and, in essence steal a spot. Busch, who has the Cup victory needed to qualify, hit the wall early at Daytona but battled back, using two of NASCAR’s “free passes” to earn laps back. Running 17th at the checkers, he moved within 128 points of Cole Whitt for 30th place and can take huge chunks out of that deficit in the tracks ahead. Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis leave teams like Whitt’s struggling to just run 30th so a few top 10s and Busch will be in position to capitalize.

 

OVERDRIVE

 

For Austin Dillon, it was a tale of two Daytonas. He won the XFINITY Series race the night before as the sophomore was continuing to build confidence in NASCAR’s minor leagues. Boy, what a difference 24 hours makes… NBC was widely praised for their coverage, the first live NASCAR telecast they’ve done since 2006. The problem? The race itself didn’t start until 11:42 p.m., suffering through a rain delay of nearly four hours. Wonder what TV executives thought of their $440 million-a-year package consisting of Sunday primetime rain-delay fill? Their first rating was a disappointing 2.6 in the Nielsens… Danica Patrick, in perhaps her last chance to make the Chase, was never up to speed. Involved in several wrecks, she broke a suspension, crashed out and now sits 79 points behind Clint Bowyer with nine races remaining. 

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
NASCAR: Balancing Risk With Reason After Austin Dillon's Terrifying Wreck at Daytona
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 15:15
All taxonomy terms: American League, MLB, News
Path: /mlb/did-fans-get-al-all-stars-right
Body:

With the unveiling of the MLB All-Star Game starters for the July 14 Midsummer Classic at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the fan vote always provides a little controversy. Take a look below at the American League starters and why they were or were not the best choice for the spot:

 

Related: Did the Fans Get the NL All-Stars Right?

 

Note: Statistics as of July 6

C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)

Perez certainly benefits from his success over the past few seasons and the Royals’ fanbase. He most benefits his own team with his defense, but he certainly provides some pop with the bat. However, Stephen Vogt has been a significantly better hitter and certainly more patient, drawing 40 walks compared to Perez's five free passes. In addition, Vogt's defense is nearly comparable and he has been a better pitch-framer. Yet, Perez still seems to be a very respectable starter and this will mark his second year in a row as the All-Star Game starter behind the plate.

 

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (Got it right)

There is no doubt that Cabrera deserves the starting nod, although he will be unable to participate due to a calf injury. The Tigers’ first baseman leads the AL in batting average (.350), while continuing to maintain power and patience at the plate. He remains one of the game's best players, as shown by his 10th All-Star Game selection.

 

2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Got it wrong)

Although Altuve is surely an All-Star-caliber player, Jason Kipnis of the Indians is just simply outperforming all other AL second basemen. While Altuve is batting .303, Kipnis is batting nearly 40 points higher with an MLB-leading 27 doubles. As Altuve dominated last year, Kipnis has been much better than previous seasons. Maybe it’s his track record (and playing in Cleveland) that cost him a starting spot.

 

SS: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)

The Royals' fans got him into the All-Star Game, as there are several better options, namely Xander Bogaerts. He hasn’t done much to deserve this spot with only a .276 average, fourth among qualified AL shortstops. Meanwhile, Bogaerts is batting .302 with 18 doubles, 37 RBIs, and a .414 slugging percentage, pacing his peers in several categories. Escobar isn’t even a defensive upgrade over Bogaerts, who may even be a better defender.

 

3B: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Got it right)
The Blue Jays lead the MLB in runs scored by a lot, and that is much in part to Donaldson. As a result of his success, he not only led both leagues in votes received, he set a new record with more than 14 million. He leads AL third basemen in home runs (20) and is tied for the lead in doubles (20), while hitting .300. However, there should certainly be a debate between Donaldson and Manny Machado for who’s more worthy. They are certainly neck-and-neck in both hitting and fielding, so either player would make an excellent starter for the team. It’s much more of a snub that Donaldson got almost 12 million more votes than Machado though.



 

OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (Got it right)

Trout is simply just one of the best pure players in the MLB, and he’s one of the easiest choices for this year's All-Star team. He excels in power, speed, and fielding, which contribute to making him one of the league’s most complete players. His .968 OPS is 50 points higher than any other AL outfielder, displaying his ability to get on base and get big hits.

 

OF: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (Got it wrong)
This one was probably the farthest off, as he solely benefitted because he is a member of the fan-favorite Royals. The outfield has the most options because it isn’t position-specific, and Gordon isn’t near worthy of the coveted spot. While he has a knack for getting on base, he has a low batting average coupled with decent power. There are plenty more worthy players, including J.D. Martinez and Brett Gardner. Either would fit well, where Martinez would provide very good power and Gardner would provide both pop and speed and be able to lead off.

 

OF: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals (Got it right)

Of all the Royals players, Cain deserves it the most. The same arguments for Martinez and Gardner could be made over Cain, but his fielding separate him from the rest of the field. He hits for contact very well with great speed, leading AL outfielders in average and placing second in stolen bases. The Royals' fans help get this one right, and the AL will field an impressive outfield defense with Cain, Trout and Gordon chasing down fly balls.



 

DH: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (Got it right)

Even though he splits time in the outfield and at DH, Cruz very much earned his spot, beating Kendrys Morales by just over 300,000 votes. Cruz's .300 batting average, .907 OPS, and 21 home runs provide plenty of evidence for his power. The AL will certainly need his power, as Miguel Cabrera will not be available to play.

