NFL SCOREBOARD

Kansas City 34 Houston 20

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Miami Florida 31 Alabama Birmingham 14

 

NBA PLAYOFFS

LA Lakers 110 Houston 100

 

NHL PLAYOFFS

Dallas 3 Vegas 2

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – INTERLEAGUE

St. Louis 12 Detroit 2

Detroit 6 St. Louis 3

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – AMERICAN LEAGUE

Oakland 3 Houston 1

LA Angels 6 Texas 2

Kansas City 11 Cleveland 1

Boston 4 Tampa Bay 3

Baltimore at NY Yankees postponed

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – NATIONAL LEAGUE

Atlanta 7 Washington 6

Miami 7 Philadelphia 6

Chicago Cubs 8 Cincinnati 5

San Diego 6 San Francisco 1

Arizona 5 LA Dodgers 2

 

NCC AND AREA FOOTBALL THIS WEEK

Friday, Sep. 11

Harrison at Lafayette Jeff 7 pm

Tech at Logansport 7 pm

Marion at Anderson 7 pm

McCutcheon at Kokomo 7 pm

Muncie Central at Richmond  7 pm

Knightstown at Union City  7 pm

Monroe Central at Northeastern 7 pm

Tri at Wes-Del 7 pm

Union County at Hagerstown  7 pm

Winchester at Centerville  7 pm

Batesville at Rushville  7 pm

Franklin County at East Central 7:30 pm

Greensburg at Lawrenceburg  7 pm

Saturday, Sep. 12

South Dearborn at Connersville 3 pm

 

OHIO HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Friday September 11

Arcanum (1-1) at Ansonia (1-1)

Bethel (0-2) at Tri-County North (1-1)

Bradford (0-2) at Mississinawa Valley (0-2)

Covington (2-0) at Twin Valley South (0-2)

Oakwood (0-2) at Brookville (2-0)

Preble Shawnee (1-1) at Franklin (1-1)

Eaton (1-1) at Monroe (0-2)

Bellbrook (2-0) at Valley View (2-0)

National Trail (2-0) at Tri-Village (2-0)

Dixie (1-1) at Madison (0-2)

Northridge (0-2) at Carlisle (1-1)

 

 

BOYS HS SOCCER

Delta 3 New Castle 2

Greensburg 11 Franklin County 0

Harrison 1 Avon 0

 

 

HS GIRLS SOCCER

Hamilton 8 Kokomo 2

Harrison 1 Lafayette Jeff 0

Centerville 4 New Castle 0

 

 

HS VOLLEYBALL

Pendleton Heights 3 Anderson 0

Greensburg 3 Connersville 0

Union County 3 Lincoln 0

Hagerstown 3 Winchester 0

New Castle 3 Greenfield Central 2

Richmond 3 Centerville 1

Northeastern 3 Seton Catholic 0

Knightstown 3 Rushville 1

Danville 3 Lafayette Jeff 1

 

BOYS TENNIS

Centerville 5 Winchester 0

 

CROSS COUNTRY-GIRLS WAYNE COUNTY INVITE

  1. Centerville
  2. Hagerstown
  3. Richmond
  4. Northeastern

Top Finisher: Marissa Cates, Northeastern 20:09.0

 

BOYS

  1. Northeastern
  2. Hagerstown
  3. Centerville
  4. Richmond

TOP FINISHER: Chase Cates, Hagerstown 17:23.4

 

 

GIRLS GOLF

Shenandoah 186 Centerville 202

 

 

NORTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE FOOTBALL LEADERS

PASSING YARDS

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                    287

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                   258

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                        231

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                 224

Max Pittman, Muncie Central                                   106

 

PASSING YARDS PER GAME

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                         115.5

Cain Richardson, Marion                                             98.0

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                     95.7

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                    86.0

 

COMPLETIONS

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                   23

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                       19

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                  17

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                12

Max Pittman, Muncie Central                                  11

 

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                  .571

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                     .548

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                    .548

Drew Van Vleet, Richmond                                        .543

 

TOUCHDOWNS

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                         3

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                     2

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                    2

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                  2

 

INTERCEPTIONS

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                         4

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                    3

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                  3

Zach Weathers, McCutcheon                                     3

 

QUARTERBACK RATING (2 games played)

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                   92.1

Evan Barker, Kokomo                                                86.3

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                  64.4

Drew Van Vleet, Richmond                                      63.8

Max Pittman, Muncie Central                                  44.9

 

RUSHING YARDS

Thomas Hogan, Lafayette Jeff                                   577

Omarion Dixon, Harrison                                           409

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                             373

Shoka Griffin, Muncie Central                                   282

Brad Gagnon, McCutcheon                                       251

Zaimar Barnett, Marion                                             194

Brayden Stall, Lafayette Jeff                                      188

 

RUSHING YARDS PER GAME

Thomas Hogan, Lafayette Jeff                                   192.3

Shoka Griffin, Muncie Central                                   141.0

Omarion Dixon, Harrison                                           136.3

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                             124.3

Zaimar Barnett, Marion                                                97.0

Brayden Stall, Lafayette Jeff                                        94.0

 

RUSHING YARDS PER CARRY (Min. 13 carries)

Zaimar Barnett, Marion                                               14.9

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                     12.5

Shoka Griffin, Muncie Central                                    9.4

Thomas Hogan, Lafayette Jeff                                    8.2

Kenneth Sims, Harrison                                               8.2

Omarion Dixon, Harrison                                            7.9

Brandon Norton, Lafayette Jeff                                 7.7

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                              7.3

 

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

Thomas Hogan, Lafayette Jeff                                    8

Omarion Dixon, Harrison                                            8

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                              3

Brayden Stall, Lafayette Jeff                                       3

MJ Armstrong, Anderson                                            3

 

RECEPTIONS

Joshua Garcia, McCutcheon                                     9

Marquis Johnson, Richmond                                    8

Caleb Koeppen, Lafayette Jeff                                 8

Austin McKinney, Lafayette Jeff                              7

Asa Koeppen, Lafayette Jeff                                     7

Zion King, Harrison                                                     6

Leyton McGovern – Gibbs, McCutcheon                6

Deyveion Ivy, Muncie Central                                   6

John Carter, Richmond                                               5

 

RECEIVING YARDS

Caleb Koeppen, Lafayette Jeff                                   150

Joshua Garcia, McCutcheon                                       121

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                              118

Leyton McGovern – Gibbs, McCutcheon                 102

John Carter, Richmond                                                 98

Jake Walters, Harrison                                                  82

Austin McKinney, Lafayette Jeff                                  77

 

RECEIVING YARDS PER GAME (Minimum 5 receptions)

Leyton McGovern – Gibbs, McCutcheon                 51.0

Caleb Koeppen, Lafayette Jeff                                   50.0

John Carter, Richmond                                               49.0

Jake Walters, Harrison                                                41.0

Joshua Garcia, McCutcheon                                       40.3

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                              39.3

 

RECEIVING TOUCHDOWNS

Caleb Koeppen, Lafayette Jeff                                   2

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                              2

Zion King, Harrison                                                      2

 

TOTAL YARDS PER GAME (Minimum 2 games)

Thomas Hogan, Lafayette Jeff                                   196.3

Plez Lawrence, Kokomo                                             163.7

Omarion Dixon, Harrison                                           146.0

Tyler Knoy, Harrison                                                   144.3

Shoka Griffin, Muncie Central                                  141.0

Drew VanVleet, Richmond                                        131.0

Brady Preston, Lafayette Jeff                                    119.3

Zaimar Bennett, Marion                                             97.0

Brayden Stall, Lafayette Jeff                                      94.0

Brad Gagnon, McCutcheon                                        83.7

 

TACKLES

Brendan Segal, Lafayette Jeff                                     34

Myles Lenior, Kokomo                                                 29

Steven Stephany, Lafayette Jeff                                 28

Damarion Walker, Muncie Central                            25

Peyton Price, Lafayette Jeff                                        22

Ta’Shy Stewart, Kokomo                                             22

Dilyn Fuller, Anderson                                                 20

Levi Buck, Harrison                                                      19

 

TACKLES PER GAME

Damarion Walker, Muncie Central                         12.5

Brendan Segal, Lafayette Jeff                                  11.3

Miles Lenior, Kokomo                                                9.7

Steven Stephany, Lafayette Jeff                                9.3

Titus Hayes, Muncie Central                                      9.0

Peyton Price, Lafayette Jeff                                       7.3

Ta’Shy Stewart, Kokomo                                            7.3

 

SOLO TACKLES

Steven Stephany, Lafayette Jeff                               20

Myles Lenior, Kokomo                                               19

Damarion Walker, Muncie Central                          17

Peyton price, Lafayette Jeff                                      17

Ta’Shy Stewart, Kokomo                                           13

Titus Hayes, Muncie Central                                     12

Zaiden Zurfas, McCutcheon                                      12

Woody Elliott, Muncie Central                                 11

Manuel Magallanes, McCutcheon                           11

John Schnerre, McCutcheon                                    10

Noah Williams – Harris, Lafayette Jeff                    10

 

TACKLES FOR LOSS

Peyton Price, Lafayette Jeff                                         7.0

Woody Elliott, Muncie Central                                    5.0

John Curl, Kokomo                                                        5.0

Tyreese Tucker, Kokomo                                              4.5

Thomas Urban, Harrison                                              3.5

Titus Hayes, Muncie Central                                        3.0

Noah Williams – Harris Lafayette Jeff                         3.0

AJ Ivy, Anderson                                                             3.0

Jalen Monrrow, Lafayette Jeff                                     3.0

 

SACKS

Peyton Price, Lafayette Jeff                                        3.5

Jawaun Echols, Anderson                                            2.0

Noah Williams – Harris, Lafayette Jeff                      2.0

Landon Albertson, Lafayette Jeff                               1.5

 

INTERCEPTIONS

Xhavion Reese, Lafayette Jeff                                      2

Steven Stephany, Lafayette Jeff                                  2

 

 

TEC FOOTBALL LEADERS (reported)

PASSING YARDS

Ryan Dickenson – Centerville                      269yrds                 89.7per game

Brayden Tippett – Winchester                     252                        84.0

Noah Snodgrass –  Hagerstown                   242                        80.7

Syrus Butler –  Tri                                            150                       50.0

Carson Terrell –  Northeastern                     149                       74.5

Hunter Reagan – Union City                          143                       71.5

 

 

PASSING ATTEMPTS

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                   48

Hunter Reagan, Union City                        40

Brayden Tippett, Winchester                    35

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                      34

Carson Terrell, Northeastern                     27

 

 

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                      .559

Brayden Tippett, Winchester                    .543

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                   .500

Chase Richmond, Knightstown                  .462

Syrus Butler, Tri                                            .455

Hunter Reagan, Union City                        .450

 

 

TOUCHDOWNS

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                       4

Brayden Tippett, Winchester                     4

Syrus Butler, Tri                                            3

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                    2

 

 

QUARTERBACK RATING

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                       120.8

Chase Richmond, Knightstown                   95.0

Syrus Butler, Tri                                              93.8

Brayden Tippett, Winchester                       79.7

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                      70.0

 

 

RUSHING YARDS

Ben Newby, Knightstown                             323

Jamari Pamplin, Centerville                         311

Vade Dishman, Tri                                         301

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                           301

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                  271

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                     256

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                              221

 

 

RUSHING YARDS PER GAME

Ben Newby, Knightstown                             161.5

Jamari Pamplin, Centerville                         103.7

Vade Dishman, Tri                                        100.3

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                           100.3

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                   90.3

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                     85.3

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                              73.7

 

 

YARDS PER CARRY

Ben Newby, Knightstown                             9.5

Vade Dishman, Tri                                         8.4

Jamari Pamplin, Centerville                         8.2

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                  7.1

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                              7.1

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                           6.0

 

 

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

Jamari Pamplin, Centerville                         7

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                  4

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                        3

Ben Newby, Knightstown                             2

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                            2

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                     2

Javontae Pamplin, Centerville                     2

Blayne Daniels, Union City                           2

 

 

RECEPTIONS

Keegan Schlotterbeck, Centerville            15

Mason Romack, Hagerstown                    12

Blayne Daniels, Union City                         6

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                6

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                            5

Deandre Rose, Knightstown                      5

 

 

RECEIVING YARDS

Mason Romack, Hagerstown                    232

Keegan Schlotterbeck, Centerville           216

Nick Dunica, Winchester                           118

Vade Dishman, Tri                                       78

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                            72

Holden Thomas, Tri                                     68

Deandre Rose, Knightstown                      65

 

 

YARDS PER RECEPTION (4 minimum)

Nick Dunica, Winchester                             29.5

Mason Romack, Hagerstown                     19.3

Keegan Schlotterbeck, Centerville            14.4

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                             14.4

Deandre Rose, Knightstown                        13.0

 

 

TOTAL YARDS PER GAME

Ben Newby, Knightstown                            199.5

Noah Snodgrass, Hagerstown                    166.0

Ryan Dickenson, Centerville                       132.7

Vade Dishman, Tri                                        126.3

Jamari Pamplin, Centerville                        106.3

Carson Terrell, Northeastern                      101.5

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                           100.3

Kollin Orr, Winchester                                  98.7

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                              97.7

 

 

TACKLES PER GAME (2 game minimum)

Liam Orcutt, Knightstown                           13.5

Ben Newby, Knightstown                           13.0

Mason Muncy, Knightstown                       12.5

Gabe Addington, Union City                       11.0

Sam Thomas, Knightstown                         10.5

Ashton Martin, Northeastern                     10.5

 

 

SOLO TACKLES

Liam Orcutt, Knightstown                          26

Ben Newby, Knightstown                           25

Mason Muncy, Knightstown                      24

Trenton Edwards, Winchester                   20

Sam Thomas, Knightstown                        20

 

 

ASSISTS

Ashton Martin, Northeastern                 17

Collin Clark, Centerville                            16

Brett Ballenger, Centerville                     15

Parker Sheets, Winchester                      12

Vade Dishman, Tri                                    12

Josh Johnson, Northeastern                    12

Jake Crowe, Centerville                            10

 

