Los Ravens ganan un loco y vibrante Super Bowl

NUEVA ORLEANS (AP) — Un apagón en el Super Bowl provocó que el máximo acontecimiento deportivo de Estados Unidos se interrumpiera durante más de media hora al domingo, pero el partido ofreció un vibrante desenlace que culminó con Joe Flacco y los Ravens de Baltimore como los campeones de la NFL al vencer 34-31 a los 49ers de San Francisco.

Flacco lanzó tres pases de touchdown en la primera mitad para coronar una postemporada de 11 anotaciones sin ninguna intercepción. Además, Jacoby Jones fijó un récord al anotar con una carrera de 108 yardas al devolver la patada de arranque del segundo tiempo que puso a Baltimore al frente por 22 puntos.

Pero lo insólito se produjo instantes después. El Superdome, el estadio bajo techo de Nueva Orleáns, se quedó sin luz.

Cuando el duelo se puedo reanudar, tras una demorada de 34 minutos, los 49ers reaccionaron con 17 puntos consecutivos y se pusieron a tiro, 31-29.

Pero la defensa de Baltimore se plantó firme al frenar a San Francisco en una cuarta oportunidad y gol desde la yarda 5 y menos de dos minutos por jugar.

The Case for Watching All Five Games of the First Day of Bowl Season

The bittersweet arrival of the first day of bowls reminds us all that only 40 games remain in the college football season, but it also sets the table for what figures to be a thrilling College Football Playoff finale. All month long in the Daily Bowl Digest, we’ll be setting the table for each day of bowl action, with game-by-game previews and a quick look back at what happened last night. First up: A marathon Saturday highlighted by one of the most intriguing matchups of the first half of the slate.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas (1 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: With all due respect to the Celebration Bowl, the annual showdown between the MEAC and SWAC champions that is entering its third year of existence, the New Orleans Bowl is the official start of the bowl season, and the Sun Belt traditionally plays into the fanfare by sending its conference champion to the Superdome. This year, that’s Troy, which only lost to Mountain West champ Boise State on the road and South Alabama in a midweek letdown game. Conference USA runner-up North Texas was certainly outclassed by Florida Atlantic in the conference title game, but the Mean Green will be playing for the school’s first 10-win season ever.

This is the first time since 2010 that the game hasn’t featured at least one team from Louisiana, but it’s safe to expect a high-energy contest just the same as two dangerous offenses trade possessions in the Superdome’s fast track.

Most interesting player on the field: Troy RB Jordan Chunn. ?The last time the college football world was focused on Chunn, he was rumbling through LSU’s defense on the way to a 30-carry, 190-yard night that keyed the Trojans’ upset win in Tiger Stadium. The next game against South Alabama, Chunn suffered a leg laceration that required 18 stitches and sidelined him for the next two weeks. Now back at full strength, Chunn enters his college finale one touchdown shy of the Sun Belt’s all-time record (48, held by Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette) with a juicy matchup against North Texas’s 107th-ranked run D.? — Eric Single

Autonation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State (2:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

Why you should watch: Passing enthusiasts, pull up a chair. Western Kentucky and Georgia State both field putrid running games, so taking to the air might be the only way the ball moves up and down the field. Western Kentucky finished dead last in FBS in rushing offense, and Georgia State sits 116th. This game was built for fans who don’t have time for trench battles.

Most interesting player on the field: WKU LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe. Iyiegbuniwe (pronounced ee-yay-boo-nee-way) led the Hilltoppers in tackles and forced three fumbles on his way to all-Conference USA honors. The Bowling Green native has become a team captain for a Hilltoppers team that can’t always lean on a high-powered offense the way it has in recent years. — Scooby Axson

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Why you should watch: No Willie Taggart, no problem for Oregon? We’ll see in the Ducks’ first game after Taggart bolted for Florida State with former offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal serving as the team’s head coach. Cristobal does have prior experience as a head coach with FIU, but it will be interesting to see if there are any bumps in the transition and how the team responds to the switch.

The good news for Cristobal is that the Ducks were one of the top offenses in the country with a healthy Justin Herbert under center, and Herbert is good to go against Boise State. Herbert and an explosive Oregon rushing attack featuring Royce Freeman, Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James will certainly be a challenge for Boise State to try to stop. But the Broncos also boast an intriguing offense of their own, with quarterback Brett Rypien a key reason behind Boise State’s status as one of the top passing offenses in the Mountain West Conference.

Most interesting player on the field: Oregon QB Justin Herbert. The Pac-12 has a couple quarterbacks vying for top draft pick honors in the 2018 NFL draft, but Herbert could end up as the crown jewel of the 2019 class. Oregon’s offense was among the best in the country with a healthy Herbert under center. With senior running back Royce Freeman deciding to skip the bowl game, Herbert has a good chance to showcase his arm talent.? — Max Meyer

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs. Colorado State (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: Colorado Sate enters the game with a solid offense and two big time weapons in receiver Michael Gallup and running back Dalyn Dawkins. Gallup is fifth in the nation in receiving yards and Dawkins is 16th in rushing yards. However, the duo will have its work cut out for it against a Marshall defense that is allowing less than 20 points a game.

Marshall is 25th in the country in defensive yards per game and allows only 212.3 passing yards per game. Seeing how the unit can matchup with Dawkins and Gallup will be interesting as the two are some of the best talents Marshall will face all season.

Most interesting player on the field: Colorado State WR Michael Gallup. Gallup has put together one of the best seasons of any receiver in the nation. With 94 catches for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns, the senior from Monroe, Ga. has established himself as one of the top threats in the Mountain West. He has gone for more than 100 receiving yards six times this year, and the Rams are 4–2 in those games. He has also eclipsed 200 receiving yards twice this year, both in victories. — Khadrice Rollins

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Why you should watch: If you like offense, you’re going to enjoy watching Arkansas State. The Red Wolves ranked sixth in the country in passing yards per game behind Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen, whose numbers include 3,630 passing yards, a 63.7% completion rate and 34 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. He’ll look to be slowed by a Blue Raiders defense that ranks 46th, including linebacker Khalil Brooks, who ranked third in the C-USA in tackles for loss.

Can Middle Tennessee score enough to hang with the Red Wolves? Their quarterback, Brent Stockstill, is no slouch, returning from injury to throw 10 touchdowns in his final four games after throwing 61 total in the last two seasons. But the key to this game will likely remain Middle Tennessee’s defense, which got burned by the best QB it faced this season, Western Kentucky QB Mike White, and will need to do a better job against Hansen and Co.

Most interesting player on the field: Arkansas State DE Ja'Von Rolland-Jones. The senior is a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year (offense or defense), owns the conference’s all-time sacks record and ranks second in the nation this season with 13. Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill and the Blue Raiders’ offensive line should be on high alert, especially since Rolland-Jones is one sack shy of breaking Terrell Suggs’s all-time FBS record. — Molly Geary

Saints RB Alvin Kamara Expected to Play Sunday vs. Jets

Saints coach Sean Payton said rookie running back Alvin Kamara, who suffered a concussion during New Orleans' 20-17 loss to Atlanta last Thursday night, is expected to play Sunday when the Saints host the Jets.

Kamara, a third-round pick out of Tennessee, has had a ridiculously productive rookie season. He's second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,017 yards, and he's only the third rookie in NFL history to surpass 600 yards receiving and 600 yards rushing. Kamara's unexpected fantasy value—he went undrafted in the vast majority of leagues—has led to him being the player on the most fantasy teams to make the playoffs (via ESPN).

Before last week's game against Atlanta, which he left in the first quarter, Kamara had put up at least 19 points in standard scoring leagues in five straight games. He is remarkable in the open field but also possesses incredible balance, which has allowed him to average a full seven yards per carry on 87 attempts.

The extra three days of rest should benefit Kamara's recovery, though every concussion is different, which makes it hard to forecast what kind of workload the Saints will trust him with. Mark Ingram has received the majority of the carries all season, and that'll likely continue again on Sunday (though Ingram himself has been dealing with a toe injury). The Jets have also allowed the 10th fewest points to opposing running backs, but both Kamara and Ingram have been sensational all season, particularly in the Superdome.

Even with some risk that he will be somewhat limited, Kamara owners should start the rook without any hesitation this week.

Bowl Entertainment Rankings: From Can't-Miss Matchups to Uninspiring Undercards

The networks that own the rights to the bowl slate arrange everything so that if you wanted to, you could take in a significant chunk of all 40 games of the FBS postseason, a three-week-long binge to close out a satisfying season. But if we’re being realistic, things come up. Holiday traditions get in the way of the Holiday Bowl. The cheapest flights home happen to overlap with the first three quarters of the Boca Raton Bowl (this specific scenario hits particularly close to home). Sacrifices must be made, and accordingly, priorities must be set.

To help you make those tough choices, we’re counting down 2017’s 37 bowl games outside the College Football Playoff, from the least watchable matchups to the can’t-miss events. The criteria used to sift through the clutter, in no particular order: the potential for offensive fireworks, any intriguing contrast in schematic styles, the presence of a superstar player or future first-round draft pick, the prestige of the bowl game and/or venue itself, the TV time slot and the quality of the teams involved.

If you weren’t already planning to watch the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the national title game, these rankings aren’t for you, so for the sake of suspense at the top of the list we’ve left out the three games with national title implications. (But for the record, Georgia-Oklahoma just barely edges out Alabama-Clemson as the postseason’s most entertaining bowl due to the unique matchup and offensive contrast.)

37. Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Florida State

After Jimbo Fisher’s messy exit, the Seminoles might be regretting the lengths they went to just to get to six wins and extend their record bowl streak to 36 years, rescheduling a game against Louisiana-Monroe that was cancelled by Hurricane Irma to avoid a 5–6 finish. Now they’ll travel to Shreveport for a matchup with a decidedly middle-tier Conference USA foe in the middle of a weekday afternoon two days after Christmas.

36. Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

These aren’t quite the same high-flying Hilltoppers we’ve seen in years past: Western Kentucky only topped 40 points twice all season, in part because senior quarterback Mike White was sacked a stunning 38 times. At least the Panthers will want to be in Orlando, making the program’s second bowl appearance ever.

35. Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College

Boston College’s stretch-run offensive explosion (36 points per game in the second half of the regular season) still feels too good to be true, and a meeting with the Hawkeyes—traditionally a stylistic kindred spirit—inside a baseball stadium should remind the Eagles of the first-to-14-points thrillers from whence they came.

34. Gasparilla Bowl: Temple vs. Florida International

Another baseball stadium bowl venue, and this one (Tropicana Field) is barely accepted as a suitable place to play baseball. When Bad Boy Mowers famously signed on for the St. Petersburg Bowl’s flashy rebrand, it had to have been hoping for a little better luck than this. This game should at least shine some light on Butch Davis’s impressive one-year turnaround at FIU, which has been completely overshadowed by Lane Kiffin’s impressive one-year turnaround at FAU.

33. Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill bought $10,000 worth of tickets to incentivize students to make the trip to Montgomery—the Blue Raiders were sent to Hawaii and the Bahamas the last two postseasons, but their lackluster 6–6 finish kept them a little closer to home. Keep an eye on Red Wolves sack master Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, and make sure you watch the postgame press conference to see if head coach Blake Anderson sends any more digs Arkansas’s way.

32. Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. SMU

This might be your last chance to see Courtland Sutton in an SMU uniform: The 6'4" junior receiver has the NFL’s attention after a few eye-popping campaigns within head coach Chad Morris’s breakneck-fast offense. But Morris couldn’t make it to this game before being hired by Arkansas.

31. Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Utah State

This year’s Just Happy to Be Here winner in a landslide is New Mexico State, which last went to a bowl in 1960. Emotions were high after the Aggies clinched their sixth win on Saturday, so expect an atypically charged atmosphere in Tucson.

30. Sun Bowl: NC State vs. Arizona State

The Sun Devils’ final game before the official start of the Herm Edwards era comes against an NC State team that has beaten just three teams that finished with winning records this year. The Wolfpack faithful thought this season might end somewhere a little closer to the beach than El Paso, but they have several young receivers to be excited about. Sophomores Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers and do-everything weapon Jaylen Samuels could rip off some big plays against Arizona State’s suspect defense.

29. Military Bowl: Virginia vs. Navy

Given the recent heights Navy has reached, this counts as a down year, but the Midshipmen should pose an interesting challenge for the Cavaliers, whose only win in their final six games came over another triple-option team, Georgia Tech.

28. Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois is 0–4 in bowl games under Rod Carey; Duke got its first postseason win in half a century two years ago at the Pinstripe Bowl. Nobody will be in their element. On a fast track at Ford Field, look out for Blue Devils leading receiver T.J. Rahming, whose one touchdown this season belies his quick-twitch athleticism.

27. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan v. Wyoming

NFL draft darling Josh Allen hurt his throwing shoulder in mid-November but is expected to be good to go by the time Wyoming gets to Boise. If the Cowboys’ free-slinging quarterback can’t play, drop this matchup down 10 slots.

26. Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

The Aggies are playing out the string in between Kevin Sumlin and Jimbo Fisher, while Greg Dortch, the star of Wake Forest’s upstart passing attack with nine catches this year, was lost for the season with an abdominal injury. His absence won’t stop Demon Deacons QB John Wolford from chucking it around the yard in his final game, but there may not be enough on the line for this to devolve into a back-and-forth shootout.

25. Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. Northwestern

One Wildcats team is a lot hotter than the other: Northwestern has won seven straight, while Kentucky has lost three of four. Both teams would prefer to do most of their work on the ground, which may limit the scoring potential but should wrap up with plenty of time for fans to switch gears before the No. 1 game on this list (stay tuned).

24. Orange Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Miami

It’s the Turnover Chain vs. the nation’s top defense by yards allowed per game, which could mean a long night for quarterbacks Malik Rosier and Alex Hornibrook. The losers of Saturday’s two primetime Power 5 conference championship games square off in Miami’s home stadium with considerably lower stakes than they had hoped for, taking the edge off the lowest New Year’s Six matchup on our rankings. You’ll be able to tell how much juice the Hurricanes’ breakout season has left by whether Miami fans are out-attended by the well-traveled Badger faithful.

23. New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs. Colorado State

A game can only drop so far in these rankings if it features a receiver with a very real chance at going for 200-plus yards, and Colorado State senior Michael Gallup is just that kind of player—he did it twice in the regular season.

22. Hawai’i Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston

Ed Oliver’s disruptive dominance in the middle of the line is the gift that keeps on giving for those who have stuck with Houston games even after Tom Herman jumped to Texas. After playing Washington and Alabama in back-to-back weeks in December, Jeff Tedford’s Fresno State team has earned itself a Christmas Eve in Hawaii.

21. Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA

This figures to be Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen’s final collegiate game before the NFL comes calling. Scouts will be watching Kansas State junior corner D.J. Reed closely, as well. There’s some sneaky shootout potential here, as the Wildcats spent half the season scoring at will and the other half searching for stability at quarterback. Will freshman Skylar Thompson’s tenure as the starter outlast Bill Snyder’s coaching career?

20. Holiday Bowl: Washington State vs. Michigan State

On paper, it seems like these two teams might present a refreshing contrast of styles and strengths, but Cougars QB Luke Falk was terrible in last year’s bowl game and the Spartans are unlikely to get the benefit of bad weather in San Diego, so neither team seems set up to play its best. Plus, after this matchup was announced, the Spartans and their fans promptly made it known they’d rather be in Tampa for the Outback Bowl.

19. Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs. Ohio

UAB deserves a trip to the Bahamas to cap its first season back after the miraculous resurrection of its football program, and although Ohio played its way out of a shot at the MAC title with a puzzling late-season loss to Akron, the Blazers get a quality opponent to measure themselves against.

18. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon

This was higher before Oregon head coach Willie Taggart bolted for Florida State, but it should still provide a decent glimpse at what the Ducks might look like next year with a healthy Justin Herbert at the helm of the offense. The Mountain West champs suffered two embarrassing losses to Power 5 opponents (one in triple-overtime, one by a wider margin than the Broncos had allowed at home in over a decade) and should have a little something extra to prove.

17. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia

The Utes may be 6–6, but they kept the Pac-12’s four best teams all within a possession. The Mountaineers may be 7–5, but they put a scare into almost everyone except Oklahoma. This game has the Boxing Day afternoon window all to itself, and there should be enough offensive fireworks here not to spoil it.

16. Camping World Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys are one of the most fun teams in the country to watch when their offense is clicking, but that fun can burn out quickly if it becomes apparent the opponent has no chance of scoring with them. Virginia Tech’s last game was a 10–0 slog of a win over Virginia. This was a risky yet undeniably intriguing pairing.

15. New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. North Texas

The first game of the FBS bowl slate pits the Sun Belt champs against the Conference USA runners-up in the Superdome. Will Troy’s Neal Brown or North Texas’s Seth Littrell get the call to coach a Power 5 program first? And will Trojans running back Jordan Chunn, who put up 190 yards on LSU’s defense, return to form once he crosses back over the Louisiana state line?

14. Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs. Florida Atlantic

With a prime-time national audience to himself, Lane Kiffin is going to try to get everyone’s attention one way or another. The clearest path to that goal seems like it will be dropping 60 on the Zips, who can’t hang with FAU’s lethal offense. Owls running back Devin Singletary is 204 rushing yards away from 2,000 on the season, and Akron is 99th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (197.2). Just keep an eye on it.

13. Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame vs. LSU

It’s a New Year’s Day bowl, sure, but one between two teams everybody seems to have pretty much figured out by this point. If Josh Adams and Derrius Guice don’t get going (or skip the game altogether) against two solid run defenses, this could turn into a slog.

12. Alamo Bowl: Stanford vs. TCU

The mysteries of bowl season: Why do the Pac-12’s two top games outside the New Year’s Six kick off at the same time (9 p.m. ET) on the same day (Dec. 28) on different channels (FS1 for the Holiday Bowl, ESPN for the Alamo)? If the conference is making you choose between two top teams, choose the Cardinal as Bryce Love tries to burn Gary Patterson’s defense.

11. Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Army

With the No. 1 (Army) and No. 12 (SDSU) rushing offenses in the country on hand, this one might get wrapped up in under three hours. The stars of those ground games are both seniors trying to go out in style: Black Knights quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (1,472 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Aztecs running back Rashaad Penny (2,027 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns) have toiled in relative obscurity for too long.

10. Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs. Purdue

Two of the season’s great underdog stories meet in Santa Clara, as electrifying quarterback Khalil Tate and Arizona take on coach Jeff Brohm’s turnaround-in-progress at Purdue. Tate is a house call waiting to happen every time he touches the ball, and the Boilermakers have no shortage of offensive tricks up their sleeve.

9. TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State

We were robbed of a dual-threat QB duel between Lamar Jackson and Nick Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald suffered a season-ending injury in the Egg Bowl, and then we were robbed of the Todd Grantham Bowl between the fiery defensive coordinator’s past and present employer when Grantham followed Dan Mullen to Florida. It’s a testament to Jackson’s entertainment value that this remains a top-10 game. Enjoy him at his peak while you still can.

8. Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs. Penn State

Saquon Barkley has committed to playing in this game before hopping to the draft, and NFL executives everywhere will be wincing at each hit he takes from Washington’s punishing defense. Under-the-radar matchup to watch: Penn State’s 21st-ranked punt coverage team (just 73 return yards allowed all year) against Dante Pettis, the all-time leader with nine career punt return TDs, including four this season.

7. Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. South Florida

Points ... points everywhere. This game might take five hours, and nobody will care. Head coaches Kliff Kingsbury and Charlie Strong are more than acquainted with each other from Strong’s time at Texas, as well.

6. Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo

Just as was the case in the New Orleans Bowl above, both head coaches are on the way up. Scott Satterfield ushered Appalachian State into FBS play, and Jason Candle’s Rockets just wrapped up a dominant MAC campaign. Make some time for two of the most underrated teams in the Group of Five.

5. Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Missouri

Missouri started out the season 1–5 and then won six straight, scoring a ton of points and unleashing the full potential of quarterback Drew Lock in the process. A handful of Texas defenders are already skipping this game to prepare for the NFL, so Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger should be asked to cut it loose in response. The result should be consequence-free offensive football.

4. Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina

It’s been five long years since The Hit. The game itself is worth watching to see whether Gamecocks QB Jake Bentley can find a way through the Wolverines’ stout defense after South Carolina fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, but we’re all just looking for excuses to watch The Hit again, and the telecast is sure to oblige.

3. Peach Bowl: UCF vs. Auburn

UCF coach Scott Frost’s decision to come back from his new job at Nebraska to coach the bowl game has raised the intrigue of this one considerably. As the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six rep, the Knights were destined to draw a top-10 team in a no-win situation, and that certainly applies to Auburn, which may still be emotionally deflated (if not still physically depleted) from its SEC title game loss. A win here would put UCF’s perfect season near the very top of college football’s pact two decades of underdog stories.

2. Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Memphis

It seems like these teams were involved in a disproportionate number of the season’s most exciting games: Iowa State with its upset of Oklahoma and last-second losses to Oklahoma State and Iowa, Memphis with its shootout win over UCLA and double-overtime loss to UCF. Both programs also recently locked in their rising coaches with new deals, meaning no one will be caught looking towards 2018. And Iowa State’s Allen Lazard and Memphis’s Anthony Miller are two of the best receivers in the country, full stop.

1. Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State

Who will respond better to the committee’s controversial playoff snub? The Buckeyes would like nothing more than to finish ahead of Alabama in the final rankings, while USC just wrapped a whisper-quiet 11-win season without hardly any of the fanfare that normally hijacks Trojans runs. Sam Darnold and J.T. Barrett are set up to wage an imperfect yet enthralling quarterback duel, and both teams are loaded at the skill positions. Clear your Friday night now for Dec. 29—given the deep lineup over the next three weeks, rescheduling any plans last-minute won’t be easy.

Looking for the best NFL matchups this week? Look South

In this Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 file photo, Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey (22) stays in front of New Orleans Saints' Ken Crawley (20) during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. The Saints won 34-13. The Panthers are heading into the biggest game of their season with some major injury concerns. Carolina is tied with New Orleans for first place in the NFC South at 8-3 entering a pivotal showdown at the Superdome on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 . But just how many Panthers will be available to play remains a mystery. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Okafor (57) is taken off the field on a cart after an injury in the second half against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 34-31 in overtime. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 11 cheerleaders

New Orleans Saints perform during the second half of a game against the Washington Redskins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

Nov 19, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Nov 5, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) and outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) defending in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 30-10. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Nov 5, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 30-10. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 9

New Orleans Saints Justin Hardee (center) celebrates with special teams teammates posing for a photo in the endzone after a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Paths of surprising Saints, sagging Bucs clash in Superdome

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throws a pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. Winston is throwing early in a week for the first time since injuring his right shoulder, and the Buccaneers hope that will be beneficial against the New Orleans Saints. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken, File)

Paths of surprising Saints, sagging Bucs clash in Superdome

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, file photo, New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) tackles Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) during the first half of an NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis. NFC North rivals looking for fixes on offense face off on Monday night when the Detroit Lions visit the Green Bay Packers. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)

Paths of surprising Saints, sagging Bucs clash in Superdome

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, file photo, New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) regains control of the ball as he leaps over Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans. While Mark Ingram has played a central role in the Saints' five-game winning streak, coach Sean Payton was clearly concerned by his late-game fumbles last weekend. As New Orleans prepares to host Tampa Bay, Ingram is trying to regain the trust of teammates and coaches. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, File)

NFL: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints

Oct 29, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) is carted off the field after a leg injury during the second half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 20-12. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints

Oct 29, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller (86) is carted off the field after a leg injury during the second half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 20-12. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 8

A New Orleans Saints cheerleader performs during a game against the Chicago Bears at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

NFL Week 8

A New Orleans Saints cheerleader performs during a game against the Chicago Bears at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NFL Week 8

A New Orleans Saints cheerleader performs during a game against the Chicago Bears at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ten Things I Think I Think: On C.J. Beathard, Luke Kuechly, Jack Del Rio, NaVorro Bowman and More

1. I think these are my quick notes of Week 6:

a. Stunning penalty-yardage disparity Thursday night: Eagles 126, Panthers 1. I would love to be in the officials’ room on Park Avenue to hear the discussion over the fact that the Panthers were not whistled for one hold in a game that has become a clutch-and-grab-fest.

b. I have never heard what CBS analyst Nate Burleson said about rookie running back Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs: “He’s the carpet that brings the room together.” How did I miss that?

c. WHOOOOOOOSH! Marvin Hall just showed up Saturday on the active Atlanta roster for the first time, then got five yards behind the Miami secondary and caught a too-easy long TD.

d. Case Keenum is playing the best football of his life—and looks so confident doing it. His inside shovel pass to Kyle Rudolph for seven yards near the Green Bay goal line was a thing of beauty.

