Wilson stumbled into his own end zone after getting stepped on by backup guard Rees Odhiambo

Devin Hester, who spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Falcons, set up Seattle’s field goal with a 50-yard kickoff return. He nearly put the Seahawks in position to score again after Matt Bosher’s punt, but his 80-yard return was nullified by a holding call. Instead of having the ball at the Falcons 7-yard line, the Seahawks were backed up at their own 7. Two plays later, Wilson stumbled into his own end zone after getting stepped on by backup guard Rees Odhiambo. Atlanta guard Ben Garland, who was in as an extra defensive lineman, fell on Wilson for a game-shifting safety.

Atlanta closed the half with a field goal and touchdown pass to a wide-open Tevin Coleman to take a 19-10 halftime lead.

Coleman had 57 rushing yards to go with three catches for 22 yards, but Atlanta’s other running back Devonta Freeman had a huge game with 45 rushing yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 80 yards, including a back-breaking 53-yard reception late in the third quarter.

The Falcons poured it on in the second half, especially after the Seahawks lost cornerback DeShawn Shead to a non-contact knee injury early in the third quarter.

We executed really well across the board, Ryan told Fox Sports following the game. We weren’t perfect by any means, but consistency throughout the day, I’m really proud of the way we played.

After the Super Bowl, SMW’s Weekend Ratings Predictions will move from Sporting News to Sports Media Watch. Starting the weekend of Feb. 3-4, they can be found each week at this link.

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Alex Smith knows the Chiefs are replacing him

nike_chargers_223When the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to No. 10 to select Pat Mahomes II in the 2017 draft, it felt familiar to Alex Smith. It was clear the Chiefs were preparing to move on from Smith, much like the 49ers did with Colin Kaepernick back in 2012.

“There is a little similarity,” Smith said while speaking at a community event on Wednesday. “I’m an older quarterback, and they drafted a kid that’s coming in young and they’re looking to develop.”

Roger Goodell insists that Thursday night games are better than other games, “almost by every barometer.

“On safety, and we’ve been tracking this every year, there has not been any, any indication or facts or anything else that would indicate the level of injuries are up on Thursday night,” Goodell said in January on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

But players don’t agree. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said the turnaround for Thursday night games is “terrible.”

“We played, got home at like 1 o’clock in the morning something like that on Monday, and then you got to play again,” Sherman said. “I mean, congratulations NFL, you did it again. But they’ve been doing it all season so I guess we’re the last ones to get the middle finger.”

If the modified overtime rule does pass, as it is expected to, there will be more ties. But it’s unlikely to have any measurable positive impact on player health and safety.

Barnett is also fast enough laterally to bring down ball carriers in space

His power and speed around the edge are what made him a Volunteer record setter and one of the fastest-rising prospects leading up to the 2017 draft. Barnett explodes off the line with the kind of first step that gives offensive tackles the jitters. The majority of his big plays start with him leaning into and driving past his blocker, collapsing the pocket from a quarterback’s blind side, and creating chaos behind the line of scrimmage.

Barnett is also fast enough laterally to bring down ball carriers in space, frequently using his ability to identify screen plays and disrupt blockers. That athleticism, at 6’3 and 259 pounds, brings versatility as he can drop into coverage should the occasion arise. While he was a 4-3 defensive end throughout college, with some polish he could also transition as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

“Not only was Barnett a consistent threat with at least 10 sacks in all three of his years in orange, he did excellent work against Tennessee’s stiffest competition. As a freshman he benefited greatly from Curt Maggitt’s presence, but he was the primary focus of opposing offensive lines the last two years and it didn’t slow him down at all.” — Read More at Rocky Top Talk

His pass-rushing abilities made him a first-round prospect, but there are still several questions he’ll have to answer as a pro. His game is predicated on his athleticism, but an average showing at the NFL Combine suggests he could struggle against a better class of offensive linemen in the pros. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah may have said it best when it comes to Barnett’s future.nike_ravens_304-223x223

Bengals’ Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones yells at reporter asking about arrest

Adam “Pacman” Jones was arrested earlier this year, but he did not want to talk about it Monday during the Bengals’ voluntary offseason workouts.

