November 2016

We all know that Dallas and New England are currently the favorites to meet in Super Bowl LI. But being a Super Bowl favorite isn’t just about winning games. It’s also about being ahead of your competition.
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New England is the Super Bowl favorite right now, even though the Patriots have the same record as Oakland and are one game behind Dallas. That’s because both Oakland and Dallas face more competition than the Patriots do.

For Oakland, the competition is for a division title. The Raiders have only a one-game lead on the Chiefs, and they have to play in Kansas City in two weeks. So while the Raiders may be tied for the best record in the AFC, they also have only a 59 percent chance of winning their own division. Making it to the Super Bowl will be a lot tougher as a wild card. Oakland, Kansas City and Denver all have much worse Super Bowl odds than New England does because only one of them can win the AFC West.

A running back will never have the same impact as a quarterback in today’s game, but the question remains whether Prescott’s passing benefits from the threat of Elliott’s running. One way to answer this question is to look at whether Prescott benefits from extra defenders in the box and play-action.

About 34 percent of Prescott’s dropbacks have come against a loaded box, which is about 6 percentage points higher than the NFL average. However, Prescott has performed equally well with or without extra defenders in the box. He leads the NFL in Total QBR against an unloaded box and ranks second in QBR without a play-action fake.
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What about his offensive line? There’s no doubt that Dallas has an elite run-blocking offensive line, but in terms of pass protection, Prescott has been under duress at a league-average rate. When pressured, he has the second-best QBR and has not turned the ball over in 107 dropbacks.

Finally, Prescott is not simply a product of one elite wide receiver. Dez Bryant has dealt with injuries, and it has been a team effort for Dallas’ receivers, with Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams all contributing.

We would be na?ve to ignore Prescott’s teammates, but he clearly has made his own MVP-caliber impact. All of the candidates on the MVP ballot are having superb seasons, but Prescott not only is having one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history, but also, based on his efficiency and total value, might wind up with one of the best single seasons ever.

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The Arizona Cardinals have extended general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians through the 2018 season, the team announced Monday. Arians had a team option through 2017, and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic confirmed both Arians and Keim will have a fifth-year option for 2019 in their new deals.

Although the Cardinals didn’t release details on Geoff Cameron Authentic Womens Jersey the contracts, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Arians will make $6 million per year.

Arians joined the Cardinals in 2013 and helped them exceed expectations, guiding the team to double-digit wins in both seasons. Keim first joined the organization as a college scout in May 1999 and was promoted to general manager the same offseason the team signed Arians.

The Browns spent the past two days meeting with free agent QB Josh McCown, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month. The veteran signal caller instantly became one of the more attractive options in a weak quarterback market, although he was arguably one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last season. He has also had visits with the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

McCown went 1-10 as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 184 of 327 passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His completion percentage (56.3 percent) and yards per attempt (6.8) both ranked 31st out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks, and only Blake Bortles had a worse passer rating than McCown (70.5) last season.

Despite those ugly numbers, the 35-year-old has had some success in the league. In 2013, he completed 66.5 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and one interception in eight games for the Bears, finishing with the best Total QBR (85.1) among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. McCown also has ties to Cleveland, starting nine games for the Oakland Raiders in 2007 when new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo Graham Zusi Authentic Womens Jersey was the quarterbacks coach.

The Browns were expected to meet with Hoyer’s representatives last week at the Combine, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but that meeting apparently has not happened yet. Hoyer’s agent, Joe Linta, told ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon that there is mutual interest between his client and the team in getting together to discuss a potential return to the Browns.

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“Without Melo, it would be much more difficult for me to get those 30 points, or 28,” Porzingis said earlier in the week. “People don’t realize that. But that’s how it is. He draws a lot of attention, and he’s the main focus for the other team. That opens up stuff for me. So without him, it would be much more difficult.