e. The Lions are in the NFC North race because of the Aaron Rodgers injury, not because of good football.

f. The book on C.J. Beathard is he’s one tough guy. Which he showed in the 26-24 loss at Washington. But he showed much more, enough that he’s got at least one more start next Sunday against Dallas.

g. Can someone please teach Jordan Howard that when your team is trying to bleed the clock, you don’t intentionally run out of bounds? Sheesh.

h. Oakland punter Marquette King had a day: four punts, 56.5-yard average, 55.0 net, all four inside the 20.

i. What a pass by Tarik Cohen, the bowling ball of a back for Chicago. He rolled right with a handoff and let one fly, 37 yards in the air, and it nestled perfectly into the arms of Zach Miller in the right corner of the end zone. First Bears rookie running back to throw a TD pass since Gale Sayers did it in 1965.

j. Good for the Chargers winning in Oakland. Anthony Lynn is keeping that team together against so many odds.

k. Jack Del Rio has a big problem, and it’s not only that the Raiders are 2-4. They’re an uninspired, toothless 2-4. They’ve got a must-win game Thursday night against the Chiefs—and they’ve only lost five in a row to Kansas City.

l. Where to start with that New Orleans-Detroit game. Well, I’ll leave you with one note on it: The Cam Jordan tipped-to-himself interception for a touchdown was the biggest play in a game with 90 points scored, and one of the most athletic plays of the season. Jordan’s a heck of a player. The Saints need about five more of him on defense.

m. When he’s healthy, Janoris Jenkins is a top-five NFL cornerback. Showed it again Sunday night with the pick-six in Denver.

n. Could be that I jinxed him, but if you want to see my "Football Night in America" ride-along with Trevor Siemian, here it is.

o. Cam Newton will not put the Thursday-nighter in his time capsule.

p. There is no good reason—nor a crappy reason—to fine a celebrating football player for throwing a football into the stands after a great play. I mean, the player is happy, the player is celebrating, the player gives the souvenir touchdown football to a fan. I do understand the NFL’s reasoning. The league doesn’t want anyone to get hurt in a scrum for a prize football. And if there is an instance of a fan getting hurt beyond a couple of scratches on a ball thrown into the stands, maybe I’d change my tune. But Davante Adams got fined $6,076 for throwing his winning touchdown catch into the stands in Texas last week, and there’s the cutest picture of the recipient, a little girl, cradling it this week. It’s wrong.

q. Thomas Davis still has it, even after three ACL surgeries.

2. I think, Luke Kuechly, it’s time for that deep conversation with yourself and with your family and maybe with your good friends on the Panthers. You’re 26, and when you’re on the field you’re as dominant and instinctive as you were in 2013, when you were named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But with a likely third concussion in three years Thursday night, the danger with playing such a physical position and risking further head trauma is something Kuechly and those closest to him are going to have to consider when trying to decide about his future in football. Kuechly came steaming around right end to get an Eagles’ ball-carrier, and he was met directly by guard Brandon Brooks. Brooks didn’t Kuechly him helmet-to-helmet; rather, he simply stopped Kuechly and leveled him with a strong block into his shoulder/neck area. Players get up from that almost every time … but when players have a history of concussions, even seemingly ordinary contact can be dangerous. Whatever Kuechly does—and he told me last year he planned to play as long he physically is able—the emotion has to be taken out of it. He’s got to make the best call for 50-year-old Luke Kuechly.

3. I think I get the release of NaVorro Bowman—a veteran on an 0-5 team who wouldn’t be there after this season. He’s been one of the best professionals and competitors I’ve covered. I also get the Niners releasing him instead of taking a low-round pick for him. I’ll tell you where I’d go if I were him: Carolina. Great insurance for Kuechly, and a great one-year landing place. Backup plan: Oakland.

4. I think when I saw the Panthers in training camp, coach Ron Rivera was adamant that Carolina was going to be a power-running team. If that was the case, Carolina would be at least one win better than its 4-2 record right now. But in the last two games, Carolina’s running backs have 35 carries for 37 yards. The Panthers should be using the speed and horizontal misdirection of Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey to create uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball.

5. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how a guy who seemed bulletproof on Labor Day, Giants coach Ben McAdoo, will still be in that job in 2018.

6. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how the Eagles won’t win the NFC East, with this schedule over the next four weeks: Washington, San Francisco and Denver, all at home, followed by the bye. The Eagles don’t play a road game until the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

7. I think I enjoyed the NFL Films Presents “Touchdown in Israel” show I screened over the weekend. The show debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Patriots owner Robert Kraft took 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers to Israel, to promote football (the players actually coached a game between two teams of young players from Israel) and so Kraft could show off Israel, which he loves. Most touching parts: At the end of the show, Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson and others—most emotionally Marshall Faulk—discuss their experiences on the last night in Israel. Faulk, not an emotional sort, struggles to get through his thoughts speaking to the group, because the trip was so powerful to him. “Coming from the Ninth Ward in Louisiana, to be in Israel … UN-believable … And not just to be here, but [struggling to speak] … to be here with some guys who I look up to. I grew up poor. I sold POPCORN in the Superdome just to watch y’all play! [fighting off tears] … Cuz that’s the only way I could get in! … So to be here, and to be friends with y’all, and to hear your stories, and to have y’all listening to my stories, um, is unbelievable. I came here as just a member of the Hall. Man, I’m leaving with some special relationships.”

8. I think I applaud the filing of the Colin Kaepernick collusion case, though I’m skeptical attorney Mark Geragos will find any evidence to prove that multiple NFL owners, or the league office, colluded to deny Kaepernick employment. This may not be the best thing to get Kaepernick on an NFL roster (the dreaded “distraction” that so many teams quake about would be the result of signing him now), but the more noise that’s made about Kaepernick not being given a chance to play the better.

9. I think there’s an overlooked story you should know about it. It happened last week at a small-college football game in upstate New York, St. Lawrence at Union. Two friends from the Albany area from the early 1940s, World War II vets apart for more than 70 years, gathered to renew their friendship at the game in Schenectady, and the emotion that came out left both men weeping. Donald Sommers (Union class of ’45), age 95, and Ted Rosen (St. Lawrence class of ’48), 93, hadn’t seen each other because of the war and because life took them in different directions. Sommers’ daughter Caroline, a New York City-based TV producer, worked for months to locate Rosen, just as a favor to her father, who recently lost his wife. “This is unbelievable, to be able to spend time with such a good friend after so many years,” said Sommers. “I haven’t seen this young man in 70 years! We chose to do it at the football game. I am a very ardent football watcher.” Caroline Sommers was filled with emotion when the two friends stood with the teams from their respective alma maters as the anthem played. “This was a bucket list thing for me to do for my father,” she said. “You know the scene in the Grinch where his heart grows a lot at the end? That’s what this felt like—to do something that made these two great men so happy.”

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Story of the Week: by John Branch of the New York Times, “The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey,” on the tragedy in Las Vegas hitting home on a soccer field in California.

b. Stacee Etcheber and the Girl in the No. 8 Jersey should have some rights. Rights to live without the fear of being cut down by some normal-seeming sniper from 400 yards away.

c. Goodellian Story of the Week: by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, about an anonymous (but no longer) defender of Roger Goodell on Twitter.

d. Baseball Story of the Week: by Peter Gammons of The Athletic, on the Astros’ Game 4 ALDS win in Boston, writing about the rise of one franchise and the fall of another at Fenway Park on a murky October day. “This is what I live for. This place is so great, so electric,” said Justin Verlander, who almost was a goat in the first relief appearance of his life in professional baseball. “To me, baseball is about the moments, walking up on the mound with something on the line.”

e. And that wasn’t even the baseball game of the week. Cubs 9, Nats 8.

f. I cannot rave enough about Jose Altuve. The man invents runs. Friday against the Yankees, in a scoreless game, he bounced a normal ground ball up the middle, and the throw to first was a tick late. Then he stole second, safe by a whisker. Then, on a single up the middle, his little pistons took him home for the first run of a 2-1 game. The man is Pedroia with 40 percent better power and 30 percent better speed.

g. Justin Verlander with the game of his later career in ALCS Game 2. Then I looked up and saw he’s still only 34. Thought he was older. So glad to see a guy throw 124 pitches and a complete game and no one freaks out. Look how good Verlander was late: In the last four innings, he struck out seven, got five batted-ball outs, walked one, allowed one hit. That’s dominance.

h. Cleveland … that one hurt. Not as bad as losing the 3-1 Series lead last year. But watching Corey Kluber go cold, and Jose Ramirez go colder, will lead to some bummer evenings this winter.

i. Coffeenerdness: Not a good idea to run low on Italian Roast at my two local stores, Starbucks. You do realize I’m an addict, don’t you? STOCK THE ITALIAN ROAST!?

j. Beernerdness: I’ve gone Sober October, as you may have read last week, and you filled my inbox with your passion about favorite beers. So I’m going to use the next three columns to feature your choices. The first: from Mitch Clingman of Wisconsin: “I live in Milwaukee but I'm from Minnesota, and I enjoy watching my Vikings while sipping on King Sue, an American Double IPA from Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa. Orange in color, one of the hoppiest fresh noses you will ever find, this is absolutely a life-changing event in a bottle. My leg starts twitching when I take my first sip. I highly suggest giving this one a try in the near future.” Toppling Goliath … well, of course I’m going to try anything from Toppling Goliath.

k. Great job by the Vegas Golden Knights feting the city, the police, the victims and the first-responders at the first home game in franchise history. That 58-second “moment” of silence was marvelous. Truly emotional. Nice start for the first big-league team in the history of the state.

l. Liked the analysis by Don Banks of The Athletic on the quote-unquote Ben McAdoo “losing the locker room” perception. Often, teams settle into cliques during really bad times, and Banks captures it.

Who I Like Tonight

Tennessee 30, Indianapolis 24. I love the battle of the quarterbacks. Who’d have thought Jacoby Brissett might outduel Marcus Mariota on a Monday night in Nashville in October? This will be a competitive game with the Colts having a chance to win in the last five minutes. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s troops are having a very bad year (a league-high 28.4 points per game allowed through five weeks) and may have to make a stop here to win.

The Adieu Haiku

Huge week for Goodell.
Ultimate knotty problem.
It’s mayhem. Trump wins.

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Ten Things I Think I Think: On C.J. Beathard, Luke Kuechly, Jack Del Rio, NaVorro Bowman and More

1. I think these are my quick notes of Week 6:

a. Stunning penalty-yardage disparity Thursday night: Eagles 126, Panthers 1. I would love to be in the officials’ room on Park Avenue to hear the discussion over the fact that the Panthers were not whistled for one hold in a game that has become a clutch-and-grab-fest.

b. I have never heard what CBS analyst Nate Burleson said about rookie running back Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs: “He’s the carpet that brings the room together.” How did I miss that?

c. WHOOOOOOOSH! Marvin Hall just showed up Saturday on the active Atlanta roster for the first time, then got five yards behind the Miami secondary and caught a too-easy long TD.

d. Case Keenum is playing the best football of his life—and looks so confident doing it. His inside shovel pass to Kyle Rudolph for seven yards near the Green Bay goal line was a thing of beauty.

e. The Lions are in the NFC North race because of the Aaron Rodgers injury, not because of good football.

f. The book on C.J. Beathard is he’s one tough guy. Which he showed in the 26-24 loss at Washington. But he showed much more, enough that he’s got at least one more start next Sunday against Dallas.

g. Can someone please teach Jordan Howard that when your team is trying to bleed the clock, you don’t intentionally run out of bounds? Sheesh.

h. Oakland punter Marquette King had a day: four punts, 56.5-yard average, 55.0 net, all four inside the 20.

i. What a pass by Tarik Cohen, the bowling ball of a back for Chicago. He rolled right with a handoff and let one fly, 37 yards in the air, and it nestled perfectly into the arms of Zach Miller in the right corner of the end zone. First rookie Bear running back to throw a TD pass since Gale Sayers did it in 1965.

j. Good for the Chargers winning in Oakland. Anthony Lynn is keeping that team together against so many odds.

k. Jack Del Rio has a big problem, and it’s not only that the Raiders are 2-4. They’re an uninspired, toothless 2-4. They’ve got a must-win game Thursday night against the Chiefs—and they’ve only lost five in a row to Kansas City.

l. Where to start with that New Orleans-Detroit game. Well, I’ll leave you with one note on it: The Cam Jordan tipped-to-himself interception for a touchdown was the biggest play in the game with 90 points scored, and one of the most athletic plays of the season. Jordan’s a heck of a player. The Saints need about five more of him on defense.

m. All those who had Calais Campbell of the Jaguars as the NFL sack leader (with eight) through six games … well, you know your football.

n. When he’s healthy, Janoris Jenkins is a top-five NFL cornerback. Showed it again Sunday night with the pick-six in Denver.

o. Could be that I jinxed him, but if you want to see my "Football Night in America" ride-along with Trevor Siemian, here it is.

p. Cam Newton will not put the Thursday-nighter in his time capsule.

q. There is no good reason—nor a crappy reason—to fine a celebrating football player for throwing a football into the stands after a great play. I mean, the player is happy, the player is celebrating, the player gives the souvenir touchdown football to a fan. I do understand the NFL’s reasoning. The league doesn’t want anyone to get hurt in a scrum for a prize football. And if there is an instance of a fan getting hurt beyond a couple of scratches on a ball thrown into the stands, maybe I’d change my tune. But Davante Adams got fined $6,076 for throwing his winning touchdown catch into the stands in Texas last week, and there’s the cutest picture of the recipient, a little girl, cradling it this week. It’s wrong.

r. Thomas Davis still has it, even after three ACL surgeries.

