Is there extra motivation in Atlanta’s camp to come out and demolish the 49ers? Colin Kaepernick ran all over Green Bay, can he do the same against the Falcons?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Can Kaep do it again against Atlanta?
In the immediate aftermath of the child-abuse charges filed against Adrian Peterson, it seemed probable that he wouldn’t be playing for the Vikings after the 2014 season. It’s now likely that Peterson will never wear a Vikings uniform again.
Essentially suspended with pay until his legal case is resolved and with no sign that it’ll be resolved before the end the year, Peterson’s stat line come Week 17 will be one game, 75 yards rushing.
Then, after the season ends, the Vikings will move on. For a variety of reasons, including the $12.75 million he’s due to earn in 2015.
A week ago, the Vikings were tied to Peterson because Peterson was the face of the franchise at a time when the franchise was embarking on a two-year stay at an undersized college stadium. Now, the Vikings will have no choice but to move on from a man who has quickly become equal parts distraction and pariah.
The contract can’t be traded without a major restructuring, and Peterson may have no desire to finish his career with the Cowboys after getting a heaping helping of the not-so-hospitable Texas criminal justice system. In the end, Peterson will land with a team that can withstand the reaction from its fans and from the media — or with a team run by a G.M. and/or a head coach who need to win in order to save their jobs. Or maybe the Raiders.
Regardless, the great Paul Allen likely has shouted “He’s loose!” about Peterson for the last time. By next year, Peterson will be loose in a very different way.
At a certain point during yesterday’s press conference announcing Greg Hardy’s banishment with pay following his domestic violence case, Panthers P.R. director Charlie Dayton tried to step in to offer coach Ron Rivera a lifeline.
But Rivera said he wasn’t finished talking, and showed the kind of leadership and accountability as impressive as the coach of the year honors he won last year.
As he closed a round of questions about sending his highest-paid player away with pay, Rivera said he felt a responsibility to make sure the decision was made properly.
“I made a decision [deactivating Hardy last week] that I felt was best for everybody,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “There are a lot of distractions out there, and a lot of people being blamed for a lot of things they have nothing to do with. You know, there’s two ladies that work in this building and they answer the phone. And people call, and they get after them about decisions I make. They don’t deserve to have that. They’re people. They’re women. They’re mothers. They’re sisters. They’re grandmothers. And people call and want to complain.
“So I struggle with it. That makes it very hard on me. So when I have to make decisions, I make decisions that are in the best interests of this organization and don’t ever forget that.”
Rivera was clearly emotional during the press conference, and he should be, given the gravity of the charges.
He acknowledged several times that “the climate is changing,” and their initial willingness to play him against Tampa Bay in the opener was something they simply couldn’t continue after the video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face emerged and the national conversation changed.
“This is not a normal set of circumstances or situations,” Rivera said. “When you get into these types of situations, you try to handle it them the best you can. As I said on Sunday after the game, the biggest thing we have to understand is we’ve got to get this right. We really do.
“In all honesty, we’re worried about the wrong types of things. We’re trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don’t need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right for people, and this is what this really should be about. I’ve been up and talked about this on and on and on, and I really just hope people understand we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances that we have and we’re trying to get this right. And at the end of the day, we have to come up with solutions to make that this does not happen again.”
There is a round of finger-pointing that needs to happen, in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But if the league is going to take its domestic violence problem seriously, there needs to be more than words, there needs to be action.
And that action shouldn’t be left to the coaches to enact.
It has been almost a decade since Adam Jones last suited up for the Titans, a period that has seen Jones play 56 games as a member of the Cowboys and Bengals without ever playing against the team that drafted him in 2005.
The Bengals did play the Titans in 2011, but Jones missed the game because of an injury. That means he’ll play his first game against a Titans team that bears little resemblance to the one he played for. Tackle Michael Roos is the only player left who shared a locker room with Jones, which may be why Jones’s eagerness to face his old team doesn’t come with any old animosity weighing him down.
“With time and growth, things seem to be not as important, or should I say [I don't have] a chip on my shoulder,” Jones said, via the Tennessean. “Of course, I can’t wait to play. But as far as angry about anything [having to do with the Titans], no, I’m not.”
It seemed like a bad bet that Jones would still be playing in the NFL in 2014 after he sat out the entire 2007 and 2009 seasons and played nine forgettable games for Dallas in 2008. He’s found a second life in Cincinnati, however, and that will give him a chance to bring things full circle this weekend.
