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How a bet on Patrick Mahomes paid for Air Force technician’s wedding



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nathan Carnahan will soon have the wedding and honeymoon of his dreams, thanks to Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes’ involvement was indirect but he helped nonetheless. Carnahan is paying for his wedding and a subsequent trip to Europe in part with $8,000 he won last year betting on Mahomes to be the NFL’s MVP.

Carnahan, 25, and fiancée, Israel Ritnour, will get married in St. Louis on Saturday and then jet to Spain for a two-week vacation after his $200 bet made before the 2018 season paid off at 40-1.

“We didn’t come from rich families,” Carnahan said this week. “We’re not getting any help from our moms or dads. We’re not getting any financial help from family members. So without this bet, [the reception] would have been a couple people and a keg in the backyard and a honeymoon in Arizona. Now we’ve got a venue and food and a DJ. This helped us afford a real nice wedding instead of a thrown-together thing. And we’re going to Spain for our honeymoon.”

Carnahan is a surgical technician in the Air Force at Travis Air Force Base in California.

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Week 8 NFL Power Rankings



The NFL power rankings are a weekly litmus test of where each team stands. But we’re going to go beyond that this week, as we feel that six to seven games is enough of a sample size to reevaluate each team’s most realistic path of success going forward.

So that’s what our NFL Nation writers did. Based on what they’ve seen so far, they have recalibrated expectations for their teams for the rest of the season, and beyond. Many can stay the course on their preseason expectations, but seven weeks allows for some teams to dream bigger (yay, 49ers) or go the other way (sorry, Falcons). Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

Week 7 ranking: 1

Recalibrated expectation: Super Bowl title

File this one under the “lather, rinse, repeat” category, going on about 20 years now. While the Patriots have shown areas of vulnerability through seven games this season, they are still a top contender — led by the two old standbys, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. — Mike Reiss



Dan Orlovsky calls the Saints the best team in the NFL due to their depth and how they’ve won games while missing star players like Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara.

Week 7 ranking: 2

Recalibrated expectation: Super Bowl or bust

It took two miracle finishes to knock the Saints out of the playoffs the past two years. And now they have somehow strengthened their case as a top contender by thriving without injured QB Drew Brees the past five weeks. Brees should be back in the next game or two, and the Saints will be very hard to beat if the defense continues to dominate the way it has in his absence. — Mike Triplett

Week 7 ranking: 3

Recalibrated expectation: Winning the NFC West … at minimum

The shorter-term goal for the division-leading Niners should be winning the division, and if that happens, all doors are open. But when you’re undefeated through six games, everything should be on the table, including a trip to the Super Bowl. Obviously, the Niners still have plenty to prove, and the schedule will get tougher in the coming weeks, but with a dominant defense and the forthcoming return of some key injured starters, there’s still room for this team to get markedly better, which makes them a legitimate NFC contender. — Nick Wagoner

Week 7 ranking: 5

Recalibrated expectation: Winning the NFC, despite what Aaron Rodgers says

Maybe Rodgers was just trying to temper Super Bowl expectations for a little while longer when he said after Sunday’s rout of the Raiders: “I think it’s a little early at this point.” But he admitted that, “I think that we’re trending in the right direction.” And that direction is toward one of the NFC’s top postseason seeds. Rodgers has proven he can make do in less-than-ideal circumstances (i.e. Davante Adams‘ absence and a lack of weapons) this season, and first-year coach Matt LaFleur has captivated the locker room. — Rob Demovsky

Week 7 ranking: 6

Recalibrated expectation: A Super Bowl title … still

The injury to Patrick Mahomes is an obstacle the Chiefs weren’t counting on, but given that he’s going to return well before the playoffs, the Chiefs can still realize their goal of reaching and winning the Super Bowl. That task is going to be more difficult than it otherwise might have been and will depend greatly on how the Chiefs fare until Mahomes is back. But the Chiefs should still win the AFC West, and earning a first-round playoff bye also isn’t out of the question. With Mahomes back in their lineup, they’ll be a tough out in the postseason. — Adam Teicher



Ryan Clark details why he believes Lamar Jackson is a better dual-threat quarterback than Michael Vick.

Week 7 ranking: 9

Recalibrated expectation: Contend for an AFC title

The Ravens have a stranglehold on the AFC North with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Browns and the Steelers. Baltimore also has the look of a team that can make noise in the postseason, especially after beating the Seahawks on the road. Lamar Jackson is the ultimate equalizer because of his ability to scramble and make tacklers look foolish in the open field. The biggest question mark is the defense, which has been inconsistent and has a tendency to give up big plays. The Ravens are right there with the Patriots as the class of the AFC. — Jamison Hensley