2. I think, Luke Kuechly, it’s time for that deep conversation with yourself and with your family and maybe with your good friends on the Panthers. You’re 26, and when you’re on the field, you’re as dominant and instinctive as you were in 2013, when you edged J.J. Watt for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But with a likely third concussion in three years Thursday night, the danger with playing such a physical position and risking further head trauma is something Kuechly and those closest to him are going to have to consider when trying to decide about his future in football. Kuechly came steaming around right end to get an Eagles’ ballcarrier, and he was met head-on by guard Brandon Brooks. Brooks didn’t hit him helmet-to-helmet; rather, he simply stopped Kuechly and leveled him with a strong block into his shoulder/neck area. Players get up from that almost every time … but when players have a history of concussions, even seemingly ordinary contact can be dangerous. Whatever Kuechly does—and he told me last year he planned to play as long his physically is able—the emotion has to be taken out of it. He’s got to make the best call for 50-year-old Luke Kuechly.

3. I think I get the release of NaVorro Bowman—a veteran on an 0-5 team who wouldn’t be there after this season. He’s been one of the best professionals and competitors I’ve covered. I also get the Niners releasing him instead of taking a low-round pick for him. I’ll tell you where I’d go if I were him: Carolina. Great insurance for Kuechly, and a great one-year landing place. Backup plan: Oakland.

4. I think when I saw the Panthers in training camp, coach Ron Rivera was adamant that Carolina was going to be a power-running team. If that was the case, Carolina would be at least one win better than its 4-2 record right now. But in the last two games, Carolina’s running backs have 35 carries for 37 yards. The Panthers should be using the speed and horizontal misdirection of Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey to create uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball.

5. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how a guy who seemed bulletproof on Labor Day, Giants coach Ben McAdoo, will still be in that job in 2018.

6. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how the Eagles won’t win the NFC East, with this schedule over the next four weeks: Washington, San Francisco and Denver, all at home, followed by the bye. The Eagles don’t play a road game till the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

7. I think I enjoyed the NFL Films Presents “Touchdown in Israel” show I screened over the weekend. The show debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Patriots owner Robert Kraft took 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers to Israel, to promote football (the players actually coached a game between two teams of young players from Israel) and so Kraft could show off Israel, which he loves. Most touching parts: At the end of the show, Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson and others—most emotionally Marshall Faulk—discuss their experiences on the last night in Israel. Faulk, not an emotional sort, struggles to get through his thoughts speaking to the group, because the trip was so impactful to him. “Coming from the Ninth Ward in Louisiana, to be in Israel … UN-believable … And not just to be here, but [struggling to speak] … to be here with some guys who I look up to. I grew up poor. I sold POPCORN in the Superdome just to watch y’all play! [fighting off tears] … Cuz that’s the only way I could get in! … So to be here, and to be friends with y’all, and to hear your stories, and to have y’all listening to my stories, um, is unbelievable. I came here as just a member of the Hall. Man, I’m leaving with some special relationships.”

8. I think I applaud the filing of the Colin Kaepernick collusion case, though I’m skeptical attorney Mark Geragos will find any evidence to prove that multiple NFL owners, or the league office, colluded to deny Kaepernick employment. This may not be the best thing to get Kaepernick on an NFL roster (the dreaded “distraction” that so many teams quake about would be the result of signing him now), but the more noise that’s made about Kaepernick not being given a chance to play the better.

9. I think there’s an overlooked story you should know about it. It happened last week at a small-college football game in upstate New York, St. Lawrence at Union. Two friends from the Albany area from the early 1940s, World War II vets apart for more than 70 years, gathered to renew their friendship at a small-college football game in Schenectady, and the emotion that came out left both men weeping. Donald Sommers (Union class of ’45), age 95, and Ted Rosen (St. Lawrence class of ’48), 93, hadn’t seen each other because of the war and because life took them in different directions. Sommers’ daughter Caroline, a New York City-based TV producer, worked for months to locate Rosen, just as a favor to her father, who recently lost his wife. “This is unbelievable, to be able to spend time with such a good friend after so many years,” said Sommers. “I haven’t seen this young man in 70 years! We chose to do it at the football game. I am a very ardent football watcher.” Caroline Sommers was filled with emotion when the two friends stood with the teams from their respective alma maters as the anthem played. “This was a bucket list thing for me to do for my father,” she said. “You know the scene in the Grinch where his heart grows a lot at the end? That’s what this felt like—to do something that made these two great men so happy.”

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Story of the Week: by John Branch of the New York Times, “The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey,” on the tragedy in Las Vegas hitting home on a soccer field in California.

b. Stacee Etcheber and the Girl in the No. 8 Jersey should have some rights. Rights to live without the fear of being cut down by some normal-seeing sniper from 400 yards away.

c. Goodellian Story of the Week: by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, about an anonymous (but no longer) defender of Roger Goodell on Twitter.

d. Baseball Story of the Week: by Peter Gammons of The Athletic, on the Astros’ Game 4 ALDS win in Boston, writing about the rise of one franchise and the fall of another at Fenway Park on a murky October day. “This is what I live for. This place is so great, so electric,” said Justin Verlander, who almost was a goat in the first relief appearance of his life in professional baseball. “To me, baseball is about the moments, walking up on the mound with something on the line.”

e. And that wasn’t even the baseball game of the week. Cubs 9, Nats 8.

f. I cannot rave enough about Jose Altuve. The man invents runs. Friday against the Yankees, in a scoreless game, he bounced a normal ground ball up the middle, and the throw to first was a tick late. Then he stole second, safe by a whisker. Then, on a single up the middle, his little pistons took him home for the first run of a 2-1 game. The man is Pedroia with 40-percent better power and 30-percent better speed.

g. Justin Verlander with the game of his latter life in ALCS Game 2. Then I looked up and saw he’s still only 34. Thought he was older. So glad to see a guy throw 124 pitches and a complete game and no one freaks out. Look how good Verlander was late: In the last four innings, he struck out seven, got five batted-ball outs, walked one, allowed one hit. That’s dominance.

h. Cleveland … that one hurt. Not as bad as losing the 3-1 Series lead last year. But watching Corey Kluber go cold, and Jose Ramirez go colder, will lead to some bummer evenings this winter.

i. Coffeenerdness: Not a good idea to run low on Italian Roast at my two local stores, Starbucks. You do realize I’m an addict, don’t you? STOCK THE ITALIAN ROAST!?

j. Beernerdness: I’ve gone Sober October, as you may have read last week, and you filled my inbox with your passion about favorite beers. So I’m going to use the next three columns to feather your choices. The first: from Mitch Clingman of Wisconsin: “I live in Milwaukee but I'm from Minnesota and I enjoy watching my Vikings while sipping on King Sue, an American Double IPA from Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa. Orange in color, one of the hoppiest fresh noses you will ever find, this is absolutely a life-changing event in a bottle. My leg starts twitching when I take my first sip. I highly suggest giving this one a try in the near future.” Toppling Goliath … well, of course I’m going to try anything from Toppling Goliath.

k. Great job by the Vegas Golden Knights feting the city, the police, the victim, and the first-responders at the first home game in franchise history. That 58-second “moment” of silence was marvelous. Truly emotional. Nice start for the first big-league team in the history of the state.

l. Liked the analysis by Don Banks of The Athletic on the quote-unquote Ben McAdoo “losing the locker room” perception. Often, teams settle into cliques during really bad times, and Banks captures it.

Who I Like Tonight

Tennessee 30, Indianapolis 24. I love the battle of the quarterbacks. Who’d have thought Jacoby Brissett might outduel Marcus Mariota on a Monday night in Nashville in October? This will be a competitive game with the Colts having a chance to win in the last five minutes. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s troops are having a very bad year (a league-high 28.4 points per game allowed through five weeks) and may have to make a stop here to win.

The Adieu Haiku

Huge week for Goodell.
Ultimate knotty problem.
It’s mayhem. Trump wins.

• We have a newsletter, and you can subscribe, and it’s free. Get “The Morning Huddle” delivered to your inbox first thing each weekday, by going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box. Start your day with the best of the NFL, from The MMQB.

Question or comment? Story idea? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

Ten Things I Think I Think: On C.J. Beathard, Luke Kuechly, Jack Del Rio, NaVorro Bowman and More

1. I think these are my quick notes of Week 6:

a. Stunning penalty-yardage disparity Thursday night: Eagles 126, Panthers 1. I would love to be in the officials’ room on Park Avenue to hear the discussion over the fact that the Panthers were not whistled for one hold in a game that has become a clutch-and-grab-fest.

b. I have never heard what CBS analyst Nate Burleson said about rookie running back Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs: “He’s the carpet that brings the room together.” How did I miss that?

c. WHOOOOOOOSH! Marvin Hall just showed up Saturday on the active Atlanta roster for the first time, then got five yards behind the Miami secondary and caught a too-easy long TD.

d. Case Keenum is playing the best football of his life—and looks so confident doing it. His inside shovel pass to Kyle Rudolph for seven yards near the Green Bay goal line was a thing of beauty.

e. The Lions are in the NFC North race because of the Aaron Rodgers injury, not because of good football.

f. The book on C.J. Beathard is he’s one tough guy. Which he showed in the 26-24 loss at Washington. But he showed much more, enough that he’s got at least one more start next Sunday against Dallas.

g. Can someone please teach Jordan Howard that when your team is trying to bleed the clock, you don’t intentionally run out of bounds? Sheesh.

h. Oakland punter Marquette King had a day: four punts, 56.5-yard average, 55.0 net, all four inside the 20.

i. What a pass by Tarik Cohen, the bowling ball of a back for Chicago. He rolled right with a handoff and let one fly, 37 yards in the air, and it nestled perfectly into the arms of Zach Miller in the right corner of the end zone. First Bears rookie running back to throw a TD pass since Gale Sayers did it in 1965.

j. Good for the Chargers winning in Oakland. Anthony Lynn is keeping that team together against so many odds.

k. Jack Del Rio has a big problem, and it’s not only that the Raiders are 2-4. They’re an uninspired, toothless 2-4. They’ve got a must-win game Thursday night against the Chiefs—and they’ve only lost five in a row to Kansas City.

l. Where to start with that New Orleans-Detroit game. Well, I’ll leave you with one note on it: The Cam Jordan tipped-to-himself interception for a touchdown was the biggest play in a game with 90 points scored, and one of the most athletic plays of the season. Jordan’s a heck of a player. The Saints need about five more of him on defense.

m. When he’s healthy, Janoris Jenkins is a top-five NFL cornerback. Showed it again Sunday night with the pick-six in Denver.

n. Could be that I jinxed him, but if you want to see my "Football Night in America" ride-along with Trevor Siemian, here it is.

o. Cam Newton will not put the Thursday-nighter in his time capsule.

p. There is no good reason—nor a crappy reason—to fine a celebrating football player for throwing a football into the stands after a great play. I mean, the player is happy, the player is celebrating, the player gives the souvenir touchdown football to a fan. I do understand the NFL’s reasoning. The league doesn’t want anyone to get hurt in a scrum for a prize football. And if there is an instance of a fan getting hurt beyond a couple of scratches on a ball thrown into the stands, maybe I’d change my tune. But Davante Adams got fined $6,076 for throwing his winning touchdown catch into the stands in Texas last week, and there’s the cutest picture of the recipient, a little girl, cradling it this week. It’s wrong.

q. Thomas Davis still has it, even after three ACL surgeries.

