Trade deadline fizzles again
The only big name actually in play seemed to be Jared Allen
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
More than a few big names were rumored to be in play ahead of he NFL's trade deadline on Tuesday.
But visions of Tony Gonzalez returning to Kansas City, Jared Allen in the Rocky Mountains, Maurice Jones-Drew in Big D or Hakeem Nicks in Indy were just that.
In fact the only player filing a change of address form was pedestrian Philadelphia Eagles nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who was sent to injury-plagued New England -- along with a 2014 sixth-round draft choice -- for a fifth- rounder.
Not exactly the Larry Fitzgerald-blockbuster you were hoping for, huh?
The only big name actually in play seemed to be Allen, the four-time All-Pro who is languishing on an awful Minnesota defense and will be a free agent after the season.
The 1-6 Vikings are going nowhere and need to see more of Everson Griffen, who is also a free agent to be, as well as rookie Shariff Floyd, so moving Allen made sense because it would have helped them get more repetitions and a better look at both of those players.
As ESPN report claimed Seattle was hot and heavy after Allen, which made little sense unless the veteran was planning on a quick move to left tackle.
The Seahawks are loaded with pass rushers like Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and while none of those players have the pedigree of Allen, the group is more than enough to win with as evidenced by Seattle's 7-1 record at the midway point.
Lining up Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie at the offensive tackle spots, however, could derail the season for Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider so while it's likely the Seahawks did their due diligence on Allen, a deal never passed the smell test.
When FOX's Jay Glazer, who is very close to Allen, said there was nothing to the rumors, the ESPN reporter who "broke" the story backpeddled faster than Darrelle Revis before the ACL injury.
Denver was likely the far bigger suitor for Allen because the Broncos are still looking for a consistent pass-rushing threat to replace Elvis Dumervil, and snaring Allen could have been the final piece of a championship puzzle.
Only John Elway knows if the fax machine got fired up this time but an untenable contract in which Allen was not open to renegotiate, along with Rick Spielman's asking price -- reportedly a second-rounder or a conditional third- round pick -- made all of this a non-starter in the end.
"I understand this business, I truly do," Allen said on Wednesday. "I understand where we're at in the season. As a matter of fact, I take it as a sign of respect that they still think I have value."
Nicks, a player also on the final year of his contract, looked like a solid fit for anyone needing a receiver, leading many to surmise a Reggie Wayne-less Colts team would bite.
Problem is, believe it or not, the 2-6 Giants are actually still in the hunt of the NFC East race and when Nicks leaves in the offseason to sign elsewhere, it's possible New York could get a compensatory draft pick in line with what they would have gotten from any potential suitors. So, why not keep him and see if you can make a run at the 4-4 Cowboys?
Speaking of Dallas, Jones-Drew isn't in the 0-8 Jaguars' plans moving forward but is a guy who is approaching 30, coming off a Lisfranc injury and averaging 3.2 yards per rush this season so is he really a significant upgrade over DeMarco Murray?
Perhaps in reputation but even Jerry Jones isn't dumb enough to walk down that path.
Gonzalez is so well respected that people wanted to see him return to Kansas City. The future Hall of Famer only came back this season in hopes of making a Super Bowl run with an Atlanta team which came up just short a year ago.
Injuries in Dixie, however, have rendered a Jerome Bettis-like fairytale ending for Gonzalez with the Falcons unimaginable, and romantics were hoping for a reconciliation with the 8-0 Chiefs, who certainly have a need for offensive playmakers.
That said, Andy Reid has built this Kansas City team around a dominating defense and a game manager at quarterback in Alex Smith. Having a tight end who can actually sustain a block for Jamaal Charles every now and again is far more important to "Big Red" than making a high-profile change for change's sake.
So that leaves Sopoaga as the headliner for the first and likely only time in his mediocre career.
The supposed run-stopping specialist who signed a big-money, three-year contract with the Eagles in free agency this past March, totaled 18 tackles in eight games with Philadelphia and was basically a non-factor.
The 32-year-old will join a Patriots team that has had depth issues at defensive tackle, with five-time Pro Bowl selection Vince Wilfork out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, and fellow veteran Tommy Kelly having missed the last three weeks with a knee injury.
