The Cowboys are reeling after two blowout losses without Elliott.

The Angels formally introduced Ohtani on Saturday, one day after the franchise won the baseball-wide competition for his services. A lively crowd in front of Angel Stadium cheered when Ohtani donned a red No. 17 jersey and hat on stage with team owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and Eppler.

Ohtani doesn’t speak much English, but he stepped to the podium and addressed the fans confidently: “Hi. My name is Shohei Ohtani.”

OK, we succeeded in motivating the Broncos by assuming they would lose at home to the Jets, and they responded with a shutout. Now they can dig themselves further out of the hole to possibly give Vance Joseph a chance at not being one and done. Indy is running on empty trying to save Chuck Pagano. Denver proved it still has a ton of defensive talent when the offense isn’t getting in the way. The basic game plan will work just fine here against a more limited team on both sides of the ball.

After last week’s game in Seattle, the Eagles stayed on the West Coast and practiced this week at Angel Stadium in Anaheim ahead of Sunday’s game against the Rams. “The Big A” was home to the Rams from 1980-94 before the franchise relocated to St. Louis.

Last year’s NFL rushing champ will be out another four weeks and, by the time he returns, the Cowboys could be out of the playoff hunt altogether.

A win Thursday (12:30 p.m., Fox) by the Lions (6-4) over the NFC North-leading Vikings (8-2) would give Detroit a season sweep of Minnesota and open the door for a division title. A loss would all but seal the division for the Vikings and relegate Detroit to wild-card contention. The two teams currently holding the NFC wild-card spots are the Falcons (6-4) and Panthers (7-3), who both beat the Lions earlier this season.

The Panthers end their regular season on the road against the Falcons

Cam inspired by OutKast: Never one to go the conservative route when it comes to fashion, Cam Newton showed up at the press conference after the Panthers’ win over the Vikings in a fez, or a “brimless hat,” as he dubbed it. Cam said he had been inspired by seeing OutKast member Andre 3000 wearing one in GQ, so maybe a postgame meeting with the ATLien could be arranged.

Eli apologizes to Giants fans: Eli Manning’s return to the starting lineup was arguably something of an apology for his being benched for Geno Smith. On Sunday, though, it was Manning offering the apology after the Giants were torched at home, 30-10, by the Cowboys. “I thought we had a good crowd today and I appreciate all the support these past weeks and sorry we couldn’t get them a better game,” Manning said. It’s been a sorry season for Big Blue, one that thankfully has only three games remaining.

The Dallas offense had struggled mightily without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott, failing to score at least 10 points in three straight games for the first time in franchise history. They got off to a slow start on Thursday with a trio of three-and-outs to start.

But once Dak Prescott used his legs to pick up a first down late in the first quarter, the Cowboys offense ignited. Prescott only threw for 102 yards, but tossed a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another 28 yards.

“I just trusted myself and trusted in my teammates,” Prescott told NBC Sports. “We played like a team that was hungry and needed this win.”

The Titans aren’t going to overlook this opponent; not after the second-half beatdown in Pittsburgh and after four Marcus Mariota interceptions. They need this win to keep the Jaguars from pulling away further in the AFC South. The Colts couldn’t hold a 10-point second-half lead against the Titans last month in Nashville. But they are coming off a bye and a respectable showing against the same Steelers that buried the Titans four days later.nike_chargers_551-180x180

Washington’s offensive line is beat up even more than that of Dallas.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Minnesota Vikings. The Saints would become the new best team in the NFC, but they aren’t the favorite to reach the Super Bowl. That would be the Vikings, out of circumstance.

That should wake up the Cowboys’ pass rush to dominate a second matchup with their archrivals. The Cowboys will go back to being run-heavy with Dak Prescott, former Redskin Alfred Morris and Rod Smith to control the clock, take pressure off Prescott and lessen the exposure of the pass defense against Kirk Cousins. It won’t be pretty, but the Cowboys will take this game to separate as the better desperate playoff hopeful.

Additionally, James’ rate of 2-point jumpers from beyond 16 feet is his second-lowest ever. So Second Spectrum’s analysis shows that the quantified shot quality (qSQ) of James’ shots — the effective field-goal percentage (eFG) an average player would be expected to make based on the location of the shot and nearby defenders — is the highest in the five years they’ve tracked this metric.

At summer league, Tatum dazzled with his Paul Pierce-like midrange game, but Stevens emphasized in the aftermath the benefit of the 3-point shot.

“I think one of our challenges this summer was everybody wanted to talk about the midrange plays he made in summer league. So it was one of those things where if I was involved in a film session at all this summer, it was about what a good shot looks like when you get to the NBA,” Stevens said. “And so we tried to have those very specific film sessions but, still, you can’t predict a guy is gonna become that proficient.lakers_004

NFL considers adding automatic ejection to targeting rule

In an effort to continue to make the game safer for NFL players, the league may implement a targeting rule similar to the one used in college football.

