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National Football League roundup
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:47:44 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Oakland Raiders announced Tuesday that Tony Sparano will take over as the team's interim head coach. Sparano replaces Dennis Allen, who was fired Monday after the Raiders' 38-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins in London the previous day. - - In an era of billion dollar television broadcasting contracts with the NFL, there is no longer a need for blackout rules regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC eliminated the rule that prevented local network stations from televising games that were not officially sold out. ...

Vikings secondary improving, but Rodgers on deck (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:09:12 PDT)
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is coming off the best game of his brief career.

Falcons' OL loses Hawley, Holmes for season (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:38:38 PDT)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons are facing a dramatic overhaul on their offensive line after announcing Tuesday that injuries have ended the seasons for center Joe Hawley and right tackle Lamar Holmes.

Vikings-Packers Preview (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:13:24 PDT)
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' passing attack responded to criticism by completing every drive in Week 4 with at least a field goal attempt.

Waiver Wire: Week 5 (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:39:00 PDT)
Adam Levitan has notes on 32 players to consider adding to your squad. Andre Holmes is on the rise.

Stock Up, Stock Down: Week 4 (Rotoworld)
(Tue, 30 Sep 2014 05:25:00 PDT)
Raymond Summerlin examines players that saw their fantasy stock gain or take a hit during Week 4.

Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Dallas Cowboys, please rise (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:20:54 PDT)
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 get my coach of the year vote at this point. He has been that good. The Cowboys' offense has 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 as this season goes on. 30. Washington Redskins (1-3, LW: 28) Or maybe I was right to be skeptical of Kirk Cousins. 29. Tennessee Titans (1-3, LW: 23) How in the world did they look so good at Kansas City in Week 1? That's the weirdest result of the NFL season so far, right?

Vikings hope to have QB Bridgewater vs Packers (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:04:24 PDT)
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- The sprained left ankle for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not considered serious, and the Minnesota Vikings are optimistic the rookie will play against Green Bay despite only three days to rest for Thursday night's game.

Giants first-round pick Beckham close to playing (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:32:44 PDT)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants suddenly-potent offense may soon have another weapon for Eli Manning.

Falcons stuck in travel mode, battered by injuries (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:17:54 PDT)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- The Falcons' current stretch of road games would be a challenge even under ideal circumstances.

Minnesota Vikings get pre-game inspiration from Adrian Peterson's text (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 08:43:59 PDT)
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 Sunday's big victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Peterson texted head coach Mike Zimmer and offered his support, per the Pioneer Press . We don't know what Peterson said, but those words were used directly by Zimmer in his pregame 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 was outstanding 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. Peterson's message also 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 at 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 (Shutdown Corner)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:26:10 PDT)
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 last season) 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. 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 eight minutes left, maybe the game turns. After that, the creaky wheels came off the axels. But there's no debate: They've been far too sloppy, far too giving, with not enough killer instinct. They deserve to be 1-3 right now. The Panthers started 2-0 with two gut-check wins (one without Cam Newton, the other without Greg Hardy) and have been smoked, especially on defense, the past two. If the Panthers can't stop the run, and right now they are not (64 rushes, 391 yards allowed past two weeks), they are in deep trouble. Newton is back, but he's not getting good pass protection, he's having to dial in on one receiver (Kelvin Benjamin) and there's no run game to lean back on. With Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert chewed up and likely unavailable for the time being, the Panthers might be leaning on two undrafted rookies — Tauren Poole and Darrin Reaves — for the time being. The Bucs saved their season Sunday with a game performance at Pittsburgh, and the game appeared to prove what the rest of the non-Lovie Smith world was saying since March: Why not Mike Glennon? He was off in the first half but gutsy in the second. Didn't we see this same player last season when Glennon played as brave a game as you can at Seattle (17-of-23 passing, two TDs, zero turnovers) and finished the season with a 19-9 TD-INT ratio? Oh, there's plenty to hate about the Buccaneers. The offensive line is still a piece of work, and the defense still plays too much soft coverage and has too many holes, even with a few notable standouts. Does one big win get them kick-started? Or does the fear of Smith bringing Josh McCown throw icy water on that little fire that was started Sunday? The Falcons appear to be the least volatile. Beyond that, we can't tell you much more. If you have more answers than we do, please let us know. - - - - - - - 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

Bridgewater hurt, but Vikings beat Falcons 41-28 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:42:35 PDT)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Teddy Bridgewater playing with calm and poise beyond his years. Jerick McKinnon running hard between the tackles. Anthony Barr coming up with a big sack in the fourth quarter.