 

TACKLES FOR LOSS

Chase Sutherland, Hagerstown                  5.0

Brett Ballenger, Centerville                         4.0

Sam Thomas, Knightstown                          4.0

Liam Orcutt, Knightstown                            4.0

Ben Newby, Knightstown                             4.0

Sam Houck, Hagerstown                              4.0

Elijah Cowper, Union City                             4.0

Collin Clark, Centerville                                3.0

 

 

SACKS

Mason Muncy, Knightstown                      4.0

Sam Thomas, Knightstown                         3.0

Chase Sutherland, Hagerstown                 3.0

Tyler Kingery, Tri                                          1.5

 

 

INTERCEPTIONS

Ben Williams, Hagerstown                          3

Chase Richmond, Knightstown                   2

Aaron Reagan, Knightstown                        2

 

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL THIS WEEK

Saturday, Sept. 12

Syracuse at No. 18 North Carolina | 12 p.m. | ACC Network

Louisiana at No. 23 Iowa State | 12 p.m. | ESPN

Louisiana Tech at Baylor | 12 p.m. | FOX

Charlotte at Appalachian State| 12 p.m. | ESPN2

Eastern Kentucky at West Virginia | 12 p.m. | Fox Sports 1

The Citadel at South Florida | 1 p.m. | ESPN+

Louisiana Monroe at Army | 1:30 p.m. | CBS Sports Network

Duke at No. 10 Notre Dame | 2:30 p.m. | NBC

Arkansas State at Kansas State | 3:30 p.m. | Fox Sports 1

Georgia Tech at Florida State | 3:30 p.m. | ABC

Campbell at Georgia Southern | 3:30 p.m. | ESPNU

UTSA at Texas State | 3:30 p.m. | ESPN2

Austin Peay at Pittsburgh | 4 p.m. | ACC Network

Missouri State at No. 5 Oklahoma | 7 p.m. | Pay-per-view

No. 1 Clemson at Wake Forest | 7:30 p.m. | ABC

Tulsa at No. 15 Oklahoma State | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN/ESPNU

Tulane at South Alabama | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN2

UTEP at No. 14 Texas | 8 p.m. | Longhorn Network

Houston Baptist at Texas Tech | 8 p.m. | ESPN+

Western Kentucky at Louisville | 8 p.m. | ACC Network

Coastal Carolina at Kansas | 10 p.m. | Fox Sports 1

 

 

NFL WEEK 1

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons 1:00p (ET) 1:00p FOX

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens 1:00p (ET) 1:00p CBS

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills 1:00p (ET) 1:00p CBS

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers 1:00p (ET) 1:00p CBS

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions 1:00p (ET) 1:00p FOX

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00p (ET) 1:00p CBS

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings 12:00p (CT) 1:00p FOX

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots 1:00p (ET) 1:00p CBS

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins 1:00p (ET) 1:00p FOX

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals 4:05p (ET) 4:05p CBS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints 3:25p (CT) 4:25p FOX

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers 1:25p (PT) 4:25p FOX

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams 5:20p (PT) 8:20p NBC

 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants (Mon) 7:15p (ET) 7:15p ESPN

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (Mon) 8:10p (MT) 10:10p ESPN

 

AP HEADLINES

Ohio State coach Ryan Day is pushing the Big Ten for answers about when the conference plans to play a football season.

In a statement released by the school on Thursday, Day said he and his players and their families want some details about if and when the conference plans to start a season that was postponed a month ago because of concerns about playing through the pandemic.

Day said he understands the conference’s decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but “the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear.”

“The Big Ten medical subcommittee has done an excellent job of creating a safe pathway toward returning to play in mid-October,” Day said. “These young men and their parents have asked so many questions that I do not have an answer to, but the one that hurts the most is `Why can these other teams and players play and we can’t?'”

The Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference are starting their seasons this week, including No. 1 Clemson at Wake Forest, No. 5 Oklahoma hosting Missouri State and No. 10 Notre Dame at home against Duke.

Ohio State was No. 2 in the preseason AP Top 25 and considered a national title contender behind star quarterback Justin Fields. But if the Buckeyes and the Big Ten don’t start their season until late November, which has been discussed by the league’s athletic directors and coaches, it’s unlikely they would be able to compete in the College Football Playoff. The semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 1 and the national title game is set for Jan. 11.

Earlier Thursday, Penn State coach James Franklin made similar comments to Day’s during an interview with ESPN Radio.

“I think the big challenge as the head football coach is that your players and your parents think that you have all the answers to what’s going on, but the reality is, we’re dependent on the Big Ten to drive this thing forward. It’s been challenging. It truly has,” Franklin said on Keyshawn, Zubin and JWill. “To be able to stand up in front of your team and parents and tell them that the season is canceled/postponed, but not have any answers as to how that affects their future and when we will be playing football and still haven’t a month later. That’s the hard part.”

The Big Ten announced on Aug. 11 it was postponing its fall football season. The Pac-12 soon followed suit, but six other major college football conferences, including the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, have forged ahead, although some season openers have been postponed because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Big Ten and first-year commissioner Kevin Warren have faced push back and criticism ever since, including a lawsuit filed by eight Nebraska players who want the decision overturned.

The Big Ten’s decision and the subsequent backlash have trickled into politics in this election year, with Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers over who is responsible for taking away college football in the Midwest.

On Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told The Associated Press if the football season isn’t played he plans to sue the Big Ten on behalf of Ohio State, claiming that the decision made in response to the pandemic wrongly interferes with the university’s business relationships and amounts to a breach of contract.

Ohio State and other schools already are suffering financially because of the decision.

Minnesota said Thursday that because of a projected loss of $75 million, the school would have to drop men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, gymnastics and tennis after their 2020-21 seasons.

 

 

Top Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton injured his right shoulder at practice Thursday.

Sutton landed awkwardly after catching a high pass and was being looked at by trainers as the open media period ended.

There was no immediate word about the nature or severity of Sutton’s injury, which occurred 48 hours after the Broncos lost their best player, linebacker Von Miller, to a serious ankle tendon injury at an indoor practice Tuesday.

Sutton’s injury came with the Broncos practicing outside, and it occurred about an hour after the third-year receiver spoke on a Zoom media call about the need for every player to step up with Miller likely out for the season.

Last season, Sutton caught 72 passes for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns while working with three different quarterbacks. He had 42 receptions for 704 yards and four TDs his rookie season.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS INSIDE THE NUMBERS

WEEK 1 // SUNDAY, SEPT. 13, 2020 // 1:00 PM ET // TIAA BANK FIELD // REFEREE: JOHN HUSSEY

REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:

LEADER: Colts lead all-time series, 24-14

STREAKS: Jaguars have won 2 of past 3

LAST GAME: 12/29/19: Colts 20 at Jaguars 38

LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/29/19

COLTS NOTES:

QB PHILIP RIVERS makes IND debut after 16-year career with SD/LAC. Ranked 4th in NFL with 4,615 pass yards last season, his 11th career season with 4,000+ pass yards, tied for 3rdmost all-time. Passed for 314 yards & 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for career-high 154.4 rating in his last game vs. Jax. (12/8/19 with LAC). Ranks 6th all-time in pass yards (59,271) & TD passes (397). • RB MARLON MACK rushed for career-high 1,091 yards & had 8 rush TDs last season. Has 3 rush TDs in his past 2 vs. Jax. RB NYHEIM HINES had 519 scrimmage yards last season, his 2nd consecutive season with 500+ scrimmage yards. RB JONATHAN TAYLOR was selected in 2nd round (41st overall) of 2020 NFL Draft. • WR T.Y. HILTON had 45 catches for 501 yards & 5 TDs in 10 games last season. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Jax. with 70+ rec. yards. WR ZACH PASCAL set career highs in catches (41), rec. yards (607) & rec. TDs (5) last season. WR MICHAEL PITTMAN JR. was selected in 2nd round (34th overall) of 2020 NFL Draft. TE JACK DOYLE had 43 catches for 448 yards & 4 TDs last season. • LB DARIUS LEONARD led all LBs with 5 INTs last season & added 5 sacks & 2 FFs. Had INT in last meeting & has INT in 2 of past 3 on road. LB ANTHONY WALKER led team with career-high 123 tackles last season & had 2.5 sacks. DE JUSTIN HOUSTON led team with 11 sacks last season. Has 5 sacks, 4 TFL & FF in 4 career games vs. Jax. Had 5 sacks & 2 FFs in 8 road games last season. DT DEFOREST BUCKNER makes Ind. debut. Had 7.5 sacks & career-high 2 FFs last season with SF.

JAGS NOTES:

QB GARDNER MINSHEW passed for 3,271 yards & 21 TDs last season, both franchise rookie records, & led all rookies with 91.2 rating. Completed 27 of 39 for 295 yards & 3 TDs vs. INT for 106.2 rating in last meeting. Has 95+ rating in 3 of 4 career games vs. division. Has 9 TDs vs. 4 INTs in 6 starts at home. • RB CHRIS THOMPSON makes Jax. debut after 7-year career with Was. Had 516 scrimmage yards (378 rec., 138 rush) last season. Had career-high 13 catches for 92 yards in only career game vs. Ind. (9/16/18 with Was.). RB RYQUELL ARMSTEAD had 5 catches for 52 yards & TD in last meeting. • WR DJ CHARK set career highs in catches (73), rec. yards (1,008) & rec. TDs (8) last season. Has 12 catches for 138 yards (69 per game) & 2 TDs in his last 2 vs. Ind. WR CHRIS CONLEY set career highs in catches (47) & rec. yards (775) & tied careerhigh with 5 rec. TDs last season. WR DEDE WESTBROOK tied career high with 66 catches for 660 yards & 3 TDs last season. Had 7 catches for 72 yards & TD in last meeting. Aims for 3rd in row vs. division with 7+ catches & 4th in row at home with 5+ catches. TE TYLER EIFERT makes Jax. debut after 7-year career with Cin. Had 43 catches for 436 yards last season. • DE/LB JOSH ALLEN led all rookies with 10.5 sacks last season. Has 1.5 sacks in 2 career games vs. Ind. Had 6.5 sacks & 2 FFs in 8 home games last season. LB JOE SCHOBERT makes Jax. debut. Had 133 tackles & career-high 4 INTs last season with Cle. CB C.J. HENDERSON was selected 9th overall in 2020 NFL Draft.

 

ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

SIRIUS: 106 (Ind), 98 (Jax) | XM: 385 (Ind), 233 (Jax)

 

 

CHICAGO BEARS AT DETROIT LIONS INSIDE THE NUMBERS

WEEK 1 // SUNDAY, SEPT. 13, 2020 // 1:00 PM ET // FORD FIELD // REFEREE: ALEX KEMP

REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:

LEADER: Bears lead all-time series, 101-74-5

STREAKS: Bears have won past 4

LAST GAME: 11/28/19: Bears 24 at Lions 20

LAST GAME AT SITE: 11/28/19

BEARS NOTES:

QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY passed for 3,138 yards & 17 TDs last season, 2nd-consecutive 3,000-yard season. Has 325+ pass yards in 3 of his past 4 vs. Det. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Det. with 3+ TD passes & 115+ rating. • RB DAVID MONTGOMERY ranked 2nd among rookies last season in rush yards (889) & rush TDs (6). Was first Chi. rookie with 1,000+ scrimmage yards (1,074) since JORDAN HOWARD (2016). Had 75 rush yards & rec. TD in last meeting. RB TARIK COHEN has 3 TDs (2 rec., 1 rush) in his past 4 vs. Det. • WR ALLEN ROBINSON led team with career-high 98 receptions for 1,147 rec. yards & 7 TDs. Has 4 TD catches in 5 career games vs. Det. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Det. with 5+ receptions & 75+ rec. yards. WR TED GINN JR. makes Chi. debut. TE JIMMY GRAHAM makes Chi. debut. Has 74 career rec. TDs, 4th-most among TE all-time. TE COLE KMET was selected in 2nd round (43rd overall) in 2020 NFL Draft. • LB KHALIL MACK led team with 8.5 sacks in 2019. Is 1 of 4 (AARON DONALD, CHANDLER JONES & VON MILLER) with 8+ sacks in each of past 5 seasons. LB ROBERT QUINN had 11.5 sacks & 13 TFL with Dallas last season. Has sack in 2 of his 3 career games vs. Det. LB ROQUAN SMITH led team with 100 tackles in 2019, 2ndconsecutive 100+ tackle season. CB KYLE FULLER had careerhigh 82 tackles & led team with 3 INTs & 12 PD in 2019. S EDDIE JACKSON has 2 INTs & 6 PD in his past 4 vs. Det. S TASHAUN GIPSON makes Chi. debut.