He briefly addressed the incident by expressing his “gratitude” to team owner Mike Brown and Bengals coaches for staying with him throughout the process. But he was asked about it again a few minutes later, and according to My Dayton Daily News, he became “irate.”

“Didn’t I just tell you don’t ask me that?” Jones said. “You out the (interview). Turn around. Go back that way. See you. Next question. That’s his last interview for the year.”

Asked whether he believes this will be the case, Freeman said, “That’s what I anticipate.”

“We will address this,” Dimitroff said at the annual league meeting in Phoenix. “When you look at our history, we address these situations going into training camp. I’m throwing that out there as a general timeline. I don’t know when that exactly will be, but I’m confident that something can get wrapped up and he’s going to be part of us for years to come.

“He represents our style of running — urgency, competitive and passionate. It’s fun to watch him as it is (running back) Tevin Coleman.”

As for Freeman, he’s having fun preparing for Monday’s start of offseason workouts with more than 40 Falcons players who traveled to South Florida for the sessions and the off-field camaraderie that comes with it.

“It’s so good for (team) chemistry,” Freeman said.

The next step will be the Falcons making good by giving Freeman a new deal.

Alex Marvez’s story on Devonta Freeman discussing Super Bowl 51, his career and his South Florida roots will appear Thursday at SportingNews.com. Alex can be heard from 7 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET Wednesday and Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
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Spring has sprung and football is kinda back

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Spring practice takes a little more than a month, and culminates in spring games for most schools. The rules:
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Teams get a maximum of 15 spring practice days, including the intra-squad game that typically caps a spring slate. This doesn’t include sessions when players are limited to the film room or the weight room. Everything has to take place within a 34-day window, but spring break and exam days don’t automatically count toward that. So some schools spread spring practices over a month and a half.

Who are we kidding, though. We’re really just here to gawk at wild spring game crowds, like the one that’ll show up at Ohio State. We’ll see if anyone can top this in 2017.

One of those games is against Mexico at Estadio Azteca, and should probably be written off as a loss for the purposes of this exercise. Three of those games are at home, and those matches are all virtual must-wins. If the USMNT loses to Mexico and wins all of their home games, they’d need to get four more points from their other two road matches to reach to 17 points.

Those games are against Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago, two beatable opponents, though there’s no such thing as an easy road game in CONCACAF. The USMNT lost away to Honduras during the last qualifying cycle and pulled off a 3-2 comeback win in San Pedro Sula back in 2009. In the previous round of qualifying, in 2017, the USMNT drew 0-0 away to T&T in one of the worst games we’ve ever had the displeasure of watching.

Jacksonville proved its capable of pulling the upset

Despite playing in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the Cardinals have played their way back into playoff contention. Arizona is one game back in the NFC wild card race and while a loss wouldn’t end their chances to make the playoffs, losing to the 1-8 Jaguars would be a massive missed opportunity.

Jacksonville proved its capable of pulling the upset, going on the road to knock off Tennessee last week, despite the fact the Titans were in the thick of the AFC playoff race.

Lester threw for more than 11,000 yards in a Western Michigan uniform in the late-1990s and was inducted into the WMU athletics hall of fame. He played in both the XFL and Arena League, and after an unconventional playing career, he followed an even more unique coaching path:

The disappointing season for Houston continues this week against the Raiders. Despite opening the season as one of the favorites in the AFC, the Texans have sunk to 2-7 and out of the playoff picture. The Texans will have Gary Kubiak back this week after he missed a game following the mini-stroke he suffered.

With back-to-back losses, the Raiders have fallen further out of playoff contention. Terrelle Pryor has struggled mightily recently. Things won’t get any easier this week when he’ll go against the No. 1 defense against the pass. If for no other reason, this game is watchable just to see what J.J. Watt might do against Oakland’s porous offensive line.
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Cam Cleeland nearly lost vision in eye after hazing incident in 1998

In My Opinion, this is a growing trend in the NFL in locker rooms from Miami to Washington- The Superstar QB or Offensive Tackle who are looking for a excuse to quit football and still get paid.