NFL Today, Week 4 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:01:39 PDT)
Monday, Sept. 29

NFL Winners and Losers: Young QBs proving that old rules don't apply (Shutdown Corner)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 19:40:22 PDT)
To become an NFL head coach, you have to be sharp. But it doesn't mean you can't make an obvious error. Being involved so deeply in the day-to-day workings of a team gives you a lot of time to overthink situations, even one that seems as simple as "play your best players." That certainly seems to be what happened when Jacksonville, Minnesota and Tampa Bay picked their Week 1 quarterbacks. Minnesota and Tampa Bay were forced to start their young quarterbacks in Week 4 because of injuries. Chad Henne's terrible play forced Jacksonville to play its young quarterback. And now it just looks like there was a lot of wasted time for those teams the first three weeks because those teams all look reborn. Tampa Bay's Mike Glennon threw for 302 yards and led a last-minute drive to give the Buccaneers, who looked terrible in their 0-3 start, a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh. Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater threw for 317 yards in the Vikings' 41-28 win against the Atlanta Falcons before leaving with an ankle injury (X-rays were negative). Jacksonville's Blake Bortles didn't lead a win, but the Jaguars are terrible. They had a bit of a spark though, as Bortles went 29-of-37 for 253 yards and a touchdown. Teams don't need to sit their talented young quarterbacks just because. The old adage that sitting and learning is the best method for quarterbacks is dead. Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, among others, have shown that. Bortles and Bridgewater were first-round picks and began this season behind mediocre veterans. Glennon was last year's all-rookie quarterback but new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith doesn't trust young quarterbacks. For all three teams, the younger player was clearly the better one. The coaches made mistakes by being too conservative. At least it didn't take too long for the teams to be forced into playing the right player. After Bortles was drafted third overall, the Jaguars stubbornly stuck by their plan that he would not play too early. He looked great in the preseason and that didn't matter. By halftime of their third game, the Jaguars ditched that plan. And, they're much better off as a result. It's hard to say the Cleveland Browns aren't doing the right thing using Brian Hoyer instead of rookie Johnny Manziel, but these other three examples show that it's going to be incredibly rare in the future to see a talented young quarterback wait and learn anymore. It's just not necessary.  Here are the rest of the Week 4 winners and losers: WINNERS Indianapolis Colts: You know the college teams from bad leagues that play a great non-conference game early in the season, then you forget about them as they beat up weak competition before realizing they're 11-1? The NFL has its version of that with the Colts. Did you even realize the Colts played on Sunday? They did, blowing out a second straight hapless AFC South opponent. The Jaguars were the victim last week. The Titans got rolled by the Colts 41-17 on Sunday. Indianapolis has the easiest schedule in the NFL, but it started tough. They lost to the Broncos and Eagles. But now the Colts are 2-2, and with a bunch of games left against the AFC South, you'll look up in December and wonder how the Colts got a gaudy record.

Vikings QB Bridgewater hurts ankle in 1st start (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 19:31:16 PDT)
Teddy Bridgewater's first NFL start ended early.

Vikings Pick Up 41-28 Win Over Falcons (Automated Insights)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:38:53 PDT)
Matt Asiata led the way to a sound victory for the Vikings over the Falcons, 41-28, at home.

Falcons Beaten by Vikings, 41-28 (Automated Insights)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:38:51 PDT)
The Falcons were handled by the Vikings, 41-28, in.

Vikings QB Bridgewater leaves with ankle injury (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 16:33:09 PDT)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has left the game against Atlanta in the fourth quarter with an injured ankle.

Buccaneers rally late to stun Steelers 27-24 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 16:24:43 PDT)
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent nine long days aching for a shot to shake off embarrassment.

Patriots-Bills moves to Fox under 'cross-flexing' (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 15:20:33 PDT)
NEW YORK (AP) -- An AFC East showdown will air on Fox as part of the NFL's new ''cross-flexing.''

Dolphins rout winless Raiders in NFL return to London
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 14:45:39 PDT)
By Nigel Hunt LONDON (Reuters) - The Miami Dolphins romped to a 38-14 victory over the woeful and winless Oakland Raiders as the National Football League returned to London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Oakland showed early promise, starting with a 74-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Derek Carr to tight end Brian Leonhardt. But from then on it was one-way traffic and by the end of the third quarter the Dolphins had an unassailable 38-7 lead and Carr had left the game with an ankle/knee injury. ...

Tannehill leads Dolphins over Raiders 38-14 (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 14:44:40 PDT)
LONDON (AP) -- All those distractions didn't seem to fluster Ryan Tannehill.

Greenway out for Vikings; Douglas down for Falcons (The Associated Press)
(Sun, 28 Sep 2014 12:28:04 PDT)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Linebacker Chad Greenway's streak of 115 straight games played for the Minnesota Vikings has ended.

Wembley welcome just the tonic for embattled NFL
(Sat, 27 Sep 2014 23:09:32 PDT)
London (AFP) - After one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the NFL, Sunday's sold-out clash between the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins at Wembley will prove that even the current rash of off-field scandals can't halt the sport's remarkable growth in the United Kingdom.

Matchups: Count on Khiry (Rotoworld)
(Sat, 27 Sep 2014 21:09:00 PDT)
Evan Silva highlights Khiry Robinson as he breaks down every fantasy option in every Week 4 game.

Soaring Eagles facing struggling Niners (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 27 Sep 2014 09:06:46 PDT)
The Eagles have soared so far this season, especially in the second half.

Giants have turned things around after slow start (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:44:58 PDT)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The best thing about the early part of the NFL season is how quickly teams can change.

Falcons-Vikings Preview (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:33:29 PDT)
The Minnesota Vikings have lost starting quarterback Matt Cassel for the rest of the season, and they were already having trouble scoring when he played.

Greenway out for Sunday's game against Falcons (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:28:04 PDT)
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway will have his streak of 90 consecutive starts end on Sunday when Minnesota hosts the Atlanta Falcons.

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