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Monday, April 22, 2019

Football

Best revenge games on the 2019 NFL schedule

Le'Veon Bell

The 2019 NFL schedule was released on Wednesday, much to the delight of football fans everywhere. This is the first opportunity to start breaking things down, project wins and losses, and really get excited about the fall slate to come.

Another exciting part about the schedule is being able to look at potential revenge games. Few things are more exciting than watching a player or coach go against his former team. They have extra motivation to prove a point and show them how they went wrong.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at the best revenge games on the schedule.

1) New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams, Week 2

Does anything more really need to be said? The Rams beat the Saints in the NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl, thanks to one of the most controversial calls in NFL history. Adding insult to injury, the Rams lost and had trouble scoring in the Super Bowl, giving the Saints the feeling that they probably would have been a better NFC representative. Though this game won’t give Saints fans an opportunity to get rowdy at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, those who do make the trip to Los Angeles will be sure to make their voice heard.

2) Le’Veon Bell’s New York Jets vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 16

Does anyone have a bigger eye on a game than Le’Veon Bell on Week 16 when his New York Jets take on the Pittsburgh Steelers? Bell sat out the entire 2018 NFL season rather than play for the Steelers under the franchise tag for the second straight year. He endured a season of criticism from fans, critics, and even some of his former teammates. He’d probably want nothing more than to have a monster game against Pittsburgh.

3) Earl Thomas’ Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks, Week 7

It might be harder to envision a defensive player having a revenge game against his former team, but we’re talking about Earl Thomas — he’s a totally different matter. Remember what happened when he went against the Dallas Cowboys last year and was trying to prove a point to them about why they should have acquired him? We can only imagine how hard he’ll be playing against Seattle, especially with the thought that they slighted him regarding his contract situation.

4) Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos vs Chicago Bears, Week 2

Fangio gets a chance to prove very early to the Denver Broncos brass just how astute of a coach he is. His Broncos will be hosting his former team, the Chicago Bears, and the game comes in Week 2. Fangio should know Chicago’s offense better than anyone after going up against them in practice regularly and watching them in games. He should be highly motivated to stop his former team and should have a gameplan that will keep them off the scoreboard.

5) Vontaze Burfict’s Oakland Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals, Week 11

The league office better have some extra eyes on this contest. In Week 11, Vontaze Burfict will be going up against the only team he’s ever played for when his new squad, the Oakland Raiders, host his old one, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals let him go following a season where he dealt with more concussion issues. When you think of dirty NFL players, Burfict’s name is at the top of the list. We can only imagine what kind of hits he’ll be eagerly dishing out to his former teammates in this one — if he’s healthy for the game.

Bonus: Cole Beasley’s Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys, Week 13

Slot receivers don’t always have the opportunity to make a huge impact on a game, but if there’s a situation where one will want to, it’s here. The Cowboys let Beasley go in the offseason, feeling he wasn’t worth the money the Bills signed him to. Instead, they chose to go a cheaper route by signing Randall Cobb. Beasley is sensitive about the subject and will be gunning to have a big game. He also seems to be all-in with the Bills and has already made some comments that would puzzle Cowboys fans.

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Von Miller has surprising preference for Broncos’ first-round pick

Von Miller

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller had an interesting take on who he’d pick in the first round if it were up to him.

Miller got to meet with top quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins when the Ohio State star was visiting the team’s facilities. Miller came away so impressed that he said he’d make Haskins the Broncos’ pick at No. 10.

This may not be music to the ears of Joe Flacco, whom the Broncos acquired to play quarterback earlier in the offseason. It’s also not clear if this is under serious consideration for the Broncos. They’ve done their due diligence on the top quarterbacks in the draft, but they’re also not willing to trade for a young quarterback. It’s anyone’s guess whether they care to draft one, either.

Jimmy Garoppolo planning on wearing a brace after torn ACL

Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be taking some precautions once he gets back on the field after rehabbing a torn ACL.

Garoppolo said he will absolutely be wearing a brace once he plays again after the serious injury that knocked him out for the bulk of the 2018 season, and he said it as enthusiastically as possible.

The hope is that Garoppolo will be ready for OTAs. All signs point toward him playing this season regularly, and doing so with a bit of extra reinforcement on the left knee that wrecked his first season with San Francisco.

