Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Raptors’ sluggish performance in Monday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals was nothing new, but at least it was better than the effort the Spurs displayed in a home rout to the Rockets.

Toronto dropped to 1-12 in playoff openers after falling 116-105 in Cleveland as they failed to stop LeBron James (35 points) and Kyrie Irving (24). The Raptors pulled within seven points in the third quarter before James knocked down a 3-pointer, converted a three-point play, then hit another jumper and considered washing it down with a beer.

As Lowry said, winning a ring is an important factor in his decision, but at the end of the day, you can’t ignore the money. That’s where the Raptors have an edge, as they can offer him a larger contract — five years, $205 million compared to four years, $152 million.

Although when asked if money will be in his decision-making process, Lowry said it’s not on his mind at the moment.

“I haven’t thought about any of that,” he said Monday. “Honestly, what I’ve thought about is, yes, I’ll opt out, and how I need to get better as a basketball player. That’s all I’ve thought about. And that I want a ring. That’s all that drives me.”

A ring could be possible with the Spurs, but it’s looking more unlikely with the Raptors. Expect Lowry to consider a shift to the other conference, but just because he’s thinking about it doesn’t mean he’ll jump. There are still plenty of good reasons to remain in Toronto.

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The Chicago Bears surprised us all during the NFL draft by moving up one spot to No. 2 overall to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Yet the Bears had an idea of drafting him all along, but carried out measures to keep it a secret.

Five members of the Bears — GM Ryan Pace, head coach John Fox, director of player personnel Josh Lucas, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone — made the trip to Chapel Hill to evaluate Trubisky, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown — where players competed in games like dodgeball, precision passing, wide receiver drone drop, and a relay race — was even better than the game itself.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry made quick work of the Best Hands challenge. The Power Relay, where players had to work together to lift up a 250-pound wall and pull a 700-pound sled, ended with a running back smashing through a wall.

But the best event of the Skills Showdown had to be dodgeball. The NFC won, and Ezekiel Elliott was pretty pumped about it:

The NFL hosted the Pro Bowl in Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium for 30 straight years, starting in 1979. With the exception of a move to Miami’s Sun Life Stadium in 2009 and Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium in 2014, the Pro Bowl remained in Hawaii until the move to Orlando in 2017.

Despite low expectations, last season’s Pro Bowl was more exciting than we thought it’d be. Here’s hoping the second Pro Bowl in Orlando is even better.

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The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Joe Mixon, a running back out of Oklahoma who punched a woman in college and broke bones in her face, in the second round. Bengals owner Mike Brown personally approved the pick, while “about half of the boards” of teams around the league did not even include Mixon due to the incident, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Then, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that an anonymous survey taken of all 32 teams, “only four said they would consider drafting” Mixon.

Dallas Cowboys legend Drew Pearson announced the team’s No. 60 overall pick and he was more than happy to get the boos from the Philadelphia fans in attendance. He got so into it he started yelling over it, thanking them for his long and successful career in Dallas and rubbing in the fact that the Cowboys have five Super Bowl titles. It was an incredible pick announcement, one of the best in NFL Draft history.

Oh and the Cowboys took a very, very good player in Chidobe Awuzie, a cornerback out of Colorado.

No one is really sure who the best quarterback prospect is in 2017. Trubisky is a popular pick to be the first passer off the board, but he only has one season as a starter. Watson led Clemson to a national championship, but his dual-threat game may be difficult to translate to the NFL. DeShone Kizer raises similar concerns — just without the sustained team success.

Patrick Mahomes is quickly rising up draft boards thanks to a tremendous spring. He led the FBS in passing yards in 2016, but he did so for Texas Tech, a program with a rich history of aerial brilliance and NFL flameouts.

Each of the draft’s top quarterbacks has major question marks surrounding his viability as a franchise passer. The need for a steady hand behind center has elevated all four to potential first-round status, but this group pales in comparison to the draft classes we saw in 2015 (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota) and 2014 (Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo).
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2014’s NBA playoffs rendition of Pitbull and Ke$ha’s “Timber” is without a doubt in this world the best intro song ever made. The lyrics were flawlessly stupid and three years later we still remember it in all its glory.

Before we are introduced to 2017’s hit, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable ensembles of the past five years.

Execution: This was definitely the best theme song in terms of it actually being a good song. The graphics were corny but also ahead of their time so no complaints there. This was certainly good, but forgettable in terms of the video. Could have used some dancing athletes.

Execution: Somehow this 2013 video looks and feels like it was made 30 years ago and I’m here for it. The Joakim Noah chest pounds, the LeBron moves, the excessive Howard dancing… Well done.

The Pacers, reluctant to leave Cleveland’s shooters open for three, were hesitant to give Teague help when he was isolated. This seek-and-destroy offense is nothing new for Cleveland — we’ve seen the Cavs employ this same tactic against Steph Curry and Isaiah Thomas.

If Indiana wants to steal Game 2 they’ll need to stop switching everything on defense, or bring over a double team to give poor Jeff Teague a break.
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Before Kevin Wilson’s time as the head coach at Indiana, his reputation was built on two major achievements.

The first was coordinating a spread offense at Northwestern that ran over Michigan’s defense and caught the attention of coaches and media everywhere. The next was coaching the legendary 2008 Oklahoma offense that changed the way everyone saw tempo.