Plenty of people connected to the NFL would prefer that the last week didn’t happen. I’m part of that group, for entirely different reasons.
When it came to predicting the outcomes of games in Week Two, I had the worst showing I’ve ever had, in the time I’ve been picking games at PFT. As it all disintegrated, I used language even more offensive than whatever Colin Kaepernick supposedly said on Sunday night.
Ultimately, I got five right and 11 wrong. Eleven wrong.
MDS didn’t do much better, but his 8-8 showing puts him in the lead by three games, with a 17-15 mark. I’m at 14-18 through two weeks. Which is quite lame.
This week, we disagree on four games. Which means I’ll likely be seven games behind MDS by next week.
Buccaneers at Falcons
MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Falcons are better than I thought they’d be. The Bucs aren’t. While it’s unclear what Atlanta will do on the road in the division, holding serve at home against the Saints means they’ll hold serve against the Buccaneers.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.
Chargers at Bills
MDS’s take: Are the Bills for real? That may be the toughest question to answer after the first two weeks of the season. They sure look like a much better team than any of us expected heading into 2014. I think they’re going to keep it going against a Chargers team that will have a tough time overcoming a tough game and a long road trip.
MDS’s pick: Bills 21, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: The Bills are off to a great start. And we’ve seen how this movie ends. While I’m not ready to assume a Western New York renaissance isn’t happening, the Chargers are even better than they were when they made the playoffs a year ago.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 30, Bills 21.
Washington at Eagles
MDS’s take: We’ll all have our eyes on Kirk Cousins getting the start and potentially playing well enough over the next few weeks to keep the job even after Robert Griffin III is ready to go. But I’m more interested in watching Nick Foles, who has made a lot of mental mistakes this year, the kind of mistakes he wasn’t making last year. Fortunately for the Eagles, they’ve managed to go 2-0 without Foles even playing very well. I think they should improve to 3-0 and Foles should have a better game than he’s played so far.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 12.
Florio’s take: DeSean Jackson returns home to see that the Eagles really are even better without him.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Washington 17.
Texans at Giants
MDS’s take: The Giants are just not a good football team right now, and although Tom Coughlin has turned his team around after bad starts before, I don’t see it happening any time soon. Bill O’Brien has the Texans playing efficient and mistake-free offensive football and they’ll put plenty of points on the board against the Giants.
MDS’s pick: Texans 31, Giants 14.
Florio’s take: And here’s where we find out the Giants aren’t quite as bad as perceived, and that the Texans aren’t quite as good.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Texans 17.
Vikings at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints are 0-2, but they’ll roll on Sunday over a Vikings team that could be ready to go into a deep dive.
MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Vikings 23.
Florio’s take: Even without Adrian Peterson playing, the Saints will have a hard time slowing down the Vikings’ offense. Not because the Vikings’ offense is great, but because the Saints’ defense isn’t. Still, advantage home team.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Vikings 21.
Cowboys at Rams
MDS’s take: The 1-1 Cowboys are one-eighth of the way to their fourth straight 8-8 finish, and I think what we’re going to see from them this year is more or less what we’ve seen through two games: They’ll beat bad teams like the Titans and lose to good teams like the 49ers. This week it’s the Rams, a bad team, so they’ll win.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Rams 13.
Florio’s take: The next time anyone talks about expanding the NFL, point out that this game could feature a quarterback showdown of Brandon Weeden and Austin Davis. Advantage: No one.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 14, Rams 13.
Titans at Bengals
MDS’s take: I’m really liking what I’m seeing of the Bengals, on both sides of the ball: Their defense is one of the most talented in football and the offensive line is giving Andy Dalton plenty of time to pass, which means he’s not being pressured into the mistakes that have plagued him in the past. Cincinnati might be the best team in the AFC.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: Even without a full stadium to cheer them on, the Bengals should be able to roll over the Titans. Maybe eventually the stadium will be full.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Titans 20.
Ravens at Browns
MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. I like the direction the Browns are heading in, but I also think the Ravens, who looked so good last Thursday and have a long work week with extra time to prepare, are a better team from top to bottom. Go with the Ravens in a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Browns 13.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Browns pulled off a thrilling win over the Saints. But the New Orleans defense currently is flawed, deeply. The Baltimore defense isn’t.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 17, Browns 13.
Packers at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions are so thin at cornerback that Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson should have a field day. On the other hand, the Lions’ passing game has so many weapons that I’m not sure how long the Packers’ defense can slow them down. Go with the Lions in a close, high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Packers 30.
