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SportsLine Week 6 AFC West Picks: Chargers, Ravens Game To Feature ‘Two Legitimate MVP Candidates,’ Larry Hartstein Says

(CBS) – As we head into week 6 of the NFL season the AFC West is shaping up exactly as everyone thought. The Kansas City Chiefs coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances are currently sitting at the bottom of the division at 2-3, with the Los Angeles Chargers riding high at 4-1. The Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos sit in a two-way tie at 3-2.

It’s been the Patrick Mahomes show since #15 took over the starting job in Kansas City, but second-year signal caller Justin Herbert is the one grabbing headlines this season, despite fairly similar stats. Mahomes comes into week 6 with 1,490 passing yards/16 touchdowns/6 picks while Herbert has racked up 1,576 passing yards/13 touchdowns/3 picks.

The Raiders and Broncos square off this week with each looking to move two games above .500. Mahomes and the Chiefs will hit the road to take on the Washington Football Team, and the Bolts are headed for a heavyweight match up with the AFC North division-leading Baltimore Ravens.

SportsLine‘s Larry Hartstein breaks down AFC West matchups in Week 6.

All times listed are Eastern.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Football Team, Sunday, October 17, 1:00 p.m.

Kansas City looks to rebound after an 18-point loss to the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead last weekend. The Washington Football Team is also coming off a home loss, as they fell to the New Orleans Saints, 33-22. These two teams have had two common opponents so far, the Chargers and Bills, going a combined 0-4. If you put stock into this sort of thing, although the Chiefs’ losses to Buffalo and Los Angeles were by a combined 20 points while Washington’s losses were by a combined 26 points, seemingly giving KC the edge in a head-to-head comparison.

As for Larry Hartstein’s opinion heading into this one he says, “It’s up to a touchdown now. The money has been coming in on the Chiefs, despite the fact that Patrick Mahomes has thrown six interceptions already, the last three games. This defense giving up 7.1 yards per play. That is historically bad. Last year the Lions and Jacksonville were the two worst defenses, only 6.3 yards per play; almost a full yard worse.

Hopefully Chris Jones will be back to help that defense. But I just think the Chiefs aren’t as bad as they’ve looked. Look at who they’ve played — Buffalo, Cleveland, the Chargers, the Ravens. Those are the four best teams in the AFC. So it’s been a gauntlet. When they did play an NFC East team, Philadelphia, we all remember what they did, winning 42 to 30.

I think this is a similar spot where they don’t have to force things as much against this Washington defense, which is bad. I do expect the Chiefs to put up a big number and cover. But at a touchdown it’s not as great of a play as it was at six or six and a half.”

Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, October 17, 1:00 p.m.

This contest will feature two critically acclaimed QBs who are playing as good as anyone in the league right now. Lamar Jackson won the MVP in 2019, and he is on pace to have an even better season in a few key stats this year. Herbert is coming off a record-breaking ROY campaign and is also on pace to beat his award-winning numbers.

Here’s what Hartstein has to say about this match-up between 4-1 division leaders.

“This is going to be a great game. If you follow me on SportsLine, I jumped on this early. Chargers plus three and a half. I didn’t think three and a half would last, and now it’s down to three.

The Ravens had to go to overtime last week, and this is a short week for them coming off an emotional win. It’s going to be a great game, I feel this game is going to come down to the wire. You look at the Chargers, and they tend to play very close games.

I like the value at three and a half. At three, I don’t love it as much. But I can’t wait to watch it, because you have two legitimate MVP candidates in Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson.”

Las Vegas Raiders @ Denver Broncos, Sunday, October 17, 4:25 p.m.

For our final AFC West matchup, Hartstein is leaning towards the black and silver.

“A lot of people are thinking that the Raiders will be in disarray because Jon Gruden was the play-caller and the offensive mind. I think last week they were distracted by the controversy, they were listless. They basically didn’t show up at home against the Bears.

I cannot imagine them playing worse, now that that cloud is lifted. Rich Bisaccia, the interim coach, is very well respected. He has interviewed for some head-coaching jobs around the league, and I think the Raiders will be focused.

This line has ticked up. The Broncos were at three, now they’re laying three and a half. I just think everyone’s expecting the Raiders to lie down and get steamrolled, but I don’t see it. I think this number feels about right.”

So what NFL picks can you make with confidence? And which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams win and cover the spread, all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $7,900 since its inception, and find out.


‘It’s Going To Be Close’: CBS Sports’ Houston Nutt Previews #11 Kentucky Vs. #1 Georgia And 4 Other Games

(CBS Local Sports) – The college football season continues this week, with another full schedule of games on CBS and CBS Sports Network. Out of the SEC, #1 Georgia, who remains undefeated, faces another undefeated team in #11 Kentucky. Auburn also meets #17 Arkansas. In the Mountain West, #24 San Diego State looks to keep it going against San Jose State. Utah State plays UNLV, and Hawaii travels to Nevada. CBS’s Norm Elrod talked to CBS Sports’ Houston Nutt about the matchups.

Auburn @ #17 Arkansas: October 16, 12:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Seventeenth-ranked Arkansas has lost two straight. They gave up 52 points to Mississippi and were shut out by Georgia the week before. Can they turn things around against Auburn?

“They can, they can. They’re at home. It’s a home-field advantage. If you notice the way they played at home, especially against Texas, I think that’s going to be a big help getting back home. And saying that, I think the running game. Coach Pittman, I think he’ll be going ahead with that. I think KJ Jefferson is really playing better. When you look at the job that they did, really the offensive game plan on the road at Ole Miss was pretty good. They had their chances. They have to do a better job of stopping the run. So to me, in this game, it’s going to come down to who can stop the run. And when you look at Tank Bigsby, when you look at Hunter, they’re good backs too. I think Arkansas has an excellent chance at home. And they know what this game means. This is a very, very important game.”

#11 Kentucky @ #1 Georgia: October 16, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Top-ranked Georgia has been rolling over teams all season. This week they face 11th-ranked Kentucky, who are also undefeated. Will the streak continue? Does Kentucky have any chance at an upset?

“Kentucky has a chance. I think it’s a slim chance, because Georgia is so good. They’re so good on defense. They’re playing at home. You know what the 90,000 [fans] does. I’m thinking of the home field, when that home field participates. And the fan base at Georgia, they participate. Arkansas will tell you, they had three or four illegal procedures right when they opened the game, and they’re not the only team that had that problem. So, the defense of Georgia is so good. What I’m so excited about in this game, especially being on CBS, is Kentucky. Mark Stoops, you can’t say enough good things about what Mark Stoops has done with the program. He’s developed it, in that they’re physical, they’re tough. Rodriguez is a excellent running back. They’re physical, they’ll try to get him the ball. I really think, because of the way they play, that’s why I give them a chance, because the ball bounces funny. I would have never said last week — if you and I had this conversation about Texas A&M and Alabama — I would have never said to you Texas A&M has a good chance to win against Alabama. I didn’t believe that. And then you go and look at Saturday night, look what happened on the field. Unbelievable advantage with the home-field crowd, and it’s a totally different team. And so you never know about football. But the thing about Kentucky, this is the first time they’ve been undefeated since when Bear Bryant. So there’s a lot of confidence there. They’ll be excited. But they’re going into a very hostile environment, and they’re going against the defense they haven’t seen before. I think it will be good. I think it will be a good football game. I think it’s going to be close. But I think, at the end, Georgia will win.”

#24 San Diego State @ San Jose State: October 15, 10:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network

Everybody in the Mountain West is gunning for San Diego State, ranked 24th. Can San Jose State stay with them?

“I think they can. Again, this game is so funny this year, but you just never know what can happen. The thing about it, they have to do a great job of stopping the run. In San Diego State, we know what the blueprint is. The blueprint is they’re going to be very physical, hand the ball to Bell over and over and then play-action, boots and waggles and all those things. So San Jose State really has to buckle up both chinstraps and do a great job on the defensive side. But saying all that, they’ve found ways to score. They’ve found ways to win. I believe San Diego State will get it done, because of their running game.”

Utah State @ UNLV: October 16, 7:00 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network

Another Mountain West battle, Utah State meets UNLV. Utah State has shown they can put up points on occasion. But Boise St. also held them to a field goal a few weeks back. Returning from a week off, will the winless UNLV provide any sort of challenge?

“I don’t have much confidence there. And I know how tough it is when you’re trying to get going. When you don’t win, it creates some doubts. So it takes a great coaching job to keep those guys up and keep going. I think Utah State will win this game. This is the dose of medicine that Utah State needs, because they’ve been inconsistent. And I’m sure Coach is going to really harp this week about being consistent. Let’s don’t have foolish penalties. Let’s take care of the ball. Because when we do those things, we can score. So that’s going to be the emphasis there, and I just think Utah State will win it.”

Hawaii @ Nevada: October 16, 10:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network

Hawaii was also idle last week. They return to face 4-1 Nevada on the road. How do you see this one playing out?

“I’m a big believer in Nevada, because Carson Strong, the quarterback, is outstanding. And I just think he’s going outscore Hawaii. Now the thing about it, each and every game, you have to be ready. And Hawaii, they’ve shown, at times, they can put together drives. They play physical. Todd Graham has always done a good job with defense. So he’s going to come up with a plan to try to mix Carson up. But I just think Nevada has too much, and Nevada is going to win this game.”


Cowboys-Patriots Preview: Dallas ‘Very, Very Difficult To Stop,’ Says NFL On CBS’s Adam Archuleta

(CBS DFW) — The Dallas Cowboys have left little doubt that they’re the class of the NFC East. With Sunday’s thrashing of the New York Giants, the Cowboys have won four straight and extended their division lead. Now 4-1, they will travel to Foxborough this weekend to face the struggling New England Patriots. The Patriots also improved their record to 2-3, though in decidedly less impressive fashion. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones’ late touchdown pass to Hunter Henry tied things up with the Houston Texans. He followed that up with an 85-yard drive that ended in a last-minute Nick Folk field goal for the win.

