Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach (Yahoo Sports) - ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders have promoted offensive line coach Tony Sparano to interim coach to replace the fired Dennis Allen. CSKA Moscow 0-1 Bayern Munich - Thomas Muller scores a penalty as Bayern Munich beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 at an empty stadium in the Champions League. Scherzer to start Game 1 for Tigers vs Baltimore (Yahoo Sports) - DETROIT (AP) -- Max Scherzer will start Game 1 of the AL division series for Detroit on Thursday, headlining the Tigers' star-studded rotation for a second consecutive postseason. Vikings hopeful, noncommittal with Bridgewater (Yahoo Sports) - EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Vikings have not committed to Teddy Bridgewater playing at Green Bay on his sprained left ankle. Two days after his injury, however, the quarterback is ''doing much better,'' according to coach Mike Zimmer. Will Premier League bubble burst? - BBC sports editor Dan Roan on whether a possible Ofcom investigation could harm the richest football league in the world. Olympian Michael Phelps arrested on DUI charge (Yahoo Sports) - BALTIMORE (AP) -- Police arrested Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps on a DUI charge early Tuesday, and officials say he was speeding and failed field sobriety tests when officers pulled him over. Phelps 'arrested for drink driving' - US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has been arrested for driving under the influence, police in Baltimore, Maryland say. Sturridge not fit to face Basel - Striker Daniel Sturridge and defender Mamadou Sakho are not in the squad for Liverpool's Champions League group game at Basel. Colts give Mathis 1-year contract extension (Yahoo Sports) - INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indianapolis is keeping Robert Mathis around through 2016. Verstappen 'could be F1 superstar' - Sir Jackie Stewart says Max Verstappen could become a "superstar" if he impresses in his grand prix weekend debut at Suzuka.

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Greg Cosell's Week 4 analysis: Eagles have to consider adjustments [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 6:33 pm]
In Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, you could see two things affecting the Eagles: Injuries on the offensive line and opponents are playing them differently than they did last year. Both factors are disrupting the offense. I think Eagles coach Chip Kelly is at that moment when he’s going to have to make some adjustments. The Eagles are a run-first offense (last year they were one of four teams to attempt more runs than passes, and keep in mind that quarterback Nick Foles isn't a runner and doesn't affect that stat), and this year they are having trouble running the ball. Against the 49ers, left tackle Jason Peters was the only member of the Eagles' regular offensive line who was playing and in his normal position, due to injuries and Lane Johnson's suspension. You saw the Eagles try a little bit of everything to get the run game going against the 49ers, and nothing worked. The Eagles showed an unbalanced offensive line in the second quarter to try to get the run game going. LeSean McCoy was stopped for no gain. The Eagles had Foles go under center on a number of plays in the second half, something you rarely see from the Eagles, to spark the run game. The run game still had no success. McCoy is bouncing it outside too much; he must hit the point of attack even if it's not well blocked. That’s the only way to find some stability in run game. The lack of a run game is affecting the offense, and the problems on the offense line are affecting the passing game too. The Eagles utilized six- and seven-man protection concepts, often with multiple tight end sets, to compensate for the offensive line's pass protection issues. That's not what the Eagles want to do. It cuts down on the available targets for quarterback Nick Foles. The Eagles are also seeing teams take away other things they do well. The 49ers' plan was to play zone coverage and use a four-man rush. San Francisco blitzed just four times on Foles' 45 drop backs. They r

Report: Oakland Raiders to name Tony Sparano as interim head coach [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 6:08 pm]
The Oakland Raiders are planning to name Tony Sparano their interim head coach, according to ESPN's Jim Trotter. The Raiders are planning a 2 pm presser to name Tony Sparano interim coach, according to multiple team sources.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) September 30, 2014 The Raiders fired head coach Dennis Allen after the team's 0-4 start and 10 straight losses dating back to last season. [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] Sparano had the Raiders' assistant head coach/offensive line coach dating back to the start of last season. It's not clear if he will continue to coach the offensive linemen going forward. Sparano, who turns 53 next week, has a regular-season head-coaching record of 29-32 (0-1 in the playoffs) from his three-plus seasons with the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011. Sparano was fired in 2011 after the Dolphins' Week 14 loss that season. The Raiders are on bye in Week 5. They face the San Diego Chargers in Week 6 five days after Sparano's birthday. Sparano is not considered a long-term candidate to keep the job — although we suspect we know one man who is. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