Week 7 ranking: 4

Recalibrated expectation: Win the NFC West

Contending for the playoffs should always be the Seahawks’ baseline as long as they have Russell Wilson. With a 5-2 record and enough pieces around him, winning the division is still a realistic goal even with Seattle sitting two games behind the undefeated 49ers in the loss column. How much the Seahawks can do beyond that is hard to gauge given they have only a plus-five point differential, with four of their victories coming by a combined eight points. The 30-16 loss to Baltimore on Sunday was a troubling sign for their ability to win when Wilson isn’t playing at an MVP level. — Brady Henderson

Week 7 ranking: 10

Recalibrated expectation: Compete for the NFC North crown

Four weeks ago, frustrations on offense were front and center in Minnesota. Now, this unit looks unstoppable in the midst of an insane stretch by Kirk Cousins where he became the first quarterback in NFL history to record at least 300 passing yards and a passer rating of 135 or higher in three consecutive games. With the way this offense looks at the halfway point, anything short of a playoff berth would be considered a major disappointment. It might take more than 10 wins to capture the NFC North crown, but the way the Lions and Bears are regressing can only benefit the Vikings, who are in prime position to battle down the stretch with Green Bay. — Courtney Cronin



Tom Jackson says that when coach Mike Zimmer and QB Kirk Cousins are on the same page the Vikings are a “team to be reckoned with.”

Week 7 ranking: 8

Recalibrated expectation: Make the playoffs

With their current 5-1 record and one of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules, there’s no excuse for the Bills not to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons — something that hasn’t happened since they made back-to-back postseason appearances in 1998 and 1999. They’re only one game back of the AFC East-leading Patriots, but overtaking them for what could end up being the conference’s number-one seed seems less realistic than capturing a wild-card berth. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 7 ranking: 7

Recalibrated expectation: A second straight division title

There was a lot of excitement around the Texans after they beat Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 6, but Houston came back down to earth with a loss to the Colts the following Sunday. Even though they dropped into second place in the AFC South with the loss, the Texans are still contenders to win the division for the second year in a row. — Sarah Barshop

Week 7 ranking: 11

Recalibrated expectation: Keep their playoff streak alive

The two-time defending NFC West champions are in third place in the division, three games behind the 49ers in the loss column. There is little to no margin for error through the remainder of their schedule if they want to keep hopes of a third consecutive division title alive. More likely, the Rams are playing for a wild-card berth. The schedule will get tougher after a Week 9 bye, but the offense has another chance at a get-right game coming up against the winless Bengals, while the defense received a boost in Jalen Ramsey. Clay Matthews is expected to return in November, too. — Lindsey Thiry



Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin have a passionate debate about the Cowboys’ win over the Eagles.

Week 7 ranking: 12

Recalibrated expectation: Win the NFC East

Getting a read on the Cowboys is difficult after they opened with three consecutive wins, then lost three in a row. They were dominant against Philadelphia, but are they a true contender? The remaining schedule is difficult, but this should be a playoff team. If the Cowboys continue to play like they did against the Eagles, then they could be a Super Bowl contender. Until this team can show the ability to handle success and not sniff themselves, as Dak Prescott referenced, it is difficult to write that down in pen. What helps is the NFC East is struggling at the moment, and the Cowboys look to be the best in the division. — Todd Archer

Week 7 ranking: 15

Recalibrated expectation: Make the postseason

The Colts have survived — so far — the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck back in April by having a complete roster instead of one that depends on a player or two. They’re in sole possession of first place of the AFC South after back-to-back victories over playoff-caliber teams in Kansas City and Houston. The schedule has shifted in the Colts’ favor, as their next four opponents have a combined record of 7-19. Three of those four games are at home. Jacoby Brissett, who replaced Luck as the starter, is third in the NFL in touchdown passes with 14. — Mike Wells

Week 7 ranking: 13

Recalibrated expectation: Simply make the playoffs … for now

Right now the Panthers are a serious playoff contender with a four-game win streak, but the next three games will determine how serious. Carolina goes to undefeated San Francisco, faces the Titans at home and then is at one-loss Green Bay. Win two of those games and playoff contender could change to Super Bowl contender. But there’s still the matter of two division games against 6-1 New Orleans, which is 5-0 without Drew Brees. Defensively, the Panthers are legitimate, with a league-best 27 sacks. Offensively, they must figure out the Kyle Allen/Cam Newton quarterback dilemma. Allen is 4-0 this season and 5-0 overall as a starter, but Newton is nearing a return. — David Newton

Week 7 ranking: 14

Recalibrated expectation: Dial it back and win the NFC East

The Eagles entered with expectations of being among the NFC’s elite, but at 3-4, the focus needs to be on capturing the division. They are a game back of the Cowboys following a blowout loss in Dallas on Sunday night. As bad as that was, they still have four division games remaining, including a home tilt against the Cowboys in December. The clearest path to the postseason is through a division title in a down NFC East. — Tim McManus



Mike Greenberg doesn’t see the Bears trading for a quarterback because Ryan Pace is still the general manager and he traded up in the draft to take Mitchell Trubisky.

