After a thrilling Sunday night battle last week, both the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs have tough matchups facing them in Week 7. For the Patriots, they travel to Chicago to face a Bears defense that ranks first in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric (that’s Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). A lot of the credit there will be given to Khalil Mack for the impact he has had rushing the passer, racking up five sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown through five games played.
But it hasn’t just been Mack that has made Vic Fangio’s defense rough to play against this season. The Bears rank seventh in the league in sacks with 18 and second in interceptions with 10. They have also yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season. That all said, Khalil Mack is hampered by an injury heading into the weekend, so his effectiveness is unknown. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense seems to be rounding into form with the return of Julian Edelman and a renewed focus on the run game (101 carries for 445 yards and 7 TDs in the last three weeks).
As for the Chiefs, they look to rebound from their first loss of the season as they welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Arrowhead for another Sunday night affair. We know how good K.C.’s offense has been (second in offensive DVOA), but Cincy has been pretty good too. The Bengals check in at eighth in that metric thanks to a balanced attack with Andy Dalton in the passing game and Joe Mixon breaking out in the run game. Both of these contests should be fun to watch on Sunday, and to try and figure out who has the edge, we checked in with CBS 2 Chicago’s Ryan Baker for his thoughts. (All times Eastern.)
New England Patriots @ Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
“Tom Brady and the Patriots march into Soldier Field to take on the Bears, and the key question is how healthy is the Monster in the Midway? Khalil Mack hurt his ankle in last week’s overtime loss to Miami. With Mack hobbled, the Bears didn’t register a single sack against the Dolphins, when they had 18 in their first four games. The Pats put up 43 on K.C., but they gave up 40. It might be another shootout along the lake front. However, I think Brady improves to a perfect 5-0 in his career versus Chicago.” Patriots win.
Minnesota Vikings @ New York Jets, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
“Both of these teams are coming off back-to-back wins. The Vikings seem to have righted their ship behind the explosive combination of Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen. Thielen is on pace to become the first Vikes pass catcher to lead the league in receiving yards, something that Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss never did. The Jets pass defense is porous having allowed five different 100-yard games to receivers this season. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will try to make the Jets fans forget that Cousins snubbed them in free agency, but I like the Vikings in this one. ”
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
“Dallas and Washington renew their rivalry with first place in the NFC East on the line on Sunday afternoon in D.C. The Cowboys looked impressive last week, demolishing Jacksonville 40-7 at home, but the Pokes are averaging just 12.6 points per game in their three losses away from Big D. Dallas’ run defense is second-best in the NFL, giving up just over 90 yards per game, but Washington is equally stingy. Dak Prescott will be the difference. He has never lost to the Redskins and he won’t this time.” Cowboys win.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs, 8:25 p.m. (NBC)
Kansas City is going to be chomping at the bit after suffering their first loss in a scoreboard special with the Patriots. Cincy is also smarting after the Steelers stole one from them late. This game features two high-scoring offenses. The Bengals put up almost 30 per game, while K.C. averages almost 36 behind breakout quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has 18 touchdowns but he’s thrown four picks in his last two games. If defense is your thing, this one ain’t for you. I’m taking the Chiefs in a wild one.”
As Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles were the obvious favorites to represent the NFC again come January. It’s not quite working out that way, at least not yet.
The Washington Redskins sit atop the NFC East at 3-2. That’s right, the same Washington Redskins that feature Alex Smith, an older version of the quarterback they let get away, and Adrian Peterson, an older version of every NFL running back not named Frank Gore. The Dallas Cowboys, their opponent this Sunday on CBS, are tied with the Eagles for second place at 3-3, after completely dismantling the Jacksonville Jaguars. The winner will, for now, secure at least a share of the division lead.
The Cowboys offense had been mostly moribund all season before dropping 40 points on the Jags last Sunday. They were averaging 16.6 points per game, with a season high of 26, which came in their Week 4 win over the Detroit Lions. Dak Prescott deserves a fair share of the blame. He didn’t top 200 yards passing until the fourth week of the season, and has only done it one more time since. The Cowboys currently have one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL, averaging just 172 yards per game.
Prescott is among the NFL’s more mobile quarterback, and lately he’s been making things happen with his feet. Add his 11 carries for 82 yards against the Jaguars to his 183 yards passing, and he becomes way more of an offensive threat. Defenses have to respect an effective scrambling quarterback, which could then open up the passing game. But can this offense leverage the Prescott running threat to get the ball in the hands of its receivers? Cole Beasley is effective in the slot — he just produced the first 100-yard game from a receiver this season — but the trio of Beasley, Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin doesn’t scare many defenses.