Florio’s take: A shootout could be looming in the Lions’ den, with both teams having high-powered offense and neither having a defense that can impose its will. Maybe they should play on a 50-yard field.
Florio’s pick: Packers 45, Lions 41.
Colts at Jaguars
MDS’s take: With both teams at 0-2, the loser of this game will be in such a deep hole (or, as Roddy White would say, a deep whole) that any hope of winning the AFC South would be just about over. Before the season some saw the Jaguars as potential playoff teams, but I think the Jaguars have a longer rebuilding job than that.
MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: It’s a must-win game for the Colts, who are playing a team that, based on its current talent level, must lose.
Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 23.
Raiders at Patriots
MDS’s take: Charles Woodson said it best: The Raiders suck. This is the easiest game of the week to pick.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Raiders 20.
Florio’s take: Remember that time when the Raiders were really good and the Patriots stunk? Neither do I.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 48, Raiders 17.
49ers at Cardinals
MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. The Cardinals have looked better than most people thought, and the 49ers are coming off a major meltdown against the Bears. Does that mean there’s a new pecking order in the NFC West? I don’t think so. Uncertainty at the quarterback position in Arizona is a major problem, and Colin Kaepernick won’t throw three interceptions again.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 13.
Florio’s take: The jury remains out on whether Colin Kaepernick is a franchise quarterback. The verdict is in on whether the Cardinals can find a way to win, no matter who is injured or suspended or otherwise not available.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.
Broncos at Seahawks
MDS’s take: Super Bowl XLVIII I/II (that’s Super Bowl forty-eight and one-half for those of you who don’t speak Latin) will be a closer game than the ugly blowout we saw in February, but the ultimate result will be the same: The great defense will beat the great offense.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Broncos 17.
Florio’s take: At a neutral site in early February, the Seahawks won by 35. At CenturyLink Field with a sudden sense of urgency following last week’s loss in San Diego, this one could be uglier. But if I pick a margin larger than 35, I could get the Phil Simms treatment in Denver.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, Broncos 24.
Chiefs at Dolphins
MDS’s take: This is shaping up to be a long, tough season for the Chiefs. After the breakout year of 2013, the Chiefs are off to a bad start, they’re plagued by injuries, and they’re about to lose their third in a row.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: They once played the longest game in NFL history. This one can’t end soon enough for the road team.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 14.
Steelers at Panthers
MDS’s take: Kudos to the Panthers’ defense for the way it played on Sunday: Despite losing its best pass rusher, Greg Hardy, for off-field reasons on gameday morning, Carolina did a good job of slowing down a good Detroit passing attack. This Carolina team is better than most people realized.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Steelers 13.
Florio’s take: The Panthers have longer aspired to be like the Steelers. Maybe the Panthers have gotten there. The Steelers are trying to find their way back to that. Maybe on Sunday night they should take a long look at the team on the other side of the field.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 20, Steelers 12.
Bears at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense is a lot better than I expected it to be, and the Bears’ defense has some holes. But the Bears have perhaps the best pair of receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and I just don’t think the Jets have the cornerbacks to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Jets 27.
Florio’s take: The Jets barely beat a bad Raiders team and blew what would have been a big upset at Lambeau Field. Assuming that the Week Two Bears and not the Week One Bears make the trek to MetLife Stadium, the Jets won’t have to worry about losing the game by an ill-timed timeout.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Jets 14.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said last week that he thought he needed to be targeted more often in the passing game if the team’s offense is going to be successful and he got that opportunity against the Cardinals.
The problem was that Cruz didn’t do a very good job of catching the ball. Cruz, who was targeted 10 times, dropped two straight passes in the fourth quarter and then came up short on a third ball that wasn’t as well thrown but was still catchable. That led to some boos from the crowd, although Cruz said he didn’t need to hear any catcalls to know what he’s supposed to do on the field.
“I just have to go out there and catch the football. That is my job. That is what is entitled of me, to lead this team, to lead this receiving corps while I’m out there,” Cruz said, via NJ.com. “That is pretty much all I have to do. I don’t pay attention to any of the outside things, to any of the negative things that go out there. I don’t look at any of that stuff. I just live my life and move on.”
With Odell Beckham still trying to get over a hamstring injury, Rueben Randle trying to fill a more prominent role and Jerrel Jernigan out for the season, the Giants are going to be asking a lot of Cruz this season as both a player and a leader of the position group. If he can’t fulfill those needs, the Giants offense may be in for another long season.
