Month: December 2017

Ryan Shazier was everywhere. His helmet rested on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bench.

His jersey too. His face and #Shalieve stitched on specially-designed cleats. His familiar No. 50 printed in white in the middle of a gold circle on T-shirts worn by teammates searching for a way to let Shazier know he is never far from their mind as he recovers from a spinal injury that put the linebacker’s blossoming career in jeopardy.

What? Taking a barely favored 5-7 team over a 3-9 team on the road in one cold guarantee? Yes. The Jets, unlike the Broncos, are playing inspired and exciting offense. They are giving up big plays defensively but don’t need to worry much about that with the anemia on the other side. The Jets will fly to a Mile High with Josh McCown, who is much better than anything the hosts can trot out at quarterback.

It’s a welcome change for some teams, like the Buccaneers and 49ers, but it’s a head-scratcher for the Giants. New York coach Ben McAdoo may say he’s at peace with his decision to start Geno Smith over Eli Manning, but he’s just about the only one.

The Buccaneers will have starting quarterback Jameis Winston back when they travel to Green Bay to face the Packers, but he might be under heavy pressure. Tampa Bay will be without two of their starters up front and the Packers are expected to have linebacker Clay Matthews back after he missed last week’s game against the Steelers with a groin injury.

Following a quick start, Monday’s game between the Texans and Ravens turned into the defensive struggle most expected.

The Ravens pulled out a 23-16 victory at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and have now won 10 straight primetime games, the longest active streak in the NFL.chargers_073-180x180

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Besides scoring, his other numbers are terrific as usual.

His assists are right around his norm, despite dramatically less on-ball time playing next to Harden, and his passing efficiency is outrageous, with an assist-to-turnover rate well over five (one of the best single-season marks in history, if it holds up).

The Patriots had their usual bit of trouble with Miami, including two Tom Brady turnovers, before turning it on and pulling away. They now have become the offensive and defensive machine we thought they would be earlier in the season.

They made it interesting against the desperate Packers, but for a second straight game, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell took over. That’s a great sign before the big showdown with the Patriots just around the corner.

“It’s been a dream come true to play at OU,” Mayfield said. “Although I grew up in Austin, Texas, I was always Sooner-born and Sooner-bred. And you know, they say, ‘When I die, I’ll be Sooner-dead,’ and I truly mean that. It’s been a dream for me. And it’s an honor to represent my school.”

After he won the starting job as a walk-on true freshman at Texas Tech, Mayfield bolted for Oklahoma. He showed up in Norman in 2014 without an invitation from then-coach Bob Stoops, much less the promise of a scholarship. But Mayfield grew up a Sooners fan living in Austin, Texas, and wanted to see if he could make it at his “dream school.”

The Eagles need to roll with Nick Foles, but since they squeaked by the Giants in the first meeting with Carson Wentz, they’ve found more rushing power and receiving pop. Their lines are also both built to dominate the Giant’s fronts. Eli Manning doesn’t look like a savior, and New York’s defense has wilted. The new NFC East champions add to their No. 1 seed resume.

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The Redskins haven’t even had chances to win games in recent weeks.

Garoppolo unsure of starting role: Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive again in leading the 49ers to victory over the Texans, marking their first back-to-back wins since 2014. However, he refused to assume he will start at Levi’s Stadium when San Francisco hosts the Titans in Week 15. “We will see what (coach) Kyle (Shanahan) says,” he said. It’s probably safe for Garoppolo to prepare as if he is starting.

Vontaze Burfict and Vince Williams started jawing before the second regular-season game last season, and James Harrison jumped in the middle of it. That set the tone for a game the Steelers won 33-20. From there, you knew a rematch in the playoffs was inevitable.

The skyrocketing GBR could also help Houston in their matchup against the Steelers in Week 16, but before reading too much into the Texans’ rushing game upside in that matchup, it’s worth noting some of the struggles Houston’s ground game has had of late.

Everything is falling apart, led by both lines. They should get up for a better effort here, but still, the Cardinals’ defense is built to cause them major problems. Unfortunately for Arizona, it won’t get away with near zero offense from Blaine Gabbert for a second straight week.

The Ravens’ defense didn’t just struggle because it faced the Steelers. There are some trickle-down issues in coverage, and they can be up-and-down against the run. The Browns are much better offensively with Josh Gordon than the team that lost 24-10 in the previous meeting. Baltimore sweats out another division game but comes through with a late Justin Tucker game-winner to survive.lakers_016

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Especially when he asked three doctors about the possible long-term effects if he got jarred again

Instead of running it three straight plays to milk the clock, the Jags questionably threw it on second down with 3:36 left, leading to a three-and-out. Wilson had a chance for a miracle comeback win but was stopped on fourth-and-9. Seattle’s decision not to punt and pin the Jags deep with two timeouts and the two-minute warning was puzzling but then again, Wilson was dealing.

“They said, ‘We just don’t know,'” Scott said. “But they told me that the more times you get hit, the more probability that you’ll have issues.”