Ezekiel Elliott (Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Elliot, on the other hand, is the second-leading rusher through six weeks, and should absolutely keep defensive coordinators up nights. A battering ram of a runner, he gets going downhill in a hurry. Opposing defenses know the Cowboys are going to feed him the ball 20 times per game, yet no one can stop him, even if they key in on the run.
The Cowboys have one of the NFL’s better defenses, giving up just 17.2 points and 315.2 yards per game. Their stingy run defense allows just 3.5 yards per carry and 90.7 yards per game, and has held up without Sean Lee, who will likely return this week from a hamstring injury. His presence will only help.
The pass defense is giving up a respectable 224.5 yards and about a touchdown per game. The menacing pass rush has 18 sacks, including 5.5 from Demarcus Lawence, one of the more underrated defenders in the league. They do a good job of getting after the quarterback, even if the hurries aren’t leading to turnovers. Dallas has only managed to haul in two interceptions so far.
That pass rush could be a problem for the Redskins and Alex Smith, who’s struggled the last couple weeks and has yet to really live up to the expectations he set in Kansas City. The efficient game manager, who was brought in to replace Kirk Cousins, is averaging 241 yards per game over five games and has tossed a total of six TD passes. His only real receiving threat — tight end Jordan Reed — has been relatively quiet, averaging four catches and 45 yards per game and scoring just one touchdown.
Adrian Peterson (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Much of the Redskins’ offensive production has come from the 33-year-old Adrian Peterson. Though not the back he once was, Peterson has put together a few solid games, including a 120-yard, two-touchdown outing against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. In both Redskins losses, however, he disappeared. Relying on an aging running back to carry a team is a risky proposition. (As of this moment, he’s questionable for Sunday.) While Peterson may continue to produce, it’s troublesome that the team’s chances of winning seem to depend on it.
The Redskins defense has quietly become one of the NFL’s better units. Despite the shellacking it endured from the New Orleans Saints, it’s still giving up just 326.2 yards and 20.8 points per game. Take out the Saints game, and those averages drop to 296 yards and 15. 3 points. The run defense, in particular, has looked good, holding opposing backs to 90.2 yards per game.
The Cowboys have not won on the road this season, but they haven’t lost at FedExField since 2012. Elliott is the second-best back in the NFL, but the Redskins run defense is the sixth-best in terms of yards allowed. Something has to give.
With these evenly matched teams, the outcome likely depends on how much success Dallas finds on the ground. Look for them to ride Elliott and let Prescott move around and make plays. The Cowboys won’t rack up points like they did against the Jaguars. But they’ll do more than a nicked-up Redskins offense that struggles to put up points even when healthy.
The Cowboys have been a much-maligned group — until last week when they routed the Jaguars 40-7. Regardless, these two teams are evenly matched, each has a top 10 defense and an offense that sputters but shows sparks. Adrian Peterson has been a nice surprise for Washington, but the difference here should be Ezekiel Elliott and the legs of Dak Prescott. The Cowboys have covered the last four years in Washington.
Baseball’s league championship series in both league’s have provided plenty of late-game controversy and heroics. In the NLCS, Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado was accused of being a “dirty player” by members of the Brewers after stepping on first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s foot in Game 4. Over in the A.L., the Astros and their fans were upset over a fan interference call that took away a potential two-run homer from Jose Altuve. However, that drama hasn’t translated to much of a ratings boost.
While ratings for Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS did show increases year-over-year, overall, the two series have seen a decrease in the ratings compared to last season. According to Sports Media Watch, every LCS game in both leagues through Monday had seen a decline when compared to last year. That trend continued on Tuesday night with Game 4 in the NL and Game 3 in the AL both posting decreases in viewership.
That leads to an obvious question. Should MLB be concerned?
The answer is, well, not really. As John Lewis, creator of Sports Media Watch said in a phone interview today, sports TV ratings tend to ebb and flow year-to-year. When looking at this year’s ratings in particular, there’s a couple of factors to consider.
“You had the Yankees and the Cubs last year, you don’t have them this year, and that is a huge part of it,” said Lewis. “Especially in the N.L., the Cubs were there for three straight years and served as the draw for viewers while playing a pair of big market teams in the Dodgers and Mets. Instead of the Cubs, you have the Brewers in there which is the smallest-market team in the NLCS since 2014 (St. Louis Cardinals). That’s a factor.”
“Then, on the American League side, you have the fact that it’s always going to be tough to match the draw of the Yankees even with a great series like Red Sox-Astros,” said Lewis. “That’s what I would pin it on.”
One other thing to consider is the league’s focus on the sport being a regional powerhouse. National TV games in the playoffs are far behind even a measly Thursday night regular season game with the Denver Broncos blowout of the Arizona Cardinals on Fox last night generating a 6.6 rating while the Red Sox clinching win drew a 5.0 overnight rating. However, baseball teams dominate their local market TV ratings throughout the regular season. From Lewis’ perspective, the league would seemingly rather have it that way.
