Bleacher Report - Front Page
Speaking to ESPN's Rachel Nichols on The Jump, Curry said he will vote "no" when the Warriors gather to decide if they would take a trip to the White House.
"Just like our country, every opinion counts and matters," Curry said, via Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Per the Steelers' official injury report, Watt has already been ruled out after not being able to practice on Thursday or Friday.
On Tuesday, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Watt was diagnosed with a "low-grade groin strain." He suffered the injury during the first half of Pittsburgh's 26-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2 and didn't return.
Per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Watt said it "wasn't serious."
When healthy, the 22-year-old has the ability to be an impact player on the Steelers defense. Although he was more known as the younger brother of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, T.J. has shown he is more than that and has made a name for himself early in his football career.
He kicked off his Steelers tenure with two sacks and an interception in his first game before getting hurt in Week 2.
Pittsburgh has quality depth at linebacker between Bud Dupree and James Harrison to fill in if Watt is forced to miss more time, although the team doesn't want to be without one of its key players for too long.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti expressed no hard feelings toward Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant on Friday after Durant posted disparaging tweets regarding the Thunder organization.
According to ESPN.com's Royce Young, Presti expressed appreciation for what Durant helped the Thunder accomplish before signing with Golden State last offseason:
"I think the only thing I can say to that is just to be consistent with everything that I have said and everyone else from the organization. I, and no one from the Thunder, really has anything negative to say about Kevin Durant, and I think we've been hopefully very open about the fact that we have tremendous appreciation and respect for what he and his teammates and coaches and everybody over his tenure here accomplished, and I really don't think there's anything more to say than that."
Durant accidentally tweeted from his own account in response to someone questioning his decision to leave OKC for Golden State, saying he didn't like playing for Thunder head coach Billy Donovan and that he couldn't win a championship with the roster they had in place, per Sam Amick of USA Today.
Durant deleted the tweets and apologized for his actions and took responsibility:
"That was just me being a total [expletive] idiot. I own up to it. I want to move on from it. It probably hit me probably harder than what everybody [thought]. Everybody else was telling me to relax, to snap out of it, but I was really, really upset with myself more than anything. It's not the fact that people were talking about me, because I deserve that, but I'm just more upset with myself that I let myself go that far, you know what I was saying? It was a joke to me at first. I was doing it all summer, and it went too deep. I went too hard ... I haven't slept in two days, two nights. I haven't ate. It's crazy, because I feel so [expletive] pissed at myself and I'm mad that I brought someone into it."
He also told Amick that he specifically sent an apology to Donovan after the snafu.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Thunder franchise, being named an All-Star seven times, winning four scoring titles and one NBA MVP award.
Durant averaged 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Warriors last season, and went on to win the NBA Finals MVP award in addition to taking his first championship.
Sky Deutschland (h/t Joe Rimmer of the Liverpool Echo) reported Reds manager Jurgen Klopp is interested in the midfielder who made his way through Bremen's youth academy.
Philipp's endeavours for his club's under-17 side have seen Tottenham Hotspur join Liverpool in scouting the player, with his goalscoring and creativity shining through.
Per Rimmer, Philipp scored 18 goals and recorded 21 assists for the youth team last season. The youngster is reportedly out of contract next summer.
Bremen academy director Bjorn Schierenbeck confirmed the interest in the talent: "I wouldn't want to rule out the interest in David from the English clubs. But I don't know exactly how firm it is. We would be very eager to continue working together with David. We have already held talks with him and explained what his future career with Werder can look like."
In other Reds news, pundit Phil Neville has criticised Klopp for his transfer policy since arriving on Merseyside.
"There's a massive problem. We've known probably for the last 12 to 18 months that goalkeeper, central defence, they've got massive problems.
"I think it's personnel problems. When I see Liverpool play, they're fantastic going forwards, as good as anybody. But I don't think they're exposed at the back. I don't think the centre-backs play so wide open, the midfield vacate the space. I think they're quite well organised. I think they're individual errors.
"I think at centre-back Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan… if you're spending £5million on a centre-back, you get £5m worth of quality. You can't teach concentration. You can't stop players making individual errors. You've just got to change personnel and buy better players."
Liverpool have suffered issues in defence before the start of Klopp's tenure, but the charismatic German has not solved the Reds' riddle.
The manager's style of attacking football has seen the team puncture the top four once more, but they appear underprepared for UEFA Champions League football.
Klopp desperately needs to recruit a world-class centre-back or find a young talent with the potential to become a star at the back.
Liverpool have certainly improved during Klopp's time, but they are still short of being genuine Premier League contenders.
The January transfer window with give Liverpool the chance to strengthen again, but it remains to be seen if Klopp will prioritise a defensive capture.
Shams Charania of The Vertical first reported the news Friday.
The 32-year-old University of Minnesota product most recently spent the 2016-17 campaign with the Atlanta Hawks after joining the team the previous March. He averaged 4.6 points and 3.7 rebounds while playing 12.3 minutes per game across 56 appearances last season.
His best statistical year came with the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12 when he average 13.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 62 starts.
Humphries faces an uphill battle to make the 76ers' final roster. Philly already features plenty of frontcourt depth led by Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Richaun Holmes, Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor.
His best opportunity to stick with the Sixers would come through a series of injuries or a trade where the front office clears out that logjam in the post to acquire some more perimeter help.
According to Marcus Thompson of The Athletic, Kerr believes the Dubs have added to what was already a strong core: "I think we'll be better this year. We're deeper."
Golden State will return the vast majority of the team that beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the NBA Finals last season, including Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.
In terms of additions, the Warriors have brought in Nick Young, Omri Casspi and rookie second-round pick Jordan Bell.
Another potential change this season is Kerr's presence, as he missed much of Golden State's playoff run due to continued complications from back surgery before returning during the Finals.
Per Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post, Kerr believes he will eventually be completely healthy, although he hasn't quite reached that point yet: "I feel better. I'm not 100 percent, but I'm on a good path."