Teaser:
Did the Fans Get the AL All-Stars Right?
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: National League, MLB, News
Path: /mlb/did-fans-get-nl-all-stars-right
Body:

With the unveiling of the MLB All-Star Game starters for the July 14 Midsummer Classic at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the fan vote always provides a little controversy. Take a look below at the National League starters and why they were or were not the best choice for the spot:

 

Related: Did the Fans Get the AL All-Stars Right?

 

Note: Statistics as of July 6

 

C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (Got it right)

There’s little doubt that Posey is the best all-around catcher in baseball, and the Giants providing him some playing time at first base has only helped. Among all qualifying NL catchers, he ranks first in home runs, RBIs, average and OPS. He’s a solid defender, who also helps manage games for his pitchers well.

 

1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks (Got it right)

There was really no challenge to Goldschmidt’s starting selection at first base, as he’s been arguably one of the league’s most complete players. At the plate, he's merely batting .348 with 20 home runs, 67 RBIs, and an astonishing OPS of 1.087, putting him well ahead of his peers. The Diamondbacks’ star, in essence, does it all.

 

2B: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins (Got it right)

Every team needs a good leadoff hitter who can get on base and advance, and Gordon will bring this ability to the NL team. He leads his fellow second-sackers in both average (.339) and stolen bases (29), making him the NL team's best option to get things started. When he gets on base (which is often), he always a threat to advance.

 

SS: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals (Got it wrong)

By no means is Peralta not worthy to start, but Brandon Crawford arguably seems to edge him out. While Peralta may pass the eye test because of his higher batting average, Crawford deserves the nod a bit more, highlighted by a WAR of 4.0, compared to Peralta’s 2.6. In addition, Crawford also has hit one more home run, scored three more runs, and driven in seven more than Peralta. Crawford's also considered a better defender by a reasonable margin.

 

3B: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds (Got it right)

Sure Nolan Arenado could be argued for the spot, but playing in front of his home crowd in Cincinnati should be enough of a tiebreaker if any is needed for Frazier. The hometown hero, Frazier, leads all third basemen with 25 home runs and a .937 OPS. There’s enough of a gap between both players where Frazier fits the starting spot comfortably, but Arenado is putting together his own impressive season, leading the majors with 68 RBIs.

 

OF: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (Got it right)

If you have watched any amount of baseball this season, you don’t really need an explanation of why Harper is a starter. His ridiculous 1.185 OPS, 6.1 WAR, and 25 home runs make him the most obvious All-Star this year. At times, it seems like it is impossible to get him out. It actually may be.

 

OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Got it right)

Sadly Stanton won’t be able to play because of a broken hand, but he has been the majors' most powerful hitter with an MLB-best 27 home runs and 67 RBIs. If he had been available, the combination of Harper and Stanton would have made a lethal power-hitting duo. Regardless, Stanton is one of the best young players in the game, and it already seems like he’s been gone for so long.



 

OF: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals (Got it wrong)

While the injured Stanton really deserved his spot, Holliday has been out since June 8 and hadn’t done enough to make him worthy of a starting role. He had been hitting a solid .303 with .417 OBP, but he didn’t add much beyond that. A.J. Pollock, Joc Pederson, and Andrew McCutchen, each of whom was named as a reserve, all seem to be more viable options with more power and speed. 

Teaser:
Did the Fans Get the NL All-Stars Right?
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: News, Olympics
Path: /olympics/micronesia-outscored-114-0-three-soccer-games
Body:

For the small nation of Micronesia, the new experiences of their soccer team seems to be just a bit more important than the games they played. Over the past few days, they have played three soccer matches for Olympic qualifying against Tahiti, Fiji, and Vanuatu. However, in the three games they played, they were outscored 114-0. Yes, you read that right. And yes, they play the same type of soccer as everybody else. In today’s earlier game, they were destroyed 46-0 by Vanuatu, another island nation.

 

The coach told reporters after the game that many of his team’s players had never traveled before, and they were just in the very early stages of soccer. It’s hard to fault such an inexperienced team for losing, but they lost at a historic rate. 

See some highlights below if you can bear to watch:

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 13:34
Path: /mlb/st-louis-cardinals-rookies-fetch-team-coffee
Body:

When you’re a rookie in the MLB, there are unwritten rules that you must follow as part of a rites of passage. For the St. Louis Cardinals rookies, that means getting some coffee for the rest of your team. Several rookie relievers were overseen in their uniforms at a Starbucks across the street from Wrigley Field, where they are facing the Chicago Cubs.

 

The Cardinals players will certainly need some coffee, after a rain-lengthened game last night and a doubleheader today. The players seemed to have fun with it though, snapping a selfie with smiles and thumbs up. Maybe they were allowed to get some themselves. 

See the rookies getting the coffee:
 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/ohio-state%E2%80%99s-loss-georgia%E2%80%99s-gain-class-2015-ol-mirko-jurkovic
Body:

Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class lost one signee on Monday when Mirko Jurkovic announced he will enroll at the University of Georgia over an academic issue.

 

The Columbus Dispatch reported admission requirements were at the center of the change in schools. UGASports.com reported something different creating a he said, she said situation certainly to be used on the recruiting trail for years to come.

 

The other side of the story is Ohio State over signed its 2015 class, bringing in 27 recruits. If head coach Urban Meyer thought more kids would transfer, especially with the logjam under center, apparently not enough left the defending national championship team for playing time elsewhere, making Jurkovic the odd man out.