LIONS NOTES:

QB MATTHEW STAFFORD had 2,499 pass yards & 19 TDs vs. 5 INTs for 106 rating in 8 games last season. Makes 150th career start in Week 1. Has 15 TDs vs. 8 INTs for 95.6 rating in 8 career home starts vs. Chi. Has 41,025 career pass yards & became fastest player to reach 40,000 in NFL history (147 games). Needs 3,975 pass yards in 2020 to become 5th QB with 45,000 in 1st 12 seasons. • RB ADRIAN PETERSON makes Det. debut. Ranks 4th in NFL history with 111 rush TDs & 5th with 14,216 rush yards. RB KERRYON JOHNSON had 89 scrimmage yards & 2 TDs in his only career game vs. Chi. (11/11/18). RB DEANDRE SWIFT was selected in 2nd round (35th overall) in 2020 NFL Draft. • WR KENNY GOLLADAY led NFL with career-high 11 rec. TDs & had 2nd-consecutive 1,000 yard season (1,190) in 2019. Had career-high 158 rec. yards & TD catch in last meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Chi. with rec. TD. WR MARVIN JONES JR. had 62 catches for 779 yards & 9 TDs in 2019. WR DANNY AMENDOLA had 62 catches & 678 rec. yards last season. • LB JAMIE COLLINS makes Det. debut. Was only LB in NFL in 2019 with 5+ sacks (7), 3+ INTs (3) & 3+ FFs (3). Had career-high 7 PD last season. DE TREY FLOWERS is 1 of 5 with 6+ sacks & 2+ FFs in each of past 3 seasons. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Chi. with sack. S DURON HARMON makes Det. debut. Had 17 INTs & 28 PD in 7 seasons with NE. CB JEFF OKUDAH was selected No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

 

ON THE AIRWAVES TV: FOX (1:00 PM ET): Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake (field reporter)

SIRIUS: 103 (Chi), 94 (Det) | XM: 384 (Chi), 232 (Det)

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS INSIDE THE NUMBERS

WEEK 1 // SUNDAY, SEPT. 13, 2020 // 4:05 PM ET // PAUL BROWN STADIUM // REFEREE: CLAY MARTIN

REGULAR SEASON HISTORY

LEADER: Chargers lead all-time series, 20-14

STREAKS: Bengals have won 4 of past 5

LAST GAME: 12/9/18: Bengals 21 at Chargers 26

LAST GAME AT SITE: 9/20/15: Bengals 24, Chargers 19

CHARGERS NOTES:

QB TYROD TAYLOR appeared in 4 games last season. Has 100+ rating in 2 of his past 4 vs. AFC North. QB JUSTIN HERBERT was selected with 6th overall pick in 2020 NFL Draft. • RB AUSTIN EKELER had career-high 1,550 scrimmage yards (993 rec., 557 rush) last season & 11 TDs, incl. 8 rec. TDs, most by NFL RB & most by undrafted RB in single season in common draft era. Ranked 2nd among RBs with 92 catches. Had rush TD in last meeting. Had 819 scrimmage yards (102.4 per game) & 8 TDs (6 rec., 2 rush) in 8 road games last season. • WR KEENAN ALLEN had career-high 104 catches for 1,199 rec. yards & 6 TDs last season. Is 1 of 3 in NFL (DEANDRE HOPKINS & MICHAEL THOMAS) with 95+ catches in each of past 3 seasons. Aims for his 8th in row with 5+ catches. Had 5 catches for 78 yards & TD in last meeting. WR MIKE WILLIAMS set career highs in catches (49) & rec. yards (1,001) last season. Allen & Williams were 1 of 2 AFC WR duos (Cleveland’s ODELL BECKHAM JR. & JARVIS LANDRY) each with 1,000+ rec. yards last season. TE HUNTER HENRY set career highs in catches (55) & rec. yards (652) last season. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. AFC North with 80+ rec. yards. • DE JOEY BOSA led team with 11.5 sacks last season, his 3rd career season with 10+ sacks. Had sack in last meeting. DE MELVIN INGRAM had 7 sacks, 5 PD & INT last season. CB CHRIS HARRIS makes LAC debut after 9-year career with Den. CB CASEY HAYWARD had 8 PD & 2 INTs last season.

BENGALS NOTES:

QB JOE BURROW was selected with 1st overall pick in 2020 NFL Draft, joining CAM NEWTON (Carolina, 2011) as only QBs to win Heisman Trophy, National Championship & be selected 1st overall in same calendar year in common draft era. • RB JOE MIXON rushed for 1,137 yards & 5 TDs last season, becoming 5th player in franchise history to rush for 1,000+ yards in consecutive seasons. Had 138 scrimmage yards (111 rush, 27 rec.) & rush TD in last meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. AFC West with 100+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Had 772 scrimmage yards (96.5 per game) in 8 home games last season. RB GIOVANI BERNARD rushed for 123 yards in last home meeting. • WR A.J. GREEN aims for his 3rd in row vs. LAC with rec. TD. Has 50+ rec. yards in 5 of his past 6 vs. AFC West. WR TYLER BOYD set career highs in catches (90) & rec. yards (1,046) last season, his 2nd consecutive season with 1,000+ rec. yards. Had 52 rec. yards in last meeting. WR TEE HIGGINS was selected in 2nd round (33rd overall) of 2020 NFL Draft. TE C.J. UZOMAH aims for 3rd in row with TD catch. Has 5+ catches in 2 of his past 3 at home. • DE CARLOS DUNLAP led team with 9 sacks last season. Is 1 of 2 in NFL (CAMERON JORDAN) with 7+ sacks in each of past 7 seasons. Has sack & FF in 2 of his past 3. Aims for his 7th in row with PD. Has 5.5 sacks & 2 FFs in 5 career games vs. LAC. DT GENO ATKINS had sack in last home meeting. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. AFC West with sack. S JESSIE BATES led team with career-high 9 PD & had 3 INTs last season.

 

ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (4:05 PM ET): Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (field reporter) SIRIUS: 105 (LAC), 81 (Cin) | XM: 380 (LAC), 226 (Cin)

 

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS INSIDE THE NUMBERS

WEEK 1 // SUNDAY, SEPT. 13, 2020 // 1:00 PM ET // M&T BANK STADIUM // REFEREE: RONALD TORBERT

REGULAR SEASON HISTORY

LEADER: Ravens lead all-time series, 31-11

STREAKS: Ravens have won 2 of past 3

LAST GAME: 12/22/19: Ravens 31 at Browns 15

LAST GAME AT SITE: 9/29/19: Browns 40, Ravens 25

BROWNS NOTES:

QB BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 22 TDs & career-high 3,827 yards last season, becoming 1st Cle. QB with 3,000+ pass yards in consecutive seasons since BERNIE KOSAR (1986-87). Has passed for 718 yards (359 per game) in 2 career games at Bal. Had season-high 342 pass yards in 2019 road meeting. • RB NICK CHUBB ranked 2nd in league with 1,494 rush yards last season, most in franchise history since HOFer JIM BROWN (1,544 in 1965). Rushed for season-high 165 yards & careerhigh 3 TDs in 2019 road meeting. RB KAREEM HUNT had 3 TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.) in 8 games last season. • WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. had 74 catches for 1,035 yards & 4 TDs last season, his 5th career season with 1,000+ rec. yards. Has 286 rec. yards (95.3 per game) & 3 TD catches in 3 career games vs. Bal. WR JARVIS LANDRY had 83 catches for careerhigh 1,174 rec. yards & 6 rec. TDs last season. Had 15 catches for 241 yards (120.5 per game) in 2 games vs. Bal. last season. Aims for 5th in row vs. division with 70+ rec. yards. TE AUSTIN HOOPER makes Cle. debut. Set career highs in catches (75), rec. yards (787) & rec. TDs (6) last season with Atl. Had TD catch in only career game vs. Bal. (12/2/18 with Atl.). • DE MYLES GARRETT led team with 10 sacks & had 2 FFs last season, his 2nd consecutive season with 10+ sacks. Had 5 sacks in 5 road games last season. DE OLIVIER VERNON has sack in 4 of 5 career games vs. Bal. CB DENZEL WARD had 11 PD & 2 INTs in 12 games last season. Has 2+ PD in 2 of past 3 vs. division.

RAVENS NOTES:

QB LAMAR JACKSON passed for 3,127 yards & league-high 36 TDs last season & rushed for 1,206 yards & 7 TDs, most rush yards by QB in single season in NFL history. At 22 years, 358 days, became youngest QB to win league MVP. Aims for 3rd in row vs. Cle. with 3+ TD passes. Had 16 TD passes vs. 2 INTs & 111.6 rating in 7 home games last season. • RB MARK INGRAM rushed for 1,018 yards & had 15 TDs (10 rush, 5 rec.) last season, his 2nd career season with 1,000+ rush yards & 10+ rush TDs. Has 90+ scrimmage yards & TD in 2 of 3 career games vs. Cle. Had TD catch in last meeting. Aims for 5th in row vs. division with TD. RB GUS EDWARDS rushed for 711 yards last season. Has 100+ rush yards in 2 of past 4 at home. • WR MARQUISE BROWN had 46 catches for 584 yards & 7 TDs last season, tied 3rd-most rec. TDs among rookies. Led team with 7 catches for 126 yards in 2019 Divisional playoff game vs. Ten. WR WILLIE SNEAD had career-high 5 rec. TDs last season. Had TD catch in last home meeting. TE MARK ANDREWS led team in catches (64), rec. yards (852) & rec. TDs (10) last season, most rec. TDs among TEs. Had 3 rec. TDs in 2 games vs. Cle. last season. Aims for 4th in row at home with TD catch & 3rd in row vs. division with 2+ TD catches. • DE CALAIS CAMPBELL makes Bal. debut. Had FF in his last game vs. Cle. (11/19/17 with Jax.). LB MATTHEW JUDON led team with career-high 9.5 sacks & 4 FFs last season. CB MARCUS PETERS had 10 PD, 3 INTs & 2 INT-TDs in 10 games with Bal. last season.

 

ON THE AIRWAVES TV: CBS (1:00 PM ET): Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (field reporter) SIRIUS: 121 (Cle), 82 (Bal) | XM: 381 (Cle), 227 (Bal)

 

WEEK 1 NFL PREVIEW

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Headline of the Game: Two of the best defensive lines in the NFL should make things difficult on Dwayne Haskins and Carson Wentz.

Washington and Philadelphia finished second and third, respectively, in PFF’s defensive line rankings that came out earlier this offseason. Both units are loaded with talent, and they’ll make things difficult on the opposing offensive lines.

The Eagles’ defensive line is led by the Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox duo that has wrecked opposing offensive lines for years. Graham’s 338 quarterback pressures over the past five seasons rank sixth among all defenders, and Cox follows right behind him in the rankings at seventh with 336 pressures. The addition of Javon Hargrave — who produced a 14.2% pressure rate in 2019, a top-five mark among all interior defenders — and the return of Malik Jackson from injury only bolsters the interior of that defensive line.

That group should be able to feast on the left side of Washington’s offensive line. Geron Christian Sr. is projected to start at left tackle, and either Wes Martin or Wes Schweitzer is projected to start at left guard. Translation: it’s not an ideal situation. Making matters worse is the fact that no quarterback took sacks on a higher percentage of their pressured dropbacks in 2019 than Haskins did (33%), so pressure could snowball into big, negative plays for the Football Team in Week 1.

Defensively, Washington should have a slight edge along the line of scrimmage considering the injuries Philadelphia has dealt with up front. Back-to-back first-round picks Montez Sweat and Chase Young should push Ryan Kerrigan out of the starting lineup and into a rotational role, and there is every reason to believe that Young will immediately profile as an upper-tier NFL edge rusher after posting a 96.0 overall grade this past season at Ohio State. On the inside, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis are both capable of being disruptive pass-rushers, as well — even if Allen needs to show he can do so with more consistency.

The Eagles are down two projected starters on the offensive line in right guard Brandon Brooks and left tackle Andre Dillard. That will force 38-year-old Jason Peters back out to left tackle — where he was very good a season ago — and probably Matt Pryor into the right guard job. This was one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2019 and still shouldn’t be much worse than average, but the Eagles can’t be as confident in the group as they were several months ago. They’ll be tested in this matchup.

Fantasy

If there is any week to see what DeSean Jackson has left in the tank, it’s this one. The wide receiver cornerback matchup chart gives Jackson the third-best matchup of the week while the strength of schedule tool puts the Eagles wide receivers as a unit with the second-best matchup. When we last saw Jackson in a full game, it was also against Washington when he caught eight of nine passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. While he might not be that dominant, the upside is there.

The matchup for the Eagles tight ends is also favorable. Alshon Jeffery was removed from the preseason PUP list on Sunday and is unlikely to play, while Jalen Reagor is also probably out. Philadelphia was the only team to use 12 personnel on over half of its snaps last year, which should be the case again with so many injuries. This is a week to not only trust Zach Ertz, who should have his usual good game, but also Dallas Goedert.

As for Washington, outside of Terry McLaurin, everyone comes with risk. Antonio Gibson might eventually be an every-down back, but chances are he’s eased into his first NFL game — and this isn’t a favorable matchup. You shouldn’t take much from the teams’ depth charts, but J.D. McKissic is listed as the starter. This shouldn’t be a sign of concern for Gibson’s season-long prospects, but it is for Week 1.

 

Betting

The Eagles opened as a touchdown favorite but have dropped a full point to 6-point favorites in most spots. The cash and ticket percentages are skewed toward the Eagles, but a heavier percentage of tickets have been bought on the road favorites. This signals — along with the spread movement — that the majority of sharp action is heavily leaning towards Washington. The total has dropped over 2 points in most spots and has crossed two of the three most important numbers from a total perspective. Live movement rarely is more significant than that, but only PFF’s prediction algorithms can highlight if this movement has created opportunity on either side.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Headline of the Game: Cam Newton gives Josh McDaniels and this New England Patriots’ offense different possibilities in the post-Tom Brady era

Newton and Brady have their stylistic differences beyond their significantly different capacities as runners of the football. In Carolina, Newton had one of the highest average time-to-throw averages in the NFL (2.9 seconds), and his average depth of target of 9.7 yards downfield ranks third among 32 qualifying quarterbacks since getting drafted in 2011. Brady is on the opposite end of the spectrum in both categories. It will be interesting to see whether it’s Newton or the Patriots offense that changes or if the two meet somewhere in the middle in their first year together.

We at PFF are not often proponents of the run game, but there are pros to the run game when you involve an athlete like Newton at quarterback. Since entering the league, no quarterback has had more designed runs called for them than Newton has — often on plays that help tilt the ever-important numbers game in the offense’s favor. That’s not something that has been in New England’s repertoire with Brady behind center, but we did see several quarterback runs dialed up when Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett saw playing time for the Patriots. It will be worth monitoring how New England deploys Newton early in the 2020 season.

They’ll have an opening matchup with a Dolphins defense that finished the 2019 season ranked 31st in EPA per play allowed, ahead of only the Raiders. It is a group that added several key contributors in free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft — namely Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Noah Igbinoghene and Shaq Lawson — and they also have Xavien Howard returning from the injury that sidelined him for much of last season. It should be an improved unit in Brian Flores’ second year as head coach.

