Those mismatches hurt now and then. Against some opponents, they hurt a lot. But as teams get better at switching, gang rebounding, and preventing entry passes to post-up brutes, the math nudges back their way. Switch with 10 or 12 left on the shot clock, and the opposing offense has precious little time to exploit any mismatch down low.
Post-up bigs who can’t shoot 3s or defend smaller players — Greg Monroe, Jahlil Okafor, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Nikola Vucevic — have already been relegated to bench roles. The nostalgic worry Houston-style offenses might play them out of the league entirely.
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They’ve each hit with a surprising accuracy; opposing defenses haven’t adjusted their pick-and-roll coverages to account for this new development:
The league is top heavy, even by its standards. A few teams hoard an unusual number of top-20 players. The crazy cap spike allowed the 73-win Warriors to sign Kevin freaking Durant with cap space.
Limited Cam Johnson Jersey When we plot team-by-team scoring numbers on the chart below, the gap between this season’s line and those of last season and 2008-09 is fattest at the top. In other words, the very best offensive teams are driving a large part of the improvement:
Once cheapo contracts linked to the old cap regime cycle out, there should be some talent dispersal that weakens the behemoths behind the scoring boom. Think about the most intriguing Paul Millsap trade destination: Toronto. Are the Raptors really going to pay Millsap, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan $100 million combined every season once Lowry and Millsap sign their new deals? If they are, some other good players are leaving Canada.
Last week, Brandon Weeden led the Houston Texans to a 16-10 victory against the Indianapolis Colts, and the win placed the Texans atop the AFC South. Weeden will be the starter in Week 16 and will get another opportunity to lead the Texans to a win against a division rival, according to ESPN’s Tania Ganguli.
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Brian Hoyer remains under the league’s concussion protocol and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
Hoyer also sat out Houston’s pivotal Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts. T.J. Yates started for the Texans in Week 15, but Yates’ season ended when he tore his ACL late in the first half. Weeden entered the game and led the pivotal win. Weeden completed 11 of 18 passes against the Colts for 105 yards and one touchdown. It was Weeden’s first action for the Texans after being claimed off waivers on Nov. 18. Weeden started three games for the Cowboys early in the season after Tony Romo initially broke his collarbone. The Cowboys lost all three games.
Peyton says he saw Dr. Guyer as well, though he repudiates any allegations that he was provided HGH. Manning expanded on his relationship with Dr. Guyer to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen Saturday night, saying he went to the clinic largely for holistic treatments.
Womens Cameron Brate Jersey Al Jazeera’s report, “The Dark Side,” is slated to air Sunday night. Green Bay Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Mike Neal, Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and free agent tight end Dustin Keller also were named in the report, though none were tied to HGH usage.
Sly recanted his accusations in a YouTube video that was posted Saturday night and also claims he wasn’t even working at the Guyer Clinic in 2011, which is when the Manning family allegedly received the HGH shipments. Manning said Saturday night the allegations against him are “complete garbage.”
At the snap, Prescott and Elliott pivot to their left to sell that the play is flowing that way. Meanwhile, Frederick has a split second to prevent Joseph from penetrating through the A-gap between him and Martin. If Joseph comes low and hard, Frederick will stay and double-team him with Martin. But when Joseph stands straight in containment, that’s Frederick’s cue to chip him with his right elbow, then leap into the second level of defenders, where he engulfs weakside linebacker Chad Greenway.
Martin opens to the left, then pistons his hands into the right side of Joseph’s rib cage with enough force to bounce his 329-pound frame sideways almost 3 full yards.
Bortles hasn’t played well this season. He’s completing a career-low 57.8 percent of his passes for 3,279 yards and 21 touchdowns, but he’s turned the ball over 20 times (16 interceptions), which is the second-most in the NFL behind Philip Rivers’ 23. He’s been playing with a shoulder injury that he suffered against Detroit on Nov. 20, but the Jaguars have resisted sitting him.
Bortles isn’t alone. The offense hasn’t scored 20 or fewer points seven times since their last victory, which came Oct. 16 in Chicago. The defense has forced a league-low 10 turnovers and Jalen Ramsey’s interception last Sunday was the first by a Jaguars cornerback this season.
The special teams has either committed a significant penalty, turnover, or given up a long return in the past nine games.
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“I think there’s a lot of excuses or a lot of crutches that are easy to use [for why the Jaguars didn’t win more games],” Bortles said. “The reason for everything that’s happened is because we haven’t played well. I haven’t played well. We haven’t played well and that’s why all this change has happened.
Elite Tobias Harris Jersey You’ve got to figure out how to play. You’ve got to figure out how to win in order to kind of create some kind of continuity and consistency here in this organization.”
The scene Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium was almost surreal.
Scott Tolzien — last seen by Minnesota Vikings fans in a putrid November 2013 tie with the Green Bay Packers — stepped in for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to run the clock with cursory handoffs. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson cooled his heels on the sideline. And a Vikings fan base that filed into the stadium against minus-15-degree temperatures excused itself early, choosing a return to the frigid weather over the carnage on the field.