NFL enjoys record TV ratings despite Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson scandals [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 4:56 pm]
Despite the public relations nightmare the NFL has endured throughout the first month of the season, football fans continue to watch in record numbers, according to Reuters. Following Roger Goodell's highly criticized two-game suspension of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, his concession the league botched the punishment upon TMZ releasing footage of Rice's domestic violence incident and his stumbling through a series of media appearances in the aftermath — not to mention the Minnesota Vikings' mishandling of running back Adrian Peterson during his child abuse case — many fans vowed to stop watching the NFL in protest of a global brand gone awry. Through the first three weeks of the season, CBS, NBC and ESPN have seen a rise in their NFL broadcast ratings, according to the latest Nielsen data obtained by Reuters. CBS has reportedly seen the most significant jump, skyrocketing from an average of 17.8 million viewers in 2013 to 19.5 million per week this year. Meanwhile, "Sunday Night Football" on NBC has seen a 2 percent increase to 21.8 million viewers, and even ESPN's cable numbers are up slightly to 11.5 million weekly watchers. While Fox's viewership remains in line with last season (20.7 million vs. 20.5), Sunday's high-profile, down-to-the-wire game between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers is expected to give those numbers a boost when Week 4 figures become available on Thursday, according to the Reuters report. If you were among those who figured the NFL was too big to fail in the wake of one of the worst PR months in league history, these latest numbers seem to support that theory, as the viewing audience has actually increased in that span. Then again, people stop to watch car wrecks, too, so it'll be interesting to see if the spike in ratings persists and how the NFL's merchandise has fared in the same timeframe.

FCC votes to end government approval of NFL blackouts [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:33 pm]
The FCC has voted unanimously to end its support of a decades-old rule allowing the NFL to black out games in markets where tickets remain unsold. The NFL blocks all local broadcasts of games if a team does not sell out before 72 hours of kickoff. The league did so with the FCC's blessing and backing, but Tuesday's 5-0 vote vote ends that support. "The sports blackout rules are a bad hangover from the days when barely 40 percent of games sold out and gate receipts were the league's principal source of revenue," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently wrote. "The NFL no longer needs the government's help to remain viable." Only two games were blacked out by the NFL last season, and none have been this year. The NFL has warned that if the blackout rule is ended, more games could move from broadcast to cable television, an argument that sounds more like a threat than a defense. It's worth noting that this action does not prohibit the NFL from enforcing blackouts on its own. This merely ends the government backing and support of the practice. However, the NFL could enter into agreements with its broadcast partners that allow for blackouts under certain conditions. The NFL has reason to be concerned about shrinking attendance at games, the ostensible reason for mandating the blackouts. On one hand, attending one NFL game means you're missing out on the other half-dozen going on at the same time. HD TVs (and private bathrooms) are far more attractive for a large segment of the viewing public. Plus, the cost of an NFL game has spiraled, and there's always the chance that you'll get swept up in a fight or two. Still, the blackout rule is an anachronism, and the NFL now has one less reason to tout it as a reasonable business practice. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

