Joe Flacco Era Over in Baltimore?

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has announced that rookie QB Lamar Jackson will start Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jackson took over for long time starter Joe Flacco in week 11 after Flacco was shelved due to a hip injury.

Jackson has lead the Ravens to a 3-1 record with wins of the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons and the Ravens were edged in overtime by the Chiefs this past Sunday.

Jackson brings a rushing threat that Flacco does not although he’s been shaky as a passer and has let his legs get him out of jams to keep drives alive.

Flacco has 11 years of experience and a Super Bowl win on his resume but was not surprised by the move given the fact that Ravens hold the sixth and final playoff spot and are a half game behind the Steelers in the AFC North.

The Ravens are 7-6 but hold a slim lead over the Dolphins, Titans and Colts for the final wild card playoff spot who are all also 7-6.

Eagles’ Wentz May Miss the Rest of the Season

Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz will sit out Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams and my miss the reason the season.

Wentz missed the playoffs and Super Bowl in 2017 after suffering a torn ACL and returned in week three after Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who took over for Wentz failed to duplicate his playoff and Super Bowl heroics.

The 2018 season hasn’t run smoothly for the Eagles and head coach Doug Pederson. The team has been beset by injuries and inconsistent play on both sides of the ball.

They have scant playoff hopes in the NFC East. They are 2 games behind the Dallas Cowboys who have beaten them twice.

Pederson developed a great chemistry with Foles down the stretch in 2017 and hopefully he can keep them afloat until they get final word on Wentz’ availability for the remaining games on the schedule.

Top 6 QB Salaries Likely to Miss Playoffs

Much has been made recently of the huge salary Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is making and the fact that his team sits at 6-6-1 with three weeks left in the NFL season.

While that record is not what the Vikings have paid for at least Cousins still has his team in the hunt for a playoff spot, albeit a very shaky spot.

The other NFL QBs in the top six salaries in the NFL are not even going to sniff a playoff spot this season.

Cousins is third on the list with a guaranteed salary of $28 million dollars. The league’s top earner Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Matt Ryan ($30 million), Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5 million- on injured reserve), Matt Stafford ($27 million) and Derek Carr ($25 million) said bye-bye to their playoff chances weeks ago.

The quarterback position in the NFL is driven more by market pressures than merit, where good or average QBs are paid like great ones.

While Aaron Rodgers deserves to be on the list of top earners and Matt Ryan has many playoff appearances to go with a Super Bowl appearance the others on the list have virtually no playoff success. Garoppolo was given the large deal after coming from New England in the middle of the 2017 season and started five games and was lost for the 2018 season due to a knee injury in the third game of 2018.

So, what does that say about QB pay? It more about when you sign your contract, not how good you are. Good quarterbacks are scarce, and the great ones are priceless.

Use Common Sense in Officiating? Great. When?

The Philadelphia Eagles were robbed of a game changing turnover on the opening kickoff of their game in Dallas on Sunday.

Cowboys returner Jourdan Lewis fumbled the ball. Three Eagles special team players jumped on the ball. Lewis, however was ruled down before the ball was lost. The Eagles challenged, and the replay showed that Lewis had lost the ball before hitting the Jerrah World turf.

However, what the replay did not show which one of the three Eagles had recovered the ball.

Here’s where it gets NFL level of dumb.

Even though no other Cowboys players were even in the pile to recover the ball, possession was given back to Dallas as the replay is not to be used to determine which individual player may have recovered the ball therefore the original call on the field must stand.

Roger Goodell please pick up the white courtesy phone.

Former Head of NFL Officiating, Dean Blandino said in the Fox broadcast that some common sense must be followed when the pile consists of only players from one team and should be treated as a clear recovery.

Common sense. Something that has clearly lacked in the application of rules in the 2018 regular season. The game this season has become even more unwatchable than in years past due to questionable and downright incorrect calls that have affected many games this season.

The Eagles were deprived of a golden opportunity to get at least a field goal from the recovery.

Had common sense, something most grown adults have, been applied and NFL officials lack, there may have been a different outcome to Sunday’s game in Dallas.

Vikings Not Getting What They Paid for In Cousins

Monday night’s game in Seattle saw the home team Seahawks win their fourth straight game, 21-7, behind a stingy defense and an efficient Russell Wilson.

It also saw the visiting Minnesota Vikings defense put up a valiant effort holding the Seahawks to 3 points through 3 full quarters and the offense stumbling under the leadership of mega buck free agent QB Kirk Cousins.