2. I think, Luke Kuechly, it’s time for that deep conversation with yourself and with your family and maybe with your good friends on the Panthers. You’re 26, and when you’re on the field you’re as dominant and instinctive as you were in 2013, when you were named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But with a likely third concussion in three years Thursday night, the danger with playing such a physical position and risking further head trauma is something Kuechly and those closest to him are going to have to consider when trying to decide about his future in football. Kuechly came steaming around right end to get an Eagles’ ball-carrier, and he was met directly by guard Brandon Brooks. Brooks didn’t Kuechly him helmet-to-helmet; rather, he simply stopped Kuechly and leveled him with a strong block into his shoulder/neck area. Players get up from that almost every time … but when players have a history of concussions, even seemingly ordinary contact can be dangerous. Whatever Kuechly does—and he told me last year he planned to play as long he physically is able—the emotion has to be taken out of it. He’s got to make the best call for 50-year-old Luke Kuechly.

3. I think I get the release of NaVorro Bowman—a veteran on an 0-5 team who wouldn’t be there after this season. He’s been one of the best professionals and competitors I’ve covered. I also get the Niners releasing him instead of taking a low-round pick for him. I’ll tell you where I’d go if I were him: Carolina. Great insurance for Kuechly, and a great one-year landing place. Backup plan: Oakland.

4. I think when I saw the Panthers in training camp, coach Ron Rivera was adamant that Carolina was going to be a power-running team. If that was the case, Carolina would be at least one win better than its 4-2 record right now. But in the last two games, Carolina’s running backs have 35 carries for 37 yards. The Panthers should be using the speed and horizontal misdirection of Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey to create uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball.

5. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how a guy who seemed bulletproof on Labor Day, Giants coach Ben McAdoo, will still be in that job in 2018.

6. I think it’s only mid-October, and it’s starting to be hard to fathom how the Eagles won’t win the NFC East, with this schedule over the next four weeks: Washington, San Francisco and Denver, all at home, followed by the bye. The Eagles don’t play a road game until the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

7. I think I enjoyed the NFL Films Presents “Touchdown in Israel” show I screened over the weekend. The show debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Patriots owner Robert Kraft took 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers to Israel, to promote football (the players actually coached a game between two teams of young players from Israel) and so Kraft could show off Israel, which he loves. Most touching parts: At the end of the show, Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson and others—most emotionally Marshall Faulk—discuss their experiences on the last night in Israel. Faulk, not an emotional sort, struggles to get through his thoughts speaking to the group, because the trip was so powerful to him. “Coming from the Ninth Ward in Louisiana, to be in Israel … UN-believable … And not just to be here, but [struggling to speak] … to be here with some guys who I look up to. I grew up poor. I sold POPCORN in the Superdome just to watch y’all play! [fighting off tears] … Cuz that’s the only way I could get in! … So to be here, and to be friends with y’all, and to hear your stories, and to have y’all listening to my stories, um, is unbelievable. I came here as just a member of the Hall. Man, I’m leaving with some special relationships.”

8. I think I applaud the filing of the Colin Kaepernick collusion case, though I’m skeptical attorney Mark Geragos will find any evidence to prove that multiple NFL owners, or the league office, colluded to deny Kaepernick employment. This may not be the best thing to get Kaepernick on an NFL roster (the dreaded “distraction” that so many teams quake about would be the result of signing him now), but the more noise that’s made about Kaepernick not being given a chance to play the better.

9. I think there’s an overlooked story you should know about it. It happened last week at a small-college football game in upstate New York, St. Lawrence at Union. Two friends from the Albany area from the early 1940s, World War II vets apart for more than 70 years, gathered to renew their friendship at the game in Schenectady, and the emotion that came out left both men weeping. Donald Sommers (Union class of ’45), age 95, and Ted Rosen (St. Lawrence class of ’48), 93, hadn’t seen each other because of the war and because life took them in different directions. Sommers’ daughter Caroline, a New York City-based TV producer, worked for months to locate Rosen, just as a favor to her father, who recently lost his wife. “This is unbelievable, to be able to spend time with such a good friend after so many years,” said Sommers. “I haven’t seen this young man in 70 years! We chose to do it at the football game. I am a very ardent football watcher.” Caroline Sommers was filled with emotion when the two friends stood with the teams from their respective alma maters as the anthem played. “This was a bucket list thing for me to do for my father,” she said. “You know the scene in the Grinch where his heart grows a lot at the end? That’s what this felt like—to do something that made these two great men so happy.”

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Story of the Week: by John Branch of the New York Times, “The Girl in the No. 8 Jersey,” on the tragedy in Las Vegas hitting home on a soccer field in California.

b. Stacee Etcheber and the Girl in the No. 8 Jersey should have some rights. Rights to live without the fear of being cut down by some normal-seeming sniper from 400 yards away.

c. Goodellian Story of the Week: by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, about an anonymous (but no longer) defender of Roger Goodell on Twitter.

d. Baseball Story of the Week: by Peter Gammons of The Athletic, on the Astros’ Game 4 ALDS win in Boston, writing about the rise of one franchise and the fall of another at Fenway Park on a murky October day. “This is what I live for. This place is so great, so electric,” said Justin Verlander, who almost was a goat in the first relief appearance of his life in professional baseball. “To me, baseball is about the moments, walking up on the mound with something on the line.”

e. And that wasn’t even the baseball game of the week. Cubs 9, Nats 8.

f. I cannot rave enough about Jose Altuve. The man invents runs. Friday against the Yankees, in a scoreless game, he bounced a normal ground ball up the middle, and the throw to first was a tick late. Then he stole second, safe by a whisker. Then, on a single up the middle, his little pistons took him home for the first run of a 2-1 game. The man is Pedroia with 40 percent better power and 30 percent better speed.

g. Justin Verlander with the game of his later career in ALCS Game 2. Then I looked up and saw he’s still only 34. Thought he was older. So glad to see a guy throw 124 pitches and a complete game and no one freaks out. Look how good Verlander was late: In the last four innings, he struck out seven, got five batted-ball outs, walked one, allowed one hit. That’s dominance.

h. Cleveland … that one hurt. Not as bad as losing the 3-1 Series lead last year. But watching Corey Kluber go cold, and Jose Ramirez go colder, will lead to some bummer evenings this winter.

i. Coffeenerdness: Not a good idea to run low on Italian Roast at my two local stores, Starbucks. You do realize I’m an addict, don’t you? STOCK THE ITALIAN ROAST!?

j. Beernerdness: I’ve gone Sober October, as you may have read last week, and you filled my inbox with your passion about favorite beers. So I’m going to use the next three columns to feature your choices. The first: from Mitch Clingman of Wisconsin: “I live in Milwaukee but I'm from Minnesota, and I enjoy watching my Vikings while sipping on King Sue, an American Double IPA from Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa. Orange in color, one of the hoppiest fresh noses you will ever find, this is absolutely a life-changing event in a bottle. My leg starts twitching when I take my first sip. I highly suggest giving this one a try in the near future.” Toppling Goliath … well, of course I’m going to try anything from Toppling Goliath.

k. Great job by the Vegas Golden Knights feting the city, the police, the victims and the first-responders at the first home game in franchise history. That 58-second “moment” of silence was marvelous. Truly emotional. Nice start for the first big-league team in the history of the state.

l. Liked the analysis by Don Banks of The Athletic on the quote-unquote Ben McAdoo “losing the locker room” perception. Often, teams settle into cliques during really bad times, and Banks captures it.

Who I Like Tonight

Tennessee 30, Indianapolis 24. I love the battle of the quarterbacks. Who’d have thought Jacoby Brissett might outduel Marcus Mariota on a Monday night in Nashville in October? This will be a competitive game with the Colts having a chance to win in the last five minutes. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s troops are having a very bad year (a league-high 28.4 points per game allowed through five weeks) and may have to make a stop here to win.

The Adieu Haiku

Huge week for Goodell.
Ultimate knotty problem.
It’s mayhem. Trump wins.

• We have a newsletter, and you can subscribe, and it’s free. Get “The Morning Huddle” delivered to your inbox first thing each weekday, by going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box. Start your day with the best of the NFL, from The MMQB.

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NFL Week 6

Alex Okafor #57 of the New Orleans Saints forces a fumble on Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

NFL Week 6

D.J. Hayden #31 of the Detroit Lions forces Ted Ginn #19 of the New Orleans Saints out of bounds during the first half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 15, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

How to Watch Lions vs. Saints: Live Stream, Game Time, TV Channel

The Detroit Lions travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints.

Detroit lost to the Carolina Panthers 27-24 last week but have won three out of their first five games. The Lions defense has allowed just 74.6 yards per game and 19.4 points per game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for 1116 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception so far this season.

New Orleans enters Sunday well-rested after a bye week. Quarterback Drew Brees has not thrown an interception on the season and has thrown for 1,135 yards and eight touchdowns. After losing their first two games of the season, the Saints have bounced back with wins at the Carolina Panthers and in London against the Miami Dolphins.

Find out how to watch the game below.

How to Watch:

Game Time: Sunday, Oct. 15, 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX (check local listings), NFL Sunday Ticket

Live Stream: NFL Game Pass

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Sep 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) intercepts a pass ahead of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) but the play is negated by a defensive holding on safety Vonn Bell (not pictured) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots defeated the Saints 36-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Sep 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after a play against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots defeated the Saints 36-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Sep 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after a play against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots defeated the Saints 36-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

Sep 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) runs past New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) and linebacker A.J. Klein (53) during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Morning Huddle: The NFL’s Hollywood Script Is a Comedy of Errors

The NFL may want to look into the cost of Hollywood extras. The league played two games in Los Angeles on Sunday for the first time since 1995, but someone forgot to tell the fans. The Chargers failed to sell out their 27,000-seat StubHub Center. Across town, the Rams didn’t fare much better. Official attendance at the Coliseum was 56,612. Worst of all: the teams combined to attract fewer fans than USC did the night before for its Coliseum showdown with Texas (84,714).

So far the NFL’s script is playing out like a comedy of errors.

The Chargers had a chance to win as time expired—and for a moment it seemed like they did. Down 19-17 with a minute to go, Philip Rivers led his team 54 yards over six plays, giving Younghoe Koo a chance to kick a 44-yard game-winning field goal. As the ball sailed through the end zone, a stadium cannon was fired and the “crowd” went wild. Just one small detail: the ball sailed wide right. And the screaming crowd? It was largely comprised of Dolphins fans. But don’t blame the cannon operator; Rivers was similarly confused in his new home. “I heard the roar before I saw the official’s signal,” he said. “I wasn’t sure which roar it was.”

Meanwhile, across town . . .

With just under two minutes remaining and his team trailing by seven, Jared Goff got the ball back and had a chance to make a statement. The Rams QB did exactly that . . . by throwing an interception on the first snap of the drive, sealing a 27-20 loss.

Whether L.A. fans were dissuaded by the $100 parking prices, or the negative billboards and flying banners, all those who stayed home can’t regret their choice after seeing how the games unfolded. The Chargers and Rams now limp into Week 3 a combined 1-3. The moral to this story? Hollywood loves winners.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

* * *

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King's MMQB ... Gary Gramling freaks out over Week 2 ... Michael Beller tells you who to snap up in your fantasy league ... and more in our archive.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas covers tonight's Lions-Giants game ... The 10 Things podcast discusses Week 2 ... and more. Stay tuned.

* * *

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 34, Packers 23. What was supposed to be the best game of the week was pretty much over at halftime. Atlanta jumped out to a 24-7 lead in its new stadium, though Aaron Rodgers managed to make it interesting in the fourth quarter.

2. Broncos 42, Cowboys 17. Here's a prediction: Denver will rise the most in this week's The MMQB Power Poll after Trevor Siemian, unfazed by a lengthy weather delay, threw four touchdowns, and C.J. Anderson rumbled for 118 yards. Maybe most encouraging was the Broncos’ run defense, which took its lumps last year but held Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries. Yes, you read that right.

3. Dolphins 19, Chargers 17. The Chargers' curse continues. Once again, Rivers did everything he needed to put the team in position to win—and came away with a loss. The Dolphins’ offense played well (Jay Cutler: 230 yards passing, one touchdown; Jay Ajayi: 122 yards rushing), but it was kicker Cody Parkey who did most of the scoring, with four field goals.