Among the frustrations the Jets dealt with on their way to a 31-24 loss in Green Bay last Sunday was losing wide receiver Eric Decker to a recurrence of the hamstring injury that plagued him during the preseason.
Decker said Wednesday that he didn’t tear the hamstring, but aggravated the previous injury and that limited him to some light jogging in practice. Decker said it was too soon to have an idea about his chances of facing the Bears on Monday night because “you’re still sore from the game” on Wednesday. As a result, the next few days will be “telling” about his ability to play.
“My mentality is to take it one day at a time. I would love to play [Monday], so am just making sure that we take the right steps. Don’t do too much, but do enough to feel it out and make a decision once that day rolls around,” Decker said, via NJ.com. “I just have to do a better job of listening to my body. With hamstrings, [I] have to make sure my glutes are good, my quads are good, everything around the hamstring muscle is good to go. That’s on me as far as listening to my body and doing the correct things. Unfortunately, this stuff happens, but there are things now that I can do to make sure that I don’t allow it to happen again.”
If Decker is out of the lineup, the Jets will have Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson as their top two receivers. That was often the case last season, which led the Jets to make an aggressive and successful bid for Decker once free agency opened.
Even though he missed practice yesterday with tightness in his back (after missing most of the offseason following back surgery) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo insists there’s no reason for alarm.
Via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, Romo said he planned to practice today, but that more rest days were likely in his future.
“It’s going to pop up,” Romo said. “I’m sure it’ll happen throughout the rest of the season. You’ll see a day here or there. It’s the same as the arm. Sometimes your arm gets [tired]. It’s just obviously more talked about because of having surgery on the back.
“You play this game. It’s a very violent, physical game, and you throw the ball a lot and you do all these things. Sometimes it’s just that tightness stuff comes up. You prefer obviously to do everything 100 percent of the time, but you can’t always do that. I’ll be fine. I’ll be good to go [Thursday].
Romo was on a maintenance plan throughout training camp, never going more than two days in a row. But he went through the first two weeks of the regular season without missing a practice, making it seem he had pushed through.
Lost in the concern over whether the NFL’s officials are throwing too many flags is whether they’re tapping the brakes on no-huddle offenses.
Falcons coach Mike Smith believes that, in Cincinnati on Sunday, the men in black and white made it hard to put the pedal to the metal.
“Each game has a completely different dynamic in terms of the tempo,” Smith said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That was a game where both teams hardly ever huddled. When you watch the game, you could see that they had their no-huddle offense going as well. I think sometimes the officials can slow a tempo game down.”
Smith pointed out that, on several occasions, the offense and defense were lined up and ready, but an official was standing over the ball.
“I think if you look, there were plays where both teams wanted to get out there and play, but there was a stoppage by the officials,” Smith said. “They stood over the ball a lot more in this game than they had in other games.”
The Falcons hope to have more success running the no-huddle attack on Thursday night against the Buccaneers.
“I think the key for us is continuing that tempo and being able to convert on third downs,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We did not do a good enough job last week.”
This week, keep an eye on whether the Falcons can unleash the kind of pace they want on offense, speeding up the attack. If it works, it will mean less commentary from Phil Simms between plays. Which could result in a ratings spike from the Denver market.
The Bengals have a bye after this week’s game against the Titans, and wide receiver A.J. Green could certainly use the rest.
But he said yesterday he’s going to try to play through his toe injury, if he’s able.
“If it’s feeling good, then I’m going to go,” Green said, via Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. “If it’s not, then we’ll go from there.”
He said he originally suffered the injury early in the opener against the Ravens, but continued to play (catching an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter). But last week, he made it just six plays before he had to leave the game.
He was short on specifics, saying only it was “something like turf toe, but not as bad.”
As long as Mohamed Sanu continues to catch and throw big plays, the Bengals might survive a week. But if this problem plagues Green throughout the year, it’ll take more than trick plays to fix it.
In the same week that former NFL quarterback Phil Simms made it to the list of 99 players who eventually will become the 2015 Hall of Fame class, far more than 99 people have expressed their desire that the current CBS analyst no longer be assigned to Broncos games.
Via the Denver Post, more than 40,000 fans have added their names to a Change.org petition urging Simms to be barred from calling any games involving the Denver franchise.