The Patriots’ win helps them keep pace with the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills. And Jones’s growth and leadership has Patriots and their faithful singing his praises. His bloody jersey toward the end of the game was tough to miss. That the Patriots didn’t show up in the first half and needed to come from behind on the hapless Texans is concerning though. The win felt almost like a loss. It’s pretty far from almost beating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the week prior.

Jones came out of Sunday’s win with decent enough stats. He went 22-30 for 231 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The interception was bad. But those stats would of improved some had Jakobi Meyers not dropped an easy 35-yard pass just before halftime. Henry was his top receiver, hauling in six passes for 75 yards. The running game chipped in 126 yards among the many who registered at least one carry, though Damien Harris did fumble away the ball at the goal line. Overall, this might be considered even more of a success, given their patchwork offensive line, which featured four backups in the starting lineup.

“I would say that if I look at Mac Jones, or any of the rookie quarterbacks, it hasn’t been a strong season,” said NFL On CBS analyst Adam Archuleta. “It’s not quite the Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert show that we saw last year. And I think that it shows that rookies have a really hard time adjusting to the NFL. But I think it also shows is that you can’t judge them on just a few games. You really can’t even judge them in their first year.”

While the offense showed some bright spots, the defense allowed Texans backup Davis Mills to look like a legitimate starter. The unit had most of its key personnel, except cornerback Jalen Mills. Yet the Texans did as they wished for the first half of the game. The Patriots allowed scores on the Texans’ first three drives. Mills ended the day 21-29 for a career-high 312 yards, three TDs, and no interceptions. His passer rating was 141.7. Chris Moore, fresh from the practice squad, caught all five of his targets for a career-high 109 yards. But linebacker Matthew Judon did sack Mills twice to stall one first-half drive. And the Patriots defense did shut down the Texans offense for most of the second half, allowing Jones to execute a comeback.

The Cowboys offense presents a much stiffer challenge for the Patriots’ defense than the Texans’. “It will be interesting with no Stephon Gilmore,” said Archuleta. (The Pats recently traded cornerback and 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.) “That kind of changes the dynamic a little bit in the secondary. But it comes down to we’ve got to knock out the run and can we hold up? Who is going to win at the catch point in one-on-one matchup against the receivers? And I think it’s really that simple.

The Dallas offense is averaging 34 points per games, second only to the Buffalo Bills. Dak Prescott, who missed much of last season and was limited in preseason, is playing at the top of his game. His 1,368 yards and 13 touchdowns to date put him among the NFL’s top-10 QBs. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper remain dangerous and productive wideouts. And running back Ezekiel Elliot, who started off the season a little slow, is coming off his second consecutive 100-yard game. He already has 452 yards and five TDs on the ground this season. Backup Tony Pollard is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

The Cowboys defense, considered a weakness coming into the season, is doing enough to keep opposing offenses off the scoreboard. They give up plenty of yards, especially in the passing game. Their 311 passing yards allowed is second worst in the league. But they also find a way to force turnovers.

According to Archuleta, “Takeaways do so much for you, not only gives your offense extra possessions, but also just takes the numbers off of your top-line total yards and everything because you essentially end to drive. The season that Trevon Diggs is having, to be able to take the football away, that is huge. So many defenses who cannot take the ball away, they let the drive extend, and they can’t get off the field. Then the offense gets more chances and then they wear down. You have an offense right now — the way Dak’s playing, and the way the running game is playing, and they’re operating — that to me is really where it all starts.”

The Cowboys offense will look to put up a lot of points. And their defense will look to force Jones and the Patriots offense into mistakes and turnovers. Can New England keep up?

“On paper, the way the Cowboys are playing, you would say not,” said Archuleta. “But I think anything can happen. It just seems that just as teams start to get hot and it seems like they can’t be stopped, somebody comes in and plays a really good game against them. We’re approaching that midpoint of the year. So I still think anything can happen. But certainly the Cowboys right now are playing at a level that, offensively, they seem to be very, very difficult to stop. But I wouldn’t put it past the Patriots. I still think that they have a chance to put together a pretty good game plan, keep it close and figure out a way to come out on top. It’s not gonna be easy, but I do think it’s possible.”

The Cowboys play the Patriots Sunday, October 17 @ 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS.


No. 10 Spartans Title Hopes Take Shape

No. 10 Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) at Indiana (2-3, 0-2), Saturday at noon EDT.

Line: Michigan State by 4½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

BLOOMINGTON, IN – SEPTEMBER 22: Peyton Ramsey #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers is tackled by a host of Michigan State Spartans defenders during the game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Series record: Michigan State leads 48-17-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

There’s more to this year’s Old Brass Spittoon game than a trophy. At the midway point, the Spartans are a surprise contender in the Big Ten East. They’re tied with No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan for the division lead. Indiana’s three losses have come against No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Cincinnati and No. 7 Penn State and an upset Saturday would help them start chasing this season’s big goals — such as retaining the Spittoon in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1968-69.

BLOOMINGTON, IN – OCTOBER 1: Dameon Willis Jr. #43 of the Indiana Hoosiers and members of the Indiana Hoosiers celebrate with fans after the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana defeated Michigan State 24-21. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

KEY MATCHUP

Spartans RB Kenneth Walker vs. Indiana’s run defense. The nation’s top rusher has given the Michigan State offense a new identity. He’s not just beating opponents, he’s gashing them for 6.8 yards per carry. Indiana has been solid against the run but must perform at a higher level after getting two weeks to prepare for Walker.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Michigan State: WR Jalen Nailor. The Big Ten co-offensive player of the week tied a school record with three touchdowns — of 63, 63 and 65 yards — in the first half of last week’s 31-13 win at Rutgers. He had 221 yards receiving, the fourth-highest single-game total in program history.

EAST LANSING, MI – NOVEMBER 28: Jalen Nailor #8 of the Michigan State Spartans receives a touchdown pass against Cameron Ruiz #18 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on November 28, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Indiana: QBs Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle. Coach Tom Allen is being coy this week. He won’t discuss the practice status of Penix (separated left shoulder joint) and won’t announce a starter until kickoff. If Penix plays, he may be limited. If Tuttle makes his first start of the season, the Hoosiers may alter the offensive game plan.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State is 6-0 for the first time since going 8-0 in 2015 when it made a playoff run. … The Spartans have reached the top 10 for the first time since Sept. 18, 2016. … Nailor had 44.2 yards per reception last week, the highest average by a Big Ten player this century. … Walker has two 200-yard rushing games this season and had a school-record, 94-yard TD run last week. … Indiana is 11-7 in Big Ten play since 2019, the league’s fourth-highest victory total over that span. … WR Ty Fryfogle had a career-best 11 receptions for 200 yards and two TDs in Indiana’s 24-0 victory at East Lansing last season. … The Old Brass Spittoon was first awarded to the winner of this contest in 1950.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lightning Take 7-6 OT Win Over Red Wings

Ondrej Palat scored with 2:17 left in overtime, lifting the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 7-6 comeback victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

Tyler Bertuzzi scored a career-high four goals, including three in the second period, to help the Red Wings take a three-goal lead three times.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 14: Tyler Bertuzzi #59 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates with fans hats after scoring his third goal of the game in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on October 14, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay came back from each time, including late in the third period when Ross Colton, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Killorn scored in a four-minute span to make it 6-all.

“Whoever had Tampa Bay Lightning money line down 6-3, he’s probably pretty happy right,” said Steven Stamkos, who scored twice in the six-goal second period. “I don’t know how to explain that one. That was a weird game.”

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who were routed 6-2 in their opener by Pittsburgh, rallied to avoid opening a season with two losses for the first time since 2009.

“There’s a little bit of a winning pedigree in that locker room and, they’ve shown that fight before,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s just sort game, especially after our performance on opening night, that it was paramount that we’ve had to come away with points in this game.”

Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 20 shots. Alex Nedeljkovic made 41 saves for the Red Wings.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 14: Alex Nedeljkovic #39 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a first period save against Mathieu Joseph #7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on October 14, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Detroit sold out its home opener and gave its fans plenty of reason to cheer — until the collapse — and perhaps to be optimistic about a team that hasn’t earned a spot in the playoffs since 2016.

“The fans were amazing and it almost felt like a playoff again,” said Bertuzzi, who was limited to just nine games last season because of a back injury. “It was just good to be out there again.”

Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin scored the game’s first goal early in the first period. Larkin’s night ended midway through the second period with a match penalty for retaliating to Mathieu Joseph’s check from behind into the boards by punching him in the face.

“Obviously, he’s mad about you know the borderline hit there, but there are different ways to go about it,” Stamkos said. “You can grab a guy and then punch him in the face. But it’s just an unsuspecting guy, it’s a sucker punch.”

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 14: Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his game tying third period goal against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on October 14, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay won 7-6 in overtime. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

After Bertuzzi’s hat trick gave Detroit a three-goal lead in the second, Stamkos scored twice in the period to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to 4-3.

Bertuzzi scored his fourth goal early in the third and Vladislav Namestnikov had a goal midway through the period to give the Red Wings a three-goal cushion that wasn’t large enough.

“If you give them space, they are going to create offensive opportunities,” Bertuzzi said. “We gave them too many chances.”