There was the taunting penalty by cornerback Adam Jones in the second quarter that gave the Steelers an extra 15 yards and led to a field goal.
There was the unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Vontaze Burfict on second-and-2 early in the third quarter. The Steelers, who had already gained 15 yards on the play, gained 15 more after Burfict hit Roethlisberger late. The Steelers kicked another field goal.
There was also a head-scratching interception thrown by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton at the end of the fourth quarter. Center Russell Bodine appeared to get too far downfield and, as an ineligible receiver, ducked. Dalton threw the ball anyway and was picked off at midfield. That also led to a Steelers field goal.
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Playing Pittsburgh tends to bring out the best and the worst in the Bengals. Whether it was Jeremy Hill pretending to rip up a Terrible Towel, a celebration spike after a touchdown, or the usual pushing and shoving, the second matchup of the season had all of the usual makings of a classic between the two rivals.
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For one half, the Bengals were playing some of their best football. But for all the good things they did — like holding Le’Veon Bell to 93 rushing yards and Antonio Brown to 58 receiving — the rest of the game went much like the season has gone. In the end, the Bengals appeared to let their emotions get the best of them.
By Thursday afternoon, Norman was all talked out about Gettleman’s decision to rescind the franchise tag, which made him a free agent in April.
“I¡¯m just beating a dead horse,” Norman said. “You’ll hear about it in the Book of Norman one day.”
Authentic Andrew Tiller Jersey Perhaps a bigger challenge will be keeping Norman’s emotions in check — or not letting them get to the point where he loses focus. But Norman said that won’t be an issue. He said he really didn’t start thinking about this game until this past week, though his family has been talking to him for several weeks about coming to this game.
Glover Quin Elite Jersey “The good thing with Josh is that it doesn’t vary week to week,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He gets up for everybody. That’s the beauty of him. That’s why he’s such a great player, because he doesn’t discriminate as far as him and his emotions and his level of intensity for game day.”
But Norman admitted he started the week paying even closer attention to detail — and he’s already well-known for his preparation and work habits.
He said he doesn’t know whether emotions ever get the best of him “because now I just let them run wild.”
“God bless her, I love her to death,” Vinatieri said. “She made me understand, ‘This is going to be a challenge for you.’ At that point it was like I can accept this, and I’m never going to amount to anything, and I’m just going to get a B.S. job, and you’re going to be unhappy. Or, hey, you know what, you’re going to work twice as hard, and you’re going to overcome this.”
Now retired, Farrand remembers Adam as an eager and intelligent boy who excelled in math. She found him to be typical of smart kids with learning disabilities; they’re often frustrated by the failure to grasp something they know they should be able to grasp.
Williams has been really solid for the Steelers in pass protection, too, and it’s an underrated element of his game. It’s something Williams takes great pride in, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger described Williams’ abilities in pass protection as “terrific,” via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Bengals are tied for 9th in the league with 42 sacks this season.
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Toussaint spent most of the season on the Steelers practice squad before being promoted to the active roster. He has 42 yards on 18 carries this season, but he’s earned the respect of coaches and teammates. Tomlin said early in the week that Toussaint is diligent and brings a businesslike approach to preparation. “I think he’s one of those guys that everybody is excited about seeing play,” Tomlin said.
Todman will be Toussaint’s backup. Todman has 22 rushing yards on four carries this season.
The most notable development in Tampa Bay this season was the development of No. 1 pick Jameis Winston, who posted an 84.2 quarterback rating and led the Bucs on three game-winning drives. Winston’s presence should make this an attractive opening. However, former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik says he expects the team to find its replacement in-house and promote offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
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Licht confirmed during Thursday’s media session that Koetter is “a strong candidate” for the head coaching job. He noted that the team would cast a wide net during its search and didn’t rule out any type of candidate, stating they simply want “the best football coach.” Licht also told reporters that he would maintain control of the 53-man roster during the process of hiring a coach.
Smith has been an NFL coach for 11 seasons, including nine years in Chicago. He’s posted a career record of 89-87 and led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2005. The Buccaneers haven’t returned to the playoffs since 2007 and won their only championship in 2002.
Authentic Mens Taylor Halle Jersey The winter meetings are over, Chris Sale is in Boston, and Dexter Fowler is in St. Louis, but there are still free agents to sign and trades in the works. Here are few moves I’d like to see:
St. Louis Cardinals trade for Todd Frazier. My first idea was to go after Justin Turner to play third base instead of Jhonny Peralta, but Turner is likely headed back to the Dodgers.
Frazier, with one year remaining left until free agency, would be a fairly inexpensive get from the White Sox. Jhonny Peralta looked done last year and while Jedd Gyorko is coming off a 30-homer season, adding Frazier gives the Cardinals more depth and versatility with Gyorko able to slide over to second or shortstop and Kolten Wong an option in the outfield. Remember, the Cardinals have to figure out a way to beat the Cubs and avoid a wild-card game that could feature Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner or Noah Syndergaard.
Just factor in that payroll management is a big part of this, as the Dodgers maneuver to stay below the 92 percent luxury-tax bracket (which kicks in at $237 million) in two years.