The Pats will now be responsible for $529,412 remaining on Sopoaga's 2013 base salary of $1 million. However, the Eagles already paid his $2.75 million roster bonus and $470,588 in salary for little to no production.
Sopoaga was always a bad fit for Philadelphia. He was the weak link on a good 49ers' defensive line and GM Howie Roseman clearly overvalued him.
That said, the one check mark you can put in Roseman's column here is that he quickly admitted a mistake and moved on, something most NFL personnel people are loathe to do.
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THE GAMES (All Times Eastern) - Week 9
Cincinnati (6-2) at Miami (3-4), Thursday, 8:25 p.m.
LINE: Bengals by 2 1/2
THE SKINNY: A lot of people love heading south this time of year but for the Miami Dolphins, a trip due south in the AFC East standings has been anything but fun.
A 3-0 start for the Dolphins is now all but forgotten as Joe Philbin's team returns home in an attempt to halt an ugly four-game skid against the AFC North-leading Bengals on Halloween Night. Miami hasn't tasted victory since Sept. 22 just as the Bengals have gotten red-hot, winning four straight to take a 2 1/2-game lead over Baltimore in their division.
Andy Dalton has been firing on all cylinders recently, helping Cincy pile up 103 points in its last three games. Over that span, the third-year signal caller has thrown for at least 325 yards in each contest and tossed 11 TD passes, becoming the first Bengal ever to throw that many in a three-game stretch.
The Dolphins' hiccup is their worst since a seven-game slide to open the 2011 season while Cincinnati is coming off its most lopsided victory in Marvin Lewis' 11-year tenure, a 49-9 thrashing of the Jets in which Dalton had a career-best five TD tosses, four to second-year receiver Marvin Jones, a franchise record.
These are teams heading in polar opposite directions and expect that to continue.
PREDICTION: Bengals 27, Dolphins 20
New Orleans (6-1) at NY Jets (4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Saints by 5 1/2
THE SKINNY: The high-powered Saints will be seeking their second consecutive win over an AFC East foe and their seventh victory of the year, which would match the team's entire 2012 win total without suspended head coach Sean Payton.
NOLA QB Drew Brees passed for 332 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Buffalo last week, his eighth career game with at least five touchdown passes, an NFL record.
"It's great having a future Hall of Famer at quarterback in Drew Brees," said rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills, who caught three balls for a career-best 129 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo.
The Jets are focused on rebounding from an ugly 49-9 Week 8 loss at Cincinnati and staying away from a losing streak, something they have been able to do so far.
New York has won three consecutive games following losses this season, is a solid 3-1 at MetLife Stadium and is 2-0 versus NFC South foes (Tampa Bay and Atlanta) with each win coming on a game-winning field goals by Nick Folk.
"Win one, lose one, I hope it continues this week and then we'll figure it out," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "I think we will bounce back and obviously we're going against an opponent that's 6-1. So, it's not going to be easy."
PREDICTION: Saints 24, Jets 20
Kansas City (8-0) at Buffalo (3-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Chiefs by 3
THE SKINNY: Things continue to break Kansas City's way. The Chiefs are the lone unbeaten team in football and the first club in NFL history to start 8-0 after losing 14-or-more games in the previous season. Kansas City will be aiming for its first 9-0 start since 2003 (9-0) thanks in large part to its plus-12 turnover ratio, the best in the NFL.
Alex Smith, perhaps the game's ultimate game-manager, understands the importance of taking care of the football and is now 27-5-1 in his last 33 NFL starts, while Jamaal Charles has at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game this season and leads the entire league with 127.3 scrimmage yards per contest.
Thad Lewis makes his fourth straight start at QB for Buffalo in place of the injured EJ Manuel but just his second in western New York. Lewis threw two TDs and had a 100.5 passer rating in his first go around in Buffalo, a 27-24 OT loss to Cincinnati back on Oct. 13.
