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🏈 Good morning to everyone but especially ...
THE DETROIT LIONS
When Dan Campbell became the coach of the Lions in early 2021, he emphasized he didn't want to "sell you guys something that you've been sold so many times over and over."
Whatever it is, I'm buying. The Lions opened the season with a 21-20 win over the Chiefs.
- The Lions took an early lead on a touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St. Brown but fell down 14-7 by halftime.
- Brian Branch stemmed the tide with a stunning 50-yard pick six off Patrick Mahomes, a pass that bounced off Kadarius Toney's hands. Branch became the first Lion with a pick-six in his NFL debut since Hall of Famer Lem Barney in 1967.
- After a pair of Chiefs field goals, the Lions strung together an eight-play, 75-yard drive capped by an 8-yard David Montgomery touchdown run to take the lead for good. The defense did not allow even a single first down thereafter.
Counting last year, the Lions have won nine of their last 11 games. Yes, the Chiefs were without Travis Kelce and Chris Jones -- absences that loomed large -- but I loved what I saw from Detroit, especially defensively. When the offense struggled, the defense got enough stops. When the offense delivered, the defense stopped the Chiefs cold. The Lions are just the fourth team to beat Mahomes at Arrowhead after trailing entering the fourth quarter.
Overall, it was a great night for Detroit, which beat a defending Super Bowl champion for the first time since 1997.
... AND ALSO JOE BURROW AND THE CINCINNATI BENGALS
Joe Burrow spent much of the preseason nursing a calf strain. Now, though, he's fully back. Oh yeah, and $275 million doesn't hurt. The Bengals made their superstar quarterback thewith a five-year extension.
- At $55 million average annual value, Burrow's deal Justin Herbert ($52.5 million) for highest ever. Burrow, Herbert, Lamar Jackson ($52 million) and Jalen Hurts ($51 million) make up the top four, all on contracts signed this offseason.
- It's also the second-largest deal in total value behind Mahomes ($450 million). Burrow's $219.01 million guaranteed is second behind Deshaun Watson ($230 million).
Burrow is absolutely worth it. He already owns the Bengals' top two passing seasons in yards and touchdowns. He's a Pro Bowler, a Comeback Player of the Year and a top-five MVP finisher. The individual accolades don't do him justice, though. Here's the one that does:
The Bengals, entering their 56th season, have 10 playoff wins. Burrow, entering his fourth season, has five of them.
Next on the list? The Bengals' first Super Bowl title. I like Burrow's chances to get that done, too.
👍 Honorable mentions
- The Rangers their top prospect, Evan Carter.
- Aaron Judge gave Aaron Boone a despite the disappointing season.
😬 And not such a good morning for ...
THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Drops. Confusion. Mistakes. Frustration. If the Chiefs never watch this tape again, I don't blame them. They'll also hope they never have to play without two of their three best players again. With Kelce and Jones missed, the Chiefs looked just ordinary on both sides of the ball, even with the most extraordinary of quarterbacks and head coaches.
- Kansas City was credited with five drops, its most in a game with Mahomes. Toney had three of those five in what was truly a .
- Mahomes' stat line targeting wide receivers in the second half: 2 of 12, 12 yards, interception. Yikes.
- The offensive line wasn't good, either: Mahomes was pressured on 44.4% of his dropbacks despite the Lions blitzing on just 13.4% of his dropbacks.
- Goff, conversely, was sacked just once and pressured on 31.4% of his dropbacks despite the Chiefs blitzing on 40% of his dropbacks. That's where Jones' game-wreaking abilities were missed most.
The good news is. The Chiefs will be just fine, but Thursday showed how badly they, like any team, need their stars.
👎 Not so honorable mentions
- The Dolphins got regarding two of their offensive stars.
- The Chandler Jones-vs.-Raiders drama continued with the team .
- Michael Soroka's ( ) season is over.
- Trey Murphy III is after meniscus surgery.
- The NCAA denied Devontez Walker eligibility for 2023, and North Carolina rightfully .
🏈 NFL Week 1 picks: 49ers-Steelers among top contests
If the season opener was any indication, we have an awesome season ahead. Actually, who am I kidding? We're going to have an awesome season regardless.
