Month: December 2016

Chiefs’ doinked field goal win vs. Broncos put both teams on different paths

The reigning Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos will sit out the postseason after being eliminated from playoff contention last week. To pinpoint the moment when everything changed for the Broncos, look to the field goal Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairos Santos miraculously doinked between the uprights in overtime against Denver back in Week 12.

The doink, and the game it won for Kansas City, shaped the entire AFC West race this season.

It’s been a tight battle in the division, with the Oakland Raiders at the top with a 12-3 record and the Chiefs just behind them at 11-4. The Broncos are 8-7 now, and their only win since that ill-fated Sunday Night Football game was a 20-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a whopping three wins to their name this season.

Which teams will join the Cowboys in the postseason? Check out the latest standings.

Hopkins is one of the few legitimate difference-makers in a depleted Texans offense, and if he can’t get open the entire passing game falls apart. The good news for him is that the Texans play the Indianapolis Colts next week, a team that Hopkins shredded for 11 catches and 169 yards in Week 5. He’ll need to replicate that kind of performance in a game that could decide the AFC South.

Three plays later, James White punched the ball into the end zone to seal the game for the Patriots. Hoyer later left the game with a possible concussion, leaving T.J. Yates with mop-up duty in the final five minutes.

You have 53 players on the roster and you’re only dressing 46 guys, two of those are quarterbacks and three are specialists (kicker, punter, long snapper). You’re down to 40 guys who can play. So not everyone can get snaps. It’s sometimes tough figuring out who gets the time off.

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The Packers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL

Detroit may make it sound that simple, but it¡¯s anything but. The Packers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winners of five straight games, three of them by double digits. They have a quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who hasn¡¯t thrown an interception since Nov. 13.

Meanwhile, the Lions need to find themselves a bit. Their defense, which hadn¡¯t allowed more than 20 points in a game for two months, gave up 42 to Dallas. Their offense, which has been good with the ball most of the season, has six turnovers in the past three weeks. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has more rushing touchdowns (two) than passing touchdowns in that span.
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With the Cardinals and Rams out of the playoffs, expect Fitzgerald to play and play well. Brown owns one outright receptions title and tied Julio Jones for a second one in 2015. His resume might stay that way after Sunday. Regardless, Brown’s four straight 100-catch seasons say plenty about his production.

Bell will fall short of 2,000 total yards: In a season that merited MVP consideration, Bell produced 1,884 total yards in 12 games, including 75 catches for 616 yards. He would have eclipsed 2,000 total yards without his three-game suspension. But Bell is too valuable to trot out there Sunday, especially considering his insane workload — averaging 28 touches per game for the season. He needs the rest more than anyone.
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But Taylor’s statistics declined in multiple areas this season compared to 2015, including completion percentage, rating, QBR and yards per attempt.

Detroit couldn¡¯t have that anymore. Not now. Not after a 42-21 loss Monday night to the Dallas Cowboys and less than a week away from the game that will define its season. There was no group discussion about it afterward. Multiple players said it wasn¡¯t brought up.

the Red Sox could potentially swoop into the market?

According to Dombrowski, parting with Buchholz “made the most sense” because he was the only starter among Pomeranz, Rodriguez and Wright who isn’t under club control beyond 2017. He also would have cost the Red Sox $13.5 million against the luxury tax, roughly as much as offseason additions Sale, reliever Tyler Thornburg and first baseman Mitch Moreland combined.

Festus Ezeli Kids Jersey “It’s a situation where it creates some flexibility for us as we go forward, staying below the CBT with areas we may want to address as the season progresses,” Dombrowski said. “Who even knows, maybe even as the wintertime progresses?”

Ah-ha! So, by moving Buchholz, the Red Sox could potentially swoop into the market? Say, for free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, whose options are dwindling and who would answer the Big Papi-sized question of how the Red Sox plan to replace the production left behind by retired designated hitter David Ortiz.
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It’s a fitting coincidence that the previous mark was set by a team whose roster was basically completed about 20 years earlier. On Dec. 12, 1996, the Florida Marlins signed free-agent outfielder Moises Alou to a five-year, $25 million contract, the final major piece of a team built largely through a wild, two-year spending spree.