The Warriors have reached the NBA Finals in three consecutive seasons, and they are 57-100 or minus-175 favorites (bet $175 to win $100) to repeat as champions in 2017-18, according to OddsShark.
When the Raw brand rolls into Los Angeles' Staples Center for WWE No Mercy on Sunday night, it will do so riding a wave of creative momentum and with a card that looks, at least on paper, like one of the best of 2017.
With two WrestleMania-worthy main events, championship bouts up and down the lineup and a venue that has been home to some of the most unforgettable moments in recent WWE history, the show looks to be one of the most fan-friendly in quite some time.
As is the case with any show, at any given time in the internet age, there are match results almost certain to infuriate a section of the audience.
Brock Lesnar defeats Braun Strowman to retain the Universal Championship
The moment Lesnar drops Strowman with an F-5 and successfully retains the Universal Championship, there will be fans who complain about the idea of a part-time special attraction carrying the title over a full-time force of nature riding a wave of momentum.
Lesnar is a big-match performer whose existence in today's WWE can be attributed to the company's desire to promote marquee matches with his name attached. With Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 34 upcoming, and all signs pointing to a showdown between The Beast Incarnate and Roman Reigns, it makes sense for the seemingly overmatched Lesnar to fight from underneath and successfully retain his title.
Just by being in this position and making Lesnar look as weak as he has, Strowman has won without necessarily needing the title to validate him.
No Superstar has been as protected over the last six months as The Monster Among Men, and even in defeat, that will be the case Sunday.
That still will not silence the criticisms following Sunday's main event.
Roman Reigns defeats John Cena
Roman Reigns has not won a pay-per-view match since defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33.
Last month at SummerSlam, he lost the Fatal 4-Way main event clean in the center of the ring.
Those two facts will not be enough to silence his harshest critics come Sunday night if, and when, he defeats Cena in a genuine dream match.
The Big Dog will be at the center of complaints about being shoved down the throats of fans, even if Strowman has been more heavily featured over the last six months than him. The same fans who chant "John Cena sucks" along to his theme music will complain that the franchise should not have had to put Reigns over in a match of this magnitude.
It is a foregone conclusion that fans will be outraged over the outcome, particularly if Reigns goes over clean.
That would be despite the fact that it would be only his third victory on pay-per-view in 2017 and, more importantly, despite constant cries for established stars putting over the next generation of performers.
Reigns, for all of his success to this point in his career, is still a star of the future, and a win over Cena Sunday night will only strengthen his resume and lend him credibility among the casual fans, much to the chagrin of the hardcore fanbase.
Jason Jordan defeats The Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship
There is greater uncertainty of this outcome than the previous two, but there's more guarantee of backlash should it go down.
Reigns and Lesnar are near locks to emerge from No Mercy victorious, giving fans time to prepare for those outcomes. They are also bona fide stars whose victories, welcomed or not, would make sense.
Jordan is not.
The former tag team specialist has struggled mightily in his singles run, with his role as Kurt Angle's illegitimate son not connecting with audiences. While he has proved his in-ring ability against the likes of Reigns and Cena, he has next to zero natural charisma and his character development has been nonexistent.
Meanwhile his opponent, The Miz, has been delivering some of his finest work on the mic and between the ropes, earning the respect of audiences despite his status as a heel.
A Jordan victory would reek of another blatant attempt by WWE Creative to force a character on audiences despite all signs that he was failing to get over. Social media would explode with complaints about Jordan's ascent while his former, more interesting partner, Chad Gable, wallows in tag team purgatory on SmackDown Live.
Per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, Gronkowski and Amendola both said they were "good to go" for Sunday's home game against the Texans.
Gronkowski left New England's Week 2 win over the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter with a groin injury. The All-Pro tight end racked up 116 yards and one touchdown on 10 receptions against the Saints before exiting.
Amendola sat out Week 2 after suffering a concussion in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Reiss reported on Sept. 13 it's believed Amendola's injury occurred in the third quarter on a punt return.
Per the Patriots' official injury report, Gronkowski returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday after sitting out Wednesday; Amendola was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Patriots rebounded from their Week 1 loss against the Chiefs with a 36-20 win over the Saints. They have won eight of nine meetings against the Texans, including two postseason matchups.
Per Premium Sport (h/t Metro) the Gunners made a £22 million offer for his services in July, but Cuadrado opted to stay in Serie A. Reporters have been asking him about the move ever since, and he has responded in a similar manner every time:
"I never thought about leaving and I'm happy to have stayed here, at this team that gave me confidence.
"I'm very happy with my performance, and I have to keep pushing hard because there's not only Douglas Costa but also Bernardeschi.
"They want to show that they want to play, so I have to keep going like this."
Just last week, he said the same thing when asked about saying goodbye to the club, maintaining he "never thought of leaving," per Sky Sports Italia (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star).
The 29-year-old has maintained his role as a starter in Turin this season, despite the arrivals of Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa. Manager Massimiliano Allegri is known for his tendency to introduce new players slowly, but Cuadrado has stepped up to the challenge after a sloppy start to the season.
While consistency has been an issue for Cuadrado in Turin, he's been exactly the dynamic force the Bianconeri were hoping for out wide when he has found his rhythm. The winger had several key outings in the UEFA Champions League last season, both as a starter and an impact substitute off the bench.
He's expected to transition into that role over the course of this season, with the more consistent Costa moving into the starting XI. The Brazilian has already flashed his huge talent in a number of cameo appearances and started in the Champions League against Barcelona.
Bernardeschi will also vie for minutes, but if Cuadrado can continue playing the way he has of late, there's no reason to believe he'll drop too far down the pecking order.
He'll turn 30 in May and will see his value drop in the coming years, so Juventus will have to choose between cashing in now or keeping him around as a versatile depth option. As of right now, the latter seems more likely, and a transfer doesn't seem to be on the horizon.
Nino Bertasio claimed the lead at the 2017 Portugal Masters, posting a second round of six-under 65 on Friday.
The Italian resides on 12-under for the tournament, leading the field by a single shot at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
For the latest leaderboard, visit the European Tour's official website.
