GROBBER’S NFL 2017 STANDINGS PICKS

 
 
AFC EAST: N.England, Miami, Buffalo, NY Jets
AFC NORTH: Pittsburgh,Baltimore, Cincinnati,Cleveland
AFC SOUTH: Tennessee,Houston,Indianapolis, Jacksonville
AFC WEST: Oakland,Kansas City,Denver, L.A.Chargers
NFC EAST: NY Giants, Dallas, Philadelphia,Washington
NFC SOUTH: Atlanta,Carolina,Tampa Bay,New Orleans
NFC WEST: Arizona,Seattle,San Francisco,L.A.Rams
MFC NORTH: Green Bay,Detroit,Minnesota, BEARS

NU rallies past Nevada in opener.

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)
EVANSTON—Clayton Thorson knew Northwestern’s 31-20 comeback victory over Nevada wasn’t all his own doing.But for a moment, the junior who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two critical fourth-quarter scores in the season opener for both teams couldn’t help but bask in the spotlight.

”I love it,” Thorson said. ”Everyone else does all the work, and I punch it in.”

His two 1-yard plunges, the first for a 24-20 lead and the second for insurance, made the difference on the scoreboard. His leadership may have made more of a difference in the second half.When receiver Bennett Skowronek fumbled after taking the ball deep into Wolf Pack territory in the second quarter, it was Thorson who told him to let it go.

”I was able to refocus after that,” said Skowronek, who had six of his eight receptions in the second half, including two catches worth 41 yards on Northwestern’s go-ahead drive.

For Thorson, a 352-yard passing day is just another routine outing. For Northwestern, Thorson’s 237-yard second half was what was needed to overcome a Nevada defense playing for the first time under head coach Jay Norvell.

”We expected to have to adjust,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

One adjustment came on Thorson’s first 1-yard scoring play. After stacking the line of scrimmage with linebackers on previous plays, the Wolf Pack allowed a gap, and Thorson exploited it, following the block of right guard Tommy Doles.

”They had a lot of guys in different areas,” Fitzgerald said.

It was the final play in a 75-yard drive that finished off a comeback from a 17-7 deficit. Nevada built its lead on a pair of Ty Gangi touchdown passes and Spencer Pettit’s 31-yard field goal late in the first half, then lost it almost as quickly on Charlie Kuhbander’s 23-yard field goal and Thorson’s 19-yard game-tying TD pass to Riley Lee.

”There’s no consolation,” Norvell said. ”We really came here to win the game. That was our goal; to come here to win the game. We tried to show the players how we could win the game all the way through training camp.”

Nevada’s defense kept it close until it began to show the strain of being the field for 38 minutes. The Wildcats wore the Wolf Pack out.

”They kept battling, kept fighting, making Northwestern work and that was incredibly encouraging,” Norvell said.

Gangi couldn’t get the one interception he threw out of his mind.

”I had some throws I wish I could have taken back; decisions I wish I could have taken back,” said Gangi. ”We came to win. We just didn’t come out on top.To get to the locker room down two (scores) and go back in up two shows a lot of resiliency,” Fitzgerald said. ”But we’ve got a ton of work to do.”

Irish rout Temple 49-16 in opener.

SOUTH BEND—Notre Dame got just about everything it could have hoped for in an opening game coming off a disappointing 4-8 season: solid play on defense, three 100-yard rushers and first-time starter Brandon Wimbush throwing for a pair of touchdowns in a 49-16 win over Temple on Saturday.

”When you can exhibit some of the perseverance and the grit that we showed that is needed to have a successful season, that’s a good day for me,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.

It was a different story for the Owls under first-year coach Geoff Collins as Temple struggled throughout.

”There have been a lot of fun moments and some exciting moments I was really looking forward to as a first-time head coach, and this was not one of them,” Collins said. ”We came out slow early. At halftime, I told the kids we had a lot of rookies out there and I thought I acted like a rookie early.”

Wimbush, a junior, threw touchdown passes to Equanimeous St. Brown and Nic Weisher and completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards with one interception. He also ran for 106 yards on 12 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run.

”I thought that for a guy starting for the first time, he provided some excitement and energy to the offense,” Kelly said. ”I think everybody that watched him can see the tools that he has; the ability to run, throw the football. He’s tough. He got hit today. He got back up. Again, I think when you assess the quarterback position at the end of the day, they are going to assess him on wins and losses and today was a good day for the quarterback at Notre Dame because we are 1-0.”