When they celebrated their own championship 10 months later, Florida would face accusations of having “bought a World Series,” but they also set a model that many teams would follow over the ensuing years, sometimes to great success — as with the Cubs — and often to great failure. Either way, the era of the store-bought championship bid was at hand.

Encarnacion might be worth $20 million in 2017 and 2018, but would you rather pay him $20 million in 2019, when he’ll be 36, or have that money free for a younger, better star? Today’s front offices try to balance the present without mortgaging the future.

Patriots sign veteran Steven Jackson after string of RB injuries

Game Womens Tim Wright Jersey Former St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson finally gets another shot at playoffs. The veteran free agent has signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Jackson confirmed the news Monday when he tweeted “I’m back.” The Patriots officially announced the signing on Tuesday.

The Saints had a scare when Brees limped off the field after taking a sack. Brees spent time on the trainers’ table getting his foot taped up, but he returned on the Saints’ next drive without missing a snap. Meanwhile, Tate scored his second touchdown of the night to put the Lions up by 18 points.

Brees engineered a two-minute drill near the end of the second quarter and hit Brandin Cooks for a perfect pass and catch near the goal line. However, the Saints failed to score due to a bizarre series of plays. Tim Hightower punched it into the end zone on second down, but it got called back by an illegal formation. The Saints went for it on fourth down with three seconds left in the half, but that play got blown dead when Jim Caldwell tried calling a timeout even though he had none left. Finally, Brees hit a receiver for a supposed touchdown, but it got nullified by an ineligible lineman downfield. After all that, the Lions went into halftime with a 21-3 lead.

Kids Chuck Foreman Jersey The Lions scored on their first drive of the third quarter, making things look way too easy against the Saints’ defense. Ameer Abdullah ran in 15 yards untouched to make it 28-3 Lions. The rout was on. New Orleans finally found the end zone late in the third quarter with a 27-yard touchdown by Cooks. He also became just the fourth quarterback in history to reach 60,000 career passing yards.

The NBA launched three academies in China

The NBA will launch Africa’s first elite NBA basketball training center next year, a major step forward in the continent’s player development.

The NBA, with the Sports for Education and Economic Development Project organization, announced its plan Wednesday for the NBA Academy Africa, which will be located in Thies, Senegal. The academy is the NBA’s sixth elite training center around the world but first in Africa and is scheduled to open in 2017.

The NBA, with local African federations, will identify an inaugural pool of 12 elite prospects who will receive scholarships and be trained at the academy.

Details emerging about the “designated veteran player exception” — a new addition to the latest collective bargaining agreement that would make another deal with New Orleans potentially far more lucrative — would appear to give the Pelicans more incentive to think ahead.

Authentic Kids Keith Magnuson Jersey That’s 18.5 percent less than their current odds of landing the top pick in the 2017 draft. Even Davis hasn’t been at his usual all-world peak of late, having shot just 43 percent from the floor this month despite sitting out one game to rest and seeing his minutes sag to under 40 in each of the past five games.
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But the Pelicans’ struggles haven’t sent Davis into any sort of public upheaval.

“I’m just real patient,” he said recently. “Nothing really gets to me … except the other night.”

Outside of Davis’ Godzilla-like destruction of defenses throughout the first month of the schedule, the opening leg of the Pelicans’ season has been a waiting game.

Rex Ryan, on hot seat, avoids embarrassment against Browns

Had the Buffalo Bills embarrassed themselves on their home turf Sunday by losing to the winless Cleveland Browns, you can bet that it would not have been long — perhaps as early as Monday — until Rex Ryan started the engine of his Bills-themed pickup truck and hit the road out of Buffalo.