Cardinals the only team that is high on Kyler Murray?

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray is still widely expected to be taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the top overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, but one analyst believes the Heisman Trophy winner could be in big trouble if the team decides to go in another direction.

CBS college football analyst Aaron Taylor believes Murray is a perfect fit for Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, but he questions whether or not he would enjoy success in another team’s system. Because of that, Taylor said this week that he would not be surprised if Murray falls out of the first round if the Cardinals pass on him.

“You cannot deny the perfect match of offensive philosophy, style and skillset,” he said. “If Arizona doesn’t take Murray, he could possibly fall all the way out of the first round.”

Of course, that is just one person’s opinion. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report wrote in his “10-Point Stance” column this week that all signs still point the Cardinals drafting Murray, but he said most people would not be surprised if the Oakland Raiders made a “big move up” in the first round for Murray. That would seemingly indicate that Arizona is not the only team that believes in the former Oklahoma star.

Murray turned down more money than we initially realized when he decided to pursue a career in the NFL over playing for the Oakland A’s, so he must be fairly confident he’s going to be a first-round pick. As long as the Cardinals want him, nothing else really matters.

Robert Kraft day spa video will reportedly be released by prosecutors

Robert Kraft

The Robert Kraft surveillance video will be released, according to court statements from the prosecution, as reported by the Boston Globe. Prosecutors are taking the position that they must do so because of Florida law.

From the Boston Globe:

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office said in court papers it is obligated under Florida law to provide the video to the public and the media now and cannot wait for a judge to decide whether it should be kept under seal while Lei Wang is prosecuted as the alleged manager of the Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Fla.

Last week, Robert Kraft’s legal team argued against the release of the police surveillance video of Kraft allegedly involved in sexual acts.

“If the affidavit says what happened, what is the interest the public has in seeing it? It’s basically pornography,” attorney William Burck said.

If I may file an amicus curiae request, let me just say that no one really needs to see this. I’d rather leave it to my imagination that if it was “basically pornography,” it just involves Kraft showing up in a cheap pizza delivery costume with some bad music in the background.

Le’Veon Bell predicts James Conner will break Steelers’ TD record for a RB

LeVeon Bell

The Pittsburgh Steelers put out a question on Twitter asking how many touchdowns James Conner would score in 2019. A prominent former Steeler weighed in with an answer. Le’Veon Bell is drawing some praise for not holding grudges and supporting a former teammate with his response.

I’m going to be that guy, though, and point out that Bell’s career high for touchdowns in a season in Pittsburgh was 11 (2014 and 2017). Conner had 13 touchdowns in 13 games a year ago. So, sure, if Conner slightly exceeds that rate and stays healthy, it could happen. Over the last decade, 11 running backs have scored at least 17 touchdowns, so that’s roughly one per year across the entire league.

The lesson here is that you do not want to take fantasy advice from Bell or fail to account for regression. Do you know how many running backs in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers have scored 17 touchdowns in a season?

Zero.

You would also probably never guess that the Steelers running back with the most in a single season was Willie Parker, with 16 in 2006.

So yes, it’s admirable that Bell thinks Conner is going to set the franchise record for a Steelers running back in his absence. It would take a lot of things — like good fortune, the right circumstances, a full season of healthy play, and no collapse from other members of the offense — to set that up. The better answer would have been something along the lines of “10,” but then it probably isn’t worth the grief and the discussion on Twitter for Bell to explain how reality works.

Report: Ex-Bengals assistant Jonathan Hayes to coach XFL’s St. Louis team

Vince McMahon XFL

The XFL is proceeding with business as usual despite the Alliance of American Football failing almost instantly, and another head coach appears to have accepted a job with Vince McMahon’s league.

According to Martin Kilcoyne of 590 The Fan in St. Louis, the XFL’s St. Louis franchise is expected to hire former Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes to be its head coach.

The XFL has already made some big splashes with head coaching and general manager hires, and Hayes should bring plenty of experience to the league. He’s a former NFL tight end who had been with the Bengals as an assistant coach since 2003 prior to being let go earlier this year.

While many view the AAF’s shortcomings as an ominous sign for the XFL, the league remains confident in its own revival.