the Baltimore Ravens simply outplayed Pittsburgh

In Week 9, the Baltimore Ravens simply outplayed Pittsburgh, as if “you blew it yourselves,” DeCastro said. But the wounds were fresher after Dallas because the game was in their hands. Elliott ripped it out of those hands. A defensive breakdown gave the rookie running back a clear path to a 32-yard touchdown in the final seconds for a 35-30 Dallas victory.

A handful of defensive players looked shell-shocked in the postgame locker room scene.
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“You lose four games in a row, on the tail end of that it’s sort of like, ‘What do we have to do?'” DeCastro said. “We knew we could do it. We knew we were close. It was one of those turning points. It shows what kind of team you have, the character of your guys [to respond].”

Jack Ham Authentic Jersey Road wins over the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts were needed, if largely expected, but convincing wins over the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills highlighted a team peaking at the right time.

“I just spent an hour with him, and we’ve been through it,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk show. “I love Richard. I just flat-out love the dude, and I’ve been with him through so much and watched him grow and do so many unbelievable things. We made it through it. He knows that wasn’t right. He’s just so fiery, and we’ve seen him before. He’ll speak for himself on that. But I feel very good about where he is right now. We’re going to be all right.

“It was too bad. It was a distraction to the game. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to go.”

Vinatieri was already lost in a downward spiral when he found himself in a large auditorium listening to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who asked each cadet to look to his or her right, and then to his or her left, before assuring his audience that two out of every three members wouldn’t make it to graduation.

An 11-5 team could miss the playoffs for the 3rd time in NFL history

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We’ve made it through 15 weeks of regular season games and the playoff picture is molding into shape. Over in the NFC we have a pretty good idea who five of the six teams advancing will be, and given the lowly nature of the NFC East it’s hard to get excited about the sixth.

Mens Luis Gonzalez Jersey In the AFC, though, the situation is different. Not only are all the top seeds still jockeying for byes and home field advantage, but the Wild Card race is as competitive as it’s ever been. Sure, there have been years when more teams have been battling for the conference’s final two playoff spots. But it’s been a while since an 11-5 team was left out of postseason play (the 2008 Patriots) and it’s something that’s only happened twice.

And yet, here we are, with the 10-4 Broncos, and 9-5 Chiefs, Steelers and Jets, all fighting for three possible spots. When the playoffs start, one of them will be left out in the cold.

The Panthers are only the third team to start a season 14-0 since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule. The first was the 2007 New England Patriots who blazed forward in pursuit of perfection and reached 16-0, but lost in the Super Bowl. The second was the 2009 Indianapolis Colts who rested starters and coasted down to the stretch to a 14-2 record before also losing in the Super Bowl.

Two different strategies yielded the same end result.

But for the Panthers, a 14-0 start to the season has happened while Rivera has encouraged the team to have fun every step of the way. When the team was criticized for dancing too much in victories, Rivera fanned the flames by giving dabbing his seal of approval and even dabbing himself. So letting go of the reins and letting the Panthers continue to have fun with their foot on the gas pedal is only to be expected.

The Pirates have had talks with Ivan Nova, as well

The Pirates have worked hard to try to make a trade for Jose Quintana work, with the attraction obvious: He¡¯s an excellent pitcher with a contract that would be perfect for small-budget Pittsburgh. Including team options, Quintana is under team control for the next four years, for $36.6 million.

Dave Cameron addresses the question of whether the Astros need to trade for Quintana.

The conversations between the White Sox and Yankees about Quintana took place weeks ago, at the same time the White Sox were beginning to have serious discussions about Chris Sale.

The Pirates have had talks with Ivan Nova, as well.
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Also of note, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Giants as having one of the worst farm systems in the majors earlier this year, and that was before they dealt prospects to land Matt Moore and Will Smith at the trade deadline.