Six birdies from Bertasio capped off a wonderful day for the leader, as the 29-year-old took control of the competition.
Starting on the back nine, four birdies over six holes put the wind in the Italian's sails, driving him to equal his overall total from the opening round.
Bertasio was one of the last players out on the course, and his consistency toward the clubhouse saw him leapfrog Lucas Bjerregaard and Marc Warren.
The pair had led on 11-under, with Warren shooting seven-under to propel himself up the leaderboard.
Thomas Aiken shot the best individual round of the second day, recording eight-under 63, but his disappointing first round leaves him six shots off the lead.
The European Tour highlighted the South African's scorecard:
Defending champion Padraig Harrington remains in the hunt to retain his title, with the Irish veteran on eight-under for the tournament.
Five birdies gave Harrington traction through the day, but a bogey on No. 9 punctured his momentum.
Shane Lowry's score of seven-under 64 saw him climb 35 places to joint-sixth on the leaderboard.
Lowry sunk eight birdies on his way to the close of play, and he will be a threat on Day 3 if he continues his current form.
Tiger Woods continues to make progress in his recovery from back surgery, but there's no timetable for a return to competitive golf.
In a post on his official website, Woods updated his status by noting he's hitting shots and doing regular exercise activities:
"I'm starting to hit the ball a little further -- 60-yard shots. I have not taken a full swing since my back fusion surgery last April, but continue to chip and putt every day. I'm working out six days a week, alternating between the treadmill, bike riding, swimming and lifting twice a day. My muscle tone is coming back, but I'm not in golf shape yet. That's going to take time."
Woods only played in three events between the PGA and European Tours during the 2016-17 season. He withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3 prior to the second round with back spasms.
In April, Woods announced on his website he underwent a procedure on his back "to alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg." He added that typical recovery time required six months before patients were back to full strength.
With the six-month timeframe approaching in October, Woods noted Friday he has an upcoming exam with his doctor that will determine "what I can do moving forward."
Woods has only appeared in 24 tournaments since 2014 due to various health problems, including four different operations on his back. The 41-year-old hasn't won a tournament since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Aug. 2013.
New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius went 1-for-4 with a home run during Wednesday's 11-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The round-tripper was his 25th of the year, passing Derek Jeter for the most in a season by a Yankees shortstop, per Sportsnet Stats.
He hasn't been as active on the basepaths as in other seasons, however. He totaled 12 stolen bases from 2015 through 2016 but has managed to swipe just two bags throughout 128 games this season.
That said, the 27-year-old is still having the best year of his career. Gregorius already has career highs in home runs and RBI (84) and is on pace to set career bests in batting average (.291) and OPS (.820).
Gregorius will attempt to build on his great season when the Yankees face off against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. Marco Estrada, who is 9-8 with a 4.84 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, is set to take the mound for the host Jays.
Hopefully nobody is tired of controversy because Jinder Mahal and WWE SmackDown Live gave it away tenfold.
One week after Vince McMahon's bleeding controversy, wrestling fans have something else to get mad about for a week as fake racism has sparked real outrage.
Mahal has captured national attention for a number of reasons that present him as a likable pillar of diversity in a promotion that has a difficult relationship with that word. Suddenly, he is at the epicenter of a controversy that implicates his persona as a heel.
If the issue plagues Westbrook long-term, it would essentially end Oklahoma City's championship hopes after he dominated the league in 2016-17, averaging a triple-double with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. He won the MVP, broke Oscar Robertson's record of 41 triple-doubles in a season and can single-handedly carry the team for extended stretches.
The point guard is a six-time All-Star and one of the best players in the entire NBA. With an improved supporting cast around him, the Thunder have higher hopes for the season.
Oklahoma City will likely turn to Semaj Christon and Raymond Felton at point guard during Westbrook's absence. It also has Paul George as another star to carry the offense when Westbrook is not on the floor.
Still, the Thunder are on the short list of Western Conference contenders largely because of Westbrook's presence and playmaking abilities. They need their superstar point guard to be healthy if they hope to challenge the best teams in the West.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals each of the past three seasons, including winning the 2016 NBA championship.
Jason Lloyd of the Athletic reported on Sept. 8 Thomas' hip injury, which caused him to miss the final three games of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, is more than just a torn labrum.
"Some of those secondary issues in the hip he has played with for years now, such as a loss of cartilage and some arthritis, are complicating his healing process," Lloyd wrote. "'No one has any idea how quickly this will heal or if it even will heal at all,' the source said. 'It's hard to predict.'"
The Celtics led the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 record last season, added Irving and Gordon Hayward to the roster and appear poised to take over as the best team in the conference.
The Heat missed the playoffs last season with a 41-41 record. They signed Kelly Olynyk away from the Celtics to boost their depth in the frontcourt and help them return to the postseason.
Starrcade was so often the Ric Flair show.
The 16-time world champion headlined the NWA (and later WCW) mega event 10 times. And Flair annually made the most of that grand stage. The list of best Starrcade bouts is brimming with The Nature Boy's performances.
And now, some 17 years since the last Starrcade, WWE has decided to revive the event. Sort of.
WWE announced that a Nov. 25 live show in Greensboro, North Carolina, will borrow the old pay-per-view's name. But where Starrcade was NWA and then WCW's biggest event of the year, this version will be a untelevised nostalgia trip.
As Sami Zayn prepares to clash with Kevin Owens and Flair's daughter Charlotte gears up for a Steel Cage match against Natalya, the memories of what Starrcade once was are sure to emerge.
Flair was a part of several of the show's classic bouts. And with or without him, the PPV often hit its highest notes when it was most brutal. Cage matches, bloodshed and outright hate power many of Starrcade's greatest contests ever.
The following is a ranking of those bouts, ordering them by the power of the story, the excitement of the action and how memorable the wrestlers were able to make it all.
Per ESPN.com's Dan Graziano, Bradford's knee "didn't respond well to practice work this week."