Raiders might have to place call to Jon Gruden about coaching opening [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 1:44 pm]
Two things felt inevitable following the Oakland Raiders' fourth loss to open the season, and 10th in a row dating back to last season: Dennis Allen was a dead man walking and that the Raiders were poised to go big for his long-term replacement. Allen was fired late Monday night (by phone, incidentally), and already the rumors have started to fly: Raiders owner Mark Davis' next phone call might just have to go to Jon Gruden. Gruden had just finished the Monday Night Football broadcast of the Kansas City Chiefs pounding the New England Patriots when the news of Allen's firing broke, and it would have been fascinating to hear his immediate thoughts in the wake of the report. [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] After all, Gruden and the Raiders are that odd couple that broke up years ago but continue to flirt and play the what-if game. They might be willing to give it one more chance. Gruden, the Raiders' head coach from 1998 to 2001, was the one guy that the late Al Davis — father of Mark — probably hated to see go the most. The rest Davis fired; Gruden, he traded to the Buccaneers for draft picks. They might have butted heads, but Davis knew how good Gruden was and wasn't going to get nothing in return for him. That's why Mark Davis reportedly put out feelers on Gruden this offseason — and his buddy Rich Gannon said as much — and also the season before, when Allen's first as head coach was not even finished. . @Hub_Arkush of @ProFootballWkly just told @Boers_Bernstein that Jon Gruden and the #Raiders are in talks to bring him back to Oakland.— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein) December 4, 2012 At that first point, Al Davis had been dead for just over a year, and Mark Davis was still growing into his role as the new Raiders owner. Hard to believe, but the team was even less settled then than it is now, as bad as things appear on the surface.  Gruden certainly is no lock to return. Oh yes, he has the cushy TV

Brady doesn't congratulate Garoppolo, Belichick doesn't worry about his QB [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 1:11 pm]
Oh, this is gonna be good. If there's anything Northeast fans and media love more than winning, it's griping about losing. And the New England Patriots are giving us an early preview of just how nasty it's going to get up Boston way over the next few seasons. Look, at some point Tom Brady will hang up his cleats and NFL-strength hair-care products once and for all. That could be 2015, or it could be 2022, but it's going to happen. Question is, how will he and those around him deal with it? Monday night gave us a hint of a possible future. The Chiefs de-pantsed the Patriots in front of a national television audience, in large part because Brady could get nothing going. (Yes yes offensive line sucks receivers can't catch refs are biased blah blah.) Brady finished 14-for-23 with one touchdown against two picks, and after that second pick, he took a seat on the sideline. And nooooobody got near him:  That's understandable, of course. But what happened after his replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, drove New England down the field for a touchdown will be absolute red meat for Pats media and fans. As the Boston Globe, via FTW, notes: Tom Brady gave passive high-fives to the other offensive players coming off the field — Gronk, Julian Edelman, the offensive linemen — but stayed clear of Garoppolo. Brady didn’t offer him any congratulations or daps. When they returned to the bench, McDaniels sat in between them — Brady on the bench, Garoppolo on a water cooler. The two quarterbacks didn’t appear to speak. Brady watched the rest of the game silently with his arms folded, with no teammate coming within 20 feet of him. You can hear the sports talk radio callers already, can't you? THAT'S POOAH SPOATSMANSHIP, TAWMMY! In the postgame press conference, some brave soul, who deserves a steak dinner from his mates, asked Patriots head coach Bill Belichick if he would "consider evaluating the quarterback position." His response was flat-out vintage Bill: Perfect. No, there's no

Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Dallas Cowboys, please rise [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 4:20 am]
Let's be serious for a moment here. And I have to kick the really over-the-top crazy Dallas Cowboys fans out of the room now so we can have a real conversation. OK, good. Now ... what in the heck is going on in Dallas? Look, you didn't see this coming, I didn't see this coming, nobody did. But now there's no getting around it: The Dallas Cowboys look good. They look great. Had Tony Romo not made some big Week 1 mistakes against the 49ers, they might be 4-0 with some quality wins. I just don't know how we got here. The Cowboys didn't add much in the offseason, and the defense lost Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee. Romo was coming off back surgery. They've been the epitome of mediocre for years. All of a sudden, they're good. Logically, it makes little sense. Sunday night's dominant win over the Saints was their statement that they're for real. Now, "for real" comes and goes in the NFL in 2014 as quickly as Jon Gruden compliments a mundane play on "Monday Night Football." Teams look great one week and incompetent seven days later. Nothing is permanent. But right now, the Cowboys deserve a huge bump up the rankings. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli would be my coach of the year vote at this point. He has been that good. The Cowboys' offense have reinvented itself by building around DeMarco Murray and a great run-blocking offensive line. They deserve all the credit you can give them. I guess that's the beauty of the NFL. Things that are completely unforeseen can actually happen. We're seeing it in Dallas. Here are the post-Week 4 power rankings: 32. Oakland Raiders (0-4, LW: 31) Head coach Dennis Allen got fired, and general manager Reggie McKenzie can't be far behind. Remember, they have the oldest roster in the NFL. Bad, bad, bad. 31. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4, LW: 30) No one player is going to totally turn this team around, not even a huge upgrade at quarterback. They're just not good at all. But they're also very young and you'd assume they'll improve a