Authentic Kids Brice McCain Jersey Dozier is coming off a breakout season in which he hit a career-high .268, slugged 42 homers — an AL record for a second baseman — and drove in 99 runs. To further enhance his value, the 29-year-old is under contract for the next two seasons at $15 million total.

Dozier has experience in the majors at second base and shortstop, two positions the Giants are currently set at with Panik and fellow Gold Glove winner Brandon Crawford. Perhaps Dozier would be a fit for San Francisco if he was willing to play third base, an idea broached by Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com earlier this week.

Oakland holds off Chargers in Raiders’ takeover of Qualcomm Stadium

As they have all season, the undermanned and injury-plagued San Diego Chargers scratched and clawed in the face of adversity, but failed to execute when the game mattered most: the fourth quarter.

Hosting the Oakland Raiders in what could be the AFC West rivals¡¯ final matchup at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers had a ¡°home¡± in name only.

Raiders fans flooded the facility, as many Chargers fans frustrated with the state of the team and its potential move to Los Angeles stayed away and sold their tickets.

The Chargers led at the end of the third quarter, but once again failed to hold on to the advantage, falling to the Raiders 19-16.
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Janoris Jenkins, CB, New York Giants: Jenkins took a knee to the back from his own teammate after laying a hard hit on Lions TE Eric Ebron. The team ruled him out for the remainder of the game, and FOX’s Erin Andrews reported that he’s getting further testing on his ribs and spine. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took Jenkins’ spot at outside CB and proceeded to almost immediately get torched by Golden Tate for a 68-yard gain.
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Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: Miller limped off the field late in the fourth quarter with an apparent left ankle injury. He looked to be in a lot of pain as trainers evaluated him on the sideline. Miller did not return to the field.

Derek Wolfe, DE, Denver Broncos: Wolfe left Sunday’s game against the Patriots in the first half with a neck injury. Trainers examined him on the sideline, and he was eventually ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Darius Slay, CB, Detroit Lions: Slay stayed down on the ground for a while after tackling Odell Beckham Jr. in the second quarter. He hobbled off the field with a hamstring injury and did not return. He was on the injury report this week with a hamstring issue.

Weather could turn Lions-Giants matchup into defensive battle

Eddie Goldman Authentic Jersey Will Matthew Stafford’s right throwing hand negatively affect him against the Giants? Leon Halip/Getty Images
Throughout almost three seasons as the Detroit Lions’ head coach, Jim Caldwell has been able to keep his team remarkably focused. Yes, it’s clich¨¦ to mention just the next game over and over again, but somehow, Caldwell has defied human nature and gotten his team to buy in.

Steve McNair Limited Jersey “I hope you don’t think that I’m able to brainwash these guys where they don’t think for themselves and look at different scenarios and all that kind of stuff, because they do,” Caldwell said. ¡°But the fact of the matter is we have to keep them focused on what we can control. What I worry about is when those processes become a distraction, which they can become.”

Detroit has consistently gotten better as the season has gone on in each of Caldwell’s three seasons with the Lions but now they have their toughest three-game stretch of this season, starting Sunday against the New York Giants followed by games at Dallas and a home finale against the surging Green Bay Packers.

That focus, along with team unity, is part of the reason Detroit has a two-game lead in the NFC North with three games left despite a roster that has dealt with injuries to big names throughout the year and only one definitive star in quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Cold-weather gloves have more padding and are thicker than the standard gloves we see wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs wear. But they still aren’t warm enough, in my opinion. And no one wants to play the game with numb fingers. The solution? Put some thin, cloth gloves (like little kids wear) under game-issued gloves.

Sit your butt down on those heated benches and warm up that helmet. That’s key to playing in the cold.

The Bengals can run that seam route from a number of personnel groupings and formations

McCleod is now beat, and Eifert’s slow arching route up the numbers lands him in the vulnerable part of the zone. Easy money.