“I’m happy to have him and [Derrick Rose] and guys who Tony Gonzalez Authentic Womens Jersey are really aggressive driving to the basket, who draw so much attention for me to be able to get those wide-open looks and then attack. It’s good sometimes that we have that. Without them, it would be much more difficult.”

There are some numbers that support this theory as well: Through 15 games, Porzingis is shooting 4.5 percent higher when he shares the court with Anthony. His 3-point splits are dramatic.

Had the opportunity this week to sit down with Rick Carlisle for a TrueHoop Conversations podcast and covered lots of ground with the Dallas Mavericks’ coach, who finds himself in Cleveland on this Friday with a date against the Cavaliers and his injury-ravaged Mavs trying to halt a seven-game losing skid, which ranks as the longest drought of the Mark Cuban era.

Cuban, of course, bought the Mavericks way back in January 2000.

Credit Jeff Hornacek there. The Knicks’ coach has found a balance with his scorers and some substitution patterns he likes, such as starting Porzingis with the second unit in the second quarter and resting Anthony early in the fourth quarter. Hornacek faces a challenge in inserting Joakim Noah back into the rotation while maintaining minutes for Hernangomez and Kyle O’Quinn, and the coach will face another challenge when reserve Travis Kelce Authentic Womens Jersey forward Lance Thomas is ready to return from ankle and foot injuries.

Thomas followed Ginobili to the opposite side of the floor, while Smart wandered into the secondary screen set by Kawhi Leonard on the wing. Aldridge fired to Mills, who didn’t have a defender within 15 feet of him, before making it a six-point game with 44.1 seconds to play.

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Last week, a person who has been in the industry for a long time predicted that there would be a round of hard scrapping in regard to the labor talks this week because there were still issues pending, with both sides entrenched … at least for now.

“It’s the usual course of Corey Brown Authentic Jersey negotiations,” he said.

Sure enough, Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday that Major League Baseball might lock out the players.

There’s another thing to consider. Relievers are already volatile. For example, just two seasons ago, your top four relievers in saves were Fernando Rodney, Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland and Trevor Rosenthal. Huston Street and Jonathan Papelbon also ranked in the top 10. Those six averaged 16 saves in 2016, three had ERAs over 4.00, and Holland missed the season due to injury. Your save leaders from 2013 included Jim Johnson, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour and Sergio Romo. In 2012: Jason Motte, Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan. Closers come and go: Only five teams had the same reliever lead the team in saves in 2014 and 2016. If you start pitching these guys more innings, they may become even less predictable year to year or burn out even more quickly.

I think we will see some minor changes as a result of the 2016 postseason. A few more four- and five-out saves. Maybe longer stints from your best reliever when playing a big rival. Maybe we’ll start seeing some of those three-run leads in the ninth handed over to another reliever. I don’t think we’re going to start seeing closers in the seventh inning, and I don’t think we’re going to start seeing the return of the 100-inning reliever. It is possible that the long-term trend to maximize leverage could mean your best reliever pitches 50 games and 80 innings instead of 65 games and 65 innings. In the short-term, however, the possible addition of a 26th man to rosters could mean even more relievers to spread the work to.

Game 1 of the division series is extremely important. Worry about Game 2 the next day. If Daryl Worley Authentic Jersey a starter is rolling along — like Merritt in his ALCS start — don’t assume it will continue.

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That may sound a bit bland, but it reflects the even-keeled steadiness that Cousins brings.

But sometimes Cousins cuts loose with a window to his emotional soul. He inspired a mantra (and later trademarked it) when he screamed, “You like that!?” after a comeback win against Tampa Bay early during the 2015 season. On Sunday night, cameras caught him bellowing, “How you like me now” as he embraced – and mussed the hair of — GM Scot McCloughan on the sideline at the end of the blowout of Green Bay.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said he’d like to be an NFL head Brian Cushing Authentic Womens Jersey coach again “at the right place and the right time.”

