Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots remain the top two teams in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings

Elite Womens R.A. Dickey Jersey The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots remain the top two teams in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings, but it’s the Kansas City Chiefs — and Dontari Poe’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass — that will have folks talking this week.

ESPN’s power panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) tabbed the 11-4 Chiefs at No. 3 for the team’s highest ranking this regular season. Also joining the top five ranks are the Pittsburgh Steelers, who moved up two spots thanks to a Week 16 win against division rival Baltimore.

Methodology note: These rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. Coming off a win doesn’t guarantee a jump, and coming off a loss doesn’t guarantee a fall.

Remember when Dak Prescott lost to the Giants in Week 14 and some were calling for Tony Romo to start again? Well, Prescott is 47-of-56 (83.9 percent) passing with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in two games since. With the top spot in the NFC wrapped up, the question is, will Prescott (and Ezekiel Elliott) rest in Week 17 against the Eagles?

Elite Womens Marshawn Lynch Jersey “EJ (Manuel) playing is strictly for injury reasons in Tyrod’s deal,” one Bills source said. “We already know who EJ is, and Cardale (Jones) is not ready.”

So while the Bills already made the decision to fire Ryan before Tuesday, they ultimately just pushed up that date, hence the somewhat untimely announcement that caused many players to learn about the move via Twitter, in order to get Manuel ready for Week 17.

Taylor, 27, passed for 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions this year in his second season as the Bills’ starting quarterback. He also rushed for 580 yards, the most in the NFL among quarterbacks this season, and six touchdowns.

Drew Brees becomes 4th player in NFL history to hit 60,000 career passing yards

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees reached a significant milestone on Monday, becoming the fourth player in NFL history to throw for 60,000 career passing yards. Brees needed 173 passing yards against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football and he managed to pass that figure on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

Going into Week 15, Brees had completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,794 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. He’s been his usual excellent self, though he is on pace for his lowest touchdown total since 2007 due to the lack of productive offensive weapons and overall struggles by the Saints.

Game Womens Yovani Gallardo Jersey Jackson’s priority was to sign with a playoff team. In May, he told ESPN, “I don’t want to go to a team that is rebuilding and needs me to come on and teach guys how to be professional. I’ve done that.” Jackson made it clear that he wasn’t done with professional football, starting and promoting a website and petition for fans to use to encourage their teams to abandon multi-back systems. In July, Jackson tweeted the Dallas Cowboys to offer his services in a creative way.

With the Patriots, Jackson will have a chance to play in the postseason. The Patriots are the reigning Super Bowl champions and they are currently the top seed in the AFC. Jackson has said he’d like to retire as a Ram, though it’s possible that could change depending on how the postseason goes for the Patriots.

Game Kids Willie Snead Jersey In 11 seasons in the NFL, Jackson has totaled 2,743 carries for 11,388 yards and 68 touchdowns in 11 seasons. Nine of those seasons came with the Rams and it’s those seasons that put most of the wear and tear on his body. He was the bell cow for the Rams and doesn’t fit the bill of a starting running back at this stage in his career. Still, Jackson desperately wants to compete in the postseason, and he will finally get that opportunity with the Patriots.

RT Demar Dotson remains in the concussion protocol for the straight third week

Tackle D.J. Humphries remains in the concussion protocol after suffering the injury in Week 14 at Miami. As of late last week, he hadn’t passed his baseline testing, but all head coach Bruce Arians has said this week is that Humphries remains in the protocol.

Without Humphries in the lineup, the Cardinals have turned to John Wetzel at left tackle while inserting Earl Watford at right tackle — both positions that Humphries has played.

QB Russell Wilson said this season hasn’t been a “whirlwind,” but that he hopes the Seahawks can get on a roll.

Elite Youth Robin Yount Jersey Wilson downplayed Sherman’s outburst, but was asked how he felt about the Super Bowl XLIX loss being brought up again this week.

Elite Youth Neftali Feliz Jersey “I hope we get to the 1-yard line again,” Wilson said Wednesday. “And I’d throw it again, too, if it was the right call at the right time. I have all the confidence in the world in that. I have all the confidence in the world in the players that we have.”