Fantasy

The Patriots’ running back situation has been in flux in recent months, but it’s stabilizing at a time when fantasy owners can take advantage. Lamar Miller was released while Damien Harris landed on injured reserve. This paves the way for Sony Michel to hold onto the early-down role he had last season. The Patriots offensive line has the fourth-highest advantage over the Dolphins defensive line in our matchup chart. Michel had 39 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns in two games against Miami last year.

Our projections put Cam Newton as the fourth-best quarterback this week. The Dolphins’ strength is at outside cornerback in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, but the Patriots are known for attacking the middle of defenses. He’s also projected to get the fourth-most rushing yards.

It’s hard to get too excited about any of the Dolphins’ fantasy prospects. The Patriots lost a number of defensive players this offseason but retained an elite secondary. Because of New England’s new front-seven, Jordan Howard or Matt Breida could have a big game. It’s unclear how snaps will be distributed since they’re both new to the backfield, so it will be hard to depend on either.

Betting

The cash and ticket percentages are heavily skewed toward the Patriots, but a higher percentage of cash compared to tickets is on the Patriots, which rarely happens.

The Patriots are still a public team but could be undervalued when comparing the current betting market outlook to where sharps project them to be. The loss of Brady cannot be understated, but the Patriots will be a case study for how much a coach can matter when building betting market models. The total hasn’t moved off of 43, with the majority of tickets buying into the Patriots’ fourth-ranked defense. PFF Greenline offers no strong lean on the total but still sees considerable value in both the spread and moneyline.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Headline of the Game: Two young position groups with a lot to prove — Green Bay’s receiving corps and the cornerback position for the Vikings — go head to head

These two teams are still the favorites in the NFC North, but both have questions following this past offseason. Two of those question marks — the Packers’ receiving corps behind Davante Adams and the Vikings’ new starting lineup at cornerback — will line up across from each other. The matchup will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game.

The only significant addition Green Bay made to their group of receivers was adding Devin Funchess in free agency — an addition that won’t pay dividends after he opted out of the 2020 NFL season. In the draft, the Packers opted to go after Aaron Rodgers’ eventual replacement (Jordan Love), a change of pace for Aaron Jones (A.J. Dillon) and hybrid tight end Josiah Deguara in the early rounds. Deguara is the only one in that group who could potentially impact the passing game early on.

That lack of new faces to the pass-catching group indicates two things. First, the Packers have a lot of trust in young guys like Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown to produce this season. Second, there’s a lot of pressure on them to complement Adams.

They’ll go up against a Vikings defense that will be fielding an entirely new cornerback lineup. In two-cornerback sets, Mike Hughes and Holton Hill are the likely starters, with Hughes kicking inside and third-round rookie Cameron Dantzler lining up outside when the defense is in nickel. That’s certainly not set in stone, though. First-round selection Jeff Gladney could very well get the first-team reps in the slot with Hughes remaining outside. However the starting lineup shakes out, Adams will be a problem for Minnesota both outside and when he travels to the slot. He is one of the league’s top route-runners, and his 88.1 receiving grade in the red zone since 2016 is the highest mark in the NFL. It will be trial by fire for a team with no cornerback over the age of 23.

Fantasy

Dalvin Cook and Davante Adams will be must starts as usual, but the rest of the players in this game might not have their best starts. First off, both teams are expected to use multiple tight ends, and neither defense is bad against TEs, meaning there isn’t an upside play at that position.

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t a QB1 in either matchup against Minnesota last year despite 35-plus attempts in both games. He’s now without Bryan Bulaga blocking Danielle Hunter, while David Bakhtiari faces Yannick Ngakoue. The Vikings are the only team with two edge rushers with 115 or more pressures over the last two seasons. Even if the Packers win, we shouldn’t expect Rodgers to have a QB1 performance.

Late last season, Jaire Alexander shadowed No. 1 receivers in a few games, which could lead to him shadowing Adam Thielen. Over the last three games Alexander shadowed an opponent, he held receivers to three catches in his coverage. This would also make it difficult for Thielen to have a big game.

Betting

The NFC North matchup has crossed the most important number from a spread perspective, settling into -2.5. The ticket percentages have been split, but a high percentage of cash has found its way to the Packers. Typically, road favorites for a spread less than a field goal haven’t been a great spot to back, but bettors with influence appear to be buying up the Packers. The total has also seen significant line movement to the downside and is most likely being overlooked by DFS players. Additional line movement on the spread or total will open up value, so make sure to check PFF’s betting prediction models as we approach kickoff.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Headline of the Game: Philip Rivers takes advantage of the NFL’s best offensive line to show that he isn’t washed

If you watched the Chargers last season, it’s clear that Rivers’ arm strength is not what it once was. That led to a year that saw him repeatedly force passes that he shouldn’t have — often putting the ball in harm’s way, given his 32 turnover-worthy plays (third-most in the NFL) — and anticipate many of his throws over the middle of the field. PFF’s Seth Galina explored some of those issues in a recent piece on the 38-year-old quarterback. You don’t have to go back far to see that Rivers’ accuracy can still lead to a top-five season at the quarterback position, however. His 87.4 passing grade in 2018 ranked fifth in the NFL.

Now, he gets what is by far the best offensive line that he has played with. It’s a group that is headlined by Quenton Nelson and his league-high 90.0 overall grade at guard over the past two seasons, but more importantly, it’s also a unit that has played together for over a year and one that doesn’t have a true weak point. Indianapolis came in as the top offensive line in the league in PFF’s preseason offensive line rankings.

That should give Rivers confidence to take what comes to him in the Colts offense without worrying about the defender that is about to ruin his day. He has a real chance to rebound with a strong Week 1 performance against a Jaguars defense that has unloaded much of its talent over the past few seasons.

Fantasy

The most favorable matchup in the offensive line defensive line matchup chart is the Colts’ offensive line against Jacksonville’s defensive line in the run game. In Week 11 when Jacksonville and Indianapolis faced off, Both Marlon Mack and Jonathan Williams had 100-yard games. The Jaguars’ only run defender last year with a run defense grade above 75.0 was Calais Campbell, who is now with the Ravens. While we don’t know how the rushing snaps will be distributed between Mack and Jonathan Taylor, the matchup is good enough for both to have big games.

With how big of an advantage the Colts should have running the ball, and since they are unlikely to be in a game situation to abandon it, this might not be the best week for the Indianapolis pass game.

The Jaguars’ running backs, on the other hand, should be avoided. How the snaps and carries are distributed is a mystery, and the Colts run defense allowed just three rushing touchdowns to running backs last year. D.J. Chark Jr. is the only interesting play. Last year he had his best games of the season against the Colts with 104 yards and two touchdowns, but that was with Nick Foles at quarterback. A few weeks later, he had four catches for 34 yards and no touchdowns. With Xavier Rhodes as one of the two outside cornerbacks, Chark has a shot at a big game.

Betting

The lone spread that is greater than a touchdown for the road favorite highlights how low the betting market has gotten on the Jags. A preseason firesale will typically temper expectations, with the Jaguars a short distance from the basement at 30 in our initial Elo rankings. The market is heavily siding with the Colts, who are seeing a majority of cash and ticket percentages on both the spread and moneyline. With this number fluctuating heavily between books, this is an opportunity where line-shopping could pay dividends. The +8 number is relevant, so finding the best price could be the difference between a value bet and one where you are on the wrong side of the vig.

 

CHICAGO BEARS @ DETROIT LIONS

Headline of the Game: Mitchell Trubisky continues to kick the can down the road at quarterback for Chicago

Rather than signing Cam Newton or Jameis Winston to a low-risk, team-friendly deal to compete for the quarterback job, the Bears traded for Nick Foles only to see him lose the quarterback job to Trubisky and his 65.9 overall grade since 2017 that ranks 29th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks. It’s not an ideal situation for the Bears, as it’s unlikely that Trubisky will take that big step forward Chicago desperately wants him to take in his fourth season.

Over the course of his career, there has been no better matchup for Trubisky to come out and look good than this one, though. He has had some of his best games against the Lions. In fact, three of the five highest single-game passing grades of his career have come against Detroit. Brace yourself for a potential big Trubisky stat line, rekindling the belief that this may be the year.

This will be a new look for the Lions’ defense. They added Desmond Trufant, Duron Harmon, Jamie Collins, Jeffrey Okudah and Julian Okwara this offseason after trading away longtime cornerback Darius Slay to Philadelphia. It appears as if head coach Matt Patricia is trying to get as many of “his guys” from New England as possible, and though much of the focus will be on Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense, it will be interesting to see how the defense looks with the new faces in place.

Fantasy

Kenny Golladay has made his fair share of big plays against Chicago, and this game should be no different. Last year in two games he only had seven catches but managed 205 yards and two touchdowns. While Golladay should see plenty of Kyle Fuller, he will also see plenty of second-round rookie Jaylon Johnson. With this offseason and no preseason, rookie defenders seeing their first NFL action are matchups that can be exploited. This is also a boost for Marvin Jones.

Still, this isn’t the most favorable game for Matthew Stafford. All of our rankers have him at either 16th or 17th.

From Chicago’s perspective, Tarik Cohen could be an interesting player to gamble on. The Lions allowed 852 receiving yards to running backs last year, which was third-most in the league. David Montgomery might not play, but even if he does, Cohen should have a little more playing time than usual. This game should at least be close for most of the contest, which means plenty of passing.

Betting

The offseason steam the Lions received has been reflected in this spread, which opened as a pick ’em before rocketing out to -3. Since -3 has the highest probability that a game finishes with that differential, it changes everything when a spread moves to that number.

PFF Greenline was leaning heavily toward the Lions until this spread moved to the current price, which now looks unplayable from both sides. The cash and ticket percentages are split at this point, as we have seen some buyback with this spread moving to -3. The total has held steady despite the Bears naming Trubisky as the Week 1 starter. The PFF models have a slight lean on the total, but depending on the number, it may not be enough of a value add given the current state of these offenses.

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS

Headline of the Game: Young Raiders’ secondary will be tested by Joe Brady’s offense in Carolina

There were few hotter names in football than Joe Brady after the show that his LSU offense put up with Joe Burrow at the helm last season. That led to a jump to the NFL as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator under new head coach Matt Rhule, and there are pieces for him to work with in that Carolina offense. Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t electric in his starting opportunities last season, but he was solid, particularly as he got more comfortable later in his stint as a starter. He put up four consecutive grades of 70.0-plus over his final four starts and projects as a considerable upgrade over what the Panthers had to work with at the quarterback position in 2019.

Bridgewater also has weapons to work with. D.J. Moore has been excellent over the first two seasons of his NFL career, and Brady will put him in positions to succeed over the middle of the field with his after-the-catch ability. He enters the season as the highest-graded receiver from the 2018 draft class. The complementary options in the passing game from Christian McCaffrey to offseason acquisition Robby Anderson to Curtis Samuel — who somehow just turned 24 in August — are intriguing, as well.

 

That group will line up against what is a young secondary in Las Vegas, particularly after the release of Prince Amukamara. First-round rookie selection Damon Arnette will start opposite second-year cornerback Trayvon Mullen assuming that Arnette is able to play through his broken thumb, while last year’s first-round pick Johnathan Abram will see his first game action at safety since the opener last season. The starters in nickel will be rounded out by Erik Harris at free safety and Lamarcus Joyner in the slot.

No team was worse against the pass in 2019 than the Raiders were (32nd in EPA per pass play allowed), and they’re still not likely to be very good in 2020. They have added some coverage talent — not just in the secondary but also at linebacker with the addition of Cory Littleton — so there’s potential for improvement. This should still be a defense that Carolina’s passing attack can exploit, particularly early in the season.

Fantasy

Moore has the right mix of things going for him to have a monster game for Carolina. The Panthers have a new head coach in Matt Rhule, and opposing defenses have no NFL film on any of his tendencies. Without any preseason, the offense should be more surprising. The Raiders also have very inexperienced cornerbacks starting — 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen holds one outside cornerback spot. He started 10 games without playing much in the other six and had a 62.5 PFF grade in that time. The other spot is for first-round rookie Damon Arnette. This is a clear advantage for Moore, who is a must-start.

Everyone facing Carolina has the opportunity for a big game, which could be a weekly trend. They had a below-average defense last year and lost their highest-graded defender in future Hall of Famer Luke Kuechly. Their top three defenders in total pressures are no longer on the rosters. They had three cornerbacks with more than 20 snaps, and the only one still on the roster is Donte Jackson, who graded lowest among the four. The Panthers drafted only defensive players in the 2020 NFL Draft to make up for the losses, but it will take time for them to gel. Because of this, all four position groups for the Raiders offense are in the top seven of the strength of schedule metric.

Even with the Panthers’ defense, it might be hard to trust the Las Vegas rookie wide receivers playing in their first action. It could be hard to trust Derek Carr as well. Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller should both be top-five in their positions — they are the players who can take advantage of this matchup the most.

Betting

The Raiders have seen an influx of interest from betting markets — after opening as a pick ‘em, they have now pushed out to 3-point road favorites. Given the significance of +3, the current line should hold until kickoff with almost 90% of the cash amount forcing markets to readjust this spread.

Line-shopping could be beneficial in this matchup, as some rogue numbers could still be lingering at smaller shops, given the significant movement we have already seen. The total has moved up slightly, with an even percentage of cash and tickets coming in on both sides. It is a sneaky game from a DFS perspective, with everyone but Christian McCaffrey going to be overlooked despite the inflated total. PFF’s prediction models find some value on both the moneyline and total, but with both markets on the move, this is a situation to constantly monitor up to game time.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS @ BUFFALO BILLS

Headline of the Game: Two top-10 picks from the 2018 NFL Draft both enter Week 1 with a lot to prove

The 2020 season will be a pivotal one for both Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Darnold’s seat is probably a little hotter than Allen’s, simply based on team performance over the past two seasons, but we’ve seen that a postseason appearance isn’t guaranteed to buy you multiple seasons of job security with cases like Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky.