 

Jurkovic made the announcement official on Monday via Twitter:

 

 

Jurkovic was a 3-star recruit out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., when he committed to the Buckeyes in early December 2014. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman had ties to Big Ten country, originally hailing from South Bend, Ind., shocking some by heading to Ohio State.

 

The ties to the Big Ten went deeper when Jurkovic originally committed to Nebraska before de-committing on Nov. 30, just two days after officially visiting the Buckeyes, which led to his flipping to Ohio State.

 

When Jurkovic was initially going through the recruiting process many thought Notre Dame was the school to beat over the other 21 offers extended. Beyond growing up in South Bend, Jurkovic is the son of Fighting Irish All-American legacy Mirko Jurkovic Sr. The catch is Notre Dame never offered.

 

Of the 22 schools courting Jurkovic for the 2015 class, Georgia was not one of the programs either. Offers from Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Maryland, South Florida, Mississippi State, and Missouri were extended, among others, but not Georgia or Notre Dame.

 

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

Teaser:
Ohio State’s Loss is Georgia’s Gain with Class of 2015 OL Mirko Jurkovic
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 12:50
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-lb-darron-lee-takes-few-jabs-michigan
Body:

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry never stops - even in the offseason. With Jim Harbaugh coming to Ann Arbor, the annual battle between the Buckeyes and Wolverines is only going to increase in intensity and intrigue. Needless to say, the war or words between the two programs will never stop in the offseason.

 

Michigan announced on Monday its intention to switch apparel providers from Adidas to Nike in the 2016 season.

 

Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee took the opportunity to poke a few jabs in Michigan’s direction after the announcement:  

Teaser:
Ohio State LB Darron Lee Takes a Few Jabs at Michigan
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 12:28
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-10-most-underrated-players-2015
Body:

Every college football team has players most would consider underrated. However, defining underrated players is no easy assignment, as that term varies in meaning between fans and experts.

 

The Pac-12 should be an intriguing league once again in 2015. Oregon and USC top the list of favorites, but Arizona State, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA will be in the mix. And the depth of this conference extends to teams like Utah, California and Washington. Offense is usually the strength for the Pac-12, but this league has a good core of defensive talent in place for 2015.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

With the 2015 season approaching, Athlon Sports wanted to take a look at some players deserving of more preseason accolades or discussion. In an effort to get to 10 names, we tried to stick to players that had yet to earn all-conference honors in their career. However, a few exceptions were made.

 

Pac-12's 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015

 

Chidobe Awuzie, DB, Colorado

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Colorado has never finished higher than 11th in scoring defense. Improving that side of the ball is a priority for new coordinator Jim Leavitt, and the Buffaloes return nine starters for 2015. Awuzie is slated to start in the nickel role for Leavitt, and the California native should thrive after recording 64 tackles in nine appearances last year. Awuzie also broke up eight passes in 2014. With Awuzie and cornerback Kenneth Crawley returning, Colorado’s secondary should take a step forward this season.

 

Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

Starting as a true freshman in the trenches is no easy assignment. After all, most offensive linemen could use a full year in the weight room to develop to match the physical strength of opposing defensive ends or tackles. But Crosby was an underrated piece of Oregon’s offensive line last year. The Ducks were hit hard by injuries up front in 2014, yet this unit tied for fifth in the Pac-12 in fewest sacks allowed. Crosby finished last season with nine starts, including six consecutive to close out the year.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

Joe Dahl, OT, Washington State

It’s no secret Washington State’s offensive line has to improve after allowing 68 sacks over the last two seasons. But improvement should be expected in 2015, as the Cougars return five starters, including an all-conference candidate in Dahl. The Montana transfer started all 13 games in 2013 and anchored the line with 12 starts at left tackle in 2014. Having solid protection on the blindside is critical in Washington State’s Air Raid attack, and all signs point to Dahl having a standout senior season.

 

Daniel Lasco, RB, California

The Pac-12 is loaded with talented running backs, as six players eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2014. While Utah’s Devontae Booker and UCLA’s Paul Perkins usually grab the spotlight, Lasco quietly rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 scores on 210 attempts in 2014. Additionally, Lasco caught 33 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns. California’s Bear Raid offense should have no trouble scoring points in 2015. While quarterback Jared Goff and the explosive passing attack generate most of the attention in Berkeley, Lasco should hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season.

 

Related: Pac-12 2015 All-Conference Team

 

Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford

Despite leading one of the nation’s stingiest defenses in tackles last year, Martinez only earned honorable mention all-conference honors in 2014. Expect the senior to be an even bigger focal point of the defense in 2015 though, as Stanford returns just four starters on this side of the ball. Not only did Martinez lead the defense in tackles, he also recorded seven for a loss, generated 4.5 sacks, picked off three passes and forced two fumbles in 2014.

 

Related: College Football's Top Transfers to Watch in 2015

 

Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

UCLA’s offensive line had its share of ups and downs last season, as this unit gave up 40 sacks in 13 games. But there was noticeable improvement late in the year, as McDermott started the last seven games at left tackle. During McDermott’s stint anchoring the left side, UCLA went 6-1 and scored at least 30 points five times. In the 38-20 win over USC, the Bruins gave up only two sacks. With a true freshman taking over at quarterback (Josh Rosen), the offensive line has to step up in 2015.