Wilson suffered three different injuries in the Seahawks’ first six games this season. He admitted that his fifth year in the league has been a “whirlwind,” but said he is optimistic that the Seahawks (9-4-1) can get on a roll down the stretch and in the postseason.

“It hasn’t gone as good as I want it to, but ultimately it’s about winning for me,” Wilson said. “It’s been a little tough this year, obviously, because of the battling with the injuries and stuff. Haven’t been able to bring the extra juju as much as I wanted to for seven or games or whatever, maybe a little bit more. But you still find ways to win.”

Ben Roethlisberger still going deep more than any other quarterback

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is capable of airing it out on any snap, even despite Le’Veon Bell’s expansive workload as a running back.

In 12 games, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t matched the otherworldly yardage of 2015, when he averaged a league-high 328 passing yards per game. But entering Sunday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, many of his 271 yards per game are stretching the field vertically.
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Roethlisberger’s average pass attempt is traveling 8.7 yards downfield, the fifth-longest distance in the NFL. That’s a few yards short of last year’s 9.98, but this year’s average doesn’t tell the whole story.
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On throws traveling at least 25 yards in the air, Roethlisberger easily has the league’s most attempts with 50, seven of which converted to touchdowns. The next-closest is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who had 32 attempts before Monday’s game against the New England Patriots.

“I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her the moment I met her,” Running said.

On Saturday, ahead of the Vikings’ game against the Colts, Running and Momany, who now live in Denver, flew to Minnesota and took a trip to the stadium. A friend had come ahead of time and cleared the space where the brick was, pulling back the snow in the shape of a heart.

“It was the best $170 I ever spent,” Running said.

The Bengals have firmly and repeatedly said they were past all of the things that led to a late-game meltdown against the Steelers (9-5) in the playoffs last year. But when it came down to it, the Bengals couldn’t keep their cool when they needed to most.

DeMarcus Ware and Simon Fletcher had 10-game sack streaks

Those white horns, and the blue-and-white uniforms they were part of, are apparently a favorite among Rams fans. When the team announced its move from St. Louis to Los Angeles early this year, your friendly uniform columnist received an avalanche of emails and tweets that said, “Here’s hoping they change uniforms and go back to the blue and white!”

That’s somewhat surprising, on several levels. For starters, if you look at the Rams’ uniform history, you’ll see that they only wore the blue-white color scheme from 1964 through 1972 — a short period, a long time ago. Moreover, the blue-white combo, while handsome, seems rather plain compared to the technicolor snazziness of the royal-and-yellow uniform that replaced it (although either design would be an improvement over the team’s current primary look).

And yes, they respect each other’s game.

Elite Mens Tyler Bozak Jersey “I think we’re pretty different players when it comes to our pass-rushing technique and how we go about it. I always love watching other great players. Of course, any little thing I can pick up off his game is good.”

Michael Crabtree Mens Jersey Mack, meanwhile, likes what he sees out of Bosa, who held out of training camp as the No. 3 overall draft pick out of Ohio State and missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury.

“Hell of a young player,” Mack said. “You see the things he does and the way he affects the game, hell of a player. Watching film of him and you can tell that he has a knack for the ball.”

As does Mack, who has a strip-sack in three straight games and is riding an eight-game streak with at least one sack.

Per ESPN Stats & Information, no player has recorded a sack in nine consecutive games within the same season since sacks became an official stat in 1982. DeMarcus Ware and Simon Fletcher had 10-game sack streaks, but they stretched over two seasons, 2007-08 and 1992-93, respectively, as did the nine-gamers turned in by Dwight Freeney (2008-09), Kevin Greene (1997-98) and Bruce Smith (1986-87).

Snyder arrived in Utah with visions of a fast-breaking, Euro-style offense heavy on shooting

“The answer to whether Derrick and Rudy can play together is unequivocally yes,” Snyder said. “The bigger question is in what situations, and how best to maximize every player. On some level, you don’t know. We might find challenges that are hidden to us now.”

