Monthly Archives: January 2017

Aaron Rodgers vs. Matt Ryan: Who has ball last might be Super Bowl-bound

Aaron Rodgers rushed for 60 yards and tossed four touchdown passes against the Falcons in Week 8.
Aaron Rodgers is ready for a shootout, if necessary.

Since Week 12 and including the playoffs, the Packers quarterback has led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio and ranks second in the NFL in yards per attempt (8.4) and Total QBR (83.8).

His counterpart, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, ranks first in yards per attempt (9.0) and Total QBR (87.4) in that same period.

It’s no wonder the over/under was set at 61 points. Then, last season in the divisional round of the playoffs, he followed Aaron Rodgers’ miraculous Hail Mary on the road in Arizona by kicking the extra point to go into overtime in lieu of attacking a stunned Cardinals defense for a game-winning two-point conversion try. His team never touched the ball again.

The Falcons won the regular-season meeting 33-32 at the Georgia Dome on Oct. 30. They did so by scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 31 seconds to play. The Packers scored 24 of their 32 points in the first half.

“We scored points on them last time, especially in the first half,” Rodgers said this week. “They kind of tightened up in the second half and sacked us a few times on third downs. We have to do a better job of playing a 60-minute game against them because Matt’s been pretty hot.”

Whichever quarterback has the ball last might be on his way to the Super Bowl.

Crazy thing is, Rodgers actually thought the offense looked pretty good at Washington. Had it not been for that game, he probably wouldn’t have made the run-the-table comment.

the Bears overhauled their coaching staff

Kromer is notable for criticizing Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler last season when he was the team’s offensive coordinator, saying Cutler “absolutely killed” the Bears with his poor decision-making on the field. This was in the wake of the Bears getting a lot of flak over the massive contract that was given to Cutler. Kromer wound up making a tearful apology for his comments.

After the end of the regular season, the Bears overhauled their coaching staff, and Kromer was one of the people fired from the team. New Bills head coach Rex Ryan brought Kromer along as their offensive line coach just a few weeks later. Kromer also spent time with the New Orleans Saints and served as interim head coach for six games in 2012, when multiple coaches were suspended as part of the bounty scandal.

Elite Youth Nick O’Leary Jersey That was Thomas’ best season so far in his five-year career, though he had 14 touchdowns to go with 1,430 yards off of 92 receptions in 2013. In five years with the Broncos he’s caught 351 passes for 5,317 yards and 41 touchdowns. That’s with him only playing in 21 games over his first two seasons and not being the top receiver on the team.
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He’s Manning’s favorite target, so much so that as the offseason got underway there were reports that said Manning would likely restructure his contract to help the Broncos keep him and tight end Julius Thomas. Manning was reportedly annoyed earlier in the summer by the lack of progress made on a long-term deal for his top wide receiver.

Thomas, 27, was a first-round pick in 2010 and already has three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro awards under his belt.

Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott in the NFC East?

Who bounced back the most in the AFC South: DeMarco Murray, Andrew Luck or Jadeveon Clowney? NFL Nation reporters voted on the comeback player of the year in all eight divisions.

Limited Youth Brandon Phillips Jersey Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott in the NFC East? NFL Nation reporters voted on the best rookie in all eight divisions, and it was easier in some divisions than others.

Offense has powered the Falcons to the NFC Championship after falling flat last year. Just how much better are they now? Here are the top NFL units who saw the biggest transformations in 2016.

Not anymore. Vincent began limiting the answers to the first or second round after the 2014 draft. Research showed that accuracy dropped off significantly beginning with third-round projections.

How accurate are the projections now?

Since 2010, players who received a first- or second-round evaluation and declared for the draft were selected by the end of the second round 84.1 percent of the time. Yearly accuracy rates are in the chart.

Limited Youth Riley Reiff Jersey In 2015 and 2016, the first two years of the streamlined approach, 38.2 percent of underclassmen declared for the draft without applying for an evaluation. (Numbers for 2017 haven’t been tabulated yet.)

Josh Akognon’s international experience isn’t limited to China; he played for Nigeria, his father’s homeland, at the Rio Olympics. Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports
Akognon has also played professionally in Estonia, Serbia and Italy and is with Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas this season. The California native competed in the 2016 Olympics for Nigeria, where his father was born.

Bills reportedly considering Ray Rice in the wake of LeSean McCoy’s hamstring injury

The Buffalo Bills dodged a bullet on Wednesday when an MRI revealed that the hamstring injury LeSean McCoy suffered in practice isn’t serious enough to keep him out of action in the regular season. McCoy was the team’s crown jewel of the offseason, and his absence leaves the Bills hurting for running back help.

In addition to McCoy, the Bills are missing Fred Jackson (hamstring), Bryce Brown (hamstring), Karlos Williams (medical) and Boobie Dixon (calf). The injuries have left the team short on running backs for practice reps and their last three preseason games.

