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DALLAS COWBOYS (7-5) at CHICAGO BEARS (6-6)
2013-12-09

The Cowboys set their sights on the NFC East crown while the Bears try to keep their playoff hopes alive when the teams collide on Monday night.
Dallas defeated the Raiders 31-24 on Thanksgiving Day despite being down two touchdowns late in the second quarter. Chicago was saddled with a 23-20 road loss against the Vikings in overtime, making the team 2-4 SU (1-5 ATS) in its past six games. The Bears have yet to cover a spread at home this year (0-5-1 ATS), while the Cowboys are 2-4 SU on the road, but a solid 4-2 ATS. These teams last met in Dallas last season where Chicago won 34-18 as a 3-point underdog, picking off Tony Romo five times in the victory. That made this series an even 5-5 split (SU and ATS) in the past 10 meetings. Both clubs have negative betting trends working against them. The Cowboys are 10-23 ATS (30percent) in road games after outrushing their opponent by 75+ yards in their previous game since 1992. But over the past two seasons, Chicago is 2-11 ATS (15percent) in games where the line is +3 to -3. The big injury story in this game is Bears starting QB Jay Cutler (ankle) who is out, while the Cowboys will get a huge boost with top LB Sean Lee (hamstring) set to return after missing the past two games.

The Cowboys appeared to be in trouble against the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day before QB Tony Romo (3,140 passing yards, 7.1 YPA, 24 TD, 7 INT) began to throw all over the Oakland defense. Romo went 23-of-32 for 225 yards and a touchdown, and constantly had the Cowboys in the red zone in the second half. RB DeMarco Murray (697 rush yards, 4.9 YPC, 7 TD) was able to cash in on those opportunities as he rushed for 63 yards and three touchdowns. Backup RB Lance Dunbar (150 rush yards, 5.0 YPC) also rushed 12 times for 82 yards before being injured (knee) and lost for the season. This was a welcomed change from the pass-happy attack Dallas has shown all year, where the team ranks 15th in the NFL in passing yards (243 YPG) and 27th in rushing offense (85 YPG). The Cowboys offense has still be able to find ways to score though, with 27.4 PPG this season (3rd in NFL). They will need to step their defense up, however, as they are allowing a league-worst 422 total YPG, broken down between 295 passing YPG (2nd-worst in NFL) and 127 rushing YPG (27th in NFL). Dallas also ranks 28th in the league in red zone efficiency (62percent TD rate) and 27th in third-down defense (41percent efficiency). The return of LB Sean Lee should immediately help the struggling defense get on track.
Chicago lost a heartbreaker in Minnesota last week that couldve really gone a long way in helping the club make the playoffs. The Bears should be fine with Josh McCown playing excellent football for Chicago. He has thrown for 1,461 yards (7.9 YPA) this season with nine touchdowns and just one interception. He also has two exceptional receivers in WRs Brandon Marshall (990 rec. yards, 9 TD) and Alshon Jeffery (1,109 rec. yards, 5 TD), who is coming off a mammoth 249-yard performance with 2 TD in Minnesota. The Bears are passing for 272 YPG (6th in NFL) while allowing just 232 passing YPG (14th in NFL). Their big problem, however, comes stopping the run. They have allowed an NFL-worst 154 rushing YPG on 5.0 YPC, but the red-zone defense has been pretty good (50percent, T-10th in NFL). Despite this efficiency, Chicago is still allowing 27.7 PPG (5th-most in league). RB Matt Forte will need to have an effective game for the Bears to come away with this one. He has been one of the best running backs in football this season with 971 rushing yards (4.5 YPC) and seven touchdowns. He has also added 58 receptions for 445 yards and a touchdown in the passing game.




2013 NFL Draft rumor mill: Lane Johnson, Tyler Eifert create buzz
2013-04-24

Where this draft has volume, Apuestas Deportivas Online Bingo Play Slots Online in US NFL Betting Picks it lacks luxury. Where it has "good," it's short on "great."

That explains why the vast majority of teams picking in the top 10 are looking to bail. It's also why the selection process that starts Thursday night figures to be as unpredictable as you can imagine.
How do we know for sure? Because the clubs themselves are so divergent in their thinking as to how it'll all play out.

One general manager said on Monday, "Right now, you're talking and it's a little harder bargain. But I think on draft day, it'll get cheaper than normal to move up, because teams want to move back. So you'll have movement."

Another GM, later in the day, disagreed: "If you're a team with a lot of different holes and needs, you're fine without having to trade up. There may be less than usual. Most years, starting with the end of the first round, maybe 25-40, those guys are all very similar. That group (of similarly rated players) is larger this year."