This summer, he saw Bruno Mars and Green Day in concert, watched Fourth of July fireworks from a boat near his home in Portland, Oregon, and enjoyed more time with husband Michael Rausch.

A league official told ESPN on Monday that no Seahawks players will be suspended for Sunday’s actions in Jacksonville, though the NFL is following its “standard process” by reviewing the melee. While there will be no suspensions, fines are likely.

A brawl ignited near the end of Jacksonville’s 30-24 win when Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett rolled into the legs of a Jaguars offensive lineman as Jacksonville was lined up in a victory formation.

After the players were separated, Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch and Bennett was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Because the Jaguars had to run another play to expire the clock, they again lined up in the victory formation. Seahawks defensive end Quinton Jefferson once again attempted to jar the ball loose on the snap to set off another brief skirmish.

Jefferson was ejected and got into an argument with Jacksonville fans who tossed drinks toward him on his way to the locker room.panthers_089

Jaguars beat Seahawks 30-24, take outright lead in AFC South

Wilson’s early mistakes left Seattle in a huge hole. It was the first time this season and the fourth time in 105 career games that Wilson threw three interceptions. It was his first game with three or more picks since throwing five against Green Bay in December 2016.

“It’s in the evaluation process,” McCarthy said. “I don’t have an answer for you. I’d like to know as soon as possible. Frankly, it’s best for Aaron to know as soon as possible. He’s the one that has to get ready, and obviously, in his mind he’s ready to go if you watch him practice and the conversations with him. But this is a medical decision, and Dr. McKenzie is obviously in touch with a number of different medical experts, and they’re evaluating the information.”

The winning ways likely won’t last long for a Bulls team that hosts the Boston Celtics on Monday night, but Mirotic’s presence, and his ability to coexist again with Portis, have given the Bulls the kind of jolt that they’ve needed.

“I am very proud,” Mirotic said of his team’s new beginning with him. “That’s the most important thing for me. Even without scoring, just being there I’m going to help the team, because of my personality, because of talking to them, trying to support them. That’s who I am. I was always a good teammate, and that was my job.”

Colorado State salvaged the regular season and guaranteed itself a bowl bid with a 42-14 rout of San Jose State on Nov. 18.royals_016

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The Rams scored to regain the lead on the ensuing possession and Foles took over at quarterback trailing, 35-31.

The second-year quarterback stayed in the game to throw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery as the Eagles took a 31-28 lead. Wentz then walked to the locker room with a towel around his neck. The Eagles declared him out to start the fourth quarter.

The Eagles, who close with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, hold a one-game lead on the Vikings (10-3) for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

“They are a great football team,” Fine said. “It will be a great matchup and challenge for us.”

Linebacker Tron Folsom leads Troy with 77 tackles, nine for loss, and he has an interception. Freshman cornerback Marcus Jones has four touchdowns, three on kickoff returns and one on an interception return. The pick-six went for 100 yards in the fourth quarter of Troy’s Sun Belt title-clinching, 32-25 victory at Arkansas State on Dec. 2.

“I thought we really wanted to concentrate on having a good start,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “Obviously last game, getting down 3-0 early against Carolina wasn’t the way we wanted to start here at home. I thought we fixed that tonight. I thought we had a great first period and that kind of set the tone for the night.”

San Jose gave up three quick goals Thursday to the Hurricanes before rallying from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime. On this night, the Sharks picked up where they left off and posted another five goals against Ottawa.

Bulls: Markkanen was 15 for 51 (29.4 percent) from the field in the previous three games before going 8 for 15 against Charlotte on Friday. “The biggest thing about him, even when he was struggling, he kept a smile on his face, he still came in to work every day and I could tell he didn’t lose any confidence at all,” Hoiberg said. “For a 20-year-old to have that mentality is pretty impressive.”

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The best the Coltsdo at this point is play spoilers in the AFC South.

This is another game tainted by missing vital players — for both teams, in this case. No Devonta Freeman for the Falcons, no Richard Sherman and (possibly) Earl Thomas for the Seahawks.

That makes up for the letdowns in all the primetime games this weekend. No Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night, no Deshaun Watson on Monday night … and that Thanksgiving night matchup is strictly for those without good streaming service or recent DVDs. Even bootlegs (especially bootlegs) are acceptable.

But before looking ahead to the feast of week 12 games, let’s recap the NFL Africa performances in week 11, which was littered with close finishes and quite a few injuries.

Coming off a tough loss to the Detroit Lions, the Bears will play the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Eagles will have receivers Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor on the field and Amukamara will be called upon to disrupt their timing and, along with his teammates in the secondary, help bring about coverage sacks on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

When will Adam Gase realize Matt Moore is a better option than Jay Cutler at quarterback?

With at least 16 points in seven consecutive games and a sizable surge in offensive responsibility of late, Hood is one of these 27 players, as he’s averaging 20 points and a gaudy 3.2 3PG over this recent stretch of success. I’ve been banging this drum all season, and it appears the market is finally ready to appreciate Hood’s game.nike_steelers_2201

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I just wanted to score for him and I didn’t do it

If the Eagles needed any motivation for the second half of the season, they got it by watching the Saints, Rams and Vikings win Sunday.