ESPN's Chris Mortensen added Bradford is going to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his knee Friday.
Bradford had a terrific 2017 debut against the New Orleans Saints. The 2010 No. 1 overall pick went 27-of-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-19 Week 1 win.
Mortensen reported on Sept. 15 the Vikings had "some concerns" about Bradford's knee after he underwent an MRI when he experienced "swelling, pain and discomfort" during the win over New Orleans.
The Vikings made Bradford inactive in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting Case Keenum in his place.
Bradford tore the ACL in his left knee twice during the 2013 and 2014 seasons while playing for the St. Louis Rams. The 29-year-old appeared in 29 of a possible 32 games with the Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles from 2015-16, including setting an NFL record with a 71.6 completion percentage last season.
On Friday, TMZ Sports passed along a conversation between Smith and a photographer, who said "LeBron's gone man. Deal with it." He then asked whether the veteran sharpshooter thought James would leave Cleveland to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I think LeBron's gonna be wherever the f--k he wanna be at!" Smith said.
James' future has become a hot-button topic in recent months as he enters the final guaranteed year of his current contract. He can exercise a player option following the 2017-18 NBA season to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Although the 32-year-old Ohio native hasn't publicly discussed his plans, there's been ample speculation about the four-time NBA MVP potentially taking his talents out west.
"Accordingly, I'm publicly terminating the pandemic of speculation surrounding LeBron James' playing plans past this season," Vecsey wrote. "For months, many in the media declared or composed presumption the Lakers would be the beneficiaries of his talents when he became a free agent July 1, 2018. I'm eradicating all conjecture and uncertainty! I'm comfortable now in stating unequivocally, LeBron will leave the Cavaliers a second time and join the Lakers, and return the team to L.A. lore status."
Alex Kennedy of The HoopsHype Podcast previously noted Fox Sports 1 NBA analyst Chris Broussard doesn't think King James joining the Lakers is anywhere close to a lock, though.
"I think the talk about the Lakers is overblown," Broussard said. "That doesn't mean it's definitely not going to happen. ... If he leaves, especially if he goes West to the Lakers, there's a very good chance that he's not getting back to the Finals [because of the Golden State Warriors]."
In the meantime, James and the Cavaliers will look to hunt down another championship. And while Smith didn't appear to enjoy the line of questioning about the superstar's future, he better get used to it because it's going to remain a focal point of conversation surrounding the Cavs all season.
The New York Knicks are preparing to open training camp with Carmelo Anthony still on their roster, though general manager Scott Perry isn't completely closing the door on a trade involving the 10-time All-Star.
Speaking to reporters on Friday (via ESPN.com's Ian Begley), Perry said the Knicks have an "open mind" about Anthony and added that they expect him to be present at training camp:
"Look, Carmelo's going to be back here. Carmelo has always been a professional. That's one thing I've always respected about him. I think he can set a good example for the young players. He's been a 10-time All-Star. If he's back here with the New York Knicks, we expect him to be the professional he's always exemplified throughout his career and move forward with him."
Anthony's name has been bantered about in trade rumors this offseason. FS1's Jason McIntyre reported Thursday that people in Anthony's camp were attempting a "Hail Mary" to get a deal done with the Houston Rockets before he would agree to a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
As part of the five-year deal Anthony signed with the Knicks three years ago, he received a full no-trade clause that gives him some control over where he can be dealt.
Anthony is coming off a solid statistical season in 2016-17. The 33-year-old averaged 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 74 games.
The Knicks finished 31-51 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. They open the 2017-18 regular season on Oct. 19 with a road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
UConn women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma offered to give up his pay for the 2017-18 season in an effort to help with the state of Connecticut's budget crisis and combat potential cuts at UConn.
According to Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant, Auriemma said the following about the situation:
"I'll tell you what. I'll work for free next year. I'll give up what the state pays me, what the taxpayers are paying me, but guess what? I pay my taxes and I don't care how much money it costs for me to have good schools where I live in Manchester. My [adult] kids don't go to school there. I can afford it. I want to be proud of our town's education system. Why is it that older people turn their back on education when somebody paid for their kids when they were in school? We've lost sight of what we have to do for other people."
Per Jacobs, one proposed budget includes $300 million in cuts to UConn.
According to ESPN.com, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he will veto that Republican-backed budget due to the negative impact it would have on UConn.
ESPN also reported that Auriemma is scheduled to make over $2 million during the upcoming season.
The Huskies have lost just two games under Auriemma over the past four seasons, and he led them to four consecutive national championships prior to last season.
Auriemma boasts a career record of 991-135 with 11 national titles to his credit in 32 seasons.
Ford Field is becoming a real advantage for the Detroit Lions; they're 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread over their last eight home games. But the Lions might need all the advantages they can get when they host the Atlanta Falcons in a possible playoff preview Sunday afternoon.
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 23.8-16.6 Lions (NFL picks on every game)
Why the Falcons can cover the spread
The defending NFC champs are off to a 2-0 start this season, following their 34-23 dismantling of Green Bay last week. Atlanta drove 86 yards to a touchdown on its first possession of the game and used a 24-0 run to take control and easily cover a three-point spread.
The Falcons led 34-10 into the fourth quarter before allowing the Packers to score twice, creating a rather misleading final score.
Atlanta outgained Green Bay 367-364, with much of the Packers' yardage came in garbage time. The Falcons outrushed Green Bay 141-59 and won the turnover battle 2-0, returning one of those takeaways for a defensive touchdown that really put the game out of reach early in the third quarter.
Atlanta is already 2-0 against the NFC North, including their Week 1 victory over the Bears in Chicago.
Why the Lions can cover the spread
The Lions are also off to a 2-0 start, and they're 2-0 ATS after beating the Giants in New Jersey Monday night 24-10. Detroit, as a three-point underdog, took an early 7-0 lead and pushed that to 17-7. The Lions allowed New York to get within 17-10 but iced the victory on Jamal Agnew's 88-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Detroit outrushed the Giants 138-62 and held a 33-27 edge in time of possession. Quarterback Matt Stafford only threw for 122 yards but with two touchdowns, running back Ameer Abdullah gained 86 yards on 17 carries, and kicker Matt Prater boomed a 56-yard field goal that gave the Lions a boost going into halftime.
