Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Saints are 15-6 against the Falcons in the Payton-Brees era

The Ravens aren’t unraveling like the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams (who’ve already made a coaching change). As Harbaugh put it after the narrow loss to the Steelers, that showed the Ravens “are very close to being a very good football team.”

Jack Johnson Youth Jersey Harbaugh needs help from his front office, especially with the higher draft picks. The Ravens whiffed on the first two picks in the 2013 draft (safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown), haven’t gotten the expected production out of the first two picks in the 2015 draft (wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams) and didn’t get immediate impact from the second- and third-round picks from this year’s draft (linebacker Kamalei Correa and injured defensive end Bronson Kaufusi).

Last but not least, the Saints have a chance to play spoilers Sunday against their oldest and most heated rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons (10-5) have already clinched the NFC South title, but a loss could prevent them from winning the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

E’Twaun Moore Elite Jersey The Saints are 15-6 against the Falcons in the Payton-Brees era. But Atlanta handed the Saints one of their worst losses of the season in Week 3, 45-32 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“That would mean a lot to us. But the main thing about it is that everybody — our team and organization, coaches and players — have a lot of pride in what they do and pride in their careers,” Saints running back Mark Ingram said.

“So I’m sure all the guys are going to be ready coming off a good Christmas weekend and we’ll prepare our butts off for one last go-around against Atlanta and try to go in there and beat those guys up. So that’ll be our focus going into this week.”

The Steelers had a Ravens problem

Missed tackles on Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk allowed a 10-yard touchdown run that gave Baltimore the 27-24 lead.

The NFL¡¯s playoff picture gained two entrants Saturday and three more Sunday. Tampa Bay¡¯s loss in New Orleans means the New York Giants are assured of a place in this year¡¯s playoffs, their first postseason appearance since 2011. The Houston Texans’ victory over Cincinnati made them champions of the AFC South. And the Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the AFC North — and the No. 3 seed — with Sunday’s victory over division-rival Baltimore, a result that ensured the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff spot as well. The Chiefs’ win over the Denver Broncos means the Miami Dolphins are in the AFC field too. And the Detroit Lions could join the NFC field with a win (or tie!) Monday night.

The story of Saturday was one of injuries to star quarterbacks. Tennessee¡¯s Marcus Mariota and Oakland¡¯s Derek Carr both went down with broken legs. Tennessee is eliminated, but the Raiders have some very big games coming up that they’ll have to play with a backup at the most important position.

This game was much bigger than the playoff implications. The Steelers had a Ravens problem. But no longer.

In a rivalry this heated, it’s nearly impossible to overcome miscues like this, but the Steelers somehow overcame these:

Winston completed 23 of 35 passes for 277 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Both interceptions were to safety Jairus Byrd, including one that set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Saints running back Mark Ingram. On the first pick, he was backed up into his own end zone after a botched punt return by Josh Huff.

Elite Kids Brian Schwenke Jersey “That was a crazy play on my part,” Winston said. “No one was open. I tried to give my guy [wide receiver Mike Evans] a chance. [I should have] thrown it out of bounds, take the next play, flip the field. It was just very indecisive by me and very uncharacteristic. That should not have happened.”
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Koetter added, “We played hard enough, we just didn’t play good enough today.

While Pelicans preach pace, their star big man practices patience

Set your gaze on Alvin Gentry in the midst of a New Orleans Pelicans game, and it won’t take long before you see the head coach flash one of his go-to moves: the one-handed spin.

Gentry, in his 30th consecutive season as an NBA coach, has made a career as an offensive accelerant. The Pelicans, for instance, are averaging six extra possessions per every 100 than the season before his arrival because of his pace-pushing directives.
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Spectacular throughout the 2016-17 season, Thomas put together his finest outing of the season on Tuesday night as he posted a career-high 44 points on a mere 16 field goal attempts and willed the Celtics to a thrilling 112-109 overtime triumph over the super-clutch Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.

Authentic Womens L.C. Greenwood Jersey “I’m a killa, I’m a killa,” a seemingly perspiration-free Thomas said during an on-court interview with Comcast SportsNet. “My team needed me to score, my team needed me to make plays. They got me open, Coach [Brad Stevens] put me in position to be successful, and I just took it from there.”