Smith-Schuster received a one-game suspension, but under the college rule, he could have been ejected from the game if it was determined he targeted Burfict after video review.

While adjusting the targeting rule is something the league is considering, Vincent said the NFL wants to use caution when ejecting players.

“We want the game to be played on the field. We don’t want to be in the business of ejecting players,” Vincent said. “The philosophy is if it gets out of their control, we do ask the referees to maintain control of the game. … But we really emphasize — let the players play.”

The Giants coach isn’t worried about the reaction of fans for the next home game despite the team’s 24-17 loss to the Raiders on Sunday as Geno Smith started at quarterback over veteran Eli Manning.

“No, I am not concerned,” Ben McAdoo said, via the New York Post. “Listen, I understand where the fans are coming from. If I was on the outside looking in, I’d feel the same way they feel. You know Eli and I have a tremendous relationship. I think the world of him and it was hard for me emotionally. The beginning of the week, once you make a decision, you have to stick with it and I appreciate the way Eli handled things this week.”

It’s fair to say that McAdoo may not have to worry about the pending reaction because he might be fired before the team’s next game. Reports began to swirl on Sunday that he could be sacked as early as Monday depending on the team’s Week 13 performance. With McAdoo’s job on the line, Smith went 21 of 34 for 212 yards and a touchdown but turned the ball over twice on fumbles.

Despite being on borrowed time, McAdoo said he’ll continue to lead the Giants as long as they let him.panthers_101

Contract of Lions coach Jim Caldwell includes team options

San Francisco and St. Louis had been considered among the favorites to acquire Stanton. His affinity and ties to Los Angeles also made the Dodgers a top destination — not to mention their five straight NL West titles and runner-up World Series finish.

Stanton, an eight-year veteran, never has played on a winning team, and Stanton has said he didn’t want to endure another rebuilding of the Miami roster as Jeter works to cut payroll. On Thursday, the Marlins traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle as the Mariners also acquired $1 million in international bonus pool allocation to make what was their unsuccessful push for Ohtani.

Victor Cruz played five years with Eli Manning in New York. In one of those years he won a Super Bowl. He holds his former quarterback in high regard, so to see everything going down in New York over the last two weeks, he was more than willing to give “Good Morning Football” his thoughts on the situation.

“I think benching Eli was probably one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen in a very long time,” Cruz said.

Cruz caught 509 passes for 4,459 yards and 25 touchdowns from Manning. He has tremendous respect for what the man can do, so he was far from upset when the Giants announced Monday that McAdoo had been fired.

The Bucks scored the final seven points of the quarter to take a 51-42 advantage into the break.

“They had their way with us early,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “If we start games like that, it is very difficult to come back on the road against a good team.”

Milwaukee opened the second half on a 10-3 run and took a 61-45 lead on Antetokounmpo’s basket.royals_005

Several Steelers confirmed the entire team FaceTimed with Ryan Shazier in the locker room after the game.

The Chargers have won five of seven since their 0-4 start. They’ve beaten their last two opponents, the Bills and Cowboys, both on the road, by a combined 82-30. Most of the points they’ve given up have been in garbage time, and their defense has been nearly as much of a threat to score as a threat to stop the other team. Desmond King’s 90-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter was the Chargers’ third in that span.

Steelers players plan to visit Shazier in the hospital to present him with a game ball, and AFC North champions apparel.

Cam Heyward said the #Steelers FaceTimed Ryan Shazier to tell him he got the game ball and he’ll get an AFC North hat and shirt tonight.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” DE Stephon Tuitt said. Nobody could make out what Shazier said since it was too loud.

Speaking of being overshadowed, SDSU (11-2) has reached the semifinals for the first time, yet the national focus has been dominated by James Madison and North Dakota State this season, even though the Jackrabbits’ seven-game winning streak includes a victory over NDSU. They’ll get their shot at No. 1 seed and defending national champ James Madison (13-0) next Saturday.

Wieneke became the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s all-time leader in receptions (281), adding to the marks he already held in receiving yards (5,052) and touchdown receptions (58). He’s moved into a tie with former New Hampshire star David Ball for second place in FCS history in TD receptions an is third in receiving yards. Kupp holds those marks as well as in career receptions.

“I just try to do my job every play and be the best that I could be every single day,” Wieneke describes his role.panthers_011

Here’s how the Lions came away with the road win.

Injuries: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, who was coming off his best season, went down during training camp when he reinjured the same knee that sidelined him late in the 2016 campaign. Even though the Dolphins (4-5) remain in playoff contention, Jay Cutler simply has not provided the same spark since he was lured out of retirement by coach Adam Gase. Miami fields the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense heading into Sunday’s home game against Tampa Bay.

