A.J. Green has come alive as the centerpiece of the offense

Couch is the only quarterback in NFL history to complete two game-winning passes of 50-plus yards with no time remaining on the game clock. He connected with wide receiver Kevin Johnson to give the 1999 Browns their first win over New Orleans and again in 2002 when finding Quincy Morgan to top Jacksonville.

What happened? Injuries that accumulated from being sacked 166 times in 62 career starts along with his failure to fulfill the sky-high expectations that came with his draft position led to Couch’s departure after five seasons. He never played in an NFL game again largely because of shoulder problems.

That is not a misprint. With the defense playing hard and Josh McCown showing calm, the Jets are a winning team so far in 2017. Wherever they finish, they’ve proved the fight is still there.

Smart, the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft, is entering his fourth NBA season. On a Celtics roster that underwent an unprecedented overhaul this summer, he wears the badge of “longest-tenured Celtic,” even if he finds that notion rather preposterous. Still, as one of just four returning players, Smart is a small slice of familiarity on Boston’s new-look roster.

Smart, too, has a new look. He dropped 20 pounds this summer with help from a private chef and a diet heavy on Mediterranean food (“Dates are great; I love them,” said Smart). He acknowledged that he battled back pain at times during last year’s playoff run when his weight climbed. Smart is noticeably slimmer, and there’s a renewed explosiveness to his game — just watch this video from recent post-practice, one-on-one work when Smart soars for a slam as rookie Jayson Tatum scrambles to defend:

A.J. Green has come alive as the centerpiece of the offense, and the Bengals are back to showing plenty of pulse in a suddenly tight AFC North. Still, there’s nothing playoff team about their profile.


Carson Wentz Jersey is coming off his first career four-touchdown game

Since throwing an interception in the first quarter of Carolina’s Week 4 game against the Patriots, Cam Newton has been phenomenal.

The Panthers quarterback completed 19 of his next 24 passes and tossed three touchdowns while running for another to lead a 33-30 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. He followed that win by going 26 of 33 for 355 yards and three scores without an interception in a 27-24 win at Detroit.

Newton and the Panthers welcome the Eagles to Bank of America Stadium on Thursday and Philly brings an equally hot quarterback.

Elite Mens Jordan Phillips Jersey Carson Wentz is coming off his first career four-touchdown game, a 34-7 rout of the Cardinals, and has 10 touchdown passes to just three interceptions.

The Panthers and Eagles are tied with the Packers for the NFC’s best record at 4-1 and the winner of Thursday’s game will own what could be a crucial tiebreaker at the end of the season.

I think once the weeks go by, I’ll be back to where I was before, Snead said (via ESPN.com). I just think I’ve got to work a little bit harder. I’ve got to prove my worth, and once those opportunities come I have to take advantage. I feel like I do have something to prove right now to not only myself but to my teammates, the coaches, the Who-Dat fans, that I’ve been in a bad place but right now I’m past that. I’m ready to move on and help this team.
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Snead has been a big contributor to the Saints offense over the last two seasons where he caught 141 passes and played more than 65 percent of the snaps each year. The wide receiver is expected play Sunday against the Lions and said he is definitely ready to go.

Marlon Mack Jersey ran for 91 yards and a score on nine carries against the 49ers in Week 5.

Kids C.J. Uzomah Jersey Granted the high-end efficiency came against a struggling defense, but Mack provided a much-needed jolt to a backfield that has been stagnant with late-career Frank Gore leading the way. Mack has yet to eclipse 17 snaps in a game but is averaging 9.3 looks per game. The rookie should be on benches, but he isn’t getting enough work to warrant starting consideration just yet. His usage does hurt Gore, however, who is no more than a fringe flex as long as Andrew Luck is out.

Kids Slava Voynov Jersey The Jaguars are relatively healthy five weeks into the season. Nobody has any long-term injuries — center Brandon Linder missed last week’s game with an illness and wide receiver Marqise Lee is battling sore ribs — and that’s one of the reasons the Jaguars are considered the favorite now in the AFC South. Keeping running back Leonard Fournette healthy is the No. 1 goal because he’s the key to the offense. That’s why the Jaguars have been so careful about monitoring his reps, though he did have a career-high 28 carries against the Steelers last week. He takes a pounding, too, because of his running style and the fact that the Jaguars have run the ball against more eight-plus man boxes than any other team in the league (31 percent of their carries). — Mike DiRocco

27.0 percent chance. Washington’s two losses this season have come against teams that are a combined 9-1, so its .500 record shouldn’t look that bad. The Redskins have the second-easiest remaining schedule, so their record (and playoff chances) could improve.

34.6 percent chance. The Lions have the eighth-best playoff chances in the NFC. Matthew Stafford has been sacked 18 times this season (tied for third most), however, and if the Lions continue to struggle protecting him, their chances might continue to slip.