Has anyone seen the receipt for Kirk’s deal? I swear I had it right here…(patting jacket pockets)

In 2017 the Vikings went 13-3 and appeared in the NFC Championship Game and were anchored by good defense and Case Keenum who stood tough in the pocket and rarely turned the ball over.

Flash to the off season where Keenum was allowed to go to Denver while the Vikings entered the Kirk Cousins courtship where they won his services to the tune of a $84 million dollar guaranteed contract.

Cousins has failed to lift the Vikings. They were a playoff team last year and fifth in offensive efficiency and they have now fallen to 17th. A team that has offensive stars like Stephon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph and Adam Theilen is now sitting at 6-6-1 and will most likely miss the playoffs.

Cousins never lifted the Redskins, who franchise tagged him twice, and he has an aversion for taking shots downfield. In a league that is by its rules designed to inspire big offensive plays Cousins ranks 22nd in yards per attempt at 7.11 yards.

Now with the Seattle loss, Cousins record against above .500 teams stands at 4-24.

How did he get that massive contract again?

Jaguars Fournette Caught on Video Threatening Fan

The 2018 season continues to be a downward spiral of losing and lack of discipline for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Prior to their game in Nashville on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans, Jags running back Leonard Fournette was caught on video telling a fan he would “whup his ass.”

Jacksonville head coach Doug Morrone said that Fournette was angered by a fan that had used a racial slur toward him. That claim was not verified by the video.

Fournette should’ve spent more energy concentrating on the game in which he was held to 36 yards on 14 carries while his counterpart on the Titans, Travis Henry ran wild on the sorry, trash talking Jags defense for 238 yards and four touchdowns.

The 2018 season has been a major disappointment for Fournette amassing only 350 yards rushing on 141 carries and 4 touchdowns while sitting out some games due to an injury and a one game suspension for fight he got into two weeks ago in Buffalo.

Jacksonville went to the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 season and won the AFC South title. They began the season 3-1 and have lost eight of the last nine games.

14th Sunday See TV Ratings Bounce Back

Sunday saw several great NFL games with interesting match ups and epic finishes along with the best overnight rating the league has seen in two years.

CBS, FOX and NBC saw an 8% increase in ratings over the same date in 2017. The ratings for the Cowboys-Eagles game was flat over 2017 while increases were seen in the early window with the Chiefs-Ravens matchup and the prime-time game with the Bears and Rams. That game helped ratings as it featured the #2 and #3 media market teams with solid Super Bowl aspirations.

So, the trend is more people watch good games while fewer people are watching bad matchups.

There was a time when the NFL was immune to such ratings pitfalls. However, the league has been plagued by political statements, player misbehavior and maddening applications of rules that has turned many fans off the game they grew up with.

Raiders Fire GM McKenzie

The Oakland Raiders have fired their GM since 2012, former NFL player Reggie McKenzie.

McKenzie was voted Executive of the Year in 2016 and is now out of a job with the Raiders amid a 3-10 season and a difference in philosophy with new head coach Jon Gruden.

Gruden has his own scouting and personnel staff and keeps his own draft board and NFL personnel board separate from the one McKenzie and his staff of scouts had and it was Gruden’s staff who spearheaded the jettisoning and benching of players and draft picks including former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack and premiere wide receiver Amari Cooper.

The Raiders are clearly in a rebuilding phase and the choices he made regarding Mack and Cooper and what he ultimately does with the draft picks acquired in those trades will be what his tenure as the Raiders’ head coach is judged upon.

Dallas Defeats Philly in OT

The Dallas Cowboys extended their NFC East division lead over the Philadelphia Eagles with a 29-23 win in overtime.

In a game that was tied at 6 at the half the Eagles and Cowboys exchanged big punches with the Eagles tying the game at 23 just before the end of regulation play.

The Cowboys won the overtime toss and ran the clock down to under two minutes when WR Amari Cooper took a deflected pass from Dak Prescott into the end zone from 13 yards out to seal the win for the Cowboys.

Amari Cooper who came to the Cowboys in October had 217 yards receiving and 3 TDs to go along with 113 yards rushing from Zeke Elliot.

The Cowboys now have command of the NFC East at 8-5 while the Super Bowl Champion Eagles fall to 6-7 and virtually out of playoff contention.

Heisman Trophy Winner Won’t Play in the NFL

For the second season in a row the Heisman Trophy winner is a quarterback from the University of Oklahoma, but he won’t follow the previous winner into the NFL.

Kyler Murray was selected #9 overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s and signed a $4.66 million-dollar contract.

He was allowed by the A’s to play of OU this season and now that the season is over he is under contract to play baseball.

