|Panthers top Cardinals to open NFL postseason play||01.03.15 at 7:52 pm ET|
In what was a sloppy game to open the NFL postseason (six turnovers), the Panthers capitalized on three Cardinals’ turnovers to win 27-16 at home. The Panthers entered the game 7-8-1, but were able to win the NFC South to earn the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
Carolina led 10-0, but went into the locker room trailing 14-13 because of some bad turnovers late in the first half. The home team responded with 14 points in the third quarter to take command of the game. The only points Arizona scored in the second half were on a safety the Panthers took with three seconds left in the game.
Fozzy Whittaker caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Newton with 5:49 left in the third quarter, and then following a fumble on the kickoff, the Panthers scored just over a minute later on a Mike Tolbert 1-yard touchdown catch to extend their lead to 27-14.
Newton finished the game 18-for-32 with 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. It was his first career playoff win. Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The Carolina defense played very well limiting Arizona to just 77 yards of total offense, and eight first downs. Cardinals quarterback (third string) Ryan Lindley was just 16-for-28 with 81 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked four times.
The Panthers will now await the result of tomorrow’s Lions-Cowboys game to know who they will play next. If the Lions were to win, the Panthers would travel to Green Bay. If the Cowboys were to win, the Panthers would travel to Seattle.
For more Patriots and NFL playoff coverage, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Fantasy Football: Week 17 starts, sits||12.26.14 at 10:56 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 17 starts and sits! It’s a tough week to predict when you look at the teams with nothing to play for, so when given the choice, you want to focus on players who are in need-to-win situations. Using Patriots players this week is inherently risky, and the same goes for the Broncos, Colts and Cowboys.
I’ve isolated some players in good situations for your consideration. Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well, including our full Week 17 lineup rankings. I’ll be back next week with playoff pool cheat sheets and strategies.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Falcons
He got his feet wet last week, but I expect the Panthers to unleash Newton in this game because there is a playoff berth at stake.
He has a receiver who tilts the field in Odell Beckham, and it’s made a big difference lately. Manning should finish 2015 strong, and I like his chances of being a QB1 next season if the Giants address the offensive line better than they did in 2014.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Bengals
He has a lot to play for here with the division title in the balance, so expect four quarters of action and QB1 results when all is said and done.
Andrew Luck, Colts at Titans
They went to backup Matt Hasselbeck early last week, and I am not betting on a longer outing for Luck this week — not with so much at stake. The Colts are locked into the fourth seed no matter what happens this week.
|Vince Wilfork leads NFL ‘brothers’ sending out thoughts, prayers to Cam Newton following car crash||12.09.14 at 3:29 pm ET|
Cam Newton suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back and is in “fair condition” following a two-car accident on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the Carolina Panthers. The team said Newton suffered no further serious internal injuries.
According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, the accident took place around 12:30 p.m. ET just outside the team’s stadium. Both Newton and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The Panthers released a statement saying the 25-year-old Newton will be held overnight for observation but that the franchise quarterback “is in fair condition and undergoing tests at Carolinas Medical Center.”
Team owner Jerry Richardson told the Charlotte Observer that Newton is “in good shape,” after speaking with Carolinas Medical Center doctors.
“At this point, it looks like he’s just got scrapes and bruises, but he should be OK,” a source told ESPN’s Ed Werder. “He’s going to be sore and beat up, but he should be relatively OK.”
A witness told the Charlotte Observer that Newton was “alert” but “in pain” at the scene of the accident.
Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork led the players around the NFL wishing Newton well.
Prayers are going out to Cam Newton hoping and praying everything is good Ã°Ã° nfl brothers
|Fantasy Football: Week 6 starts, sits||10.10.14 at 1:50 pm ET|
As we near the midpoint of the fantasy football regular season, we’re seeing things come into focus. Whether you’re a seasonal GM or a weekly player, you probably are starting to get a feel for how you want to play things. It’s been a strange year, but that’s the NFL. While Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles owners are feeling some much-needed relief, those who rely on Calvin Johnson, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson are on the ledge — staring into the fantasy abyss. I have good news for those who drafted McCoy. He’ll get things going — probably this week. Those with Johnson probably are out of luck on Sunday but have long-term hope. If you drafted Peterson, you have my sympathy as well as my commiseration. He’s a sunk investment — a potential season-wrecker.
