The Dallas Cowboys locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have just one more regular season game before a one-week break in the playoffs. There isn’t much to stress about, and the two rookies leading the way for the team are keeping the mood light with the beginnings of a prank war.
It started Wednesday when quarterback Dak Prescott was meeting with the media in the Cowboys locker room. Running back Ezekiel Elliott did everything possible to distract Prescott, launching straw wrappers and spitballs at the quarterback.
Prescott and Elliott have had a playful relationship with each other all season, and had a lengthy back and forth two months ago that started when Elliott roasted the quarterback for his shoes.
The Cowboys have been a fun and light-hearted team that has bulldozed through its schedule while seemingly never allowing pressure to cause it to crumble. A locker room prank war with the playoffs on the way just seems to fit, and M&M’s are happy to provide more candy to do it.
In case you still didn’t know, Rob Gronkowski is also really good
Also joining rarified statistical air is New England’s Rob Gronkowski, who returned to action after missing a game with a knee injury. Gronk caught four passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots blowout win over the Texans, and in doing so, moved to double-digits in touchdowns on the year (10).
Here’s a little perspective on the greatness you’re witnessing: He’s the first tight end in NFL history with five seasons of 10-plus touchdowns, and only the 10th player all time with five seasons of double-digit touchdowns. Incredible.
So here’s a random one: With Marcus Mariota’s awesome 41-yard touchdown catch from running back Antonio Andrews, he became the first NFL player with 40-plus yard touchdowns via the pass, the rush, and from a reception in a single season since Walter Payton did that in 1983. Not too shabby.
There is emotion, and there is stark reality.
The Cleveland Browns get their share of both this week. ?The emotion that ran unchecked on Saturday was a result of this team getting its first victory. The Browns avoided what would have been the longest week of their NFL lives with a three-point win over San Diego.
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It provided cathartic relief. It freed the Browns from questions and pressure about being the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16. And it freed them from having to live with being part of the worst record in NFL history for the rest of their lives.
Winning one game was like pulling out a key piece in Jenga: All the blocks of negativity came tumbling down.
George Hill Elite Jersey For anybody who has been following the Colts for just a short period of time, they probably wouldnâ€™t believe that this is the same organization that played in the AFC Championship Game two years ago. They went from 33-15 and three playoff appearances in quarterback Andrew Luck’s first three seasons to 15-16 and no playoff appearances the past two seasons.
“The record is what it is, I canâ€™t change history,” Pagano said. “All we can do is keep moving forward and try to rectify whatâ€™s taken place. Itâ€™s not this organization. Itâ€™s unacceptable. Every man and coach up and down these hallways will tell you that. The standard is the standard. We know what the expectations are and that is to win. Thatâ€™s what everybody came here to do.”
The Colts were officially eliminated from the playoffs with their loss at Oakland on Christmas Eve. But the road to missing the postseason started in Week 1 and carried on throughout the season.
Take the San Diego Chargers, for instance. Their Super Bowl was last week in front of their home crowd of San Diego for the very last time. Now that they close out the final two games of the season on the road, they’ve essentially accomplished what they’ve set out to do. Charles Woodson, on the other hand, will be playing in Oakland for the last time this season. Sorry, Chargers fans, but there’s a great chance no one has used the Oakland Raiders up to this point. Nothing personal.
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But the Chargers are only one example. Here are a few more to get you through this week.
The Broncos defense ranks first in passing yards allowed. They’ve also allowed the fewest rushing yards and yards per attempt. And whilst they’ve limited opposing offenses to essentially nothing, they’ve recorded the most sacks this season. The Cincinnati Bengals…well, they have A.J. McCarron. – JDLions vs. Saints 2015 final score: 3 things we learned from Detroit’s 35-27 road win
Rivera mentioned that several other teams have used the bat symbolism to motivate players, and he doesn’t see the use of a baseball bat to motivate his team as a problem, calling it a misunderstanding. Rivera has chosen to stop using the baseball bat because it simply isn’t worth it.
“To avoid the situation, set of circumstances, let’s just eliminate it,” Rivera said. “It’s the No Fun League for a reason,” Rivera said.
Their miracle comeback against the New York Giants last week was either a wakeup call or relief, and I’m not sure I’d like to stick around to discover which one.
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On Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals are a 3.5-point underdog visiting the Denver Broncos. Cincinnati has lost each of its last eight games on the road against the Broncos.
When Aaron Rodgers stood at his locker on Nov. 23 and said he felt the struggling Green Bay Packers, at 4-6 and on a four-game losing streak, could “run the table,” many heard it as a prediction.
But it was much more than that to Green Bay’s quarterback.
Authentic Youth Kevin Pierre-Louis Jersey Here are the Packers now, at 8-6 and in control of their own playoff possibilities — beat the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday and the Detroit Lions the following Sunday, and they’ll win the NFC North — and it’s clear Rodgers’ comment was more than just some pie-in-the-sky remark.