Gerald McCoy Womens Jersey Despite an uncharacteristic game by Tom Brady — his two interceptions Saturday matched his regular-season total — he was involved in the biggest play in terms of win probability in the Patriots’ win.

The Patriots, 17-point favorites and given an 89 percent chance to win by ESPN’s Football Power Index, led 14-13 midway through the second quarter when Brady connected with Chris Hogan on a 45-yard pass to the Texans’ 37.

That play added 8.9 percentage points of win probability for the Patriots, giving them an 87 percent chance to win at that point.

DeMarco Murray Womens Jersey Even though the Texans were within one point in the first half, their win probability never climbed above 25 percent. The Texans’ win probability reached its highest point when they forced the Patriots to punt from their 19-yard line with about 9 ? minutes left in the second quarter.

I have expended a lot of energy this preseason talking about how we have an aging group of running backs

David Cobb, Tennessee Titans
If you’re drafting Bishop Sankey this year, good luck to you. He was capital-T Terrible last year, when his only real competition was Shonn Greene. Part of the problem was his poor work in pass protection, and now he has a rookie quarterback coming out of a system program, so pass protection will be even more important in 2015. Enter Cobb, who has his own problems — he’s not a jackrabbit-type runner, he won’t catch a lot of passes — but he should offer far more in pass protection, meaning he’ll be on the field more. We know Sankey isn’t good. Cobb? He might be.

I have expended a lot of energy this preseason talking about how we have an aging group of running backs — the group of key guys 29 and older includes Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Frank Gore, Rashad Jennings and several others. Here, though, I’m flipping that around. Jackson is 34, which is the curdled-milk stage of most running backs.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins — His ADP is WR26 and we have him at WR31. The Dolphins are tricky. With tight end Jordan Cameron around, it’s going to be a little tougher to project who gets the targets between the numbers. Plus, don’t forget about DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills and even Greg Jennings. The inconsistency is a little too scary to take him as a high-end WR3.

Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers — Most of us are fans of Bryant, but we have a couple guys who aren’t ready to ante up for a wide receiver with little experience. He could be an absolute superstar, but you’ll basically have to pay a WR2 price to get him. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has said Bryant won’t start, but it sure sounds like a smokescreen. He’s arguably the most popular pick for breakout receiver. His ADP is WR23 and he’s just WR34 for us. For what it’s worth, WR23 in PPR is really, really high. He may be worth that in standard, though.

The NFL could have just called it mild-card weekend this year

Last season, the four road teams won and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs. It was the opposite this time — the four home teams won. The difference between this year and last? Those road teams from a year ago — Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay — all won their divisions in 2016 and earned home games.

So what’s next for the wild-card teams that were knocked out? Trying to maintain and build upon their status, of course. Maybe just one or two will be back in the playoffs next season — that’s just how it goes in the NFL. Of last year’s playoff field, the two Super Bowl teams (Denver and Carolina), as well as Arizona, Washington, Minnesota and Cincinnati, didn’t make it to the playoffs this season. That’s 50 percent.
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Here’s how I rank each wild-card loser’s chances of returning to the playoffs next season:

The overtime drive included an Elway-to-Steve Watson pass for 28 yards that converted a third-and-12 that moved the ball to the Browns¡¯ 22-yard line. Karlis kicked the game-winner four plays later.

Most of the players involved have told the story countless times at alumni gatherings or fan events. Watson went on to become an assistant coach on Mike Shanahan¡¯s staff, while the holder for the field goals and extra points that day, a backup quarterback named Gary Kubiak, won Super Bowl 50 last February as the Broncos coach.
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Last season, Kubiak said: ¡°Just to be there, be a part of that team, those are the kind of moments you want to be around. They¡¯re why you play, why you coach.”

The Patriots’ undefeated streak started in federal court, continued in Dallas

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The NFL’s unbeaten teams stayed that way this weekend, keeping things top heavy in a parity-driven league.

The Patriots rolled over the Cowboys behind another efficient day from Tom Brady. Despite an uncharacteristic three-turnover day from Aaron Rodgers, the Packers held off a tough Rams squad. The Falcons got a walkoff pick-six in overtime from Robert Alford to get by Washington. Chris Harris’ pick-six helped the Broncos escape Oakland with a win.

Now it looks like OBJ strained his hamstring and it looks like the only dance he’ll be doing for the next couple weeks is the can’t-can’t.

But it makes you wonder about the underlying cause behind all of Beckhams very public and very flashy injuries. You dont see other wide recevers spending as much time in the training room as the practice field, and I think I know what it is.

You can bet the coaching staff is starting to take notice as well. Tom Coughlin has danced twice in his life- the first 16 bars of Randy Travis at his daughters wedding, and when he was fired from the Jaguars. He knows theres no place for it in a NFL room- he’d rather you focus more on getting your hamstring loose then footloose. If he wants to save his season and his job, Coach needs to sit Beckhams ass down and remind him highlights that matter are earned in the film room son, not the barber shop.

