Month: December 2016

Smith doesn’t fire you up the way those guys do, but it’s not crazy to think he can get it done

While Brady and Roethlisberger stand out on that AFC playoff quarterback list as guys who have delivered multiple championships, Smith has had his share of postseason success as well. Smith doesn’t fire you up the way those guys do, but it’s not crazy to think he can get it done.

See what the latest playoff picture looks like and simulate your own playoff scenarios.
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“We know who we are. We know what we are,” tight end Eric Ebron said. “We let the opportunity when we went to Green Bay last time slip away from us. We obviously know we can put up points, so we’re going to try to do our best and hopefully we don’t fall short like this game.”

Who, though, does Ebron believe the Lions to be?

“We’re a good team. We’re a damn good team,” Ebron said. “We just gotta finish games. That’s what we’re known to do. We just gotta finish this one. We fell two games short now, we didn’t finish.”

For their season to definitively continue beyond Sunday, the Lions have to rediscover the identity they once possessed, one of a team that believed in the fourth quarter, over and over again.

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Odell Beckham Jr. gave us the lamest apology ever

Odell Beckham Jr. got suspended and gave the lamest apology ever, but that’s not even the half of it! Danny, Stephen and myself hash it out on the podcast this week, with a special emphasis on the PR jockeying after the fact and how the NFL media changed the whole narrative about the incident.
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And that’s not all …

We also have a good discussion about the state of affairs in Denver. The Broncos problems go beyond just Osweiler versus Manning. Then we’ve got the Bengals, the deepest team in the league right now, but one that could be looking up at the Steelers in the standings if things don’t go well while Andy Dalton’s on the shelf.

Buffalo’s pass defense was atrocious against Washington last week, allowing Kirk Cousins to throw for 319 yards and four touchdown passes. But it doesn’t appear as if the Cowboys will be in position to take advantage of any weak points in the Bills’ secondary; they’re currently ranked 29th in the league in passing.
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Though the Bills’ defense received a lot of hype heading into the year, the play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor may be their biggest story of the season. Taylor, who never started a game in his career before 2015, has posted an average QB rating of 100.3 since Oct. 11.

One of the biggest reason for the recent success of the Bills’ passing game has been the re-emergence of Sammy Watkins, who’s rebounded after a sluggish start to the year. Watkins has reeled in six touchdown catches over his last four games and recorded 100 or more receiving yards in three of those contests.

Instead of playing for a playoff berth like some expected, Buffalo will try to reach the .500 mark before the season concludes. Only one picker at both ESPN and CBS Sports is taking the Cowboys, while all eight of our experts at SB Nation expect the Bills to win.

the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement

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Last week the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement. If it is ratified by both sides next month, the league will be assured of labor peace for the next six years.

If you don’t have a law degree or an ability to commit complex acronyms to memory it can be pretty hard to follow. So with the help of salary-cap guru/godfather Larry Coon, here’s a simpler way to learn some of the new rules and how they can affect your favorite team or player.

Thomas was on the bench late in the third quarter when, after Boston’s starters had whittled a 17-point deficit as low as four, the Grizzlies responded by pushing their lead back to nine before the end of the frame. Only recently has Stevens started playing Thomas at the start of fourth quarter and Thomas simply refused to let this game get away.

Thomas scored nine points in the first 1:57 of the fourth quarter then fed Amir Johnson for a layup that made it a one-possession game. A Thomas 3-pointer with 7:52 to play in regulation tied the game and set up a thrilling finish in which Thomas dueled with Memphis guard Mike Conley.

It waited on Tyreke Evans after the once-core player missed 11 months because of a problematic right knee, and through dings to Dante Cunningham (12 games missed), E’Twaun Moore (3) and Holiday again (3).
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It’s also still waiting on the development of rookies Cheick Diallo and Buddy Hield, the latter of whom has found his range since a bump to the first unit (52 percent from 3 in December). Pelicans players have missed 107 games this season, with 79 a result of injury, illness or injury-related rest.

Robinson is still on the mend from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 13

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Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, hamstring: Hurns has not practiced and therefore will not play for a third straight week since injuring his hamstring in Week 12.
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Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle: Robinson is still on the mend from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 13. He remained out of practice this week and will miss his second straight game.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts, hamstring: Moncrief injured his hamstring in Week 14 and was unable to practice this week.

The primary fantasy positions are covered (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end).

This year there at the end of each positional section, there is a subgrouping of players, “Players Off Game Status Injury Report.” The probable tag no longer exists so players who would have been listed as probable in previous years are now simply removed from the report.

This means there will be players who appear in the practice injury reports during the week but will not appear on the game status report Friday since they are presumed active for game day. They are included in this blog so that fantasy owners can see where players who were on the practice injury report during the week have been upgraded in advance of the games.

At the end, key fantasy players listed Friday as “Out” for the week’s games will appear as a group.

Good luck in Week 15, everyone! And, don’t forget to set those lineups early if you have players in the Saturday night game.

The NFL disciplined side judge Rob Vernatchi in 2015 for failing to notice an 18-second runoff on a game clock.

