Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) chases after Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) as he rushes the ball Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Jaguars deal Colts defeat, spoil QB Anthony Richardson’s debut

A 14-point fourth quarter flurry helped the Jacksonville Jaguars spoil the debut of Colts rookie Anthony Richardson and escape Indianapolis with a 31-21 victory on Sunday.

Jacksonville owned the fourth quarter, flipping momentum for good with Tyson Campbell’s interception of Richardson to set up Travis Etienne’s 26-yard touchdown run, completing a swing from a 21-17 deficit to a 31-21 lead thanks to 14 points in a span of 66 seconds.

Trevor Lawrence passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns and Etienne had 77 rushing yards and five receptions for 27 yards. Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen had a career-best three sacks.

With 5:14 left in the game, Jaguars running back Tank Bigsby plowed 1 yard for a TD and Jacksonville reclaimed the lead 24-21. Jacksonville capped the 10-play drive with three consecutive rushing attempts.

Richardson was sacked four times. He had 40 rushing yards and a touchdown along with a TD pass. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 223 yards.

Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner gave the Colts a 21-17 lead in the third quarter with a bizarre sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and touchdown with 2:41 on the clock. Buckner hit Lawrence as he released a pass from the pocket inside his own 30-yard line. The ball bounced to Bigsby, but he dropped the ball on a hit by Zaire Franklin. Players reacted as if the pass was incomplete, but Buckner scooped it up and stomped down the left sideline for the score.

Richardson’s first NFL TD pass was a short throw behind the line to Michael Pittman Jr., who caught the ball on a bubble screen at the “40” painted on the turf and raced to the end zone to tie the game at 14 with 11:25 left in the third.

Lawrence threw a pair of TDs to stake the Jaguars to a 14-7 halftime lead, including a dime down the right side to a diving Zay Jones for an 18-yarder in the second quarter. The first score of the game was Lawrence to Calvin Ridley, which Richardson answered with a 2-yard run on a designed draw behind a convoy of blockers on the first play of the second quarter.

Jones made a highlight reel grab seven yards deep in the end zone, nudging for position while laying out for a well-placed toss from Lawrence.

Playing in his first game in 686 days and regular-season debut with Jacksonville, Ridley caught seven passes for 92 yards in the first half and finished with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Without injured starter Jonathan Taylor for the first four games and top backup Zack Moss (inactive, forearm), Indianapolis employed a committee RB approach with poor results, including two lost fumbles from Deon Jackson, who had 13 carries for 14 yards.

Colts rookie running back Evan Hull left the game with a knee injury in the third quarter.

Richardson received medical attention but was able to walk to the sideline under his own power with 59 seconds left in the game trying to run for a touchdown and was replaced by Gardner Minshew.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) signals first down during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals  at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell, Commanders make plays late to beat Cardinals

In their first game with new owner Josh Harris, the Washington Commanders held off the Arizona Cardinals 20-16 on Sunday before a sold-out crowd at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., in the season opener for both teams.

Quarterback Sam Howell, making the second start of his career, completed 19 of 31 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, but most important gave the Commanders a 17-16 lead on a 6-yard run with 11:48 remaining in regulation.

Washington had taken over at the Arizona 29-yard line after a strip-sack of quarterback Joshua Dobbs by defensive end Montez Sweat that defensive tackle Daron Payne recovered.

The Commanders defense limited the Cardinals to 93 yards in the second half and allowed only four first downs on 14 third-down plays in the game.

Dobbs was starting his third career game after being acquired in a trade from the Browns on Aug. 24. He also fumbled a snap on first-and-15 from the 40-yard line that was recovered by Abdullah Anderson and resulted in a 33-yard field goal by Joey Slye for the final points of the game with 2:23 remaining.

The fumble came after a 16-yard pass play to tight end Geoff Swaim to the Washington 39-yard line was negated by right guard Will Hernandez being illegally downfield.

The Cardinals piled up 122 yards lost on nine penalties. Dobbs was 21-for-30 for 132 yards, an average of 6.3 yards per completion.

The Cardinals led 13-10 at halftime despite totaling only 117 yards with five first downs to Washington’s 16 and being 1-for-6 on third down.

Three Commanders turnovers were critical, including a strip-sack by linebacker Dennis Gardeck that was recovered by linebacker Cameron Thomas, who ran two yards for a touchdown and a 13-7 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the half.