4. Patriots 36, New Orleans 20. Tom Brady refound his form in the Superdome, joining Warren Moon as the only QBs to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns after turning 40. But it wasn't all good news for New England: Rob Gronkowski left the game with a groin injury, though he said "I'm good" afterwards. So are the Pats, it seems, just like we all expected.

5. Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. This was a wild game, so it's only fitting that wild man Travis Kelce was the difference. The tight end scored the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, leaping three yards to get into the end zone (he finished with 103 yards receiving). Philadelphia had a chance to tie the game after recovering an onside kick, but ultimately came up short of the statement victory.

6. Ravens 24, Browns 10. Baltimore put together another dominant defensive performance—this time forcing five turnovers—but they lost guard Marshal Yanda for the year with a broken left ankle. DeShone Kizer, meanwhile, left the game with a migraine headache, but returned not too long after.

7. Titans 37, Jaguars 16. What had been a terrific Jags defense in Week 1 gave up 390 yards to Tennessee, which righted its season. On the other side of the ball, Blake Bortles threw two interceptions and Leonard Fournette finished with 40 yards.

8. Washington 27, Rams 20. So much for Jared Goff, superstar. Kirk Cousins wasn't better, but Washington rushed for 229 yards, with Samaje Perine coming in and leading the go-ahead scoring drive after Rob Kelley was knocked out with a rib injury.

9. Steelers 26, Vikings 9. Sam Bradford is out for an unannounced period of time, and with Case Keenum under center, Minnesota just isn't the same. Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant led the way for Pittsburgh, combining for 189 yards.

10. Buccaneers 29, Bears 7. Mike Glennon's return to Tampa did not go well, but Chicago's rushing attack did him no favors, finishing with 20 yards. Tampa looked like the contender many expected before its Week 1 game was postponed. We'll know more as they face the Vikings, Giants, and Patriots over the next three weeks.

11. Panthers 9, Bills 3. Another near-perfect defensive effort by the Panthers against an offense we don't expect much of. What will they do with New Orleans next week? Either way, the offense will need to find a rhythm, and it'll have to do so without Greg Olsen, who broke his right foot Sunday.

12. Seahawks 12, 49ers 9. Seattle still has major offensive questions—Russell Wilson was sacked three more times—but at least they have a win now.

?13. Cardinals 16, Colts 13 (OT). The most exciting game on paper went to overtime after Phil Dawson missed a potential game-winning field goal for Arizona at the end of regulation. But on the first possession of the extra period, Jacoby Brissett threw his only pick of the day, setting up a second shot for Dawson that breathed life into the Cardinals’ season.

14. Raiders 45, Jets 20. Marshawn Lynch got his first Oakland touchdown and danced on the sideline.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.

* * *

THE KICKER

Vance Joseph seems to have knack for coaching. He also has an amazing "C'mon, son" face.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

The Morning Huddle: The NFL’s Hollywood Script Is a Comedy of Errors

The NFL may want to look into the cost of Hollywood extras. The league played two games in Los Angeles on Sunday for the first time since 1995, but someone forgot to tell the fans. The Chargers failed to sell out their 27,000-seat StubHub Center. Across town, the Rams didn’t fare much better. Official attendance at the Coliseum was 56,612. Worst of all: the teams combined to attract fewer fans than USC did the night before for its Coliseum showdown with Texas (84,714).

So far the NFL’s script is playing out like a comedy of errors.

The Chargers had a chance to win as time expired—and for a moment it seemed like they did. Down 19-17 with a minute to go, Philip Rivers led his team 54 yards over six plays, giving Younghoe Koo a chance to kick a 44-yard game-winning field goal. As the ball sailed through the end zone, a stadium cannon was fired and the “crowd” went wild. Just one small detail: the ball sailed wide right. And the screaming crowd? It was largely comprised of Dolphins fans. But don’t blame the cannon operator; Rivers was similarly confused in his new home. “I heard the roar before I saw the official’s signal,” he said. “I wasn’t sure which roar it was.”

Meanwhile, across town . . .

With just under two minutes remaining and his team trailing by seven, Jared Goff got the ball back and had a chance to make a statement. The Rams QB did exactly that . . . by throwing an interception on the first snap of the drive, sealing a 27-20 loss.

Whether L.A. fans were dissuaded by the $100 parking prices, or the negative billboards and flying banners, all those who stayed home can’t regret their choice after seeing how the games unfolded. The Chargers and Rams now limp into Week 3 a combined 1-3. The moral to this story? Hollywood loves winners.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

* * *

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King's MMQB ... Gary Gramling freaks out over Week 2 ... Michael Beller tells you who to snap up in your fantasy league ... and more in our archive.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas covers tonight's Lions-Giants game ... The 10 Things podcast discusses Week 2 ... and more. Stay tuned.

* * *

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 34, Packers 23. What was supposed to be the best game of the week was pretty much over at halftime. Atlanta jumped out to a 24-7 lead in its new stadium, though Aaron Rodgers managed to make it interesting in the fourth quarter.

2. Broncos 42, Cowboys 17. Here's a prediction: Denver will rise the most in this week's The MMQB Power Poll after Trevor Siemian, unfazed by a lengthy weather delay, threw four touchdowns, and C.J. Anderson rumbled for 118 yards. Maybe most encouraging was the Broncos’ run defense, which took its lumps last year but held Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries. Yes, you read that right.

3. Dolphins 19, Chargers 17. The Chargers' curse continues. Once again, Rivers did everything he needed to put the team in position to win—and came away with a loss. The Dolphins’ offense played well (Jay Cutler: 230 yards passing, one touchdown; Jay Ajayi: 122 yards rushing), but it was kicker Cody Parkey who did most of the scoring, with four field goals.

4. Patriots 36, New Orleans 20. Tom Brady refound his form in the Superdome, joining Warren Moon as the only QBs to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns after turning 40. But it wasn't all good news for New England: Rob Gronkowski left the game with a groin injury, though he said "I'm good" afterwards. So are the Pats, it seems, just like we all expected.

5. Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. This was a wild game, so it's only fitting that wild man Travis Kelce was the difference. The tight end scored the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, leaping three yards to get into the end zone (he finished with 103 yards receiving). Philadelphia had a chance to tie the game after recovering an onside kick, but ultimately came up short of the statement victory.

6. Ravens 24, Browns 10. Baltimore put together another dominant defensive performance—this time forcing five turnovers—but they lost guard Marshal Yanda for the year with a broken left ankle. DeShone Kizer, meanwhile, left the game with a migraine headache, but returned not too long after.

7. Titans 37, Jaguars 16. What had been a terrific Jags defense in Week 1 gave up 390 yards to Tennessee, which righted its season. On the other side of the ball, Blake Bortles threw two interceptions and Leonard Fournette finished with 40 yards.

8. Washington 27, Rams 20. So much for Jared Goff, superstar. Kirk Cousins wasn't better, but Washington rushed for 229 yards, with Samaje Perine coming in and leading the go-ahead scoring drive after Rob Kelley was knocked out with a rib injury.

9. Steelers 26, Vikings 9. Sam Bradford is out for an unannounced period of time, and with Case Keenum under center, Minnesota just isn't the same. Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant led the way for Pittsburgh, combining for 189 yards.

10. Buccaneers 29, Bears 7. Mike Glennon's return to Tampa did not go well, but Chicago's rushing attack did him no favors, finishing with 20 yards. Tampa looked like the contender many expected before its Week 1 game was postponed. We'll know more as they face the Vikings, Giants, and Patriots over the next three weeks.

11. Panthers 9, Bills 3. Another near-perfect defensive effort by the Panthers against an offense we don't expect much of. What will they do with New Orleans next week? Either way, the offense will need to find a rhythm, and it'll have to do so without Greg Olsen, who broke his right foot Sunday.

12. Seahawks 12, 49ers 9. Seattle still has major offensive questions—Russell Wilson was sacked three more times—but at least they have a win now.

?13. Cardinals 16, Colts 13 (OT). The most exciting game on paper went to overtime after Phil Dawson missed a potential game-winning field goal for Arizona at the end of regulation. But on the first possession of the extra period, Jacoby Brissett threw his only pick of the day, setting up a second shot for Dawson that breathed life into the Cardinals’ season.

14. Raiders 45, Jets 20. Marshawn Lynch got his first Oakland touchdown and danced on the sideline.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.

* * *

THE KICKER

Vance Joseph seems to have knack for coaching. He also has an amazing "C'mon, son" face.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

The Morning Huddle: The NFL’s Hollywood Script Is a Comedy of Errors

The NFL may want to look into the cost of Hollywood extras. The league played two games in Los Angeles on Sunday for the first time since 1995, but someone forgot to tell the fans. The Chargers failed to sell out their 27,000-seat StubHub Center. Across town, the Rams didn’t fare much better. Official attendance at the Coliseum was 56,612. Worst of all: the teams combined to attract fewer fans than USC did the night before for its Coliseum showdown with Texas (84,714).

So far the NFL’s script is playing out like a comedy of errors.

The Chargers had a chance to win as time expired—and for a moment it seemed like they did. Down 19-17 with a minute to go, Philip Rivers led his team 54 yards over six plays, giving Younghoe Koo a chance to kick a 44-yard game-winning field goal. As the ball sailed through the end zone, a stadium cannon was fired and the “crowd” went wild. Just one small detail: the ball sailed wide right. And the screaming crowd? It was largely comprised of Dolphins fans. But don’t blame the cannon operator; Rivers was similarly confused in his new home. “I heard the roar before I saw the official’s signal,” he said. “I wasn’t sure which roar it was.”

Meanwhile, across town . . .

With just under two minutes remaining and his team trailing by seven, Jared Goff got the ball back and had a chance to make a statement. The Rams QB did exactly that . . . by throwing an interception on the first snap of the drive, sealing a 27-20 loss.

Whether L.A. fans were dissuaded by the $100 parking prices, or the negative billboards and flying banners, all those who stayed home can’t regret their choice after seeing how the games unfolded. The Chargers and Rams now limp into Week 3 a combined 1-3. The moral to this story? Hollywood loves winners.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

* * *

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King's MMQB ... Gary Gramling freaks out over Week 2 ... Michael Beller tells you who to snap up in your fantasy league ... and more in our archive.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas covers tonight's Lions-Giants game ... The 10 Things podcast discusses Week 2 ... and more. Stay tuned.

* * *

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 34, Packers 23. What was supposed to be the best game of the week was pretty much over at halftime. Atlanta jumped out to a 24-7 lead in its new stadium, though Aaron Rodgers managed to make it interesting in the fourth quarter.

2. Broncos 42, Cowboys 17. Here's a prediction: Denver will rise the most in this week's The MMQB Power Poll after Trevor Siemian, unfazed by a lengthy weather delay, threw four touchdowns, and C.J. Anderson rumbled for 118 yards. Maybe most encouraging was the Broncos’ run defense, which took its lumps last year but held Ezekiel Elliott to eight yards on nine carries. Yes, you read that right.

3. Dolphins 19, Chargers 17. The Chargers' curse continues. Once again, Rivers did everything he needed to put the team in position to win—and came away with a loss. The Dolphins’ offense played well (Jay Cutler: 230 yards passing, one touchdown; Jay Ajayi: 122 yards rushing), but it was kicker Cody Parkey who did most of the scoring, with four field goals.

4. Patriots 36, New Orleans 20. Tom Brady refound his form in the Superdome, joining Warren Moon as the only QBs to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns after turning 40. But it wasn't all good news for New England: Rob Gronkowski left the game with a groin injury, though he said "I'm good" afterwards. So are the Pats, it seems, just like we all expected.

5. Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. This was a wild game, so it's only fitting that wild man Travis Kelce was the difference. The tight end scored the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, leaping three yards to get into the end zone (he finished with 103 yards receiving). Philadelphia had a chance to tie the game after recovering an onside kick, but ultimately came up short of the statement victory.

6. Ravens 24, Browns 10. Baltimore put together another dominant defensive performance—this time forcing five turnovers—but they lost guard Marshal Yanda for the year with a broken left ankle. DeShone Kizer, meanwhile, left the game with a migraine headache, but returned not too long after.

7. Titans 37, Jaguars 16. What had been a terrific Jags defense in Week 1 gave up 390 yards to Tennessee, which righted its season. On the other side of the ball, Blake Bortles threw two interceptions and Leonard Fournette finished with 40 yards.

8. Washington 27, Rams 20. So much for Jared Goff, superstar. Kirk Cousins wasn't better, but Washington rushed for 229 yards, with Samaje Perine coming in and leading the go-ahead scoring drive after Rob Kelley was knocked out with a rib injury.