Colts unveil Peyton Manning Jersey statue at Lucas Oil Stadium

Peyton Manning has been immortalized in Indianapolis.

The Colts on Saturday unveiled a statue of the retired quarterback outside Lucas Oil Stadium in a ceremony attended by hundreds that commemorated the future Hall of Famer’s historic career.

Manning, 41, was selected first overall by Indianapolis in the 1998 NFL Draft and spent the first 13 seasons of his NFL career with the Colts, leading them to victory in Super Bowl 41. After collecting five first-team All-Pro nods, 11 Pro Bowl selections and four MVPs with the Colts, he was released by the team following several neck surgeries, only to be scooped up by the Broncos for his final four seasons.

He won Super Bowl 50 with Denver, making him the only starting quarterback in NFL history to lead two different teams to Super Bowl victories.

Detroit (3-2) struggled to move the ball in the air and on the ground until late in the game.

Matthew Stafford, limping after being sacked several times and hit on other plays, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Darren Fells with 5:56 left and a 20-yard pass for a score to the former professional basketball player with 3:22 to go.

Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue was not working in the Ford Field press box during the Panthers-Detroit Lions game.
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Elite Kids Denis Savard Jersey Taking some time off, Mike Persinger, the executive sports editor of The Charlotte Observer, wrote in an email.

Rodrigue asked Cam Newton about wide receiver Devin Funchess’ route running on Wednesday and Carolina’s quarterback laughed and said, It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. It’s funny.

The offensive line has surrendered 10 sacks while battling injuries.

Jared Goff and Todd Gurley look like an unstoppable first-round combination as they continue to lead an explosive charge not seen since the last days of The Greatest Show On Turf. But this is great timing for the Seahawks to put the Rams in their place. Their defense “got well” against the Colts, while Russell Wilson looks to be back in his late 2016 groove. Defense still wins the NFC West and this game in LA.

That line shows no respect for Buffalo, a team that has shut down the run and has been even nastier against the pass under new coach Sean McDermott. The Bengals are pretty much a one-dimensional, Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green passing offense, and that won’t cut it here. Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy will be in control of this game with the better rushing attack.

What has gone right: With seven touchdown passes and just two turnovers, Matthew Stafford is living up to the $135 million contract that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player. Matt Prater has made eight of nine field-goal attempts, including four of 50-plus yards.

What has gone wrong: The Lions also are averaging only 3.6 yards a carry, but the running game is showing more life than in recent seasons.

What’s next: No team may be facing a rougher upcoming four-game stretch than the Lions. Detroit must play Carolina, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Green Bay all in a row.

Green Bay Packers (3-1)
What has gone right: As usual, Aaron Rodgers. He continues to thrive despite the Packers being hard hit by injuries at running back, wide receiver and along the offensive line.

Left tackle Cordy Glenn Jersey returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis after missing the past two games with separate foot and ankle injuries.

That gives Glenn a chance to start Sunday against Cincinnati, though his foot injury has bagged since the offseason and keeps his status unpredictable. If he cannot play, rookie Dion Dawkins will start a third game in Glenn’s place. According to Pro Football Focus, Dawkins is the 24th-ranked offensive tackle in the NFL this season, a respectable mark for a rookie. — Mike Rodak

In College Station, the 7-2 Aggies were confident. Manziel’s Heisman Trophy campaign was heating up thanks to his weekly highlight reels — the latest coming from a 25-point victory at 15th-ranked Mississippi State. Manziel already had 2,527 passing yards, 922 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns. The Aggies respected Alabama, certainly, but the plans for an upset were in motion.

Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury: Johnny was the kind that if he felt he could just go into the game and do his deal, there wasn’t a lot of extra put into it, if you can imagine that. But that was [a week] where he was spending some more time watching film. I think he understood the magnitude.

Game Mens Los Angeles Chargers Jersey Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter: Coach [Kevin] Sumlin came to us all week and was telling us, ‘Don’t be surprised when we’re up by 20 at halftime. Don’t let it shock us and take us out of our game.’

Kingsbury: It was more psychological warfare. I remember [McCarron] crying after the LSU game … so we knew they were going to be emotionally spent to an extent. If you were ever going to catch them, it was going to be that week.

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Ravens WR Jeremy Maclin Jersey cleared to play after hitting head

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has been cleared to resume playing Sunday after he was placed in concussion protocol in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kids Dominik Hasek Jersey Maclin was hurt on Joe Flacco’s interception, when he fell backward and lost control of the ball. The back of Maclin’s head bounced off the turf of Wembley Stadium, and he headed to the locker room for evaluation.

Maclin entered the game as Baltimore’s leading receiver with six catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, rib/sternum, (Q): Like last year, when Reed had a significant AC sprain that kept his status up in the air the following week (and beyond), he is once again dealing with a painful injury that is rendering his status a game-time decision. Described earlier this week as having an SC injury (meaning sternoclavicular, where the sternum or chest bone meets the clavicle or collarbone), Reed is listed on the injury report with “rib” as well. The label implies that he is also dealing with rib pain beyond the localized area of the SC joint. All of this can make it extremely difficult for Reed to reach, twist, catch passes and block effectively.