Wimbush said he wasn’t surprised by anything he saw.

”I’ll be sore tomorrow, but right now I’m great physically, mentally, emotionally,” he said.

Josh Adams scored the quickest opening-season touchdown for Notre Dame in 24 years and rushed for 112 yards in the first quarter alone to get the Irish started. Adams finished with 161 yards rushing on 19 carries and Dexter Williams added 124 yards rushing on six carries.

”We just came out with intensity,” Adams said. ”We trusted in our training and everything we’ve been through the offseason and just going out there and having fun and forcing what we wanted to happen.”

Adams scored on a 37-yard run 33 seconds into the game, the fastest touchdown to open a season for the Irish since linebacker Pete Bercich returned an interception 21 yards on the opening play against Northwestern in 1993. It was the quickest offensive touchdown for the Irish to open a season since at least 1963.Wimbush set up the touchdown run with a 33-yard pass to St. Brown on the first play.



Illini escape with narrow win over Ball State

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

CHAMPAIGN—Jamal Milan blocked Morgan Hagee’s 54-yard field goal attempt as time expired, and Illinois opened its second season under coach Lovie Smith with a 24-21 victory over Ball State on Saturday.Mike Epstein scored on a 1-yard run with just over two minutes remaining after Mike Dudek returned a punt 52 yards. Isaiah Gay came through with a huge sack near the end, and Milan got a hand on the ball on Hagee’s attempt.Chayce Crouch threw for 145 yards and a touchdown. Mike Epstein ran for two touchdowns.Illinois – coming off a 3-9 season – blew a nine-point halftime lead and wasted several scoring opportunities down the stretch. But Dudek brought them back into it with a big punt return through the middle and up the right side to the 35 in the closing minutes.Epstein then plowed in from the 1 with 2:06 left. Crouch converted the 2-point conversion run to make it 24-21.Ball State then drove to the 30 before Isaiah sacked Riley Neal for a 17-yard loss. The Cardinals had the ball on the 36 with five seconds remaining when they turned to Hagee for the tying attempt.Neal passed for 204 yards and a touchdown. James Gilbert ran for 74 yards and a touchdown for Ball State.Illinois took a 16-7 halftime lead, only to give up long touchdown drives on Ball State’s first two possessions of the third quarter.Malik Dunner ran it in from the 3, capping a 75-yard drive. The Cardinals then went 77 yards, with James Gilbert scoring from the 3 to give them a 21-16 lead.The Illini had a big opportunity late in the third when Tre Watson returned an interception near midfield to the Ball State 33. But with the ball on the 24, Anthony Winbush sacked Crouch on back-to-back plays, forcing Illinois to punt.Chase McLaughlin missed a 44-yard field goal for Illinois with about nine minutes left and Crouch got intercepted by Bryce Cosby near midfield on the next possession.Illinois has won 20 straight home openers.The Illini schedule isn’t getting any easier, with Western Kentucky – an 11-game winner last season – visiting next week. The Illini then go to South Florida on Sept. 15, followed by a home game against Nebraska on Sept. 29 and a trip to on Oct. 7.

Bears blanked by Browns in final “tune up”.

Bears jump on Titans, win 19-7 as both QB’s throw TD passes.

NASHVILLE—John Fox thinks having a whole week to prepare for an opponent helped Mike Glennon turn in a strong performance for the Bears.How much Glennon helped himself to the Bears’ starting quarterback job remains to be seen.Glennon capped an opening 96-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims as the Bears beat the Tennessee Titans 19-7 Sunday in the third preseason game.

”We’re very happy with the way Mike responded as far as a real game plan and what he did, I thought he played very well,” said Fox, who also noted coaches will keep evaluating.

Glennon was an efficient 11 of 18 for 134 yards passing despite losing starting wide receiver Cameron Meredith late in the first quarter. Meredith was carted off with a suspected left ACL injury, which Fox said must be checked by an MRI exam first.Having a week to prepare and study for an opponent fits Glennon’s strengths.

”That’s kind of what I pride myself on, being well-prepared and working hard through the week,” Glennon said.

Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick out of North Carolina, opened the third quarter with the Bears’ starters. But Trubisky threw two incompletions as the Bears (2-1) went three-and-out. Trubisky also fumbled a snap on his next series, though he rebounded with a 45-yard TD pass to Tanner Gentry for a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter.The Titans (1-2) had issues on offense, defense and special teams. The Bears could have led 14-0 if Adam Shaheen controlled the ball before going out of bounds after Roy Robertson-Harris blocked a punt into the end zone early in the second quarter. Instead, the Bears led 9-0 after referee Ed Hochuli finally changed his ruling of a touchback to a safety.Tennessee’s offensive struggles prompted coach Mike Mularkey to keep his first-team in until Mariota tossed the ball to Derrick Henry on the first play of the fourth for a 3-yard TD that kept Tennessee from being shut out. Mularkey said he wanted the first team to finish the drive in a game that featured too many mistakes.The Bears left 11 at home, and the injury list only grew longer early in Sunday’s game. The worst injury came late in the first quarter when Meredith, who led his team with 66 catches for 888 yards, hurt his left knee when tackled low at the end of a 16-yard catch . Trainers braced his leg and carted him off the field. The Bears already had left three receivers at home.Cornerback Prince Amukamara played one series before leaving the game with an injured ankle, and the Bears also declared long snapper Patrick Scales out early in the second quarter with an injured knee. Both were on crutches after the game. Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd hurt a foot.The Titans started Adoree Jackson at right cornerback, the first start this preseason for the 18th overall pick out of Southern California. Glennon threw at Jackson on the Bears’ first play, a 9-yard completion to Zach Miller. Jackson also tackled Cameron Meredith at the end of a 28-yard catch on the opening drive. Sliding inside on passing downs, Jackson tackled former Titans receiver Kendall Wright on consecutive third down plays.Then Jackson was flagged for interference in the end zone, and Glennon capped the 96-yard drive on the next play. Jackson, who’s trying to win the punt returner job, was tackled at his own 3 off his first attempt.The Titans gave up two sacks of Mariota along with a handful of penalties, including a face mask and a hold on Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan in the first half. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard sacked Glennon in the second quarter. Mariota finished 12 of 21 for 193 yards passing but was just 7 of 13 for 106 in the first half.The Bears and Titans each lost a starter early in the second quarter. Titans left guard Quinton Spain kept his right arm on Bears defensive end Jaye Howard Jr.’s left shoulder as the play ended with Howard throwing a right at Spain’s left shoulder. Spain threw a left at Howard’s helmet who responded with his own right at Spain’s head. Tyler Marz replaced Spain, and Mularkey said responding with a punch is ”unacceptable.”

Bears avoid 2 point Cardinal PAT to hold on for win

GLENDALE—Mike Glennon was better – not great, but better – in the Bears’ 24-23 preseason victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night.Glennon, just 2 for 8 for 20 yards last week in the Bears preseason opener, played the entire first half in Arizona, completing 13 of 18 passes for 89 yards.

”I thought it was a big improvement,” Bears coach John Fox said. ”I thought the whole offense responded, including Mike.”

Glennon was picked off by Tyrann Mathieu as the Bears were threatening to score but bounced back to throw his first touchdown pass of the preseason.

”The turnover wasn’t a good thing but the way we responded was more important,” Glennon said. ”I thought all our guys responded well, bounced back and got that touchdown drive.”

Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears’ rookie who had an outstanding debut in the preseason opener, played most of the second half. He wasn’t quite as spectacular this time but a solid 6 for 8 for 60 yards and a score. He was sacked once and had a would-be interception dropped.The biggest play of the night came from Deonte Thompson, who returned a missed Arizona field goal 109 yards for a touchdown as the first half ended.Phil Dawson, who has never kicked one longer than 56 yards in his 18 NFL seasons, attempted a 63-yarder with a second to play in the half and was short and wide right.

”Phil kicks 65-yard field goals every day in practice so why not try one in the game?” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. ”That one’s on me.”

Thompson fielded the miss a step inside the end line and dodged tackles all the way downfield for the score.

”I’ve never had one returned like that, that I can remember off the top of my head,” Dawson said.

The Cardinals nearly pulled out the win behind Blaine Gabbert.After Arizona recovered a late onside kick attempt, Gabbert threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ross with nine seconds to play, but the two-point conversion try fell incomplete.The Bears were up 3-0 and had driven to the Arizona 11 when Mathieu stepped in front of intended receiver Kendall Wright, picked off Glennon’s pass and returned it 52 yards to the Bear 43.