The Detroit defense recorded five sacks, forced two turnovers and made a key stop deep in its red zone in the third quarter, holding the Giants to a field goal.
The Lions opened this season with a 35-23 come-from-behind victory over Arizona, winning that one outright and as three-point home dogs.
Atlanta doesn't seem to be suffering from any Super Bowl hangover, but the Detroit defense is playing good ball. Arizona scored 23 points on the Lions in Week 1, but the first seven came on a pick-six and the last six came after the outcome had been decided. The Falcons have the flash from their passing game, but the smart money here likes the Lions.
NFL betting trends
The Falcons are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in their last four games against the Lions.
The Falcons are 6-15 SU in their last 21 games on the road against the Lions.
The Lions are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in the early afternoon.
All NFL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.
The NCAA announced Friday that Rutgers University would be placed on two-year probation beginning immediately for multiple violations over a five-year period.
Rutgers "failed to monitor its football program" the NCAA said in the official release. The governing body of college athletics noted issues included the school not ensuring its drug-testing program was in compliance and a failure to "promote an atmosphere of compliance" by former head coach Kyle Flood.
Other penalties imposed by the NCAA featured a one-year show-cause period for both Flood and former assistant Darrell Wilson as well as "public reprimand and censure" for the university.
The NCAA also accepted Rutgers' self-imposed reductions in off-campus recruiting days and official visits from recruits, a one-week prohibition on prospect contact and a $5,000 fine.
"The former head coach took a casual approach to compliance as it relates to the host program," the Division I Committee on Infractions panel said. "He exercised little, if any, oversight of the group, permitting recruiting staff to administer the program with no supervision. As the individual who had ultimate oversight of all aspects of the football program, it is implicit that the head coach was also responsible for the actions of football hosts and, ultimately, the violations they committed."
Flood took over as the Scarlet Knights' head coach in 2012 after seven years as an assistant on the program's coaching staff. He accumulated a 27-24 record across four seasons before getting fired in November 2015.
The 46-year-old New York native currently works for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons as an assistant offensive line coach.
Chris Ash took over the Rutgers football program from Flood. He guided the team to a 2-10 record during the 2016 season and a 1-2 mark so far this season.
Although the team struggled during the investigation, the Scarlet Knights' outlook improved by avoiding a bowl ban or scholarship reductions as part of the NCAA's ruling.
Bengaluru Royals put on a show during Friday's 2017 Indian Premier Futsal action, beating Chennai Singhams 7-3.
Delhi Dragons were also in action, with Ronaldinho scoring a free-kick in the 4-0 win over Telugu Tigers.
Here are Friday's scores:
Chennai Singhams 3-7 Bengaluru Royals
Telugu Tigers 0-4 Delhi Dragons
For the full standings and the schedule, visit the Premier Futsal's official website.
Friday's first outing between Bengaluru and Chennai got out of hand quickly, as the former put on a show in the first and second periods.
Jonathan Silva, Petterson Medeiros, Renzo Grasso and Raducio King punished mistakes from Chennai, and in no time, the score was 7-1.
Even the team's official Twitter account lost count at one point:
Douglas Ferreira and Fredsan Marshall managed to balance things out a bit late with two goals, and an orange card for Jonathan further halted Bengaluru's momentum, but the damage had already been done.
The second match was always going to struggle living up to such a showpiece affair, but in-form Delhi Dragons continued their fine play, taking a two-goal lead into half-time through Diego Costa.
Ronaldinho's aim in front of goal was somewhat off―he missed a lot of chances on Friday―but he did score with a free-kick and set up Nicholas Rolon to put the final score on the board.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter discussed his fears regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy during an appearance on his Fox Sports 1 show Friday.
As seen in the following video clip from First Things First, courtesy of Fox Sports on Twitter, Carter called recent studies regarding CTE "frightening" and said he was "conflicted" about the situation:
Despite his concerns, Carter said he wouldn't change a thing about the path he took toward becoming one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.
During his discussion, Carter mentioned a study released in July by medical journal JAMA (h/t CNN.com's Daniella Emanuel).
As part of the study, CTE was found in the brains of 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players who showed symptoms of the disease while they were living.
The 51-year-old Carter said he was never diagnosed with a concussion during his 16-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins.
Although he said he hasn't shown any signs of CTE, Carter said, "I worry what my future is."
Carter finished his career with 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns, ranking him fourth all-time in receiving scores.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday there's no contract extension in place for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram passed along Jones' response when asked on 105.3 The Fan Radio if a new deal is done for the league's top executive: "It's not."
On Sunday, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reported Jones had "impeded the progress" toward a Goodell extension being discussed by the NFL's compensation committee.
"If not for Jerry this deal would be done," a source told Schefter and Mortensen.
Talk about Goodell's future comes at a time when Jones is at odds with the league office over its handling of the six-game suspension handed to Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for allegations of domestic violence. The ruling is currently under appeal within the U.S. court system.
Last month, Jones said on 105.3 The Fan radio he supported the NFL's efforts against domestic violence, but he didn't think there was evidence to support the Elliott ban, per Gabrielle McMillen of the Sporting News.
"On the other hand with what we are today and what we're trying to be relative to addressing it in the league, (it) has all kinds of issues and it should," he said. "It's a very complicated issue because you have no evidence here. That's all I want to say about it.
"But it creates quite a convoluted approach by Zeke's representatives and by the league that I really hate is a focus of all of our attention. I do. Even though others would say that the issue needs this kind of focus and you're using the NFL for visibility."
Schefter reported Thursday the Goodell extension was being "papered right now" and, while it could take some time to finalize, it's "getting done."
Elliott is allowed to continue playing for Dallas while his appeal continues.