One of my favorite Week 1 matchups features the first quarterback in the 2022 draft and the last one: Kenny Pickett vs. Brock Purdy as the Steelers host the 49ers.:
- Breech: "For the THIRD STRAIGHT year, the 49ers will be flying halfway across the country to play their opener, and if last year was any indication, this could be an ugly trip. If you need a refresher on last year, the 49ers got beat in Chicago on what might have been the rainiest day in NFL history. This year the 49ers get an even worse trip, because they have to fly to Pittsburgh to face a Steelers team that actually matches up pretty well with them. ... The Steelers have mastered the art of the Week 1 upset over the past few years. The pick: Steelers 26-23 over 49ers"
Later that afternoon, we get a battle between two other quarterbacks who share a draft class: 2020 first-rounders Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert in Dolphins-Chargers.
- Prisco: "This is a long road trip for the Dolphins to start a season. Miami didn't play well against the Chargers last year in its loss there, but this Miami team might be better. Even so, look for Justin Herbert to again get the best of the battle with Tua Tagovailoa. Miami will keep it close -- real close. Pick: Chargers 31, Dolphins 30"
Sign me up for that and a bunch of games just like it. Here are all of our experts' picks:
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🏈 College football Week 2 preview, picks: Texas-Alabama headlines intriguing slate
Nearly one year ago to the day, Texas was rolling against Alabama. Quinn Ewers was spinning it against the Crimson Tide's talented defense, and Steve Sarkisian was looking for his signature win with the Longhorns. Then Ewers got hurt, Bryce Young staged a dramatic comeback and Alabama escaped with a 19-17 win.
Saturday, Texas gets its chance at revenge. The No. 11 Longhorns visit the No. 3 Crimson Tide, and Will Backus has, including ...
- Backus: "3. Turn Jalen Milroe loose -- It took one game as a full-time starting quarterback for Milroe to make history. He became the first Alabama quarterback to ever throw for three touchdowns and rush for two scores in the same game. ... Milroe's athleticism is off the charts. He gives Alabama something it hasn't had since Jalen Hurts was running the offense. Saban and his offensive staff can get creative with Milroe's legs, giving Texas' defense some exotic looks that it didn't see last year."
To me, Milroe is one of the most intriguing players in the nation. After a long run of NFL-prospect quarterbacks, Milroe has massive shoes to fill, and he has the added pressure of trying to end the Crimson Tide's title "drought" -- yes, two years counts as a drought in Tuscaloosa -- and this will be a huge test.
Shehan Jeyarajah, meanwhile, has, and Tom Fornelli predicts a close game in his .
I'm pretty firm in my stance that Texas-Alabama is the biggest game of the week, but Steve Spurrier has a: Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado. Deion Sanders is getting plenty of love right now, but, as Dennis Dodd writes, .
We also have.
🎾 Coco Gauff reaches US Open final
Even a nearly hour-long delay couldn't stop Coco Gauff. Not much can stop the 19-year-old at the moment. Gauff downed Karolína Muchová in.
- Gauff is the youngest American to reach a US Open final since Serena Williams in 1999. It's Gauff's second career slam final along with the 2022 French Open, which she lost in straight sets to Iga Swiatek.
- Gauff nearly let a 5-1 first-set lead slip away before breaking Muchová to take the set. She then won the first game of the second set before . One man even glued his feet to the cement floor.
- Gauff finally won a tight second set after Muchova staved off four match points.
Gauff will meet Aryna Sabalenka in the final.
📺 What we're watching this weekend
🏈 Illinois at Kansas, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2
🏈 Nebraska at No. 22 Colorado, 12 p.m. on Fox
🏈 No. 10 Notre Dame at NC State, 12 p.m. on ABC
🏈 No. 20 Ole Miss at No. 24 Tulane, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2
🏈 No. 23 Texas A&M at Miami, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
⚾ Mariners at Rays, 4:05 p.m. on FS1
⚽ USMNT vs. Uzbekistan, 5:30 p.m. on TNT
🏈 No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Bengals at Browns, 1 p.m. on CBS
🏈 49ers at Steelers, 1 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Sky at Sun, 1 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 Mystics at Liberty, 1 p.m. on NBA TV
🏈 Dolphins at Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
⚾ Rockies at Giants, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Cowboys at Giants, 8:20 p.m. on NBC