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New England appeared to be well in control throughout the first half against the Dolphins, leading 20-7 at halftime.

The Patriots locked up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins, who are settled into the AFC’s No. 6 seed.

The Dolphins rallied to make it 20-14 to start the second half, but the Patriots answered with a long catch-and-run by Julian Edelman to push the score back to 27-14. Tom Brady, an MVP candidate despite playing in just 12 games following a four-game suspension for is role in the Deflategate scandal, had three touchdown passes on the day.

Phil Simms, the two-time Super Bowl-winning former Giants quarterback, had been ensconced as the Tiffany network’s lead game analyst for nearly 20 years. Romo, on the other hand, had zero broadcasting experience. CBS took a beating publicly when it announced Romo’s hire on April 4 without comment from the vacationing Simms — leading son Chris Simms to fly to his dad’s defense.

Some critics wondered if Romo would fold under the pressure of calling both Sunday afternoon and Thursday Night games in his first year. Or if CBS should have eased him into the job via a three-person booth. Others expected Romo to follow the siren song of Cowboys sugar daddy Jerry Jones and return to the NFL — ala Jay Cutler, who spurned the No. 2 analyst job at Fox Sports to join the Dolphins this season. There were the inevitable Twitter jokes/memes, such as Romo would be the first announcer to break his collarbone in the broadcast booth.

McManus and CBS ignored the naysayers. Their faith was rewarded. Now Romo is the toast of TV sports.

Trump read a supportive letter from Belichick during a campaign rally, and Brady, while calling Trump a good friend and golfing buddy, has stopped short of saying that he voted for the president. His wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, was more definitive, saying, “NO!” when asked by an Instagram user whether she supported Trump.

Belichick and Kraft were among Patriots players who celebrated the team’s Super Bowl victory with a visit to the White House. Brady cited family plans as the reason he stayed away. During that visit, Kraft gave Trump a Super Bowl ring.jaguars_094

Is anyone surprised that starting Brock Osweiler on Sunday against the Eagles didn’t fix the Broncos’ QB problems?

The next move must be to Paxton Lynch as soon as he’s deemed ready to play, as he works his way back from his preseason shoulder injury. In the meantime, Coach Vance Joseph is sticking with Osweiler. No matter what happens at QB, the defense must play far better than it did in Philadelphia.

There’s no good reason to sit him. It’s doubtful that Manning’s successor is in the fold at this point and his two Super Bowl triumphs with the franchise should buy him the opportunity to finish out this miserable season on the field and with his professional dignity intact to whatever extent remains possible.

Jimmy Garoppolo needs to be put into the starting lineup as soon as possible, and he needs to be re-signed for next season and beyond. All this silliness — about how Garoppolo might play or he might not, and about how he might be re-signed and he might not — needs to be put aside.

This is a very flawed team. Winning a playoff-elimination game against the Cowboys with more penalty yards than yards of total offense was next to unthinkable. But the Seahawks retain their playoff possibilities, needing a win Sunday over the Cardinals and a Falcons loss to the Panthers.

The success of QB Jimmy Garoppolo playing in Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense provides plenty of hope for next season in Year 2 of the Niners’ new regime. The 49ers are playing like a playoff team right now. Unfortunately for them, it took them until December to get Garoppolo into the lineup.

After entering the 2017 season as one of the best cornerbacks in the country from a storied CB factory at Virginia Tech, injuries prevented a potentially dominating season. When he’s at his best, Facyson offers an outstanding Cover 3 skill set, winning at the line of scrimmage with good initial technique and mirroring at a high level. He’s a sound tackler who breaks down and finishes in the run game, seeking out plays in the backfield when possible.
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Expect Garoppolo’s fantasy numbers to rise to meet his grading in Week 14.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: It’s easy to get sucked into the fantasy box scores, especially when, you know, that’s what we do here. And from the fantasy box score, Garoppolo was something of a disappointment in his debut as a starter, tying Blaine Gabbert as the No. 25 fantasy quarterback of Week 13. But look deeper, and you’ll see a quarterback with an 86.7 PFF game grade, against a Bears team that hasn’t allowed a quarterback to top 300 passing yards since Week 1. This week, Garoppolo gets to face a Texans defense that has allowed 13 passing touchdowns in six games since its Week 7 bye, and has allowed three-plus passing scores in a game five times this year.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts: Since joining the Colts in 2015, Gore has finished a week as a top-10 fantasy running back just seven times (only once since Week 9 of 2016), while he’s been top-20 22 times in 44 games, top-30 33 times.

Even if Martin returns for Week 14 (which doesn’t seem likely), Barber should keep the job, and gets to face a Lions offense that has been miserable against the run lately, allowing 10 rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last seven games, and allowing a nice three-week run of me picking backs against them in this space and looking smart.