 

Viliami Moeakiola, LB, Arizona State

Arizona State should have one of the Pac-12’s top linebacker groups in 2015, as Moeakiola, DJ Calhoun, Salamo Fiso, Antonio Longino and Christian Sam provide plenty of depth and talent for coordinator Keith Patterson. Moeakiola finished fourth on the team with 72 stops (10.5 for a loss), generated five sacks and one forced fumble last year. After earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2014, expect Moeakiola to push for all-conference accolades in 2015.

 

Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

 

Jared Norris, LB, Utah

Norris or fellow linebacker Gionni Paul deserves a mention in this space. Norris led the team in 2014 with 116 tackles and finished third on the team with 13 tackles for a loss. The California native also recorded four sacks and one pass breakup. Norris posted three consecutive double-digit tackle performances early in the year and finished with eight stops in the 45-10 blowout victory over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

 

Will Parks, S, Arizona

Arizona’s defense has room to improve after allowing 451 yards per game last season, but there were a few bright spots for coordinator Jeff Casteel. Linebacker Scooby Wright is arguably the top defender in college football, and Parks had a breakout campaign in his first year as a full-time starter. Parks started all 14 games for the Wildcats and recorded 81 stops (13 for a loss), one sack, two interceptions and eight pass breakups. With some new faces stepping into the starting lineup around Parks, the senior should be the leader for Arizona’s secondary this season.

 

Related: Pac-12 2015 All-Conference Team

 

Kevon Seymour, CB, USC

With the emergence of star of sophomore Adoree’ Jackson, along with Seymour’s development, USC’s cornerback tandem could be among the nation’s best this season. Seymour started 11 games in 2014 and finished the year with 49 tackles, one interception and 13 pass breakups. The California native also started 11 games in 2013 and recorded 48 tackles and one interception. Seymour should push for All-Pac-12 honors this year. 

Teaser:
The Pac-12's 10 Most Underrated Players for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, News, Magazines
Path: /nfl/jacksonville-jaguars-2015-team-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Having watched the Jaguars win seven games during the first two years of the Dave Caldwell-Gus Bradley Era, owner Shad Khan wouldn’t have been faulted this offseason if he had publicly mandated a specific number of wins for 2015. A regime’s third season is usually prove-it-or-else time. But he has bypassed that request at every turn.

 

Still, Khan clearly expects more. More wins. More close games. More touchdowns. More takeaways. And he made his thoughts known when addressing fans in mid-February: “We owe (fans) better results on game day. I know that. Dave knows that. Gus knows that.”

 

Knowing that, Caldwell (the general manager) and Bradley (the coach) went to work. They shook up the coaching staff. They signed a slew of free agents, six of whom are expected to start. And they added an eight-player draft class that will feature at least two opening-day starters.

 

Buy the 2015 Athlon Sports NFL Preview Magazine

 

OFFENSE

The Jaguars reacted accordingly to a 3–13 season in which they didn’t score much (league-low 15.6 points per game), couldn’t run it (a misleading 21st), and didn’t protect the passer (league-high 71 sacks allowed).

 

In are offensive coordinator Greg Olson, offensive line coach Doug Marrone, tight end Julius Thomas, right tackle Jermey Parnell, center Stefen Wisniewski, running back T.J. Yeldon, slot receiver Rashad Greene and, potentially, left guard A.J. Cann. All of the changes are geared toward giving quarterback Blake Bortles every chance to be successful. In 14 games last year, Bortles showed an ability to extend plays (by sliding around the pocket) and equal parts athleticism/smarts by rushing for 419 yards without taking any major hits. The guy is a playmaker. The Jaguars need him to be a difference-maker.

 

The Jaguars hope that the newcomers, combined with the development of players such as  left tackle Luke Joeckel and the second-year receiving trio of Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, can help Bortles produce an offensive revival. Joeckel has spent the offseason adding lower- and upper-body strength so he can more effectively smash opponents in the run game and hold up against them in the passing game. Houston has J.J. Watt, Tennessee has Brian Orakpo and Indianapolis has Trent Cole. Joeckel must be ready to face each of them twice within the AFC South.

 

Watch out for Robinson. He was on his way to 75 catches before being shut down after Game 10 with a foot injury. He’s not a blazer, but he knows how to find the first-down marker and the openings in zone coverage. The Jaguars prefer to keep Robinson, Lee and Hurns on the outside, which created a need to draft Greene, a prolifically productive player at Florida State (school-record 270 catches) who will play in the slot.

 

Success for the Jaguars’ offense will also center around three newcomers: Thomas, who had 24 touchdown catches the last two years for Denver and gives the Jaguars a red-zone component they’ve lacked for years; Parnell, who was a spot starter for Dallas but was given big money ($14.5 million guaranteed) to solidify a position that has been leaky for most of this decade; and Yeldon, the 36th overall pick who had two 1,000-yard rushing years at Alabama.

 

DEFENSE

The Jaguars were similarly flawed on defense last year, finishing 27th against the run and tied for last in interceptions (six). And the changes weren’t subtle. During the opening hours of free agency, defensive end Jared Odrick, outside linebacker Dan Skuta, cornerback Davon House and free safety Sergio Brown were signed to contracts worth a combined $32.1 million guaranteed. And then the Jaguars drafted pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr., free safety James Sample and defensive tackle Michael Bennett.