Pereira wrote particularly harsh words in the book for the NFL’s decision to discipline several officials in a public way last season, including a suspension of side judge Rob Vernatchi for failing to notice an 18-second runoff on a game clock. The league also made a point to push crew members to lesser-profile games after major mistakes to minimize public discussion.

Authentic Kids Jason McCourty Jersey He criticized Blandino for failing to stand up to NFL executives who wanted the discipline. When he had Blandino’s job, Pereira wrote, he once made commissioner Roger Goodell so angry for refusing to suspend an official that Goodell shoved him into a door.

In addition to the suspension, Vernatchi was required to speak with NFL security, to “I guess … make sure that he didn’t have a bet on the game,” Pereira wrote.
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You won’t see many players wearing hoodies under their jerseys like they do in practice, so the fleece turtleneck is a smart play, along with a pair of long underwear. I know the cold-gear leggings work, but adding another layer on top of those (under game socks) can keep your hamstrings warm when you have to chase down the deep ball. Now, you don’t want to look like the kid from “A Christmas Story” stuffed into his snowsuit, but having more layers is always a good idea.

Those instant hand warmers we buy at gas stations are all over NFL locker rooms and sidelines during cold-weather games — and players will put them everywhere. Among the many ways they are used: Drop a couple inside your hand muff, tape them to the top of your feet (before putting on cleats), put them in your gloves and tape them inside the ear hole of the helmet. Back before players were required to wear leg pads, I saw guys put them in the thigh board slot of the game pants. They don’t last an entire game, so you have to keep grabbing new ones, but they provide a little relief.

Tom Brady now has a high-ankle sprain

They’ve been losing the battle of attrition, Tom Brady now has a high-ankle sprain, and there are still quite a few question marks along the offensive line. The good news is that they will have a couple of weeks to get healthy and back into their early-season form. If any team can do it, it’s the Patriots.

“I don’t think its an issue,” Lewis said on Tuesday. “You look around and there’s 20 new guys from a year ago, and 40 from two years ago. It’s part of it. I don’t think there is a ¡®here we go again’ feeling.”

My second-favorite Woodson magic trick took place on Nov. 22, 1997, when Woodson ran a punt back 77 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State. I was in the stands with my father, who took me for my 10th birthday. I had never seen a punt return for a score, and as a booming punt wobbled its way to Woodson the forthcoming miracle was still a presumed impossibility.
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Authentic Mens Randy Johnson Jersey I knew Woodson was capital letters GREAT by then, and so was Michigan, an undefeated team on the verge of winning its first national championship in an impossibly long time. That fact and Woodson were the only things anybody talked about. Woodson had committed miracles before then, his interception against Michigan State being the best, but I didn’t believe in him and sports until I saw him pierce the Buckeyes. It wasn’t a serendipitous moment. There was still most of the game left and Michigan was already leading 7-0. The play stood perfectly on its own. It was all you needed to know about Woodson. Michigan won because he was there.

As for the Texans, a stout defense is the name of the game, and if they can force Alex Smith to turn the ball over a time or two, they could have a real shot at the upset.

Aroldis Chapman’s remarkable year rocked baseball

Aroldis Chapman is a humongous human being. His hulking presence is more reminiscent of an outside linebacker than a pitcher. He is listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, but he is probably bigger. Regardless, the size of Chapman’s frame befits his impact on baseball these last 12 months.

Amid the swirl of one of the biggest ethical issues facing major American sports — domestic violence — Chapman’s acquisitions and non-acquisitions have made a lasting impact on the three biggest markets in the country. How he became a Yankee, and how he reunited with them, has affected the game’s most historic franchise, its most epic championship drought and even its signature West Coast team.
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Exactly one year to the day — Dec. 7 — after the Cincinnati Reds reportedly worked a deal to send Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chapman agreed to the largest contract for a reliever in baseball history: a five-year, $86 million pact with the New York Yankees.

“We took calls. We listened. We engaged,” Huntington told reporters. “And not just on Andrew but on other players who are on one- or two-year contracts. As we will always do, if we find the right move and we believe the right move is to move the player, we’ll move the player. If we believe the right move is to hold the player, then we’ll hold the player.”
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The Washington Nationals were reportedly talking to the Pirates about McCutchen, but the Nats’ trade for Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton on Wednesday appeared to end their interest.

Pittsburgh nearly traded the 2013 NL MVP last week, and the two sides will enter the ’17 season unsure of the outfielder’s future with the franchise.

Baseball’s winter meetings ended Thursday with Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen still on the team. The expectation is that he will be there on Opening Day.

McCutchen is a five-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove in 2012. He has two years remaining on his contract.

Though McCutchen has been given “no assurances,” he has spoken to Huntington since the league’s winter meetings ended Thursday.