“Baseball wants it that way it would seem because the national games are mostly blacked out in the local markets with the exception of the FOX games on Saturday and Sunday Night Baseball,” said Lewis. “So, your best week night baseball rating is going to be on par with the worst weeknight NBA rating because baseball does not prioritize national TV in the regular season. When you go with that regional focus, one, you’re going to get less TV money because networks aren’t going to pay as much for inventory that is blacked out most of the time. And, two, you put yourself in a position that when you get to this time of the year, people have been watching their own team all year and they haven’t been watching the national window of games. That definitely doesn’t help baseball in that sense.”
Now, with the focus shifting to the World Series that begins play next week, it’s worth wondering if the trend from the early part of the LCS series’ will carry over. For Lewis, there’s one factor playing into MLB’s favor right now on that front.
“One of the good things baseball has going for it is the fact that Boston made the World Series,” said Lewis. “If you get Boston versus L.A. you should get good numbers, depending on the length of the series.”
Thursday, the president of the NBA’s G-League, Malcolm Turner, told ESPN that the league will begin offering “Select Contracts” worth $125,000 to elite high school prospects as an alternative to college basketball beginning in the summer of 2019.
The news was well received by most as another option for high school athletes who aren’t yet eligible to play basketball and earn money at the same time. WNBA star Brittney Griner was among those happy for the guys, but also took the opportunity to make her feelings known about the salaries in the WNBA.
Griner wrote on Instagram and pointed out the inequality between how the men’s leagues treat their players and how the WNBA treats their athletes.
Griner certainly has a point. As Forbes reported earlier this year, WNBA salaries cap out at $110,000. That means that the players who sign a “Select Contract” with the G-League, a development league, would be making more money than the stars of the WNBA.
She’s not the first star of the league to air her frustrations. Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage and teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith spoke about the wage gap earlier this season. As Griner said in her post, women can often make more money playing overseas than they do in the WNBA, leaving her and others to wonder if playing in the league during the summer is worth it.
At this point of the NFL season, teams have begun to show the patterns in usage rates for guys that find themselves in crowded position groups. In Chicago, the Bears and head coach Matt Nagy, have started to rely more heavily on all-purpose back Tarik Cohen over punishing runner Jordan Howard. Howard’s yards per carry average is a paltry 3.5 while Cohen is at 5.3 and offers more versatility as a pass catcher.
In Detroit, Matt Stafford seems to have developed a high level of chemistry with second-year receiver Kenny Golladay, targeting him at least seven times in four of the team’s five games so far this season. That has come at the expense of Marvin Jones, who has seen his targets dwindle from a season-high nine in Week 2 to just four in the team’s Week 5 win over Green Bay.
Paying attention to these patterns of usage is key for fantasy football owners as we get deeper into the season. With the Week 7 Sunday slate on the horizon, CBSSports.com’s Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard broke down the top guys they like to start and which ones you should avoid at every major position this weekend. As you can probably guess, three of those four names we just mentioned find themselves on one list or the other.
North Carolina State Wolfpack @ Clemson Tigers
Saturday, October 20, 2018, 3:30 ET
The Wolfpack enter this game with a record of 5-0, and while they’re a good team, they aren’t as good as their ranking or record suggests. They’ve just benefitted from a friendly schedule. There’s a reason this spread is as large as it is despite the fact both teams are unbeaten and ranked, and the truth is the spread should be another point or two larger.
SportsLine Expert: Tom Fornelli (36-27 in last 63 CFB picks)
Joe Burrow (Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Mississippi State Bulldogs @ LSU Tigers
Saturday, October 20, 2018, 7:00 ET
MISSISSIPPI STATE +6.5
The Bulldogs bounced back from consecutive losses to Kentucky and Florida, in which they scored 13 combined points, with a dominant showing in a 23-9 home upset of Auburn. They will be coming off a bye to face LSU, in a potential letdown spot for the Tigers, following their huge upset of Georgia last week. The Bulldogs rolled to a 37-7 upset of LSU last year in which they hammered out 285 rushing yards. It’s unlikely they will duplicate this performance in a difficult road environment, but they’ve proven to be a difficult matchup for LSU. Take the points.
SportsLine Expert: Josh Nagel (21-14 in last 35 CFB picks)
New England Patriots @ Chicago Bears
Sunday, October 21, 2018, 1:00 ET
NEW ENGLAND -2.5
The Bears have been a nice story, last week’s gag at Miami notwithstanding. But the Patriots have really looked like the Patriots we’ve come to expect the last three weeks, with the return of Julian Edelman and the strong running of rookie Sony Michel. New England has scored at least 38 points in each of the last three games, and while that may not come against a strong Bears defensive front, expecting Mitchell Trubisky and Chicago’s offense to keep pace is a lot to ask.
