October 2015


Dan Campbell can only hope sharing a mentor with Bill Belichick will lead to similar success. Like Belichick, Campbell learned from Bill Parcells. The Hall of Fame coach had great influence on the two men who face each other for the first time Thursday night when Belichick's unbeaten New England Patriots (6-0) host Campbell and the Miami Dolphins (3-3).
Back before he won the Super Bowls and was known more for his rules than his rings, Tom Coughlin had one directive that sounded so extreme, it was borderline comical: If you weren't five minutes early for a team meeting, you were late. Among those to balk, and pay the price, was Hall of Fame defensive lineman Michael Strahan. The Texans parted ways with their sometimes starting quarterback, Ryan Mallett, three days after Mallett missed the team's charter flight to Miami for last weekend's game against the Dolphins.
The NFC East-leading New York Giants are using opportunistic plays on defense to produce the league's best turnover margin. Turnovers were a major reason why the New Orleans Saints got off to a 1-4 start, but they have held a decisive edge in that category in consecutive victories since. Both teams are emphasizing limiting their mistakes heading into Sunday's contest at the Superdome in which Giants stars Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. will play in their hometown.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was back on the training field with his New York Giants teammates for the first time since injuring his right hand in a July 4 fireworks mishap. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said there's no timetable as yet on when Pierre-Paul will be ready to play. Pierre-Paul and the team were at odds in September, with the player insisting he was ready to return after losing a finger in the accident and club personnel disagreeing.
The San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens are each on the verge of a fourth straight loss, which would go a long way in sinking either's hopes for a playoff spot. Both are relying heavily on their quarterbacks because of abysmal defenses, making Sunday's meeting in Baltimore a potential shootout. Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco, along with the New York Giants' Eli Manning, are the league's only signal-callers to start each game for their current team since the beginning of 2008.
In response to New Orleans' 1-4 start, Saints coach Sean Payton took risks that could have exposed his team to even greater calamity and precipitated a full-fledged unraveling of this season. What resulted instead was a two-game winning streak that has given New Orleans a chance to remain relevant in the NFC playoff picture. Payton's counterpart this week - New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin - isn't surprised it worked out that way.
Dez Bryant could be back in the lineup against Seattle after missing five games with a broken right foot. If Dallas' All-Pro receiver does return, it will be alongside a new starting running back in Darren McFadden as the Cowboys try to figure out a way to win without quarterback Tony Romo. Bryant practiced for the first time in almost seven weeks Wednesday, although he was limited.
New England was pushed to the limit by the Jets. Miami has turned around its season since Dan Campbell took over for fired coach Joe Philbin. The Dolphins usually give Tom Brady fits.
Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is back with the New York Giants more than three months after losing a finger in a July 4 fireworks accident. Wearing white gloves on his hands, the 26-year-old Pierre-Paul did calisthenics with the team Wednesday and then worked with members of the medical staff while the rest of the Giants went through drills with their units. The main question is how long is it going to take Pierre-Paul to be ready to play?
Jeff Brubach digs through fantasy D/ST and kicker options to find the best plays for Week 8.

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