With their seventh straight, the Saints have matched the Eagles for the NFL’s longest active win streak by spanking the Bills. They seek an eighth straight Sunday against Washington.

Browns (0-9), Colts (3-7), Broncos (3-6), Chargers (3-6), Bengals (3-6), Texans (3-6)..You knew about Cleveland and Indianapolis already, but Houston and Denver have bad QB and defensive situations, while Cincinnati and Los Angeles just can’t finish to win close games.

The text was from DeShaun Lawrence, a friend Newton said has always told him he didn’t “have it in his repertoire” to score a rushing touchdown of at least 50 yards. So when Newton was caught from behind by Dolphins cornerback Cordrea Tankersley on a 69-yard run, Newton thought of his friend.

“He has been jinxing me for years,” Newton said. “All I kept thinking when I was running; I was hoping the Dolphins DB who tackled me would slip up, trip, something.

Paired with early Norris favorite Alex Pietrangelo at even strength, Edmundson has six goals and two assists to date. That’s impressive for a defenseman more revered for bringing an imposing and physical presence to the ice than his ability to score, so consider such production an added bonus from the player ranked third in the NHL in blocked shots with 58 (2.76 per game) if your fantasy league includes that category. Additionally, the pending return of veteran blueliner Jay Bouwmeester isn’t expected to impact Edmundson’s role.

Westbrook and George come from similar backgrounds: Both are from Southern California, were under-recruited underdogs and NBA lottery picks who drew skepticism, and are very connected with their families. Their personalities contrast but fit, with Westbrook loud, explosive and stubborn, and George reserved, smooth and cool.nike_steelers_2106

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Make that four field goals for New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

For both the Titans and Jaguars, 2017 has been a special, long-awaited season. With identical 6-3 records entering Week 11, both look good enough to end two of the AFC’s longest playoff droughts.

Tennessee’s last postseason trip was in 2008; Jacksonville last qualified in ’07. At this point, however, settling for a wild card isn’t an acceptable goal for either team. Both want to win the AFC South and be guaranteed a home game in January, which in turn would provide a greater chance of also winning a playoff game.

Neither has to worry about Houston or Indianapolis, the two teams that split the last eight division titles. The Titans have held the division lead because of their 37-16 beatdown of the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week. 2. The teams will play each other again, in Nashville, in Week 17.

Make that four field goals for New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski. His 29-yarder was the shortest of the game. 33-8 Patriots

It obviously was too little, too late, but Oakland finally found the end zone with about 12 minutes to play when Derek Carr hit Amari Cooper for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders then converted a two-point conversion when Carr connected with Michael Crabtree in the end zone. Some garbage time fantasy points, anybody? 30-8, Patriots

Stephen Gostkowski’s third field goal of the game, a 40-yarder, was just as easy as his previous two. 30-0, Patriots

New England was ready for Oakland’s rush attempt on 4th-and-1, and fullback Jamize Olawale was stuffed for no gain. Patrick Chung was credited for the tackle, but a host of Patriots combined to stop the Raiders for the turnover.nike_steelers_719

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Demarcus Robinson looks like a real sleeper, while Albert Wilson has stepped up in the wake of Chris Conley’s ruptured Achilles.

This isn’t even that surprising, because this is the 49ers we’re talking about. This is the franchise that ran Jim Harbaugh out of town, hired Jim Tomsula to replace him, fired Chip Kelly after making him coach a team that had no chance of winning, and is now 0-7 under new coach Kyle Shanahan. They’ve had some trouble filling their new stadium, which has a heat problem. And so, it’s not like the winless 49ers can at least offer their fans an incredible game-day experience. They can only offer their fans an hourlong drive (at the very minimum) from San Francisco to watch their winless team play football in a overheated setting. For all the crap we like to give the Browns for their issues, the 49ers aren’t that far behind them.
But I do have some good news for the 49ers fans willing to make the trek to Levi’s Stadium:

Beyond Hill and Kelce, Demarcus Robinson Jersey looks like a real sleeper, while Albert Wilson has stepped up in the wake of Chris Conley’s ruptured Achilles. Kansas City boasts the NFL’s third-best offense and fifth-best passing attack, with Alex Smith’s otherworldly performance (15:0 TD-to-INT ratio, 120.5 passer rating) underscoring the value of a strong pass-catching corps.

This is another long trip for a 49ers team that has been brutalized by the schedule maker. They didn’t play well at all last week against the Cowboys, and the Eagles are the best team in the NFC right now. This could get ugly. Eagles big.

This is almost a survival game for these two. Neither team is playing well, but I think the Carolina offensive line is the reason they are struggling. That shows up here. Carolina is playing consecutive road games and Tampa Bay is home for the first time in three weeks. Tampa Bay takes it.

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