A quick look at the facts shows us that took more shots in Minnesota last night then Koren Robinson. Many of these came on plays where RG-Me would just try to pump-fake a defenser out of his socks and then take a selfish hit as he was getting rid of the ball or throwing a touchdown. You could almost see him checking off a little box in his mind, smiling that disengenous smile and saying “Ok, good theres another big hit I took on national TV.”

The Redskins’ offensive success is tied to their running game. Alfred Morris ran for 139 yards against the Vikings, opening up the pass and taking pressure his quarterback. Griffin III has an above-average quarterback rating of 102.0 when Morris runs for 100 yards or more in 2017, confirming the idea that asking him to be the team’s focal point is not how the team will have offensive success moving forward.

This idea often seems foreign to a team desirous of putting the game on its quarterback’s shoulders. Morris averaged 5.3 yards per carry on Thursday night, but the Redskins elected to have Griffin throw the ball three straight times from the four yard line late in the game. It was a case of over-thinking the time on the clock and asking the passing game to convert a fade throw to close the game rather than try to punch it in on the ground.

Finally, the man hosting the event gets on the microphone. He not only leads the women in a “Fired up!” “Yes we are!” chant, but a Gronk chant as well. He informs us that we need to do this when Gronk makes his big entrance.

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Premier League scores, Week 29: Manchester City and Liverpool gave everything, but neither won

The Premier League produced some spectacular action this weekend, with 28 goals across 10 games. But the best game of the weekend — the marquee clash between Liverpool and Manchester City — was most notable for the times the ball didn’t hit the back of the net.

Both teams had a ton of great chances, but only scored once apiece, and both will consider the result to be two points dropped. Between that result and Arsenal’s poor performance at The Hawthorns on Saturday, the big winners of the weekend were Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Spurs look solidified in their top-four position, while United are now just four points away from getting back into a Champions League place — and they have two games in hand on Liverpool.

The defining characteristic of this game ended up being missed chances. Each team had 13 shots, which isn’t a huge number, but none of them was a hopeful effort. There was only one shot from outside the box, and it was taken centrally from inside 25 yards. This should have been a seven- or eight-goal game, not a two-goal game.Zlatan Ibrahimovic was suspended for United’s trip to Middlesbrough, while Paul Pogba missed out due to a minor injury. It didn’t matter, because United’s backups stepped up in their absence — particularly Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard. Here’s how Lingard solidified the Red Devils’ lead with what was ultimately the winner.

South Carolina, for its part, has dumped 90 points on UNC Asheville and Kentucky in the last month and last lost at Missouri on Feb. 19. Outside Mizzou, the Gamecocks have only lost to Duke, UConn, and Tennessee, and they have little to fear going into their Sunday matchup against Arizona State.3

Which QBs are being taken too high, too low in fantasy drafts?

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles broke out as a reliable, high-scoring fantasy weapon last season, doing so in his second NFL campaign and with modest preseason expectations. Sure, Bortles figured to improve from his underwhelming rookie statistics, but few were expecting him to end up among the top five of all fantasy quarterbacks. That was a major breakout and fantasy owners sure are interested in who is next to do the same. Well, that’s why we’re here, to not only tell you whom to avoid, but whom to expect big things from.

For their part, the Vikings know the first games at their new home won’t come without some headaches, and they’re urging fans to be patient and sensible during the first games at the stadium. Once fans are within range of the stadium’s wi-fi network on Sundays, they can get push notifications on their phones from the Vikings’ app about gates with shorter wait times, as well as help finding concessions and merchandise. The team is also introducing a sports bar outside the stadium, called the Longhouse, which will be open 2 1/2 hours before and two hours after games. A game ticket is not required for admission. That, the Vikings hope, will give fans another option should they choose to arrive outside of peak travel times. It’s probably best to remember, though, that while it opens for football this weekend, U.S. Bank Stadium will go through its share of modifications in the next year or two as it becomes evident what works best for fans.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might be having trouble getting on the field, but he’s having no problem selling products.