 

Fowler, though, tore his left ACL in the team’s first rookie minicamp practice and is out for the season. That leaves Odrick as the key newcomer up front. He will play the strong-side end spot, and the Jaguars hope he can be a better all-around producer than Red Bryant was last year. At the weak-side spot without projected starter Fowler, the rotation will include Chris Clemons, Andre Branch and Ryan Davis. Inside, Sen’Derrick Marks has developed into a productive, every-down tackle, but is rehabilitating from a late December ACL injury. Although ahead of schedule in late April, the guess is that the Jaguars will bring him along slowly so he can be ready for Week 1. But it’s likely he will see his playing time reduced while he works back into shape. The other starter, Roy Miller, is also coming off knee surgery but is expected to be full-go for camp.

 

The loss of Fowler could have a crippling effect on the Jaguars’ pass rush. Bradley and coordinator Bob Babich don’t call many blitzes (less than 20 percent in 2015), relying on a four-man rush to provide pressure. That may not be the best strategy this year.

 

Linebacker depth is a concern. The starters are set entering camp — Paul Posluszny in the middle, Skuta on the strong side and Telvin Smith on the weak side. But the Jaguars, who didn’t address the position in the draft, are in trouble if they have injury issues. Skuta and Smith are intriguing for different reasons. Skuta can rush the passer on third down, and Smith is simply around the football at all times. A key is Posluszny’s health. He missed the last half of 2014 with a torn chest muscle.

 

This is a huge season for strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, now in his third year in the league. “It’s time,” defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker says. Time for Cyprien to change games. Time for him to create turnovers. Time for him to be noticed. The Jaguars hope that settling on Brown or Sample at free safety will create more opportunities for Cyprien to play in the box. House was signed from Green Bay to bring experience to the cornerback spot, where he’ll lead Demetrius McCray, Aaron Colvin and Dwayne Gratz. Colvin could be the best of them. An ACL injury dropped him to the fourth round last year, but he played the final six games and showed flashes of being a playmaker in coverage.

 

SPECIALISTS

Kicker Josh Scobee, punter Bryan Anger and long snapper Carson Tinker will return for their 12th, fourth and third seasons, respectively, with the Jaguars. Scobee was 17-of-20 last year on field goals from under 50 yards, and Anger posted a net average of 39.6 yards. Where this unit will undergo some change is in the return game. Ace Sanders has had two years to give the punt return game a spark and hasn’t produced. The candidates to replace him are Tandon Doss (out last year with an ankle injury) and Greene, the rookie receiver. Running back Denard Robinson will get the first shot on kickoff returns.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

This entire season hinges on the Jaguars’ offense in general and the team’s early-season offense in particular. Can the players, chiefly Bortles, get up to speed with Olson’s offense? Can second-year receivers Robinson, Lee and Hurns take steps forward in their progress? Can Yeldon and Thomas emerge as much-needed playmakers? If all of that happens, a jump from three wins to maybe .500 could be in the offing.

 

Prediction: 3rd in AFC South

Teaser:
Jacksonville Jaguars 2015 Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 11:00
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Path: /nfl/indianapolis-colts-2015-team-preview-and-prediction
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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay emerged from a demoralized locker room at Gillette Stadium after a 45–7 AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots and tried to offer reassurance.

 

“We’re close,” he said, despite evidence to the contrary. Heads shook in disbelief. Close to what?

 

It’s not just last January that sticks in the scarred psyches of this franchise and fans. It’s the previous January at Foxborough, Mass., as well, when the Colts were run over 43–22 by the Patriots in an AFC Divisional playoff rout.

 

The Colts have won 11 regular-season games in three consecutive years, and they’ve advanced one round farther in each of the past two postseasons. But they’ve been unable to survive the Patriots games. The defending Super Bowl champions visit Indianapolis again in 2015. If the Colts are going to take that next step, they must dethrone the champs, not just on Oct. 18 but in January.

 

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OFFENSE

Quarterback Andrew Luck is coming off his best Pro Bowl season yet after leading the NFL with 40 touchdown passes. He’s got what is probably the best supporting cast in his four seasons with the additions of running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson and the first-round draft selection of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to go with Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and the tight end tandem of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.

 

Luck spoke at the outset of offseason training activities about improving red-zone efficiency and cutting down on turnovers. He had 22 of the team’s 31 giveaways, almost double his number from the previous season. The Colts ranked 12th in touchdowns scored when driving inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. While 42-year-old kicker Adam Vinatieri is still a reliable three-point option, the NFL’s No. 6 scoring offense — at 28.6 points per game — could have put up more.

 

This next offense could be one of the league’s best, presuming Luck (100 sacks taken in three seasons) has time to spread the ball around to a receiving corps that improved despite 14-year star Reggie Wayne not being re-signed. Hilton and Dorsett are speed burners. Johnson, the Houston Texans’ all-time receiving leader, is determined to prove he has something left. The 33-year-old target provides size and experience. Gore, 32, is also motivated to show there’s still life left in his legs. Johnson and Gore came to Indianapolis because they thought the Colts gave them the best shot at an elusive Super Bowl ring. And they link that objective to Luck.

 

DEFENSE

Four losses to the Patriots during the three-year era of general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano have been by an average of 29 points. New England has scored 189 points, 47.3 per game, in those blowouts. So while the Colts own the AFC South Division and have progressed to near the top of the league in status, they have to figure out a way to stop or least reduce points scored by the Patriots.

 

Outside linebacker Trent Cole arrived via free agency from Philadelphia and should team with franchise all-time sack leader Robert Mathis to form one of the best league’s best pass-rush tandems. That is, if Mathis can get healthy. He missed all of last season due to a four-game suspension and Achilles tendon tear. The Colts’ 3-4 pass rush could still be formidable if Mathis needs time to find his stride. Outside linebacker Jonathan Newsome led the team with 6.5 sacks as a rookie, and outside linebacker Erik Walden had six.

