Cam Newton on benching: 'It's going to be a permanent change' if I don't improve

Last week, we wrote about how Cam Newton’s Patriots were 2-3, and how Newton shouldered the blame.

Newton’s Patriots are now 2-4 and looked even worse in their latest loss than they did prior to Newton’s acceptance of fault. Newton had his worst game as a Patriot, too, throwing three interceptions and falling short of 100 passing yards before he was removed from the action with the game out of reach.

Newton was frank following the loss, which has the Patriots mired in their longest losing streak since 2002, explaining the situation bluntly on Monday: “It’s simple, I have to play better.”

What was anticipated to be an entertaining game was instead a dominant win for San Francisco, which regained its ground attack and forced four turnovers. Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the outcome was decided in the second half when he removed Newton, replacing him with second-year developmental project Jarrett Stidham, a move that did not surprise Newton, and one he did not resist.

“No. I am a realist,” Newton said Monday. “But yet through it all, I am coachable. .. [Bill] came and said, ‘Stidham is finishing.’ I agreed and that’s what it was. For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah.”

Before Newton faced the reporters or the talk show hosts at WEEI on Monday morning, he had to first reflect upon his performance. For the former NFL MVP, that reflection came from his vehicle’s rearview mirror.

“If you keep playing games like that, bro, it’s going to be a permanent change,” Newton said he told himself during his drive home from the game Sunday evening.

Newton hasn’t received the best protection in recent weeks, but he welcomed reinforcements along the offensive line for Sunday’s game and still struggled. His timing with Julian Edelman was off on at least one play, when Newton threw a pass behind Edelman, deflecting off the receiver’s hand before it was intercepted. Newton acknowledged a “funk” within the Patriots right now, saying he thinks he will “have to let off some chakras or some sage.”

The good news: Half of the season remains, which is plenty of time for a Belichick-led team to turn it around. That includes Belichick getting his team’s defense in order, which wasn’t helped by the turnovers, but also surrendered 467 yards (including 197 on the ground) Sunday.

Newton needs to be better, too.

“For me, I know I am better than what I am putting on film,” he said. “That is simple. … I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t get to three or four wins without getting one win.”

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DeAndre Hopkins 'swerves' through MAGA caravan in Ferrari, middle fingers up

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Week 7 Powerless Rankings: Did your favorite NFL team make the bottom 5?

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Odell Beckham Jr: Cleveland Browns wideout expected to be out for season with torn ACL

Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury in his left knee during Cleveland Browns’ 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The wide receiver was involved in an awkward first-quarter collision while attempting to chase down Darius Phillips after he had intercepted Baker Mayfield.

  • Mayfield delivers in Browns shootout: 12 things we learned
  • McCarthy questions Cowboys reaction to nasty Dalton hit

Beckham received treatment on the field and was taken straight to the locker room. An MRI Monday confirmed Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee.

OBJ had entered the game with 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns, and off the back of a down week last Sunday in which he had just two catches for 25 yards in a heavy defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He has three years remaining on the five-year Browns contract he signed in August of 2018.

Dalton knocked out of Cowboys defeat

In other major injury news from Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of their game against Washington after a brutal hit from linebacker Jon Bostic.

Dalton was motionless on the turf before regaining his senses and being helped to the locker room as he exited the game with a concussion. Bostic was ejected from the game for the hit.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was left less than pleased with his team’s response to Bostic’s hit on Dalton.

Rookie Ben DiNucci entered the game for the Cowboys at QB as they slipped to a heavy 25-3 defeat. The Cowboys announced after the game that Dalton was “alert” and “in good spirits”.

Washington were dealt an injury blow of their own, with safety Landon Collins believed to have suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.

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Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger far from perfect foils to Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs atop AFC

The Steelers are the last undefeated team standing in the AFC and, with the Seahawks’ Sunday night loss, the entire NFL after Week 7, improving to 6-0 after handing the Titans (5-1) their first loss of the 2020 season. That doesn’t mean they have fully emerged as a real threat to dethrone the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs (6-1) as conference champions. Until proven otherwise, the Chiefs, and not the Steelers, remain the best team in the AFC.