If you look at each quarterback’s PFF grading profile over the past two seasons, you can see that the two quarterbacks have performed quite similarly. Allen’s PFF grade of 65.3 ranks 28th out of 32 starting quarterbacks while Darnold’s mark of 64.9 follows right behind at 29th. The reason that the Bills are favorites in this one and projected to finish the season significantly ahead of New York is that Buffalo has surrounded Allen with a better roster than the Jets have put in place around Darnold.

Allen has PFF’s 18th-ranked offensive line and fifth-ranked wide receiver group heading into the 2020 season. Darnold, meanwhile, has the 27th- and 31st-ranked units, respectively, in those categories. Even though the Jets attacked both the offensive line and their receiving corps this past offseason, there are just a lot of unknowns. How does Mekhi Becton look early at left tackle? Can their free-agent additions along the offensive line repeat their 2019 performance? Does Breshad Perriman continue his upward trajectory? Can Denzel Mims get past his hamstring injury and produce? Regardless of the answers to those questions, Darnold is going to have to show signs of consistency and improvement, and Allen will need to do the same.

Fantasy

Last year’s regular-season matchups had scores of 17-16 and 13-6, and both team’s defenses are still better than their offenses. The Bills’ defense is the best play here.

Josh Allen is a must-start at quarterback most weeks and especially this week since the Jets no longer have Jamal Adams. He was by far their best defensive player, with an 87.9 grade. He’s one of two quarterbacks projected to have over 40 rushing yards, which helps his floor. The strength of the Jets defense is their run-disrupting defensive tackles. It’s not clear how much playing time Devin Singletary and Zack Moss will get, so passing on both might be the best option until we get more clarity against a better matchup.

The Jets replaced their entire offensive line this offseason, so they might be one of the most hurt units by a lack of preseason. Facing a top-10 defense makes it even harder to trust any of the Jets’ skill players. We’ve hyped up Chris Herndon more than anyone this offseason, but he’s facing a Bills defense that allowed just 6.6 fantasy points per game from tight ends — the best mark in the league.

Betting

Buffalo sits between -6 and -6.5-point favorites but has failed to touch the key number 7 since this spread initially opened. The Bills are 13 spots better than the Jets in our Elo rankings but, interestingly enough, have a worse offense according to our opponent-adjusted grades. Tickets are leaning heavily in the direction of the Bills, but an eye-opening percentage of cash can be found on the Jets. PFF is lower on the Bills than the betting market, though it is noteworthy that, at least for Week 1, the sharp side of the market appears to be as well. The lowest total on the slate makes this a spot to avoid for DFS. PFF Greenline finds little value on the total but is finding significant value on both the spread and moneyline markets.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS

Headline of the Game: The Browns’ attempt to make the jump from a talented roster to results under a new coaching staff

Cleveland was supposed to take the next step last year and make the postseason. That didn’t pan out, as a step back from second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, a mid-season suspension to the Browns’ best defensive player, the worst season of Odell Beckham Jr.’s career and overall dysfunction led to a team that didn’t live up to expectations.

However, this team has all the components to realize those expectations a year late. The Browns added two new tackles to the offensive line in Jack Conklin (80.5 PFF grade in 2019) and Jedrick Wills (88.7 PFF grade at Alabama in 2019). They went out and signed Austin Hooper to a deal that made him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL at the time of his signing. Perhaps most importantly, Freddie Kitchens is out and Kevin Stefanski is in as the head coach in Cleveland. Last season with the Vikings, Stefanski helped orchestrate an offense that finished sixth in expected points added per play over the course of the regular season.

Cleveland’s defense is anchored by Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, and there is plenty of talent to work with on that side of the ball. You could have said the same last season, though. An opening game against 2019’s best team in the regular season is the perfect stage for Cleveland to show that it’s ready to compete in the AFC.

Fantasy

This week will be very intriguing for Ravens tight end Mark Andrews. In two games against Cleveland last year, Andrews had 10 catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns gave up a total of 10 TDs to tight ends last year, which was second-most in the league. Now with Hayden Hurst in Atlanta, Andrews should start to see more playing time. He’s projected to be the fourth-best fantasy tight end both this week and over the season.

While the Browns defensive line has an advantage over the Ravens offensive line in the passing game, Baltimore’s has an advantage in the run game. If you expect Baltimore to be winning late in the game (like we are), it could mean good things for J.K. Dobbins. Last season, the Ravens often gave their backups fourth-quarter carries to rest Mark Ingram II. Dobbins should also see more playing time earlier in games than the Ravens backups got last year.

The Cleveland quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all have below-average matchups according to our strength of schedule metrics, but tight end has the fourth-best matchup of the week. Austin Hooper could be a risky play — he’s the only new skill player for the Browns who should see significant time, but the upside is there for him to have a big game.

Betting

No team is getting more respect from the betting market to start the season than the Baltimore Ravens. However, this spread has moved against Baltimore — after an opening of -10, it has dropped 2.5 points but holds the hook on the touchdown. The weekly spread picks article has an in-depth dive into this matchup. The cash and ticket percentages lean toward the Ravens, but with this number on the move, it is worthwhile to monitor PFF Greenline to hit this market at the appropriate time.

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ ATLANTA FALCONS

Headline of the Game: Seahawks’ new-look secondary put to the test early against a talented passing offense in Atlanta.

The Seahawks’ secondary deteriorated over the past several seasons after the members of the Legion of Boom either retired or moved on to new teams. Seattle quickly rebuilt that group this offseason, however, and now it projects as one of the better secondaries in the NFL heading into 2020.

That transition starts with the acquisition of Jamal Adams, who can wear multiple hats in the secondary. Only Stephon Gilmore has been more valuable than Adams over the past two seasons among all defenders, per PFF WAR. He’ll provide plus play in coverage, against the run and as a pass-rusher from the strong safety position.

Adding a player like Adams has somehow managed to overshadow the addition of PFF’s second-highest graded cornerback in 2019 — Quinton Dunbar. Dunbar doesn’t have a long track record of success as an NFL starter, but he should fit well in Seattle’s secondary. Joining Shaquill Griffin and Quandre Diggs — both of whom played well with the Seahawks in 2019 — there is plenty of talent to go around.

The same can be said for the Falcons’ passing game. Matt Ryan is coming off his lowest PFF grade since 2009 (76.0), but he still projects as one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL heading into the 2020 season. He also has one of the better one-two punches in the league at wide receiver with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The fact that Jones’ 2.44 receiving yards per route run (fifth at wide receiver) was half of a yard below his results in any of the prior four seasons is all you need to know about how dominant he has been of late. It sets up for a competitive matchup on that side of the ball.

Fantasy

Both teams have better offenses than defenses — and plenty of offensive weapons. Anyone from the two teams you would normally play should definitely play. Todd Gurley is as intriguing as he’ll be at any point of the season since we know he’s healthy now. The Seahawks had an average run defense last year but are now without Jadeveon Clowney, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods — their three highest-graded run defenders.

Tight end Hayden Hurst has an opportunity to prove himself as one of Matt Ryan’s favorite targets immediately. The Seahawks were one of two teams to allow over 1,000 yards to tight ends last year. Hurst has the eighth-biggest advantage for a tight end this week.

For Seattle, the interesting play is D.K. Metcalf due to his matchup against the Falcons outside cornerbacks. All three wide receivers should have the advantage on every play, but Metcalf should have the biggest due to primarily lining up outside. On one side is Isaiah Oliver, who allowed 794 receiving yards last year — eighth-most for cornerbacks. On the other side is first-round rookie A.J. Terrell.

Betting

This spread has held relatively steady throughout the offseason, bouncing between a pick ’em and plus-1, depending on the book. The movement is one of the smallest and least worthwhile that we have leading up to Week 1. The spread cash percentages are relatively split between the two teams, but Seattle has received most of the backing in regard to volume of tickets.

This typically indicates that more novice bettors are siding with the road favorite, while bigger bettors are buying into the Falcons at home. The total has taken a pounding on the over but hasn’t moved off 49. We see a higher percentage of games end with a total of 48 or 50, so this total should hold steady until game time.

Due to projected game flow, this should be a popular target for DFS players. Both defenses sit in the bottom half of the league, according to our opponent-adjusted grades, so plenty of opportunities should exist for fantasy-relevant players. If the option exists to line shop, there are some playable moneyline numbers available at certain books.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS

Headline of the Game: No Derwin James does not mean no problems for Joe Burrow in his first career game.

The Chargers were dealt a tough blow with the season-ending knee injury to James — making it two straight years that one of the league’s best safeties will miss the majority of the season — but that doesn’t mean this defense is without talent. It still has three of the highest-graded cornerbacks in the NFL over the past three seasons between Casey Hayward, Chris Harris Jr. and Desmond King II, who could fill James’ role at strong safety. Los Angeles also returns one of the better edge tandems in the NFL with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. Bosa, specifically, has been excellent to start his NFL career. His 21.7% pass-rush win rate since 2016 leads all qualifying edge defenders.

That could spell trouble for a Bengals offensive line that still projects as one of the worst groups in the NFL despite finally getting to see 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams at left tackle. Burrow’s ability to navigate the pocket and deliver the ball accurately with bodies around him will be the biggest hurdle to putting up the kind of rookie season that many expect him to have.

Both pocket presence and accuracy were distinct strengths of his this past season at LSU, a promising sign pointing to early success in the NFL. His 141.1 passer rating under pressure at LSU last season was by far the best mark in college football. Even against a talented Chargers defense, expect him to show why he was the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fantasy

Tyrod Taylor isn’t projected to be a QB1 this week, but some signs point to him having a big game. According to our strength of schedule metric, this is the best matchup he’ll have all season. The Bengals added Trae Waynes at corner this offseason, but he’s on injured reserve. They also added Mackensie Alexander to be their slot cornerback, but he missed a significant amount of practice. Taylor only took 31 snaps with the Chargers last year, but the offense isn’t new to him.

What throws a wrench in the matchup for Los Angeles is how thin they are at wide receiver. Mike Williams is supposed to be the No. 2 receiver next to Keenan Allen but is a game-time decision due to a right shoulder sprain. All four receivers who followed those two in total snaps last season are no longer off the roster. This leaves Jason Moore and Jalen Guyton, who played a combined 93 snaps last year, along with late-round draft picks Joe Reed and K.J. Hill. Keenan Allen should see all the targets he can handle.

Joe Burrow is in for a fast welcome to the NFL with Casey Hayward and Chris Harris at cornerback and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing the passer. This is probably not the week to gamble on Joe Burrow or any of the Cincinnati wide receivers. Other top running backs have a better matchup than Joe Mixon, which makes him a low-end RB1, but he should at least see plenty of touches.

Betting

The Bengals have revamped what our opponent-adjusted grades pegged as the worst offense in the NFL this offseason. The spread has switched around the juice but held steady on a field-goal differential since the opening print.

This is another spot where the general betting public appears to be backing the road favorites, with a high percentage of tickets on the Chargers. The cash percentage sides heavily with the Bengals, meaning bigger bettors tend to be taking the points with the home dog. PFF Greenline has no strong lean on the spread or total, but a play exists on the moneyline if acted upon quickly.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Headline of the Game: Cardinals show that their offense is for real against one of the 2019’s best defenses

We don’t talk enough about the improvement to Arizona’s offense from 2018 to 2019. Just two seasons ago, the Cardinals fielded not just the worst offense in the NFL, but the worst offense the league had seen over the past five years by expected points added (EPA) per play. Enter Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. Despite up-and-down results from Murray in his rookie season, the Cardinals improved all the way to 13th in EPA per play.

And Arizona has even more room for improvement. The Kingsbury-Murray pairing should continue to improve in their second season together, and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins gives this offense the true No. 1 option in the passing game it was missing in 2019.

San Francisco’s defense was one of the best in the league this past season, but the Cardinals were one of the few teams that were able to have some success against them. They ended up finishing as one of just four teams to generate positive EPA per play against the 49ers in 2019, joining the Saints, Falcons and Chiefs.

The 49ers’ defense has some potential for regression, but it maintains one of the better defensive lines in the league, in addition to a talented secondary with Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams and Jimmie Ward — all of whom were among the highest-graded players at their respective positions in 2019. The biggest concern for the Cardinals has to be how Murray handles San Francisco’s pressure after leading the NFL in quarterback-fault sacks last year.

Fantasy

While the 49ers wide receivers have been hurting, there might not be a better matchup for Jimmy Garoppolo all season — last year he put up 28.9 fantasy points against them in Week 9 and 31.7 in Week 11. The only difference in the Cardinals secondary is the addition of Dre Kirkpatrick, who had a 61.7 overall PFF grade last year. While we can’t expect Garoppolo to match his past performances against Arizona, the upside is definitely there.

The Cardinals wide receivers, now led by DeAndre Hopkins, have an interesting matchup. Christian Kirk only lined up at left wide receiver on eight percent of his snaps last year, with most coming at right wide receiver and a significant amount in the slot. Hopkins plays a lot more left wide receiver than right, so chances are they will play in similar spots to last year.

This places Kirk against Richard Sherman on a majority of plays, which gives Kirk the worst matchup of the week. Emmanuel Moseley will be facing Hopkins, and he’s a good cornerback, but we shouldn’t expect a lot of Hopkins against Sherman. If anything, the Cardinals will be sure to avoid it when they can. This won’t be Hopkins’ best game, but he should still have a solid first appearance with the Cardinals. Kirk should be avoided.

Betting

The second game highlighted in the Week 1 spread picks writeup is an intriguing early look at how the NFC West stacks up early in the season. This spread has seen some of the biggest movement since the opening print, with most value leaving the market as it settles into a touchdown differential. The cash and ticket percentages are relatively even, so it is hard to determine what exactly is moving this market.