While relaying that he didn’t hear the report firsthand, Belichick said, “I think both Josh and Matt are great coaches who should absolutely be on any head-coaching list. I can’t imagine that there are many other coaches that could present a résumé equal or comparable to theirs. They’ve done a great job here for a sustained period of time, so great track record. I personally think that a list of head-coaching candidates that didn’t include them would be incomplete.”

Belichick then introduced director of player personnel Nick Caserio into the discussion as well.

“I have a similar comment on the general manager thing with Nick, which I don’t know if he was or wasn’t included. I think somebody told me that he wasn’t included,” Belichick said. “He does a tremendous job as well. I can’t imagine any list not having those three people.”

A source told Pro Football Talk that McDaniels was left off the list because the thinking Brock Osweiler Authentic Womens Jersey is that he’s intent on staying in New England until Belichick retires.

During his weekly conference call Tuesday, McDaniels was asked about that.

“I’m aware of the report and I’ll try to clear that up. Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I definitely would love to be a head coach again. There are only 32 of those in the world. They are opportunities that don’t come around very often, and if you would ever be so fortunate and blessed to have another opportunity to do it — for myself, it would be a second time — that would be an opportunity I would look forward to,” he said.

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James Harden is really good at this basketball thing. But under new Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, he’s almost unstoppable.

Harden notched his third triple-double of the season in the first three quarters, torching Portland for 26 points (7-of-17 shooting), 14 assists, and 12 rebounds in Houston’s 126-109 win on Thursday.

One of the jurors who cleared Rose told reporters, “I think most Andre Iguodala Authentic Womens Jersey of us believe it’s possible there are pieces of her story that were true, but there just wasn’t any evidence.”

The woman accused Rose and his friends of breaking into her apartment in 2013 and having group sex with her while she was too intoxicated to knowingly give consent. Rose and his friends acknowledged they had sex with the woman, but said she was not unconscious and that consent was given.

On Tuesday, Rose’s team of lawyers sought to recoup $70,000 in legal costs from his ex-girlfriend.

The woman was seeking $21.5 million in her civil lawsuit, and no criminal charges were brought against Rose and his friends. The 28-year-old point guard is set to make $21.3 million over the 2016-17 NBA season.

Drake made the Raptors’ ‘Drake Night’ all about Doris Burke.

The Wizards were blown out by the 76ers on Wednesday. Joel Embiid wasn’t even playing, and Philadelphia went up by 24 points before winning 109-102. Instead of telling you what Washington players are thinking, we’ll show you this.

In the Madison Square Garden corridor connecting the home and visiting locker rooms, Van Gundy spoke Andrew Bogut Authentic Womens Jersey with reporters for two minutes on Wednesday, this time lauding the league and its players for standing up on social awareness and activism.

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Cody Kessler has been better than most people realize, but questions remain about whether he’s the answer at QB

At the same time, though, 0-10 is DeJon Gomes Authentic Womens Jersey 0-10. Even bad teams want to win a couple of games. An 0-16 season would shave time off what the Browns intend to be a lengthy rebuilding project, forcing them to try to compete earlier, even if it means lowering their ceiling in the process. The first-round pick they took from Philly in the Carson Wentz trade probably will fall in the middle of the round, which is disappointing. Their young players on defense have mostly been injured or ineffective, and the flier they took on Robert Griffin didn’t appear to work out. Cody Kessler has shown some promise, but Hue Jackson still thought it was better to bench his rookie third-rounder last week for Josh McCown, which is telling. The Browns weren’t supposed to have all of the answers by now, but it’s unclear whether they have very many at all.

It’s unfair to make blanket statements about Jared Goff, of course, given that the first overall pick is only going to make his NFL debut this weekend. It’s also telling that the Rams waited this long to push an ineffective Case Keenum out of the lineup for Goff, who was underwhelming during the preseason and cost the Rams a staggering amount of draft capital as part of the trade up to No. 1. The Rams have no first- or third-round pick in 2017 as a result of the Goff trade. They also have gotten little out of Todd Gurley, who doesn’t have a single run longer than 18 yards this season while averaging 3.1 yards per carry. The three most important assets for a franchise are a quarterback, draft picks and a head coach. The Rams may not have any of those three figured out right now.