Isaiah Thomas scored a career high 44 points in the Celtics’ overtime win at Memphis on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-9 Thomas scored 24 points over the final 17 minutes of Tuesday’s game. He essentially took 14 shots of 15 feet or more — nine free throws and five 3-pointers — and did not miss (his only two misfires in that span were attempts near the rim).

In scoring 44 points on just 16 field goal attempts, Thomas became only the fourth player in the past three decades to display such efficiency, according to Basketball-Reference.

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford got picked off by Mike Adams

Linval Joseph’s attempt to vault himself over the line to block a Colts field goal attempt led to a penalty and a first down in the first quarter, and the Colts scored two plays later. Chad Greenway, running two steps behind Indianapolis tight end Erik Swoope, had no help downfield on the Colts’ second touchdown. Everson Griffen, Brian Robison and Andrew Sendejo all missed tackles on Robert Turbin’s 6-yard touchdown run that finished a Colts drive started by a Peterson fumble.

Kids Dak Prescott Jersey “I just felt like we had to get something going on offense,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “We weren’t going to win this game, obviously, by scoring 13 points again.”

Savage finished 23-of-36 for 260 yards but did not throw a touchdown or an interception in less than three quarters of work. Osweiler was 6-of-11 for just 48 yards and the two interceptions, giving him 16 picks on the season.

“He completed passes, he took care of the ball,” O’Brien said. “I thought he was decent at getting us in and out of the huddle. I think that needs to speed up but I thought overall he managed the game pretty well.”

Savage, whose last regular-season NFL game came two years ago, led the Texans down the field, looking decisive while passing the ball. As the game went on, the Houston coaching staff gave Savage more rope, and he made some good throws.
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The Vikings’ loss to the Colts officially extinguished Minnesota’s chances to win the NFC North for a second straight season. Not after last week’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars kept Minnesota’s playoff hopes alive, and not after Peterson did enough in three days of practice this week to prompt his return from injured reserve. But a team that coach Mike Zimmer has chided for being undisciplined at times this season showed its most unsightly tendencies at the worst possible times.

The Patriots’ 2001 AFC divisional playoff game will long be remembered for many reasons

The Pittsburgh Steelers can say their loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10 was just one game, another excuse to get back to work and follow the blue-collar script.

But the weight of that low moment — and the images of RB Ezekiel Elliott bursting through his own line untouched over and over — can either catalyze a team or crush it.

The Patriots’ 2001 AFC divisional playoff game will long be remembered for many reasons, including Vinatieri’s field goal to force OT and field goal to win the game.

He threw a strike down the middle, Coach Blevins started crying in front of a sports bar TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Belichicks and Bradys were born. Vinatieri told Blevins by phone that night he pulled up his head quickly on the kick because that was one ball in flight he positively had to watch. By the time Vinatieri confronted his next make-or-break Super Bowl field goal in Houston two years later, against the Panthers, most of the suspense was gone.

Limited Youth Jrue Holiday Jersey But that 41-yarder in Reliant Stadium said a lot more about Vinatieri than most people knew. He missed a 31-yarder early in that Super Bowl, and then a 36-yarder was blocked in the second quarter. As the kicker approached the potential game-winner in the final seconds, he knew his 38-year-old long-snapper, Brian Kinchen, had spent most of that week unraveling before Belichick’s eyes, launching balls high and bouncing them in the grass. Kinchen hadn’t played in three years when the Patriots summoned him out of retirement late in that 2003 season, and suddenly his attempts to snap the ball to holder Ken Walter started looking like Chuck Knoblauch’s old throws from second base to first.

Limited Youth Terron Armstead Jersey When faced with extreme stress or fear, our body jacks up our heart rate. Grossman has created a scale, moving from white to yellow to red to gray to black. Actual warriors want to remain in the yellow, with the ability to get to red, where they are at their most efficient.

Dolphins promote Chris Grier to general manager after firing Dennis Hickey

Less than two years after handing him the job, the Miami Dolphins have fired general manager Dennis Hickey, the team announced on Twitter. The decision came ust one day before the end of a disappointing 6-10 campaign, in which the Dolphins let head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor go in the middle of the season.