While Pittsburgh held on to win at Tennessee, 27-24 on Sunday, Kansas City delivered a 43-16 victory in Denver later in the afternoon. Over the past two weeks, the Steelers have padded their resume better with wins over the Browns (5-2) and Titans. For now, the Chiefs most impressive wins have come against the Ravens (5-1) and Bills (5-2).

The Steelers have been strong all around this season. Their defense stops the run and rushes the passer at a high level. The offense has a strong baseline of running with James Conner and others. They have endless weaponry in the passing game for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on track to be the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.

But despite the flawless results in record and standings for the new AFC North leaders, Pittsburgh is showing some concerning peccadillos that scream it won’t match up well with Kansas City when it counts most in the playoffs. The Steelers and Chiefs do not play in the regular season.

After the win over the Titans, when the Steelers were on the brink of blowing a 27-7 lead until Stephen Gostkowski missed the game-tying field-goal attempt before the end of regulation, coach Mike Tomlin pointed to some of the issues.

“We knew they wouldn’t flinch. They have been in these types of games more than we have. We knew that that was a winning edge for them, and it showed” Tomlin said of the Titans’ comeback. “We had something to do with how the game got as well. We gave up a big play for a touchdown. We turned the ball over. You do those things against good people they’re going to get back in the game 100 percent of the time.

“Thankfully our guys didn’t blink and were able to hold it together and make enough plays to secure a victory. (We’re) not a perfect product. We understand that. But I appreciate their efforts. We are perfect from a record standpoint and so we respect that.”

Here’s breaking down Tomlin’s concerns about his team’s weaknesses even further as they relate to the Chiefs’ strengths

Steelers have a lot of big-play lapses

Tomlin was right in citing that “big play for a touchdown,” which was a 73-yard catch and run by the Titans’ best wide receiver, A.J. Brown. That gave Tennessee life to get back into the game in the middle of the third quarter. Two weeks ago against the Eagles, when they mostly shut down Miles Sanders, they still gave up a 74-yard TD run. With the exception of Week 6 against the Browns, the Steelers have surrendered chunk plays in every game. 

There are some series where it’s impossible to move the ball on the Steelers, as teams get behind schedule on early downs before facing pressure in obvious third-down passing situations. But then sometimes th Steelers get overaggressive or overrun a play, losing some discipline at critical times.

That’s not a good formula against Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and the rest of the Chiefs’ speedy playmakers. Teams have been protecting against being burned downfield by Mahomes and Hill on home runs, making the Chiefs methodically move the ball down the field with running and short-to-intermediate passing. But it’s still Mahomes, who doesn’t need much an opening to deliver a deep backbreaker. They also are getting more receivers involved and picking good spots to take their shots.

In the second half against Ryan Tannehill, the Steelers struggled to finish their rushes. That’s happened a lot for teams vs. Mahomes, not getting to him and wearing down in the fourth quarter. The Steelers have faced several athletic QBs who adjust well to buy extra time against them.

Steelers cornerbacks are struggling

Related to the first item, outside starters Steven Nelson and Joe Haden and nickel Mike Hilton have been taking turns being shaky in coverage. Nelson, a ballhawk, has often lost his man when not making a play on the ball. Haden is starting to show his age in slowing down at 31. Hilton is typically sound covering the slot, but he’s had his share of whiffs. When the Steelers aren’t getting sacks and a QB can buy some time, there are plays to be made with wide receivers all over the field. That’s been seen with Wentz, Tannehill, Daniel Jones and Deshaun Watson. The Steelers are better against tight ends with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and others.

Mahomes has good versatility at wide receiver with which to attack, seen in both Hill’s interchangeable outside-inside impact and in how effective they remain without Sammy Watkins, going No. 2 by committee based on matchup with Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. Then you have to consider the attention Travis Kelce merits as the toughest AFC tight end to cover. Between Nelson, Haden and Hilton, Mahomes can find someone to consistently exploit from one pass play to another vs. the Steelers.