The Commanders scored first on a 7-yard pass from Howell to running back Brian Robinson Jr. with 4:15 to play in the first quarter. The 91-yard drive was helped by three Arizona penalties for 67 yards.

Cardinals kicker Matt Prater hit 28- and 54-yard field goals to cut their deficit to 7-6, the second coming after an interception by linebacker Zaven Collins.

After the Cardinals go-ahead score, Slye kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired after Howell completed three passes for 69 yards to reach field-goal range.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrate a touchdown pass to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints edge Titans in Derek Carr’s team debut

Derek Carr passed to Rashid Shaheed for the game’s only touchdown and New Orleans intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times in a 16-15 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Carr, who signed with New Orleans as a free agent in the offseason after nine seasons with the Raiders, completed 23 of 33 for 305 yards with one interception and teamed with Shaheed for a 19-yard tie-breaking score in the third quarter.

Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Maye and Paulson Adebo each had an interception against Tannehill, who completed 16 of 34 for 198 yards.

The Saints drove 60 yards on their first possession of the third quarter and rookie Blake Grupe kicked a 52-yard field goal — his third in as many tries — to tie the score at 9.

After Adebo got New Orleans’ third interception of Tannehill, Carr threw the scoring pass to Shaheed for the Saints’ first lead, 16-9 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter Nick Folk kicked a 45-yard field goal and a 29-yarder that pulled Tennessee within 16-15 with 2:17 left in the game.

Carr’s 41-yard completion to Shaheed on the ensuing possession helped New Orleans run out the clock.

On the opening kickoff the Titans’ Amani Hooker took the ball away from Shaheed, leading to Folk’s 50-yard field goal.

Carr drove New Orleans 67 yards to Grupe’s 26-yard field goal that tied the score at 3.

Derrick Henry, who finished with 63 yards on 15 rushes, carried five times for 39 yards on the next possession, setting up Folk’s 27-yard field goal that gave Tennessee a 6-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Zach Baun tipped a punt by the Titans’ Ryan Stonehouse and the ball traveled just 1 yard to the Tennessee 28. That led to Grupe’s tying 33-yard field goal.

Folk kicked a 31-yarder to give Tennessee a 9-6 lead. The Saints drove into field-goal range in the final minute of the second quarter, but Hooker intercepted Carr to preserve the Titans’ three-point lead at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey help 49ers dominate Steelers

Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Aiyuk, Christian McCaffrey scored on a long run and the San Francisco 49ers rolled to a 30-7 victory over the host Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.

Purdy completed 19 of 29 passes for 220 yards and McCaffrey rushed for 152 on 22 carries as the 49ers controlled the contest. Aiyuk caught eight passes for 129 yards, Drake Jackson had three sacks and Charvarius Ward and Talanoa Hufanga had interceptions for San Francisco.

Kenny Pickett was 31-of-46 passing for 232 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Steelers, who were outgained 391 to 239. The 49ers sacked Pickett five times.

T.J. Watt recorded three sacks and forced two fumbles (recovering one) during a standout performance for the Steelers. Watt tied the franchise record for career sacks (80.5), set by James Harrison in 177 games with Pittsburgh. Watt played in his 88th on Sunday.

San Francisco star Nick Bosa had two tackles in his first action since ending his holdout Wednesday and signing a five-year, $170 million extension to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. Bosa is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Steelers lost six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (groin) in the second quarter.

The 49ers possessed the ball for 37:23.

San Francisco dominated the first 28 1/2 minutes of the game while scoring 20 consecutive points.

Purdy threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Aiyuk with 9:29 left in the first quarter and rookie Jake Moody added a 41-yard field goal with 4:38 remaining.

Just 90 seconds into the second quarter, Purdy and Aiyuk teamed up on a 19-yard score to make it 17-0. Moody tacked on a 32-yard field goal with 8:22 left in the half.

The Steelers had zero first downs and one yard of total offense when they took over with 1:35 left in the half. Helped by two penalties on San Francisco’s Deommodore Lenoir, Pittsburgh moved 95 yards on 12 plays with Pickett tossing a 3-yard scoring pass to Pat Freiermuth with 10 seconds remaining.