“It’s already done.”, said his agent Scott Boras.

Murray won the award over Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins following in last year’s Heisman winner and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s footsteps.

Murray’s prospects for baseball are much better whereas he was most likely a second day pick in the NFL draft as he is under 5’ 10”.

Murray has broached the subject of possibly playing both sports but as his agent has said the contractual situation as it stands now only allows for baseball and given Murray’s skill set he should make a quick ascension to the majors.

Dolphins Beat Pats on Miracle Finish

Not only was the play miraculous it was the longest walk off TD to win a game in the modern Super Bowl era.

The Miami Dolphins completed a 69-yard touchdown pass to beat the New England Patriots 34-33.

In a game that saw nine lead changes, the Patriots (9-4) had the lead with :20 seconds remaining having just kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 33-28.

After the kickoff the Dolphins took possession with just seven seconds left at their own 31-yard line.

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill took the snap and threw to WR Kenny Stills over the middle to the Dolphins 45 yard line who lateraled the ball the WR Devante Parker who ran a few yards before pitching to RB Kenyan Drake at midfield who looked to pitch the ball before deciding to race for the end zone picking up a key block from G Ted Larsen downfield and outrunning a stumbling New England TE Rob Gronkowski to the end zone for the 34-33 win.

The Patriots, who were looking to clinch the AFC East division title have lost 5 of the last 7 games in Miami.

Tom Brady threw for 358 yards and completed 27 of 43 passes and 3 TDs while Ryan Tannehill threw for 265 yards and completed 14 ot 19 passes and 3 TDs and they also ran the ball for 189 yards.

The Dolphins are still in the thick of the AFC Playoff race sitting at 7-6 and just a tie breaker out of the final playoff spot in the AFC.

Intel Community Had Doubts About Steele Dossier

Turns out the intelligence community had its suspicions about the infamous Steele Dossier. In a lengthy email thread from October of 2016, Justice Department and FBI officials discussed concerns about the propaganda document designed as a smear against President Trump, at the time a candidate. Top officials were aware that the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele, was in contact with reporters about his report—raising red flags about his motives. Republicans have long alleged the FBI used media reports about the Steele Dossier to justify court warrants to spy on subjects of the dossier using a fabricated ring of circular logic.

—QUOTABLE: “For months, we have been reviewing emails between FBI and DOJ and others that clearly show that they knew of information that should have been presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Court. It is real evidence that people within the FBI withheld evidence from the FISA court…Even though we know what’s in those emails, a lot of them are still redacted. So they’re still refusing to give Congress even in a classified setting this information.” -House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes

Former Seahawk Sentenced to 8 Years

Former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner has been sentenced to 8 years in a plea bargain in his attempted murder case.

Browner allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and dragged her across the floor and attempted to smother her in her own carpet in July.

In exchange for the plea, charges of robbery, false imprisonment and burglary were dropped, and the attempted murder and willful endangerment of a child charges stuck and received the 8-year sentence.

Browner has been in custody since July and will get credit for the 300 days served in detention.

The 34-year-old Browner spent five season with Seahawks, Patriots and Saints from 2011-2016 after coming to the NFL from the CFL. He won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks after the 2012 season then won another against the Seahawks with the Patriots after the 2014 season. He was released by the Saints before playing in one game and then returned to the Seahawks in 2016.

Following the end of his playing career Browner was arrested in 2017 for cocaine possession and the again later that same year for making criminal threats against a woman.

Broncos’ Sanders Lost for Season with Achilles Injury

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sander suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in practice on Wednesday and is lost for the season.

The Broncs have come on in recent weeks and have climbed back into playoff contention and now the loss of Sanders will hamper their chances to secure a playoff spot.

Now in his fifth season with the Broncos, Sanders has a had a solid season as Case Keenum’s favorite target with 71 catches for 868 yards and 4 TDs.

Earlier this season Denver traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texas and as now left with rookie receiver, Courtland Sutton as the top target.

Look for the Broncos to lean heavily on rookie running back Phillip Lindsay for the rest of the season.

The Broncos take on the San Francisco 49ers to push their record to 7-6 and remain in the hunt for a wild card playoff spot.

Trubisky Confident He’ll Return to the Lineup Sunday Night

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has missed the last two weeks due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and is confident he’ll return this week.

The second year QB had lead the Bears to a 7-3 record and they have gone 1-1 in his absence. They now sit at 8-4 heading into a very important game agnais3t the NFC West leading Los Angeles Rams at home on Sunday night.

The Bears still have an outside shot at a first round bye in the playoff however they sit behind the 11-1 Rams and the 10-2 Saints, so the Bears need this game against the Rams to get closer to the bye.