Steelers aren’t consistently putting away teams

The Steelers beat the Giants by 10 in Week 1 and the Eagles by 9 in Week 5 and both games felt a lot closer than the final scores would indicate. They also had one-possession wins against the Broncos, Texans and Titans. You would think Pittsburgh is built to pile on and continue to rattle teams trying to catch up or stay with its offense. But the big-play lapses and cornerback issues are opening the door for opponents to stay in games.

They have the potential to dominate and smash teams all-around like they did with the Browns. Tomlin mentioned the Titans’ experience in showing fight and resolve. The Chiefs built plenty of that equity in last season’s playoffs, coming back strong to beat the Texans, Titans and 49ers with Mahomes. 

The Raiders were able to beat the Chiefs with the ideal blend of ball control and big plays of their own. The Steelers’ offense can do that to try to keep Mahomes off the field, but he needs only the slightest chance to lift the Chiefs when they’re down.

Steelers masking issues with Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger is 38 and coming off a season mostly lost to a major right elbow injury. The reports from the Steelers since the early offseason were that he was on track for a full recovery, which has been the case. That said, his arm isn’t at full strength and the Steelers’ passing game is getting it done with a lot of short passes and good work after the catch by wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, among others. 

Consider Big Ben went into Week 7 ranked No. 24 in the NFL in intended air yards from quarterback. He also was 27th in intended air yards per passing attempt and No. 29 in completed air yards per completion (4.9). Because of calculated, careful passing, Roehtlisberger had only one interception before throwing three against the Titans.

With Tennessee able to slow down Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, Roethlisberger threw more than expected with a significant lead, averaging 5.5 yards over his 49 attempts. He was forcing the issue with fitting the ball deep at time. Two of his interceptions came when the Steelers were in position to score points, once late in the red zone. Like with the Saints’ Drew Brees, there is some natural, noticeable dropoff with Roehtlisberger.

The Raiders were able to get the better of Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 5 because they had the ideal blend of ball control and effective, aggressive downfield passing from Derek Carr. The Steelers went into Week 7 as the top NFL team in time of possession, four spots better than the Raiders in that regard.

Giants pass on Justin Fields; Saints find next QB; Packers, Lions, Bears go WR

There’s not a feeling that the Steelers would be comfortable in true shootout mode with Roethlsibeger vs. Mahomes. And where they are weak in coverage plays right into the right arm of Mahomes.

The Chiefs already have dispatched four of the five teams that made the AFC playoffs with them in 2020. They don’t play the Titans, either, so they won’t make it six, but they did plenty to prove their worth vs. pretty much the same Tennessee team in AFC title game.

That would add up to thinking the Steelers have made it more than just a two-team race, also overtaking the Chiefs as AFC favorites. The reality is, like every team in the NFL, Pittsburgh is nothing resembling perfection, given the team nearly blew it big-time in a close game with a contender it is supposed to be leapfrogging on the way to Kansas City.

The Steelers definitely seem equipped to take back the AFC North from the Ravens, their bye-returning opponent in Baltimore in Week 8. Lamar Jackson is going through some shaky downfield passing and the Ravens have had trouble getting their traditional running game going. Those issues, plus the Ravens’ limited receiving depth, mean the Steelers match up much better with the Ravens than the Chiefs.

Getting back to winning the division is the first obstacle the Steelers must clear to stay undefeated, but more important, to work toward a more favorable playoff position. As for being built to beat the Chiefs and being better than the Chiefs, that isn’t the case. With the Patriots suddenly dying as a contender, there’s room for a new Steelers intraconference nemesis to emerge. The Chiefs are the ones perfect for that role.

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Pro-Trump caravan attendees claim DeAndre Hopkins flipped them off in traffic

Donald Trump supporters are claiming that Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins flipped them off in traffic ahead of his game Sunday night against the Seahawks.