To replace Hickey, the Dolphins elected to promote Chris Grier to the general manager position, the team announced on Monday. Grier was previously the team’s director of college scouting, and has been with the Dolphins for the past 15 years.

Cousins has flown under the radar a little bit this year because of the quality of the NFC East as a whole, but it’s hard to ignore his record-setting numbers.

Cam Newton just keeps setting records. Adding two scores on the ground on Sunday, he is now tied with Steve Young for quarterback career rushing touchdowns (43). He also tied Young for most career games with both a touchdown pass and touchdown run (31) with his performance on Sunday, and he accomplished that in 91 fewer games than the Hall of Famer.

Mens DeMar DeRozan Jersey Even more impressive, Newton became the only player in NFL history with 30 or more passing touchdowns and 10 or more rushing touchdowns in a single season. He’s truly a unique player, and will almost surely win the league’s MVP award.
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The guy that could challenge Newton for that honor is Carson Palmer, but a substandard final game against the Seahawks could have derailed any momentum he had in catching Newton. Nonetheless, Palmer finishes the year as the Cardinals’ all-time single season passing leader (4,671 yards) and he became just the 18th player in NFL history to pass for over 40,000 yards in his career.

Chiefs demand our attention, perhaps even our respect

Raiders, Patriots, and Seahawks could clinch 2017 NFL playoff berths this week. Oakland, New England, and Seattle can clinch playoff berths this week, while Dallas could clinch home field. Not only that, the Chiefs could overtake the Raiders for first place in the AFC West.
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Both teams would be 10-3, but a Kansas City win would give them a sweep of the Raiders in the regular season and their division record would sit at 4-0 compared to 2-2 for the Raiders. That would vault New England back into the No. 1 seed in the AFC, however, because of conference record.

And if the Chiefs were able to get home-field advantage in the playoffs, maybe it won’t turn out like it did last year or the time before that when the Colts stormed back from a 28-point deficit.

Still, the Vikings won’t face any teams that are currently above .500 during the last four weeks of the season as they make a final push for a playoff berth. Even if Peterson is more of a decoy than a weapon, they could use him to open up a passing game that is starting to find success with wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

It’s a situation worth watching for numerous reasons. If Peterson can play and doesn’t with the Vikings still in the hunt, this could get messy real quick, making an uncertain future for the former superstar cloudier than ever.

The All-Pro running back is coming off a torn meniscus — his second major knee injury in the last five years — and at 31 years old, he likely doesn’t have too many great games left in him. So it makes sense that he wouldn’t want to risk his future on meaningless action. It sounds more like he’s trying to focus on using what he has left for the postseason.
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Adrian Peterson: “I’m thinking that we’re going to make the playoffs so that’s what I’m keeping my mind set on.”

The bad news is that they still have to travel to Indianapolis and Tennessee

The Texans have faded badly in the South, losing three consecutive games to fall to 6-6. The good news for them is that they hold a strong tiebreaker lead in the division, as they’ve started 3-0 in the South, putting them well ahead of the Colts (2-2) and Titans (1-3). The bad news is that they still have to travel to Indianapolis and Tennessee, starting with the Colts this week. Oh, and the Texans are also a significantly worse team than their divisional brethren; Houston is a dismal 30th in DVOA. Tennessee is 18th and Indianapolis is 25th.

Authentic Kids Mychal Kendricks Jersey But none actually pulled the culture change off until Del Rio — who grew up in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum in nearby Hayward and shared the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Raiders in college at USC — arrived last season.

That fire helped the Raiders win games they would have lost in previous years. It made winning a habit. It had everyone believing that, for the first time in more than a generation, the Raiders are an elite team.

“He doesn¡¯t want to get involved in football,” the elder Davis once said of Mark. “He used to know all the players. He still does. They were his vintage — Cliff Branch … Fred Biletnikoff, all those guys. He never understood how I could let someone go. He just doesn’t want to get into that part of it.”

“When Dennis Allen was here, I can’t remember too many conversations we had,” Jones said. “I mean, we spoke, but it was real short. With Jack, we joke around, we talk, and I know how he feels about me … that’s big. Something as small as that, it makes a difference for players.”