PREDICTION: Chiefs 17, Bills 14
Atlanta (2-5) at Carolina (4-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Panthers by 7 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Panthers have won three straight and are over the .500 mark for the first time since they ended the 2008 season at 12-4. An opportunistic defense, led by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who leads the NFL with 220 tackles since entering the league in 2012, along with the big-play ability of QB Cam Newton, who has six TDs (four passing, two running) over his past two games, has Carolina thinking playoffs.
Injury-plagued Atlanta is going in the opposite direction but the Panthers still have to worry about the dangerous Matt Ryan, who has won five of his past six starts against them, completing 137-of-215 passes for 1,657 yards with 13 TDs and just three INTs in those games.
PREDICTION: Panthers 26, Falcons 17
Minnesota (1-6) at Dallas (4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Cowboys by 10
THE SKINNY: The Vikings poor QB play will likely continue with either Christian Ponder or Josh Freeman under center but that might be the least of Minnesota's problems. The Vikings' third-down defense was so abysmal last Sunday night, Green Bay never punted in an easy 44-31 win.
The Packers converted on 13-of-18 third-down attempts and were two-for-two on fourth down as they scored on all seven drives that didn't end either the half or the game.
That figures to be a tonic for a Dallas team coming off a devastating last second loss at Detroit, marred by the sideline antics of star receiver Dez Bryant.
PREDICTION: Cowboys 41, Vikings 13
Tennessee (3-4) at St. Louis (3-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Titans by 3
THE SKINNY: Rams coach Jeff Fisher welcomes his old team to the Gateway to the West. Fisher was 147-126 with the Oilers/Titans from 1994 through 201, leading the team to six different playoff appearances, three division titles, two AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIV.
Kellen Clemens will again fill in for the injured Sam Bradford under center for St. Louis after nearly leading the Rams to an upset over powerful Seattle on Monday night. Clemens, who made his 13th career NFL start, drove St. Louis from its own 3-yard line with 5:42 to play before coming up just short as the Seahawks defense put together an impressive goal-line stand in the waning seconds.
Tennessee is well-rested, coming off its bye week. Since 1990, the Titans are 13-11 after the bye and will continue to rely on the improving Jake Locker, who has completed 83-of-132 passes for 922 yards with eight TDs versus one INT in his last four starts.
PREDICTION: Titans 21, Rams 18
San Diego (4-3) at Washington (2-5), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Pick 'em
THE SKINNY: The Chargers head east riding the hot hand of Philip Rivers, who already has three 400-yard passing games in 2013, the most in the NFL. Rivers has also connected on 20-or-more passes while completing at least 80 percent in three games, tying for most such games in a season in NFL history (Brett Favre in 2009 and Drew Brees in 2011).
All eyes in the nation's capital are on Robert Griffin III this week but maybe they should be on the defense. RG3 left the team's loss in Denver in Week 8 when Broncos defensive lineman Terrance Knighton landed on his left knee late in the game. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said the knee is "fine" but a little sore.
The Washington defense is anything but fine, however, allowing Denver to score 38 straight points as a 21-7 lead evaporated into a 45-21 defeat. The 'Skins did force Peyton Manning into four turnovers, but also allowed him to throw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
PREDICTION: Redskins 30, Chargers 27
Philadelphia (3-5) at Oakland (3-4), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: No Line
THE SKINNY: The quarterback carousel is back in motion for Philadelphia with second-year man Nick Foles back for the re-injured Michael Vick and ineffective rookie Matt Barkley. Foles seemed to be grabbing hold of the job until an Oct. 20 debacle against Dallas in which he performed very poorly before being knocked out of the contest with a concussion.
Chip Kelly's highly-publicized high-octane offense has come up limp thanks to the QB troubles with the team amassing a total of three points offensively over the past two weeks.
Things are looking up in Oakland thanks to dual-threat signal caller Terrelle Pryor, who is 3-0 at home as a starter, completing 43-of-66 passes for 435 yards in those games. Pryor's 93-yard rushing TD last week against the Steelers is the longest TD run by a QB in NFL history.