The Trump supporters were driving around “in a caravan of hundreds of vehicles circling Valley highways as a parade of sorts,” per the Arizona Republic. Some attendees in that caravan posted photos on social media of what appears to be Hopkins giving them two middle fingers.

Hopkins has been outspoken about racism, and has increased his efforts this season. Hopkins joined Deshaun Watson this offseason in signing a petition to remove references to slave owner John C. Calhoun at Clemson University. Hopkins is also wearing Denmark Vesey on the back of his helmet, a reference to an African American leader in the fight against slavery in Hopkins’ home state of South Carolina.

The Cardinals did not comment on the matter.

According to the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said it “did not have a record of a traffic stop involving Hopkins.” However, it did say it “would comment Monday on the legality of the caravans, where hundreds of vehicles often drive below the speed limit on highways.”

Hopkins finished Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks with 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.

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Hugh Freeze, Tom Herman and forecasting college football’s coaching carousel

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

We know the college football coaching carousel will be limited this year. The only question is: How much?

Financial challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic are real. When combined with reduced game schedules and coach-friendly contracts, schools will need extreme motivation to make changes in the coming weeks.

This past weekend wasn’t very good for those rooting for carousel craziness. The thought of 10-15 coaching changes, half of a typical coaching cycle, seems highly unlikely.

So let’s speculate instead. Last year, when things were normal but the upcoming carousel looked a little dull, I put together a list of hypotheticals. Too many people didn’t read the operative word — “hypothetical”– but it was fun to forecast what could happen.

What follows isn’t necessarily a prediction, but a rundown of potential carousel nuggets (spicy ones!), based on what industry sources are telling me. Though it’s unlikely all of these send the carousel spinning, something will. Even a pandemic won’t stop some coaching movement.

“There’s a path,” a source said, “that this thing could open up.”

Let’s walk that path together.

Second chances for Sarkisian and Freeze?

The off-field problems that cost Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Liberty coach Hugh Freeze the opportunities to lead Power 5 programs are not the same. Sarkisian’s struggles with alcoholism led to his departure from USC. Freeze, meanwhile, resigned from Ole Miss in July 2017 amid personal conduct issues that included calls to a female escort service.

But Sarkisian and Freeze are thriving in their current roles. Sarkisian oversees arguably the nation’s most explosive offense and has molded quarterback Mac Jones into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Liberty on Saturday improved to 6-0, giving Freeze a 14-5 record with the Flames, an FBS independent. Former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis is blossoming under Freeze, who has produced top offenses throughout his career.

Both men are excellent offensive playcallers and recruiters. Both have SEC experience. Could a major opportunity be on the horizon?

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What time is the NFL game tonight? TV schedule, channels for ‘Monday Night Football’ in Week 7

Barring last-minute schedule changes, “Monday Night Football” will stand alone in Week 7 at its usual 8:15 p.m. ET start time on ESPN.

The Chicago Bears travel west to take on the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Rams just played a night game in Week 6 and lost, while the Bears won under the lights two weeks ago when Nick Foles beat Tom Brady. Jared Goff and a healthy backfield will look to bounceback to move to 5-2 on the season, while the Bears could move to 6-1 with a win.

The Rams have seen second-year running back Darrell Henderson emerge after a quiet rookie season out of Memphis. He’ll be key to keeping Khalil Mack and the Bears’ pass rush from doing too much early damage to Goff, and Henderson could also help set up play-action passes to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp later in the game.

Below is more about the start times for the Monday night game in Week 7, plus everything you need to know to watch Bears vs. Rams on ESPN.

What time is the NFL game tonight?

With the exception of the season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader back in Week 1 and the COVID-19 schedule alterations, all Monday night games are scheduled for the same start time of 8:15 p.m. ET.

The Bears won two weeks ago on prime time, taking a 20-19 victory over the Buccaneers. It’s a pretty prominent prime-time stretch for Chicago, with a Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings coming up in Week 10.