Snyder arrived in Utah with visions of a fast-breaking, Euro-style offense heavy on shooting. He adapted when he realized Utah might be able to build the league’s stingiest defense around Gobert and Favors.
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Jaden Schwartz Elite Jersey He slowed down the tempo, slotted Gobert and Favors at the elbows, and involved them as passers and screeners. If you want your bigs to defend their asses off, you’d better let them feel the ball on the other end.

MRI results revealed no structural damage or fractures to Williams’ ankle or foot. Head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that it’s more of a foot injury than an ankle injury for Williams. The plan, according to Tomlin, was to monitor Williams’ status throughout the week in hopes that he would be cleared to play, but the team would focus on ensuring Toussaint and Todman were prepared to play if he wasn’t.

Williams will be missed by the Steelers on Saturday. He started the first two games of the 2015 season for Pittsburgh while Le’Veon Bell was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and he assumed the bulk of the Steelers’ carries after Bell suffered season-ending MCL and PCL tears against the Bengals in Week 8. Williams has 907 yards and 11 touchdowns on 200 carries, and has added 367 yards through the air this season.

The Bengals won the AFC North in 2015, but they haven’t won a Wild Card playoff game since 1990. Despite postseason appearances in 2011 and 2014, the Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since 2010, when they beat the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round and the New York Jets in the AFC Championship before losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

MLB Rumor Central: Welington Castillo is Orioles’ top target for catcher

Welington Castillo became a free agent after the Arizona Diamondbacks did not tender him a contract for 2017. Brad Mangin/MLB Photos/Getty Images
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Free agent Welington Castillo is the Baltimore Orioles’ primary catching target, according to reports from BaltimoreBaseball.com and the Baltimore Sun.

Rumor CentralCiting industry sources, Baltimore Baseball’s Dan Connolly reports that the Orioles are in discussions with Castillo’s representatives. The O’s talked with Castillo’s camp at winter meetings, which ended Thursday, and “there is optimism that a multiyear deal could get done.”

Castillo became a free agent after the Arizona Diamondbacks did not tender him a contract for 2017. According to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, the $5.9 million Castillo was projected to make in his third arbitration-eligible year was too high a cost for the Diamondbacks.

Elite Womens Merril Hoge Jersey That makes this winter a dangerous one for MLB execs. Just because the talent level available is weak doesn’t mean the money dries up and baseball is awash in cash. A lot of bucks will be chasing very few prizes, and in such an environment, some noodle-scratcher contracts will come to pass. Stephen Strasburg got a pretty nice contract extension from the Nationals, but I think if he hit free agency under these circumstances, someone might have just given him their team.

Below we have the players with the top 25 free-agent valuations, as projected by the ZiPS projection system. This is not necessarily what each player will get paid or what he should expect to get paid, though there’s obvious correlation. Rather, these are estimated valuations of what a player’s contribution in wins is worth. In other words, this is how much ZiPS says the player is worth. Keep in mind that not every team is concerned with being the most efficient; teams in win-now mode with an obvious hole might rightly overpay to enhance their current core as much as they can.

Players are ranked by their average yearly salary, or A.A.V. (average annual value), beginning with the most expensive.

Joey Bosa lost a total of four games during his three years at Ohio State.

The rookie defensive end already has lost seven games in his first season with the San Diego Chargers, with the team at 5-7 with four games left in the 2016 campaign.

That¡¯s the harsh reality of playing in the NFL — winning games is hard, and even more so on a San Diego team that has found inventive ways to lose for the second straight season.

Joey Bosa has delivered on the field, but that hasn’t always translated into wins for the Chargers.

¡°It sucks,¡± a frustrated Bosa said after last weekend¡¯s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ¡°Losing sucks. Hopefully we can turn it around next week.¡±

Bosa managed to record San Diego¡¯s only sack of the game against slithery Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, and has 5.5 sacks in eight games played on the year.
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McShay: This is not a great offensive tackle class. Alabama’s Cam Robinson is my top-ranked offensive tackle (No. 15 overall), but I wouldn’t classify him as a cornerstone blindside protector. There are more right tackles and offensive guards — such as Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk and Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp — in this class than there are true left tackles.