Fantasy owners in ESPN leagues, however, had begun to catch on to Montgomery’s expanding role in the Packers’ backfield, starting him in 33.6 percent of leagues in Week 15. That was his third-highest career start percentage, trailing only his 70.0 percent in 2016 Week 9 and 60.5 percent in 2016 Week 10.

A career-high 16 carries fueled Montgomery’s performance, and that they represented 16 of the team’s 23 total rushing attempts was an encouraging sign for his fantasy value the final two weeks of the season as well.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: A model of consistency for years, McCoy had another outstanding-yet-not-quite-record-setting performance in Week 15, his 28 fantasy points representing his 10th game in his eight-year, 115-game NFL career worth at least 25.
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Game Kids Tyrunn Walker Jersey Though he is the leading fantasy scorer among running backs since his 2009 rookie year (1,489 points), he has never managed a single-game score greater than 33 (2013 Week 14). So let’s illustrate McCoy’s consistency: In 95 of his 115 career games, or 83 percent, he managed a fantasy point total that ranked among the top 25 at his position (that meets the “Start” criterion in our weekly Consistency Ratings). In 78 games, or 68 percent, he has managed at least 10 fantasy points; and in 42 games, or 37 percent, he scored at least 15 fantasy points.

Saints head coach Sean Payton escorted the widow of Will Smith

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Saints head coach Sean Payton escorted the widow of Will Smith, Racquel, into the courthouse one day before the verdict.
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Hayes sat in the courtroom with his lawyers, staring up at the ceiling, decorated with white flowers and leaves in the molding. His mom sat facing away from the long hall, her head slumped to the side, while Fuller gathered with more family members and friends in a huddle.

The tension mounted, nearly unbearable.

“Once your heart rate rises about 145 bpm,” Grossman writes, “there is nothing there you want.”

Navy SEALs and other special operators use a specially designed and dangerous training to make reactions hard-wired. Their training serves intentionally as a stress inoculator, including actually being tortured while being taught how to withstand capture.

Most police officers, however, are trained to shoot but not to do so under stress. Spending a lot of time on a range, shooting paper targets, does little good in a gunfight, which is why, according to a study, cops whose shooting accuracy is 90 percent on the range shoot 20-25 percent in the field. Like soldiers, most cops go on autopilot during a shootout, except in their autopilot the brain is shutting down the flow of blood to parts of itself not essential to survival. In this state, even trained cops get tunnel vision, which gets narrower the higher the heart rate. Officers in the book reported that some memories are amplified and others are completely erased. Distortions in scale and time occur. One officer reported seeing beer cans floating slowly through the air during a shootout and then saw “Federal” stamped on the bottom and realized they were the empty shell casings from his partner, who also was shooting. Officers reported killing suspects and thinking a fellow officer pulled the trigger. Or they reported firing a weapon nine times, along with four blasts from a partner’s shotgun, while hearing no shots at all.

Sorry, Mets fans, Nationals are considerably better

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The New York Mets were a do-nothing team at the winter meetings, which wasn¡¯t that surprising given the current state of the team and the state of the payroll. There is still a move (or two) to be made, but that will likely be dumping an outfielder to replenish the farm system and perhaps adding a middle reliever of marginal value.

By FanGraphs¡¯ projections, the Nationals have a six-game edge on the Mets heading into 2017. The Nationals are one of five teams projected to win 90 games, along with the Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers and Astros. The Mets are slotted for 84, one of eight teams pegged for between 82 and 84.

Given Cashman’s past stance on paying closers big money, this seems like a strange move for him to make. Owner Hal Steinbrenner was “all-in” on wanting Chapman, so Cashman might have had a little nudge.

The money and the years matter if the Yankees are truly committed to having real budgets going forward. The only other reliever to receive a five-year deal in MLB history was B.J. Ryan in 2005 for $47.5 million. Ryan was released in the middle of his fourth season.