At the bottom of the conference sit the winless Cleveland Browns, an Indianapolis Colts team without quarterback Andrew Luck, a Denver Broncos team that was so fed up with its quarterback play they decided to give Brock Osweiler another chance. (A terrible idea: He completed 19 of 38 passes for 208 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, giving him a 53.4 passer rating.) None of them projects as solid playoff candidates.

The teams a little closer to the playoff pack, but still outside the picture, are the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Houston Texans — three teams that aren’t expected to break .500.jaguars_031

You know you’ve entered a temple when disagreement is treated as sacrilege.

The animosity directed toward NFL players kneeling at the anthem, protesting police brutality and structural racism, is the sort of acrimony we reserve for infidels.

Many professedly “religious” believers will be among those most incensed by resistance to this secular liturgy — a sign that even believers in God are not immune to being captivated by secular rituals, confusing what is holy.

The physical play of Coughlin-led teams is the reason he’s been such a consistent coach.

Carr: Although we’d run simple schemes, Coughlin was great at adding subtle differences in the alignment of a defensive end, or playing outside leverage instead of inside leverage. Coughlin came into our quarterbacks room during the first week of prep leading up to Super Bowl XLVI and said, “We’ve run that in-route so much off play-action that I think we should return the receiver back to the sideline.” Sure enough, on a crucial drive in that game, Manning play-action faked and New England’s cornerback had run the in-route before our receiver, Hakeem Nicks, did. Then, Nicks stopped and came back toward the sideline to make a huge play. It’s the small things that give Coughlin an edge.

It’s also an important event for many other NFL draft prospects, who will get the chance to compete against the best of the best. Though a few potential first-round picks pulled out of the event, the roster is still solid.

We asked our NFL draft experts -Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr., Matt Bowen and Steve Muench -to pick out the best and most intriguing prospects who will be in Mobile. Before we get into that, here’s a quick primer on the Senior Bowl:

Fantasy spin: Theo Riddick has been a good find for the Lions this season and is expected to see a larger share of both carries and receptions should Abdullah miss any time. But, there’s always a but, the team is expected to also utilize Dwayne Washington, as well. Not your normal 7th-round rookie, Washington is a monstrous, athletic freak. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, the Washington product (yes, it’s confusing) ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his Pro Day to go along with a 37-inch vertical. Those numbers are awfully similar to David Johnson in Arizona.
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I’ve been playing this game since I was a little kid.

You hear all types of stuff. Stuff’s not going to bother you, but somebody says something about your ethnicity, that’s really kind of taking it a little bit too far.”

There’s a lens in which we view Bortles as a decidedly meh quarterback. (He finished 20th this season in passer rating, though 12th in ESPN’s QBR which factors in things like rushing ability.) There’s also a lens through which we view Bortles as an inevitability, as a dude who even when he plays really poorly is always an extant and overgrown threat to bumble his way into a big play. You can’t count on a lot of good out of Bortles, but you can count on something good. Eventually.

Very much so, coach Ron Rivera said.Everyone makes mistakes, but the FO could have written a better contract just case the concussion thing came back to bite us.Despite the injury, Janovich still played 42 percent of Denver’s offensive snaps against the Chargers last week.And if Detroit’s front office can improve Stafford’s supporting cast, they could easily contend the wide-open NFC.

He was also charged with reckless driving a separate incident that month, though it appears this be his only discipline.I just want to make sure he gets his ring,” Evans cracked.He had missed most of training camp due to a calf injury that required surgery to remove a blood clot.The Kingdom of Osraighe encompasses most of present day Co.

The Steelers, Vikings, Saints, and Rams were all ranked in the top five on ESPN’s power rankings list. These four teams won their respective division crowns and will look to go on a run in the postseason. Philadelphia dropped out of the top five and is penciled in at No. 6. The Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, and Kansas City Chiefs all finished in the top 10.

CBS’s power rankings are similar to ESPN’s. But the Rams and Vikings moved up two spots since last week. The Eagles slipped out of the top five on NFL.com’s power rankings list, but the Chiefs climbed up to No. 6. And the Falcons are back in the top 10.

SB Nation released its final Hope Rankings for the regular season, and the Patriots are the top team on that list. This isn’t your normal power rankings. Instead, this list gives you an idea of which team has the most hope.

The Cleveland Browns is the first team since the 2008 Detroit Lions to have a winless season. Cleveland fans, this horrible season is finally over. Now erase 2017 from your memory, and get ready for 2018. You can expect the Browns brass to do the same.bears_136-223x223

McVay and the coaches tried to lay a foundation that any quarterback would like.