The Panthers were exceedingly likely to decline this season after a 15-1 2015, and they’ve shown signs of life in winning three of their past four games, but there are definite cracks in the “Just trust Rivera and Gettleman” foundation. The offensive line and secondary, pieced together for pennies in years past, have been major problems. Star defensive tackle Kawann Short remains unsigned in advance of free agency, while franchise icon Luke Kuechly appeared to suffer another concussion during Thursday night’s win over New Orleans and left the field in tears. The Panthers still have Cam Newton, which can take them a long way, but the invulnerability surrounding this team last season isn’t there right now.

At 0-10, it’s easy to pick on the Browns, but remember that expectations Dominic Raiola Authentic Womens Jersey for this team weren’t exactly very high. The Browns are planning on rebuilding through the draft, and indeed, they have an 87.5 percent chance of coming away with the first overall pick in 2017, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. Trading punter Andy Lee to the Panthers for a fourth-rounder looks like found money, especially with Cleveland having added Britton Colquitt shortly thereafter for nothing. They’ve also stumbled upon a pair of useful offensive weapons in Isaiah Crowell and Terrelle Pryor, although the Cleveland brain trust will have to ask itself whether it’s willing to pay Pryor the $10 million or so per year he would get in free agency if the Browns let him hit the market this offseason.

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Gary Sanchez didn’t win the American League Rookie of the Year award (Tigers righty Michael Fulmer did), but he already took home a far more prestigious honor due to his amazing debut in 2016: He is undoubtedly the new face of the New York Yankees.

Just 55 games into his major league career, Sanchez Authentic Darron Lee Jersey is the supermoon in the Yankees’ universe.

The slow parade of past Yankees greats is nearing its conclusion as CC Sabathia’s contract dwindles away at the end of 2017.

Sabathia, if he is not retained, will follow Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as the last big-name vestiges from the Yankees’ latest title in 2009. (Brett Gardner is still around for now, but he doesn’t rank in the stratosphere of Authentic David Harris Jersey the above-mentioned stars.)

Seager respects and thirsts for input from his parents, Jeff and Jody. And, of course, he hits up brother Kyle for tricks of the trade. Kyle Seager just completed his sixth major league season, batting a solid .278 for the Seattle Mariners, collecting 30 home runs and 99 RBIs in the process.

Combined with Corey’s .308 batting average, 26 home runs and 72 RBIs, the Seager boys had one of the most productive seasons for a brother duo in baseball history.

“I’ve kind of always asked Kyle for advice at every step; he’s already gone through it, whether it was college, professional to the big leagues,” Corey Seager said. “Every level, he’s been there and helped me out. I talked to my middle brother a bunch, too, because we were in the same levels together. We were doing it at the same time. I would bounce ideas off him.

“And obviously your parents are always going to be there for you. So it is nice to have people at the same step, and a step above you, to be able to kind of ask ideas, bounce stuff off them and eventually turn them into your own stuff.”

Then there was the advice and tutelage from Dodgers coaches and teammates, such as veteran Chase Utley, whose every word was devoured by the first-year player.

“That’s where Chase came in huge for me this year,” Seager said. “It’s been those guys you could bounce ideas off of and help guide you through it, because they have already gone through it.”

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Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will take away each other’s votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year

Romo’s back is healed and he’s ready to return. Only problem is, the kid hasn’t let up. Prescott has the Cowboys at 8-1 and in first place in the NFC East. Romo will trade in his game-day sweatsuit for a uniform and pads this week at home against Andy Levitre Authentic Womens Jersey Baltimore, but he will not start. Practice is likely to be different for him this week, too. Weeks ago, he was tough to find, throwing on a back field with equipment staff, tucked into a corner near where Jones’ helicopter lands at the team’s spanking-new practice facility. This week, he should be out there taking Sanchez’s snaps, sliding in with Alfred Morris and the backup offensive line after Prescott, Elliott and the starters have their turn.