Here is another thing that might worry you if you are a Yankees fan: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein is arguably the best baseball executive in the game, manning a team poised to be a dynasty. Epstein never even tried to re-sign Chapman. What does that tell you?

Jerry Crasnick’s take: A lot of people were surprised to see the Mariners considering Trumbo, given that Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto traded him twice (from the Angels to the Diamondbacks in 2013 and from the Mariners to the Orioles in 2015).

Game Kids Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey As it turns out, the dalliance was short-lived. The Mariners did, indeed, check in on Trumbo, but at the moment, they’re planning to stand pat and go with a Danny Valencia-Dan Vogelbach platoon at first base. Fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Chris Carter aren’t on Seattle’s radar, either. Barring a shift in direction, the Mariners will devote the bulk of their energy to improving the starting rotation.

Non-NHL Olympic rosters for USA, Canada

Our NFL Insiders predict Colin Kaepernick’s employer in 2017. Plus: The Ravens’ chances of upsetting the Patriots, the NFC’s No. 6 seed, the effect of Earl Thomas’ injury and more.

Who will Colin Kaepernick be playing for next season?

Matt Bowen, NFL writer: 49ers. Even after Kaepernick’s dismal performance this past Sunday in the loss to the Bears, Chip Kelly’s system is still the best fit for the quarterback. Given the designed run schemes and the route tree in San Francisco, Kaepernick has shown the ability to produce under Kelly’s coaching. And although he should draw some interest on the market, re-signing with the 49ers is the best option here.

To read NFL insiders’ predictions on Raiders-Chiefs, Seahawks-Packers, Broncos-Titans, Cowboys-Giants and Ravens-Patriots, become an ESPN Insider today.

San Diego was special for Rivera. His time there propelled him to the head coaching job at Carolina.

He still respects players like Rivers and what they mean to the game.

“His competitive fire. His spirit. His will to want to win. The verbiage he used . . . gosh, golly, doggone,’’ Rivera said. “Pretty impressive.’’
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This also is a homecoming for Rivers, who played at NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina, from 2000 to 2003 before becoming a five-time Pro Bowl selection for the Chargers.

“I was married and had our first daughter there, so Raleigh and the experience playing there, will always be a special place,” Rivers said.
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“Time flies, I can’t believe it’s been since 2004 that I have played at Carolina. It just flies by. This is Year 13. It goes in a hurry as everybody always tells you.”

But the memories, as Rivera made clear, always are there.

Landry Jones was picked off by Vontaze Burfict

After a failed two-point conversion, the Bengals held a 16-15 lead with 1:50 to go. Filling in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones was picked off by Vontaze Burfict. This could’ve iced the game, but Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball back to the Steelers on the next play.

Los Angeles Dodgers Womens Jersey Kelce, meanwhile, looked like a mini Rob Gronkowski out there. The third-year tight end finished with 8 catches for 128 yards — a career high — after not catching more than 6 passes in any regular season game all year. One of his catches was this beastly grab and run for 48 yards.
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Washington and Houston finished with 9-7 records, though for most of the season, it seemed likely that the winner of either division would end up at or under .500. And it wouldn’t have been the first time.

Unfortunately, both teams sustained significant injuries in the third, as the Texans lost J.J. Watt and the Chiefs lost Jeremy Maclin. Maclin seems to have sustained a potentially serious injury, while Watt just looked like all of the smaller injuries from earlier in the season started to build up and take a toll on him.

The Giants still have rights to Coughlin because he technically was not fired and instead stepped down from the position. Therefore, teams that hope to interview Coughlin must first request permission from the Giants, as the Eagles did.

This is all despite massive issues at the quarterback position. Brian Hoyer started the first game of the season, was benched for Ryan Mallett, and then eventually replaced Mallett after a couple games. Mallett was released and Hoyer led the Texans to some good wins before he sustained an injury and had to be replaced by T.J. Yates. Then he got hurt too, and Brandon Weeden had to be signed.