To that end, when Reed returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis, ESPN.com’s John Keim noted Reed worked with receivers, as the tight ends were practicing blocking drills. The fact Reed was permitted to practice both Thursday and Friday suggests this is primarily a pain tolerance and functionality issue.

Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders, shoulder: Cook was listed on the injury report because of his shoulder and was a limited participant in both Wednesday and Thursday practices. He upgraded to full practice Friday, was removed from the final injury report and should play as usual on Sunday night in Washington.

Todd Gurley Jersey hurdled a dude like it was nothing on his way to a touchdown.

For me it’s easy. The fact the Kenny Wiggins not only has taken a step forward in his progression when it looked bleak for years now but also being one of the Chargers best Offensive Linemen.

But for me, the most surprising thing through one game week of the 2017 regular season is how well everything has gone under the oversight of a first-time head coach with as little experience (both in the NFL and in life) as Sean McVay has.

Elite Kids Robyn Regehr Jersey Taking away the run and forcing Dallas to attack through the air opened things up for what the No Fly Zone does best. They had seven pass breakups, and both Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib came away with interceptions. Talib returned his for a touchdown.

Much of the scrutiny from this lopsided game is falling on Dallas, and understandably so. But Denver’s stout defense deserves credit for scheming to shut down the Cowboys’ offensive attack 鈥?and succeeding.

New Broncos head coach Vance Joseph and defensive coordinator Joe Woods had the Cowboys figured out.

Our plan was to clog every gap, Joseph said, via ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. [Defensive coordinator] Joe [Woods] had a great plan to make them throw the football; no one’s played them that way. It was definitely a surprise to them in my opinion.

It was a surprise to the Cowboys. When was the last time Elliott was held to fewer than 10 yards on the ground?
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Rooney once told me about Tomlin: He embodies the competitive nature of our game, the backbone it takes to be great, the passion about the job of head coach that is required to first survive and then to flourish.

Tomlin hosting the Vikings, the franchise that was his primary NFL launching pad, will serve as another reminder to this riveting thinker about what was and what is. This is a showcase game for Mike Tomlin.

Sunday’s Jaguars-Texans game to be played in Houston

Jaguars owner Shad Khan was happy to trade games with the Texans this season following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Fortunately for the Texans they will not have to relocate for their matchup in Week 1.

The Texans announced Monday that Sunday’s game against Jacksonville will be at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Irvin was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but after the police investigated the incident and handed it over to Broward County, the district attorney’s office decided not to charge Irvin citing a lack of evidence.

As a private employer, the NFL can suspend its employees for whatever it sees fit, so the NFL Network analyst could be suspended from his job due to the league’s personal conduct policy.

The NFL, of course, can suspend its players, but it has also disciplined others involved in the league. Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended six games and fined $500,000 after pleading guilty to a DUI charge in 2014, for instance.

“The fired GM himself is typically going to have a poor win-loss record, so it’s hard for the owner to sell to his fan base and organization,” he said. “It turns into a situation where the GM is almost singularly responsible for what happened and went poorly.

“It’s a lot easier to say, ‘He was a bad GM,’ without any credence to the circumstances and the (front-office) and coaching staff influence on what may or may not have happened.”

Rashard Higgins Jersey went from the practice squad last week to leading the Browns in receiving in Week 2.

Mens Dede Westbrook Jersey Higgins caught seven of his 11 targets for 95 yards against Baltimore. He was on the field for 43 of the team’s 50 pass plays. A fifth-round pick last year, Higgins was active for all 16 of the team’s games as a rookie but was targeted only 12 times. With Corey Coleman injured and Kenny Britt struggling, Higgins very well could enter Week 3 as the team’s top wideout. Higgins’ production at Colorado State was off the charts, which made him a very intriguing prospect in last year’s draft. He’s well worth targeting on waivers this week.

The Bears are razor thin at wide receiver right now, especially until Markus Wheaton (finger) gets back on the field. Wright picked up 10 targets against Tampa Bay. He’s a name to keep on the radar if you play in a deep league with PPR scoring. The focus in Chicago is really about the two running backs (Jordan Howard and Cohen), but Wright is a serviceable flex option, especially in 14- or 16-team leagues.

Sometimes the best moves in fantasy football are the sooner-than-needed moves. Dorsett might not be a player you feel comfortable using anytime soon, but I’ve got my eyes on him as the Patriots work to integrate him into the offense more. He’s a former first-round pick with exceptional speed. They’ve already gotten creative with him (he had a Week 2 rushing attempt, for example) and Tom Brady seems to have taken to him quickly. He’s a deep-league stash add who could eventually become the team’s third receiver, pending the health of Danny Amendola.
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