Speaking to Sky Sports News (h/t Alex Porter of the Manchester Evening News), the pundit and former United defender addressed the recent rumours and said he thinks Sanchez has appeared "distracted" with the Gunners.
"United, from a general perspective, should always be challenging for the best players in the world and bringing them in.
"Sanchez has been distracted at Arsenal for the last six months. His career at Arsenal, I couldn't say a bad word about him until two or three months before the end of last season.
"Let's see how he performs this season at Arsenal. Ultimately he is still building up his fitness, he's still not in the team."
Neil Custis of The Sun recently reported United want to beat Manchester City to the signing of the Chile international. The player will be a free agent in the summer and reportedly would want a £25 million signing-on fee to move to Old Trafford.
The figure is well within United's capabilities, and the player could be a viable alternative to long-term target Antoine Griezmann.
Sanchez is proven in England, scoring 24 goals in 38 Premier League appearances last term while creating 78 chances across the season, per Squawka.
United manager Jose Mourinho has made his team more potent since the signing of Romelu Lukaku, but the addition of Sanchez would propel them to a new level.
The Red Devils have creativity from Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Sanchez is both a goalscorer and creator with pace to burn.
Sanchez will be 29 next season, and he would be a good fit with United's youthful core rotating through the attack.
The £25 million signing-on fee would seem like nothing for most big clubs, considering today's inflated market in terms of transfer fees for top players, so Sanchez will be a bargain for any side that grabs his signature.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday that Eifert will miss the contest due to back and knee ailments.
In two games for the struggling Bengals so far this season, Eifert has just four receptions for 46 yards.
Eifert hasn't completed a full season since entering the NFL as a first-round pick in 2013. He missed almost all of 2014 with a dislocated elbow and was limited to just eight games last year due to back injuries.
His back problems returned in 2017, and they will once again keep him off the field.
When healthy, Eifert is one of the best red-zone threats in the league. The 6'6" tight end has been a game-changing player at times with 13 touchdowns in 13 games in 2015 and five scores in eight games last year.
Even if his yards and catches fluctuate, he always has to be accounted for in goal-to-go situations.
With the 27-year-old injured once again, however, the Bengals will need to turn to other options on the roster. Tyler Kroft and Ryan Hewitt will get additional snaps at tight end, but receivers A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell will be the top targets near the end zone.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, who spearheaded research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, said he believes CTE drove former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to "suicide and other criminal and violent behavior."
On Friday, TMZ Sports passed along comments from Omalu about both Hernandez and the connection between playing football and suffering brain trauma.
"I am yet to examine the brain of professional football player who does not have CTE or other forms of brain damage," he said. "And we have always known for centuries that if you suffer forceful and/or repetitive blows to your head in whatever human activity, you will suffer brain damage."
Jose Baez, a lawyer for Hernandez, announced Thursday the football player's estate filed a federal lawsuit against the National Football League and the Patriots organization for failing to protect the Connecticut native from brain injuries, per Ken Belson of the New York Times.
Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, conducted the examination of Hernandez's brain and discovered "classic features of CTE in the brain." Baez said lawsuits were also being considered against the NCAA and the University of Florida, where the tight end played college football.
Omalu told TMZ Sports based on his research into the issue and the findings announced Thursday, "it should not be surprising that Aaron Hernandez eventually committed suicide."
"If a child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure to brain damage," he said. "No child under the age of 18 in today's America should be playing any of the high-impact, high-contact sports, and the big six are football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, rugby, boxing and wrestling. Let us keep our children healthy and make them play only non-contact sports."
Hernandez was found hanging in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on April 19. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.
The 27-year-old former football player was serving a life sentence after being found guilty in 2015 for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. A Massachusetts judge erased the murder conviction in May since the appeal process remained ongoing at the time of his death.
In July, the JAMA Network released results of the latest information about a study into a potential link between playing football and CTE, which showed 99 percent of former players (110 of 111) were "neuropathologically diagnosed" with the degenerative brain disease.
An interesting weekend of football lies ahead after one of the better Thursday night games in recent memory occurred when the Los Angeles Rams held on to beat the San Francisco 49ers, 41-39, behind three touchdowns and 149 yards from scrimmage from Todd Gurley.
A few notable Week 3 storylines:How will the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals do on offense after struggling through the first two weeks? Those two teams have combined to score just 28 points in four contests. Are the 2-0 Detroit Lions, who have beaten both of their opponents by double digits, for real? We'll find out when they face the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is on a tear after two weeks. Can he dominate all season?
It should be a fun slate of games. Here's a look at some new fantasy football rankings, in addition to how some news, notes and Las Vegas line movements from around the league potentially impact this weekend's results.
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 350 passing yards, 4 TDs, 20 rushing yards (32 points)
2. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 325 passing yards, 3 TDs (25 points)
3. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles) vs. New York Giants: 250 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 40 rushing yards, 1 TD (23 points)
4. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) at Detroit Lions: 300 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT (23 points)
5. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) vs. Seattle Seahawks: 200 passing yards, 1 TD, 50 rushing yards, 1 TD (23 points)
6. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) vs. New Orleans Saints: 200 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 40 rushing yards, 1 TD (21 points)
7. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) at Los Angeles Chargers: 275 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 30 rushing yards (21 points)
8. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) at Washington Redskins: 325 passing yards, 2 TDs (21 points)
9. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills) vs. Denver Broncos: 150 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 50 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 1 INT (20 points)
10. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Chicago Bears: 250 passing yards, 2 TDs (18 points)
The Kansas City Chiefs offense looks fantastic after two games, but the defense has been hit and miss. Per Football Outsiders, Kansas City's defense ranks 16th.
Of course, two games is a small sample size, but the Chiefs lost superstar safety Eric Berry to a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in the season opener against the New England Patriots. The team is also without edge-rusher Tamba Hali and cornerback Steven Nelson.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers could be in line for a big game. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles hung tough with Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium before losing 27-20. Quarterback Carson Wentz, No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz all had good games.
Rivers has a few excellent targets, namely wideout Keenan Allen and tight end Hunter Henry. With those two, Rivers has the potential for a 300-yard, three-touchdown game.
1. Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins) at New York Jets: 130 rushing yards, 2 TDs (25 points)
2. Le'Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Chicago Bears: 120 rushing yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards (23 points)
3. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys) at Arizona Cardinals: 120 rushing yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 40 yards (20 points)
4. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills) vs. Denver Broncos: 80 rushing yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards (19 points)
5. Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers) vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 60 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 TD (17 points)
6. Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) at Los Angeles Chargers: 80 rushing yards, 1 TD, 3 catches, 30 receiving yards (17 points)
7. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 50 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 TD (16 points)
8. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons) at Detroit Lions: 60 rushing yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions, 40 receiving yards (16 points)
9. Mike Gillislee (New England Patriots) vs. Houston Texans: 40 rushing yards, 2 TDs (16 points)
10. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans) vs. Seattle Seahawks: 100 rushing yards, 1 TD (16 points)
Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray's status is in doubt on Sunday. Here's some Thursday news from Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com:
Although Murray could make a great recovery and suit up, the guess here is that he either sits or plays on a limited basis Sunday.
That means Derrick Henry should handle the Titans' running responsibilities on Sunday, and he could be in line for a big game. According to Football Outsiders, Seattle has struggled against the run so far, ranking fifth-worst in the NFL. San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde just rushed for 124 yards in CenturyLink Field on Sunday, which is usually not an easy task in a tough environment.
Meanwhile, Henry has impressed in the early going, running for 92 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2.
This could be a breakout game for the second-year pro and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner.
1. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) at Detroit Lions: 10 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TDs (25 points)
2. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) at Minnesota Vikings: 10 receptions, 130 yards, 1 TD (19 points)
3. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals) at Green Bay Packers: 9 receptions, 120 yards, 1 TD (18 points)
4. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Chicago Bears: 7 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD (17 points)
5. Michael Crabtree (Oakland Raiders) at Washington Redskins: 8 receptions, 100 yards, 1 TD (16 points)
6. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 7 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD (15 points)
7. Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers) vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 8 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD (15 points)
8. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants) at Philadelphia Eagles: 6 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD (14 points)
9. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions) vs. Atlanta Falcons: 7 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD (14 points)
10. Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia Eagles): 7 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD (14 points)
According to John Healy of the New York Daily News, New York Giants shutdown cornerback Janoris Jenkins is "unlikely to play" on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles due to an ankle injury that forced him to miss the G-Men's 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 2.
Jenkins is one of the best players at his position. He held Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant to just two receptions in the season opener, and he frequently slows down the opposing team's No. 1 wideout.
Without him, the Giants might have some trouble stopping Alshon Jeffery, a 6'3", 218-pound target who is capable of multiple red-zone touchdowns. He did well on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, registering seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. A similar stat line could occur this weekend.
1. Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles) vs. New York Giants: 7 receptions, 100 receiving yards, 1 TD (16 points)
2. Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) at Los Angeles Chargers: 7 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD (14 points)
3. Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots) vs. Houston Texans: 5 receptions, 70 yards, 1 TD (13 points)
4. Evan Engram (New York Giants) at Philadelphia Eagles: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD (11 points)
5. Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills) vs. Denver Broncos: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD (11 points)
6. Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers) vs. Kansas City Chiefs: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD (11 points)
7. Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans) vs. Seattle Seahawks: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD (11 points)
8. Benjamin Watson (Baltimore Ravens) at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London): 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 TD (11 points)
9. Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders) at Washington Redskins: 4 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD (10 points)
10. Ed Dickson (Carolina Panthers) vs. New Orleans Saints: 3 receptions, 30 yards, 1 TD (9 points)
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has been placed on injured reserve due to a broken foot suffered on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, per Max Henson of the team's website, and he'll miss at least eight weeks. Backup Panthers tight end Ed Dickson will start in his place as Carolina faces the New Orleans Saints at home.
The Saints have given up 65 points over the course of their first two games. Although the Panthers offense has struggled, it's hard to imagine Carolina having trouble moving the ball.
Furthermore, the Saints have struggled against tight ends this year. Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (three catches, 26 yards, one touchdown) and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (six catches, 116 yards, one touchdown) have done well against New Orleans so far.
Although Dickson isn't in the same class as those tight ends, don't be surprised to see him as a red-zone target Sunday. A touchdown and a few receptions aren't out of the question.
1. Matt Prater (Detroit Lions) vs. Atlanta Falcons: 2 FG (40-49), 1 FG (50-and-over), 2 PAT (15 points)
2. Dan Bailey (Dallas Cowboys) at Arizona Cardinals: 3 FG (39-and-under), 1 FG (40-49), 2 PAT (15 points)
3. Giorgio Tavecchio (Oakland Raiders) vs. Washington Redskins: 2 FG (39-and-under), 1 FG (40-49), 3 PAT (13 points)
4. Chris Boswell (Pittsburgh Steelers) at Chicago Bears: 2 FG (40-49), 3 PAT (11 points)
5. Blair Walsh (Seattle Seahawks) vs. Tennessee Titans: 1 FG (39-and-under), 2 FG (40-49) (11 points)
6. Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis Colts) vs. Cleveland Browns: 2 FG (40-49), 2 PAT (10 points)
7. Matt Bryant (Atlanta Falcons) at Detroit Lions: 2 FG (39-and-under), 4 PAT (10 points)
8. Mason Crosby (Green Bay Packers) vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 2 FG (39-and-under), 4 PAT (10 points)
9. Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens) at Jacksonville Jaguars in London: 1 FG (39-and-under), 1 FG (40-49), 2 PAT (9 points)
10. Dustin Hopkins (Washington Redskins) vs. Oakland Raiders: 1 FG (40-49), 3 PAT (7 points)
According to OddsShark, the over/under total for the Oakland Raiders vs. Washington Redskins Sunday Night Football tilt is 54.5 points, which beats the next-highest game (Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions) by four.