Chiefs player Husain Abdullah gets penalized after kneeling in Muslim prayer [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:52 am]
NFL officiating guru Mike Pereira once said he'd never throw a flag on a player who knelt in the end zone in prayer because he "didn't want to get struck by lightning." That same belief wasn't shared by the crew working Monday night's Chiefs-Patriots game.  In a move that is sure to generate some discussion, Husain Abdullah of the Chiefs was flagged 15 yards after kneeling in the end zone in Muslim prayer after scoring a touchdown off an interception of Tom Brady. The unsportmanlike conduct penalty Abdullah received sparked a quick outrage on Twitter where it was noted that plenty of Christian players mark their scores with a sign of deference, reflection or tribute to their higher power.  Brandon Marshall gets on knees & raises hands to Jesus after TD..No penalty..Husain Abdullah bows to Mecca..15 yards! pic.twitter.com/6G5sDfaWO0— Arsalan Iftikhar™ (@TheMuslimGuy) September 30, 2014 While some fans said the NFL rulebook provides an exception for praying players, that isn't exactly true. The excessive celebration rule is actually kind of vague with players "prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground." Prayer is never specifically mentioned, though Pereira's comment generally embodies the permissive view that NFL officials usually take toward religious exhibition.    To use an example, Greg Jennings was not flagged for this prayer during Super Bowl XLV  ... ... while his teammate Nick Collins was penalized 15 yards for this more demonstrative secular celebration in the same game  (the common denominator being that both players were on the ground) ... So what happened on Monday night? Perhaps the official who threw the flag on the Abdullah play was unfamiliar with Muslim custom. Perhaps it was something else.  Whatever the case, it's hard to imagine this story will pass without the NFL issuing comment or clarification. At this point, Abdullah and the NFL's Muslim fans certainly deserve one. Here's what Abdullah's agent CJ LaBoy said