On Monday, Brady launched a line of snacks — 12 1.4-ounce packages of organic fruit and nut combinations sold in a box — for $50.

Who knows how many the folks at TB12 made, but by Tuesday afternoon, they had already sold out.

This is familiar territory for Brady, whose site put out a nutrition manual, which has 89 of the quarterback’s favorite recipes — one is sweet potato gnocchi with escarole — for $200.

Despite fans grilling the price, the manual sold out in days and is on backorder for next month.

Pete Carroll praises Macklemore for picking Air Monarchs over “Chef Curry” shoes

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has become an unofficial spokesman for Nike’s Air Monarch IV shoes over the years, refusing to switch up his footwear despite numerous attempts from his players and equipment staff.

DeMarco Murray raves about Marcus Mariota’s talent

Beyond the streamlined passing mechanics, Mariota has impressed with his pinpoint accuracy on short and intermediate passes, nimble footwork reminiscent of Joe Montana and Jake Plummer, natural football instincts and preternatural poise.

Murray added that the Titans’ second-year star is the hardest-working quarterback he has been around, echoing Pro Bowl defensive end Jurrell Casey’s offseason assessment that Mariota is the “definition of a true leader.”

Spend a few days in Titans camp and you will hear players and coaches casually reference Mariota’s greatness. If he can stay healthy, his rare talent and requisite intangibles will be the rising tide that lifts all boats in Nashville.

Baltimore Ravens

1-10 percent: Joe Flacco put together one of the most incredible postseason runs ever in leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory, but he has been stagnant as a passer since. Now, if he did that again … Elvis Dumervil’s career includes two 17-sack seasons, but with 96 sacks by the age of 32, it’s hard to see him getting into the 130-or-so range, at which point his candidacy would be a lot stronger. … Marshal Yanda might be the best guard in football and has made five straight Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro appearances, but Alan Faneca had nine Pro Bowls and six first-team All-Pro appearances and just missed out on Canton. Even if Faneca eventually gets in, you can see how high the bar is for guards. … Eric Weddle suffers from playing in a conference with Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu for most of his career (he only has three Pro Bowl nods through age 30).

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Terrell Suggs is an interesting case. He started his career as one of the youngest players in his rookie class, so even though Suggs has been around since 2003, he’s only 33. He doesn’t have the sort of steady double-digit sack totals you might look for from a star edge rusher, but Suggs’ best year (2011) came while J.J. Watt had just emerged from his alien womb and earned Suggs a Defensive Player of the Year nod, which looks great on a Hall of Fame résumé. Being part of a historically famous defense helps. Suggs has 106.5 sacks, which is 24th all time, but he probably needs to get to the 130 range to guarantee his enshrinement. That will be tough on two torn Achilles. 30 percent

Steve Smith Sr. is one of the more fascinating Hall of Fame arguments out there. He gets bonuses for being a skill-position player and a force of nature as a personality; that stuff does matter in Hall of Fame voting. He has five Pro Bowl appearances and two first-team All-Pro nods, one of which was for his return work in 2001. That itself isn’t a Hall of Fame résumé. What works in Smith’s favor is that he has been around forever and accrued numbers despite playing with Jake Delhomme at quarterback for most of his career. Smith’s 11th in career receiving yards (13,932) and 15th in career receptions (961). Terrell Owens and Isaac Bruce had more catches and haven’t yet been elected to Canton, but once Smith gets to 1K, his chances of eventually making it in should be favorable. 60 percent

The next time someone chants John Kuhn’s name likely will be in the Superdome.

The former Green Bay Packers fullback, a long-time fan favorite who was often met with cheers of “Kuuuuuuhn” when he took the field, will sign a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

His agent, Kevin Gold, said Kuhn flew to Saints camp in West Virginia to work out for the team on Friday. The deal will be for the veteran’s minimum and officially closes the door on a nine-year run with the Packers.

“He loved his time there, but he wanted to play,” Gold said. “This was an opportunity, and coach [Sean] Payton was excited to know he was available and wanted to play. It’s bittersweet, but it’s also a great opportunity.”