That number has actually moved up a half-point from where it started, per Vegas Insider, meaning sharp bettors have confidence that the result will actually go over the massive point total.
If the Vegas picks come to fruition, then the kickers (Giorgio Tavecchio of the Oakland Raiders and Dustin Hopkins of the Washington Redskins) should stay busy.
Tavecchio has made all 13 of his field-goal and extra-point attempts this year, while Hopkins has hit all five extra points and three of four field-goal tries.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (at Chicago Bears): 3 sacks, 3 INT, 7-13 PA (16 points)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Minnesota Vikings): 2 sacks, 3 INT, 1-6 PA (15 points)
3. Carolina Panthers (vs. New Orleans Saints): 3 sacks, 2 INT, 7-13 PA (11 points)
4. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers): 3 sacks, 2 INT, 7-13 PA (11 points)
5. Baltimore Ravens (at Jacksonville Jaguars in London): 2 sacks, 2 INT, 7-13 PA (10 points)
6. Green Bay Packers (vs. Cincinnati Bengals): 2 sacks, 2 INT, 7-13 PA (10 points)
7. Buffalo Bills (vs. Denver Broncos): 4 sacks, 1 INT, 7-13 PA (10 points)
8. Tennessee Titans (vs. Seattle Seahawks): 4 sacks, 1 INT, 7-13 PA (10 points)
9. Miami Dolphins (at New York Jets): 3 sacks, 1 INT, 7-13 PA (9 points)
10. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Giants): 3 sacks, 2 INT, 14-20 PA (8 points)
The Cincinnati Bengals offense has only scored nine points in two games, and they just fired their offensive coordinator.
Although the Green Bay Packers defense isn't one of the stronger units in the league, a trip to Lambeau Field usually means a need to score well into the 20s just to keep up with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.
Furthermore, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com predicts that tight end Tyler Eifert won't play:
Eifert scored 13 touchdowns in 13 games just two seasons ago. Losing him will be a huge blow to the Bengals offense.
Therefore, the Packers defense might have a productive day. Stopping superstar wide receiver A.J. Green should prove difficult, but other matchups are in the Packers' favor.
Here's something you probably hadn't contemplated: People are hot to see CM Punk return to the UFC, and they seem keen to have that return come against Ronda Rousey's oft-ridiculed coach, Edmond Tarverdyan.
Pretty good to roll into your weekend with that concept, huh?
To be clear, the fight isn't close to being made. There is no logical reason to make it. It is objectively absurd on every measurable level.
Luckily though, this is MMA.
Pipe-dream fights happen with some regularity. Logic is increasingly on the back burner in a world where WME-IMG wants money fights above all else. The objectively absurd is often the mundane in this sport.
That's why this bout makes all the sense in the world.
Tarverdyan was back in the news this week, boldly claiming on The MMA Hour (via Bloody Elbow) he'd like to see Rousey come back for a fight against longtime nemesis Cris Cyborg. If that suggestion wasn't enough to warrant the type of tongue-clucking his nuggets of wisdom usually do, he followed it up by essentially telling the entire sport to "shut up" because he "know[s his] s--t."
And the tongues clucked.
Say what you will about Tarverdyan—for better or worse, he is absolutely magnetic. He is brash, he is confident and he carries himself with an amount of bravado that many—Rousey's own mother, included—might suggest to be unwarranted.
He's also 2-0 as a lightweight who's been inactive for five years and will turn 36 in December.
So naturally, in a world where former WWE star CM Punk is still on the UFC roster and appears hellbent on coming back to the cage to try his hand, Tarverdyan should be the guy to meet him.
Punk will turn 39 next month and has just notched another year of inactivity. He's 0-1 since signing with the UFC in 2014, with his lone loss coming in a highly memorable beatdown at the hands of the entirely legitimate Mickey Gall last September.
The clock is ticking for both guys, and there are motivations and merits on both sides of the ledger.
For Tarverdyan, he's long been ridiculed as having ridden Rousey's coattails to recognition. Many would suggest he can't distinguish between a right hook and a fishing hook. What better way to prove people wrong than to step in the cage himself and put on a good show against one of the more famous faces on the roster?
Further to that, Tarverdyan has had some financial troubles recently. While you'd never want to force a person into something as dangerous as an MMA fight purely for financial reasons, Tarverdyan might see a quick UFC payday as his best chance to get back on the level.
Realistically, if Punk got $500,000 to show up in the Gall fight, Tarverdyan should be able to get close to that for a night's work given his own name recognition. It probably wouldn't hurt to have Rousey, Travis Browne or other UFC fighters he's coached to be kicking around either, as they could potentially call in a favor to help get him paid.
For Punk, he'd be getting the biggest name opponent imaginable for a man in his position. While the fight that seemingly makes sense is fellow 0-1 slugger Mike Jackson, Punk would be met with the type of obnoxious swagger that would surely bring out the best in him as a self-promoter.
Also, given Punk's lack of experience and Tarverdyan's long layoff, there is a legitimate chance Punk could surprise and land a win. Few truly know what Tarverdyan's skill level is in combat, and though there is an idea of what Punk is at this point, there's no telling how much he may have improved since his last fight.
He could have closed the gap between him and someone of Tarverdyan's level, provided one ever existed, and plenty of people would pay to see how that would play out. Factor in that Tarverdyan would be coming up in weight to make the fight something of a size-versus-speed battle (albeit an almost comically inexperienced one), and it becomes that much more interesting.
Again, let's be clear: This fight is not close to being made. There is no logical reason to make it. It is objectively absurd on every measurable level.
But this is MMA.
This is a sport where a pro wrestler shows up on a whim to headline the biggest event in UFC history.
This is a sport where people accidentally defecating in the middle of the action is met with a collective shrug and some smarmy tweets.
This is a sport where the biggest stars throw cans of energy drink at one another for minutes on end and are largely lauded for their salesmanship.
So you're going to say CM Punk vs. Edmond Tarverdyan couldn't happen? That it doesn't make sense? That it's too absurd?
That’s exactly why it should happen.