I will be honest. Before about 8:30 pm Eastern on Sunday night I had no idea what a swap meet store was. Saints recipient Michael Thomas said on the phone late Sunday that it was a flea market. The kind of place you could inadvertently go in and take something you could never use. Only in this case Thomas was not targeted on the Internet. He needed a telephone.

It was earlier in October, and the star of the saints in the third year had a plan.

"It was inspired by Joe Horn, of course," Thomas said, referring to his predecessor with a big receiver in New Orleans. "I did not talk to him about it. I looked at it a few times on YouTube and came up with the plan. "

It was pretty simple and quite stolen: hide the flip phone under the goal post in the Superdome so it can be pulled out the next time the player touches it. In December 2003, Horn came up with the idea to put the former telephone model under the upholstery of the Superdome.

When Horn met the Giants that Sunday in '03, teammate Michael Lewis pulled out the phone and handed it to him for a phony call. Coach Jim Haslett reprimanded Horn for the stunt that day. An AP column published the next morning admonished the celebration as "classless and daunting," and "a pure example of selfish football."

Thomas loved it.

Better still, Thomas could bring out his homage at the best time. Sunday's showdown at the Superdome could well determine where the NFC title game will be played. The Rams stormed back 35-14 to tie the game at 9:48. After 3:52 minutes, the saints clung to the 38-35 lead, finishing third and seventh from their own 28-yard line.

• MMQB MONDAY MORNING PODCAST: Gary Gramling and Andy Benoit break the 9th week. Subscribe to iTunes.

The rest is history – and we will explain this part in a minute. After Thomas's 72-yard touchdown to the next game, there was no surer sign of how times have changed since 2003, when New Orleans coach Sean Payton quietly and deftly manages the not-so-improvised end zone managed party of his star receiver.

"He told me I should just be smart, do not hurt this team," said Thomas. "He said he loves the way I play and compete, but be smart."

Thomas promised that he would not do it again, but in this case the 15 yards were worth it, because there was a lot to celebrate.

Drew Brees is still a top 3 quarterback in the NFL. Thomas may be the recipient # 1. Alvin Kamara is as scary as the sport. Payton seems to have lost nothing in his 13th year at the top. The defense has improved.

And the saints came out on Sunday and looked like the most complete team in the league.

There is much to experience what happened in the Superdome on Sunday in the NFL, and we will achieve everything. Including:

• An autopsy of the Browns implosion This week, in one fell swoop, how the team handled their quarterback decisions over the last three years, which is interesting to agree with all the things coach Hue Jackson said late last week.

The panthers pass away has exploded with creativity Thanks to the attitude of a 66-year-old coordinator who has just been a year off coaching.

The hawks have come to life againIn the middle, it shattered the revival of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who explained on his return from Hartsfield last night how he has grown into NFL play caller in second grade.

• The Steelers met with the Ravens on Sunday, James Conner scored again for Pittsburgh, and Le'Veon Bell has eight days to tell if he wants to play in 2018. And the All Pro Guard David DeCastro tells us The team is fine now, whether Bell shows up or not.

The Viking defense looks what it should look like At the start of the season and all-pro security, Harrison Smith says the difference lies only with the players Not try to be heroes.

We run all of our weekly rates, including additional gifts from Saturday in college and from Sunday in the NFL. But we start with the biggest game of the week, which has met all expectations.

The Rams and the Saints gathered on Sunday for 970 meters before the fight. A quarterback scored a passer rating of 115.7 and was surpassed by his opponent by 21.3 points. The teams came together at three punts in 60 minutes and it seemed less.

But what I was really thinking about was what Thomas told me about Brees in September, in the middle of a historic season start.