McShay: Adrian Peterson in 2007. Yes, Fournette has some durability concerns (an ankle injury has hobbled him all season), but the same was said for Peterson when he was leaving Oklahoma.

Limited Mens Stephone Anthony Jersey Kiper: Running backs have been devalued, but I’d be surprised if Fournette slipped out of the top eight. Not many of the teams projected to pick there need a RB, so why not Cleveland? Fournette is that good, and the Browns could do much worse than a plug-and-play, three-down back. Maybe it’s Carolina, who has aging backs. The Panthers have bigger needs, though. It might have to be a team that likes Fournette enough to trade up. Maybe Philadelphia for the second straight season. Maybe the Lions or Giants, who are among the worst running teams in the league.

Slot receiver and punt returner Adam Humphries didn’t practice Wednesday and is still in the concussion protocol

Slot receiver and punt returner Adam Humphries didn’t practice Wednesday and is still in the concussion protocol. The Bucs are already without Cecil Shorts III, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Sunday, making him the third Bucs receiver (including Louis Murphy) this year to have his season end because of an injury. The Bucs brought up Josh Huff from the practice squad to fill Shorts’ spot. They’ll also rely on Freddie Martino.
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“But Coach Jack was like, ‘F— it. You adjust the time on your own and you ride it out … grind it out.’ And that’s a different mindset.”

Running back Taiwan Jones, the lone remaining position player on the roster drafted by Al Davis, credited Del Rio’s transparency.

Then the next two years would be the reconstruction, making Oakland a desirable destination for free agents along with McKenzie unearthing jewels in undrafted rookies and hitting pay dirt in the draft.

Womens Brian Cushing Jersey Which is why Davis stepping aside and letting Del Rio and McKenzie handle the football aspect of the organization has worked out, even as they parted ways with a Davis favorite in Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece this season.

Still, players who were in Oakland before Del Rio arrived say there is not one specific instance where the script flipped. Rather, it’s been a mindset shift, such as how they dealt with travel and games in the Eastern time zone.

Consider: From 2009 through 2015, the Raiders were 1-18 in games played three time zones away. This season they are 6-0 in games played away from Oakland, counting the Mexico City “home” game.

Chiefs vs. Patriots 2016 final score: New England advances to AFC Championship with 27-20 win

The New England Patriots cruised to an easy 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first AFC Divisional Round playoff game on Saturday. The Chiefs didn’t play terrible football, but they were unable to consistently limit Tom Brady and the tough New England offense, and when the Patriots took a lead in the first quarter, they never looked back.

Limited Youth Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jersey The Chiefs’ defensive front looked good as usual, but the Patriots exploited them by spreading out, limiting the damage done. They forced the Chiefs’ secondary to beat them, and Brady was able to do his damage all over the field, including with his legs. It was enough to keep the Chiefs’ defense on the field for too long.

Brady had an efficient game for the Patriots. He threw for just over 300 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no picks and was not sacked at all. The Patriots rushed for fewer than 50 yards as a team, but they didn’t need it. Alex Smith threw for over 200 yards and had a touchdown for the Chiefs, but it wasn’t enough to give them the win. They rushed for over 100 yards, with Charcandrick West picking up over 61 yards for the Chiefs.

Somehow Fitzgerald still had enough energy and breath to conduct a post game press conference too!

Larry Fitzgerald can do it all and saved his time for the biggest moment of the season.

Julio Jones Youth Jersey Palmer played dangerously again, nearly throwing a pick-six to Sam Shields, but he hit Johnson down the middle of the field to set up yet another first down, this time at the 10-yard line. On the next play, Palmer had possibly the most improbable touchdown of his career — an intended slant pass to Fitzgerald got tipped up into the air, which ended up in the hands of Floyd in the end zone.

Green Bay got the ball back with 3:44 left, but went three-and-out. Rather than punt the ball back, the Packers elected to go for it on fourth down at their own 25-yard line. James Jones couldn’t hold on to Rodgers’ throw, giving the ball back to Arizona. The Cardinals tacked on a field goal with less than two minutes to go, forcing Rodgers into comeback mode and setting up the wild finish.