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.

Show and tell: Steelers eye Giants WR who tips off plays

Once a week, a group of Pittsburgh Steelers defenders get with team scouts to scour the opposing team for tendencies — or, in some cases, telling signs.
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Safety Mike Mitchell, who organized the growing meeting, might learn from the scouts how a specific player struggles to get off jams or gets flustered easily.

For Sunday’s matchup against the New York Giants, Mitchell caught something specific with a New York playmaker.
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“I can’t use the name, but there’s a receiver that you know where every time he touches his gloves, it’s a pass,” Mitchell said. “Got that from a scout. It’s 100 percent. Little things like that.”

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell meets with scouts each week to look at opposing teams’ tendencies. Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz are the Giants’ primary receivers.

In the short term, very little should change for the Patriots, who are huge favorites to win the AFC East. At 9-2, their closest competition is the 7-4 Dolphins, who have won six straight games with the past five coming by seven points or fewer. FPI gives the Patriots a 97.7 percent chance of winning their division, more than any other division leader. Even if their true team strength drops with Gronkowski and FPI can’t yet realize that, the Patriots have a two-game lead and the tiebreaker on the Dolphins with five games left.

This should really benefit the trio of contenders in the AFC West more than the Dolphins or Bills. The Patriots currently have a 68.5 percent chance of coming away with the top seed in the AFC, per FPI, even though their 9-2 record is identical to Oakland’s. The Raiders are in second at 22.8 percent, mostly thanks to concern about their end-of-season slate, with three road games to come against their AFC West brethren. If the Chiefs beat the Raiders next Thursday and move into first place in the West, they would suddenly be a threat to the Pats, given that the Chiefs would then be 7-2 in the conference, lurking just behind the Pats, who are currently 7-1 in those games.

The margin of error for everyone on the Patriots, actually, is dramatically reduced by the Gronkowski injury. An offensive line that has been better this year after the return of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia needs to keep things up; right tackle Marcus Cannon, in particular, can’t revert to the guy who made Patriots fans groan before an impressive 2016 season. The Patriots’ pass defense, a dismal 28th in DVOA heading into this week, can’t allow the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick to post 115.2 passer ratings.

And of course, as it always does, it comes down to Brady to elevate his game without his best receiver around. As Chris Wesseling of NFL Network noted in November, Brady has been a superstar with Gronkowski and basically a league-average passer without him. Here are Brady’s numbers since Gronk entered the league in 2010 in games with and without his longtime tight end.

Sean Payton: Brandin Cooks with zero targets was ‘unusual’

Coach Sean Payton said he is “not concerned” about receiver Brandin Cooks’ apparent frustration with his role in the New Orleans Saints’ offense.

Cooks wasn’t targeted despite playing 45 snaps in the Saints’ 49-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Cooks then made reference on Instagram to needing to become a “businessman,” and sources told ESPN that he has expressed growing frustration throughout this season — mostly over being used as a clear-out receiver instead of a primary option.

“Listen, Cooks is a real good football player, and we work extremely hard on these game plans,” Payton said Wednesday. “I’d say it’s a little unusual that we have a game where all of a sudden he’s not targeted. But the first play of the game is supposed to be his play, and we don’t get the right coverage look. We’ll keep working at finding those opportunities for him to get those touches.
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Lewis is going through struggles of his own this year with the Bengals potentially heading toward one of their worst records in his 14-season tenure (he went 4-11-1 in 2008 and 4-12 in 2010).

“I think coaches work harder, turn over more stones, they become better coaches, better people when … you’re a touch off,” he said.

“When you’re winning, you’re doing the same thing, you’re just not questioned by the masses here. It doesn’t change your outlook on things. I think the players have a hard time wondering why you’re climbing up their butt when you’re winning. Now they won’t have to question that right now. That’s part of it. It’s what we are in professional sports.”

That’s all I can tell you. And then the next year after that, and the next year after that, some of those things that seem so insurmountable that first season, you realize you’re going to get through, things are going to work out and you’re going to find a way and it’s going to work well for you. I think that’s important in a tough season we all go through.”

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NFL fines Aaron Donald $21,000 for Week 1 outburst

It has not been a banner start to the season for the Los Angeles Rams. The NFL is fining defensive tackle Aaron Donald $21,000 for his temper tantrum in the fourth quarter of the Ram’s 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football last week.

According to Manti Te’o Jersey ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gronkowski will miss Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins. The tight end originally suffered the injury in a scrimmage against the Chicago Bears Aug. 15.

Though the Patriots were able to defeat the Cardinals without Gronkowski, his value to the team goes without saying. For the second consecutive contest, Jimmy Garoppolo will be forced to work with an undermanned offense. Tackle Sebastian Vollmer and running back Dion Lewis were placed on the PUP list prior to the start of the season.