San Francisco re-established its superiority in the opening minute of the third quarter when McCaffrey ran 65 yards down the left side for a touchdown. Aiyuk’s block on Pittsburgh’s Damontae Kazee at midfield opened up the sideline for McCaffrey as he finished off a score that made it 27-7.

Moody finished off a 3-for-3 NFL debut with a 40-yard field goal with 5:30 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Baker Mayfield (not pictured) as Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) defends during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield wins in his Buccaneers’ debut, beats Vikings

Chase McLaughlin made a 57-yard field goal to break a tie with 5:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held on for a 20-17 win over the host Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Baker Mayfield completed 21 of 34 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns in his debut for Tampa Bay (1-0), which played its first game since Tom Brady’s retirement. Mike Evans and Trey Palmer had one touchdown catch apiece.

Kirk Cousins completed 33 of 44 passes for 344 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for Minnesota (0-1). Justin Jefferson had nine catches for a game-high 150 yards, and Jordan Addison had a touchdown catch in his NFL debut.

The Vikings committed three turnovers while the Buccaneers had none.

The score was tied at halftime before Tampa Bay took a 17-10 lead with 6:01 left in the third quarter. Mayfield fired a 7-yard touchdown pass to Palmer, a rookie sixth-round pick from Nebraska who scored on his first NFL reception.

The Vikings tied the score at 17-17 with 13:37 to go in the fourth quarter. Cousins zipped a short pass to Alexander Mattison, who powered past a defender on his way to the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring with a 36-yard field goal from McLaughlin late in the first quarter. The Buccaneers’ defense set up the score when cornerback Antonio Winfield Jr. sacked Cousins, forced a fumble and pounced on the ball at the Vikings’ 18-yard line.

Minnesota pulled ahead 7-3 on a 39-yard touchdown strike from Cousins to Addison with 11:15 remaining in the second quarter. Addison became the seventh rookie in franchise history to score a touchdown in Week 1.

A 25-yard field goal by Greg Joseph increased the Vikings’ lead to 10-3 with 5:41 left in the first half.

Tampa Bay pulled even at 10-10 with 1:09 to go before halftime. Evans sneaked behind the Vikings’ secondary, and Mayfield found him with a pass over the middle for a 28-yard touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) runs after a catch for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Run game, Jessie Bates III power Falcons past Panthers

Behind the rushing duo of Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson and three forced turnovers by safety Jessie Bates III, the Atlanta Falcons downed the visiting Carolina Panthers 24-10 in their season opener.

Allgeier had 15 carries for a team-high 75 yards and two scores. His 3-yard scoring scamper put the Falcons up 24-10 with 4:48 to go in the game.

Robinson, in his NFL debut, had 56 yards on 10 carries. He also recorded six receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Making his fifth career start, Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 15 of 18 passes for 115 yards and touchdown.

Bates had 10 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble in his Atlanta debut after coming over from Cincinnati in the offseason.

Bryce Young, making his first NFL start, completed 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Running back Miles Sanders had team highs in carries (18) and yards (72) in his Carolina debut. He also added four receptions for 26 yards. Chuba Hubbard added nine carries for 60 yards.

Tight end Hayden Hurst, a former Falcon, had five receptions for 41 yards and a score.

Linebacker Brian Burns (1.5 sacks, one forced fumble) and defensive tackle Derrick Brown (eight tackles, one sack) stood out on defense for the Panthers.

After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta went up 7-0 on a nifty 11-yard catch and run by Robinson to open the second quarter.

Carolina tied the game with 5:09 to play in the second quarter after a 12-play, 75-yard was capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Young to Hurst in the right flat.

On the opening drive of the second half, the Panthers grabbed a 10-7 lead when Eddy Pineiro made a 43-yard field goal. Young sparked the scoring march with a 16-yard run.

Following Bates’ second interception inside Carolina territory, Atlanta tied the game at 10-all when kicker Younghoe Koo nailed a 49-yard field goal with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter.

After a promising drive was helped by a pass interference penalty, the Falcons got a big break Bates hit Sanders and jarred the ball free. The initial call on the field was that Sanders was down, but the play was overturned and linebacker Lorenzo Carter was credited with the fumble recovery.

Seven plays later, Allgeier found pay dirt on a 3-yard scamper to put Atlanta up 17-10 with 14:12 left. Allgeier’s second touchdown was also a 3-yarder, putting it out of reach just under 5 minutes to go.