"I have great respect for him as a quarterback," said Thomas. "I feel he does not get the respect he deserves. I feel like I've been brought here to send him in the right direction and that's what I want to do, get him to this championship and play at a high level every week as he does , I try to bring him together. He has all these records, does not make many mistakes and throws them at me. We should do the game. "

The crazy thing is that Thomas had 11 catches for 139 yards the game came over this week. And if you read what Thomas said there about Brees, what he told me on Sunday night ("We have great respect for a man who deserves all his success, and we love to play with him – he's the type who is there to take us there ") You will understand why the relationship between them came into play.

• CELLPHONE CELEBRATE: Conor Orr says if you do not like the stunt of Michael Thomas, you are a joyless swindler

After reaching the final zone with five out of six possessions in the first half, the Saints pushed openly and opened the door for the Rams Rise. The two New Orleans punts at the start of the second half were followed before and after Los Angeles scores respectively. A nine-game spa at 40 meters and a field at 54 meters in the fourth quarter stopped the bleeding, but Payton's crew knew that this would not be enough.

In the third game of the next possession of the saints, this third and seventh, Thomas was placed in the left position at the Rams corner Marcus Peters. Bree and his receiver recognized the direct reporting from man to man. Nothing had to be said. When Brees let go of the ball and sent him into the seam, Peters was even with Thomas. By the time Thomas brought it in, he was a full five yards from Peters.

In short, with no visual evidence, Brees had the confidence that with Pro Bowl skills, Thomas would light a corner, which was exactly the case.

"Enough was enough," said Thomas. "It was time for us to improve our games and put the game down. We were 21 years old, we took our foot off the gas. And they were waiting for us to do a piece, and when my number was called, I just went out and did one. "

It is not the first time that Thomas has done so this year. One afternoon of great stories at the Superdome – the birth of Benjamin Watson's twins and its associated TD celebration was another – Thomas & # 39; emerging as perhaps the best recipient of the NFL among them. With half a season on the books, he's on the road with 70 catches for 880 yards and five touchdowns to break a plethora of team records.

"It's just a blessing," said Thomas. "Thankfully, I thank my coaching that all things in this position are interconnected, it's a blessing, but my foot is still hot and my head is still down, I'm just trying to get better week after week "

His team does the same.


There's hardly any question what Brown's shake-up last week was about – protecting the environment around Baker Mayfield and the rest of a pretty impressive young core in Cleveland.

The questions concern the circumstances under which Hue Jackson has worked for the past three years. And, of course, how things have come to an end between him and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, a gap that many in league circles find unavoidable once the two work together.

So I've been reviewing old notes this week and talking to a group of people to clarify where I've been in the last three Offseasons, especially quarterback. Here goes:

• If the Browns had the first overall selection in the 2016 draft, they would have taken Jared Goff of Cal. That they did not open the door to the blockbuster deal that basically brought Carson Wentz to Philadelphia. What Jackson said about Wentz's football knowledge in the interview room is true. He was great there. The team simply did not feel that there was enough tape on Wentz (who had missed most of his senior year) to project him as a great passer-by in the NFL. And most of the football operation, including Jackson, was overjoyed on the day of the trade, and the pull of picking decisions came back. They liked Wentz as a player and loved him as a person. They loved Goff, period.

• In 2017, the Browns Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes did not start at age 12 (they would have done in the second round), regardless of who left them on the board. Mitchell Trubisky, on the other hand, would have been a serious consideration at the age of 12 if he had slipped there. And Jackson was involved in all these decisions. Another element was that the Browns had done their homework in the 2018 quarterback class they loved, and they felt certain that they would get a position with the additional first-rounder traded for Watson in Houston would you.

• That might still be a smart move – the Browns eventually landed their QB in 2018, and that extra selection gave them Denzel Ward, perhaps the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Jackson liked Mayfield through the process, although GM John Dorsey kept his cards very close internally to the vest, although he had favored the Heisman Trophy winner until last fall.

