Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

Fall is in the air—so are a hell of a lot of changes in the NFL.

Le'Veon went from worst to first, Dan Quinn is out of job, and like college athletes, sports journalists apparently aren't allowed to make money from sponsorships. Meanwhile, coronavirus is running in the background, taking out teams before opponents even get the chance.

Here are the oofs and ahhs in this week's edition of Shots Taken.



The NFL Is Done With The Rona, But The Rona Isn't Done With The NFL

Coronavirus has been a headline for the entire year, and it's still making NFL headlines in a season that's chugging along despite an outbreak that may have officially killed the Patriots dynasty.

Meanwhile, the Colts are coping with four false positives, rushing to reopen their facility before their Sunday game against the Bengals. But with false positives and confirmed cases, the Rona is on the brink of a full-on takeover.

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has knocked out half of the Titans roster, it's taken out the Patriots' best players on offense and defense, and it's switched around nine bye weeks and seven weeks of scheduling. Sure, infected players are being sidelined as teams move forward, but there's going to be more cases, and there is only so much rescheduling teams can do. What happens, for example, if the Patriots see even more cases, or the Steelers experience an outbreak and need another bye week?


Moving the Chains with Ashmere | COVID in the NFL www.youtube.com


While discussions of a bubble seem unrealistic for the NFL, perhaps they'll be a two-week hiatus that allows everyone to quarantine. Maybe players will have to shuffle into a controlled hotel environment for the second half of the season. Whatever they decide to do, coronavirus will be running in the background like the virus that took over your Windows computer.


The Bell Now Tolls For Kansas City

If you're not first, you're last.

While there is some truth in Ricky Bobby's wisdom, it's still early in the season, and we don't quite know who's taking home the Lombardi this year. But we do know who isn't taking it home (the Jets) and who did last year (the Chiefs). We also know that in a matter of days, Le'Veon Bell just jumped from last to first by getting cut by the Jets, then signing with the Chiefs.



It almost seems like there should be a rule against the Chiefs accumulating so much talent, but no, the Jets may have ruined everyone's postseason chances by letting them snag the former Steelers star. While Bell's woes began over contract negotiations, he's slated to only make $690,000 with the Chiefs with the opportunity to make up to $1.69 million.

The best part of it all? Bell is being treated to a revenge game opportunity against the Jets in Week 8. Here's to hoping Bell can rebuild his reputation by swerving, stiff arming and straight-up shaming the Jets defense.


After Quinn's Departure, Will The Falcons Finally Take Flight?

The only surprising thing about Dan Quinn's dismissal from the Falcons is that it took this long to execute. Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports summarized Quinn's tenure as "six years on the job, two winning seasons and one memorably painful Super Bowl appearance", the worst part being that his team hasn't had a winning season since 2017.

The Falcons lost that Patriots Super Bowl, they lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, and they haven't been the same since. After an eerily-similar repeat of their Super Bowl loss in Week 2 against the Cowboys, the calls to fire Quinn were louder than ever, yet Quinn and GM Tom Dimitroff were given three more weeks to redeem themselves. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley and Calvin Ridley, there's no reason that the Falcons couldn't have won one game—well, besides coaching.

If players win games and coaches lose them, then perhaps the Falcons still have a chance to salvage their season without Quinn leading the charge.


Ian Rapoport Gets Cut Down For Endorsing Manscaping

In some football-adjacent news, prominent NFL reporter Ian Rapoport has been suspended by NFL Network until October 22nd for something racy he shared on his Instagram… an ad for Manscaped.

Manscaped, which specializes in full-body hair trimming options for men, has employed a highly-effective viral marketing model by getting celebrity endorsements in the spaces men typically frequent—on podcasts, social media and in the sports world. Rapoport was one of these celebrities, but apparently he didn't get clearance from the network to share the endorsement on his social channels, thereby violating network guidelines.