Mets: They’re still working to trade either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson — and are confident they will eventually, once some of the free-agent options are off the board.
Rays: Tampa Bay is taking its time, but is in good position to trade a starter. In order of likelihood (and price tag): Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer.
Authentic Jadeveon Clowney Jersey White Sox: How perfect is it that this team lurched into sell mode by dealing a guy named Sale? What’s next on their list? Other clubs see Robertson and Frazier as near locks to get traded. But Jose Quintana and Jose Abreu? Not so much.
The toughness shown by New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett this season has been admirable, but has it finally caught up to him?
This is what came to mind in recent days as Bennett, playing through a sprained ankle and shoulder injury, hardly looked like himself in Sunday¡¯s 26-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams (two catches for 4 yards, two holding penalties).
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Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett has just six catches for 40 yards over the last three games.
The Patriots need Bennett more than ever now that fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski is out for the season following back surgery. But they also need him as healthy as possible for the games that truly count, which puts them in a challenging spot as they prepare for Monday night¡¯s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
¡°Martellus has done a good job for us. He¡¯s given a lot of production this year ¨C blocking, catching the ball and running after the catch has really been impressive,¡± he said in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
But that production is way down of late, just six catches for 40 yards during the past three games.
So as much as the Patriots need Bennett in a post-Gronkowski world, it¡¯s the Bennett from earlier in the season that they need, not the one from this past Sunday.
Elite Youth Paul Kruger Jersey Thus, how that affects their plans with him against the Ravens bears watching.
This game seemed like a possible divisional title game earlier this year, but the Lions have all but locked up the North; they have an 82 percent chance of claiming the division before any Week 14 games are played.
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Alex Pietrangelo Authentic Jersey The Vikings need to win this game to have any realistic prayer of getting into the postseason. Their playoff odds, already dim at 16 percent, would fall to 1 percent or so with a loss to Green Bay. Even if they won their three other games — a realistic proposition, given they play the Jaguars, Colts and Bears — the Vikings would have only a 5 percent chance of advancing past Week 17. Thanks to that easy schedule, Minnesota would have a 40 percent shot at making the postseason with a victory. Green Bay, meanwhile, would have just a 5 percent chance of making the playoffs with a loss to the Vikings, but the Packers would be a 50-50 shot if they won their three other games.
Joe Flacco has struggled for long stretches this season but has finished strong before and played well last week. Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers are favored in this game by virtue of being at home, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker in the North after beating Pittsburgh in Week 9, so the home team needs this one more. If the Steelers lose here, they would (ignoring the other unplayed results before this game) be 1.5 games back with three games to work with, given Baltimore would clinch the tiebreaker with a head-to-head sweep. Pittsburgh would have just a 17 percent chance of winning the division and a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs, and Baltimore would be at 25 percent and 30 percent, respectively, with a loss of its own.
We know this will mean a lot in terms of everything from deciding the AFC West champion to determining playoff seeding, but the specifics depend upon what happens to these two teams when they play the Raiders in Week 14 and Week 17. As it currently stands, given Kansas City’s narrow win in Week 12, this is a much less important game for the Chiefs than the Broncos.
It is very hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter. That’s the situation the Chiefs found themselves Saturday night: They got the ball back from the Patriots down 27-13 with 6:29 remaining.
It’s especially hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter and your coach farts on the concept of clock management. Unfortunately, Kansas City’s coach is Andy Reid, perhaps the NFL’s least clock-savvy coach. Over and over again throughout Reid’s career, he’s been baffled by the very concept of time.
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If the Chiefs are going to upset the defending Super Bowl champs, they need to pressure Brady with their strong defensive pass rush and make it difficult for him to distribute the ball to his playmakers. This is a matchup on paper that favors Kansas City. The Chiefs ranked fourth in sacks during the regular season, while the Patriots offensive line allowed a total of 221 quarterback pressures (26 sacks, 48 hits, 147 hurries), the second-highest amount in the NFL.
Even if Brady has a clean pocket, the Chiefs can lean on their dominant secondary to slow down the Patriots offense. During its 11-game win streak, Kansas City has surrendered the lowest completion rate, fewest yards per attempt and lowest passer rating of any team. They have twice as many interceptions (22) as passing touchdowns allowed (11) in that span, and could give New England a lot of problems in the passing game on Saturday.
With Jeremy Maclin hurting, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce instantly becomes Alex Smith’s top target. Kelce ranked in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions among tight ends this season, and is coming off a career-best performance (eight catches, 128 yards) against the Texans. The Patriots ranked just 15th in defending tight ends, per Football Outsiders efficiency ratings, making this a matchup that Smith can potentially exploit.
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For the Patriots, even if Edelman doesn’t play his normal amount of snaps, his mere presence on the field will provide a much-needed boost to the offense. He led the team in receptions at the time of his injury, and his ability to get open quickly should make life easier for Brady on Saturday. Edelman was also Brady’s most dependable guy to move the chains, catching a team-best 78 percent of his third-down targets.