He had been head coach with the Panthers prior to being hired by the Broncos, spending 2002-2010 on the sideline in Charlotte. Fox took the franchise to its first Super Bowl in only his second season, but failed to reach that plateau in the seven that followed. Despite winning seven games or more every year until 2010, his Carolina teams only finished the season with a winning record three times, leading owner Jerry Richardson to not renew his longtime coach’s contract after a 2-14 campaign that ultimately delivered future MVP Cam Newton to the Panthers.

“Everything we do has the quarterback in mind first, because I think that’s the most difficult position, so you want to make it as easy as possible for those guys,” McVay said. “The things that we’ll accentuate with Jared vs. Kirk, while there’s a similar approach, there are some different things that they each feel comfortable with that we might call. Because ultimately it’s about them feeling good about it, not me.

“I mean, I’ve got a handful of plays that I like but I don’t ever want to run plays that our players aren’t comfortable going and executing. It’s an ongoing thing as I get to know [Jared]. Working with Kirk a little bit longer, you knew what he liked and we were able to grow in a system together.”

To begin with, though, He wanted a run/pass balance, and the Rams ran it (33 times) more than they threw it (31) against Indy. McVay wanted to stay out of long yardage, and Los Angeles faced just eight third downs with more than 5 yards to gain all afternoon.

He called Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green “soft and weak” after a fight earlier in the season and went toe to toe with Steve Smith of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016.

Ramsey could’ve had his Richard Sherman-Erin Andrews moment Sunday, but instead we got a milquetoast interview with the player most likely to cost the Jaguars a chance at a Lombardi Trophy.

Oregon went to the College Football Playoff in 2014 under Helfrich, but eventually lackluster recruiting and bad defense tore down the perennial powerhouse and the coach was fired after four seasons in 2016 with a 37-16 record.
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A win would be the first playoff win for the team since 1995.

The longest playoff drought in American sports belongs to MLB’s Seattle Mariners now that the Buffalo Bills did enough to grab the last spot in the AFC. On Sunday, the Bills will play in a postseason game for the first time since January 2000.

Getting to the postseason was a special moment for Buffalo, and came via a miraculous last-minute victory by the Cincinnati Bengals to knock the Baltimore Ravens out of contention. It was a long time coming for the Bills and the importance of the moment was felt by the players and the team’s fans.

That’s when we started this whole family being apart thing, that was a tough transition.He lived out of a car during six months high school.Kory graduated with a Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice degree.Early-down and short-yardage running back 12th-highest overall grade among FBS running backs 2015, sixth among draft-eligible players.

Share with Us.As tough as those assignments are on a night-to-night basis, coach Spoelstra and Winslow believe it’s assignment he can handle.He didn’t tell me much.Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield.

BLACK THE END 2) , the Baller.With less and less traditional bigs coming off the bench, it’s going to be interesting experiment if the Nuggets try to play Plumlee against any kind of perimeter oriented forward center.Is it a sign of better things to come?This team needs me; this offense needs me a lot, he said.

If the coach has been fired, as was the case in Carolina with John Fox, the coach will say their goodbyes and you’re off. In New York, I was there for Tom Coughlin’s last meeting. As usual, the coach was blunt with us about his situation and didn’t sound like a guy who was ready to stop coaching. He had yet to speak with the ownership about his situation. That meeting was tense. I remember walking around and thinking there was no way Coughlin was ready to be finished with coaching.

After the team meeting, it’s time to meet individually with your position coach or coordinator and possibly the head coach. This is when you’re allowed to be honest about the season. I hope players take that opportunity, because the coaches will be honest with you. I’ve had offensive line coaches question me before, and I’ve fired it back at them. It’s also a time to discuss offseason plans, where you will be training, and if you’re a free agent, how to proceed.bears_016-223x223

It was almost a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would win this game.

The Titans carried a 7-0 lead into the second quarter, but they couldn’t hold off New England at home.

The Patriots don’t often trail after the first quarter. It’s only happened nine times since Tom Brady took over as the starter in 2001, according to NFL Research. The Patriots have won just four of those, including this divisional game against the Titans.

The Glazers chartered five small planes to take those among the staff and players who wanted to go to Charlotte on Saturday, and arranged for all of them to return to Tampa.

Gruden smacked the daylights out of this football McDonough was holding to illustrate how he used a noodle to teach Carson Wentz the fundamentals of ball protection at his quarterbacks academy.

It may not be the most tried and tested method. Wentz fumbled nine times, losing five, before his season was cut short by a torn ACL.

‘”I’m very encouraged with our roster and I’m encouraged with the organization’s approach to the roster, the way the coaches are coaching our players, the way we’re utilizing our talent,” Dimitroff said. “We’ve become more and more aware as we’ve stayed together with the continuity of our staff, that it’s very beneficial to how we can continue develop players, and continue to play with the roster.