While Rapoport said he respects and understands the network's decision and is "deeply sorry for his mistake", it brings about an interesting discussion about how sports journalists, like athletes, may be limited in the ways they can make money through their celebrity. Already-shrinking newsrooms have been slashed by COVID cuts, and though Rapoport likely isn't affected by this, there shouldn't be anything wrong with trying to earn a side hustle in an impoverished journalistic landscape—even if that means Rapoport breaks the news on the best way to, uh, mow the lawn.

Josh Allen scampers for a gain against the Colts in the third quarter of the wild card game.

Harry Scull Jr. /Buffalo News

As the NFL postseason got underway last week, it became clear we need to make some halftime adjustments with our picks this week.

The Ravens were an easy cover for us, especially once Lamer found his groove and the grooves in Tennessee's D. Throw in a few head scratching punts by Mike Vrabel and that does the trick.

Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs came up two catches short for us with three targets left on the table. It was always going to be tough to get that many grabs, but it was worth a few bucks just to see what would happen.

Please, please, please remind me never to bet unders. I haven't hit one all year and yet the siren's song calls me to shore. I maintain this is the best one I bet all year. The pick 6 and DK Metcalf bomb in the second quarter killed after the best start imaginable. After 15 minutes, we had a combined score of 3, 15 minutes of game time later? 30. Bananas.

Then I don't really know what else to say about Pittsburgh losing to Baker Mayfield and co. that hasn't already been said. I just have to edit my list of completely impossible things to put, "Snowing in the Sahara desert," and "Taylor Swift ever getting back together with Jake Gyllenhaal" above "The Browns beating the Steelers in the playoffs."


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Wizards guard Bradley Beal looks on in a game against the Celtics on Jan. 8, 2021.

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Put on your general manager hat for a moment and ask yourself this question: If my team struggled mightily the past couple seasons, is struggling now and will continue to struggle, would I trade my franchise star?

It's an extremely difficult decision to make, but it's something the Washington Wizards have to be pondering with shooting guard Bradley Beal.

Beal has been on an absolute rampage through 11 games, posting a league-high 34.9 points per game on 49% shooting and 38% from distance. He's also dishing out five assists and grabbing 5.3 rebounds with 1.5 steals. All that in 36 minutes a night, yet the Wizards are 3-8 which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm pissed off," Beal told reporters after his 60-point game on Jan. 6. "I'm mad. I don't count [them]. ... Any of my career-highs, they've been in losses. So I don't give a damn. You can throw it right out the window with the other two or three I've had."

His frustration is evident, and though he hasn't verbalized that he wants out of D.C., it's hard not to think that the idea hasn't crossed his mind at least once with how bad the Wizards have been recently.

From 2018-20, they went a combined 57-97 with John Wall sidelined after he tore his Achilles. Before this season began, the Wizards acquired Russell Westbrook in exchange for Wall and a pick, thinking they were getting an upgrade at point guard. Plot twist, they weren't.

Wall is healthy and playing good basketball in Houston while Westbrook is sitting back-to-backs and is currently nursing a quad injury. More importantly, he doesn't make them much better because of his lack of defense and is thus piling up meaningless triple-doubles that don't translate to team success.


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Each Friday, FindBet will preview the week's DFS slate, highlighting players that are priced well on DFS sites, as well as some contrarian plays that can push your team to the top of the leader board.

Most NFL DFS games have you putting a team together with players from a certain slate of games. It could be just Sunday 1:00 PM games, or it could be every game that is slated for the week. Once the last game that has eligible players is over, the final payouts are made according to how many fantasy points each team scored. Each player is worth a certain dollar amount, and you have a cap of $60,000 to build your team with. You have to have 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB, WR, or TE) and 1 DEF.

The general scoring rules include (6) points for each rushing and receiving touchdown, (4) points for each passing touchdown, (0.1) points for each rushing and receiving yard gained, (0.04) points for each passing yard, and also (0.5) points for each reception. There are other scoring opportunities for defenses. Let's take a look at players we like in the first round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.

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