Carolina starting cornerback Jaycee Horn (leg) was injured in the second quarter and did not return.

–Field Level Media

Apr 28, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Fromm left to right head coach DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud (left), second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Texans linebacker Will Anderson Jr., third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, answer questions at a press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

New leaders guide Texans into battle-tested Baltimore

C.J. Stroud never beat Michigan, but there’s another chance for the former Ohio State quarterback to get the best of the Wolverines.

Stroud, drafted No. 2 overall in April, makes his NFL debut with the Houston Texans at Baltimore on Sunday with former Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald now calling the shots for the Ravens’ defense.

“You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game,” said Stroud, who was 0-2 in “The Game” with 743 yards and four TDs in those rivalry games.

Stroud said he will trust the plan in place and not second-guess when he takes the field Sunday.

“Some people get to these moments and try to be Superman, I’m going to trust my teammates, trust myself and trust God,” he said.

Recently rebuilt via the draft and still under construction, Houston heads to Baltimore as a decided underdog to a veteran-laden team with an 11-4 record in Week 1 under head coach John Harbaugh.

Stroud and the Texans’ defense face the challenge of measuring up to quarterback Lamar Jackson. He’s back in the lineup devoid of distractions and healthy. Jackson missed the final six games of the 2022 season and signed a five-year contract in the offseason, working closely with first-year offensive coordinator and play caller Todd Monken to assimilate new playmakers in a fresh scheme.

The Ravens used a first-round pick on slot receiver Zay Flowers, signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. — who sat out last season recovering from a torn ACL but has 531 career catches — and added Nelson Agholor (340 career catches) to a group that includes Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and 2021 first-rounder Rashod Bateman.

Harbaugh said Wednesday as Andrews returned to practice that Beckham would have no snap count or physical limitations in his first game since February 2022. Though Jackson didn’t play in the preseason, the Ravens had seven TD passes in three games after totaling 19 in 17 regular-season games last season. The throwback coach wasn’t sharing strategy when he nodded to confirm the Ravens are planning to air it out in 2023 to show off some of their new personnel.

“But I think that just by virtue of the personality of the team, it’s a pretty fair assumption that we’re going to throw the ball more. No question about that,” he said.

With Harbaugh on the sideline for his 243rd career game as a head coach, Houston follows first-timer DeMeco Ryans into enemy territory. The fourth head coach for the Texans since 2020 (Romeo Crennel, David Culley, Lovie Smith) faces an uphill battle considering the team has only 11 wins the past three seasons. Baltimore won 10 games for the ninth time under Harbaugh last season.

Ryans, formerly a linebacker with the Texans and more recently defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, said he sees building blocks in the locker room and isn’t worried about past results.

Discipline was the buzzword from Ryans regarding the trick to keeping Jackson in check. The complicating factor with Jackson is speed, especially when protection fails. He’s one rushing touchdown shy of 25 for his career.

“Second level,” Ryans said of his linebackers and secondary, “have to be very disciplined.”

Among Ryans’ Week 1 goals is being the more physical team while protecting Stroud.

“It’s going to be tough,” Ryans said. “It’s always tough playing against that defense. Rookie quarterback, going to be a tough challenge for us, but we’re not backing down from the challenge.”

Running back Dameon Pierce, who led the Texans in rushing as a rookie with 939 yards and four TDs in 2022, figures to be the center of the Ravens’ attention.

The Texans allowed 38 sacks last season and start the 2023 campaign with starting right tackle Tytus Howard (hand surgery) on injured reserve.

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey is not expected to return until Week 3 following foot surgery in August.

–Field Level Media

Ballin' on a Budget NFL Betting Week 1

We can’t all be out here tossing around millions of dollars on random sporting events like Floyd Mayweather. Most of us gambling folk are small-time bettors just looking to make the game a little more interesting with a couple bets on the NFL. That’s where we come in. Let’s say you have $20 to bet on NFL games every Sunday (am I being a little too generous? C’mon, just play along). We will break down here where you should spend that $20 and how to maximize your return. Throughout the season, we will keep track of our money earned in a piggy bank. Hopefully, we’re in the green all season long.


Okay, without further adieu, here is how to spend your hard-earned Andrew Jackson in Week 1:


*All game lines are based on the William Hill Sports Book in Nevada.