9. Steelers 26, Vikings 9. Sam Bradford is out for an unannounced period of time, and with Case Keenum under center, Minnesota just isn't the same. Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant led the way for Pittsburgh, combining for 189 yards.

10. Buccaneers 29, Bears 7. Mike Glennon's return to Tampa did not go well, but Chicago's rushing attack did him no favors, finishing with 20 yards. Tampa looked like the contender many expected before its Week 1 game was postponed. We'll know more as they face the Vikings, Giants, and Patriots over the next three weeks.

11. Panthers 9, Bills 3. Another near-perfect defensive effort by the Panthers against an offense we don't expect much of. What will they do with New Orleans next week? Either way, the offense will need to find a rhythm, and it'll have to do so without Greg Olsen, who broke his right foot Sunday.

12. Seahawks 12, 49ers 9. Seattle still has major offensive questions—Russell Wilson was sacked three more times—but at least they have a win now.

?13. Cardinals 16, Colts 13 (OT). The most exciting game on paper went to overtime after Phil Dawson missed a potential game-winning field goal for Arizona at the end of regulation. But on the first possession of the extra period, Jacoby Brissett threw his only pick of the day, setting up a second shot for Dawson that breathed life into the Cardinals’ season.

14. Raiders 45, Jets 20. Marshawn Lynch got his first Oakland touchdown and danced on the sideline.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.

* * *

THE KICKER

Vance Joseph seems to have knack for coaching. He also has an amazing "C'mon, son" face.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

NFL Week 2

Saintsation cheerleaders perform at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NFL Week 2

Saintsation cheerleaders perform at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NFL Week 2

Saintsation cheerleaders perform at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NFL Week 2

New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) intercepts a pass ahead of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) but the play is negated by a defensive holding on safety Vonn Bell (not pictured) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots defeated the Saints 36-20. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rematch of NFC Championship Game Between Packers and Falcons Highlights Week 2 Matchups

When the Atlanta Falcons (1-0) routed the Green Bay Packers (1-0) in last year’s NFC Championship Game 44-21, they were at home and much healthier than their opponent.

This time around, the Falcons will be hosting the Packers once again, but the game will be much more even, as the betting line suggests at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Atlanta is listed as 2.5-point home chalk versus Green Bay on Sunday.

The Falcons also played host to the Packers in Week 8 last season, rallying back for a 33-32 victory but failing to cover the spread as 3-point home favorites. Green Bay led 24-19 at halftime and Aaron Rodgers threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers also led the team in rushing with 60 yards on six carries.

The main differences this year are that the matchup will take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium rather than the Georgia Dome, and it will be showcased in prime time on Sunday Night Football.

Earlier on Sunday, two winless teams will match up at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the New England Patriots (0-1) visit the New Orleans Saints (0-1).

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots are 4.5-point road favorites and will need to play much better defensively than they did against the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday night if they are going to repeat this year.

New England has won four of the past five meetings straight up, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, but New Orleans has covered the spread in seven of the last nine in the series overall. This game will feature the return of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who was traded away to the Patriots by the Saints in the offseason.

The Saints did not look like an offensive threat without Cooks in their season-opening 29-19 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday. New Orleans did not generate much of a rushing attack between new addition Adrian Peterson and mainstay Mark Ingram, who combined for 35 yards on just 12 carries between them.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees also did not have many receiving threats, with Ingram and tight end Coby Fleener leading the way with five catches apiece for a total of 108 yards.

Media Circus: 32 Thoughts on the Opening Weekend of the NFL

Welcome back, NFL. Here are 32 NFL media thoughts/reported items for the opening week of the NFL season.

1. Networks will always downplay the impact of social media—especially if the sentiment is negative about their broadcaster—and CBS Sports execs have said repeatedly that they advised new analyst Tony Romo not to overweight what he read on Facebook and Twitter because they expected it to be negative early. Network officials were monitoring Twitter on Sunday during Romo’s broadcasting debut and could not have been more pleased by the overwhelmingly positive reaction for Romo’s work during the Raiders-Titans game. CBS Sports execs were particularly surprised (and very happy) to see employees of competing NFL rights-holders praising Romo’s work. “Was I pleased today that I read some positive things? Yes, I was,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “But as I’ve said before: There will be a plethora of critics because there always are and I don’t think you should look too closely at social media. If you are the QB of the Dallas Cowboys, you already have a lot of people who don’t like you to start with. We all know how critical people are on Twitter. I said to Tony: “Don’t pay attention to the negative, mean-spirited stuff on Twitter. Pay attention to the intelligent, well thought out and well-meaning stuff that comes from people in the business.”

2. I wanted to get a reader to evaluate Romo’s performance because I thought that could be insightful for you compared to the 50th person in the sports media to have a take. When I asked for volunteers on Twitter, I heard quickly from Mark Lauderdale from Gallatin, Tennessee, which is approximately 30 miles north of Nashville. Mark is a longtime Titans fan and retired after 42-plus years as a manager for RR Donnelley, the world's largest commercial printer. He said his company closed their plant operations in March, so he took his retirement. Mark tweeted that he thought Romo did a decent job in the first half, with some issues of talking too fast and talking over partner Jim Nantz. He sent me his review at the end of the game:

As for Tony's performance, my earlier comments about his first half performance stand. However, after what appears to me to have been simply butterflies along with a bit of constructive feedback, his second half was far stronger. His game analysis was spot on, I felt. His timing with Jim Nantz got much better. While he didn't criticize either of the QB's harshly, I didn't detect any hesitancy in doing so.

The comparisons to Phil Simms are inevitable. However, Phil's game calls had gotten stale and it showed to any average fan. Tony was certainly enthusiastic about the game today. He got better as the game went on, calling what he was seeing much as he would have as a quarterback. It was a breath of fresh air from Mr. Simms.

Overall, I give Tony a solid B for his performance. I really think he will settle in and do very well. There's certainly room for improvement, thus no A today. I trust you find this critique helpful. I'm very experienced with giving performance reviews. There's no reason to give gushing reviews for a first-time performance. He definitely prepared and it showed.

Thanks, Mark. Thoughtful review. Mark recently lost his wife, Rita, of 40 years. Give him a follow here if you want to have some football conversations.

3. Romo got big laughs last month during the annual seminar for CBS’s NFL personnel when he explained to a roomful of new colleagues that he wanted to reach out to Phil Simms—the analyst who Romo replaced—but missed Simms couple of times by phone. When Romo finally reached Simms, here is what Simms told him.

“So Phil picks up the phone,” Romo explained, “and says, “Tony Romo, you son of a bitch ... ”

Simms explained what happened next.

“I really couldn’t even be serious because I started laughing as I was saying it,” Simms said. “I knew it was him because he had called and I saw the number. There was not going to be any tension between us. He asked me some things and I offered no advice. I told him he will have 80,000 people telling you what to do but in the end, it is about how you see the game.”

4. The NFL Today began with a cold open from longtime host James Brown that sent viewers immediately to CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor covering Hurricane Irma. That report was immediately followed by the NFL Today cast (Brown, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher and newcomers Nate Burleson and Phil Simms) offering their personal connections on Irma. The studio show then moved to analyst Steve Tasker for a report from the Texans-Jags game, the league’s biggest game of significance given those that suffered in Harvey. It was a thoughtful and journalistically cognizant opening 10 minutes. Really well done.

As for the new constitution of The NFL Today, I really liked the pacing of the show, particularly how they rotated each studio member to talk on a different subject via a box in the right corner. I also liked the decision by the producers to have Simms talk to Romo on-air prior to the game given that Romo had replaced Simms. “Don’t be nervous,” Simms told Romo. “Only 50 million people are watching.” Newcomer Burleson is an excellent addition, an intellectual voice in a genre that still tends to locker room-it-up way too much. Very smart too of CBS to have all its games go to Houston for a moment of silence for Harvey victims.

5. Two very strong moves by NBC Sports on Sunday. First, they had information to donate to the Red Cross on the score scroll during Football Night in America. They also decided to stream the Cowboys-Game to all given the recent storms in Texas and Florida

6. Each NFL Today analyst agreed that Colin Kaepernick should make the case for himself publicly, with analyst Bill Cowher being the most outspoken on the subject. Cowher dismissed the idea that Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams. He said the reason Kaepernick was not playing was due to his play last year, and question marks about his passion for the game. Said Cowher: “Are you really committed to wanting to come back into the National Football League and re-establish yourself as a National Football League player? Are you really committed to your craft? Are you going to take the opportunity that any team might give you? Don't let the contract stand in the way. Your agent can put performance clauses in there that if you play. You will get paid. Colin, your silence speaks volumes. And I just wonder, maybe the platform is more important to him than his play on the field. And you know what, Colin, prove me wrong.”

The show’s take was overwhelmingly pro-ownership. None of the analysts discussed the specific quarterbacks with far lesser resumes that had been signed over Kaepernick and the idea that Kaepernick (and this is just my opinion) has to publicly justify his passion after playing in the league for six consecutive years is absurd. Interestingly, during Football Night In America, Mike Florio reported that people close to Kaepernick told him that the quarterback has not spoken publicly because he did not want his words to be more of a distraction. Can’t win.

7. Here is the segment in full. Opinions will be all over the map on it, as they are on Kaepernick.

8. It’s impossible to tell what Sunday NFL Countdown will be ultimately be given one of the main studio analysts (Rex Ryan) appeared on a giant screen above the cast members as if he was President Snow in The Hunger Games. (Ryan is calling Monday Night Football in Denver on Monday.) Because it’s ESPN, which has a doctorate in self-reverence, Countdown spent the early part of its show referencing its cast, including showing photos of Adam Schefter in college, a feature (with dramatic music) on Schefter being an honorary captain for the University of Michigan football team on Saturday, and footage of host Sam Ponder showing off a great arm as a quarterback. It was a contrast to watch ESPN against CBS when it came to Hurricane Irma. (To be fair: It was a very good speech from Schefter to Michigan’s players). The best moment of Countdown on Sunday was a quality discussion about how the Falcons will react to last year’s Super Bowl loss. Ryan was interesting on how that loss could be an anchor, and Charles Woodson referenced his experience with the Raiders in 2003 when after playing in the Super Bowl, Oakland lost Rich Gannon and Rod Woodson to injury and finished 4-12.

9. The host of Sunday NFL Countdown in the current construct has a lot of work given multiple sets, intros and outs, and discussion points. I thought Ponder did a nice job given this is her first year working NFL content.

10. On this note: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an NFL host walk a set more than Ponder did on Sunday. ESPN remains a little too obsessed with its studio space. Producers strangely used their on-site reporters very sparsely.

11. Fox’s new No. 2 team debuted on Sunday in Chicago with Kevin Burkhardt pairing with analyst Charles Davis and reporter Pam Oliver. I think that group is going to be very good. This was the crew Jay Cutler was going to work with prior to his opting to play for the Dolphins this season. Other Fox moves include former ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth joining a team with play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton and sideline reporter Shannon Spake. Here is the list of Fox’s announcing crews for 2017:

•Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews.

•Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis and Pam Oliver.

•Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber and Kristina Pink.

•Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin.

•Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth and Shannon Spake.

•Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman and Peter Schrager.

•Sam Rosen, David Diehl and Jennifer Hale.

12. I thought Fox’s new NFL graphics were awesome—a clean, simple and strong score bug. They debuted in the preseason.

13. Everyone I spoke with who works in NFL television circles thinks NFL ratings are going up this season. For instance:

“I think the NFL has front-loaded the schedule to make sure there are attractive games in almost all the windows,” said NBC Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli. “I will be surprised if they are not up.”

“I honestly think that the [Donald] Trump effect last year had a huge impact on our ratings and those of others,” said ESPN Monday Night Football executive producer Jay Rothman. “I really do. We got clobbered. The first debate we had the 10-year reunion of the reopening of the Superdome in New Orleans, which we worked really hard to get that game, and unfortunately the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton was the same night. We got crushed. I really think just the Trump phenomenon had a huge effect throughout the course of last fall during the presidential campaign. And you could look at the network news and the cable news networks, and it's proof of that.”

14. The NFL, however, did not get off to the ratings start it wanted. The Chiefs’ win over the Pats for the NFL Kickoff game last Thursday drew 22.2 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms, down from 25.2 million for the kickoff game a year early. One significant caveat: Cable news and the Weather Channel last Thursday was up significantly with the coverage of hurricanes.