As always, I’ve attempted to avoid the obvious stuff. If you are looking for information on players not listed below, follow this link to my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn. If your guy’s not listed there, get on Twitter and give me what for.
For those in need of Sunday lineup advice, feel free to stop by our chat, which kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs through noon every week. And don’t forget to check out the Fantasy Football Hour every Sunday morning.
He’s now rolling, and with a full complement of weapons we like his chances in this game, which looks like a bit of a shootout going in. Manning’s a projected QB1 in all formats this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Browns
He’s got all the weapons he needs and the Browns have some injuries at cornerback. Big Ben is a good play in Week 6 regardless of your league’s size. He should get you QB1 stats.
Cam Newton, Panthers at Bengals
While Newton is not an elite start this week, as he often is, he is playable. There’s no reason to look to the waiver wire. He may begin to run more with a battered backfield behind him and a need to win games due to the team’s 3-2 start in a very competitive division. He’s my 12th-rated passer this week.
Brian Hoyer, Browns vs. Steelers
If you are hurting in a big format, Hoyer is an option. He’s not even in my top 20 this week, but he’s playable and that’s why I listed him — to illustrate the depth of the Week 6 quarterbacks. If you are in need, just consult the Rotobahn QB rankings for the best available option.
Kyle Orton, Bills vs. Patriots
I feel like the Patriots could take his best weapon away, and that’s a potential problem. Orton’s not loaded with upside as it is, so you hopefully have other options. Beware of Revis Island.
|Tom Brady on his regular-season dress rehearsal: ‘I think we can be a lot better’||08.23.14 at 12:46 am ET|
There’s no disputing that 17-for-21 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and a 138.9 quarterback rating are numbers most NFL quarterbacks would take in their final regular season tune-up. But, of course, Tom Brady is not most quarterbacks.
He knows that the rhythm wasn’t there to begin the game, as a miscommunication with his wide receivers on third down and a stumble and near fumble on the second series would indicate. He didn’t appear to have his timing on the first two series, both ending in punts. Then Ryan Mallett came in on the third series to get some work in with the starters.
Brady tripped over someone’s foot and fell awkwardly to the turf, handing off to Shane Vereen in the nick of time, but not before a defensive lineman came barreling over him to get to Vereen.
“I couldn’t tell because I had my back turned, but I think someone just got my foot,” Brady said. “I don’t know if it was a defensive lineman or offensive lineman, but, yeah, you never want that to happen. That, against a good team like this, usually ends drives, and that one certainly did this time.”
Brady certainly recovered. On the next series after Mallett came out of the game, Brady led the Patriots down the field, going completing all four pass attempts, including a 40-yarder to a wide-open Vereen in the right flat on the Vereen staple — the wheel route — for a touchdown.
“Yeah, it was a slow start all the way around, but it was good to make some plays there late in the second quarter and then the third quarter,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of work to do, but it was fun being out there. It’s great to win, especially this game. They’re a good football team and if you don’t execute well, they’re going to be really tough. I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys [from] playing them last year. They’ve got a great team.”
Even on the 60-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski before the half, Brady and Bill Belichick thought that maybe with some slightly better clock management, they could’ve made things easier on themselves and their kicker. Still, for the starters to put 20 points up on the board against one of the better defenses in football provides some confidence going into the season.
“Yeah, it wasn’t bad, but there are a lot of things that we left out there,” Brady said. “We got bailed out there a few times on a few defensive calls. Missed some blitz stuff, missed some throws. I think we can be a lot better. It’s an important week for us to try to get better. The days are winding down until all these games count. It gets pretty exciting here in a few weeks, but you’ve still got to try to use these days to make as many improvements as we can. This game was good because you can really see where you’re at and you can see the things you need to get better. I think there’s a lot of things we can improve on.”
|LB Quentin Groves visits Patriots, Rex Ryan backs Calvin Pryor and more||06.11.14 at 8:57 pm ET|
Four football notes from a relatively quiet day with the Patriots:
1. Former Browns pass rusher Quentin Groves visited the Patriots on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. The seven-year veteran, who was part of a surprise cut by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine late last week, had two sacks and five tackles in just 53 snaps last year with the Browns. (The 6-foot-3, 265-pound linebacker was limited to just five games in 2013 because of an ankle injury.) The Auburn product has played for four teams in his seven seasons in the league, and had his best stint with the Cardinals in 2012 when he had 46 tackles and four sacks in 16 games with Arizona.