• Jackson was determined to undermine New Englandman Jimmy Garoppolo in a deal, and if he did not, he also had eyes for his old backup of Cincinnati, AJ McCarron. But I'm not sure if the Browns could have done much in either case. Cleveland was ready to go even further than the Niners (it is widely believed that they had given the Patriots a preliminary to Garoppolo), and that he went to San Francisco for less was frustrating for everyone. And after the ship sailed, Jackson got mad when the McCarron deal broke on the deadline. Garoppolo could have changed something in Cleveland over the last 12 months. Based on our evidence, McCarron seems unlikely to have done so.

• Jackson actually opted for the team when he supported the 2016 Cody Kessler title. On the other hand, he was the driving force behind DeShone Kizer last September.

What does that tell us? It's more than anything else, if you did not adapt to your organization, you'll point your finger. And if you've followed the NFL long enough, you know that pointing your finger leads to days like last Monday in Cleveland.

Robert Klemko will learn much more about this story from Cleveland on The MMQB.


Curtis Samuel's 33-yard touchdown in the Panthers' 42-28 victory over the Bucs on Sunday seemed to be around 90 yards for twisty ground. And it also covered about two decades of football.

Carolina's new 66-year-old offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, actually showed his players the reverse on Wednesday by showing them how his 49-year-old's 49-year-old Alex Smith played in the quarterback. Previously, Turner had said his Redskins scored a touchdown with the receiver (recipient Leslie Shepard got the ball) when he beat the Bucs in December 1998.

The point that Turner tried to convey? He's ready to play plays from anywhere, so he, his son / quarterback coach Scott Turner, and quarterback Cam Newton fit so well together for half a season in Charlotte.

"I'll stay up to date in football," said Turner. "I understand, I watch college football, I've seen Carolina a lot [last year], It's a system, and you learn what it is and you implement it. Some people make it more complicated than it is. I have always been flexible. It's funny – we had explosive games in four or five reverse gears, and we played every one of those pieces in Washington in the 90s. So football. "

And in Carolina, football has been good so far this year.

The Panthers are keeping up the heat on the Saints at NFC South, not least because Newton has resurrected among the Turners, who have tailored the crime to the talents of their talents, and who has made him take ownership by mastering every game they play. In essence, it adds up to the quarterback who meets her halfway, which he actually did.

As a result, Newton has a three-digit passer rating for the first time over a full season and is in the single-digit range of picks for the first time. He has reached his previous level (he is currently at 67.3.)) By more than five points. And that only helped the running of the Panthers, which is second in yards and yards in yards.

• A PANTHERS LOVE STORY: Why Andy Benoit has fallen heavily for Carolinas offense

"Wherever you are, you have to align what you do with who you have," Turner said. "In Minnesota [in 2015] We had a rookie quarterback and a Hall of Fame who had run back and we played well enough to win 11 games. With this group, Cam is a great player, the MVP in 2015. If you go into it, you know that you have a man who can be successful. Our goal was to bring the people around him to a high level. And we worked really hard on that. "

We saw it on Sunday. Samuel had 78 yards and two touchdowns with three touches. Christian McCaffrey stacked 157 yards before the game. Greg Olsen (six catches, 76 yards) and Devin Funchess (four catches, 44 yards) had nice days. And all this worked Newton as efficiently as possible – 19 out of 25 for 247 yards and two touchdowns.

More than that, he got an old coach and his team going again.

"Let me tell you something – Cam is one of the funniest guys I've ever coached," Turner said. "He has incredible energy, he has all the qualities that the great quarterbacks I've had so far. He knows we're very young, and he's committed to helping these young men understand what it takes to play in the league. And that was a lot of fun. "

And with a Thursday night in Pittsburgh this week, he does not have to wait much longer to have more fun. Speaking of Thursday night …

Episodes 1, 2, and 3 are now available: An exclusive SI True Crime podcast series that re-examines the murder of the great Titans Steve McNair. Subscribe to iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts. Visit the podcast homepage for more materials and updates.


The Pittsburgh officials put their heads down on Sunday night. By the time that Le'Veon Bell has to report on time to play this year, it will be a little less than nine days. They did so without knowing exactly what Bells plans for the coming days are. And with surprisingly little worry.