Report: Dennis Allen informed by Oakland Raiders that he's been fired [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:35 am]
Fox's Jay Glazer is reporting that the Oakland Raiders have informed Dennis Allen that he has been fired. Breaking: Raiders have just informed Dennis Allen he is fired.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) September 30, 2014 Allen's Raiders dropped to 0-4 — their 10th loss in a row dating back to last season — after Sunday's 38-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins in London. And it apparently happened today over the phone, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Despite Allen and the team having to spend 12 hours on a plane together coming back from overseas. The #Raiders fired Dennis Allen tonight over the phone. Really.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2014 [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] It has been widely speculated that either assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano or offensive coordinator Greg Olson would replace Allen on an interim basis. This was the call of owner Mark Davis. General manager Reggie McKenzie might also be on the hot seat give the status of the Raiders' shaky roster. There had been a report by the Associated Press that Allen would be fired, but it was retracted. The Raiders returned from London on Monday but no announcement was made. Allen's contract had run through the 2015 season. We wrote Sunday that Allen was on borrowed time after an 8-28 record in his two-plus seasons as the Raiders' head coach. The Raiders are on bye in Week 5. They face the San Diego Chargers in Week 6. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Was this the end for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' dynasty? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:29 am]
The game situation was totally different for Jimmy Garoppolo, of course, but it was impossible not to notice what happened at the end of Monday night's game. Garoppolo, the Patriots' second-round pick this year, came in and gave a dead offense some life. He took a team that couldn't move the ball and immediately drove the Patriots for a touchdown. And as that was happening it was impossible to also not think about Tom Brady in the past tense. To wonder if we're just never going to see one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history be great anymore. It was also worth wondering if the Patriots' incredible dynasty died at Arrowhead Stadium, too. That's how bad the 41-14 loss was. The Patriots have never looked this incompetent in the Belichick-Brady era. Maybe the Patriots and Brady are fooling us and by the end of the year they'll wear the "AFC East Champions" hats with yet another double-digit win season and look back on this game at Kansas City and laugh. But the Patriots' embarrassment was so thorough and complete that you have to wonder if that team is ever coming back. The Chiefs played a magnfiicent all-around game, and they deserve a lot of credit. But the Patriots looked terrible, too. The Patriots were outgained 303-96 in the first half. The defense was awful, as bad as a Bill Belichick defense has ever looked. But the defense has played well at times this year. Brady hasn't. Before we get to Brady's excuses, let's review some facts. Brady is completing just 59 percent of his passes. He has 791 yards in four games. He has just four touchdowns. His yards per attempt is among the lowest in the league. Against the Chiefs he had 159 yards and two interceptions. Belichick merficully pulled Brady after his second interception, which was returned for a toucdhown to put Kansas City ahead 41-7. Brady and Belichick have never trailed by that many points in a game during their all-time great run with the Patriots. It was sad to watch Brady, who is arguably the greatest

Lions' Fauria injured trying to stop Lil' Rufio from urinating inside house [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 11:22 pm]
The Detroit Lions officially are the kings of the bizarre injuries. Last year, Nate Burleson broke his arm trying to prevent pizzas from sliding off his car seat. In Week 3, Stephen Tulloch suffered a season-ending torn ACL while celebrating a teammate's play. Heck, Matthew Stafford almost was hit by a falling bridge on Monday. But Lions tight end Joseph Fauria has entered the team's Injury Hall of Fame for his mishap.  Fauria was trying to stop Lil' Rufio from urinating in the house when he misstepped & sprained his ankle at home. pic.twitter.com/djBc9XVjp5— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 29, 2014 That's the Lions' official Twitter account. Not that of The Onion. [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] Lil' Rufio, who appears to be a Husky puppy, caused his owner to suffer a sprained ankle and miss game action. Fauria is still in a walking boot from the dog. Fauria said he sprained his ankle at home slipping on his hardwood floor chasing his dog. Said it wasn't a volleyball injury— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) September 29, 2014 This is real life. There had been rumors of Fauria getting hurt at a volleyball game, but he shot those down.  Fauria said he was goofing around, warming up with his friends at a rec volleyball game Wednesday but that has nothing to do with injury— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) September 29, 2014 No, it definitely was a tiny, adorable dog trying to micturate on the hardwood floors. Hard not to believe a guy with that story. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Harbaugh dumps on Deion-Dilfer reports that 49ers have turned on coach [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 10:36 pm]
San Francisco 49ers head coach didn't hold back when asked about NFL Network's Deion Sanders and ESPN's Trent Dilfer, both of whom said separately after the 49ers' win over the Philadelphia Eagles that the players have turned against their coach.  “Personally I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Harbaugh said Monday, per the San Jose Mercury News. [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] Here are the NFL analysts' exact words: “They want him out," Sanders said Sunday on NFL GameDay Final. "They’re not on the same page." And: “I do think it’s become almost toxic,” Dilfer said Monday morning on ESPN Radio. Both analysts stated this as if it was their belief, based on inside knowledge of the team's inner workings. Still Harbaugh wondered who their sources were. “I haven’t seen Trent or Deion around here much,” Harbaugh said. Deion Sanders has a close relationship with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. Could that have been his source? Apparently not. To many that this may concern @KingCrab15 is not my source. My sources wears uniforms,suits and ties. #Truth— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) September 29, 2014 Deion and Trent also wear suits, for what it's worth. So does Sanders' co-worker, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who previously has reported on his hearing back in early September that Harbaugh was “losing” the locker room — which Harbaugh dismissed then — and following up that report Sunday morning before the Eagles game that veterans feel Harbaugh “treats them like children” after the coach took away some of their personal liberties, such as listening to music and playing cards on team flights. Harbaugh has said that neither GM Trent Baakle nor CEO Jed York has asked him about the state of hte locker room and described his relationship with them on Monday as “very good. Everybody is on the same page. Everybody is focused on this season, making it the best it can possibly be, working we