 

But the problem in playoffs past started with run defense. The Patriots ran for 177 yards and three scores last time, after 234 yards and six rushing TDs the year before. Defensive end Kendall Langford comes over from St. Louis and should be a solid run stuffer. Defensive tackle Arthur Jones needs to stay healthy — he started just three of nine games due to an ankle injury. The Colts traded up in the fifth round to draft Stanford nose tackle David Parry, evidence that the team isn’t sold on Josh Chapman and/or Montori Hughes as the only run-plugging answer. Stanford defensive end Henry Anderson was drafted in the third round and was considered by many to be a steal, given his high-motor ability to get consistent backfield penetration in college.

 

Inside linebacker Nate Irving was signed away from Denver to provide a stronger run-stopping option inside. While D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman are tackling machines, Freeman is better suited for pass defense, blitzing and using his speed to run down ball carriers. The cornerback trio of Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and nickel back Darius Butler returns, but safety is a concern. Mike Adams, 34, made his first Pro Bowl last season. Dwight Lowery comes over from Atlanta, and hard-hitting Clayton Geathers was drafted in the fourth round. So the defense still has questions entering training camp.

 

SPECIALISTS

Vinatieri, punter/kickoff specialist/holder Pat McAfee and long snapper Matt Overton might be the league’s best triumvirate. Vinatieri made 30-of-31 field goals. He didn’t miss until the season finale. McAfee boomed an NFL-best 70 touchbacks (on kickoffs) and was third in net punting average at 42.8 yards. Overton is almost always on the mark with his snaps. Dorsett is expected to get a crack at returning. The Colts were tied for second in kickoff returns but 26th in punt returns. Josh Cribbs was released a day after Dorsett was drafted. Dorsett impressed the Colts with his Hilton-like speed — he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, then 4.27 and 4.29 at his pro day.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

If Irsay is to be proven prophetic and the Colts have enough to exorcise Patriots demons, a lot has to go their way. Home-field advantage throughout the playoffs would be a start. Good health, including Mathis and along the offensive line, would be key. It’s possible but unlikely that everything will go according to plan. It almost never does.

 

The offense should be undeniably potent. There’s just too much talent, and Luck is a star on the rise. The Colts will pile up points. The question is defense. It must be more like the team that stopped Peyton Manning and Denver on the road in the playoffs to have any chance against the Patriots. Granted, Manning was playing on one leg due to an injury, but the Colts didn’t allow a touchdown after the first quarter. That game has Irsay believing his team is close.

 

Irsay spoke after the draft about how he expected the Colts to win at least two Super Bowls during the Luck era. The 55-year-old owner is haunted by the regret of a Manning era that produced only one Super Bowl win. Irsay has said that the Colts should have won more with their previous franchise quarterback. Irsay’s expectation is to win back-to-back titles at some point. He considers such an accomplishment a testament to greatness. The next round of Patriots games awaits. Maybe the Colts have what it takes, finally, to be great. That’s a big maybe.

 

Prediction: 1st in AFC South

Teaser:
Indianapolis Colts 2015 Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Tennessee Titans, Titans, NFL, News, Magazines
Path: /nfl/tennessee-titans-2015-team-preview-and-prediction
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The Tennessee Titans hope that Year 2 of the Ken Whisenhunt regime will be markedly better than Year 1. In Whisenhunt’s first season as head coach, the Titans bottomed out, going 2–14 and losing their final 10 games.

 

And while the sparse crowds at LP Field — now Nissan Stadium — reflected just how far this franchise has fallen, it might not be the worst thing in the long run. Sinking to such low depths allowed the Titans to finally embrace a rebuild after several years of treading water with middle-of-the-pack records and no playoff appearances. Beginning with the drafting of 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to build around at quarterback, the Titans could have real hope for the future for the first time in a number of years, though it may take some time for that hope to be realized.

 

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OFFENSE

By drafting Mariota second overall, the Titans are banking that the former Duck can be a bird of a different feather when it comes to transitioning from Oregon’s hurry-up spread offense to a conventional pro-style scheme. Mariota has the physical skills, and the Titans were impressed most by his football acumen throughout the draft process. Still, there are basic components of playing the position — from the simplest things such as taking the snap under center and calling plays in the huddle to more complex components such as progressions — that will take time to master. Whisenhunt, who was rigid with scrambling quarterback Jake Locker a year ago, has promised to be more flexible to accommodate Mariota, who has already been penciled in as the starter over Zach Mettenberger.

 

At running back, the Titans appear to be in flux. Bishop Sankey, a second-round pick a year ago, disappointed with only 569 yards rushing, and veteran Shonn Greene was released in June, as the team appears willing to give fifth-round pick David Cobb every opportunity to handle the “big back” role. Sankey didn’t seem to have an extra gear as a rookie, while Greene was injured and inconsistent in two years in Tennessee. The wild card in the running back room is Dexter McCluster, signed to a free-agent deal a year ago and then wasted as the Titans never found a role for him. A Sankey/Cobb combination is probably what the Titans are hoping for as the season opens.