“CBS please ban Phil Simms from Broadcasting anymore Bronco games,” the petition states. “We do not know why he is assigned to the Broncos games every year. It is sure and complete torture for us Broncos Fans to have to listen to his biased drivel every week. Please hear us out on this, we are tired of Phil Simms in Denver!”
The Post has compiled some of the more entertaining comments from fans who signed the petition, a group that as of this posting stands at 41,543 and counting.
As Vic Lombardi of CBS 4 in Denver has pointed out, the Broncos have won 10 straight games with Simms in the booth. So maybe they should hold their noses (or mute their TVs) and let this one play itself out.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer missed Week Two because of a nerve problem in his right shoulder and he’s still being bothered by it this week.
It’s not for a lack of trying to find ways to alleviate the issue. Palmer told reporters that he has tried methods including electrical stimulation, acupuncture and dry needling in hopes of waking up what he’s described as a dead nerve. While the arm is feeling better, Palmer doesn’t know when it will feel well enough for him to resume a full schedule.
“I wish I had a concrete answer or somebody knew exactly what to do to wake it up,” Palmer said, via the Arizona Republic. “The only answer is time, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take any more time.”
With Palmer still ailing, Drew Stanton is in line to make a second straight start for Arizona when the 49ers come calling on Sunday. The team’s faith in Stanton is high after he led them to a win over the Giants, but they’d gladly send him back to the bench should Palmer stumble on the right therapy for his shoulder.
The Pegula family bid for the Bills was approved by the league’s finance committee.
Whoever came up with “Hue Live Crew” for the Bengals’ offense, take a bow.
The Jaguars might be starting six rookies on offense (and it might help).
The Raiders were missing five starters in practice.
The Chargers’ defense is getting some respect as one of the best.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill did not have a good game in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. He’s not happy about that.
Tannehill threw for just 241 yards on 31-of-49 passing, and he was also sacked four times for a loss of 31 yards. That’s just 3.96 yards per dropback, and that’s a big part of why the Dolphins were shut out in the first half on the way to a 29-10 loss.
“It’s not discouraging, it’s frustrating,” Tannehill said, via the Sun-Sentinel. “I’m upset at myself the way I’ve played, so obviously I want to get it corrected. But we’ve got a long season ahead of us and it starts with this week. You flip it around in one week and you play well and then you start stringing good games together. So it’s just a matter of going out and taking care of business this week.”
Tannehill admits that he’s missing open receivers and has to do better.
“I just haven’t been putting the ball in the right spot,” he said. “I haven’t been at my best and it’s got to change, and it’s got to change fast.”
If it doesn’t change fast, the Dolphins may start to doubt that the 26-year-old Tannehill is the right man to be their franchise quarterback.
The Bills moved closer to officially having new owners on Wednesday.
Terry Pegula met with the league’s finance committee on Wednesday so that they could approve the $1.4 billion bid for the team that the Pegulas made last week. Approval was expected coming into the meeting and the Pegulas got it by a unanimous vote. NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman called “a very big step” toward completion of the sale, although Pegula isn’t counting any chickens just yet.
“As far as I can say, we’re not NFL owners until that vote is approved, and we’ll have no further comments,” Pegula said, via the Associated Press.
The bid now needs approval from 75 percent of the league’s owners when they vote on the bid at league meetings on October 7 and 8. Pegula is expected to get that approval and become the second owner in the history of the Bills franchise.
We all need a feel-good story about football players right now, and what better way than for family to matter more than the regional rivalries, and for something more than the game to overcome.
Former Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu, who had to retire from the game because of kidney problems, got the gift of life from his brother, former Ravens defensive tackle Ma’ake in the form of a kidney donation.
“Everyone jokes about me having a Ravens’ kidney,” Chris said, via Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun. “But hey, I can live with that.”
It beats the alternative.
Ma’ake joked that his little brother (relative) “owes me a lot of steak dinners,” but their sheer size made the surgery more complicated than most.
Chris had to have a heart surgery beforehand to make the procedure possible, and both men checked into the hospital weighing 345 pounds.
“It was the largest normal kidney I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief. “I felt like somebody had thrown me a small football.”
But this story is far beyond football, about the lengths a family will go to look after one another.
“I’m the oldest of seven kids and it’s my responsibility to take care of the rest,” Ma’ake said. “If my siblings need blood, it will be my blood. If they need a kidney, it will be my kidney. We both stopped our careers for this, but I’d have done it even if I was a rookie with the Ravens. I have to lead by example.”
Hopefully, more people in his old line of work will take on that same challenge.