Ellington has been recovering from a low-grade sprain of the PCL, which typically takes a month or less for a full recovery, placing this one at the upper end of that range. Ellington will likely back up Chris Johnson as he gets back to speed.

The crediblity of the league is of the utmost importance and any allegations of underhandedness should be investigated immedately which is why I’ve taken the unprecendented measure of blocking Andy Dalton for the good of the game.
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Brad Kaaya announced Monday night he is skipping his senior season at Miami and entering the 2017 NFL draft

Current NFL starting quarterbacks who had four-season college careers: Brady, Prescott, Drew Brees, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Trevor Siemian, Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and Connor Cook, who will start for the Raiders on Saturday.

That’s not even to mention Tony Romo’s four-year career at Eastern Illinois. He was an underrated free agent out of a Division I-A college, but he honed his gifts, had a great senior season and was physically and socially mature.

But is it possible that the Seahawks could surprise and go on a run? Here are three things that have to happen for coach Pete Carroll’s squad to make some noise in the playoffs:

Russell Wilson has to catch fire.

This probably seems obvious, but Wilson needs to go on a run like he had in the second half of last season, when he threw 24 touchdown passes and one interception in the final seven games.

Wilson was accurate and brilliant from the pocket during that stretch. And that’s what the Seahawks need now to move the ball consistently on offense. The protection is going to be shaky, and the bootlegs and play-action passes have been difficult to execute because Wilson still is dealing with a left knee injury.

Limited Kids Tyler Toffoli Jersey He is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly, target Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham often and capitalize on big-play opportunities when they present themselves.

Limited Kids Rishard Matthews Jersey During the regular season, the Seahawks called pass plays 64.5 percent of the time, seventh most in the NFL. In the past, Seattle had the talent to win even when the passing game wasn’t clicking. This year, it has to be Wilson compensating for deficiencies elsewhere.

Golden State was already a good defensive team before free agency

Their lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and JaVale McGee ¡ª the lineup Kerr relies on most with Durant on the bench ¡ª gives up an average of 115.4 points per 100 possessions. Lineups with Durant on the floor rarely give up over 100. On the whole, the Warriors rank third in defensive efficiency, behind only Memphis and Utah.

Game Mens Ty Lawson Jersey Golden State was already a good defensive team before free agency. With Durant, their defense is slowly becoming impenetrable.

The Raptors are quietly back to being the second-best team in the Eastern Conference ¡ª not that they ever stopped being that. Our thoughts on who could potentially upset them have, yet again, fallen short so far. And Kyle Lowry won¡¯t let them lose a close game on the road in Los Angeles on New Year¡¯s Day, so they¡¯ve got that going for them, too.

Ingram¡¯s 2-of-7 shooting evening really wasn¡¯t that bad, and it wasn¡¯t just this dunk.

Ingram is still shooting only 35 percent this season, but you can see the makings of a star. The skills exist and he knows all the moves. You can see how well he operates with the ball in his hands and how his overall length will bother opponents. It won¡¯t be this year, not consistently, but he¡¯s not too far off.

Game Mens Vincent Valentine Jersey The Hawks surely didn¡¯t think they¡¯d be playing Hardaway Jr. over Bazemore late in close games when they gave Bazemore a four-year, $70 million deal this summer. Unfortunately, Bazemore¡¯s season has been massively underwhelming, enough that he rode the bench at the end of the Hawks¡¯ game as Hardaway Jr. tied it with a three.

Bengals lose Week 14 game to the Steelers, but more importantly, lose their QB too

The Cincinnati Bengals entered Week 14 with thoughts of clinching the AFC North and working to secure a first-round bye in the postseason, but a significant damper was put on the season when Andy Dalton left early with a thumb injury in a 33-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Part of the reason the Bengals were able to jump out to a 10-2 start to the 2015 season was a remarkably injury-free season for the majority of the year. Entering Week 14, only three players were on the Cincinnati injured reserve. It’s too early to know if the injury suffered by Dalton will force the Bengals to add him to the list, but things don’t look good after he was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game before returning to the field with a cast over his throwing hand.

It wasn’t the only injury for the Bengals either. A concussion for tight end Tyler Eifert and a groin injury for safety George Iloka ended the day early for two more Cincinnati starters.

If Dalton isn’t able to go for an extended period of time, it will be AJ McCarron taking over the reins of one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses. But against the No. 22 defense in the NFL, McCarron couldn’t find the end zone often enough, although he didn’t waste much time throwing his first NFL touchdown.

And SB Nation’s NFL experts are predicting the Lions’ title drought will end in 2016. Detroit hasn’t finished a season on top of its division since 1993, when Barry Sanders was still around to make all our Thanksgivings a bit brighter. By a 5-4 margin, writers have given Matthew Stafford a vote of confidence despite the finger injury that has limited him to a 1:4 TD:INT ratio in his last three games.