“It was a feeling; I just felt that our team had it inside of us,” Rodgers said this week. “Obviously it’s a leap of faith, but also a feeling based on seeing these guys every single day, understanding how close I felt like we were to being a better offense.
Jeff Carter Elite Jersey LT Joe Staley has been out the past two weeks with a hamstring injury, leaving the Niners to play musical chairs on the offensive line. Staley’s status is again uncertain this week and though the Rams are without Robert Quinn, it would still help settle things down if he could get back in the mix.
Punter Jon Ryan is undergoing concussion protocol and was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Ryan went down when the Seahawks called a fake punt in the fourth quarter of last week’s game, despite holding a 24-3 lead. Pete Carroll said different players such as Russell Wilson and Jermaine Kearse have volunteered to punt if Ryan is unavailable.
“I used to punt back in high school. Just in case,” Wilson said. “And if they try to blitz, I can just throw it so it works out just fine.”
Greg Olsen has an elbow injury that shouldn’t keep him from playing. He needs eight yards to become the first tight end to have three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Outside of him, the Panthers are as healthy as they have been in months.
Russell Wilson has a Super Bowl win to his credit and has the Seattle Seahawks in perennial contention. Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in 2012, can be there, provided injury and ineffectiveness around him in Indianapolis don¡¯t take their toll. Matt Ryan has yet to have playoff success in Atlanta. Neither has Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. Matthew Stafford has carried the Detroit Lions into playoff contention this season, and the Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr is now in the MVP conversation, at the very least.
On Sunday night at AT&T Stadium, when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two more quarterbacks with the chance to be heirs to the current 30-somethings will play against each other — Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston.
Establishing the run will help set up the big play-action passes for Ryan. No team wants to go into a game being one-dimensional, and the Falcons have way too much offensive talent to rely on just one aspect of their game.
Freeman always talks about how he gets better with more touches. Well, the Falcons won’t neglect him anyway, especially when he runs the ball like he did against the 49ers.
And his performance came just a week after he had a season-low 6 yards on six carries against the Los Angeles Rams. Freeman’s 100-yard effort against the 49ers was his second of the season, the other being a 152-yard outing against the Saints in Week 3.
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Miles Plumlee Limited Jersey By the way, Freeman has three games with three rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons. According to ESPN Stats and Info, no one else has more than one such game over that span.
It’s hard to keep a dynamic back down long, especially one with Freeman’s drive and determination.
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“I started to fall behind in all my stuff,” he recalls. “So instead of putting me in a study hall … I would have to walk the yard. You would go out there while everybody else is polishing their boots and learning their stuff, and I’m out there marching for an hour as punishment because I’m not caught up.”
But the more profound speech, to Vinatieri, came from an officer around the same time. The man sat down the plebes in a courtyard area and reminded them that they were all at West Point for a reason, that the academy only accepts winners.
Many shootings come and go, like the one on this Monday morning, which occurred in the hours between Smith’s killer, Cardell Hayes, being sentenced to decades in Angola for manslaughter and the funeral for slain local football legend McKnight. Let’s start with a shooting that didn’t bring in satellite trucks.
Beastquake was born. Marshawn Lynch broke eight tackles and stiff-armed Tracy Porter to the ground before diving into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown run. The crowd was so loud at CenturyLink Field, it registered seismic activity on one of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Networkâ€™s monitoring stations. Itâ€™s the longest touchdown from scrimmage in Seahawks playoff history.
The Seahawks were leading 23-17 with the 49ers driving. With 30 seconds left, Colin Kaepernick tried to find Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone, but Richard Sherman deflected the pass and Malcolm Smith caught the interception, clinching the win and setting off Sherman’s postgame news conference with Erin Andrews and Ed Werder.
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The Seahawks trailed 19-14 when they attempted an onside kick that was in and out of the hands of the Packersâ€™ Brandon Bostick. The Seahawks took the lead and converted a two-point conversion, but the Packers tied the scored and sent the game to overtime. Thatâ€™s where Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown on the first possession, giving the Seahawks the 28-22 win.
That decibel level is nearly the equivalent of that on an aircraft carrier deck (140 decibels) and is louder than thunder (120 decibels), live rock music (114 decibels) and motorcycles (100 decibels).
The Pittsburgh Steelers have ruled out running back DeAngelo Williams playing on Saturday in the team’s Wild Card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Williams, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns, has been a big factor in Pittsburgh’s offensive success this season. Backups Elite Youth New York Jets Jersey Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will get carries in Williams’ absence.
The injury to Williams’ ankle initially appeared to be serious. He required assistance from athletic performance staff to get to the sideline, and he left the field on a cart. Williams did return to the sideline and was able to jog and put full weight on the ankle, but he did not return to the game. The Steelers won 28-12 and secured their postseason spot.
Once McCarron gets a feel for the game and finds himself feeling Leodis McKelvin Kids Jersey comfortable, Hue Jackson may be inclined to dial up a deep shot or two. That’s where Eifert can be deadly is up the seams.
