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Archives for: December 30, 2016

Robert Mathis announces retirement, thanks Colts fans on Instagram

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Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis announced his retirement in a video posted to his Instagram on Friday.

Mathis spoke to the media as well on Friday, and said via the Indianapolis Star, “It’s time to step aside. The game’s been good to me. I want to walk away, not limp away. The rest of my body goes to my kids.

“It’s a joyous moment. I love everything about it,” Mathis said. “It’ll be weird not putting on the No. 98 jersey. Indy is my home. … It’s part of me, it’s in my DNA.”

In his video, Mathis said, “I’m a Colt for life. I bleed blue through and through.”

The best example right now is the Tennessee Titans. They have two tackles that have legit talent. Taylor Lewan just got voted to his first Pro Bowl, with rookie right tackle Jack Conklin being an alternate. They go out of their way to slide protect, have condensed formations to distract defensive ends, and use a variety of chip blocks.

Teams who choose not to use these formations often, or use chips sparingly, help out offensive lineman by design of the offense. Quick passes, play actions, boots, and screen passes are all deterrents for elite rushers. The goal is to make the end just think for a second, or stop their feet, or change their rush just for a split second. That’s all the time that’s needed.

There are various reasons why a team would choose to not help struggling tackles or provide help against elite defensive ends. Pass route concepts use the players that would be doing the extra help. Tight ends are used to remove defenders in the middle of the field or as the hot look in pressure. Backs are used to flood a side of the field to grab the attention of flat defenders or win against man. If these players are being eaten up by extra assignments, it can ruin a timing route offense.

Also, sending too much help to the edges can make the middle of the pocket soft (I’ll get into more about that below). For a quick passing attack, it’s vital to keep the middle of the pocket clean.

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Allison was impressive from the start of his NFL career this past spring

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J.J. Jansen Game Jersey ¡°Each snap, your job is to get open no matter how you do it,¡± Allison said. ¡°Know your route, know your adjustments and get open. So when you hit that soft spot in the defense, snap your head around and get open and make a play and be prepared.

¡°I think it just speaks to my preparation week in and week out. God blessed me today with the opportunity to go out there and make plays. And I was ready to do my part and do my job and do my job to the best of my ability.¡±

Authentic Womens Kyle Arrington Jersey Allison was impressive from the start of his NFL career this past spring. An NFL scout picked him among the top three undrafted free agents in the Packers’ class and despite a strong training camp, the Packers cut him because they were loaded at receiver, keeping seven on the opening day roster.

Some fans chanted for Romo to take the field in the final minutes of the blowout, but their request was denied. Jones said throwing the veteran out there for a handful of plays “would not be worth the risk.”

Whatever. At this point, Romo has been reduced to an irrelevant talking point. Prescott has made him another Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

The kid has been that good, that smart, that steady. The Cowboys have a lot of different ways to beat you, especially on offense, and they showed off all of them against the overmatched Lions. But if Dak Prescott had played this season like the fourth-rounder he was in the spring, the Cowboys would likely be a one-and-done wild-card team, at best.

Prescott instead performed and carried himself like an instant franchise player. If Dallas wins the whole thing for the first time in forever, rest assured that No. 4 will be the No. 1 reason why.

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The Raiders honored Charles Woodson with a special trick play, a win, and a celebration in his last home game

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Charles Woodson’s time in Oakland at the Coliseum has come to an end. His season and his 18-year career are almost over as well, so the Raiders sent him off in a heroic fashion during his last home game.

Attempting to provide Woodson with the exclamation point to his Hall of Fame career, the Raiders designed an offensive play for him¡ªessentially a walk off play¡ªin the red zone on 1st and goal. The run/pass option for Woodson could have given the Raiders a touchdown but resulted in a loss of yards instead. it was his first NFL carry.