Jovan Belcher's brain shows signs of CTE in post-mortem tests [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 9:52 pm]
When Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, then went to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself on Dec. 1, 2012, he was probably suffering from a neurological condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE. The signs of CTE, which has been detected in other former NFL players whose brains were studied after their deaths and is linked to concussions, were found during tests of Belcher's brain, news that was first reported by Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. While the news should come as little surprise, given that CTE has been found in the brains of former players like Junior Seau who have acted erratically before killing themselves, it's more evidence for the negative effects of concussions and brain injuries for current and former players. The news also comes at a time when the NFL has been fighting negative publicity about domestic violence in the league. Belcher shot Perkins nine times. His blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit when he killed her. The Star said the analysis was performed at the request of laywers for Zoey Belcher, the daughter of Jovan Belcher and Perkins. The results can be used in ongoing litigation against the NFL and the Chiefs, the Star said. Belcher's body was exumed for the tests, which is believed to be the first time that has been done in an NFL case, the Star said. Here's what the report of Piotr Kozlowski, dean of research and professor of pathology at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City, said via the Star: "The microscopic findings of neurofibrillary tangles in young person are fully consistent with the pathological presentation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as it is reported in the available medical literature.” - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Colts safety LaRon Landry suspended four games for a PED violation [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 9:15 pm]
Colts safety LaRon Landry, who is known for his otherworldly physique, was suspended four games for a violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. The news, which was announced by the Colts and the NFL, brought about a number of sarcastic tweets remembering a viral photo of Landry in which he looks unrealistically huge. #Colts safety LaRon Landry, presented without comment. pic.twitter.com/OirZRXoYTF— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) September 29, 2014 Suffice it to say, most people didn't express much surprise at the suspension news. Landry had his own comment on social media. "Sometimes things aren't what they appear to be," he posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts with one of those photos where a misplaced foot behind a man appears between his legs and looks like ... something other than a foot. That post was deleted. We'll see if he has an excuse for the suspension, which probably won't go unnoticed on social media. Fans aren't surprised by Landry's suspension, based on that famous photo above and others of him showing off his Incredible Hulk muscles. It's still a tough blow for the Colts and their defense. He'll be back in a month, but the jokes will probably continue. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Which NFL jersey is the most popular in each state? Glad you asked [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 7:51 pm]
  The list of which NFL jerseys are the best-sellers in each state is mostly intuitive. Seattle owns the Pacific Northwest, the Patriots are the most popular in New England, the Vikings win Minnesota and the neighboring Dakotas too. Everyone could have guessed that. But what about the states that have no NFL team or nobody particularly close? Which team's jersey sells best in Montana? What about Hawaii and Alaska? Which team owns states with more than one NFL team like Florida and California? Dick's Sporting Goods has a fun interactive site that ranks and lists NFL jersey sales through their stores, with a map of which team's jersey is the top seller in each state (you can find that map at the bottom of this post). Here are the strangest takeaways from which states prefer which teams (based on 2014 season jersey sales through Week 3): The Packers are Idaho's team The Jerry Kramer effect? That's where the famous guard from the Lombardi era went to college, but that was many, many years ago. For whatever reason, the state has embraced the Packers, who won in Wisconsin (duh) and Idaho and that's it. Potatoes and cheese unite? The Raiders win Montana (but not California) The Raiders have a strong following everywhere, but we wouldn't have guessed Montana as a hot spot. That's the only state the Raiders won. I would have guessed the Raiders' jerseys to be the top seller in California, because no matter how bad the team is, you see Raiders fans everywhere there. But I get why the 49ers edged them. They're just as popular and more successful on the field lately, to say the least. The Browns win Ohio (and Oklahoma?) while the Bengals take Kentucky The Browns' jersey is the best seller in Ohio, which makes sense. Cincinnati is practically in Kentucky so it makes sense that the Bengals won that state. What is strange is Oklahomans love Cleveland's team. The Browns drafted Oklahoma State players Brandon Weeden and Justin Gilbert in the first round the past few years, but this