The Bengals can run that seam route from a number of personnel groupings and formations, though, and this “four verts” play against the Ravens is a great example. This is a throw that AJ McCarron can make — want to know how I know? This is AJ McCarron making this throw.

After motioning right to left, Eifert settles in behind Mohamed Sanu in the tight slot. He then runs another long, arching route as he widens out toward the numbers, and he finds himself in a soft spot in the zone.

This is not just a thought exercise. There are deadlines approaching, and hard choices for a small-market franchise that will have a tough time paying all five of its best players: Gobert, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Rodney Hood. The Jazz face an urgent need for information about how those players fit.

Garret Sparks Elite Jersey “We still need to go through a process that we had hoped would be done by now,” Snyder now. “Derrick and Rudy would be the most obvious example.”
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Ah, Derrick and Rudy. The two bouncy behemoths have played 1,886 minutes together over the two-plus years since the Jazz excised Enes Kanter and stumbled upon a monster-movie defense that redefined the direction of the franchise. The results have been mostly good, even on offense, where the two can clutter the same real estate — and block driving lanes for their teammates.

With Favors eligible for a big-money extension now, six weeks after Gobert got his, the Jazz wish they had double that minutes sample to investigate. They really wish some of those minutes had come in the playoffs, so they would know whether those double-big lineups could squeeze out points against elite defenses primed for them.

Projected dollars, best fits for top free agents

This free-agent class, known as the 2017 class, is one of the weakest in recent memory, but it does have a couple of impact middle-of-the-lineup bats (Edwin Encarnacion, Yoenis Cespedes), a couple of shutdown closers (Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman), strong defensive catchers (Matt Wieters, Wilson Ramos, Jason Castro) and outfielders with speed/power tools (Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond). As such, we should have plenty of bidding and negotiating to track this offseason.

This year’s free-agent class is light on top-tier talent and depth, but there’s plenty of power to go around, including a few 40-homer guys.

But because of the weak class, one common theme I think we’ll see compared with previous years is that teams will offer fewer years but slightly more AAV (average annual value). Contracts that normally would be 6-8 years will now be 4-5 years, but clubs will pay more per year. Also, as MLB revenue continues to grow, player salaries should rise as well.

To that end, Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux mentioned that he thinks Strasburg might opt for a tweaked between-starts throwing program in 2017.

“We’re going to sit down with him and discuss it,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, noting that Strasburg had been in town to meet with the team’s medical staff and strength and conditioning staff.
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“Through spring training,” Rizzo added, “we’ll devise a workout program to handle the forearm soreness.”

Youth Sidney Crosby Jersey Strasburg will start his offseason throwing, as usual, in late December or early January. Until then, strengthening his forearm is key.

“I did stuff like that in the past, but it wasn’t as much as I’m doing right now,” Strasburg said. “When you get older and you’ve had Tommy John, you’ve got to kind of tweak it a little bit, because the muscles in your arm are just going to maybe change a little bit. I’ve just got to make more of an emphasis on slowing everything down and just making the most of the exercises.”

The Dallas Cowboys failed to cover the spread for the second straight game

The Dallas Cowboys failed to cover the spread for the second straight game, but are still an impressive 9-2-1 ATS and atop the NFL ATS Standings.

The Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 17-15 in Week 13’s Thursday-night opener but were favored by 3 points. That came a week after beating the Washington Redskins 31-26 on Thanksgiving after closing as 6-point home favorites.
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The New England Patriots are half a game back at 9-3 ATS after covering as 13.5-point home favorites in their 26-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints are all 8-4 ATS. The Detroit Lions are the only other team above 60 percent at 7-4-1 ATS, as they’ve covered four straight games (tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest current cover streak).

D. J. Swearinger Limited Jersey True story: When Thomas got drafted and was leaving for the NFL, he decided he needed to settle all of his debts. The cable bill was in his name, so as he was packing, he told his roommate Ben Strickland that he owed $17.83 for the bill. Strickland was half asleep and thought his soon-to-be-millionaire friend was kidding, but the Badgers’ cornerback wrote the check just so he could go back to bed. “A couple of days later,” Strickland says, “I notice the check was cashed.”