Trubisky has thrown 20 touchdowns with 3 rushing TDs with a 65.4 completion rate and has rushed for 363 yards.

The Bears lead the Minnesota Vikings who sit at 6-5-1, in the race for the NFC North crown.

McCarthy, Rodgers Split Long Time in the Making

The rumors of the relationship between star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy becoming frosty began some time ago according to a former player.

Former Packer center Jeff Saturday who spent his final season in the league in 2012 with Green Bay said on ESPN that there would be times in the huddle where Rodgers would subtly express frustration with a play call through an eye roll or a heavy sigh.

Saturday added that the disconnect really took place two years ago and that younger players picked up on it and that disdain spread like a virus throughout the roster.

It’s hard to know what really happened in the relationship with Rodgers and McCarthy and anything now is just gossip and speculation. It will remain that way until either party gives an interview or writes a book about it.

This much is now known. McCarthy is gone, and the full amount of pressure reverts to Rodgers. It’s time for him to show what he can do after the divorce.

Vick Offers Help to Hunt

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick knows a thing or two about scandal, suspension and redemption and has offered help to former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

Vick, who sat out the 2007 and 2008 season while he served prison time for a dog fighting conviction returned to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2010.

Kareem Hunt was cut by the Chiefs and put on the Commissioners Exempt list following the release of a video from February that showed him pushing and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel. Other incidents involving Hunt’s off field behavior are also being investigated by the league.

Vick was quoted as saying that while he doesn’t condone Hunt’s behavior he urges him to get help and to reach out to him for advice as to how to handle himself going forward.

Hunt, who has cleared waivers has gone unclaimed by any other NFL team will likely have to serve a suspension when he is reinstated by the league.

Packers’ Assistant Fired Over Critical Rodgers, Organization Tweet?

Long time Green Bay Packers assistant coach Winston Moss was fired on Tuesday hours after a Tweet that was critical of Aaron Rodgers and the organization overall.

In his tweet he asked that the Packers hire a head coach that will make #12 (Rodgers) and the entire organization accountable to higher standards.

Moss’ dismissal came two days after head coach Mike McCarthy was fired following a home loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The 52-year-old Moss was also an associate head coach and had been a member of the Packers’ staff since 2006 when he was hired as a linebacker coach.

Moss had previously coached with the Seahawks and Saints following an 11-year playing career with the Buccaneers, Raiders and Seahawks.

The Packers are 4-7-1 and limping to the finish of the 2018 season and will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time since Rodgers’ tenure as the Packers’ starting quarterback began in 2008.

The Bryce Harper Courtship Tour Continues

Washington Nationals free agent outfielder Bryce Harper is the belle of the off season ball with as many as 12 teams hoping to get a chance to slow dance with the slugger and whisper contract offerings in his ear.

Teams are travelling to his off-season home of Las Vegas to meetings in hope of attracting him to their club.

Magic Johnson, who is a minority stake owner in the LA Dodgers has denied a report that he has met with Harper and team officials.

The lineup of hopefuls for Harper’s services include; the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and his home club the Washington Nationals. These clubs have already met with him or plan to soon.

Harper has close ties with fellow Las Vegas resident and Chicago Cubs infielder Kris Bryant and their wives are close friends too, so that could play into a decision to go to Wrigley Field.

The biggest consideration is cost. It’s thought that it could take a 12 year $420 million dollar contract to sign him.

A head turning contract to be sure however it is rare that a 26-year-old with an NL Rookie of the Year and NL MVP crown and six All Star nods hits the open market.

In his MVP season on 2015 Harper hit .330, with 42 home runs and 99 RBI. In 2018 he hit 34 homers drove in a career best 100 RBI and won the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Harper is repped by super-agent and thorn in the paw of ownership Scott Boras, who is no stranger to getting record contracts for his clients. Look for him to come through in much the same way for Harper.

Whoever does sign him will be getting a marquee player with as many as 10 years of prime production left.

Urban Meyer to Retire From OSU

Ohio State University head football coach Urban Meyer has announced that he will retire effective after the Rose Bowl on January 1st.

Offensive Coordinator Ryan Day will take over as the head football coach on January 2nd. Day went 3-0 while filling in for Meyer who had been suspended earlier this season after an investigation found he improperly handled domestic violence charges against wide receivers coach Zach Smith.

Many things factored into Meyer’s decision but the biggest are health concerns surrounding an arachnoid brain cyst that Meyer underwent surgery to remove in 2014. The symptoms have returned and cause severe headaches when he is under stress which is a daily thing in big time college football. His doctors have warned him about the possible risks involved in continuing to coach.