The Rams just played on prime time in Week 6, but they lost the to 49ers, 24-16. The Rams played on Sunday night in Week 1 against the Cowboys to open SoFi Stadium, and that was a 20-17 win for Los Angeles.

What channel is ‘Monday Night Football’ on tonight?

ESPN reportedly is trying to negotiate a better TV rights deal with the NFL to negotiate more games in the future, but in 2020, the network’s only package of NFL games is the complete slate of Monday night games. The network will broadcast all “Monday Night Football” games in 2020 on its flagship ESPN channel.

ESPN is available on most cable systems in the United States. The network also is available via satellite providers DirecTV (Channel 206) and Dish Network (Channel 140) as well as IPTV providers AT&T U-verse (Channel 602 for SD; Channel 1602 for HD), Verizon Fios (Channel 70 for SD; Channel 570 for HD) and Google Fiber (Channel 21).

ESPN has a new lineup of commentators for its “Monday Night Football” broadcasts in 2020 after moving on from last year’s broadcast booth duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. Steve Levy (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst) and Louis Riddick (analyst) will call all Monday night games for ESPN this season. Lisa Salters is still the network’s sideline reporter.

NFL live stream for ‘Monday Night Football’

Because all “Monday Night Football” games in 2020 will broadcast on ESPN, they are available to stream live on all of the network’s digital platforms (, ESPN App, etc.). This should be the streaming preference for anybody who has a cable/satellite subscription but can’t get in front of a TV.

For cord-cutters, there are plenty of live streaming options available to watch “Monday Night Football.” Below is the list. 

‘Monday Night Football’ schedule

A total of 17 games are on the “Monday Night Football” schedule in 2020. That includes the two games in the Week 1 doubleheader and no Monday night game in Week 17. Due to COVID-19, there have also been un-branded Monday night games in two weeks.

Below is the complete schedule of Monday night games this year.

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Odell Beckham Jr. injury update: Browns WR feared to have ‘suffered major knee injury,’ per report

Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. exited Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals with a knee injury, but the Browns may not have him for the long haul.

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Beckham may have suffered a serious injury, but there’s no current diagnosis for his injury. Beckham’s MRI, scheduled for Monday, will tell the full extent of the damage.

Beckham was injured while trying to make a tackle on an interception return in the first quarter of the Cleveland-Cincinnati matchup, coming up limping and heading immediately to the locker room after the attempted tackle.

The Browns initially announced he would be questionable to return with a knee injury, but later ruled him out of the game.

Entering Sunday’s game, Beckham had just 319 yards on the season through six games, and three touchdowns to go along with it.

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NFC East becomes first division in NFL history without a 3-win team through Week 7

The NFC Least is living up to its pejorative nickname.

Following the Washington Football Team dismantling the Dallas Cowboys 25-3 Sunday afternoon, Week 7 will end without an NFC East team reaching three wins.

It marks the first time in NFL history that every team in a division earned fewer than three victories through Week 7 (excluding strike seasons), per NFL Research.

It’s a new low for a division that’s been more hype than substance for the past several seasons.

NFC East Standings through Week 7:

Eagles: 2-4-1
Washington: 2-5
Cowboys: 2-5
Giants: 1-6

The first-place Philadelphia Eagles are on pace to surpass the 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9, .438 win percent) for the worst record by a division champion in NFL history.

The NFC East went 2-2 in Week 7, only because they played each other, with Washington besting Dallas and Philadelphia coming from behind to beat New York on Thursday night. Seven more games between the division rivals remain before the season ends.

Someone has to win this division. That team will host a postseason game. As Washington coach Ron Rivera knows after his Carolina Panthers won the 2014 NFC South division at 7-8-1 and won a playoff tilt, anything can happen in the postseason.

Each team is heavily flawed in its own way. Matchups make fights but prepare for a bevy of pillow fights down the stretch to see who comes out on top. Like a train wreck, the NFC East is rarely pretty, but the world will continue to watch (often in primetime) as they bumble around the gridiron.

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