Nevertheless, it was the Raiders defense that ended up securing the victory by stopping the San Diego Chargers on fourth down.
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A delay of game made things even more comically terrible, but the Raiders eventually got the lead on a Sebastian Janikowski field goal. That proved to be the final score and the Raiders got a win in cornerback Charles Woodson’s final home game. The legendary defensive back announced this week that he will retire at the end of the season.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers finished the game 31 of 49 for 277 yards with a touchdown while Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had 209 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Oakland outrushed San Diego, 106 to 72 yards but the game was close all over the stat sheet.
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It was a promising but ultimately disappointing start to the game for the Raiders. Carr led the Raiders down field and the team was clicking until Carr tossed an interception to Kendall Reyes and the drive set San Diego up in Oakland territory. It took seven plays over 32 yards for the Chargers to convert it into points, but they did when Donald Brown ran in a 1-yard touchdown.

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Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has some fun over Richard Sherman

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson decided to go off-script Wednesday and start his news conference with a joke.

“How you guys doing today?” Wilson asked. “Don’t make me take y’all’s credentials today, all right?”

Wilson was referring to teammate Richard Sherman’s dustup with a reporter on Tuesday. That exchange came after Sherman was peppered with questions about his outburst during last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
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Sherman went off on the sideline after coaches decided to call a pass play from the 1-yard line. Afterward, he referred to Super Bowl XLIX, when the Seahawks were in a similar situation and New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted a Wilson pass.

RT Demar Dotson remains in the concussion protocol for the straight third week. He returned to practice on Tuesday and has been limited both days. With Gosder Cherilus suffering a groin injury last week and not practicing Wednesday, this team could be down to starting a third-string right tackle in Leonard Wester.

CB Delvin Breaux remains sidelined with the shoulder injury he suffered when New Orleans played Tampa Bay two weeks ago, leaving his status in doubt for the rematch. He’ll be missed, since he is the Saints’ No. 1 corner and was playing well in his matchup against Mike Evans before he getting hurt. Former Bucs corner Sterling Moore will become even more important if Breaux can’t go.

On Wednesday, WR Julio Jones went through his most extensive practice since suffering a sprained toe in the Falcons’ Dec. 4 loss to the Chiefs. The league’s leading receiver, who was sidelined the previous two games, said he felt good but stopped short of declaring himself totally cleared to face the Panthers on Saturday.
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Jones was limited Wednesday, but completed some pivoting maneuvers early in practice, which was a positive sign. Said Jones prior to practice, “If I can’t be me, [Coach Dan] Quinn is not going to let me go.'”

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Improbable win at Arrowhead has Titans in great position

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Even a late, failed two-point conversion attempt that denied them the chance to forge a tie couldn¡¯t undo the Tennessee Titans.

Fighting back from a 14-point deficit in below-zero wind chill, the Titans drove for a last-play, 53-yard field-goal attempt.

Marcus Mariota led a drive with 1:07 remaining and no timeouts to set up the Titans’ game-winning field goal.

Ryan Succop¡¯s first try was short, but the Kansas City Chiefs had called a timeout at Arrowhead Stadium.

His second, in a building he used to call home, was true.

If you¡¯re a Patriots fan, what more could you really ask for?
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OK, home-field advantage, but that wasn¡¯t an option on this day, when the Patriots played their best game of the season — a turnover-free effort that had the offense, defense and special teams complementing each other in the way that coach Bill Belichick preaches on a daily basis.

Running back Dion Lewis had his biggest game of the season Sunday, finishing with 95 yards rushing on 18 carries. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
This was a field-position-type game, and two drives by the Patriots¡¯ offense stood out for their excellence, even though they both ended in punts.

Midway through the second quarter, the Patriots (12-2) took over at their own 8 with 5:14 remaining and dug the ball out to midfield to kill the clock and take a 10-3 lead into halftime. Then, in the third quarter, when they were backed up at their own 5 with 4:25 remaining, they once again dug out to midfield before punting it away and pinning Denver deep in its own territory.
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Those are championship-type drives in this type of game. They won¡¯t show up on many of the highlight shows, but that¡¯s what this game was all about for the Patriots — playing clean, for good field position, and using their quicker running backs (Dion Lewis, James White) more than the norm on inside running plays.