He is not a man with wild thoughts or unrealistic dreams. Thomas doesn’t jet off to exotic places in the offseason. One of his favorite things to do is to work in his backyard garden. His dreams involve good health, a happy family and winning in the place he loves.

Strickland, now an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic, wonders whether Thomas is so determined not to miss a snap because it’s one of the only ways he can still compete. He is fighting his body, the wave of younger players and time. In a world in which so much is out of his hands, the playing streak is something Thomas can control, something he can dominate.

NFL playoffs 2016 schedule: Seahawks vs. Vikings, Packers vs. Washington wrap up Wild Card round

Kids Greg Zuerlein Jersey After the AFC took the stage on Saturday, it’s the NFC’s turn for some postseason football with the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Minnesota Vikings, and the Green Bay Packers traveling to face Washington.

Demar Dotson Authentic Jersey The tone was set early between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans when Chiefs return man Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards to the house. The Chiefs would go on to win 30-0 — a score that may not indicate how lopsided the game really was. The night game was even wilder, replete with crazy catches, on-field scuffles, boneheaded penalties and an unbelievable ending that amounted to a 18-16 Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Vikings are the division winners, the higher seed and the hosts of a Sunday wild card matchup, but most are picking the Seahawks to blaze right through Minnesota en route to the NFC Divisional round. While the Vikings have the better record at 11-5, the Seahawks finished 10-6 with wins in six of the last seven weeks of the season, including a 36-6 destruction of the Arizona Cardinals.

Seattle won’t have Marshawn Lynch to lean on though, and the Vikings are sure to give Adrian Peterson more touches than the eight he received in a 38-7 loss to the Seahawks in the first week of December. The Seahawks are No. 1 in rushing defense and No. 1 in scoring defense, but if any running back can find room and get some offense going against Seattle, it’s Peterson, who led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns.

Washington didn’t wildly exceed expectations, but they did take advantage of a poor NFC East and took the crown that nobody else seemed to want. They finished atop the division at 9-7, making it through the regular season with four consecutive wins to pass the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

They are set to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, a slight favorite. Our panel is split on whether or not Washington can pull off the upset.

Packers send Cardinals to OT on preposterous 41-yard Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary

Authentic Youth Kevin Zeitler Jersey The Packers had already completed one miracle Hail Mary this season, but they added another and an even more impressive one against Arizona. Five seconds left, down by seven from the 41-yard line AND THAT HAPPENS.

The throw is even more incredible! Usually a quarterback is able to step into the throw on a Hail Mary. Not this time. Rodgers threw that while falling away from a defender.

That is the same strategy the Packers used against the Lions. The defenders just hang back too deep and let Jeff Janis come under it and make the catch. To make this even better, it was just the second touchdown of Janis’ career — and his first came earlier in the game.

It is reported that in the early hours of Jan. 10 in Foxborough, Mass., New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, had a bad reaction after smoking synthetic marijuana. He was told to go to the police and get help. The station was not too far from his house.

In an NFL run by me, referees would have the discretion to say NO THAT CATCH WAS TOO COOL TO WIPE OUT. But in the actual NFL, the penalties offset, so they replayed third down. No 51-yard catch, no penalties, no play at all.

To make matters worse, Cobb was injured on the play, and he’s out for the rest of the game.

Rodgers will probably keep trying to snap the ball while the opponent is in bad positions though — he’s pretty good at it.

That won’t be easy, though, considering the Seahawks had the No. 2 ranked defense in football this season. After an inconsistent start, Seattle’s D regained its championship form.
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The Seahawks have reached the Super Bowl in two straight seasons and seem poised to make a third run despite narrowly qualifying for the playoff as a wild card. But in order to do that, they’ll have to take down the upstart Panthers.