”It was just a ball I shouldn’t have thrown,” Glennon said, ”just a bad decision.”

The Cardinals needed 11 plays to drive for the touchdown. Chris Johnson was stuffed on third-and-goal from the 1 but Arizona went for it on fourth down. Palmer found tight end Jermaine Gresham in the back of the end zone and the Cardinals led 7-3.After the Bears held Arizona’s second offensive unit deep in its own territory, Glennon directed the Bears on a six-play, 44-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Wright to make it 10-7 with 36 seconds left in the half.David Johnson barely played for Arizona, gaining 3 yards in three carries.

”He doesn’t need to get tackled that much,” Arians said. ”Get the feel for the game, he and Larry (Fitzgerald) both, and get him out.”

Palmer was 9 for 14 for 67 yards and a touchdown.

”Carson was not as sharp as he’s been,” Arians said. ”We didn’t get a lot of work against these guys for him and it showed.”

Gabbert played the entire second half, completing 14 of 25 for 174 yards with one interception. He ran 4 yards for a score.With Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford out with injuries, rookie Tarik Cohen started at running back for the Bears and was impressive. The 5-foot-6, 181-pound fourth-round pick out of North Carolina A&T carried 11 times for 77 yards.

”That’s the mainstay of my game, being a speedy back with a low center of gravity,” Cohen said, ”so I’m hard to tackle.”
Arians said his starters ”tackled really poorly.”
Robert Aguayo, a 2016 second-round draft pick released by Tampa Bay earlier in the week, missed a 49-yarder wide right in his first field goal try for the Bears.The Bears were without 14 players to start the game due to injuries. The most recent additions were defensive end Akiem Hicks (Achilles) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring).

Might Bulls and Wade still work a buy out?

Bulls Logo
When the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler for a horde of young talent on draft night, many wondered whether Dwyane Wade would be the next to leave town.Well, the Bulls are expected to reach a buyout agreement in the near future.The Bulls owe Wade nearly $24 million next season, the final year of his contract. Wade would likely insist on receiving a large portion of that sum in any buyout agreement. Once Wade clears waivers, he will become an unrestricted free agent, able to immediately sign with any team except for the Bulls who  are clearly building for the future around the young players they picked up for Butler: Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 35-year-old Wade is not interested in being part of a rebuilding effort, so it makes sense for both parties to cut ties as soon as possible.If and when the buyout is reached there will be a furious market for Wade, who averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 60 games last season, his first season outside of Miami. 

 

Bulls open season Oct 19 at Toronto/Home opener Oct 21 vs S.Antonio

The Bulls will tip off their 2017-18 regular-season campaign on Oct. 19 when they travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. Two nights later at the United Center, they will host its home opener on Oct. 21 when the San Antonio Spurs make their lone appearance of the season in the Windy City. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT).Other prominent home games in 2017-18 include: the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 28, the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 4 and March 17, the Boston Celtics on Dec. 11 and March 5, the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 3 and Feb. 14, the Houston Rockets on Jan. 8, the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors on Jan. 17, the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 9, and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 13.
Regular Season