That's because the Steelers runner game looks like a James Conner show.

The second year of Pitt went to 24 transfers for 107 yards and received seven passes, which was worth a further 56 yards, and a touchdown for the team's big victory against the Ravens in Baltimore. It's Conner's fourth hundred yards in a row, and for the fifth time this year he had five or more catches. And the season that he projects is compared to you, you know, who …

Conner 2018 Tempo: 302 carries, 1,412 yards, 18 TDs; 76 catches, 758 meters, two TDs.

Bell 2017: 321 carries, 1,291 yards, nine TDs; 85 catches, 655 meters, two TDs.

You want to know why the Steelers' locker rooms are not chasing so much about Bell anymore? There is really no reason to.

"At this point, it's something like this:" What's the point? "All-Pro Guard David DeCastro said about his cell as he drove home from the airport." Why waste more energy? The first week we were shocked [the Bell holdout], At this point, what will you do? Sit here and drive on it and ask him to come back? Of course, that does not work that way. So we strive to do our best and try to do the best for this team. "

• PATRIOT PACKER: New England relies on AFC's best with statement victory

DeCastro, for his part, also confirmed pretty much what I had heard in September – which meant that much of DeCastros Linemates' animus towards Bell was the fact that he told them that he would be in the first week, and then the Communication stopped.

"There is a small communication issue, which is funny, that in the age of technology we can not all come to the same page," said DeCastro. "I think if we thought this would be the case, we would all understand. And then, when he did not show up, and we're just like that … it was a little shock. But that's the way it is now. "

And if Bell turned up tomorrow?

"It just does not matter," DeCastro. "If he shows up, block your man just as you would for Conner. It is not that it will be a problem. As much drama as then, that will not affect how we play football. "

Of course, the Steelers have played very well lately, which feels like part of Bell's story has been lost. They lost to Baltimore a month ago, beating the 3-1 raven at AFC North 2-1. The Steelers have not lost since then and sit at 5-2-1 while Baltimore tips over at 4-5.

And they do it as an experienced group with renewed urgency, knowing that their window will not stay open forever.

• GRAMLINGS WEEK 9 TAKEAWAYS: The problem of Rams Marcus Peters, Big Ben in Baltimore, the nightmare of Darnold

"Especially with the tight group we've been playing on the O-Line for some years, playing with Ben [Roethlisbeger] DeCastro said, "It's always so urgent. You realize how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl, so you're always in the back of your mind. But at the same time, just enjoy every week and the funny moments. "

There have been many in Pittsburgh recently.


Do you know who is currently one of the best assistant trainers in the NFL? That's right – Atlanta OC Steve Sarkisian, as you all expected at this kick-off on Thursday.

The Falcons are fifth in the NFL on offense, just 3.6 meters per game above the stormy pace set by Kyle Shanahan's 2016 Atlanta attack. And they have been used there with a similar approach to that of Sarkisian's predecessor, who is to attack from every angle and at any time.

Take Sunday's blowout victory against the Redskins and their respected defense.

It's the third and second with 3:55 and Atlanta leads 31-14. Sarkisian's foot did not come off the pedal.

"We preached attack, attack and attack [Dan Quinn’s] Messaging too, "Sarkisian said last night. "And we had a couple of options granted in a few other, narrower games, and even last week, albeit against the Giants, where we might have accidentally ended the game, essentially in four minutes of offense, and we have not you can not go to the game of the saints, in the end we have a critical third place that we do not pick and we go to overtime and lose.

"So over the past few weeks, we've been really stressing and practicing what we would call 'moments of winning'. We wanted to make sure we stay aggressive because we preach it. And as a coach, if you do not practice what you preach, then the players just look at it, or are we really who we really are?

Instead of running the ball in this situation and having the game comfortably in hand, Sarkisian Julio Jones called for a screen. A kick-off block by Jake Matthews later, and the Falcons' world receiver was on its way from 35 yards to the end zone.