CAPTAIN CELEBRATION

The Red Wings rolled out the red carpet on the ice to welcome back former captains, including Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom and former Michigan coach Red Berenson, in a pregame ceremony to recognized Larkin for being named captain last year.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 14: Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings is introduced during the Detroit Red Wings home opener prior to playing the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on October 14, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

“It was awesome to see the captains and it was awesome to have the fans back, but you end up with a sour taste in your mouth,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

NOTES: Bertuzzi has chosen not to get vaccinated, calling it a personal choice, and doesn’t plan to change his stance. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association haven’t mandated vaccines for players, but those who do not get the shot, or shots, will not be able to cross the border from the U.S. into Canada without a two-week quarantine. … Vasilevskiy is 13-0 in the regular season against the Red Wings.

UP NEXT

Lightning: At Washington on Saturday night.

Red Wings: Host Vancouver on Saturday night.

 

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lions, Bengals Look To Bounce Back

The Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals have been on the wrong side of NFL history so far this season.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Greg Joseph #1 of the Minnesota Vikings kicks the game winning field goal against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The Lions became the first team to lose two games in the same season on game-winning kicks of 50-plus yards with no time left, and they did it in a three-week span.

The Bengals (3-2) were part of the first game marred by three potential winning field goals that were missed in the fourth quarter or overtime.

On Sunday at Ford Field, both teams get a chance to bounce back from a deflating defeat.

Detroit (0-5) may not be favored to win any of its remaining games, leaving open the possibility that the franchise has the first 0-17 season, 13 years after enduring the NFL’s first 0-16 season.

After watching the Lions on film, Bengals receiver Tee Higgins insisted he sees a really good team.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 14: Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on during the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 14, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

“This is not going to be a cakewalk,” Higgins said. “The record says 0-5. They obviously lost by game-winning field goals and things like that.”

Detroit dropped its latest game when Minnesota’s Greg Joseph made a 54-yard field goal with no time remaining. In Week 3, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker connected on a league-record, 66-yard field goal as time expired.

Even though coach Dan Campbell is in his first year leading the franchise, he knows a lot of its fans have been suffering through a lot of setbacks for several decades.

“Nothing I’m going to tell them is going to make them feel any better,” Campbell said. “All I can do is try to prove it.”

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell talks to Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough (10) on the sidelines after a play during the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Friday, August 27, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Cincinnati’s rookie kicker, Evan McPherson, is eager to prove he can do the job after missing field goals late in regulation and in overtime against the Packers.

BANGED UP BURROW

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to play after having a precautionary trip to the hospital after last week’s loss to the Packers. The second-year quarterback got hit in the throat at some point and it affected his ability to talk. Burrow, who is playing on a surgically repaired left knee, has been sacked an average of three times per game in his career.

The biggest hit Burrow took against Green Bay appeared to be when he ran on a third-and-long and was tackled by two defenders. Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor told Burrow he should not have put himself in that position.

“He wants to help the team get first downs,” Taylor said. “But at the same time that’s part of protecting our football team as we need him out there playing and not exposing himself to some unnecessary hits.”

GOING SHORT

Lions quarterback Jared Goff is averaging just 6.6 yards passing per attempt, his lowest since he was a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, to rank No. 25 in the NFL.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions throws the ball to Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Goff’s shaky accuracy, getting sacked nearly three times a game and a lackluster group of wide receivers have contributed to the problem.

“I’m trying to find the guy who’s open every play,” Goff bristled. “If that happens all the way down the field, that’s the guy. If it’s not, then it’s not.”

MORE MIXON

Bengals running back Joe Mixon had just 10 carries for 33 yards last week as continued to recover from an ankle sprain, and is expected to be busier at Detroit.

“He has good energy and seems to be moving around pretty good,” Taylor said.

Mixon missed most of last season with a foot injury.

CAREER YEAR

Lions linebacker Charles Harris is playing as Miami hoped he would have after drafting him with the No. 22 pick overall in 2017.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 03: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears fumbles the ball after bring hit by Charles Harris #53 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on October 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 24-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Harris already has a career-high four sacks, surpassing the total he had over three seasons with the Dolphins. His four-game sack streak is tied for the longest in team history.

Harris, Chicago’s Khalil Mack and Carolina’s Haason Reddick are the three NFC linebackers with a sack in four games this season.

COACHING CONNECTIONS

Campbell was just getting into coaching a little more than a decade ago, when he met Taylor, who was a graduate assistant for then-Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman.

“I quickly learned like, ‘OK, this kid’s pretty sharp,'” recalled the 45-year-old Campbell, who is seven years older than Taylor.

When Campbell was an interim coach in Miami in 2015, Taylor was his offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator was Lou Anarumo, who currently leads Cincinnati’s defense.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 6: Will Darrel Williams Get Enough Touches For The Chiefs?

(CBS Boston) — Having one of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive skill players in your fantasy lineup can certainly help your scoring output. But that hasn’t necessarily been a guarantee this season. While Patrick Mahomes has generally been consistent (turnover issues not withstanding), other players have had off-weeks. It’s been feast or famine with receiver Tyreek Hill. Travis Kelce picked up just two points against the Philadelphia Eagles. And running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire sometimes seemed to disappear from the offense.

Edwards-Helaire is now on injured reserve with a knee injury. Darrel Williams is set to take over the starting spot. Is he in for a big game against a Washington Football Team defense that can’t seem to stop anyone this season? Or will he struggle to get touches with so much other talent on the field?

CBSSports.com’s Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings Sr. have broken down the Week 5 matchups and come up with their best options for you this week. The full list of players is below. To hear their reasoning, check out the video and tune in to the Fantasy Football Today podcast. For more fantasy advice, head over to the CBSSports.com fantasy football section, where the guys have weekly posts each week breaking down the latest news and analysis.

Stream your local NFL On CBS game live on Paramount .

Jamey’s Starts

QB: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals @ Detroit Lions, Projected Points: 21.8 (23.5 PPR)

RB: Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Football Team, (Start of the Week), Projected Points: 10.2 (13.8 PPR)

RB: Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Projected Points: 9.8 (14.9 PPR)

WR: Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts, Projected Points: 8.6 (15.2 PPR)

TE: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Projected Points: 6.8 (10.9 PPR)

TE: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys, Projected Points: 6.4 (10.2 PPR)

Dave’s Starts

RB: Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Projected Points: 8.8 (10.3 PPR)

RB: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Projected Points: 8.0 (11.1 PPR)

WR: Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks, Projected Points: 9.8 (14.8 PPR)

WR: Kadarius Toney, New York Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams, Projected Points: 7.0 (13.4 PPR)

WR: Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys, Projected Points: 6.8 (12.4 PPR)

Heath’s Starts

QB: Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team vs. Kansas City Chiefs, Projected Points: 18.8 (20.6 PPR)

QB: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans, Projected Points: 21.4 (22.9 PPR)

RB: Devontae Booker, New York Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams, Projected Points: 7.0 (9.5 PPR)

RB: Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans, Projected Points: 7.4 (9.5 PPR)

TE: Dan Arnold, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins, Projected Points: 4.8 (8.3 PPR)

Jamey’s Sits

QB: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers, Projected Points: 17.4 (18.9 PPR)

RB: Damien Harris, New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys, Projected Points: 7.8 (10.5 PPR)

RB: Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Projected Points: 6.2 (8.2 PPR)

WR: A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo Bills, Projected Points: 8.0 (12.8 PPR)

WR: Tyler Locket, Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Projected Points: 8.2 (14.1 PPR)

Dave’s Sits

QB: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings, Projected Points: 20.4 (21.1 PPR)

RB: Devontae Booker, New York Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams, Projected Points: 7.0 (9.5 PPR)

WR: Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, Projected Points: 6.4 (11.5 PPR)

WR: Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals @ Detroit Lions, Projected Points: 8.6 (15.1 PPR)

WR: Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins, Projected Points: 8.0 (12.9 PPR)

Heath’s Sits

QB: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo Bills, Projected Points: 14.6 (16.2 PPR)

RB: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns, Projected Points: 6.8 (8.1 PPR)

WR: Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers, Projected Points: 9.2 (13.7 PPR)

WR: Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans, Projected Points: 8.2 (13.8 PPR)

WR: Odell Beckham, Cleveland Browns vs. Arizona Cardinals, Projected Points: 6.2 (10.3 PPR)


Ragnow Feels Guilty About Surgery

Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said center Frank Ragnow feels guilty about having season-ending toe surgery.

Campbell said Wednesday that the surgery went well, adding Ragnow does not need to feel bad about doing the right thing for his long-term future.

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow (77) gestures before a play during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ragnow was hurt earlier this month at Chicago and went on injured reserve last week. Center Evan Brown made his first career start in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota.

The Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension in May that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. Ragnow earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow (77) prepares to snap the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NFL Week 6 AFC North Preview: Steelers ‘Get To 3-3 By The Bye,’ Says CBS Pittsburgh’s Bob Pompeani

(CBS Pittsburgh) — The Baltimore Ravens lead the ultra-competitive AFC North, having won four straight. Aside from their Week 4 win over the Denver Broncos, every game has been decided in the final minutes with a margin of victory smaller than a touchdown. That includes Monday night’s overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are both coming off of close losses. The Bengals let a win over the Green Bay Packers slip through their fingers. The Browns couldn’t escape Los Angeles with a win, despite dropping 42 points on the Chargers. And then the Steelers continued to find their way, topping the Denver Broncos for their second win.

CBS Pittsburgh sports anchor Bob Pompeani looks at the four AFC North matchups in Week 6.

All times listed are Eastern.

Stream your local NFL On CBS game live on Paramount .

Cincinnati Bengals @ Detroit Lions, Sunday, October 17 @ 1:00 p.m.

The Bengals head to Detroit with a 3-2 record, though they probably should be tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North. Kicker Evan McPherson missed game-winning field goal attempts late in the fourth quarter and again in overtime. (Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed multiple attempts himself.) The bright side is that Joe Burrow once again put Cincinnati in a position to win. He threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. The defense mostly held up against Aaron Rodgers, sacking him twice and knocking him down five times.