Week 7 ranking: 16

Recalibrated expectation: To go 8-8

The Bears no longer resemble a playoff team — not with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Chicago’s offense ranks 30th in total yards per game, 30th in yards per play, 28th in passing yards per game and 28th in rushing yards per game. That’s not expected to change anytime soon — even if Matt Nagy eventually pulls the plug on Trubisky in favor of Chase Daniel. — Jeff Dickerson

Week 7 ranking: 17

Recalibrated expectation: Hope for the wild card

The Lions looked like they could be contenders — and have been competitive in every game — but at 2-3-1 with a porous run defense, no pressure on opposing quarterbacks and perhaps an injured running back in Kerryon Johnson, reaching the playoffs as a wild-card team would be the best-case scenario for Detroit. But more realistically, hanging around .500 is probably where the Lions will end up this season. — Michael Rothstein

Week 7 ranking: 18

Recalibrated expectation: Make a second-half run into the playoffs

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Patriots acquire WR Mohamed Sanu from Falcons



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have acquired veteran wide receiver Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a second-round draft pick, league sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sanu gives the Patriots an inside target, especially on third down, that will help take pressure off top target Julian Edelman. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Sanu is in his eighth season and has 33 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown this season.

With Edelman (ribs), fellow starter Josh Gordon (knee) and No. 3 target Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) all on the injury report in recent weeks, Sanu provides veteran insurance at a position where the Patriots are still adjusting following the release of Antonio Brown in September.

Undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski have helped fill some of that void, but now high expectations on them will lessen. First-round draft pick N’Keal Harry is also eligible to return from injured reserve for the team’s Nov. 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots have long had an affinity for Sanu, who played in college at Rutgers alongside current Patriots defensive backs Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, and entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals. The club had been trying to trade for Sanu since before the draft, according to Schefter.

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Sam Darnold of New York Jets tosses 4 interceptions in rout to New England Patriots



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Emboldened by his terrific Week 6 performance, New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold entered Monday night playing and talking like a true franchise quarterback. By the second quarter of the Jets’ 33-0 loss to the New England Patriots, he was talking like a beaten man.

“I’m seeing ghosts,” Darnold — mic’d up by ESPN — said on the sideline after his third turnover.

It was an early Halloween gag, presented by the man who has haunted the Jets for two decades.

Confused and rattled by Bill Belichick’s suffocating defense, Darnold set a career high with five turnovers — and that includes his college career at USC. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble as the Jets (1-5) lost their eighth straight to the Patriots (7-0).

Statistically, it was one of the worst passing days in Jets history. Darnold finished with a 3.6 passer rating; the worst is 2.7, set by J.J. Jones in 1975 (minimum 20 attempts).

Darnold threw an interception on his first pass of the game, serving as a a bad omen. He was stunningly careless with the football, constantly throwing off his back foot into tight coverage.

Two interceptions came in the red zone, three came in New England territory and three came against a blitz. Before Monday night, he had only one career interception versus the blitz, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also was involved in a safety, when he failed to catch a high shotgun snap and batted the ball out of the end zone.

In only three starts, Darnold has three red-zone interceptions, tied with Baker Mayfield for the league lead.

It was a brutal night for the second-year quarterback, who showed so much promise in last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys — his first game after missing three games due to a bout with mononucleosis.

Facing the Patriots for only the second time in his career, Darnold completed only 11 of 30 passes for 86 yards. He connected only nine times with his wide receivers, who couldn’t beat New England’s man-coverage schemes. The lone bright spot was Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for a season-high 70 yards.

Darnold received little help from his makeshift offensive line, which started two players who began the season as backups — left guard Alex Lewis and rookie left tackle Chuma Edoga, who made his first career start at the position.

The pass protection was poor at times, as the offensive line communicated poorly against the New England blitzes, resulting in unblocked rushers.

His first interception happened when right guard Brian Winters didn’t block blitzing linebacker Jamie Collins. Darnold panicked and heaved a floater that was picked off by safety Devin McCourty, his fifth of the season.

On Darnold’s fumble, the offensive line slid to left, leaving linebacker John Simon free on the right side. The Patriots tricked them by faking a “Cover Zero” blitz, then rushing only four. The result was a strip sack.

The Patriots converted the fumble, deep in New York territory, into a touchdown, making it 24-0 in the second quarter.

And on it went.

During the run-up to the game, Darnold expressed supreme confidence, saying his offense will be “unstoppable” once tight end Chris Herndon returns from a hamstring injury. He praised the New England defense, but added, “Just like any other team, they’re not unbeatable. So we just go out there, find the weakness in the defense and keep working it. That’s what we’re going to do on Monday night.”

The Patriots used that comment as motivational fuel. McCourty, in his pre-game huddle on the field, mentioned the quote in his pep talk to the defense.

For first-year coach Adam Gase, it was another embarrassing loss to the Patriots. In two games, they were outscored, 63-14. In the first meeting, he had to start third-stringer Luke Falk, who has since been released.

This time, Gase had no excuses.

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