The Patriots’ injury Matt Slauson Jersey woes will stretch to the defensive side of the ball this week as well. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who’s developed into one of the leaders on defense, is doubtful with a knee injury.

Throughout the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have largely been able to withstand injuries and win games while stretching the edges of their depth chart. But with Garoppolo under center instead of Tom Brady for the first four weeks of the season, the challenge this season is more daunting.

In addition to the Patriots, a number of other teams are dealing with injuries to star players heading into Sunday’s action. Many are electing to pay through the pain, which is always a risky endeavor –– especially this early in the season.

It’s just a series of increasingly racist comments

Thank God for Stubhub. Fake Fake: I’m from Toronto. Buffalo hates us, and – well, to be honest, we really ‘t care. The truth is, they depend on us to fill their stadiums and arenas to root for their teams and drink their wonderfully affordable American beer. We know it. They know it. Go to any Sabres game when they’re playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and you’ll – it’s always a home game for Toronto. And they Carlos Boozer Jersey get all uptight about this fact. And we laugh, and laugh. And then we drive home to Toronto because why the hell would anyone live Buffalo.Can’t you just post our record for the last 14 years and save your time? : They have the lowest average ticket price the entire league, yet the supposedly rabid fan base can’t be bothered to show up.Buffalo, everything is named after, unremarkable, corrupt president whose only connection to the city is that he was assassinated there.

How fitting. The only president with any true connection to the city is Fillmore, who served three years after died. He was the last Whig and had no vice president. Behind the times and unprepared for disaster. Again, how fitting. We D’Angelo Russell Jersey have not had a good QB since. Our most famous all-time player is a sociopathic murderer. People still talk about winning AFL championships the 1960s, as if that somehow dulls the pain of never winning a Super Bowl. We have two good running backs, of course we are pissing them both off that they leave as soon as they can. We signed to a 4 billion dollar contract, and the most notable thing he did was threaten to kill himself when his gold digging fiancee dumped him, then sue her to get his ring back.You are stepping over rivers of urine as you walk anywhere the building. Andrew: Have you seen lately? It looks like there’s a very tiny black hole just behind his nose that is slowly sucking his face inward. Adam: You know those Conference Champions shirts that teams sell for exactly 10 days after they qualify for the Super Bowl but before they play it? You always wonder, Who the hell would buy that? After all, they’re totally useless after the Super Bowl – you either have nothing to celebrate or a more braggadocious shirt to buy. Bills fans wear those shirts to this day, unironically.The Bills suck because they hired a mildly successful coach from a college known for its basketball team and it’s a HUGE improvement. The Bills fanbase is 95% unbearable. Have you ever visited a Buffalo Bills message board or the team Facebook page?

It’s just a series of increasingly racist comments. Starting with subtle racists longing for the days of some obscure white player from the 60’s, and making its way to overt racists calling a gang member for wearing a baseball hat backwards.Wash the sheets all you want, but if you get out your black light you can still Nix’s DNA all over the organization. Justin: While spending the past nine years central southwest, I had the pleasure of watching EJ bumblefuck his way through several seasons at State and somehow manage to not up badly enough for the Seminoles to lose too often. Everything about the kid screamed fourth-round draft pick until good ol’ boy Nix showed up to the draft.dies fast Buffalo – almost instantly. Terry: The worst part about life is being a Bills fan. Fuck Gailey.The Bills playoff drought has now seen three popes. Adam: Probably nothing sums up the entire Bills experience better than a conversation I had once a San Francisco hotel elevator. A husband and wife walked with me, wearing full 49ers gear. They asked where I was visiting from, and I said Buffalo. The husband immediately looked at me and said, I’m sorry. This was 2009, when the 49ers were still one of the shittiest teams football too.The third preseason game is the most important. to recap ours, we lost 30, our best player’s step-grandfather went on a murder spree, and we’re working out Leinart and Beck. The sad thing is, expression didn’t change when I heard about any of this. You come to expect these things when you’re closing on two decades since your last playoff victory and there’s a decent chance team officials are employing a type scheme concerning the owner.Fuck Nix, Crypt Keeper wannabe, and the whole city of Buffalo. I Time Warner never brings back I ‘t have to watch favorite team get slaughtered by the end of the 1st quarter every week. Kyle: It’s the running our team- : a marketing genius with no football knowledge whatsoever. He previously served as the team’s general manager, which again, is extremely troubling considering he knows absolutely nothing about football. He’s a former college baseball player who initially worked the front office for the Marlins, which kind of makes sense. Now he’s the President and Chief Executive Officer of NFL team. How the did this happen? Seamus: Hating on Buffalo is like on a with terminal bladder cancer who also survived the Rwandan genocide as a kid. There is nothing Buffalo except very cold, obese people scrounging for the meager scraps of a -depleted industrial past. Nolan: The date was October 11th, 2009. completes 2 for 23 yards with a pick.