The biggest question mark of them all with this decision is: What will the players do? There’s an ever-growing list of NHL players who have spoken out in support of professionals attending the Olympics. They include: Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, and Connor McDavid, just to name a few.

Now that the Olympics ship has sailed officially for the NHL, that puts players and owners in a rough spot. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said he supports Ovechkin’s decision to go play for Team Russia. Players like Erik Karlsson will have a rougher time, however, as Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk would only have allowed the Ottawa defenseman to go if he was playing for Team Canada.

Just after the news broke, the NHL sent out a memo that teams are not allowed to comment on individual player-by-player cases and that the league will “deal with it.” Reportedly, the NHL will block owners from giving permission to individual players.

A declining quarterback like Schaub facing an elevated pressure level is never a good recipe, and Keenum has likewise struggled in completing a mere 41 percent of his throws under pressure.

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Matt Ufford offers you fantasy advice on Aaron Rodgers, finding a sub for Jamaal Charles and more.
Schwartz did a tremendous job inheriting an 0-16 team and turning them into a playoff contender, if only for a season. He took on a poor roster and the team has added talent year-in and year-out. But the team imploded in 2017 and they didn’t get off to such a great start this season. The Lions want to win now, and the argument that put Schwartz on the hot seat was simple:

Go back. Go back further and you’ll find that Bubba Kush, the marijuana that the numbers tell us is Bowe’s cannabis of choice, was not developed in a lab in California. It was known, then, by the name Gainesville Green. Gainesville, as in the town in Florida that is home to the University of Florida. The same University of Florida that has a longstanding rivalry with Louisiana State University, where we know that Bowe spent four years of his life in the middle of the last decade. Bowe played football there, for LSU’s Tigers. Bowe played, while at LSU, against the University of Florida Gators.

Those are facts. So are these: Dwayne Bowe was speeding in his car, late at night, to a Sonic that is widely known to be terrible. He had, in his car and possibly in his system, a strain of marijuana which he doubtless believed to be from California, but which actually had deeper roots elsewhere — roots in Bowe’s past, and in the sandy loam of a place with every reason to wish Bowe ill.

“It’s your basic Sonic restaurant. I’m only writing this review because they do not know basic food prep and cooking. I have never had hot or even warm french fries, tator (sic) tots or onion rings at this address.”

This, we’re asked to believe, is the food Dwayne Bowe wanted to eat that night.10

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NASCAR’s trip out west has been a hot one since it arrived in Phoenix. Temperatures will be in the 90s with plenty of sunshine, and that will continue at Phoenix International Raceway for today’s Camping World 500 Monster Energy Cup race.

Contract values for Garcon and Goodwin haven’t been reported as of press time. It’s likely the team views Goodwin as a role-playing fourth receiver/speed guy. Garcon isn’t a No. 1 receiver in the traditional sense of the position, but he’s a reliable pass catcher who led Washington in receptions and yards last season.

The one I don’t get is Juszczyk. Sure, he catches more passes than your average fullback, but they just made him the highest-paid fullback in the NFL at four years, $21 million, with $10.5 million guaranteed. An average of $5.25 million per year for a position that’s all but eliminated in the modern game.

Every year in this four-year run, Virginia has posted a defensive adjusted efficiency mark somewhere in the 80s. That means if a regular Division I team played Virginia, you’d expect it to score 80-some points per 100 possessions.

But in each tournament loss, the defense hasn’t been itself. Michigan State posted a 105 efficiency rating in one of the tournament wins and a 108 in the other. Syracuse’s Elite Eight win came on the back of a 106. And Florida’s offense fared well, too, scoring 1.07 points per possession. This wasn’t a UVA defensive effort.

Virginia is the best defensive program in college basketball. Even the best defenses have bad nights. Virginia’s had them four years in a row on the same days that their offense has happened to also be bad. The two may be connected.10

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It’s that time again in the NFL season, time to play the “should ____ rest their starters in this meaningless Week 17 game?” Heading into this week, there are exactly two spots remaining for the playoffs, but there’s plenty of work left for seeding. Here’s where it stands.

In the NFC, Dallas is locked into the No. 1 seed. Atlanta and Seattle have won their divisions and are in. With a win Sunday, Atlanta would wrap up the two seed, followed by Seattle, the NFC North winner (Packers or Lions), the Giants in the fifth spot, and a frantic finish for the sixth spot between the loser of the NFC North and Washington, with Tampa having less than a 1 percent chance of making it.

In the AFC, the six spots are secured. Division winners New England, Pittsburgh (third seed), and Houston (fourth seed) are in, as well as Oakland and KC, and Miami. The only drama here is the first seed and the AFC West. If the Patriots win, they are the first seed. The winner of the AFC West will secure the second seed and a first-round bye. If Oakland wins and New England loses, the Raiders get the top seed.

So there are four teams who have the option of resting starters: the Cowboys, Giants, Steelers, and Texans. As usual, with any important decision, there are plenty of factors to take into account. I’ve been a part of two games, one with a team that was resting and another playing against a team resting its starters. I’ll get into my experiences as well.

After a weekend where two starting quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, broke their legs, it would scare any team that this could happen to them. However, there is no evidence that injury likelihood goes up in Week 17. Injuries are always a risk and part of the game, but I get where this would be the top factor.

How well the is team functioning on either side of the ball is a harder thing to judge because it’s on a team-by-team basis. If you’ve made the playoffs but are struggling on one side of the ball, getting reps in Week 17 may help correct some issues.

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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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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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