The total has been on the rise, so it’s possible to conclude that the market isn’t as high on the 49ers as once perceived. With both numbers continuing to move, this is another situation where closely monitoring PFF Greenline will be rewarded with the best price at the current time.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Headline of the Game: 40 is the new 30 — Tom Brady and Drew Brees head what projects to be two of the NFL’s most efficient offenses

This is easily one of the games of the week, featuring Brady in a new uniform for the first time in 20 years and one of the NFL’s deepest rosters in New Orleans.

There has been some talk about Brady’s play declining after a down season in New England, but I wouldn’t pull the plug on his career just yet. The Patriots had few weapons that could separate down the football field, while Tampa Bay sports two of PFF’s top-10 graded wide receivers in 2019 (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin).

The return of Rob Gronkowski to rotate with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate adds another element to this offense that defenses have to contend with. Gronkowski still ranked seventh among tight ends in receiving grade in what was considered a down season in 2018. It will be interesting to see how the Brady-to-Gronk connection looks after a year apart.

Brees is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who can come close to matching Brady in pedigree, and he has continued to profile as one of the league’s best quarterbacks in recent seasons. Brees’ 94.9 overall grade over the past three seasons ranks first at the position, and a league-high 69.8% of his passes have been charted as accurate over that same time frame.

The Saints’ offense should be better than it was a year ago with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders and a healthy Alvin Kamara in the backfield. Even though these two defenses are far from sieves, each offense should put up points.

Fantasy

Chris Godwin has the best matchup according to the WR/CB matchup chart. The Saints’ weakness in their secondary is at slot cornerback, and Godwin should see plenty of his snaps from the slot. In two games against the Saints last year, he had 10 catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Brady can only help him, and in what should be a high-scoring game, Godwin should have plenty of opportunities for targets.

Rob Gronkowski tops the tight end matchup chart. The Saints allowed 12.7 fantasy points per game to tight ends last year, which was ninth-most. Tampa Bay will likely need to throw a lot to keep up with the Saints, so there will be plenty of targets to go around.

The Buccaneers don’t have a particular weak point to their defense, making it harder to find a particular area to attack. To continue the trend of attacking rookies, there should be at least some plays where tight end Jared Cook will be matched up with rookie strong safety Antoine Winfield Jr. This gives Cook one of the better matchups of the week, so he could see some big plays.

Betting

This game radiates intrigue with what many predict to be the two teams sitting atop the NFC. Tampa Bay quickly turned into a publicly backed team with the addition of Tom Brady, and we are seeing this play out in the Week 1 spread. The opening -4.5 line quickly dropped down a point, with an even split of tickets but a high percentage of the cash going with the Buccaneers.

The total has held to the opening number, but a high percentage of both the tickets and cash has gone toward the over. This will be a popular target for DFS players, as it is tied for the highest total on the main slate of NFL games.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS @ LOS ANGELES RAMS

Headline of the Game: Retirements and injuries to Cowboys’ offensive line could spell trouble against Aaron Donald and company

The Cowboys have gotten a lot of offseason hype, and deservedly so, but it seems like the potential for offensive line struggles early has quietly gone under the radar. Tyron Smith and Zack Martin remain two of the best players at their respective positions in the NFL, but the other three spots are question marks with La’el Collins getting placed on short-term IR.

Connor Williams and Joe Looney have extended starting experience at left guard and center, respectively, for Dallas, but neither has played particularly well in those opportunities. Now, Cam Erving is projected to man the right tackle position in Week 1 after picking up a 44.8 overall grade during the 2019 season in place of Eric Fisher in Kansas City.

The Los Angeles Rams’ pass rush is admittedly not very deep, but the group does have the best pass-rusher in the NFL. Donald is a one-man wrecking crew. The attention he commands from the offensive line and his ability to penetrate the backfield despite consistent double and triple teams helps the other pass-rushers. His 277 pressures over the past three seasons are 53 more than second-place Von Miller. Simply put, Donald is a machine, and that’s a problem for a weakened Cowboys’ offensive line.

Luckily for Dak Prescott and company, a wide receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb has a better chance of winning and creating separation early than nearly any other receiving corps in the NFL. They may need to in this one.

Fantasy

Most of the favorable matchups in this game are on the Cowboys side. The Rams have invested very little at inside linebacker, which contributed to the Dallas tight end spot being the highest in our strength of schedule metric. If there’s any week for Blake Jarwin to show he can be a TE1 in fantasy, this is it. Jarwin’s 1.82 yards per route run last year was ninth-best for tight ends.

Prescott should also have a strong performance with the tight end advantage and the Rams’ weakness at slot cornerback. It’s hard to know which wide receivers to trust at this point — one will always have Jalen Ramsey across from him. Troy Hill will man the other outside cornerback spot. Hill started every game between Weeks 6 and 15 and averaged just 34 yards allowed in that time. CeeDee Lamb is expected to get significant time in the slot, but Dallas could also be changing up where the wide receivers line up, which has happened in Mike McCarthy offenses before.

The Cowboys defense allowed just 21.8 fantasy points per game to running backs, which was 12th-lowest. With Darrell Henderson a game-time decision and this being a Sunday Night game, it might be a situation to avoid. Even if Henderson is ruled out, Cam Akers could be eased into action. Don’t be surprised if Malcolm Brown sees enough carries to hurt Akers’ value. The Cowboys defense had an 88.7 coverage grade last year with largely the same players, so the Rams should be a team to avoid in fantasy.

Betting

Dallas opened as a field-goal road favorite on Sunday Night Football. This market has bounced around some but found its way back to the opening spread. It came off the key number three but was quickly bought up by Cowboys backers and pushed back to market consensus. Both the cash and ticket percentages are steady, so we should see little movement other than juice across sportsbooks.

Points appear to be on tap, given this total, despite both defenses ranking in the top six by our opponent-adjusted grades. With little betting market opportunity, this is the perfect game to test the DFS Showdown waters.

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ NEW YORK GIANTS

Headline of the Game: Ben Roethlisberger returns in a soft matchup to show that the Steelers are contenders in the AFC

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the fact that the Steelers went 8-8 last season with the least efficient offense in the NFL is remarkable. A lot of that had to do with a league-high 37 offensive turnovers forced by the defense, but it also points to the idea that the Steelers could be one of the better teams in the AFC with competent quarterback play.

Roethlisberger was PFF’s fourth-highest graded quarterback from 2015 to 2017, behind only Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, before seeing a slight downturn in play in his last full season in 2018. Despite leading the NFL in passing yards that year, Roethlisberger’s 78.2 overall grade ranked just 15th at the position. It will be interesting to see if he comes back better than ever from an elbow injury that has reportedly bothered him for much of his career or if the downward trend he showed in 2018 carries over after the missed season in 2019.

He certainly has an opportunity to make the former ring true against this Giants’ secondary. Cornerback DeAndre Baker, a 2019 first-round selection, was released for off-field reasons, and 2020 second-round selection Xavier McKinney is set to miss significant time at safety with a foot injury. The additions of Logan Ryan and James Bradberry do provide some veteran stability, but it’s still a group that has question marks entering this season. With the reports coming out of Pittsburgh, it would not be surprising to see Roethlisberger pick apart this defense.

Fantasy

The Steelers had a 91.0 defensive grade last year, which was the best for all defenses, with 13 of the 15 players with at least 200 snaps for them returning. And the Giants have been best at getting fantasy points exactly where Pittsburgh was best at preventing them. The Steelers were top-eight in fantasy points against for both running backs and tight ends, making it hard to be happy starting Saquon Barkley or Evan Engram.

If there’s one matchup to get excited about, it’s the Steelers wide receivers against the Giants cornerbacks. The Giants added James Bradberry to be their top outside cornerback despite his 61.8 PFF grade. Corey Ballentine or Isaac Yiadom will play at the other cornerback spot, and they had 36.6 and 50.9 overall PFF grades, respectively. It wouldn’t be surprising if Logan Ryan plays in the slot, but if he ends up playing more at safety that’s a third advantage for Pittsburgh. Look for JuJu Smith-Schuster to be put into position to succeed, but Diontae Johnson and James Washington could also have big games.

The offensive and defensive line matchup are also heavily skewed in Pittsburgh’s favor. The Steelers offensive line has the second-best pass-blocking advantage this week, while the Giants offensive line has the second-worst advantage. This will give Roethlisberger time to throw to his wide receivers while causing the opposite for Daniel Jones.

Betting

The betting market is buying into a resurgence from the Steelers, who have Big Ben returning along with the top-ranked defensive unit. This spread opened at +3.5 but pushed heavily toward the Steelers out to +6 in most spots. This has led to a highly skewed cash- and ticket-percentage lean toward the Steelers.

 

The total has been much less dramatic, dropping just a half-point since the opening of 48. PFF Greenline finds no value in the current spread, given the movement, but sees opportunity on the total in the first island game of Monday night.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS @ DENVER BRONCOS

Headline of the Game: Tennessee and Denver battle for positioning early in what figures to be a crowded AFC behind Kansas City and Baltimore

Once you get past Kansas City and Baltimore, the AFC playoff picture is murky. There will be a lot of teams jockeying for positioning throughout the conference, with Tennessee and Denver likely among them.

The Titans have a better outlook in 2020 than the Broncos do a year after making a run to the AFC Championship Game last season, but the biggest thing that stands in their way of another deep postseason run is the looming Ryan Tannehill regression that most expect. It’s not as if he was a bad signal-caller throughout his career in Miami, but it also seems unlikely that he repeats as the third-highest graded quarterback in the NFL. A.J. Brown is coming off a tremendous debut as a rookie last season — generating a 127.6 passer rating on his targets — and he’ll look to do everything to ensure that regression doesn’t rear its head for Tannehill.

Similarly for Denver, as is the case with nearly every NFL team, the 2020 season will come down to quarterback play. Drew Lock flashed what he could do in strong showings against Houston and Detroit in his five-game stint as a starter late last season, but he also produced a meager 27.9 grade against the Chiefs. The fact that Lock started only five games and was polarizing coming out of Missouri to begin with made him all the more a question mark this offseason. The Week 1 finale with a talented cast of receivers is the beginning of a season in which we should find out plenty more about the second-year quarterback.

Fantasy

The most interesting matchup for fantasy purposes is the Titans’ wide receivers against the Broncos cornerbacks. Denver had a complete makeover at cornerback over the last two seasons. They added Bryce Callahan a year ago, but he missed the 2019 season due to injury. They traded for A.J. Bouye and drafted Michael Ojemudia. This gives the Titans an advantage, particularly on the outside.

Either Ojemudia or Davontae Harris will have one outside spot, and that is a big advantage for the Titans. Tennessee will try to match A.J. Brown up there, but Brown could be matched up more with Bouye more often. Bouye won the first matchup last season, holding Brown to zero catches with two pass breakups when Brown was targeted in Bouye’s coverage. In the second, Brown caught both passes for 84 yards, a touchdown and a first down in one of Brown’s biggest games of the year. It’s worth giving Brown a chance in this one, and Corey Davis is a solid sleeper.

For Denver in general it’s a tough matchup against the Titans’ strong defense that just added Jadeveon Clowney. If there is any weakness, it’s stopping tight ends. Six different tight ends had at least 70 yards against the Titans last year. Noah Fant was a popular high-upside tight end pick late in drafts, mostly due to the volume of catches and yards he had as a rookie. His 52.0 receiving grade wasn’t great, but he should only get better from here. This game should be an early indication of how much better he can be.

Betting

No spread has flipped more in Week 1 than the nightcap on Monday Night Football. After opening as a field-goal favorite for the Broncos, the market has completely flipped course, with the Titans now favored by a point or pick ‘em. This has skewed the moneyline percentages, with a significant portion of the cash being placed on the Broncos.

There is some opportunity on both the spread and moneyline if found at the right price. With how much this market has been on the move, it is worthwhile to monitor PFF Greenline to ensure you are finding the correct value at the appropriate price.

 

 

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs began defense of their first championship in 50 years by beating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 straight dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“I’m proud of our players but I’m also proud of our fans. They came out there. They were loud,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who claimed he didn’t notice some booing from fans during a pregame moment of unity involving both teams.

“Obviously, our players, both sides of the ball and special teams , I thought they were solid,” Reid continued. “For the first game there were some good things that were done, some great individual performances.”

The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once. David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

 

 

Anthony Davis was the biggest player on the floor, and the Houston Rockets had no answers.

Davis had 29 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James finished one assist shy of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Rockets 110-100 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

James had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who outrebounded the Rockets 52-26. Alex Caruso scored 16 points and Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Lakers, who held on after frittering away most of a big second-half lead.

“Turnovers,” Davis said. “We had too many turnovers.”

That was one of the few complaints the Lakers could make after Game 4.

Russell Westbrook had 25 points and James Harden had 21 – on 2-for-11 shooting – for the Rockets, who got 19 from Eric Gordon and 14 from Austin Rivers.

The scoring margins were massive: Houston got outscored 62-24 in points in the paint, 17-3 on second-chance points, 19-2 on fast-break points.

“We know we’re in a big hole now, but the next game is the game we’ve got to win,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ll go out and if we lay it on the line like the way we did in the fourth quarter, we’ll be fine.”

The Lakers were up by 23 midway through the fourth, well on their way to a blowout win. That’s when Houston’s offense woke up.

 

 

The entire Dallas Stars bench was yelling out to Joe Pavelski about what to do with the puck after a broken play in front of them only seconds into overtime.

Pavelski delivered, with a cross-ice pass to a breaking Alexander Radulov, who scored 31 seconds into overtime on a wrister from the middle of the right circle for a 3-2 victory Thursday night that gave the Stars a 2-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final.

“I was flying, no skating, on the other side of the ice, and it was kind of nobody there. (Pavelski) made a good pass, got into the zone, closed my eyes and shot it,” said Radulov, later making it clear that he was only joking. “Come on, I didn’t close my eyes … He’s a good goalie and there’s not a lot of room. I was lucky to beat him.”

Radulov’s third career overtime goal was his second this postseason, and the only shot in the extra time.