2. Less than a week after Jets rookie Calvin Pryor acknowledged he’s well aware of who he’s not supposed to like when it comes to the rest of the NFL, New York coach Rex Ryan said he has no problem with Pryor’s statement. “I like it,” Ryan said in a Wednesday press conference. “He knows who the enemy is.” Last week, New York’s first-round pick out of Louisville was asked if he knew he was supposed to hate Tom Brady and the Patriots. Pryor responded in the affirmative: “Yeah, man. We don’t like Tom [Brady] at all. When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots, and we hate the Giants,” he said. “That’s what everybody was telling me. We hate those guys, and I look forward to playing them this season.”
3. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was asked by Carolina media about the comments from wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who said last week that his new team (the Patriots) works “a little harder” than his old team (Carolina). “That’s Brandon,” said Newton, who told reporters he’s happy for LaFell and his new three-year, $9 million contract with the Patriots. “If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. … I will always say I beg to differ. But that’s just me talking. … I feel as if the Carolina Panther way is we don’t do too much talking. We have to prove it.”
4. In the wake of our Sunday notes column where we noticed the fluctuations in the average age of NFL GMs in recent years, we found the average ages of MLB GMs over the last decade. By way of comparison, the average age in the NFL has gone from 52.8 (2004), 49.4 (2009) and 50.4 (2014). In the majors, it is lower, but not by much — the average age of MLB GMs has gone from 46.2 (2004) to 46.5 (2009) to 50.2 (2014).
|Chance to catch passes from Tom Brady played major role in luring Brandon LaFell to Foxboro||03.19.14 at 6:38 pm ET|
When it came to the possibility of the Patriots landing free agent wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Tom Brady didn’t have to do any recruiting. Turns out, his mere presence was enough to lure LaFell to Foxboro.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver, who spoke with the New England for the first time Wednesday since signing a three-year deal with the Patriots, answered quickly when he was asked what went into his decision to depart Carolina.
“Because I had a chance to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “One day, Cam [Newton] will be there probably, but he’s not there now. I felt like it was a better chance to come up here to get more balls and win up here than it was in Carolina. Nothing against those guys, it’s a great organization. Those guys are going to win, I can see them winning but it’s proven up here, man.
“We were winning last year in Carolina,” he added. “These guys were winning up here for the last 10-plus years, so why not come to a winning organization?”
LaFell recalled watching film of Brady and the New England offense last season, and recalls being amazed at the level of quarterback play.
“We were watching film last year when we were going to play those guys, (and) we were always like, ‘Man, those receivers have to put their hands up.’ No matter what route they ran, no matter how the guy was on them, if they just put their hands up, the ball was always in perfect placement,” he said.
“When you have a guy that can pinpoint the ball like he does year-in and year-out, it’s great.”
The 27-year-old LaFell is an LSU product who has been in the league for four years ‘ all with the Panthers ‘ and has 167 career catches, including 49 receptions for 627 yards and a career-high five touchdowns last year.
While he hash’t had the chance to connect with Brady face-to-face quite yet — he said they’ve traded texts the last few days because Brady is out of the country — he has spoken with another LSU teammate in running back Stevan Ridley, who was apparently pretty fired up about the possibility of lining up alongside his old friend.
“He was so excited. He was like, ‘You have to be lying to be right now,'” recalled LaFell. “He was like, ‘We have a bunch of young guys that play a lot of good ball, but we need another veteran that will step in and help those guys grow. You’re proven and this and that. You can be one of those final pieces of us, taking us to the next level.’
“He just kept saying the word sacrifice; sacrifice and hard work. ‘If you’re committed to do that with the rest of the guys, you’re going to fit in well and help us win games.’”
Here are some of the highlights of the rest of the Q&A:
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