They’ll get an easier matchup in Week 6 against the winless Lions. Detroit just lost another heartbreaker on a last-second field goal, when Greg Joseph hit a 54-yarder with time expiring. They’re due for a win. “They’ve come oh so close to winning, and a couple of games that really should have won,” said Pompeani. “Tucker’s 66-yard field goal, and then what happened last week actually got to a Dan Campbell, the head coach. He broke down in the media press conference afterwards. So both of these teams really need a win.”

The Lions are desperate, which makes them dangerous for the Bengals. Jared Goff is capable under center. And Campbell’s emotion-filled interview may have inspired Detroit to play over its head. Their bad luck will eventually run out.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, October 17 @ 1:00 p.m.

The Chargers used to find ways to lose games. Now they’re finding ways to win them. Just witness the 47-42 shootout in Cleveland last week. That came two weeks after a 30-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Justin Herbert is emerging as one of NFL’s best young quarterbacks. He torched a strong Browns defense for 398 yards and four touchdowns, giving him the most 300-yard games of any QB in their first two seasons. He has plenty of help on offense, of course, with game-changing talent at the receiver and running back spots. Mike Williams alone had eight catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chargers will face a Ravens teams that’s enjoyed its own fair share of success in close games. According to Pompeani, “this is the marquee matchup, especially after the Ravens won the way they did on Monday night. Just a brilliant performance by Lamar Jackson. Really one of the first times I’ve seen a guy almost single-handedly carry a team to a win in that second half. But Justin Herbert’s done the same, a shootout with Cleveland last week.”

Both teams come in 4-1, riding the strong play of their young quarterbacks. Jackson threw for an absurd 442 yards and four TDs on 37-43 passing. “Two of the bright young stars,” Pompeani noted. “I think this is going to be a win for the Chargers. They typically lose games like this, going west to east. But they’ve been winning a lot of games I didn’t expect them to. And I would expect them to win this game, because Baltimore has won a lot of games that I, quite frankly, thought they were going to lose.

Arizona Cardinals @ Cleveland Browns, Sunday, October 17 @ 4:05 p.m.

After a loss to the Chargers, the Browns look to bounce back against the Cardinals. However, Arizona, to date, is the NFL’s only undefeated team. They’ve put up 30-plus points in four of their first five games, and Kyler Murray is playing at the top of his game. So far he has 1,512 yards passing, 10 TDs, and a rating of 113. But he’s also been sacked 10 times and taken a few hits along the way.

“Arizona has been walking the line,” Pompeani said. “They’re undefeated. Sooner or later that’s going to end. And I think that Kyler Murray is going to be under a lot of pressure. This defense in Cleveland is for real. The ground game of the Browns is also for real. So I think they’ll control the time of possession and win at home against Arizona.

The Browns defense is allowing under 300 yards per game, one of only four NFL teams. They also have 16 sacks so far, tied for third best in the NFL. Myles Garrett accounts for seven of them. The two-headed beast that is the Browns run game includes Nick Chubb, who’s piled up 523 yards, and Kareem Hunt, who has 293 yards. Cleveland leads the NFL in rushing yards.

The Cardinals don’t match up well with these strengths. Their run defense is one of the worst in the league, allowing 139 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry.

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, October 17 @ 8:20 p.m.

The Seahawks find themselves in the unusual position of not having Russell Wilson under center. He had surgery on his finger and could miss six to eight weeks. That leaves Seattle in the hands of Geno Smith, who will lead them into Pittsburgh in Week 6.

Smith went 10-17 for 131 yards and a touchdown after Wilson’s injury. He also threw an interception. “Geno Smith, one thing I’ll say about him is that he has the same kind of game skills, which is to say he can do the things on the run,” according to Pompeani. “He can break tackles. He uses his legs to buy some time. But this is going to be tough.”

Smith will have to rely on an offense that’s been middle-of-the-road all season. The running game is averaging just 104 yards per game, while the passing game is good for 247 yards per game. The Steelers are facing their own injury issues with offensive implications. Ben Roethlisberger has been banged up much of the season. And receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

This could lead to more reliance on the ground game. Najee Harris ran for 122 yards against the Broncos, the first 100-yard game of his pro career. “I think the Steelers are going to find this run game to be something they’re going to lean on moving forward,” said Pompeani. “Najee Harris is going to get another 100 yards.”

The Steelers also come in with a bit of extra motivation. “The Steelers are playing at home,” Pompeani pointed out. “They want to get to .500. They have a bye week after this. This is going to be alumni weekend, and all the Hall of Famers are going to get their rings. There’s going to be plenty of emotion.”


Pistons Hope Cade Cunningham Is What They Have Been Searching For

The Detroit Pistons desperately hope Cade Cunningham is the superstar they have been searching for in their long climb back to being a contender.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 10: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons reacts on the court after a play against the Houston Rockets during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Rockets defeated the Pistons 111-91. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Detroit took the Oklahoma State star with the first pick and Cunningham looked into the history of No. 1 overall picks in the NBA draft, saying it was fun to do as he entered his rookie season.

The group includes many all-time greats such as LeBron James and some players who haven’t panned out, including Markelle Fultz, who has averaged about 10 points a game since being selected first in 2017.

Cunningham, though, is not motivated or discouraged about the disparate paths of players taken No. 1 overall.

“I’m writing my own story,” he said. “I’m not any of those guys.”

Coach Dwane Casey agreed.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 13: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons drives against Quentin Grimes #6 of the New York Knicks during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Pistons defeated the Knicks 93-87.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“Cade won’t be a bust,” Casey said. “That’s one thing you can guarantee, but there will be growing pains. We have to be supportive. He’s going to have a target on his back each and every night. There’s going to be nights he scores seven. There’s going to be nights he scores 25.”

The 6-foot-8 guard, who turned 20 last month, will get a chance to lead a potentially promising young team right from the jump when Detroit hosts Chicago in the season opener Oct. 20.

His surrounding cast includes 27-year-old forward Jerami Grant, who averaged a team-high 22.3 points last season, and a pair of 2021 All-Rookie selections, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.

Cunningham and Co. will have a quest to turn around a franchise that has won just 20 games each of the previous two years and hasn’t had a winning record the past five seasons.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 13: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Piston brings the ball up the court against Miles McBride #2 of the New York Knicks during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“That’s not going to cut it anywhere whether you’re rebooting, rebuilding, or in our case, restoring,” general manager Troy Weaver said. “We want to win more games than we lose.”

The Pistons have earned a spot in the playoffs just twice since 2009, when they ended an eight-year playoff run that included their third NBA championship, two Eastern Conference titles and six trips to the conference finals.

“We definitely want to come in and restore what’s been here,” Weaver said.

CONFIDENT CASEY

While Detroit’s roster is young, Casey has 12 seasons of experience as an NBA head coach and believes his team can surpass low expectations.

“Why not us?” he said. “Everybody’s counting us out.”

Detroit Pistons’ US head coach Dwane Casey follows the action, during their NBA Global Games match against the Dallas Mavericks at the Mexico City Arena, on December 12, 2019, in Mexico City. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)

TURNED OVER

The Pistons gave Weaver his first NBA general manager job in June 2020, and there is not one player on the roster who was on the team when he was hired.

FAMILY TIES

Josh Jackson averaged a career-high 13.4 points last season for his hometown team, showing some of the promise the Phoenix Suns saw in him when they drafted him No. 4 overall in 2017 out of Kansas.

The 24-year-old Jackson seems to fit in well with this team with some very young players and 30-year-old veterans Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph.

“I’m known as the middle child on the team,” Jackson said.

GET A STOP

The Pistons ranked 10th defensively with Stewart and Grant leading a scrappy, high-energy team. To take a step forward this season, Weaver said Detroit has to get even better without the ball.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 10: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons fouls Jalen Green #0 of the Houston Rockets during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“We have to hang our hat on defense,” Weaver said. “The strength of our team will be our effort, our energy and our depth.”

A LAYUP

The Pistons are not not sharing the vaccination rate of their players, but one of them said he didn’t have to think long and hard about it.

“My own personal reasons made it easy for me to take the vaccine,” Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart told about 20 journalists in room at Little Caesars Arena. “It was just so I can do things like this and being comfortable and being around my parents, who are older in age, without feeling like I was going to be a threat to them.”

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lions C Frank Ragnow Has Season-Ending Toe Injury

The winless, and banged-up Detroit Lions have taken another hit.

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow (77) gestures before a play during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lions standout center Frank Ragnow has a season-ending toe injury that requires surgery, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team had not provided an update on Ragnow’s condition.

Ragnow was hurt earlier this month at Chicago after he snapped the ball off quarterback Jared Goff, who was approaching the line to communicate with linemen, and into the hands of Bears defensive lineman Bilal Nichols.

Ragnow went on injured reserve last week and center Evan Brown made the first start of his three-year, four-team NFL career in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow (77) prepares to snap the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end, Jared Pinkney. Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch against the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell said the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – SEPTEMBER 22: Taylor Decker #68 and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions communicate during their game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Lions won 27-24. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

Detroit drafted him No. 20 overall out of Arkansas in 2018. Ragnow has started all 49 games he’s appeared in over three seasons. He played with a fractured throat in a loss to Green Bay last December. He was inactive for the next two games and returned for the final game of the 2020 season.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NASCAR Needs To Step In

Kevin Harvick was going to get his revenge on Chase Elliott, believing somewhere, and somehow, he’d even the score after Elliott cost him a win last month.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, sits in the grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

When Harvick delivered his payback, it nearly knocked the reigning NASCAR champion out of the playoffs. But karma then flipped on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Harvick wrecked himself right out of the playoffs for the earliest elimination of his career when he crashed into the wall as Elliott closed on his bumper.