OSU is 12-1 and beat Northwestern this past Saturday 45-24 to win the Big Ten Title. Their third in Meyer’s tenure. The Buckeyes won the National Championship in 2014 under Meyer.

This marks the second time Meyer has retired due to health concerns. He had retired from the University of Florida following the 2010 season. Meyer had won National Championships with Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Meyer sat out one season before taking the job at OSU in 2012. In 17 seasons as head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State Meyer complied a 186-32 record.

Panthers’ Veterans Defend Rivera

After losing their fourth straight game to lowly division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers the seat is getting hot for head coach Ron Rivera and veterans on the team are coming to his defense.

The team’s 6-2 start seems like forever ago and struggles abound on the team and shake ups on the coaching staff have failed to stop the slide.

The aging veterans on the team that are defending Rivera are the ones that are bogging them down particularly on defense where the ageless Julius Peppers has returned to the team that originally drafted him, can’t get any pressure on the passer any longer and on offense the career of tight end Greg Olson seems to be over as a recurring plantar fasciitis injury has him done for the year with his next stop being the broadcast booth.

Their cocky fashion plate QB Cam Newton has a shoulder injury that keeps him from throwing on Wednesday of game week and couldn’t even throw the final Hail Mary in their loss to the Bucs although it was fine to throw 4 picks in the game.

Rivera has amassed a record of 70-53 -1 in eight seasons in Carolina to go with a Super Bowl appearance. The team has new owner so while the players may be in his corner there’s no track record to rely on to gauge the direction they may go after the season.

Texans Have the D to Harrass High Flying Offenses

Since starting the 2018 season at 0-3 and talk of Bill O’Brien losing his job as head coach the Houston Texans have ripped off 9 straight wins.

While the offense is more than capable since the return of Deshaun Watson at QB and rising offensive stars like Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins and the arrival a Demaryius Thomas from Denver, it is the defense that will carry this team deep into the playoffs.

Lead by JJ Watt, Jadaveon Clowney and Whitney Mercillus the Texans defense created 22 takeaways, 34 sacks and held offenses to an average of 3.7 year per rush.

The only way to disrupt high octane offenses like the Chiefs and Steelers is to apply pressure up front and force Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger into off balance throws and the sideline to sideline speed of the Texans linebacker prevent running backs from turning the corner and getting upfield.

The Texans have quietly taken control of the AFC South, a division that was thought to be firmly in the hands for last year’s division champ the Jacksonville Jaguars who have bumbled, and trash talked their way to a 4-8 record this season.

Want to beat the Saints or the Rams in the Super Bowl? The Texans have the defense to get the job done.

Rodgers Regularly Changed McCarthy’s Plays

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was given totally autonomy to change plays in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage which he did often.

This became a point of contention between the two as it prevented McCarthy from getting into a rhythm as a play caller and then turned into a competition to see who could call the better plays.

The Packers announced the firing of McCarthy who was in his 13th season as the head coach of the Packers and replaced him on an interim basis with the current offensive coordinator and former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.

The Packers will now limp to the end of the season with meaningless games aside from a trip to Soldier Filed to play the NFC North Division leading Chicago Bears in week 15.

Ariana’s Cover Ups

Ariana Grande is slowing erasing Pete Davidson from her life. The singer, who earlier this year got the number “8418” tattooed on her foot—the badge number of Pete’s fire fighter father who died on 9/11— recently covered it up with “Myron.”

Myron is the name of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller’s dog, who she adopted following the rapper’s death.

Ariana also covered up “Pete,” which she had tattooed on her ring finger, with a black heart.

Interestingly, her ex fiancé Pete covered up his Ariana neck tattoo with a black heart as well

Harper, Nats Headed Toward a Reunion?

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Things have been a bit slow in Bruce Harper’s world recently and he’s not expected to sign a new contract anytime soon.

There are rumors that the free agent outfielder and the Washington Nationals may reunite after all.

This news would make Nats fans very happy as league execs have expressed the view that ultimately the two sides would find a way to make it work.

If the Nationals are willing to up their original $300 million-dollar ten year deal then Harper would likely decide to stay in DC. He has been quoted in local media saying how much he’s enjoyed his time in Washington.

The question is, can they offer him more? They would need to find extra cash to fight off big money spenders like the Philadelphia Phillies but the Nats haven’t given up on resigning Harper.

Executives around the league believe the Nationals will pivot and find the necessary cash as that’s what team ownership wants to happen.