The Packers could have a significant shortage of linebackers

TE Jordan Reed caught passes during individual drills Wednesday, but there’s a ways to go before the Redskins are ready to declare him ready for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. Reed is still suffering from the Grade 3 separation of the AC joint in his left shoulder. Meanwhile, the offensive line was suffering: Center Spencer Long (concussion) and guard Shawn Lauvao (groin) both missed practice as did Ty Nsekhe (ankle). But Nsekhe was going back to the bench anyway with Trent Williams returning from his four-game suspension. Long would be replaced by veteran John Sullivan, and Lauvao would be replaced by Arie Kouandjio.
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WR Jeremy Maclin will be available to play for the Chiefs for the first time in five games Thursday night against the Raiders. Maclin has been out because of a groin injury. He might not play his normal full role in his first game back, but the Chiefs are still better off having him for whatever number of snaps he is in their lineup. He’s their most accomplished and experienced wide receiver. It’s foolish to believe the Chiefs are a better team when he’s not playing.

Isaiah Pead Limited Jersey Derek Carr is still Oakland’s biggest injury question, despite his insistence that his right pinkie isn’t causing any limitations. Carr played the entire game last weekend in the shotgun or pistol to keep him from going under center and, thus, to keep his finger out of harm’s way. Sub-freezing temperatures are expected in Kansas City on Thursday night, and with the ball expected to be hard as a rock and his finger still sore and taped, it’s almost a given that Carr will again set up 4 or 7 yards behind the center. After not running a single play out of the pistol before Sunday, the Raiders ran 19 plays out of the formation against Buffalo. Expect more of the same at Arrowhead Stadium.

I realize 58 yards isn’t all that exciting, but such is the state of DeAndre Hopkins

Brandon Marshall, Jets: Down to just seven targets a game over his past seven games, I just don’t know how you can trust him with Bryce “I only have eyes for Robby Anderson” Petty under center. Now, Petty will have all week to prep with the ones, as opposed to being thrown into the middle of a game, so he won’t have to just go with who he knows, so to speak, and it is a good matchup with San Francisco.
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I realize 58 yards isn’t all that exciting, but such is the state of DeAndre Hopkins. Given the state of Indy’s secondary, I do like Hopkins as a WR3. … Kenny Britt now has a score or at least five catches in five straight and yes, I expect the Rams to be down in this one. Atlanta is 23rd versus the pass in the past four weeks. … No apologies needed this week, Eli, as Sterling Shepard comes off another game with a score to face the Cowboys.

Tyrod Taylor, Bills: There’s a reasonable floor here because of the rushing, of course, but since the start of last season, the Steelers have allowed just one rushing score to an opposing QB. The fifth-best scoring defense and a top-10 pass defense the past four weeks, the Steelers are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs since Week 9. Taylor, meanwhile, now has less than 195 passing yards in three straight games, with just one total touchdown pass in that span.

Spencer Ware, Chiefs: At least 16 touches in four straight games for Ware, and I expect the Chiefs to once again take a run-heavy approach against the Raiders. Now, maybe not as much as Week 6 in Oakland, when the Chiefs had 40 rushes for 183 yards and three rushing scores, but still.

Jordan Howard, Bears: No doubt the Lions have played terrific defense recently, as they are third against the run the past four weeks. But take a closer look at their opponents: Jacksonville, Minnesota, New Orleans and a bye.

Authentic Mens Malcolm Butler Jersey Andrew Luck, Colts: I’m the highest on Luck this week among our rankers. “Sure,” you say, “he beat up the Jets, but whatevs, dude, that doesn’t count. Now he gets Houston in a tough division game. I’m nervous.” Well, I’m not. He’s rocked the Texans before, scoring 23 points in Week 6, and he’s running a little bit more, with more than six rushing attempts per game in his past seven.

Manziel’s season ended when he was diagnosed with a concussion prior to the team’s final gam

Former Browns head coach Mike Pettine restored Manziel as the team’s starter heading into Week 14, but made it clear that Manziel was expected to live up to the team’s expectations on and off the field. Another video of Manziel partying surfaced around Christmas, and although Pettine said the circumstances differed from the previous incident, he also acknowledged that anything that potentially cast Browns players in a bad light was a concern.

Manziel’s season ended when he was diagnosed with a concussion prior to the team’s final game. Austin Davis started in Manziel’s place. Manziel missed the season finale and reports suggest that he may have been in Las Vegas instead.

The Seattle season unfolded with two losses, two victories, two losses, two victories and then another loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
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Authentic Youth Matt Moore Jersey Thomas said in video study after that Arizona loss that the defense could see that it was not playing with its usual fire. They had to become more swarming. They did. They won six consecutive games afterward and finished the regular season by winning seven of eight. The Seattle defense matched the 1953-1957 Cleveland Browns as NFL teams that led the league in scoring defense for four consecutive seasons. Then came the “Miracle at Minnesota” last weekend in the playoffs, a game played in frigid weather against the Minnesota Vikings that the Seahawks survived.

There is a thread of leadership and example through it all that revolves around Thomas.

I wondered if perhaps for a lot of football fans, even in 2016, in their minds if it didn’t show up on the stat sheet, then it didn’t happen. That’s not to say any of these guys had pitiful stats, it’s just that to truly understand their impact you need to look deeper than that.