Let’s start with picking games themselves. There are three games that caught my eye in Week 1, all of them favorites with the point spread.


Jaguars -3 over Giants (-110)


This game is in the Meadowlands, but Jacksonville being just a field goal favorite is too good to pass up. Most of the money on this game is going on the Giants, who have new star running back Saquon Barkley. Perhaps people have forgotten the Jaguars have the most fearsome defense in football. The secondary isn’t going to allow an aging Eli Manning to get anything over on them, meaning the Jags can stack eight in the box against Barkley.


Coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game last season, the Jaguars didn’t lose any key pieces. New York is marginally better than they were a year ago and has home field advantage, but it would still be surprising if Jacksonville didn’t cover the spread.


The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.55.


Patriots -6.5 over Texans (-110)


It’s hard to bet against the Patriots, especially when they’re coming off a crushing Super Bowl loss and opening the season at home. Houston QB Deshaun Watson certainly looked like a superstar when he was healthy last year, but there’s no telling how he’ll look in his first game action after returning from a torn ACL. The fact the line is 6.5 is enticing, because it means New England can cover by simply winning by a touchdown.


With Tom Brady as hungry as ever to add another trophy to his collection, the season will start off right and New England will make a statement Week 1 against a Texans team that figures to challenge for a Wild Card spot.


The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.55.


Rams -3 over Raiders (-110)


L.A. led by Todd Gurley is a hot pick to win the NFC this season. They certainly showed last year they have some of the pieces to do it. Add to that weapons like WR Brandin Cooks and QB Jared Goff could be in for a breakout campaign. DT Ndamukong Suh also gets added to the defensive front that with a healthy Aaron Donald should feature the best defensive line in football.


Oakland is a tough place to play, especially since the fans are even more passionate given their team is leaving town soon. However, with head coach Jon Gruden being out of coaching for so long, there’s no telling how the Raiders are going to come out of the gates. Most likely, they will need to work out some kinks and against a team like the Rams, they’re not going to be able to do that on the fly. Expect L.A. to cover their field goal spread and come out with a relatively pressure free Week 1 win.


The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.73.


Now, we’re going to move on to point spreads. Everyone likes to say “Life’s too short to bet the under,” and while it’s true rooting for the over is more fun, the under actually hits more than half the time. This week, there are two unders worth considering spending your money on.


Bengals at Colts UNDER 46.5 (-165)


We haven’t seen Andrew Luck throw a football in a regular season game in well over a year and the Bengals are, well the Bengals. RB Joe Mixon is primed for a breakout season, but QB Andy Dalton has regressed over the last couple seasons and there’s no reason to believe he’s going to torch the Indy secondary.


With the line on this game set at Colts -3 and the over/under at 46.5, this means Vegas thinks the final score will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 24-21 in favor of Indianapolis. This just feels like a game where the offenses move pretty well, but stall out and are forced to kick field goals. Those field goals are your best friend when you bet the under and they should help you with this UNDER bet.


The bet: $5 for total payout of $8.03.


Rams at Raiders UNDER 49.5 (+145)


This under is a little riskier, because the Rams have the ability to put points up in bunches, but that’s why you get the nice +145 value on it. Certainly, the Rams could go off and threaten to push the point spread over, but if they’re holding the Raiders in check, there’s still no need to worry.


Based on the Rams being three-point favorites and the over/under being 49.5, Vegas thinks this game will finish in the neighborhood of 26-23, Rams. With two solid defenses and with offenses trying to get up to speed, it’s more likely at least one team stays in the teens. That gives you more wiggle room, especially knowing Gruden is going to want to grind the clock with the running game if he can.


The bet: $2 for total payout of $2.90.


The parlay option: while it’s normally not the best idea to parlay more than a couple games, if you decide to parlay all five of these picks with your $20, here is what your payout would look like:


$20 on:


Jaguars -3 over Giants (-110)

Patriots -6.5 over Texans (-110)

Rams -3 over Raiders (-110)

Bengals at Colts UNDER 46.5 (-165)

Rams at Raiders UNDER 49.5 (+145)


The bet: $20 for total payout of $547.47.


Ballin’ on a Budget Piggy Bank: $0


Let’s hope we can add to that piggy bank after Week 1 and keep you filling up your own piggy bank all season long. Best of luck on your first week of bets; go make that $20 count!