Atlanta's sixth 400-meter effort in the last seven games was over. This is all the more impressive when you have to make up for the injury problems in the defense (Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen) and some of your own offenses (both start-ups, Devonta Freeman on IR).

• TRADE EFFECTS: How Demaryius Thomas and other deadline traders developed for their new teams

Sarkisian will now tell you that it is a result of mutual comfort between the offensive coaches and the players, and that he himself is able to commit the offenses left by Shanahan. And yes, he has heard the criticism, which is more difficult to raise against him from day to day.

"I've been doing this for a long time, and you know it comes with the territory," he said. "You can not ride the emotional roller coaster of a good game and you think you're the best and then a bad game and you're the worst. You have to find the keel and the consistency, the consistency in your preparation and your work.

"For me in Year 2, it's just a general convenience, with our players, our playing style, to put our players in the best position to be successful."

We'll see how far it goes when the hawks leave here. So far they have been able to ride the attack from 1-4 to 4-4 and return to the NFL playoff hunt.



"I've never been one to worry about keeping a job. It was always a job for me. I feel really good about how this team has been trained over the last 11 years. No regret."

John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, on the report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that he's in the hot seat. That Harbaugh would fight for his job in 2018 would not surprise anyone in the Baltimore building. A season-free fourth season at the head of the football operation and Eric DeCosta, who was to take over for Ozzie Newsome as GM after the season, had a tough decision for the team. The good news for Harbaugh? If he were fired by the Ravens, his unemployment would probably continue to rewrite the great philosopher Rob Ryan in five minutes.


The wrestler's Kevin Clark in response to a Peterman pick created by Terrelle Pryor (Pryor plays like Peterman for the Bills). At this point, I feel bad for Peterman because the two interceptions in yesterday's loss to the bears really were not His mistake, but they have become part of the punch line.

In addition, Clark's become a regular in the room, so much so that this tweet has passed another of his previous gems.


That's really good of Cam. And even better, since he did it while dressed as Indiana Jones, in case Indiana Jones happens to be living in SoHo.


For Michael Thomas, flip phones can be a joke. But for Andrew Luck they are a state of mind.


My old boss and the founder of this site, Peter King. What he did for the legend of SI legend Paul Zimmerman – you know him as Dr. Z -, was remarkable in the last decade and was (and will be) here after the death of dr. Z last week did not go unmentioned. Peter helped Paul and his wife Linda with hundreds of thousands of dollars for his stroke series in 2008. Z & # 39; care. He often visited Paul and worked hard to get Dr. Z & # 39; Get Legacy A tribute week at The MMQB in 2016 and the urge to release Zimmerman's 2017 memoir. I know that the heritage has influenced many to get into the business (Will McDonough of Boston Globe was the type for me) so there is no question it will live on. I will always contact Dr. Z, because I selected the Bills teams of the early 1990s, of which I won the Super Bowl every year.

More about Dr. med. Z of The MMQB:

• REMEMBERING DR. Z: Tim Rohan talked to prominent NFL figures about how Paul Zimmerman redesigned the game's coverage

• DR. Z'S ULTIMATE LEGACY: Andy Benoit on the man who changed our view of football

• BEST OF DR. Z: Paul Zimmerman's biggest SI stories

• A LIFE IN JOURNALISM: Paul Zimmerman about his career

• IF HE WAS ZAS: Players and colleagues think about Zim

• DR. Z WEEK: The tribute of the MMQB to Paul Zimmerman


The college football weekend through the lens of the NFL.

1. We have to start with Bama / LSU, right? Give Tua Tagovailoa A thumbs-up from the scouts that were present played against the toughest defense he has ever seen – one that is full of guys who will play soon on Sunday. The quick release, accuracy and decision-making ability that professionals love in a hostile environment.

2. Alabama is known as a professional team. But the offense has become more and more dissimilar, and now the NFL scouts are looking for innovations in the RPO game, with Tua at the helm. A new NFL assistant, former coach of Raiders QB Jake Peetz, was part of blending these common concepts with what the tide has always done well.