15. The commercial format for the NFL this year has changed. There will be four commercial breaks per quarter as opposed to five. The league found fans were more bothered by frequency than the length of commercials. Promos will be included in commercial breaks. “At times they were up to five, six and if networks got behind, seven, so you would have situations where there would be a score, an extra point, a commercial break, and coming back from a break, a kickoff and another commercial break,” Rothman said. “The league is avoiding these double-ups as we refer to them at all costs, and that's dreadful for everybody. So that's a big win. The league claims, and we hope it's all true, in terms of replay review and official reviews, with that being done in New York and officials no longer going under the hood, these decisions should come in a minute, minute, 15 seconds. In those situations, we'll be staying. We won't be using those as break opportunities. So there will just be less interruption of play. The breaks will be a tick longer. They will all be 2 minutes and 20 seconds in length, and we'll make up our sponsorship in that additional time per break, but again, less interruptions, better flow, better for everybody. Some different ad innovations that the league is offering partners, but the idea is to stay alive as much as possible and keep the games moving and keep the flow going.”

16. What new technologies are coming? NBC experimented in the exhibition season with dual sky cams (two sky cams independent of one another, and one flying much higher than the usual heights). They say they will need the league to approve it for the regular season and playoffs.

ESPN said it has spent a lot of time with the NFL on Next Gen technology. “Everybody knows that each of the NFL players for the last three years has worn chips in their pads,” said Rothman. “There's chips in the footballs this year. We've worked really hard on mining what we think is some interesting data that will lead to interesting storytelling and documentation throughout the season, many of which really hasn't been on the air thus far. We think there's some really interesting data that we can mine throughout the season that will be of use to fans, timely and relevant, so we're excited to dig into that.”

17. CBS made five changes to its broadcasting teams, most notably Romo at the top. The new lineup:

•Jim Nantz, Romo and Tracy Wolfson.

•Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn.

•Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Jamie Erdahl.

•Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon.

•Andrew Catalon and James Lofton.

•Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta.

•Tom McCarthy, Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein.

•Beth Mowins and Jay Feely.

18. CBS is very high on Burleson. “He has the advantage of doing a five-day week show on the NFL Network and lives and breathes football every day of the week,” McManus said. “This is now a sixth day. He has a great personality and perspective on the game. I think he will really help us.” He did on Sunday.

19. Here’s a long Q&A I did with Beth Mowins including the significance of being the first woman to call a regular-season NFL game since 1987. She will call the Chargers at Broncos tonight as part of the opening week Monday Night Football doubleheader. I also spent two days in Cleveland with Mowins and Rex Ryan for a profile on how broadcasters use practice games to prepare.

20. The NFL Network made a name change (as well as some personnel changes) on Sundays with its early show—NFL GameDay Morning (7:00 a.m. ET.) The show features Colleen Wolfe, Michael Robinson and Mike Garafolo and newcomer Steve Smith Jr. It airs from NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.

21. Mike Tirico’s NFL role will continue to grow on NBC. “I don’t think I have to say anything about Al and Cris,” said Gaudelli. “They are widely seen as numero uno. Whenever Al decides to call it a day, the expectation of high quality announcing is not going to go away. It will be different just like it was when Cris replaced Madden but it will be high quality. The football audience already knows how good Mike is.”

22. Fox brass believes they can steal audience away from ESPN at the 11:00 ET spot. They added Michael Vick and Tony Gonzalez as studio analysts this year to go along with host Charissa Thompson and analysts Colin Cowherd, Dave Wannstedt and Cooper Manning. It will be interesting to see how the audience reacts to Vick.

23. CBS was working on getting Mowins to call NFL games before the Monday Night ESPN assignment came up. “When someone brought up Beth Mowins name my thought was why hadn’t we thought about that before,” said McManus. “We had conversations with her agent who had a conversation with ESPN. It was a pretty easy process. ESPN was pretty supportive of giving Beth an opportunity. Given the NFL is the number one sport on television, think they were very gracious about allowing her to be associated with CBS.”

24. Romo will double up on games in a single week four times over the first nine weeks of the season. “We think it is all about the reps,” said McManus said. “The workload will be intense.”

25. Simms said he’s come to a good place on getting replaced by Romo. “I played 15 years in the NFL and went to Pro Bowl in my 15th year and someone replaced me,” Simms said. “I was let go. Hell. I was going to ask for a pay raise. Instead, they said get out. I haven’t thought about it like someone is doing my job. It is not my job. I am really happy with the way it worked out and I am looking forward to the studio. As time goes on I think I will be happy it has become this way.”

26. The NFL Network sent over its new studio shows for the 2017 NFL season. They include:

•NFL Power Rankings (Tuesdays at 6:00 PM ET with Colleen Wolfe, Elliot Harrison and Maurice Jones-Drew)

•21st and Prime (Tuesdays at 6:30 PM ET. with Deion Sanders and Amber Theoharis)

•NFL Playbook (Wednesdays at 6:00 PM ET with Rhett Lewis, Shaun O’Hara, Brian Billick and Daniel Jeremiah)

•NFL Players Only (Fridays at 6:00 PM ET with Terrell Davis, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones and DeMarcus Ware)

•TNF First Look (Thursdays at 3:00 PM ET with Andrew Siciliano)

27 Funny moment on Fox’s “The OT.” Co-host Terry Bradshaw gave player of the day honors to Falcons tight end Austin Hooper, but called him “Austin Cooper” The rest of the cast corrected Bradshaw and Howie Long deadpanned, “they [the Bears] could not cover either one of them.”

28. I thought this was pretty funny between Burleson and Simms.

29. NFL Today producer Drew Kaliski said that viewers should look for small groups of analysts on the NFL Today. “I think about that all time,” Kaliski said. “It’s very easy to just put five guys at a desk and do a show but that’s not always the best way to incorporate everyone’s opinions. You have to break the guys up. In my opinion, you have to put them in smaller groups—maybe two at a time—to talk about a topic. They go for three minutes as opposed to five guys at a desk, all talking about the same topic, one comment, one comment, one comment.”

30. America’s most-watched Sunday morning pregame show.

31. Romo’s next broadcast comes next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET for the Patriots at Saints. At 37, he is younger than both starting quarterbacks (Tom Brady, 40 and Drew Brees, 38).

32. Somebody take NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner to Las Vegas.

THE NOISE REPORT

SI.com examines some of the week’s most notable sports media stories

1. ABC’s Saturday Night Football broadcast between Oklahoma and Ohio State drew the highest overnight rating for college football this weekend, with a 5.3 rating. ABC’s coverage of Michigan-Cincinnati (2.8) and Pittsburgh-Penn State (2.7) were next up. Per Douglas Pucci of Programming Insider: Georgia-Notre Dame drew a 2.7 rating on NBC. ESPN’s coverage of Clemson-Auburn drew a 2.0 while USC-Stanford drew a 1.7 on Fox. Arkansas-TCU drew a 1.5 on CBS.

2. Episode 136 of the Sports Illustrated Media podcast features ESPN SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne and longtime college football analyst Ed Cunningham, who opted this spring to no longer call college football for ESPN.

In this podcast, Mayne discusses moving across country to host the 11 p.m. SportsCenter from Bristol, Conn.; how SportsCenter has evolved since the 1990s; how one can forge an untraditional career at ESPN; the role of comedy in sports television; why the company wants him to speak to media buyers; how he views mixing politics on his social media feed and those who tab ESPN as left-leaning; why he likes what Marty Smith is doing; his five-week marriage anniversary, and much more.

Cunningham discusses why he decided to leave his job as a college football analyst and why he no longer can reconcile being a cheerleader for the sport given the health concerns and trauma on the field; how ESPN’s layoffs impacted his decision; how much Iowa handling of former quarterback C.J. Beathard during the Outback Bowl drove him to quit; how Cunningham feels about Al Michaels and others not seeing their role in the booth as an ethical dilemma and much more.

2a. Here’s a piece I did on Cunningham’s decision, including thoughts from NBC Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas.

3. Episode 135 of the Sports Illustrated Media podcast is a bonus podcast featuring best-selling author James Andrew Miller, who this week debuted a new podcast, Origins. The podcast focuses on the beginnings of things in culture, politics and other fields. The first edition of the podcast focuses on the HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. All five episodes of the first edition are currently available.

In this podcast, Miller discusses why he chose to start his podcast series with Curb; how he landed the cast of the show including Larry David; why Curb is a significant show; why his podcast drops all five episodes at the same time; why Ted Danson was a revealing interview; the loyalty Larry David has engendered among actors and more. Miller also discusses sports media topics including the recent decision from ESPN to publicly discuss how it is doing ratings-wise against FS1; what that decision means in the marketplace; ESPN’s tennis coverage of the U.S. Open; the narrative ESPN is fighting on politics; the decisions ESPN producers must make for the U.S. Open; and more.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

4. Non-sports pieces of note:

•One of the best pieces of 2017: Evan Osnos on the risk of nuclear war with North Korea.

Via Holly Hartman of the Houston Chronicle: I downloaded an app. And suddenly, was part of the Cajun Navy.

•Via NYT Magazine’s Alice Yin: Statistics show just how profound the inequalities in America’s education system have become.

•Via Scott Shane of NYT: The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election.

From Casey Michael: How Russia Created the Most Popular Texas Secession Page on Facebook.

The Wall Street Journal’s Trump problem.

•The First White President, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

•MIT professor Vipin Narang?, on why Kim Jong-Un wouldn’t be irrational to use a nuclear bomb first.

•Sunday front pages on Hurricane Irma, compiled by Charles Apple.

•From Mosi Secret of the New York Times Magazine: The first to integrate elite Southern prep schools, they entered a world of opportunity — and faced constant racism.

Sports pieces of note:

•From Kyle Munson of the Des Moines Register: He's a black high school quarterback. 5 of his teammates were pictured in white hoods. It may get worse.

•SI’s Steve Rushin, on his Hall of Fame spouse, Rebecca Lobo. Great, great piece.

•Kudos to ESPN producer William Weinbaum for his dedication to the Magomed Abdusalamov story.

•Two Colin Kaepernick pieces worth reading including this from New York Times writer John Branch and this from Washington Post writer Kent Babb.

•A great first person from Cavs guard Isaiah Thomas for the Players’ Tribune.

The MMQB’s Robert Klemko?, on a week in the wake of Harvey with JJ Watt and the Texans.

•Michael Schmidt of the New York Times broke the story of the Boston Red Sox caught using electronic devices to steal signs against the New York Yankees.

•ESPN’s Graham Hays on Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw making the Basketball Hall.

•From Reid Forgrave of Bleacher Report: The Fall of Rysheed Jordan: How the Streets of Philly Swallowed an NBA Prospect.

•Sixty journalists at the Cincinnati Enquirer examined the heroin epidemic.

5. SBJ’s John Ourand reported that ESPN will simulcast Monday Night Football in Spanish on ESPN2 for the first nine weeks of the NFL season.

5a. US Open Women's Finals overnight ratings the past four years:

2017: 1.9 (Stephens-Keys)

2016: 1.0 (Angelique Kerber/Karolina Pliskova)

2015: 1.1 (Flavia Pennetta/Roberta Vinci)

2014: 2.9 (Serena Williams-Caroline Wozniacki

Texans' chance to show Houston was knocked down but not out

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2006, file photo, New Orleans Saints' Steve Gleason (37) sprints through the end zone after blocking an Atlanta Falcons punt in the first quarter of their NFL football game at the newly reopened Louisiana Superdome, after Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans. Like countless other New Orleans residents, the franchise spent much of the previous year coping with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Memories wont feed a family or rebuild their house, which is why the first thing J.J. Watt brought back to his adopted hometown in the wake of Hurricane Harvey was $28 million in cold, hard cash. So when the Texans open the NFL season Sunday against Jacksonville at NRG Stadium, Watt and his teammates want to deliver a different kind of gift _ one of those iconic sports moments that will live long after the flood waters recede. (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)

Texans' chance to show Houston was knocked down but not out

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2012, file photo, the bronze statue titled 'Rebirth,' which shows former New Orleans Saints' Steve Gleason blocking a punt against the Atlanta Falcons during the first Monday Night Football game after the Superdome reopened, after Hurricane Katrina, is seen outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Memories wont feed a family or rebuild their house, which is why the first thing J.J. Watt brought back to his adopted hometown in the wake of Hurricane Harvey was $28 million in cold, hard cash. So when the Texans open the NFL season Sunday against Jacksonville at NRG Stadium, Watt and his teammates want to deliver a different kind of gift _ one of those iconic sports moments that will live long after the flood waters recede. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)