With the stakes so high and the Cup title on the line over the final four weeks of the season, is it time for NASCAR to intervene?

Rick Hendrick thought so after a heartburn-inducing Sunday at the racetrack located five minutes from race team headquarters.

“I think (NASCAR is) the only ones that can really stop it,” Hendrick said. “I hope they do because the crew chiefs and everybody can do the best they can, but it’s up to the drivers themselves. I’ve been in this situation before. NASCAR can handle it.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally x Charlotte FC Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The boss watched for 109 laps as the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers dipped up and down below the playoff elimination cutline. Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman had early electrical issues that could have ruined their races, and when Elliott was nearly sabotaged by a vengeful Harvick, Hendrick had seen enough.

“It looked like Chase could be done and out of the playoffs. It was a lot of heated feelings,” Hendrick said. “Harvick wrecked himself, I guess. I hope it’s over. We don’t want to race that way. We want to just race. That’s not our style.

“If a guy is better than you, he wins. Just do your job. If you get beat, you get beat. It never feels good to push somebody out of the way. A little rubbing or something, that’s OK. But just to wreck somebody? That’s not good.”

In the end, Larson recovered after both the battery and alternator belt were changed in his Chevrolet to win for the seventh time this season and lead Elliott into the third round of the playoffs. Bowman and William Byron were eliminated on a day of mixed results for the Hendrick organization.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It took a white-knuckled finish by Elliott, who deep down knew he had one coming from Harvick as revenge for holding Harvick up and costing him the win at Bristol in the first round of the playoffs. The two argued after the race and Harvick vowed to make it difficult on Elliott the rest of the year.

But he waited until The Roval, a 17-turn hybrid road course/oval in which contact is common and drivers run into one another enough that Harvick could maybe make it look clean. Only no one thought he’d made a mistake around the halfway mark when he turned Elliott into the wall.

Harvick knew exactly what he was doing when he tried to end Elliott’s bid for back-to-back titles.

“You remember Bristol,” Harvick said when asked about his intent.

When Harvick was directly asked if it was deliberate, the driver who has never backed down from a fight said only “sometimes real life teaches you good lessons.” Harvick walked away when asked if the feud with NASCAR’s most popular driver was now over.

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 10: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1 (4) before the Bank of America ROVAL 400 NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on October 10, 2021,at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The recovery required a measured response from the No. 9 team, which sent Elliott back onto the track with the bumper flapping off the back of his Chevy and instructions to wreck Harvick if he had the chance. Elliott navigated his way back through the field and right onto Harvick’s bumper — perfect position to ruin another day for Harvick.

The two hurtled into the first turn with 10 laps remaining but Harvick inexplicably botched the entry — almost as if he was defensively driving in his rearview mirror — and crashed hard into the wall. His Ford was destroyed and Harvick’s title run brought to a sudden halt.

Harvick had never before been knocked out of the playoffs in the second round since the elimination format began in 2014. He’d made it to the third round in seven consecutive seasons and has raced in the winner-take-all finale five times.

But on the day he made his 750th career start, Harvick finished 33rd and was eliminated along with Christopher Bell, Byron and Bowman.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and crew chief Alan Gustafson ytalk on the grid after the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Elliott didn’t gloat, but his pleasure was obvious.

“As far as Kevin goes, I just want to wish them a merry offseason and a happy Christmas,” Elliott said.

It’s over, at least as far as Elliott is concerned.

“For us, we’re just eyes forward and happy to be moving on,” Elliott said. “That’s the big picture. We’ll keep fighting.”

NASCAR races next at Texas Motor Speedway, the same track where Harvick in 2014 shoved Keselowski into a scrum of Jeff Gordon’s crew to trigger a melee. As the two teams brawled on pit road, Harvick stood back and watched and then won his only Cup title two weeks later.

Larson was in awe Sunday at the recovery made by the No. 9 team and said he watched the incident between Harvick and his teammate on the big screen in the Charlotte infield.

“I saw Kevin get into Chase, get his payback I’m guessing. But, man, Chase’s team did such a good job fighting through that,” Larson said. “I think any other race in the season, you’ll probably give up and just patch it together the best you can, and the driver also is probably going to limp it around and accept that they aren’t going to make the next round.”

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, sits in the grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

But Larson has no idea what Harvick may have in store now that Harvick has nothing to lose, while Elliott still needs to get through Texas, Kansas, and Martinsville to race for the title. Unlike his boss, Larson wasn’t sure what the next step is or if NASCAR needed to intervene.

“I haven’t been in that situation yet to have a true opinion,” Larson said. “You never know if Kevin’s going to feel like he still owes him more. That’s between the two. NASCAR, if they feel like they need to step in, I don’t truly have an opinion of it.”

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Campbell Has Few Answers For 0-5 Lions

Dan Campbell wasn’t nearly as emotional Monday afternoon as he had been after his Detroit Lions lost 19-17 to the Minnesota Vikings on another last-second field goal.

He still wasn’t happy.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – JULY 28: Detroit Lions head football coach Dan Campbell speaks with the media before the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 28, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

The Lions coach choked up repeatedly during his postgame news conference Sunday, moments after the Lions had become the first team in NFL history to lose two games on last-play field goals of 50 yards or more in the same season. Justin Tucker hit a league-record 66-yarder for the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 26 — a game that also finished 19-17 — before Greg Joseph’s 54-yarder on Sunday.

“That showed that he cares — this means something to him,” Lions running back D’Andre Swift said Monday. “He’s a real high-energy coach that is passionate about wanting to win. He expressed that in that interview and now we’ve got to win some games.”

As they did against the Ravens, the Lions took a late lead — Swift’s touchdown and a 2-point conversion made it 17-16 with 37 seconds to play — but Kirk Cousins completed three passes for 46 yards to set up the winning kick.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Detroit Lions players react after losing to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“I thought that was our best defensive game of the season, but the last drive certainly hurt us,” Campbell said. “When your defense is playing that well, you have to seal the deal. We’ll learn from that.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Detroit’s pass defense was competitive for the first time this season. After allowing 10.6 yards per attempt in the first four games of the season, the Lions held Cousins to 8.1, including 7.4 before the final three completions.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

After five games, the Lions still haven’t found any kind of vertical passing game. Jared Goff threw for 203 yards — a season-low 5.9 yards per attempt — but Detroit’s receivers picked up 146 of those yards after the catch. Goff completed 21 passes for 57 downfield yards, an average of 2.7 yards per completion.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA — OCTOBER 10: Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) makes a pass for the two-point conversion against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021. The Vikings beat the Lions, 19-17. (John Autey / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images)

“We’ve got to do a better job of pushing the ball down the field,” Campbell said. “If you look at explosive plays, they had seven and we had five; four passes and one run. Three of those came because of running after the catch, and that’s a hard way to live.

“We can’t ask our guys to catch the ball on an 8-yard route every time and bust it.”

STOCK UP

A big part of Detroit’s improved pass defense was due to coverage from the linebackers, especially Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Maybin didn’t get lost in coverage, had five tackles, and ripped the ball away from Alexander Mattison on the first play after the two-minute warning. Swift scored three plays later and the 2-point conversion gave the Lions the lead.

“I’ve been watching a lot of guys around the league who are always getting to the ball and making big plays,” Reeves-Maybin said. “That’s a thing I try to do — try to create a turning point.”

Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) walks on the field after a play during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco 49ers in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 12, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

STOCK DOWN

The Lions are 0-5 and Goff has turned over the ball seven times while producing seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams are 4-1 with Matthew Stafford throwing 12 touchdown passes against three interceptions. While the comparison isn’t fair in a lot of ways, it is hard to avoid after they were traded for each other.

INJURIES

WR Quintez Cephus, who leads the team at 13.6 yards per touch and is the only wide receiver averaging 40 yards per game, is expected to miss a significant amount of time after breaking his collarbone.

“This is going to be weeks and weeks if we even get him back this season,” Campbell said.

OT Taylor Decker is eligible to return from injured reserve, and Campbell said he will probably rejoin the starting offense at his usual position of left tackle, with rookie Penei Sewell moving back to the right side

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 15: Taylor Decker #68 of the Detroit Lions watches the action on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on December 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay defeated Detroit 38-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

KEY NUMBER

19-17 — Not only have the Lions lost two games by that score in the last three weeks — both on long field goals at the end of regulation — it was also the score on Nov. 8, 1970, when Tom Dempsey kicked a then-NFL record 63-yard field goal to beat the Lions in New Orleans.

NEXT STEPS

The Lions will have to improve on both sides of the ball to beat Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon and the seventh-rated defense in the league. Getting Decker back would help, but they just don’t have enough playmakers.

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Elliott And Harvick Feud As Larson Wins

Rick Hendrick first began to worry when Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman had electrical issues at nearly the same time.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, sits in the grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By the time reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott was deliberately crashed by Kevin Harvick and nearly knocked out of the playoffs, Hendrick had seen enough destruction on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I was upset. I was ready to go home. It was time to get the helicopter and get out of here,” Hendrick said. “We wrecked everything we had down there.”

Good thing the boss stuck around: Larson rallied from his early electrical issues Sunday to win for the seventh time this season and storm into the third round of NASCAR’s playoffs. It ended a topsy-turvy day for Hendrick Motorsports in which Larson and Elliott advanced, Bowman and William Byron were eliminated, and Elliott was nearly sabotaged by a vengeful Harvick.

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 10: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Mobil 1 (4) before the Bank of America ROVAL 400 NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on October 10, 2021,at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Harvick laid in wait to deliver payback on Elliott for Elliott costing him a win at Bristol three weeks ago and the retaliation came at about the halfway mark. Harvick sent Elliott into the wall and on the verge of playoff elimination.

