FMIA Week 16: Improbably, Cowboys, Bears Eye Playoffs After ’20 Disasters

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When Dallas coach Mike McCarthy boarded the Cowboys’ charter flight at BWI Airport outside of Baltimore early on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 9, he tried to get his mind right for the short week ahead. The COVID-related delay of the game in Baltimore pushed the game, a 34-17 beatdown from the Ravens, from Thursday [more]

FMIA Week 15: How Buffalo Built Its Way Back To The Top Of The AFC East

Buffalo Bills v Denver Broncos
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A couple weeks ago, after practice, the two longest-tenured Buffalo Bills sat in the locker room, suitably spaced out, discussing what seemed impossible. Long-snapper Reid Ferguson, on the Bills practice squad when Sean McDermott was named coach in January 2017, told defensive end Jerry Hughes, the only active player left on the roster from that [more]

FMIA Week 14: The Beauty of Jalen Hurts; the Ugly Truth in Pittsburgh

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles
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Smile broadly, Doug Pederson. Pump your fist and get gleeful, Jalen Hurts. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a gigantic win—Philly’s 24-21 stunner over New Orleans in Hurts’ starting debut—greeted with such . . . caution? It sure wasn’t joy. I get that Pederson knows he may have to rebuild Wentz from the ground up [more]

FMIA Week 13: After Stunning The Seahawks, Giants Have NFL Thinking They Might Be A Problem In January

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Five things that early in the 2020 season you never expected to see in the NFL in the first week of December: • The Giants taking over first place in the NFC East without Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, winning in Seattle, winning four straight . . . and people actually starting to think, You [more]

FMIA Week 12: COVID Wreaks Havoc on the NFL, But What Did We Expect?

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In chilly Owings Mills, Md., Sunday evening, on the bucolic grounds of the Baltimore Ravens training center, the strangest week in recent NFL history was beginning to wind down. A voluntary conditioning workout was underway, with maybe half the non-COVID-positive players on the team. The reality of the 2020 NFL season was setting in for anyone [more]

FMIA Week 11: Patrick Mahomes and the Moments Competitors Love; Alex Smith and the Spirit of Thanksgiving

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What a Sunday. In some order: Derrick Henry steamrolls the skidding Ravens (again) Carson Wentz is lost at sea (and on Lake Erie) Poor Joe Burrow The Steelers are 10-0 and the ’72 Fins are getting nervous Taysom Hill slam-dunks the haters Tuamania, paused The Cowboys have a pulse Colts stymie Rodgers And by the [more]

FMIA Week 10: Inside The Hail Murray And How The Cardinals Got It Done

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Remember last spring, in Franchise Receiver Lotto, when Buffalo made the big trade for Stefon Diggs and Arizona paid far less to deal for DeAndre Hopkins? Referendum time Sunday in the desert. When Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen made a spot-on throw and Diggs laid out for an end-zone catch with 34 seconds left, the Bills [more]

FMIA Week 9: Saints Expose Bitter Truth About Buccaneers In Blowout

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There’s a new president (seemingly), the best Steeler start in their 88-season history, a boffo/weird Sunday-nighter, and Patrick Mahomes doing the absurdly kind of dominant things his political mentor, LeBron James, did at 25. But a moment, please, for Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy! host for 36 years, who died of pancreatic cancer Sunday morning at [more]

FMIA Week 8: Steelers Stay Perfect, Sit Atop Midseason Power Rankings

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In 1954, the Steelers drafted the Heisman Trophy-winning running back from Notre Dame, Johnny Lattner, in the first round. Wearing number 41, Lattner had a fine rookie season for Pittsburgh, making the Pro Bowl and scoring a touchdown in the Steelers’ biggest win of the year, a rout of the NFL champion Cleveland Browns at [more]

FMIA Week 7: A Strange Day in NFL, and Why Bucs Signed Antonio Brown

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These are strange days in the NFL, and not just because of COVID-19. New England, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas: 6-21. Tampa Bay, Arizona, Buffalo, Pittsburgh: 21-6. The starting Dallas quarterback this morning is named Ben DiNucci. Cam Newton, benched. Baker Mayfield, five TD passes in 34 minutes. Michael Thomas, hurt and doghoused. No one in a [more]

FMIA Week 6: Ryan Tannehill, Titans Are Changing The Narrative In AFC

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You can learn so much about a team, and about its quarterback, when the fire alarms are blaring. Those fire alarms, in this case, sounded in Nashville as the clock ticked down on the Titans’ perfect season . . . :14, :13, :12 . . . with the Titans Offense down seven and jogging to [more]

FMIA Week 5: Rescheduled Games, Fired Coaches and Pain in Dallas—A Look Back at the NFL’s Newsy Sunday

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A frenetic day in the life of the NFL, 2020: 5:45 a.m. ET, Long Island, N.Y. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, in the bathroom near his bedroom, texts contacts or talks softly, not wanting to disturb his sleeping dogs or wife. He’s trying to find out early COVID-related news before he jumps in the shower to prep [more]

FMIA Week 4: 2020 NFL Weirdness Continues With Postponed Games, Positive Tests And, Oh Yeah, Football

NFL Week 4
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Updated, 9:12 a.m. So this is what it’s come to in the NFL in 2020: As I pressed the button to finish writing this column at 3:32 a.m. Monday, with one of the intriguing games of the early season due to kick off early this evening in Kansas City, we wait for a couple of [more]

FMIA Week 3: Josh Allen’s Pissed Off, Tony Romo’s Proud and Buffalo’s 3-0

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Can the pantheon of great young quarterbacks fit another one? Wilson, Mahomes, Jackson, Prescott, Watson. Maybe Newton. In the first three weeks of this season, Josh Allen, the bucking bronco from Wyoming, is kicking down the damn door to greatness and forcing his way into that pantheon. Through three weeks of his third NFL season, [more]

FMIA Week 2: Let Russ Cook? Wilson Has Ingredients For First MVP Season

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So we all know about the weird Russell Wilson’s-never-gotten-an-MVP-vote story. (It’s not an outrage, by the way, which I’ll explain.) But have you noticed something about the first two weeks of this strange NFL season, as it pertains to Wilson? He’s playing like he’s trying to put the MVP case so far out of reach [more]