As long as the Panthers jump out to early leads and take control of games, they are hard to beat. As they’ve gone run-heavy and away from pass-happy based on personnel, it’s now more difficult for them to rally after bad starts. The bye week arrives at an ideal time for Carolina to get healthier at key positions, just in time for a tough stretch run.

Quarterback Brett Hundley totaled 245 passing yards and a rushing score for the Packers (4-4) in the losing effort. Green Bay was outgained 417-311 in the game.

Sporting News provided live updates throughout Monday’s game.

At 1-9, they’re already out of playoff contention, so there’s really nothing to lose. And the general manager admits it would be “helpful for everybody to see and be able to evaluate” his team’s new franchise quarterback.

The same goes for trying to get Garoppolo up to speed at this point of the season as he absorbs what Lynch described as a “a completely different offense” than the one used in New England.

The 49ers also have limitations on how much Garoppolo can be fast-tracked. There’s only so much practice time, and a novice like Beathard needs all the reps he can get to hold down the fort until Garoppolo is ready to roll.

Packers’ reputation can’t save them without Aaron Rodgers

The Packers have earned the right to a free pass for a while, but somebody needs to be held accountable for their developing into a Rodgers-or-bust team. The fact that Thompson and McCarthy did not pursue another viable veteran alternative, just in case Hundley didn’t work out, looks worst of all now.

When Rodgers was healthy, the Packers could overcome any injury or personnel issue. He made the house look like it was in complete order, even when much of it was not.

“But as he got older, he really started to open up. When I was with him there at the end of our careers in Dallas, he really started to allow himself to trust people and started to turn a corner and become a happy person. Then with his retirement he was making a big impact on the world.

Then it was the stunning trade this past summer to add George, and another to add Carmelo Anthony.

Even with the Big Three look as the showcase, the Thunder’s future is in Westbrook, and they hope, in George as well. The addition of Anthony was a final uppercut swing at a grand slam, and at least enough to cement Westbrook in OKC for the majority of his career.

The Thunder’s front office put a plan in place in July 2016 to answer one simple question: How do they go from the middle back to the upper tier again, without bottoming out? They identified stars to pair with Westbrook, the more available the better, and George was as the top of the list.

The Broncos had no answers for the Patriots on Sunday night.

New England jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and never looked back as it cruised to a 41-16 win in Denver. The Patriots tallied 396 yards of total offense and punted just once. New England excelled in the other areas of special teams, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and blocking a Denver punt.

Touchdown, Falcons. Russell Wilson drops back to pass and escapes the collapsing pocket but fumbles the football after being hit. Takkarist McKinley recovers and runs it in for a 10-yard touchdown return as Atlanta’s lead grows to 21-7. Wilson already has two turnovers.

Atlanta picks up one first down but its drive stalls when Justin Hardy fails to secure a pass from Ryan on third down and the Falcons punt for the first time.

Touchdown, Seahawks. Seattle’s drive is extended when Atlanta cornerback C.J. Goodwin is called for tripping on third down. Two plays later, Russell Wilson connects with Jimmy Graham for a 4-yard score. Seattle now trails 14-7.

Three players the Braves signed for $300,000 bonuses were set free because the Braves gave additional money to their agents by signing others to deals with what MLB called “inflated” bonuses: Venezuelan outfielder Antonio Sucre, Dominican outfielder Brandol Mezquita and Dominican shortstop Angel Rojas.

Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State — Lazard did his part to keep the Cyclones in it against Oklahoma State. The 6-5, 222-pound senior caught nine passes for 126 yards and two scores in the 49-42 loss. It was the third 100-yard game of the season for Lazard. nike_bills-082

Alex Okafor to miss rest of season after suffering torn Achilles tendon

The New Orleans Saints’ most dramatic victory of the season came at a price.

New Orleans lost defensive end Alex Okafor to a season-ending torn Achilles in Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the Washington Redskins, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Saints’ next game is a matchup of surprise division leaders on Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams (7-3).

The problem has been ascribed to Andy Dalton more than enough … which would make A.J. McCarron a possible solution, right? Apparently not, since he was a paperwork glitch away from getting traded at last week’s deadline.

Then it came out Sunday morning, via, that McCarron has a pending grievance against the Bengals to become an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason.

None of this paints a pretty picture of the Bengals’ future. It doesn’t say much for their present, either. They might be the bleakest 3-5 team in the NFL, capable of stunning ineptitude at any time, and with a player of Green’s caliber and value at the ends of his patience.

After finishing 2016 with a career-high 20 interceptions, Philip Rivers has done a better job of taking care of the football this season with seven interceptions through 10 games. However, the Chargers have lacked consistency and rhythm on offense, finishing in the bottom third of points scored and third-down efficiency through the meat of the season. But Rivers could turn things around by playing more consistent football in the last six games of the year. — Eric D. Williams