The Cowboys haven’t ruled out the possibility of Romo starting for them at some point this season, because why should they? Prescott could get hurt. He could struggle, as rookies do, especially as the length of the NFL season starts to affect them. Right now, given his track record, Romo is obviously the best backup quarterback in football, and the Cowboys feel as Austin Hooper Authentic Womens Jersey though they have an embarrassment of riches at the game’s most important position.

“I was ready to go,” Prescott said, simply, after hitting 17 of 23 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown that night. While no one expected it to matter right away, that readiness did not go unnoticed.

In calls around the league, five rookies drew the most mentions as budding stars, including Dallas’ dynamic duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Here’s who else made the list.

That was said in retrospect, though. In the days that followed this particular preseason game, Cowboys coaches talked of Prescott as a project. One said Romo’s injury would offer a rare chance for a rookie to get first-team reps. They believed the system in which Prescott played at Mississippi State would translate well in the pros, and they were starting to convince themselves they might be able to get by with him as Romo’s primary backup, though Kellen Moore was still in the picture and the plan for Prescott was education, not expectation.

“Just getting him that exposure right now is huge,” one Cowboys coach said in that final week of August, before they knew the severity of Romo’s back injury. “It gives you a good feeling about what’s to come.”

Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher made up his mind Tuesday morning and informed Case Keenum that Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, would be his starting quarterback for Sunday’s home game against streaking Miami, a development that was first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. And anyone who has watched this team realizes why this needed to happen.

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The strangest U.S. presidential election in recent memory had yet another strange moment on Monday night in New Hampshire when Republican candidate Donald Trump told the crowd that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had voted for him, and then Trump read a letter he said was from Patriots coach Bill Belichick in which Belichick praised Trump’s leadership, among other things.

Of course, many were dubious. Belichick took the time to write a letter? And it said things like, “You have dealt with an unbelievable and slanted media and have come out beautifully. You’ve proven to be the ultimate fighter”?

Obama dubbed James “one of the great Tony McDaniel Authentic Jersey players of all time,” but the president also represented perhaps the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, and his beloved Chicago Bulls.

“By knocking off the Warriors, the [Cavs] cemented the 1996 Bulls as the greatest team of all time,” Obama said. “So your president thanks you for that.”

ESPN FC’s Adrian Healey, Jeff Carlisle and Tom Marshall assess the tactics of the U.S. and Mexico ahead of their WCQ match.
There are other lineup decisions to be made for the Yanks. Since starting center-back Geoff Cameron is unavailable because of a knee injury he picked up playing for English Premier League side Stoke City, Klinsmann will have to find a partner for the left-footed John Brooks. The leading candidates appear to be Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez.

Gonzalez plays for Pachuca in Liga MX, but Mexico’s top flight has supplied just 10 players to coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s current roster. But Birnbaum has been ahead of Gonzalez in Klinsmann’s pecking order for most of 2016. And while Birnbaum hasn’t played since Oct. 27, when D.C. United were eliminated from the MLS postseason, he’s done his best to remain in game shape.

“We had a lot of the [D.C.] coaching staff stay behind with me during the last week after we lost in the playoffs,” Birnbaum said. “They kept me fit, and I did some technical work and trained with the academy a little bit, and then I was ready to rock once I got here.”

Elsewhere, in-form Timmy Chandler could replace DeAndre Yedlin at right-back, although that would sacrifice even more of the continuity Klinsmann’s back four built during the summer’s successful Copa America showing. There’s also a chance Klinsmann could opt for Tyler Lockett Authentic Jersey playmaker Sacha Kljestan in the midfield alongside Michael Bradley, at the expense or either Jones or Alejandro Bedoya.

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