Eddie Royal Elite Jersey Kiper: Five Alabama prospects make my newest Big Board, including four in the top 13. I have the Tide with the top offensive tackle, top inside linebacker, top two outside linebackers, and second-best defensive end and tight end. They also have the best punter in the draft, plus some players who will go in the mid-rounds. One school that is going under the radar: Florida. While the Gators lost to Alabama in Saturday’s SEC title game, they have an outside shot at four defenders being picked in the first round.

Compton was way too aggressive trying to take on Peppers who was already at an advantage because of his width

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I don’t even know how to describe this bullshit blocking technique Compton tried, but needless to say it didn’t work well at all. Compton was way too aggressive trying to take on Peppers who was already at an advantage because of his width. Peppers didn’t even need some kind of great move to get around Compton, he just got off the ball and turned the corner so fast that Cousins had barely finished his drop back, before he had to take a step backwards to avoid him.

Peppers’ overzealousness trying to get to Cousins as quickly as possible did indeed keep Cousins from being able to make that throw down the field to DJax, for what might have been the easiest touchdown pass all season. But it also had him just out of control enough to where he couldn’t change directions to sack Cousins after he side-stepped him. Luckily for the Packers, Matthews was there to clean up Peppers’ mess and take Cousins down for a sack and that loss of 12 yards.

The Cardinals will find out their opponent Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks travel to Charlotte to play the No. 1 seed Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks’ have been one of the best teams in the NFL late in the season, winning six of their last seven regular season games. They’re facing one of the few teams who have arguably been better in the 15-1 Panthers, however.

Aaron Rodgers Jersey The Patriots await the results of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ visit to the Denver Broncos. What might have been a titanic matchup a little more than a week ago doesn’t seem so big now after the Steelers’ offense suffered significant injuries against the Cincinnati Bengals. Already without running backs Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, wide receiver Antonio Brown won’t play because of a concussion, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will likely be hindered by a shoulder injury.

A Broncos win would set up a Tom Brady-Peyton Manning AFC Championship game for the fourth time in their careers.

Against the Texans last Saturday, Poe was in for eight out of 10 third downs before the Chiefs put in their backups on defense. That underscores how they view him as much more than just a run stuffer.

Let’s be clear, for a true nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, even one that stunts and blitzes as much Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton likes him to, the name of the game is kicking ass against the running game. Poe did just that against the Chiefs, holding up well against numerous double teams and slip blocks. He also was productive with five tackles on the day.

Griffin and Jordan clutter the paint, and no one guards Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

The true Clippers are much closer to the juggernaut that started the season 14-2 than the tired patsy of the past week. They’ve already played 19 games, second-most in the league, and they rested Griffin during their bizarro loss in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Even after this dip, the Clips rank fifth in points per possession and second in points allowed per possession — markers of an elite team.

Zoom out, and it looks like this nucleus is approaching the apex of what it can be. Their core can put up 110 blindfolded despite intractable spacing issues. Griffin and Jordan clutter the paint, and no one guards Luc Richard Mbah a Moute — the name upon which Rivers’ “Wheel-O-Random-Small-Forwards” apparently landed.

Talent can trump fit. Griffin and Paul are so good, and so smart, they don’t need much space to destroy you. They think one step ahead of defenses, and acting early allows them to thread pinpoint passes through narrow corridors before those gaps close. They’ve been zig-zagging the ball through overcrowded lanes for years:

Their four key starters have run through north of 10,000 offensive possessions together, and the shared knowledge allows them to make those wink-wink improv reads that only come with time. Look how Paul and Griffin abort a scripted handoff and zoom into an unconventional pick-and-roll:
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“We’re as familiar with each other as you can be,” Paul said.
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And after years of hacking the hell out of everyone, the Clips are a middle-of-the-pack foul team.

These are all fringe changes — the redistribution of a half-dozen enemy shots, and fewer freebies. One or two would mean nothing. But if a bunch of tiny trends point the same way, it adds up. “You take a little bit here, and a little bit there,” Crawford said, “and it makes a difference.”