 

In the receiving corps, the Titans have done their best to upgrade a lackluster cast. Kendall Wright’s production dipped to just 57 catches after 94 in 2013, and Justin Hunter remains an enigma. The organization still believes Hunter has the talent to be an elite receiver, but he simply hasn’t shown the swagger that top-flight receivers display on the field. Enter second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham, who seems to have plenty of that to go with a 6'5", 237-pound frame. Green-Beckham, a likely top-10 pick without his off-field issues, boldly says his goal is to score at least 10 touchdowns as a rookie. The Titans signed two former 1,000-yard receivers in free agency, adding Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks with the hope that both can bounce back after their production dropped dramatically in 2014.

 

Currently, the best weapon among the receivers is tight end Delanie Walker, the best free-agent signing of the Ruston Webster era as GM. Walker led the Titans with 63 catches for a franchise-record 890 yards receiving by a tight end. Not bad, considering that three different quarterbacks started last year. The Titans added journeyman Anthony Fasano as a free agent, in large part because Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson (released in June) were both injured last year.

 

The offensive line’s lone bright spot was 2014 first-round pick Taylor Lewan, who became a starter after Michael Roos was injured (and later retired). Right guard Chance Warmack, the 2013 first-round pick, finally started to show promise by year’s end. Other than those two, it was a disaster. Left guard Andy Levitre, who signed a $46.8 million free-agent deal in 2013, was too often handled at the point of attack and was plagued by penalties as well. Center Brian Schwenke, who has been average in his two years, finished the year on injured reserve. The Titans used seven different tackles a year ago, thanks to injuries. None of them was effective. Starter Michael Oher struggled and was released. The Titans did bring back Byron Stingily to compete with free-agent signee Byron Bell, who played poorly in Carolina last year. The Titans hope that third-round pick Jeremiah Poutasi can claim a spot in camp.

 

DEFENSE

The biggest move of the offseason for the defense wasn’t a player but a coach. Legendary defensive mind Dick LeBeau, a long-time friend of Whisenhunt, comes over after parting ways with the Steelers. Ray Horton still has the title of defensive coordinator, but LeBeau is calling the shots. Personnel-wise, the Titans needed upgrades after ranking 27th overall defensively and allowing 373 yards per game in 2014. Other than adding rookie Angelo Blackson on the defensive line, the Titans kept the status quo among the front three, where end Jurrell Casey is by far the best player. Nose tackle Sammie Hill is adequate, and Ropati Pitoitua, on the other end, is a decent run stopper, but not much as a pass rusher. End Karl Klug was re-signed and is a solid role player.

 

The Titans needed help at outside linebacker and signed Redskins free agent Brian Orakpo, who will help if he can stay healthy. They re-upped Derrick Morgan, who made a decent transition last year from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 linebacker. Avery Williamson, a 2014 fifth-round pick, was a nice find with 79 tackles. He will start alongside Zach Brown, lost for the year in Week 1 with torn pectoral in 2014. That drops veteran Wesley Woodyard into a reserve role.

 

The secondary got a makeover in the offseason. Safety Bernard Pollard, who missed most of last year with an Achilles injury, popped off about the organization and was released. Da’Norris Searcy was imported from Buffalo to take his place. He will start alongside Michael Griffin, who has lost a step but still plays OK if there is sufficient talent around him. At cornerback, Jason McCourty is solid on one side, and Perrish Cox comes over from the 49ers as an upgrade over Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who struggled badly last year in coverage. Nickel back Coty Sensabaugh is so-so, but the Titans seem to like young backup safeties Marqueston Huff and Daimion Stafford, who could contribute in certain sub-packages.

 

SPECIALISTS

The Titans made sure to re-sign reliable kicker Ryan Succop (19-of-22 on field goals), who came to the team after being cut by the Chiefs last year. Solid punter Brett Kern and long snapper Beau Brinkley received contract extensions as well. With Leon Washington not re-signed, McCluster should claim return duties. Seventh-round receiver Tre McBride or veteran Jacoby Ford could be options as well.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

The Titans have a long way to go before they can return to respectability. They have chosen Mariota to lead them there. The talented quarterback passes the eye test and has the smarts to give the Titans their first franchise quarterback since Steve McNair. But it will probably take some time as he adjusts to an NFL offense. Expect the Titans to be better in 2015, but they’re probably still another offseason away from contending.

 

Prediction: 4th in AFC South

Teaser:
Tennessee Titans 2015 Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /mlb/jon-lester-finally-gets-first-career-hit
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Everybody knows that pitchers don’t hit well. But Jon Lester really did not for his entire career up until last night. After going hitless in his previous 66 at-bats, Lester laced a single off of former teammate John Lackey. The grounder ricocheted off of him and slowly rolled towards the shortstop. However, Lester ran in easily to first base to collect his first hit in 270 career games.

 

Every fan in attendance knew of Lester’s woes at the plate and applauded for him as if he hit a walk off home run. While the Cubs lost 6-0 in a rain-delayed game, at least they got to see some history. It was the longest hitless streak to start a career, but he actually has a pretty solid swing, and it was about time it worked. 

Watch the historic hit below:
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 11:00
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Path: /nfl/houston-texans-2015-team-preview-and-prediction
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Coach Bill O’Brien knows he can’t expect the kind of improvement the Texans made in his first season, but it doesn’t mean they can’t challenge Indianapolis for the AFC South title and compete for a wild-card berth. Despite playing four quarterbacks and starting three, the Texans improved by an NFL-best seven victories to 9–7 and missed the playoffs on the last Sunday of the season. They added 13 veteran free agents and seven draft choices in an effort to increase firepower on both sides of the ball. They let go of the best player in franchise history, receiver Andre Johnson, and it better not backfire. They could have as many as eight new starters, including five on a defense that improved dramatically during a 4–1 finish that teased a football-crazed city that hasn’t had a team advance as far as the AFC Championship Game since the Oilers after the 1979 season.