3. We gave you Tide redshirt for the second time Quinnes Williams As a player you could see last Thursday, he has delivered – 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks against the LSU. He is trendy path in the draft class 2019.

• ANOTHER YEAR FOR WIDEOUTS: A weak 2019 design class could explain the NFL dealings for receivers

4. Virginia's Juan Thornhill convinced as a safety that is versatile and athletic enough to play in the box or in midfield. And some teams even believe that his best position could be in a Seattle defense.

5. Michigan Don Brown is an impressive defensive coordinator.

6. On the other side Louisville's rapid decline The college football dump was staggering as it suddenly was. And I'll just say that I do not think those who trained for the 2007 Falcons (Mike Zimmer and others) are too close to Bobby Petrino's state of emergency this jewel during the levy on Saturday by Clemson.


1. I'm not sure if the Vikings defense It is certain, but it seems that the trend is as follows: Minnesota has kept each of its last four opponents under 300 yards and kept the Lions completely out of the end zone on Sunday. When I talked to Captain Harrison Smith after the 24-9 win, he said at least that the boys tried to do too much at the beginning of the year. And now it is calm. "We have a lot of really good players," Smith said. "We all want to play games all the time. And sometimes that can hurt you. If you just say, OK, I have to do that, I'll do it, and I know the guy next to me will do it, the guy in front of me, he'll do it. "Then everything takes care of itself. You do not have to be a superman out there. Smith pointed to Danielle Jay's 32-yard return of a Matthew Stafford looking for a touchdown as a prime example. "These are guys up front who drop off the ball and get pressure, and guys at the back end, linebacker," Smith said. "And as soon as he starts to crawl, everyone runs like a madman to the ball. Then come possibilities. It may look like luck, but there is another game in the game in which Xavier plays [Rhodes] the ball touches and we have three other guys swarming to the ball. Unfortunately, the ball is short, instead of picking it up and scoring. But we have a chance later, because everyone is running for the ball. Good things happen when the entire team burns like hair. "By the way, the Vikings were my Super Bowl champion in August. On Sunday I felt a little better.

2. That stops the chargers The final game of their game in Seattle – the Seahawks had lost the ball by eight points in the second round – recalled how they had won their game in London two weeks ago. And as Anthony Lynn sees it, these things (in this case, Jahleel Addae does not have the fingernails on the ball) happen by mistake. Seit dem Beginn des Camps und an jedem Donnerstag seit Saisonbeginn hat Lynn sein Team in so genannten "Gotta Have It" -Situationen bohren lassen – dritt downs, Zwei-Punkt-Gespräche, zwei Minuten Spielende und Viertelfinale. End-of-Game-Situationen mit Ziel und sogar an Stellen, an denen das Team einen Punt-Block benötigt. Wie der Trainer sieht, zeigt sich diese Arbeit jetzt. "Viel Entschlossenheit – es ist eine sehr schwierige Gruppe", schrieb mir Lynn. „Sie schützen jeden Zentimeter dieses Feldes. Es hilft, diese Situationen zu üben. Sie fühlen sich so, als wären sie schon einmal dort gewesen. “Und benehmen sich auch so. Die Chargers sind übrigens ein Sieg über Oakland, statt davon, den Ballyhoo-Schwung von vier Straight-Road-Spielen in drei verschiedenen Zeitzonen (Pacific, Eastern, Greenwich Mean) zu fegen.

3. Ein Name, den Sie jetzt beachten sollten: Patrioten Linebackers Trainer Brian Flores. Er ist jetzt der De-facto-Koordinator in Foxboro und war somit ein großer Teil dieser beeindruckenden Anstrengung, Aaron Rodgers am Sonntagabend zu bremsen. Er hat die Kardinäle im vergangenen Januar mit dem Interview beeindruckt, und ich gehe davon aus, dass GM Steve Keim ihm eine Empfehlung geben wird, falls die Teams sich erreichen.

