NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos

Good morning to everyone but especially to...

Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners practice on the eve of their American League Wild Card series
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Welcome to the postseason! There is truly nothing like playoff baseball. Every pitch, every hit, every managerial decision, every roster choice -- it all means more in a way that words can't really describe, so I won't waste any more of mine. Our baseball experts have everything you need to know.

Let's start what you're probably looking for first: picks for every series, including who wins it all. Three of the six brackets from our experts have the same team winning, including that of R.J. Anderson:

  • Anderson: "World Series pick: Dodgers over Astros --  I think the Dodgers are, by far, the best team in baseball. That doesn't guarantee them anything in the playoffs; it's quite possible they're upended in the divisional series because that's how five-game series work sometimes. ... From that perspective, my bracket plays it fairly safe."

As R.J. alluded to, taking a 162-game season and crunching it down into short series leaves lots of room for chaos. It's also when little-known players become heroes. Remember Randy Arozarena in 2020? R.J. has identified seven potential unlikely hero candidates, including...

  • Anderson: "Oswaldo Cabrera, UTIL, Yankees -- He's ping-ponged between the infield and the outfield, recording six assists in 30-something games in right; five of those came within a nine-day period as teams learned about his arm the hard way. ... If Cabrera is going to have an Arozarena-like month, it's going to entail him making several defensive highlights and having a few fly balls carry over the wall."

Here's what else to know:


Playing horribly and winning is much better than playing horribly and losing. On Thursday night, the Colts somehow, someway found a way to win, 12-9 in overtime, over the Broncos.

  • It's the Colts' first win without scoring a touchdown since 2003.
  • Chase McLaughlin nailed all four of his field goals, including two from 50-plus yards and a 48-yarder in overtime that proved to be the game-winner.
  • Stephon Gilmore came up huge with a fourth-quarter interception and the game-sealing pass breakup. Both plays occurred in his own endzone.

Indy has issues. Matt Ryan -- not the most mobile quarterback to begin with -- is playing behind an offensive line that looks overwhelmed. Give credit to Ryan for at least hanging in there and delivering (again, to put it nicely) when it counted most. 

At the end of the day, the Colts went on the road on a short week without their best offensive player (Jonathan Taylor) and their best defensive player (Shaquille Leonard) and won. No matter how it happened, that's something for them to celebrate.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...


The best-case scenario when the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson was that he would finally answer Denver's quarterback problems alongside new head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

The worst-case scenario was... this. Wilson had one of the worst games of his career and Denver lost a game it should have won, putting them in this section for the second time in five weeks.

  • It's just the fifth game in his career he's accounted for no touchdowns and multiple picks (two).
  • The Broncos went 0 for 4 in the red zone (one field goal, one blocked field goal, one interception and the game-sealing empty trip in overtime).
  • They have scored just three touchdowns on 14 red-zone drives (21.4 percent) this season, the worst by any team through five games since the 2008 Rams... who went 2-14.

Poor decision making late in the game haunted the Broncos... again. Leading 9-6 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, they faced 3rd-and-4 at the Indianapolis 13-yard line. Running the ball and kicking a field goal seemed reasonable. The Colts would have had to put together a touchdown drive -- something they are still yet to do on the road this season -- with under two minutes left and no timeouts.

Instead, Hackett dialed up a pass play, and Wilson did the inexplicable and inexcusable: throw an awful pass behind Tyrie Cleveland that Gilmore easily intercepted. In overtime, Hackett trusted Wilson again, this time on a 4th-and-1 from the Indianapolis 5-yard line. Wilson completely missed a wide-open K.J. Hamler and then forced a ball to Courtland Sutton that fell incomplete.

In Week 1, Hackett got it wrong by being too conservative. In Week 5, he got it wrong by being too aggressive. However, he can't make the throws for Wilson. Last night, Wilson couldn't make the throws, either.

NFL Week 5 picks: Can Cowboys keep momentum with Cooper Rush? 🏈


The NFL season is no longer in its early stages. We're still learning about teams, sure, but we have a much better idea of what to expect. It's time for teams to start building momentum.

That includes the Rams. The defending Super Bowl champs take on the Cowboys, who have won three straight with Cooper Rush behind center. Here's NFL expert John Breech's prediction:

  • Breech: "The Cowboys have totaled 15 sacks this season, which is the second-highest total in the NFL. ... The problem for the Rams is that they almost never win when Stafford gets sacked two or more times in a game. In Stafford's 22 regular season games with the team, the Rams are 11-1 when he gets sacked one time or less, but just 3-6 when he gets sacked multiple times. The pick: Cowboys 23-20 over Rams"

The best quarterback matchup of the week takes place shortly after that contest ends: Lamar Jackson and the Ravens host Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Sunday night. Here's who senior NFL writer Pete Prisco likes:

  • Prisco: "The Bengals have turned their season around with two straight victories, mostly because the offense has started to play better. That's not a good thing for a Ravens defense that is struggling. Look for Joe Burrow to win a shootout here with Lamar Jackson. First one to 35 wins. It's the Bengals. Pick: Bengals 36, Ravens 33"

As for all of our experts' picks...

Pete Prisco | John Breech | Will Brinson | Tyler Sullivan

Is Geno Smith's great play sustainable? 🤔

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  • The highest completion percentage and lowest off-target percentage in the NFL
  • More passing yards per attempt than Patrick Mahomes
  • A better passer rating than Josh Allen

That's three facts about the season Geno Smith is having. After taking over for Wilson in Seattle, Smith has played the best football of his career and has the Seahawks, who most viewed as a cellar-dweller, at 2-2. Will it continue?

Our NFL expert Chris Trapasso crunched the numbers and says...

  • Trapasso: "Smith's best-in-the-league completion rate hasn't been buoyed by a plethora of quick throws, conservative checkdowns, etc -- modes of operation that almost always lead to a quarterback eventually regressing... Smith's average depth of target (aDOT) is smack dab in the middle of the NFL at 8.1 yards, tied with Tom Brady and Joe Burrow. ... It might read crazy, and I went into this thinking 'no way.' But I've concluded that, yes, Smith can continue to be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL this season."

This was a great look at everything that's gone right for Smith so far, and it's one heck of a feel-good story, too.

Lionel Messi says upcoming World Cup will be his last ⚽

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It took Lionel Messi until last year to finally raise an international trophy, when Argentina won Copa America. Now he'll hope to add one of the few trophies he's missing to his legendary resume in his final go 'round. The 35-year-old PSG star said Thursday that the upcoming World Cup -- his fifth -- will be his last.

  • Messi has scored 90 goals for his country. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (117 for Portugal) and Ali Daei (109 for Iran) have scored more at the international level.
  • Messi's six World Cup goals are tied for fourth in Argentina history. However, he has only made it past the quarterfinals once, losing in the final to Germany in 2014.

At +700, Argentina is tied with England for the third-shortest odds to win it all in Qatar, only behind Brazil (+400) and France (+600), according to Caesars Sportsbook. Our soccer expert James Benge, though, has Argentina second in his World Cup Power Rankings. Argentina's first game in Qatar is Nov. 22 against Saudi Arabia.

What we're watching this weekend 📺

We're watching the MLB playoffs. Here's how.
⚽ We're also watching Serie A on Paramount+.


🏈 Nebraska at Rutgers, 7 p.m. on FS1
🏈 UNLV at San Jose State, 10:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network


🏈 No. 8 Tennessee at No. 25 LSU, Noon on ESPN
🏈 No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas, Noon on FS1
🏈 Texas at Oklahoma, Noon on ABC
🏈 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama, 8 p.m. on CBS


🏈 Here's the Week 5 NFL schedule.