Nobody I know pays for cable. We’re all transient. We all moved to big cities, back and forth. Everybody I know pays for something like Hulu, Netflix, HBOGo; it’s just not cable. There’s a lot of disposable income to be had, there’s just nobody that is organizing it. Everyone I know who lives on their own is doing a whole combination of s— like I am. Reddit is my preferred way, just because they organize it so well. I used to do a lot more janky stuff back in the day, which was much worse. If I can’t find a game on Reddit I’ll search Twitter, but that is always a backup.

Sunday’s total is set at 39.5 points. The OVER is 5-0 in the last five games between Buffalo and Jacksonville.

Ranking in the bottom eight of the league in both total offense and total defense, the Bills would have to consider themselves lucky to have made the postseason this year. They’ll need that luck to carry over into the playoffs to have a shot at an upset in Jacksonville.bears_002-223x223

So how did Smith play after the tape was graded?

Jeff Fisher: Fisher says he feels “young and charged up” and wants another shot at coaching. But does any team in the league really want to deal with his 7-9 bullshit?

Josh McDaniels: This should be another year, another slew of interviews for the architect of New England’s top-ranked offense. But Tom Brady’s almost certainly sticking around, so McDaniels may not want to leave the Patriots.

I’m from Philadelphia and I’m a Philly sports fan so I’ll watch the Eagles game every week, and then usually stream two other games at the same. Tom Brady is my favorite player and I’m a big Joey Bosa fan, so I’ll watch their games too. I love all sports, and I work from a home office, so I’ll usually stream up to three different games at a time using Reddit and Chromecast pretty much every day that I’m home.

Smith’s instincts are there, and he flashed good straight-line speed and an ability to find the ball, close on the ballcarrier, and arrive at him violently, which is sort of Linebacking 101.

Smith’s change of direction and reactionary athleticism aren’t where they once were. As a result, this game he was strictly an off-ball linebacker, which protects him to some degree. But he played the position, and played it well. Given the doubts that Smith could make it this far (I’ll raise my hand there), that much is certainly worth applauding.

The Glazers also have put up in hotels the team personnel and families still without power. Meanwhile, much of the legwork fell to COO Brian Ford, senior manager of team operations Tim Jarocki and director of player engagement Duke Preston. They’d come up with contingency plans for practice this week in Minneapolis, Dallas and at the Greenbrier in West Virginia; worked with people like team nutritionist Kevin Luhrs on making sure players were getting what they needed; and then assisted in making sure everyone got back as fast as possible.

And they were scattered. Players had to get back from Georgia, both Carolinas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas, California, Wyoming, Louisiana, Ohio and Alabama. And tight end Anthony Auclair was in Canada. The Glazers set up charters on Tuesday from a pair of hubs to Tampa, asking players to get to those hubs, to circumvent the effects of the crush of people trying to return to the area. In the end, they somehow got it done in time for Koetter to address the team Tuesday night, which allowed for a relatively normal week ahead of the Bears game on Sunday.

His other favorite prop is a pool noodle. Sean McDonough should have learned from Mike Tirico’s experience. Don’t stand near Jon Gruden when he’s got any kind of prop in his hand.nationals_014

Doug Pederson’s risky decision to kick a field goal paid off for the Eagles

The Eagles’ decision to call a timeout before kicking a field goal midway through the fourth quarter almost cost them against the Falcons. Instead, it ended up being a good call.

After going on a lengthy drive, the Eagles faced with a fourth-and-1 from the Atlanta 3-yard line with 6:05 to go. The Eagles initially kept the offense on the field to go for it, but head coach Doug Pederson called a timeout.

The field-goal unit then went out onto the field to give the Eagles at 15-10 lead. It left them with two timeouts for the final 6:02.

The Falcons got the ball all the way down to the 2-yard line and faced a fourth-and-goal with 1:05 left in the game. The Falcons threw an incomplete pass to Jones, giving the Eagles the 15-10 win.

Pederson ended up making the right choice, but for a minute there, it was looking quite bad. The Eagles will move on to the NFC Championship game.

Thanks to a trade with the Houston Texans during the 2017 NFL draft, the Browns are also set up with two top-five picks after Houston finished the season 4-12 with a Week 17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. That locked up the No. 4 pick for the Browns, just behind the Giants (No. 2) and the Colts (No. 3).

The first 20 picks were decided in Week 17, but the final 12 won’t be determined until the playoffs are through. The four teams that are eliminated in the Wild Card round will own picks 21-24, and so on until the Super Bowl loser picks No. 31 and the team that hoists the Lombardi Trophy gets the No. 32 pick.

There were three ties for spots in the draft order, but only the 49ers and Raiders will go to a coin flip to decide. The ties between Washington and Green Bay, and Dallas and Detroit were decided by a tiebreaker of records against common opponents in the NFC.
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