Buffalo Bills bench EJ Manuel, promote Kyle Orton to starting quarterback [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 7:50 pm]
Doug Marrone dropped a bombshell in his Monday press conference. Marrone announced that starting quarterback EJ Manuel will be benched and backup Kyle Orton will be the starter in Week 5. Manuel had a rough game Sunday against the Houston Texans, completed only 21-of-44 passes (and only 7-of-19 in the second half) for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bills called a lot of passes, but most of them were short throws and his 47-percent completion percentage in the game didn't cut it. [Join FanDuel.com's $1.5 million Week 5 fantasy league: $25 to enter; $150,000 to first] One of those interceptions was a close-range pick by the Texans' J.J. Watt, which he ran back for a touchdown. After the game, Manuel appeared dejected in the Bills' locker room. In four starts this season, Manuel has completed 58 percent of his passes, with 838 yards, five TDs and three interceptions. Orton signed with the team after the Dallas Cowboys — per his request — released him this offseason, so he was able to double dip on bonus money still owed by the Cowboys as well as a tasty salary ($5 million) that indicated just how short Manuel's leash was. The last snap Orton took in an NFL game of any kind was in the Cowboys' Week 17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Orton did not play in the preseason with the Bills. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Minnesota Vikings get pre-game inspiration from Adrian Peterson's text [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 3:43 pm]
Adrian Peterson is persona non grata right now for the Minnesota Vikings, unable to play while sitting on the NFL's exempt list, but he did what he could to help his teammates in a big victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Peterson texted head coach Mike Zimmer and offered his support, per the Pioneer Press. What Peterson said exactly we do not know, but those words were used directly by Zimmer in his pre-game speech that he gave to players. The message hit home. "The words that Adrian texted Coach Zimmer, [they were] very deep," Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said after their 41-28 win over the Falcons at TCF Bank Stadium. "One thing that I took away from that message was, play each down like it's your last because you never know when it's going to be your last opportunity. I think the guys got that message pretty well. We went out, we fought. It was just a great overall team effort." For Bridgewater, that message hit home doubly. He played an outstanding game in his first NFL start, with zero turnovers, leading six scoring drives in just over three quarters. But Bridgewater came out early after spraining his left ankle, having to turn the ball over to Christian Ponder, which is akin to a Detroit Tigers starter turning the ball over to Joe Nathan with a three-run lead. But Peterson's message also clearly rubbed off on his replacements in the backfield. Rookie Jerick McKinnon, who said that Peterson had been texting him tips before the game, had 18 rushes for 135 yards, and Matt Asiata rushing 20 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns. In the two prior games without Peterson, the Vikings rushed for a mere 113 yards with an average of 2.8 yards per carry. At least you can say that Peterson is trying to do something to earn the salary he's still earning while sitting home. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Can you make heads or tails of the NFC South? If so, please email us [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 2:26 pm]
Four games does not a proper sample size make. That said, we're left to grasp at straws at what's going on in the NFC South. Right now, it's a morass.  The two 2-2 teams, the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, are coming off losses of 13 and 28 points. One 1-3 team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, used a backup quarterback to beat up on the Steelers in Pittsburgh; the other 1-3 team, the New Orleans Saints, couldn't prevent getting housed by the Dallas Cowboys (a team they beat by 32 points) despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the game. So who ya got? Let's try to make a case for any of these teams — because one most certainly will — winning the division. The Falcons are the one team in the division to outscore their opponents, at plus-18, but the 56-14 blowout of the Bucs had a little something to do with that. The other three teams are a combined minus-85 in point differential. With Matt Ryan and two great receivers, you like the Falcons' chances to score points. That's a good thing. But they finished the loss to the Minnesota Vikings with Levine Toilolo (a tight end, you guys) playing right tackle. Their line is decimated. And their defense, which was supposed to move up in class, is allowing 429.8 yards per game (31st in the NFL) and 28.3 points (29th). Last season, those numbers were 379.4 and 27.7. Still, what helps most at this point: Their 2-0 record in the division. That looks massive at this point. The Saints can fall back on the fact that they have seven more games at the Superdome, where they were 8-0 in 2013 and have won nine straight. Is that enough? Are we expecting a 1-7 road, 8-0 home type of season? Or are the Saints this year's 2013 Falcons? There's still that sense that all three losses came down to a handful of plays — yes, even Sunday night's 21-point loss to the Cowboys — cost them those games. Had Kenny Stills hauled in a high sideline pass from Drew Brees, down 14 with 8 minutes left, maybe the game turns. After that, the