 

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OFFENSE

If the Texans won nine games with three different starting quarterbacks, imagine what they’re capable of accomplishing if they develop stability at the most important position.

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets) and Case Keenum (Rams) were traded, and they took eight of the nine victories with them. In the first two starts of his career, Ryan Mallett was 1–1 but underwent season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. His competition is Brian Hoyer, a journeyman who went 7–6 as a starter in Cleveland last season. Like Mallett, Hoyer played for O’Brien and offensive coordinator George Godsey in New England. Hoyer, the most mobile of the group, has just 17 games of starting experience, but that’s 15 more than Mallett. Last year’s fourth-round pick, cannon-armed Tom Savage, is still watching and learning.

 

Whoever wins the job will miss Johnson, who was released and signed with AFC South rival Indianapolis after 12 exceptional seasons in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins emerged as a bona fide No. 1 go-to guy  in 2014 with terrific ball skills and excellent hands. Opposite Hopkins, the Texans might take a receiver-by-committee approach. They have more candidates than the Republican party in third-round pick Jaelen Strong, veteran free agents Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington and holdovers Keshawn Martin and Damaris Johnson.

 

The coaches also need more production from the tight ends. Starter Garrett Graham and backups C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin combined for 32 catches. All have their strengths and weaknesses. Solving the quarterback issue might help the tight ends’ productivity.

 

O’Brien and Godsey like to run the ball as much as possible. Arian Foster, who battled a hamstring injury, and rookie Alfred Blue combined for almost 1,800 yards rushing and scored 16 touchdowns. The coaches need to do a better job of managing Foster’s touches. They used him as a receiver a lot, including in the slot, because he has such superb hands; but that exposed him to more punishment. Blue, a between-the-tackles runner entering his second season, should be able to take some of that load off Foster.

 

New offensive line coach Mike Devlin earned an impressive reputation with the Jets as someone who makes his players more physical and technically sound. As a group, the line played well, but individually, only right guard Brandon Brooks could pound his chest. He’s a mauler with nifty feet, and he’s improved every season. With long-time center Chris Myers having been released, Ben Jones moves from left guard. Xavier Su’a-Filo, last year’s second-round pick, should replace Jones. They need to develop depth they can count on, especially in the interior of the line.

 

DEFENSE

Did the defense finally figure out coordinator Romeo Crennel’s complicated system down the stretch, or was the impressive performance on that side of the ball an aberration? During their 4–1 stretch drive, they ranked fourth in points allowed, second in total defense and first in third-down conversions. Overall, the Texans set a franchise record by forcing an NFL-high 34 turnovers one season after they recorded 11, the fewest since the merger in 1970. Can the defense keep up that pace, especially if it has four or five new starters?

 

The most famous new face belongs to mammoth nose tackle Vince Wilfork, coming off another Super Bowl victory with New England. He plans to settle in next to J.J. Watt. Wilfork is supposed to tie up two blockers and stuff the run before turning over the pass rush to younger players such as Watt, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

 

Crennel used Watt in inventive ways — moving him up and down the line — but he needs help from the infirmary. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who missed much of his rookie season with a knee injury, is coming along nicely from microfracture surgery, but he’s got a long way to go to be ready for the opener against Kansas City. When he gets back on the field, no one has a clue about how effective he can be or if he can stay healthy.

 

Inside linebacker Brian Cushing played most of last season, but he wasn’t the same three-down player he was before he underwent two knee surgeries. The coaches are hoping he’s regained his speed and agility.

 

It would elevate the defensive performance if outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus improved on last season’s career-low five sacks. He’s a weak-side rusher who must be more productive. He’s moving to the other side to take on tight ends. He sets the edge well and can drop into coverage, but he has to be more physical at the point of attack.

 

There’s been a revolving door at safety but not at cornerback, where Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are together for a fifth consecutive season. They play hard against the run, cover well and are seasoned veterans. Kevin Johnson, the first-round pick, should be the nickel corner.

 

One of the biggest free-agent acquisitions was free safety Rahim Moore. The coaches wanted more of a centerfielder, and Moore had four interceptions for Denver last season. He’s got range and brains and needs to become the captain of the secondary in place of Kendrick Lewis, who bolted for Baltimore after Moore was signed.

 

SPECIALISTS

There was nothing special about the Texans’ special teams last season, though kicker Randy Bullock (30-of-35 field goals, 130 points) and punter Shane Lechler (46.3-yard gross, 38.7 net) aren’t the problem. O’Brien is threatening to use starters if coverage and returns don’t improve. In a reserve role at Philadelphia, Chris Polk returned only 11 kickoffs but averaged 30.9 yards, including a 102-yard touchdown. Ideally, he makes the roster in the backfield and becomes a weapon on kickoff returns. If not, receivers Damaris Johnson and Martin can compete for the return job. Neither deserves it. The only thing the Texans can count on is long snapper Jon Weeks, who does an outstanding job.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS

Missing the playoffs on the last day of the season means fans and media — as well as owner Bob McNair — are expecting the Texans to make the playoffs. It’s a reasonable expectation, but it won’t be realistic if they suffer injuries where they lack quality depth. This is a well-coached team with a lot of talent and a favorable schedule that has a good chance to improve on last season’s nine victories.

 

Prediction: 2nd in AFC South

Teaser:
Houston Texans 2015 Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 11:00

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