Just as the crews for Larson and Bowman had done earlier to salvage their races, Elliott’s No. 9 team went to work and got the driver back into contention. And even with his bumper flapping in the wind off the back of his Chevrolet, Elliott drove through the field and into position to ruin another day for Harvick.

The team said on their radio Elliott should wreck Harvick if given the chance and maybe that caused Harvick to worry. As Elliott closed on Harvick as they hurtled into the first turn with 10 laps remaining, Harvick botched the entry almost as if he was defensively driving in his rearview mirror

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Harvick drove directly into the wall, crumpled the front of his Ford and the crowd erupted as Elliott cruised through the crash scene. Just like that, Harvick’s title run came to its earliest end since the elimination format began in 2014.

Harvick had advanced to the third round the past seven years and all the way to the title race five times. He didn’t admit to wrecking Elliott as payback for Bristol, but he didn’t deny it, either.

“You remember Bristol,” Harvick said the first time he was asked about his intentions. The second time he was asked he responded “sometimes real life teaches you good lessons.”

On the day he made his 750th career start, he finished 33rd and was eliminated along with Christopher Bell, Byron, and Bowman.

When asked if the two are now even, Harvick simply walked away.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and crew chief Alan Gustafson ytalk on the grid after the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Elliott subtly masked his pleasure.

“As far as Kevin goes, I just want to wish them a merry offseason and a happy Christmas,” Elliott said.

Is it over as far as Elliott is concerned?

“For us, we’re just eyes forward and happy to be moving on,” Elliott said. “That’s the big picture. We’ll keep fighting.”

Larson, meanwhile, had plunged to 36th when he began to lose power. The lengthy stops to change the battery and the alternator belt saved his race and staved off his own startling flirtation with an early playoff exit.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

“I noticed my battery was going low, I was getting stressed out, ‘Like man, I’m not going to get knocked out of the playoffs like this!’ It wasn’t looking too good,” Larson said. “You think you’re good then all of a sudden you’re running like 40th. I knew I was going to have some sketchy moments. I just had to pick my way through traffic and stay calm.”

Larson became the first driver in NASCAR history to win three road course races in a season. He passed Denny Hamlin for the lead with eight laps remaining to become the first driver since Kasey Kahne in 2006 to win both the Coca-Cola 600 in May and Charlotte’s fall race in the same season.

It was the 36th overall win at Charlotte in any configuration and all series for Hendrick Motorsports, which is headquartered five minutes away from the track.

The Larson victory ended Elliott’s streak of two consecutive wins on the hybrid road course/oval that Charlotte officials designed in 2018 to add an interesting new circuit to the playoffs. The venue didn’t disappoint on Sunday as drivers jockeyed over 109 laps trying to avoid playoff elimination.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 10: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally x Charlotte FC Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Just a wild race for so many different people,” Larson said. “So many drivers had to overcome something. I don’t think there was anybody that probably had a smooth race at all.”

GMS RACING

Ty Dillon will return to full-time competition next season as the driver for GMS Racing in its inaugural Cup season.

Dillon has run four Cup races this year with Gaunt Brothers Racing and 11 Xfinity Series races with three different teams. He lost his ride at the end of 2020 and has been trying to claw his way back into a seat, and GMS Racing said Dillon was the only driver the team seriously looked at for the job.

Dillon will drive the No. 94 Chevrolet for the team in an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and ECR Engines. The car number dates to the 1990s when current GMS Racing president Mike Beam partnered with Bill Elliott to form Bill Elliott Racing to field the No. 94.

The original Bill Elliott Racing shop is still a current part of the GMS Racing facility.

RICK WARE RACING

Rick Ware Racing will be a full Ford team in 2022 with an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines.

RWR has fielded four cars per race this year and owns three charters and leases a fourth. The team owner is under pressure to unload some of the charters to focus on fielding competitive cars.

Ware said Sunday he will have two cars next year, perhaps a third.

“I’m not prepared to run four cars at this time,” Ware said.

JAMES BOND

Daniel Craig capped his final opening weekend as James Bond with a stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he waved the green flag on NASCAR’s playoff race.

Craig is a car enthusiast — he said he’s currently driving an “Audi RS6 which is quite pokey” — and has previously tested for Aston Martin on a closed course. Sunday was his first NASCAR race.

UP NEXT

The opening race of the third round of the playoffs is Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch is the defending race winner.

 

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lions’ Campbell Can’t Hide Emotions

Dan Campbell has tried to soak the Detroit Lions in his signature blend of confidence and enthusiasm, a 6-foot-5 energy drink of a head coach who is determined to hoist one of the NFL’s most historically unsuccessful franchises onto his broad shoulders.

ALLEN PARK, MICHIGAN – JULY 28: Detroit Lions head football coach Dan Campbell speaks with the media before the Detroit Lions Training Camp on July 28, 2021 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

For all the tough talk, like his introductory promise the Lions would “bite a kneecap off” while figuratively climbing to their feet after being knocked down, there’s no doubt Campbell deeply cares about his new team.

After a second crushing defeat for the Lions in a span of three weeks, the emotion came spilling out as Campbell conducted his postgame news conference following the 19-17 loss at Minnesota.

Greg Joseph kicked a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give the Vikings the victory and keep the Lions winless, despite a brazen call by Campbell for a 2-point conversion with 37 seconds left that delivered a short-lived, one-point lead.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Detroit Lions players react after losing to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“When you see your players give all that they have and you lose that way, it’s tough. You don’t want that for them, but we’ll be better for it,” Campbell said with red, wet eyes and a faltering voice as he tried to hold back more tears. “Ultimately, we didn’t do enough to win, but I was proud of them, and I loved the fight they had in them, and I loved the grit.”

The Lions (0-5) trailed for nearly two-thirds of the game and were down 16-9 with no timeouts, when the Vikings handed the ball off to Alexander Mattison on third-and-7 from their 21 right after the 2-minute warning. As he chugged his legs for extra yardage, Mattison had the ball ripped away from him by Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Three plays later, D’Andre Swift had Detroit in the end zone to trigger the 2-point try that Campbell had decided on ahead of time.

“I wanted to finish it off. I felt the best way to win that game was to go for the 2-point and be done with it,” Campbell said. “I trusted our guys.”

The Lions lost to Baltimore by an identical score, when the Ravens scrambled into position for an NFL-record 66-yard field goal by Justin Tucker on the final play. In that game, the Lions let Lamar Jackson complete a 36-yard pass on fourth-and-19 in the closing seconds. There was a missed delay-of-game penalty before the winning kick that likely would have pushed Tucker out of range.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws the ball during the second half against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

This time, the Vikings took over with 33 seconds and two timeouts left from their own 18. Kirk Cousins completed three passes, two to Adam Thielen for a total of 40 yards, and pulled out the victory on Joseph’s fourth field goal of the game.

“We haven’t quite got over the hump, but I do think, in the long run, this is going to pay dividends for us,” Campbell said. “As ugly as it is right now and hard to swallow, I do think we’re building something special here that’s going to serve us well in the long term.”

The Lions have lost nine straight games, including the last four contests of last season. Campbell was hired to replace Matt Patricia, the eighth head coach in Detroit since Wayne Fontes, who was the last to win a playoff game, in 1991.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – OCTOBER 10: Head coach Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions looks on during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Having led the league in fourth-down attempts through the first four games, and now going for the high-risk, high-reward 2-point try, Campbell has not held back in trying to give the Lions a dose of good vibes in the early stage of this rebuilding project.

“It hurts pretty bad. Understand, coach was a player at one point, so that passion is still there,” linebacker Trey Flowers said. “He puts a lot into it, just like everybody in this locker room. Put a lot into it and come up short, he’s going to be emotional.”

 

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Blaney Helps In Search For New Crew Chief

Ryan Blaney wanted a leadership role at Team Penske, a request granted when Roger Penske invited the driver to participate in interviews for Blaney’s new crew chief.

Hampton, GA – JULY 11: Todd Gordon, crew chief for Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Advance Auto Parts (12) before the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart on July 11, 2021, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Discussions were underway on who would replace Todd Gordon as leader of the No. 12 Ford when he retires at the end of the season when Penske and executive vice president Walt Czarnecki widened the group to include Blaney.

It was a first for the third-generation racer, who researched candidates and wrote questions in a notebook he brought with him to the interview session.

“I was kind of interviewing people for the job, I’ve never really been in that spot,” Blaney said. “What I really liked was they sat me down and said, ‘Hey, we want you to be just as much a part of this deal,’ and that made me feel good that I had the input.”

Team Penske and Blaney ultimately chose Jonathan Hassler, a longtime team engineer who in June was named crew chief for Matt DiBenedetto at Penske sister team Wood Brothers Racing. Hassler has led the No. 21 to one top-five finish and five top-10s since taking over that team.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 28: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

He also filled in for Joey Logano crew chief Paul Wolfe for one race this season, a fifth-place finish at Dover.

“It definitely means a lot when the team sits you down and says, ‘You are looking for somebody next year and you are going to be just as big a part as we are in making the decision and we’re going to get our guys and then we’re going to talk about it and make a choice,'” Blaney said. “And at the end of the day it was my choice to have Jonathan and they were OK with that.”

The interview took place in the same room where Blaney interviewed to drive for Penske nine years earlier and symbolized how far he’s come with the organization. Brad Keselowski is leaving Penske at the end of the season and the 27-year-old Blaney hopes to assume some of Keselowski’s duties as a team veteran and leader.

Blaney himself had never interviewed anyone before — he joked that all his employees are family members and “I already know them pretty well” — and had to figure out what it was he was looking for in a crew chief.