Oct 19 @Tor 6:30 PM
Oct 21 SA 7:00 PM
Oct 24 @Cle 6:00 PM
Oct 26 Atl 7:00 PM
Oct 28 OKC 7:00 PM
Nov 1 @Miami 6:30 PM
Nov 3 @Orl 6:00 PM
Nov 4 NO 7:00 PM
Nov 7 @Tor 6:30 PM
Nov 10 Ind 7:00 PM
Nov 11 @SA 7:30 PM
Nov 15 @OKC 7:00 PM
Nov 17 Char 7:00 PM
Nov 19 @Pho 7:00 PM
Nov 21 @LAL 9:30 PM
Nov 22 @Utah 8:00 PM
Nov 24 @GS 9:30 PM
Nov 26 Miami 2:30 PM
Nov 28 Pho 7:00 PM
Nov 30 @Den 8:00 PM
Dec 1 Sac 7:00 PM
Dec 4 Cle 7:00 PM
Dec 6 @Ind 6:00 PM
Dec 8 @Char 6:00 PM
Dec 9 NY 7:00 PM
Dec 11 Bos 7:00 PM
Dec 13 Utah 7:00 PM
Dec 15 @Mil 7:00 PM
Dec 18 Phi 7:00 PM
Dec 20 Orl 7:00 PM
Dec 21 @Cle 6:00 PM
Dec 23 @Bos 6:30 PM
Dec 26 @Mil 7:00 PM
Dec 27 NY 7:00 PM
Dec 29 Ind 7:00 PM
Dec 31 @Wash 2:30 PM
Jan 1 Port 7:00 PM
Jan 3 Tor 7:00 PM
Jan 5 @Dal 7:30 PM
Jan 6 @Ind 6:00 PM
Jan 8 Hou 7:00 PM
Jan 10 @NY 6:30 PM
Jan 13 Det 7:00 PM
Jan 15 Miami 2:30 PM
Jan 17 GS 7:00 PM
Jan 20 @Atl 4:00 PM
Jan 22 @NO 7:00 PM
Jan 24 @Phi 6:00 PM
Jan 26 LAL 7:00 PM
Jan 28 Mil 2:30 PM
Jan 31 @Port 9:00 PM
Feb 3 @LAC 2:30 PM
Feb 5 @Sac 9:00 PM
Feb 9 Min 7:00 PM
Feb 10 Wash 7:00 PM
Feb 12 Orl 7:00 PM
Feb 14 Tor 7:00 PM
Feb 22 Phi 7:00 PM
Feb 24 @Min 8:00 PM
Feb 26 @Brooklym 6:30 PM
Feb 27 @Char 6:00 PM
Mar 2 Dal 7:00 PM
Mar 5 Bos 7:00 PM
Mar 7 Mem 7:00 PM
Mar 9 @Det 6:00 PM
Mar 11 @Atl 2:30 PM
Mar 13 LAC 7:00 PM
Mar 15 @Mem 7:00 PM
Mar 17 Cle 7:00 PM
Mar 19 @NY 6:30 PM
Mar 21 Den 7:00 PM
Mar 23 Mil 7:00 PM
Mar 24 @Det 6:00 PM
Mar 27 @Hou 7:00 PM
Mar 29 @Miami 6:30 PM
Mar 30 @Orl 6:00 PM
Apr 1 Wash 2:30 PM
Apr 3 Char 7:00 PM
Apr 6 @Bos 6:30 PM
Apr 7 Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Apr 9 @Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Apr 11 Det 7:00 PM

Trubisky outplays Glennon, but Bears fall late to Broncos 24-17

Mitch Trubisky threw for 166 yards and led three scoring drives after Mike Glennon struggled, before the Denver Broncos scored two long touchdowns in the closing minutes to beat the Bears 24-17 in the preseason opener on Thursday night.Though the Bears have insisted Glennon is their starter, Trubisky just might have created a quarterback controversy.Denver’s Trevor Siemian,a former Northwestern Wildcat, did nothing to hurt his standing as the leader for the starting quarterback job, while Paxton Lynch did little to close any ground.Third-stringer Kyle Sloter threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie with about six minutes left in the game, and De’Angelo Henderson ran for a 41-yard score with just under two minutes remaining to put the Broncos on top 24-17.But the biggest development in this game was Trubisky showing exactly why general manager Ryan Pace traded up a spot with San Francisco to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick.The North Carolina product completed 18 of 25 passes in his first pro appearance after making just 13 college starts.Trubisky replaced veteran Mark Sanchez late in the second quarter and completed his first 10 passes while leading the Bears to touchdowns on his first two possessions and a field goal on the next one. That gave the Bears a 17-10 lead.Glennon had a rough time in his first appearance for the Bears. Signed to a three-year contract after the Bears parted with Jay Cutler, he was 2 of 8 for 20 yards with a zero QB rating. Chris Harris Jr. intercepted an overthrown pass on the game’s third play from scrimmage and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.Things didn’t get much better for Bear’s offense until Trubisky came in with 1:55 left in the half.He completed four passes on a 50-yard drive, connecting with Victor Cruz from the 2 to cut it to 10-7 with 13 seconds left.Trubisky then led the Bears on a 75-yard drive early in the third, going 5 for 5 for 50 yards before Benny Cunningham ran it in from the 1 to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.Siemian – a surprise successor to Peyton Manning last season – completed 6 of 7 passes for 51 yards and led a field-goal drive.Lynch came on early in the second quarter and was 6 for 9 for 42 yards.