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The NFL estimates it has more than 20 million fans in Mexico

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Juan Pablo and Valantina had their picture taken with Browns mascot Swagger during one of their visits to Cleveland. Courtesy Jesus Serrano
“It’s incredible,” Juan Pablo said. “All the people are shouting. It’s a great experience.”

By now, the Serranos feel at home in Cleveland. They’ve become friends with fans near their seats and know the people at hotels and restaurants.

“The city has embraced us in a wonderful way,” Jesus said.
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‘I bleed brown and orange’

While soccer is king in Mexico, American football has a growing fan base there. The NFL estimates it has more than 20 million fans in Mexico. Several games per week are televised in the country, and fans such as the Serranos can buy DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket package to watch the teams of their choice.

Serrano has many friends who are NFL fans and said about 40 percent of his son’s schoolmates follow the league, too.

Not blitzing Flacco seems to be the best way to attack him. When teams rush four or more, Flacco averages 8.16 yards per attempt. When teams rush four or fewer, his yards per attempt drops to 6.01.

“Anytime a team drops eight guys into coverage, they’re covering you,” Harbaugh said. “We had two chances to hit passes down the middle against that coverage, and we didn’t. We would have liked to hit those two opportunities. That’s what the coverage is built for. Give them credit; they had a good game plan, and they executed it very well.”

Craig Anderson Limited Jersey If the Ravens are ever going to get back to throwing the ball deep, it’s going to have to start against the Eagles on Sunday. Philadelphia has allowed a league-worst 20 completions on passes that travel at least 15 yards past the sticks.

“When you do have the opportunities to, you have to make the plays,” Flacco said. “You might have to make one-on-one plays here and there, and pick and choose your spots. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not. But yes, sometimes it is more about what they do and the opportunities they are giving you.”

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NFL power rankings: Panthers reclaim throne, Cardinals and Chiefs not far behind

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The Panthers took over at the top of our power rankings back in Week 12 and only relinquished that throne once over the season’s final six weeks. They were overtaken by the Cardinals last week after their quest for a perfect season was foiled by Atlanta, but Carolina could not be held down for long. It ended the season on a high note in Week 17, dominating Tampa Bay on its way to recapturing the No. 1 spot in our final rankings of the season. Cam Newton and his crew deserve the honor, finishing with a league-best 15-1 record, 500 points, and 58 touchdowns. That defense ain’t chopped liver, either.
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Nipping at their heels were the Arizona Cardinals, who just missed out on capturing the top spot after a dud of a finale against the Seahawks at home. Nonetheless, Arizona’s season as a whole was supremely impressive — it finished first in the league in yards per game, first in yards per play, and second in points, while surrendering just 19.6 points per game (7th).

“It’s hard enough to win games in the National Football League. It’s harder when you have somebody that tweets something that’s a distraction to the club, and I can’t do that.”

Game Dennis Rodman Jersey Asked about Jim Harbaugh’s own Twitter entry — a not-so-subtle jab at the Niners after head coach Jim Tomsula was fired Sunday — York grinned.

“I’m definitely aware of it, but I can’t focus myself on things that are outside of our head coaching search right now,” York said.

York’s complete description of what he learned from 2015 and his vows to step away from Twitter can be found below.

The firing of head coach Lovie Smith was surprising for many fans, but it was also surprising for some players. As soon as news broke out that their head coach would not return for a third season, a few Buccaneers players chimed in.

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Eaton trade a reminder for fantasy owners to win now

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On first view, the intriguing package the Chicago White Sox received in their trade with the Washington Nationals for outfielder Adam Eaton appears to be a bountiful one, with top pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez heading to the American League, where they can eventually become aces. But for fantasy owners, the trade should be a reminder of the goal that many real teams live by: to win now.

Eaton, while a modest fantasy option, helps the Nationals win now. He is also more valuable for fantasy purposes; fantasy owners love the prospects, but most do not pan out. It¡¯s often a harsh reality to remember.

Texas Rangers: The Texas system isn’t as strong as it has been in the past. I don’t see anything here.