LEBANON, TENNESSEE – JUNE 20: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Duracell Ford, prepares for qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20, 2021 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

For help, he turned to current crew chief Gordon, who will retire after his 10th season leading a Cup Series team. He led Logano to the 2018 championship, was moved to Blaney’s car in 2020, and has totaled 25 Cup victories between the two drivers.

Blaney has a career-best three wins this season and is ranked sixth in the standings headed into Sunday’s playoff elimination race on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney won the inaugural 2018 race on the hybrid road course/oval and has not finished lower than eighth in three races.

“I talked to Todd and said ‘What do you think are good things to ask?’ because Todd knows, he’s interviewed people to be on his team,” Blaney said. “There were multiple guys I talked to and yeah, I asked him, really not only about how he goes about his weekend and cars and set up stuff, but also what kind of person he is — you have to get along with your crew chief.

LEBANON, TENNESSEE – JUNE 19: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Duracell Ford, exits the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 19, 2021 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

“There’s a fine line between being friends with your crew chief and working together knowing you have a job to do.”

All the while Blaney was watching the progression of the No. 21 car since Hassler had taken over. Aside from the uptick in performance, Blaney said he felt he could develop a relationship with Hassler.

“His demeanor and personality is very laid back and calm like Todd, which I think you have to have when the driver likes to get worked up sometimes,” Blaney said. “Sometimes you have to have someone on the box who can calm me down right away and focus on the task at hand. I think he can do that just like Todd.”

Next year will be Blaney’s seventh full season in the Cup Series and he and Logano will be expected to be the steady drivers when 23-year-old Austin Cindric replaces Keselowski and Harrison Burton, who turns 21 on Saturday, moves into the Wood Brothers seat.

Until then, he’s focused on moving on to the third round of NASCAR’s playoffs and a strong final five races with Gordon.

“I’m excited to work with Jonathan, but I’m also excited to finish out the year with Todd and see where we end up,” Blaney said.

 

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Dolphins-Buccaneers Preview: ‘Tall Order For Dolphins To Get Things Turned Around’ Against Buccaneers, Says NFL On CBS’s Trent Green

(CBS Miami) — Tom Brady was able to sneak out of New England with a victory. He brought his Tampa Bay Buccaneers back late on the Patriots, driving 45 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. That elevated the defending Super Bowl champions to 3-1 ahead of their Week 5 matchup with the Miami Dolphins. They’ll host a Dolphins team that’s coming off its third straight loss. Miami, now 1-3, fell to the winless Indianapolis Colts in Week 4, failing to keep up with Carson Wentz, who was playing on two sprained ankles.

Tom Brady continues to impress at the age of 44. While his former team limited him to only 22-43 passing for 269 yards and no touchdowns, he moved the ball when it mattered. Topping the Patriots gave him at least one win over every team in the league. He also set the record for regular-season passing yards in a career, surpassing Drew Brees. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards this season with 1,356 and has tossed 10 TD passes against only two interceptions.

While the GOAT deserves a lot of the credit for the Bucs’ perch atop the NFC South (in a tie with the Carolina Panthers), he is leading one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown present a formidable receiving trio. Leonard Fournette is dangerous out of the backfield. However, Rob Gronkowski, the team’s touchdown leader and a favorite target of Brady from their days in New England, missed Week 4 with cracked and broken ribs. He’s expected to miss multiple games.

Up until last week, the ground game was a bit of an afterthought in Tampa. But with the rainy weather in Foxborough, the Bucs relied heavily of Leonard Fournette. And he came through with 92 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. “Knowing how you can best attack a team, those are adjustments you have to make,” said NFL On CBS analyst Trent Green.

Brady and company should be able to move the ball on a Dolphins defense that’s allowing 388.3 yards and 27.3 points per game. Both stats put them in the NFL’s bottom 10. Miami has given up at least 20 consecutive points three weeks in a row. They were able to contain the Colts for the first quarter plus, but gave up more big plays as the game wore on. The Dolphins defense allowed 103 yards on 16 carries to Jonathan Taylor and struggled to stop outside rushing plays. Their pass rush was only able to sack the immobile Carson Wentz twice. Lavonte David and Devin White lead the team in tackles, with 32 and 28 respectively.

This isn’t the Dolphins team many were expecting at the season’s outset. “I’m actually surprised after having that first game,” Green said. “It’s a tall order to think they’re going to get turned around this week against the Bucs. It’s the NFL, so strange things can happen. Brian Flores has a background with practicing against Tom Brady all that time he was in New England. But Tom is running quite a different offense than what he was running in New England. So that’s going to be a tall order for the Dolphins to get things turned around.”

While the Dolphins’ defense is underperforming, their offense remains the real problem. Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined with a rib injury. He could return for the team’s Week 6 game with Jacksonville Jaguars, but that won’t help them this week. For now, they’ll continue to sputter along behind Jacoby Brissett. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. But they had only 62 net passing yards after three quarters. The team’s two passing touchdowns on Sunday give it a grand total of three on the season. Brissett faced a lot of pressure, getting sacked twice.

“They had a specific set of plays and the way they wanted to run their offense with Tua, I remember from talking to the coaches back in week 1,” said Green. “You look at Tua, and you look at Jacoby Brissett, and they’re quite a bit different, different quarterbacks. So I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.”

Brissett isn’t getting much help though. The offensive line has allowed 13 sacks on the season, fourth worst in the NFL. Myles Gaskin, the team’s leading rusher, has just 142 yards on the season.

The line may struggle to block a solid Bucs run defense that’s allowing a league-low 47.5 yards per game. That number partially stems from the Brady-led offense forcing opposing offenses lighting up the scoreboard and forcing opposing offenses to rely on the pass. But that doesn’t account for all of it. The Bucs actually held the Patriots to negative rushing yards on Sunday, a first for the Tampa defense and only the fourth time this has happened since the AFL-NFL merger. They also sacked Mac Jones four times and hit him 12 more.

The Dolphins will have to keep Brissett upright to have any chance at sticking with the Buccaneers. And even then, it may depend on how much Miami is willing to stretch the field. The Buccaneers are favored by 10 points, but there’s a good chance it won’t even be that close.


Winless Lions Take On Vikings

DETROIT (0-4) at MINNESOTA (1-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

OPENING LINE: Vikings by 8 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Lions 2-2; Vikings 2-2.

SERIES RECORD: Vikings lead 78-39-2.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe (12) scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, January 3, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

LAST MEETING: Vikings beat Lions 37-35 on Jan. 1 in Detroit.

LAST WEEK: Lions lost to Bears 24-14; Vikings lost to Browns 14-7.

LIONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (18), RUSH (20), PASS (15), SCORING (24).

LIONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (21), RUSH (24), PASS (16), SCORING (29).

VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (15), RUSH (13T), PASS (10), SCORING (18).

VIKINGS DEFENSE: OVERALL (25), RUSH (25), PASS (18), SCORING (11).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Lions minus-1; Vikings 0.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kalif Raymond (11) carries the ball during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Baltimore Ravens in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

LIONS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Kalif Raymond is taking advantage of an opportunity he didn’t have with four other NFL teams after first earning a roster spot in Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Raymond has 14 of his 33 career catches and two of his three career touchdowns in four games with the Lions. Last year with Tennessee, Raymond had a career-high 118 yards on three receptions in a Week 3 game at Minnesota.

VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Dalvin Cook, who played on a sprained ankle last week that kept him out of the previous game, had a career-high 206 yards rushing against Detroit last year. Cook had 34 yards on nine carries last week against Cleveland.

KEY MATCHUP: D’Andre Swift had 167 yards from scrimmage with a rushing TD as a rookie for the Lions last year against Minnesota. He’s second among NFL RBs with 23 receptions, the type of versatile runner/receiver who has given the Vikings’ defense trouble over time. Backup Jamaal Williams is also averaging a career-high 4.5 yards per carry. The Vikings have allowed 100-plus rushing yards in 11 straight games.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 26: D’Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions runs the ball for the first down in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field on September 26, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

KEY INJURIES: LB Romeo Okwara (Achilles) and C Frank Ragnow (toe) went on injured reserve this week, joining CBs Jeff Okudah and Ifeatu Melifonwu, LT Taylor Decker, and WR Tyrell Williams. … Lions LT Penei Sewell, their first-round draft pick, has an ankle injury and is uncertain to play. LB Trey Flowers could return after a two-game absence due to shoulder trouble. … Vikings LB Anthony Barr, dealing with a knee injury, is on track for his season debut. The status of DT Michael Pierce (elbow) is uncertain. He didn’t practice Wednesday.

SERIES NOTES: The Vikings have won seven straight games over the Lions after going 2-5 against the franchise’s most-defeated opponent to start coach Mike Zimmer’s tenure. … The Lions have lost 21 of their last 27 games at Minnesota. … First-year Lions coach Dan Campbell played for Dallas from 2003-05 while Zimmer was the defensive coordinator there.

Minnesota Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah (31) scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, January 3, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

STATS AND STUFF: The Lions have dropped eight straight games since winning in Week 13 last year. … The Lions were in the red zone on offense four times last week and did not score on any of those drives inside the 20. … Campbell has gone on fourth down an NFL-high 10 times and was 0 of 2 last week at Chicago. … Lions newcomer Jared Goff is averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt, ranking 22nd in the league among QBs with a qualifying amount of attempts. … LB Charles Harris has a sack in three straight games and forced a fumble last week for the Lions. … Detroit CB Amani Oruwariye has an interception in each of the last two games after totaling three over his first two seasons. … The Vikings’ offense has not scored a TD in the second half in three straight games. … Kirk Cousins, who became the first QB in Vikings history to go five straight games without an interception, was picked off last week to end his team-record streak at 224 consecutive attempts. … Vikings DE Danielle Hunter has 11 sacks in nine career games against Detroit. With one more sack, the 26-year-old Hunter will move into ninth place on the team’s all-time list. … The Vikings’ defense has allowed 23 second-half points this season, the second-fewest in the league. … Only Randy Moss (2,726) had more receiving yards for the Vikings before turning 23 than WR Justin Jefferson (1,738), who has 13 more games to play at age 22.