4. Ich habe keine ernsthaften Bedenken hinsichtlich der Jets Sam Darnold jetzt sofort. Wachsende Schmerzen würden Teil des Deals sein. Und ich würde sagen, dass Interceptions im Besonderen und Fluktuationsprobleme in der Regel einen Ausweg aus dem College-Spiel auf die Profis für den jungen Quarterback haben. Ist es ein großartiges Zeichen für Darnold, dass er vier Plektren (die am Ende des Spiels besonders unansehnlich war) gegen die Dolphins in Miami warf? Nein, aber es sollte auch kein Schock sein.

5. Das hat mir aus Sicherheitsgründen gefallen Jamal Adams, mit denen sie rechnen, in den nächsten zehn Jahren dort eine Führungsrolle zu übernehmen: „Ich habe es satt zu verlieren. Ehrlich gesagt, ich habe es satt zu verlieren. Genug ist genug. Ich habe es satt zu verlieren, Mann. Es ist dasselbe, dasselbe Zeug. Es ist frustrierend. Ich werde meine Zunge für nichts mehr halten. Ich bin kein Verlierer. Ich mache das nicht für Fantasy-Punkte. Ich mache das aus Liebe zum Spiel. Ich habe eine Leidenschaft für dieses Team und ich glaube an dieses Team. "

6. Das ist irgendwie komisch Patrick Mahomes kann jetzt 23 von 32 für 375 Yards und drei Touchdowns mit einem einzigen Abfangen gehen, und es wird auch nicht wirklich auf dem nationalen Radar registriert. Er normalisiert die Wahnsinnigen.

7. We mentioned in the Sunday Rundown that Golden Tate had an offer from the Lions (the team and the player’s camp had actually been in talks for two months), and I view that as a very good sign for the Eagles. The age-old question that NFL teams ask about players on the trade market is simple: Why is this guy available in the first place? In Tate’s case it was purely logistical. Detroit wasn’t going to give him the deal he wanted, structured the way he wanted it. And so they get a 3, and don’t have to worry about the comp pick formula quite as much when they’re looking at free agents in March.

8. Don’t look now, but the Texans own the NFL’s second-longest winning streak at six and will hold a 2.5-game lead on the field in the AFC South if the Titans lose in Dallas tonight. Houston still has its problems on the offensive line and at corner, but that’s a tough team with a vicious front seven and a gutsy playmaking quarterback.

9 The Buccaneers’ problems aren’t at quarterback right now. They’re on defense. And that they’ve persisted to this level shows that the problems went beyond what ex-coordinator Mike Smith was doing.

10. Give the Bears credit for this—they’ve taken care of the subpar teams on their schedule, making easy work of the Jets, Bills and Buccaneers and surviving at Arizona. That’s at least a good sign that Matt Nagy is keeping his players locked in and focused, avoiding slips against weaker opponents. And their three losses during this 5-3 start, by the way, have come by a grand total of 11 points.


All eyes will be on Amari Cooper as the ex-Raiders Pro Bowler makes his Cowboys debut tonight in Dallas. But I’d also be cognizant of how the offensive line plays with the newly promoted Marc Colombo running the show.

Fired line coach Paul Alexander was a tough fit from the start, and everyone knew it—his background was in running gap-scheme plays with massive bodies, while the Cowboys have a much more athletic line with a ton of background in zone scheme concepts. The expectation now is that we’ll see more of what we did with Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack.

Will the change make the O-line an overwhelming strength for the Cowboys once again? It’s possible that eventually happens, even without Travis Frederick in there. And I think we’ll see a difference tonight, which would get Ezekiel Elliott going and maybe even create some room for Cooper to make a few plays.

And before I get you my pick, I should mention, again, that Thursday Night Football is NOT crappy this week. Again, it is NOT crappy.

Forecast: DALLAS 24, TENNESSEE 17.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.



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