“It’s one of those broken plays that happen in hockey and we moved the puck up quickly, and Pavs made the right read,” interim head coach Rick Bowness said. “The whole bench is yelling at him wide, wide.”

Anton Khudobin had 38 saves, including 16 in the third after giving up two goals earlier in the period. Vegas goalie Robin Lehner stopped 20 shots overall while his record postseason shutout streak ended.

Dallas was outshot 18-4 in the third period, but had the final chance in regulation with a 3-on-1 break. Stars captain Jamie Benn’s wrister briefly shook up Lehner, who was struck by the puck that went over the pad and hit him near his left knee as time expired.

 

 

Willson Contreras had four hits to tie a career high, rookie Nico Hoerner added three RBIs and the Chicago Cubs overcame an early three-run deficit to top Sonny Gray and the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 on Thursday night.

Ian Happ drove in two runs and Hoerner, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Cameron Maybin each had two hits as the Cubs broke out of an offensive funk and strengthened their grip on first place in the NL Central. Maybin and Contreras each drove in a run and scored twice in a game that started 75 minutes late because of rain and ended with 1 a.m. approaching.

Six relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings of six-hit ball and allowed only one earned run for the Cubs after Adbert Alzolay permitted three runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings in his third start this season. Kyle Ryan (1-0) closed out the fourth and got the first out in the fifth to earn the win. Jeremy Jeffress pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

Nick Castellanos tripled to drive in a run against his former team, but the Reds lost for the third time in four games. Brian Goodwin, Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama and Tyler Stephenson each had an RBI.

The Cubs rebounded with 13 hits to take the rubber match of the three-game series after the Reds held them to just three in a 3-0 win Wednesday

Hoerner knocked in two runs with a double to start the scoring in a five-run fourth that chased Gray (5-3). The 23-year-old infielder then raced home from second with the go-ahead run on Happ’s single that second baseman Mike Moustakis gloved in shallow right field.

The rally matched Chicago’s high for runs in an inning this season.

Gray scuffled as his pitch count climbed quickly in his second straight loss. The veteran right-hander was charged with five runs on six hits and three walks.

Gray came off his worst outing this season and shortest of his career on Sept. 1 when he allowed six runs in the first inning to St. Louis and got only two outs. His turn in the rotation Thursday had been pushed back from Sunday.

 

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks kept up their roster overhaul on Thursday, parting ways with former All-Star infielder Jake Lamb.

Lamb was designated for assignment after struggling for the majority of three straight seasons. First baseman/outfielder Pavin Smith, who was the No. 7 overall pick in 2017, will take Lamb’s place on the roster and be making his big-league debut.

“Those are hard conversations to have,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “Jake Lamb has meant so much to this organization and he’s meant so much to me as well.”

The 29-year-old Lamb looked like a future star at third base just a few years ago. He hit 29 homers in 2016 and then made the NL All-Star team in 2017 while setting career-highs with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. Since then, he’s battled injuries and inconsistency and hit just 12 homers over the past three seasons.

He didn’t get much playing time for the D-backs this season and had just five hits in 43 at-bats for a .116 average. He had a prorated salary of $2,042,593. Arizona GM Mike Hazen said he still believes in Lamb as a player but he needed at-bats that the Diamondbacks couldn’t provide.

“I think he probably fell victim to the 60-game season more than anyone else,” Hazen said. “I do think a longer runway for certain areas of the lineup probably would have benefited him.”

The team thanked Lamb for his seven years in the desert on social media.

Hazen has been aggressive reworking the team’s roster during a disappointing season. The Diamondbacks were 85-77 in 2019 and had hopes of contending in the NL West, but they’ve lost 18 of their past 20 game and are in last place with a 15-29 overall record going into Thursday night’s game.

 

 

The Atlanta Braves’ banged-up starting rotation suffered another setback Thursday when left-hander Tommy Milone was placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation.

Milone, acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at the trade deadline, has a 14.90 ERA in three starts for NL East-leading Atlanta. He allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in the Braves’ 29-9 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.

The Braves recalled right-hander Huascar Ynoa to the active roster and outrighted utilityman Charlie Culberson to the team’s alternate training site.

Atlanta has six pitchers on the IL, including ace Max Fried, and the team has used 11 starters in its 43 games. Robbie Erlin was Thursday night’s starter against the Washington Nationals after he worked three innings out of the bullpen on Monday.

 

 

The San Francisco Giants released Pablo Sandoval on Thursday, parting ways for a second time with the former fan favorite and 2012 World Series MVP.

Sandoval ends a second stint with the club after he rejoined the Giants following parts of three seasons away with the Boston Red Sox after winning a third World Series in five years with the Giants in 2014.

The Giants posted a thank you to the Kung Fu Panda on their Twitter page. A switch-hitter, the 34-year-old Sandoval was batting .220 with one home run and six RBIs in 33 games. He had a prorated salary of $740,741.

He came back this spring from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last September, after retired manager Bruce Bochy – a father figure to the Venezuelan slugger – gave him one final at-bat. But Sandoval arrived at summer training in July noticeably heavier. He recently shared how his wife and children healed from the coronavirus, and manager Gabe Kapler gave him time off to monitor the situation from afar.

Newly acquired infielder Justin Smoak was added to the major league roster.

In addition, left-hander Drew Smyly was activated from the 10-day injured list after dealing with a sprained index finger on his pitching hand. Right-hander Rico Garcia was optioned to the team’s Sacramento alternate site.

 

 

Bubba Wallace, loaded with several new sponsors he personally signed, will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season and take his new wealth elsewhere.

Wallace, who has driven Petty’s iconic No. 43 the last three seasons, told the team Thursday he would not sign a contract extension.

“This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family,” Wallace said in a statement, “but I believe it’s time for someone else to take over the No. 43.

“Thank you to the King and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to start my Cup Series career. I’ve grown so much as a driver and as a person since joining them. We’ve got nine more races together, and I hope we can finish the 2020 season on a high note.”

Wallace, who is 26, has a career-best five top-10 finishes this season and is ranked a career-best 23rd in the Cup Series standings. Wallace did not make the playoffs in any of his three Cup seasons and is winless at NASCAR’s top level.

Wallace in 2013 became the second Black driver to win a national series NASCAR race when he won the Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway. He is the only full-time Black driver at NASCAR’s national level.

Wallace this season has taken an active role in pushing for racial inclusion and equality, pushing NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its races earlier this year. He parlayed that into several sponsorship deals that have been negotiated in a way that Wallace could take them with him if he left RPM.

Among his new partners are Door Dash, Columbia Sportswear Co., Cash App, and a personal deal with Beats by Dre. He’s also got an affiliation with McDonald’s, one of the sponsors at Chip Ganassi Racing.

It’s not clear where Wallace is headed because several major teams with seats available told The Associated Press they were not in play for the driver. Wallace’s agent did not return a request for comment from AP.

 

 

Russell Knox shot a 9-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Safeway Open, the first event of the new PGA Toiur season.

After missing the FedExCup playoffs by two spots to close last season, Knox had seven birdies and eagled the 550-yard, par-5 fifth hole.

Sam Burns, Cameron Percy and Bo Hoag were a stroke back. Two-time Safeway Open champ Brendan Steele joined Pat Perez at 65.

Knox is seeking his first victory since 2016 when he captured both the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and Travelers Championship for his only PGA Tour wins.

Historically a slow starter, the 35-year-old Scot had the first-round lead at Silverado Resort despite more early struggles.

Knox hit his first tee shot of the day into the rough and had to scramble for par. After two-putting on the par-3 second hole, Knox left his approach on No. 3 41 feet short of the pin, forcing another two-putt.

A birdie on No. 4 got Knox back on track, and the eagle on No. 5 jump-started his rise up the leaderboard.

“I knew this week that par-5 scoring would be big to your ultimate performance,” Knox said. “I hit a beautiful drive on No. 5 and hit a nice little 3-hybrid in there and managed to get it back there kind of close and made a nice putt. Obviously, it was a day where a lot of good things happened and definitely nice to get off to a good start.”

Knox was admittedly disappointed by missing out on the FedExCup playoffs – he had qualified the previous six years – but used the time off to prepare for the Safeway Open while adjusting to new coach Mark McCann.

“I’ve worked as hard as I ever have the last two weeks before this event, so it’s really nice to see something good happen immediately,” Knox said. “I definitely feel like my game is heading in the right direction.”

Burns made a late charge on the back nine and overcame a bogey on 17 when he his 7-foot putt for par went long. That came one hole after Burns holed out an eagle from the fairway on the par-5 16th. He came back to birdie 18 to get to 8 under.

“My iron play was good, made some good putts,” Burns said. “Unfortunately, kind of a bad bogey on 17 but overall a good day.”

 

 

Nelly Korda has had Grand Slam events on her mind for the last two weeks, not just her own, and she made it through the first round Thursday of the ANA Inspiration with just the start she wanted.

With heat-baked greens so firm she couldn’t find pitch marks, Korda hit hybrid off the tee on the par-5 18th with a front pin. That set her up for a wedge to 3 feet below the hole for birdie and a 6-under 66, giving her a one-shot lead.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun had to scramble for par on the 18th for a 67. Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden matched that score with a par on her closing hole at the par-5 ninth with a third shot out of rough so thick she could barely see her golf ball.

Danielle Kang, projected to reach No. 1 in the world with a victory at Mission Hills, and Brooke Henderson of Canada were among those two shots behind.

The temperatures didn’t quite hit 100 degrees in the desert – that’s for later in the week – making this the most comfortable day. It was still exhausting for Korda, who described her start as “good, but tired, for sure.”

Imagine how her father felt.

Petr Korda, the 1998 Australian Open tennis champion, was on the 10th fairway in the morning to watch his older daughter, Jessica, post a 74. Then it was another 18 holes, along with their mother, to watch Nelly.

And this after returning from New York to watch his 20-year-old son, Sebastian Korda, make his Grand Slam debut in the U.S. Open, losing in four sets in the first round to Denis Shapovalov.

That got the attention of the golfing sisters, with Nelly rushing home from Arkansas last week to watch on TV.

“He looked really good, so hopefully he keeps trending upwards,” she said. “It would be really cool to see him succeed.”

Korda is better placed for immediate success in her sport, a three-time winner who already has risen to No. 3 in the women’s world ranking because of consistently solid finishes.

 

 

TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY

1886       At Washington’s Swampoodle Grounds, backstop Connie Mack makes his major league debut when the Nationals, in a rare victory, edge the Philadelphia Quakers, 4-3. The journeyman catcher will post the most big-league wins and losses as a manager, compiling a 3731-3948 (.486) record with the Pirates and A’s during his 53-year managerial career.

1886       Roger Connor becomes the first and only player to hit a ball out of the original Polo Grounds (110th Street and Fifth Avenue). The Giants’ first baseman receives a $500 gold watch from stockbrokers and others to honor his accomplishment.

1902       In the bottom of the 11th inning, John Malarkey hits a game-ending homer off St. Louis right-hander Mike O’Neill to give the Beaneaters a 4-3 victory in the first game of a twin bill at Boston’s South End Grounds. Malarkey becomes the first pitcher in baseball history to earn a victory by hitting his a walk-off home run.

1912       Eddie Collins steals six bases when Philadelphia beats the Tigers at Detroit’s Navin Field. 9-7. The A’s second baseman, who will swipe six bags again in September, will end the season with 66 stolen bases, second behind Clyde Milan’s league-leading 88.

1915       Eddie Plank of the Federal League’s St. Louis Terriers records his 300th victory when he defeats the Newark Peppers 12-5. The future Hall of Famer (1946) is the ninth player and first southpaw to reach this milestone.

1918       In the earliest conclusion of the Fall Classic, Boston’s Carl Mays three-hits the Cubs 2-1, with the Red Sox winning the World Series in six games. The regular season was shortened by a month to meet many major leaguers’ obligation to leave their team after being drafted into the military to serve in World War I.

1928       Yankee shortstop Mark Koenig’s routine catch of A’s pinch-hitter Ty Cobb’s pop fly behind third base will mark the last time the ‘Georgia Peach’ swings a bat in the big leagues. The aging 41 year-old, who is the all-time hits leader, will announce his retirement six days later, ending a 24 year Hall of Fame career.

1938       Free admission and giveaways of small bats and bags of peanuts highlight Lefty O’Doul Day at Seals Stadium for youngsters under 14. Between games of the PCL doubleheader against the Oakland Oaks, the kids have a chance to scramble for autographed balls thrown by the San Francisco Seals players.

1942       Paul Gillespie homers in his first major league at-bat, hitting a solo shot off Harry Feldman in the second inning of the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to New York at the Polo Grounds. The Chicago reserve catcher will become the first of only two players in baseball history, along with John Miller (1966-1969), to a hit home run in their first and last big-league at-bats, when he blasts a round-tripper in his final plate appearance in 1945.

1948       For the 16th consecutive season, the Phillies will have a losing season when the team loses its 78th game of the year, dropping a 13-2 decision to the Braves at Shibe Park. The drought, which began in 1933, will be the longest in big-league history until the Pirates suffer through twenty downtrodden years from 1993 to 2012.

1954       New York first baseman Whitey Lockman pinch-hits a grand slam off Cincinnati right-hander Howie Judson. The seventh-inning four-run round-tripper propels the first-place Giants to an eventual 7-5 victory over the Reds at the Polo Grounds.

1955       After working the count full with two outs in the ninth, Del Crandall hits a grand slam, giving the Braves a dramatic 5-4 walk-off victory over Philadelphia. Milwaukee had entered the final frame at County Stadium behind 4-0 before the backstop abruptly ended the game with his ‘ultimate grand slam.’

1955       In his first and only major league appearance, Fred Van Dusen, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning for the Phillies, is hit by a pitch thrown by Humberto Robinson of the Braves. The 18 year-old bonus baby’s career ends with an on-base percentage of 1.000 but without a batting average.

1956       Frank Robinson ties Wally Berger’s 1930 National League record for home runs by a rookie for home runs with his 38th in the Reds’ 11-5 victory over the Giants at the Polo Grounds. A’s first baseman Mark McGwire will establish the major league mark for freshman homers with 49 round-trippers in 1989.