So with that in mind, and after spending the last two days talking to GMs, executives, college scouting directors and area scouts, let's kick off a draft-rumor bonanza, highlighting trends, players and teams to watch the next few days ... right ... now ...
Five teams that could be on the move

1) Oakland Raiders (No. 3 pick): Without a second-round pick -- thanks to the Carson Palmer deal -- the Raiders are taking their best shot at dealing down, like many others in the top 10. Unlike some, though, they offer suitors a clear shot at one of the top three offensive tackles. And don't get this part mixed up: The tackles will dictate the highest level of the trade market.
2) Cleveland Browns (No. 6): It's no secret that the Browns are looking to make up for the second-rounder they lost when they nabbed Josh Gordon in last year's supplemental draft. If Lane Johnson somehow makes it to No. 6, there's a chance someone tries to jump Arizona to get him. If the tackles are gone, someone could come calling to get a pass rusher like Barkevious Mingo.

3) New Orleans Saints (No. 15): For the horde of high-drafting teams looking to deal down, New Orleans could be lurking as a potential partner. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan still needs edge rushers for his 3-4, and this isn't a draft rich in those types. The problem is, the Saints, thanks in part to the bounty scandal, have just five picks. But in the past, they've been willing to deal selections from future drafts.

4) St. Louis Rams (Nos. 16 and 22): It's not out of the question that the Rams could move up for a player like Tavon Austin. It's also well within reason that they could deal way down. Some clubs view St. Louis' spot at 22 as a potential landing place for those wanting to move up out of the second round and grab a quarterback.

5) Minnesota Vikings (Nos. 23 and 25): Ditto. The Vikings, with two picks in the 20s, could be in prime position to accommodate a quarterback-needy team looking to move up. Buffalo is considered the "cliff" for the quarterbacks; that is to say, if they all get past the Bills at No. 8, they could fall into this range.
Five players to trade up for

1) Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel and/or 2) Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher: They can't both go first. If Fisher's the pick, Jacksonville is likely to consider Joeckel at No. 2. If the Jags go with a defensive player there, then Oakland will be in prime position to move its pick. And that's because some teams view the drop-off from these two to Lane Johnson as being a considerable one.

3) Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson: Teams that view this as a three-tackle draft rather than a two-tackle draft would then be motivated to move up and try to get Johnson. He'd be an exceptional fit for Chip Kelly's supersonic pace on offense; that might mean a tough call for Philly when it comes to deciding whether to sell its pick or bet on a player who isn't a finished product yet.

4) LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo: As with the tackles, the drop-off after the top pass rushers will drive the trade market at that position. Once Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah are gone, clubs that run a 3-4 defense could pull the trigger on a deal to move up and get this freakish LSU product -- especially those that have concerns about Jarvis Jones' athleticism.

5) Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert: A very clean prospect who will likely benefit from the following circumstances: a) the value of tight ends has never been higher; and b) there aren't a lot of them in this year's draft. There seems to be far more of a league-wide positive consensus when it comes to Eifert than there is regarding Stanford's Zach Ertz; a team could thus get antsy and make a move for the Irish All-American.
Five things to watch

1) Where do the quarterbacks go?: One AFC exec made it simple: "There's no quarterback worth a top-10 or even a top-15 pick, so if you take one there, you're only drafting them there for need." An AFC college director was stronger: "I don't like any of them in the first round." Few seem to have the order nailed down. Fewer know when they'll go. And as you'll see in my mock below, my sense is that Geno Smith is no lock to be the first one taken. Still, there could be a run on them at the start of the second round.

2) There's always next year: The star power in 2014 -- with potential names like Jadeveon Clowney, Taylor Lewan, Cyrus Kouandjio, Jake Matthews, Marqise Lee and Sammy Watkins -- is expected to far exceed that of this year's class. How will that impact things? Teams like the San Francisco 49ers -- loaded with draft picks but not roster spots -- could deal into next spring.

3) The real risers: Truth is, "draft stock" can be a media creation that is generated as all of us learn more about what teams really think. With that in mind, here are two names that could go higher than some perceive: Tavon Austin (because there's a scarcity of playmakers in this class) and Sheldon Richardson (because there's a feeling he's still improving, and that type of 3-technique isn't easy to find).

4) Depth matters: Because of the level field, players at positions that are deeper could take a hit because clubs will look at the first two rounds as a package. Another AFC college scouting director said, "It's a deep safety draft, it's a deep linebacker draft, so people are gonna be saying, 'We'll be able to get one
later.' " This draft class also has depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

5) The Alabama effect: There's no question that Nick Saban has built a juggernaut in Tuscaloosa, and the annual handful of first-round picks is evidence of the respect the pros have for that. There's also a growing perception in the NFL that 'Bama's best are so well-coached that they're closer to maxing out than those from other programs. As one scout put it, "When those guys leave Alabama, they're as good as they'll ever be, so you better like them on film." It's a weird dynamic, to be sure, but one to keep an eye on.


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2015-02-15

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