FANTASY TIP: Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson leads all TEs in the NFC players with 22 receptions and has been targeted a team-leading 30 times. He caught a TD pass at Minnesota last season.

 

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 5: Will Leonard Fournette Feast On A Weak Dolphins Run Defense?

(CBS Boston) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ high-powered offense runs largely on the arm of Tom Brady and the prowess of his receivers. The run game has been mostly an afterthought. But when Brady returned to New England, Tampa Bay focused more on the run. The rainy weather may have had something to do with it. But the Bucs’ Leonard Fournette had his best game of the season, picking up 92 yards for a solid 4.6 yards per carry.

He could be in line for another big game in Week 5 against a Miami Dolphins run defense that gives up 136.8 yards on the ground per game.

CBSSports.com’s Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings Sr. have broken down the Week 5 matchups and come up with their best options for you this week. The full list of players is below. To hear their reasoning, check out the video and tune in to the Fantasy Football Today podcast. For more fantasy advice, head over to the CBSSports.com fantasy football section, where the guys have weekly posts each week breaking down the latest news and analysis.

Stream your local NFL On CBS game live on Paramount .

Jamey’s Starts

QB: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions, Projected Points: 26.2 (27.5 PPR)

RB: Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins (Start of the Week), Projected Points: 8.4 (13.8 PPR)

RB: Damien Harris, New England Patriots @ Houston Texans, Projected Points: 8.4 (10.4 PPR)

RB: Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Chicago Bears, Projected Points: 9.2 (12.0 PPR)

WR: Corey Davis, New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons, Projected Points: 9.8 (15.8 PPR)

WR: Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts, Projected Points: 11.0 (16.2 PPR)

Dave’s Starts

RB: Damien Williams, Chicago Bears @ Las Vegas Raiders, Projected Points: 9.4 (12.8 PPR)

RB: Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs, Projected Points: 8.2 (9.3 PPR)

WR: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers, Projected Points: 6.6 (11.4 PPR)

WR: Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans, Projected Points: 7.6 (13.6 PPR)

TE: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Projected Points: 5.8 (10.3 PPR)

Heath’s Starts

QB: Daniel Jones, New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Projected Points: 21.4 (22.3 PPR)

RB: Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets, Projected Points: 9.6 (13.0 PPR)

RB: Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers, Projected Points: 8.2 (11.4 PPR)

WR: Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots, Projected Points: 8.0 (14.3 PPR)

TE: Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions, Projected Points: 5.8 (9.7 PPR)

Jamey’s Sits

RB: Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Projected Points: 6.6 (10.5 PPR)

RB: Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Green Bay Packers, Projected Points: 6.2 (8.0 PPR)

WR: Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos, Projected Points: 5.8 (10.7 PPR)

WR: Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens, Projected Points: 6.0 (11.8 PPR)

TE: Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns, Projected Points: 5.8 (8.8 PPR)

Dave’s Sits

RB: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers, Projected Points: 8.6 (12.0 PPR)

RB: Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Projected Points: 8.2 (9.6 PPR)

WR: Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears @ Las Vegas Raiders, Projected Points: 8.2 (13.3 PPR)

WR: Odell Beckham, Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers, Projected Points: 6.2 (11.4 PPR)

WR: Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Projected Points: 9.2 (14.2 PPR)

Heath’s Sits

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills, Projected Points: 8.4 (11.6 PPR)

RB: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Projected Points: 6.4 (9.3 PPR)

RB: Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts, Projected Points: 6.2 (7.6 PPR)

WR: A.J. Green, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers, Projected Points: 6.4 (10.8 PPR)

TE: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers, Projected Points: 6.4 (10.7 PPR)


NFL Week 5 NFC East Preview: Cowboys ‘Should Be Able To Win This Game’ Against Giants, Says CBS DFW’s Bill Jones

(CBS DFW) — The Dallas Cowboys come into Week 5 with a handle on the NFC East. They’ve won three in a row, most recently putting up 36 points on the undefeated Carolina Panthers, who boasted one of the NFL’s top defenses. They’re followed by the Washington Football Team, who are off to a disappointing start. What was supposed to be one of the NFL’s top defenses is giving up yards and points in bunches. If not for a fair bit of luck, WFT could easily be winless.

That would still put them only a game behind the 1-3 New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants seem to be emerging from the growing pains they’ve suffered with Daniel Jones in recent years. The Eagles, however, are still adapting to life in the Jalen Hurts era. While their young dual-threat quarterback provides plenty of excitement, they’ve still lost three straight.

CBS DFW sports anchor Bill Jones looks at the three NFC East matchups in Week 5.

All times listed are Eastern.

Stream your local NFL On CBS game live on Paramount .

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers, Sunday, October 10 @ 1:00 p.m.

The Eagles defense has given up over 40 points in recent weeks. The Cowboys put up 41 two weeks ago, and the Chiefs scored 42 last week. Dak Prescott threw for three touchdowns, and Patrick Mahomes had five of his own in those Eagles losses. While big losses to two of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses isn’t necessarily the best measure of a defense, it does suggest they are prone to allowing points.

The Carolina Panthers could welcome back Christian McCaffrey from a strained hamstring. That would be a boost to the unit. According to Jones, “Carolina is doing just enough offensively, even without Christian McCaffrey at running back. Sam Darnold has found a new home in Carolina. He’s taking care of the football when he’s not going up against Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys, of course.”

Darnold has been productive, when his offensive line gives him time. He went 26-39 for 301 yards and two TDs against the Cowboys and 23-34 for 304 yards against the Texans. But their defense has been stifling, at least up until their first loss.

“The Panthers came into last week’s game against the Cowboys with the number-one-ranked defense in the league, number one against the run, number one against the pass,” Jones notes. “But we saw what the Cowboys did against them, put up 36 points on Carolina in the first three quarters of that game.”

Philadelphia has been adapting to life under second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have lost three straight after their Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Hurts’ numbers have been solid, both as a runner and a passer — 56.5 and 291.8 yards respectively — but his production hasn’t led to wins.

According to Jones, “Philadelphia doesn’t have the same kind of offense that the Cowboys have, and the focus is on Jalen Hurts, as he tries to evolve into an NFL-caliber quarterback. He’s passed for a lot of yards, but a lot of that has been late in games. Like a couple of weeks ago against the Cowboys they got over 300 yards because they were so far behind.”

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Football Team, Sunday, October 10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Washington is coming off a late win over the Falcons, while the Saints lost a tough one to the Giants in overtime. Both teams sit at 2-2, in a season that’s already had its share of ups and downs. Washington lost starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1, and has been led by the exciting though inexperienced Taylor Heinicke. The Saints had to deal with being uprooted from New Orleans.

“The Saints, it’s amazing, they started the year with a 38-3 win in Jacksonville against the Green Bay Packers,” Jones noted. “It was very disappointing for them, last week, losing their first game at home in New Orleans after having to transplant. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they were working out at TCU for nearly a full month. So it was very disappointing for them to lose that game.”

The Saints have also had their issues on offense of late. Jameis Winston has only topped 200 yards passing in one game this season. That’s a far cry from the standard Drew Brees set in his years with the team. According to Jones, “it’s a struggle offensively, even though Sean Payton is very creative as an offensive play caller, with Jameis Winston at quarterback. And they uses Taysom Hill some as well.”

The Washington defense was supposed to be team strength coming into the season. But they’re allowing 417.5 yards and 30.5 points per game so far, fourth and third worst in the NFL respectively. That’s with basically the same lineup that made them one of the league’s top-ranked units last season. What defense will show up against the Saints?

“I think Washington’s defense is just too tough,” Jones said. “I think Washington has gotten off to a disappointing start, because a lot of people pick them to win the division. But with a defense that’s pretty solid, that’ll keep you in games.”

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, October 10 @ 4:25 p.m.

While the Giants are 1-3 and the Cowboys are 3-1, records often don’t matter much in division matchups. Daniel Brown is coming off a career performance against the Saints, piling up 402 yards and two TDs on 28-40 passing. “Daniel Jones is playing the best football that he’s played in his three-year NFL career. He’s now in his third year. He’s the NFC Offensive Player of the Week from last week, having thrown for over 400 yards against the Saints last week.”

And Jones will lead a Giants team into Dallas that easily could be 3-1. “I wouldn’t sleep on the Giants,” warned Jones. “When you look at what the Giants have done so far, their strength of schedule has not been that great. But a couple of weeks ago, Thursday night game against Washington, they had the game won. Dexter Lawrence jumps offsides on the field goal attempt by Washington that was no good, gave them a second chance. Washington kicks the field goal to win, 30-29. Then the next week against Atlanta, they lose on a last-second field goal, 17-14. They come back and win last week. They could easily be 2-2, if Dexter Lawrence doesn’t jump offsides in that Washington game. And they could also be 3-1 if they just pull out that tight game against Atlanta a couple weeks ago.”

The Cowboys could easily be 4-0, if not for the last-minute heroics of Tom Brady in Week 1. Their offense is averaging 420.8 yards and 31.5 points, both top five in the league. And Dak Prescott has been impressive in his return under center. According to Jones, “as long as the Cowboys don’t pay attention to the hype and keep a level head, and so forth and continue to run the football and have a balanced offense, like they’ve had in the last couple of weeks, they should be able to win this game.”

The Dallas defense has been a little shaky so far this season, giving up 396.3 yards per game. And that presents an opportunity for a Giants team looking to come into its own.


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