The Bengals use Eifert as a de facto slot receiver at times, but they also line him up in line as a traditional tight end, setting up in a three-point stance. With his versatility, they can attack a number of coverages, and one deadly strategy they’ve used a lot this year is by sending him up the seam. Take this play against the Rams.
Eifert is lined up on the right of the formation in a two-point stance. The Rams crowd the box, as it’s a run-heavy personnel grouping (three tight ends). After motioning Tyler Croft out to the right wing, the ball is snapped. Eifert releases out of his stance, widening first before running up the numbers. As he’s being passed from the zone-dropping linebackers into the middle of the field — where he’s the safety’s problem — Andy Dalton hits him in stride.
The real key to this play was for Dalton to hold that deep safety toward the middle of the field. Watch how he uses his helmet and eyes to keep that safety — Rodney McCleod — between the hashes. The pump fake works like a charm, too.
The largest reliever contract in baseball history is one the New York Yankees will regret. It is too long, for too much money, for the wrong guy and, in the long run, a mistake.
In 2017 and 2018, it might work well enough, as the Yankees genuflect to the “Golden State Warriors of baseball” and pursue a wild card. But that comes at too much of a long-term cost.
Signing Chapman for five years and $86 million is an “all-in” move. The Yankees, however, are an in-between team.
He has already been suspended by baseball for violating the domestic violence agreement. He has had his driver’s license suspended for repeatedly refusing to obey the speed limit. And, although he is a big, strong guy, relievers constantly get hurt, and there is no reason to believe Chapman is immune.
Cashman wanted to keep the team’s first-round pick, which he did by inking Chapman and not Kenley Jansen, whom the Yankees never seemed to have serious interest in, despite talking the possibility up. Cashman reasoned that signing Chapman made the team stronger and cost his club only money.
When you look back at how Cashman traded for Chapman out of the discount bin, which ultimately led to the team’s picking up Chapman (save for his three months with the Cubs) and Gleyber Torres and reacquiring Adam Warren plus other prospects, it looks pretty shrewd — putting aside the ethical dilemma Chapman posed.
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The Yankees are trying to cut payroll to slide under or straddle just above the luxury tax bar in 2018. Chapman’s contract, we must presume, will still allow them to reach this goal. However, when you want to work within a budget, paying $17.2 million for closer will eventually harm you.
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The status of top receiver Julio Jones remains in doubt as he battles a turf toe injury. Jones didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Dan Quinn maintained a positive outlook, saying Jones could return to practice Thursday. Turf toe, however, is an injury that requires some rest, so it seems logical to hold Jones out of Sunday’s game against the Rams. Then again, Quinn views Jones as a fast healer, so we’ll see how this all unfolds.
Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was one of three Carolina players limited in practice because of a concussion. The other two were S Kurt Coleman and CB Daryl Worley. But the primary interest was on Kuechly, who hadn’t practiced since suffering the concussion in a Nov. 17 game against New Orleans. Coach Ron Rivera said Kuechly brought “energy” to the field and said how Kuechly responds Thursday will be the next step in determining whether he plays Sunday against San Diego.
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Others receiving votes: At home off the bye, the Titans have had two weeks to prepare for an offense that will likely have a banged-up Trevor Siemian under center. Since Week 5, only the Browns have seen more D/ST points scored against them than the Broncos. … It may sound crazy, but over the past four weeks, no defense has scored more than Tampa Bay’s 60 points.
Dallas Cowboys: Opposing defenses have scored more than five points against the Giants just once in the past seven games.
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Philadelphia Eagles: In the past six weeks, they’ve totaled just six points. Against one of the hottest offenses in the league, in a must-win spot? No, thank you.
Thank you to Thirsty Kyle Soppe of ESPN Fantasy for his help with the column.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff losing streak nearly came to an end on Saturday, but a last-minute meltdown led to an 18-16 win for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals have yet to win a playoff game in Marvin Lewis’ tenure.
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Pittsburgh will move on to face the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos in the Divisional round at Mile High Stadium.
Authentic Mens Nick Bjugstad Jersey This game will be remembered more for the penalties and dangerous hits than the actual football. Given how heated this AFC North rivalry has become, the officials warned both teams before the game about chippy play, but not even they could predict how out-of-control this got.
The Steelers came into the game missing their top two running backs — Le’Veon Bell has been on IR since early in the season and then they lost DeAngelo Williams to a foot injury this past week — so two relative unknowns had to step up: Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Surprisingly, both looked pretty effective against a strong Cincinnati defense. They combined for 120 yards on 28 carries while Toussaint added 4 catches for 60 yards though the air. With rainy and crappy conditions in Cincinnati all day, the Steelers had to rely on their ground game a little more than typical, and getting quality carries from Todman and Toussaint was an unexpected boon.
Everyone knows that Antonio Brown is going to show up to play and he didn’t disappoint with a 7-catch, 119 yard performance. That said, Martavis Bryant was a key figure in this one as well, grabbing 5 catches for 29 yards, including one of the most absurdly acrobatic touchdowns I’ve ever seen.
Kansas City added a field goal late in the fourth but it was hardly necessary.