SportsLine Expert: Adam Thompson (3-1-1 in last 5 NFL ATS picks)
Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott (L-R) (Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
Sunday, October 21, 2018, 4:25 ET
For the Cowboys, FedEx Field is a home away from home. Dallas has not lost on its annual visits there since 2012. Extending it to a half-dozen straight won’t be easy. The absence of WR Tavon Austin (groin) weakens an already unimposing receiver group. Inventive play-calling produced a romp over Jacksonville, so more of the same is essential. Dallas’ stalwart defense should have no problem hemming in the hardly dynamic Redskins’ offense. A remarkable trend spanning the last two decades: The underdog has covered in three of every four meetings.
SportsLine Expert: Mike Tierney (23-7-1 in last 31 NFL ATS picks)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, October 21, 2018, 8:20 ET
KANSAS CITY -6
Due to the Chiefs’ defensive metrics keeping their rating down, we’re going to keep getting decent numbers on them. Their defense ranks last in the NFL allowing 468 ypg, but their offense is so polished and unstoppable they keep covering the numbers. They’re the only 6-0 ATS team in the league. Now they’re at home, and after facing good New England and Jacksonville defenses the past two weeks, they get the Bengals’ tired defense that allows 409 ypg. Let’s agree to stop playing the Chiefs to cover when they eventually don’t. But until then, ride the wave. Chiefs are the play.
SportsLine Expert: Micah Roberts (25-12-2 in last 39 NFL picks)
SPOTSYLVANIA COURTHOUSE, Va. (AP) — Two parents seen riding on a moped with a 5-month-old child in Virginia have been arrested.
A Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office release says 26-year old Cane Hartwick Jr. and passenger 24-year old Athena Colon were seen with the child positioned between them on the moped as they traveled.
Athena Colon and Cane Hartwick (PHOTO: Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office)
Authorities say the emergency communications center began receiving multiple calls about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday from residents who reported a child riding in unsafe conditions. Deputies caught up with the moped and the child was taken to a hospital to be treated for a severe rash. Sheriff’s Capt. C.A. Carey says he wasn’t sure what caused the rash.
Hartwick and Colon were each charged with two counts of felony child neglect. It’s unclear if they have lawyers who could comment.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A report from state police says Maryland saw a sharp uptick in reports of hate or bias in 2017.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland State Police and records obtained through a public information request indicate the state’s law enforcement agencies received 398 such reports last year, an increase of 35 percent from 2016.
The trend mirrors a national increase in reported hate crimes.
The most common incident was vandalism. Around 60 were assaults.
State or local police “verified” 46 percent of such complaints, while 52 percent were deemed “inconclusive.” That means police couldn’t determine whether the incidents were based on hate, often because they couldn’t identify the suspects. Statewide, only 2 percent were ruled unfounded.
Maryland Commission on Civil Rights Executive Director Alvin Gillard says “chronic” underreporting persists.
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new Chesapeake Bay license plate was revealed Thursday. Drivers can purchase Treasure the Chesapeake plates for $20.
Proceeds go towards the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Trust. According to the trust’s website, the money is spread between grants to schools, community groups, and other not-for-profits for K-12 environmental education, restoration and protection of our waterways.
The plates will be available from the MVA starting October 29. You can also order them online or mail in a form.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony price fixing charge as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
The DOJ said StarKist faces up to a $100 million fine when it is sentenced. Prosecutors allege that the industry’s top three companies conspired between 2010 and 2013 to keep prices artificially high.
“We have cooperated with the DOJ during the course of its investigation and accept responsibility,” said StarKist chief executive Andrew Choe. “We will continue to conduct our business with the utmost transparency and integrity.”
StarKist is owned by South Korean company Dongwon Industries, one of the largest tuna catching companies in the world. The parent company’s website carries pledges to abide by ethical standards and good corporate citizenship.
The scheme came to light when Thai Union Group’s Chicken of the Sea attempt to buy San Diego-based Bumble Bee failed in 2015, according to court records. Chicken of the Sea executives then alerted federal investigators, who agreed to shield the company from criminal prosecution in exchange for cooperation.
Bumble Bee Foods last year pleaded guilty to the same charge and paid a $25 million fine, $111 million lower than prosecutors said it should have been. Prosecutors said they feared putting the financially struggling Bumble Bee out of business with a high fine and agreed to let the company make interest-free payments for five years.
Two former executives of Bumble Bee and one from StarKist have also each pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges. None of them have been sentenced.
Former Bumble Bee chief executive Christopher Lischewski has pleaded not guilty to a price fixing charge.
“The conspiracy to fix prices on these household staples had direct effects on the pocketbooks of American consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.
In addition, the three companies face myriad lawsuits from wholesalers, food service companies and retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.