PREDICTION: Raiders 21, Eagles 16
Tampa Bay (0-7) at Seattle (7-1), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
LINE: Seahawks by 16 1/2
THE SKINNY: If ever there was a game to take in your knockout pool, this is it as the Seahawks, who have won 11 straight at home, take on the winless Bucs.
Seattle is 7-1 for the first time in franchise history and Russell Wilson has never lost as a starting QB in the Pacific Northwest, connecting on 151-of-235 passes for 2,105 yards with 22 TDs and just four picks in his first 11 tries as the host.
If Tampa Bay and embattled coach Greg Schiano can hang their hat on anything it's the fact that rookie QB Mike Glennon is coming off a career-high 275-yard passing performance against Carolina.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 31, Buccaneers 10
Baltimore (3-4) at Cleveland (3-5), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Ravens by 2 1/2
THE SKINNY: The reigning Super Bowl champions come off their bye on the ropes but have a lot of history to lean on here.
Baltimore has won 13 of its past 16 games against AFC North foes and is an impressive 12-5 after bye weeks. The most ominous trend for Cleveland, however, is the fact that Joe Flacco has never lost to the Browns, compiling an 11-0 mark against them.
Cleveland is on its third quarterback in veteran Jason Campbell, who was solid in his first start with the club last week, completing 22-of-36 passes for 293 yards with two TDs and no picks against a very tough Kansas City defense.
PREDICTION: Ravens 24, Browns 17
Pittsburgh (2-5) at New England (6-2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
LINE: Patriots by 7
THE SKINNY: Whether they do it with mirrors or not, the injury-ridden New England Patriots continue to win and will shoot for their seventh straight November triumph when they take on a disappointing Steelers team.
Although putting up pedestrian numbers this season Tom Brady is 33-10 overall in Turkey Month and is running neck and neck with Drew Brees for the fourth spot all-time with 343 career TD passes.
The Steelers need a win to save their season and Ben Roethlisberger is one TD pass away from joining Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw (212) as the only Pittsburgh signal callers with 200 in their careers,
PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Steelers 16
Indianapolis (5-2) at Houston (2-5), Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
LINE: Colts by 2 1/2
THE SKINNY: Houston's two-year reign atop the AFC South is in precarious shape as Andrew Luck and Indianapolis arrive in south Texas with a three-game edge over the Texans in the division.
A Colts win on Sunday night would just about put the nail in Houston's coffin. Embattled Texans coach Gary Kubiak has decided to stick with Case Keenum over struggling veteran Matt Schaub for the time being after the University of Houston product completed 15-of-25 passes for 271 yards and a TD with a 110.6 passer rating in his NFL debut against Kansas City on Oct. 20.
Keenum is very popular locally after finishing his college career with the Cougars as the NCAA's all-time leader in total passing yards (19,217) and TD passes (155).
He will be facing a pretty good college player himself who has transitioned nicely to the pros in Luck. The former No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford is now 16-7 as an NFL starter with nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. In his two career starts against the Texans, Luck has four TD passes and no interceptions.
PREDICTION: Colts 23, Texans 14
Chicago (4-3) at Green Bay (5-2), Monday, 8:40 p.m.
LINE: Packers by 10 1/2
THE SKINNY: Football's oldest rivalry resumes in Titletown for the 185th time on "Monday Night Football."
Green Bay has won four consecutive games and sits atop the NFC North after Aaron Rodgers completed 24-of-29 passes for 285 yards and connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson for two touchdowns (11 and 76 yards) in an easy 44-31 win over hapless Minnesota.
"Aaron and I were able to connect and make some big plays," said Nelson. "We're two guys that communicate a lot to one another. We're students of the game, we try to be detailed at what we do and make sure we're on the same page."
The Bears have had extra time to prepare and will be coming off a bye week but will be without starting QB Jay Cutler and star linebacker Lance Briggs. Veteran signal caller Josh McCown will make his first start this season after completing 14- of-20 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown and a 119.6 passer rating in relief of the injured Cutler during a 45-41 loss to the Redskins.
"Josh has been in the league for a long time," said Bears tackle Jermon Bushrod. "He's played a lot of games. He has a lot of experience. So we're excited about the opportunity."
They shouldn't be.
PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bears 13