The Packers-Bears game was anything but 'foot'ball, plus the best of the weekend [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 1:42 pm]
  We call this game "football," but in truth, foot rarely meets ball, and in most cases, it's when the hands and legs have failed in their duties. Sunday's 38-17 Packers victory over Chicago featured exactly zero punts, only the second time in NFL history that's happened. (The first: Buffalo-San Francisco in September 1992, but you knew that.) The game featured more than 850 yards of total offense and nine scores of various types, mostly by Green Bay. Next up: we want to see an NFL game with nothing but punts. The no-punt tale leads off this week's NFL in :90, where we take you through the biggest stories of Sunday. Check it out for details on Steve Smith's triumphant Carolina battle, the miserable Miami-Oakland game in London, and San Francisco's performance in its first statement game. Here's more of the best of Sunday in Shutdown Corner: • Did a 49ers fan prank the Eagles with a fire alarm at the team hotel? • JJ Watt, offensive juggernaut. • Steve Smith with the line of the week: "I ran around those boys like they were schoolyard kids." • Geno Smith got very irritated at a fan and used some unfortunate language. • Your latest franchise quarterback is ... Mike Glennon? • Michael Crabtree got his helmet torn completely off, and it was mostly his own fault. • The Saints are a mess, and nothing in the NFL makes sense anymore. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee

The Bears/Packers game was anything but 'foot'ball, plus the best of the weekend [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 1:42 pm]
  We call this game "football," but in truth, foot rarely meets ball, and in most cases, it's when the hands and legs have failed in their duties. Sunday's 38-17 Packers victory over Chicago featured exactly zero punts, only the second time in NFL history that's happened. (The first: Buffalo-San Francisco in September 1992, but you knew that.) The game featured more than 850 yards of total offense and nine scores of various types, mostly by Green Bay. Next up: we want to see an NFL game with nothing but punts. The no-punt tale leads off this week's NFL in :90, where we take you through the biggest stories of Sunday. Check it out for details on Steve Smith's triumphant Carolina battle, the miserable Miami-Oakland game in London, and San Francisco's performance in its first statement game. Here's more of the best of Sunday in Shutdown Corner: • Did a 49ers fan prank the Eagles with a fire alarm at the team hotel? • JJ Watt, offensive juggernaut. • Steve Smith with the line of the week: "I ran around those boys like they were schoolyard kids." • Geno Smith got very irritated at a fan and used some unfortunate language. • Your latest franchise quarterback is ... Mike Glennon? • Michael Crabtree got his helmet torn completely off, and it was mostly his own fault. • The Saints are a mess, and nothing in the NFL makes sense anymore. ____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter. Follow @jaybusbee





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