1959       At Memorial Stadium, two twenty year-old Oriole hurlers throw complete-game shutouts in a twin bill sweep against the White Sox. Jack Fischer wins the opener 3-0, and Jerry Walker pitches 16 innings, beating the Pale Hose in the nightcap, 1-0.

1959       The Dodgers end Elroy Face’s consecutive win streak at 22 with a 5-4 victory over the Pirates. The reliever, who will end the season with an 18-1 record, is beaten by Chuck Churn, the winner of only three major league career victories.

1964       At Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Braves’ southpaw Denny Lemaster throws a one-hitter, beating the Reds and Jim Maloney, who gives up only two hits, 1-0. The only run of the two-hour and six-minute contest scores on a sac fly by Felipe Alou plating Gene Oliver in the bottom of the eighth inning.

1966       In his debut, Ryan Nolan whiffs the first batter he faces, making Braves pitcher Pat Jarvis the first of strikeouts victims the right-hander will claim during a 27-year Hall of Fame career. The 19 year-old Mets right-hander fans three batters during his two-inning Shea Stadium stint in relief en route to setting a major league mark of 5,714 career strikeouts.

1966       In his first major league at-bat, John Miller homers off Lee Stange in the second inning of the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. The 22 year-old left fielder, whose total of 10 hits in his 32-game career will include just two round-trippers, will become the only player to hit home runs in his first and last major league plate appearance when he goes deep as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers in his final turn at-bat in 1966.

1968       Tying a dubious major league record, Cubs right-hander Ferguson Jenkins loses his fifth 1-0 decision of the season when the Mets and Jim McAndrew beat Chicago with a lone run at Wrigley Field. The Canadian-born hurler will finish the season with a 20-15 record but is 20-6 in games in which his team scores a run.

1969       Implementing an innovation he conceived, team owner Ewing Kauffman announces plans to start the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy. Presently a scout, Syd Thrift, will be named the director of the program, designed to develop gifted athletes into major-league ready ballplayers for the organization.

1974       In a game that will feature a record 202 batters, the Cardinals defeat the Mets in the seven-hour and four-minute Shea Stadium contest, 4-3, with Hank Webb taking the loss after making an errant pickoff throw in the top of the 25th inning that leads to the eventual winning run. Redbird Ken Reitz’s two-strike, two-out home run had tied the game in the top of the ninth, making the extra innings necessary.

1979       The Expos beat the Cubs at Olympic Stadium, 8-6, for their 82nd win of the campaign. The victory ensures Montreal of a winning season for the first in the 11-year history of the franchise.

1985       At Riverfront Stadium in front of 47,237 hometown fans, Reds’ player-manager Pete Rose collects his 4,192nd career hit to pass Ty Cobb, who had his last at-bat 57 years ago on this date, to become the all-time major league hit leader. Padres right-hander Eric Show gives up the historic hit, a first-inning single to left field, in Cincinnati’s eventual 2-0 victory over San Diego.

1987       With his 30th stolen base, Mets third baseman Howard Johnson becomes the first National League infielder to become a 30-30 club member. The other players in the Senior Circuit to have 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season are outfielders Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds, Dale Murphy, and Eric Davis.

1987       In the opening game of a critical series against the Mets, Terry Pendleton, with two outs and two strikes, hits a ninth-inning game-tying home run in the Cardinals’ eventual 6-4 overtime victory at Shea Stadium. The Redbird’s third basemen’s dramatic long ball smashes the car windshield of New York starter Ron Darling, who pitched one-hit ball before leaving in the top of the seventh due to spraining his thumb fielding Vince Coleman’s bunt in the last inning.

1991       Three Atlanta hurlers pitch the first combined no-hitter in National League history. Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, and Alejandro Pena join forces to hold the opposing batters hitless in the Braves’ 1-0 victory over the Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium.

1996       Having hit a home run off right-hander Francisco Cordova earlier in the game, Ken Caminiti goes deep in the bottom of the seventh inning off southpaw Matt Ruebel, making it the fourth time this season he has homered from both sides of the plate in a game. The Padres’ third baseman breaks his own major league record, which he established last year when he accomplished the feat three times.

1997       In a 9-5 Mets victory over the Expos at Shea Stadium, slow-footed John Olerud legs out an eighth-inning three-run triple to complete the cycle. The New York first baseman becomes the seventh player in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

1998       Dropping an 8-2 decision against division-leading Atlanta, the Marlins lose their 100th game of the season, becoming the first team that has gone from being World Series champions to having triple digits defeats the next season. Florida, which has never had 100 defeats during its six-year existence, will compile a 54-108 (.333) record to finish last in the five-team National League East.

1998       Kevin Malone is named the Dodgers’ general manager, replacing Tommy Lasorda, who becomes the team’s senior vice president. The “new sheriff in town” tenure in Los Angeles features high profile players’ signing to huge contracts, including Kevin Brown’s seven-year deal making the right-hander the first $100 million man in baseball.

1999       Facing just one batter, Doug Jones records his 300th career save when he gets the final out in the A’s 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field. The 42 year-old right-handed reliever, the 11th closer to reach the milestone, will retire at the end of next season with 303 saves.

1999       Twins’ southpaw Eric Milton throws a no-hitter against the visiting Angels, 7-0, the fourth since the team moved to Minnesota from Washington, D.C. in 1961. The 24 year-old retires the side in order seven of the nine innings en route to his 13-strikeout gem at the Metrodome.

2001       In the wake of terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Major League Baseball cancels all games for security reasons and for the deep mourning of the senseless loss of lives. The evacuation of Yankee Stadium also takes place as a precautionary measure.

2002       Yankee legends Whitey Ford and Phil Rizzuto unveil a monument dedicated to the September 11th terrorist attacks victims. The team also has a ceremonial tree planting in Monument Park in honor of the heroes and victims of last year’s horrific events.

2004       The 36,887 Bank One Ballpark fans, hoping to see Barry Bonds hit his 699th and perhaps 700th career homer, watch the Giant left fielder reach a different milestone. The San Francisco slugger receives three bases-on-balls from Diamondback pitchers to break his own record and become the first major leaguer to walk over 200 times in a single season.

2006       Cody Ross ties two team records with three home runs and seven RBIs in the Marlins’ 16-5 rout of Mets. The Florida right fielder’s drives in all of his runs in the Dolphin Stadium contest with a pair of two-run homers and a three-run round-tripper.

2006       Frank Thomas goes yard in his sixth straight game, setting an A’s franchise record. The ‘Big Hurt’s’ 36th home run, which comes off Twins’ starter Carlos Silva, is nearly caught by center fielder Torii Hunter.

2008       Jack Cust whiffs in his first two plate appearances and K’s again in the eighth inning to bring his strikeout total this season to 176. The A’s outfielder/DH breaks the franchise record previously held by Jose Canseco, who fanned 175 times in 1986.

2008       With his sixth-inning double in the 3-2 loss to the Cubs, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols becomes only the third player in history to drive in 100 runs during his first eight major league seasons. The two other big leaguers to reach the plateau are Red sox outfielder Ted Williams, who also accomplished the feat for eight seasons from 1939-42, 46-49, and starting in 1924, fly-chaser Al Simmons did it for 11 years playing for the A’s (9) and the White Sox (2).

2009       A small boy races to the pitcher’s mound and grabs a baseball intended for Tigers’ reliever Brandon Lyon Before starting the eighth inning at Comerica Park. The youngster is helped back into the stands and can keep the ball after a discussion between the boy’s uncle and ballpark security reveals that the six-year-old had misunderstood a suggestion to go to the railing and get a ball from one of the Blue Jay players.

2009       With an opposite-field single in the third inning of a 10-4 loss to Baltimore on a rainy New York night, Derek Jeter becomes the all-time team leader in hits for the historic franchise. The safety gives the Yankees captain 2,722 hits, one more than legendary Lou Gehrig, another 35 year-old team captain, who had held the record for more than 70 years.

2010       With MLB’s permission, Pete Rose goes on the Great American Ball Park field to celebrate his record-breaking hit that passed Ty Cobb, making him the all-time leader. Joined by former teammates Tony Perez and Cesar Geronimo, the banished player receives a trophy from Reds’ owner Bob Castellini, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the historic 4,192nd hit.

2010       Jim Thome connects for career homer No. 587 to pass Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for eighth place on the all-time career list. The Twins DH’s historic round-tripper, which he blasts in the top of the twelfth inning at Progressive Field, is the lone run scored in Minnesota’s 1-0 victory over Cleveland.

2010       For the 10th consecutive campaign, starting with his rookie year, Albert Pujols drives in 100 or more runs. Only Al Simmons, with 11, has more seasons with 100 RBIs to start a career than the Cardinals’ first baseman.

2011       Major League Baseball denies the Mets’ request to wear caps honoring police, firefighters, and other first responders for their September 11th game against Chicago. The hats worn during the pregame ceremony in remembrance of the tragic event will be autographed and sold on Mets.com, with the proceeds given to charities by the team’s foundation.

2013       At Marlins Park, benches clear when Brian McCann confronts Jose Fernandez as the Miami starting pitcher crosses home plate after hitting his first career home run. The Braves’ backstop and third baseman Chris Johnson take exception to the 21 year-old rookie right-hander admiring the home run from the batter’s box, then glaring into the Atlanta dugout rounding the bases.

2015       When Mariners reliever Tony Zych makes his major league debut in an 11-8 victory over the A’s, he displaces outfielder Dutch Zwilling, who held the distinction for more than a century of being listed last in baseball’s all-time alphabetical roll call. Another Seattle reliever, David Aardsma, ranks first in the ABC’s of baseball, replacing Hank Aaron on the top of the list in 2004.

 

MLB STANDINGS

American League
East
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
Tampa Bay 28 16 .636 14 – 7 14 – 9 21 – 11 0 – 0 0 – 0 5 – 5 L 3
Toronto 24 19 .558 3.5 10 – 6 14 – 13 17 – 13 0 – 0 0 – 0 6 – 4 L 1
NY Yankees 22 21 .512 5.5 14 – 7 8 – 14 13 – 13 0 – 0 0 – 0 3 – 7 W 1
Baltimore 20 22 .476 7 10 – 15 10 – 7 11 – 14 0 – 0 0 – 0 6 – 4 L 1
Boston 16 29 .356 12.5 8 – 17 8 – 12 10 – 21 0 – 0 0 – 0 4 – 6 W 2
Central
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
Chi White Sox 27 16 .628 11 – 9 16 – 7 0 – 0 19 – 10 0 – 0 7 – 3 W 1
Minnesota 27 18 .600 1 18 – 5 9 – 13 0 – 0 17 – 14 0 – 0 7 – 3 L 1
Cleveland 26 18 .591 1.5 12 – 11 14 – 7 0 – 0 16 – 13 0 – 0 5 – 5 L 3
Detroit 20 23 .465 7 10 – 11 10 – 12 0 – 0 9 – 16 0 – 0 3 – 7 W 1
Kansas City 17 28 .378 11 7 – 13 10 – 15 0 – 0 13 – 21 0 – 0 3 – 7 W 3
West
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
Oakland 27 15 .643 18 – 7 9 – 8 0 – 0 0 – 0 21 – 9 5 – 5 W 2
Houston 22 23 .489 6.5 16 – 6 6 – 17 0 – 0 0 – 0 15 – 15 2 – 8 L 2
Seattle 19 24 .442 8.5 11 – 8 8 – 16 0 – 0 0 – 0 15 – 16 6 – 4 L 2
LA Angels 18 27 .400 10.5 12 – 12 6 – 15 0 – 0 0 – 0 16 – 20 6 – 4 W 1
Texas 15 28 .349 12.5 11 – 11 4 – 17 0 – 0 0 – 0 9 – 16 3 – 7 L 1

 

National League
East
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
Atlanta 26 18 .591 15 – 8 11 – 10 17 – 13 0 – 0 0 – 0 6 – 4 W 2
Philadelphia 21 19 .525 3 15 – 10 6 – 9 17 – 10 0 – 0 0 – 0 6 – 4 L 2
Miami 20 19 .513 3.5 3 – 9 17 – 10 13 – 12 0 – 0 0 – 0 6 – 4 W 1
NY Mets 20 24 .455 6 10 – 13 10 – 11 13 – 17 0 – 0 0 – 0 5 – 5 W 1
Washington 16 26 .381 9 8 – 14 8 – 12 8 – 16 0 – 0 0 – 0 4 – 6 L 1
Central
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
Chi Cubs 26 19 .578 16 – 12 10 – 7 0 – 0 19 – 14 0 – 0 5 – 5 W 1
St. Louis 19 18 .514 3 10 – 9 9 – 9 0 – 0 12 – 10 0 – 0 5 – 5 L 1
Milwaukee 19 22 .463 5 8 – 10 11 – 12 0 – 0 12 – 12 0 – 0 5 – 5 W 1
Cincinnati 19 25 .432 6.5 8 – 11 11 – 14 0 – 0 13 – 17 0 – 0 4 – 6 L 1
Pittsburgh 14 27 .341 10 9 – 14 5 – 13 0 – 0 12 – 15 0 – 0 4 – 6 L 1
West
Team W L Pct GB Home Road East Central West Last 10 Streak
LA Dodgers 32 13 .711 15 – 7 17 – 6 0 – 0 0 – 0 22 – 11 7 – 3 L 1
San Diego 29 17 .630 3.5 16 – 6 13 – 11 0 – 0 0 – 0 18 – 13 8 – 2 W 5
San Francisco 23 22 .511 9 14 – 9 9 – 13 0 – 0 0 – 0 15 – 15 7 – 3 L 1
Colorado 20 23 .465 11 9 – 12 11 – 11 0 – 0 0 – 0 13 – 15 3 – 7 L 3
Arizona 16 29 .356 16 10 – 11 6 – 18 0 – 0 0 – 0 11 – 25 2 – 8 W 1