New York Yankees: They’ve added some strong depth with the likes of outfielder Clint Frazier and shortstop Gleyber Torres. Shortstop/second baseman Jorge Mateo is a ways off from the majors but has power and speed potential. But given Frazier’s strikeout issues, none of these three is a sure bet. (The Yankees actually had Quintana at one point but lost him as a six-year minor league free agent.)

Los Angeles Dodgers: They’re trying to decrease their payroll, but Quintana doesn’t break the bank. Right-hander Jose De Leon and outfielder Alex Verdugo would be an interesting pair to start with.

Chicago Cubs: Don’t even think of a deal with their crosstown rivals.
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Limited Mens Matt Duchene Jersey The Astros still seem like the best best, given their system strength and desire to add a final piece for 2017 and beyond. The Rockies are a sleeper team, as they seem to be making a push for playoff contention. Will another team value Quintana on the same level as Sale or Eaton? If so, I think he starts the season in a new uniform.

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Jimmy Graham top among TEs in latest end-of-season rankings

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Matchups are often a driving force behind fantasy owners’ weekly lineup decisions. When choosing between two or more similarly talented players, you know the first question that comes to mind: Which one has the best matchup?
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Our fantasy football experts help you set your Week 14 lineups with individual and composite rankings for each position.

The consistency ratings weigh both how consistent and how start-worthy players have been in ESPN leagues in 2016.

Is this draft better on offense or defense?

Kiper: This is a defensive draft. It’s incredibly strong there — 15 of my top 25 prospects are defenders, including eight of the top 10. And it’s deep too, with pass-rushers and defensive backs galore. On offense, this draft is lacking in premier talent at positions that are usually picked in the top five: offensive tackles and quarterbacks. There just isn’t much there.

Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State players make up a quarter of Todd McShay’s latest 2017 NFL draft prospect ranking, with WR Mike Williams and LB Reuben Foster scoring particularly high grades.

You might already know about LSU star Leonard Fournette, but two more star running backs make Mel Kiper’s updated ranking of the top 25 prospects for the 2017 draft.

Womens Chicago White Sox Jersey The ankle has been an issue since, at times leaving him in significant pain, such as in the team’s Nov. 27 win over the New York Jets when he was tackled by linebacker David Harris directly by the ankle on a 4-yard end-around run. Bennett reached for the ankle after the tackle, and remained down on the field for an extended period as the athletic training staff tended to him.

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Seahawks vs. Vikings 2016 picks and predictions: Frigid Minnesota shouldn’t be a problem for red-hot Seattle

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The Seattle Seahawks might be the lowest-seeded club in the NFC bracket, but there are few people who doubt their ability to make a third straight trip to the Super Bowl in February. They are playing at an extremely high level right now and enter the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest teams.

Perhaps the most surprising part of their second-half run is that its being fueled by an offense that has reached full juggernaut status. From Weeks 11-17, the Seahawks won six of seven contests and ranked second in the league in both points and yards per game. Russell Wilson has the passing game operating at peak effectiveness, throwing an NFL-best 24 touchdowns with just one interception in that span.

Seattle’s 6-1 closing stretch was punctuated by a 30-point thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17, cementing its status as a team that no one wants to face in a win-or-go home contest. The Seahawks are playing their best football of the season at the right time: in their final seven games, they went 3-0 against playoff teams, outscoring them by an average of 23 points per game.

Authentic Womens New York Rangers Jersey The Vikings also head into this matchup on a roll, dominating the Bears, Giants and Packers to close out the year with a three-game win streak. After starting 2-2, the Vikings won nine of their 12 remaining games en route to the NFC North crown. Yet, their 11-5 record comes with a caveat: they went just 2-4 against teams that made the postseason, beating the Chiefs in Week 6 and Green Bay in Week 17.

Elite Kids Eric Bledsoe Jersey One of those four losses was a 38-7 shellacking at home in Week 13 courtesy of the Seahawks. The rematch, though, should be much more competitive. The Vikings were without several of their defensive stars in that game, and now that they have their entire complement of defenders back, they are primed for a shot at redemption against the Seahawks.

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