2016 NFL playoff schedule and bracket: Cardinals advance to NFC Championship after OT thriller

Elite Youth Ray Rice Jersey The Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers in one of the wildest playoff games ever to advance to the NFC Championship, 26-20. The game featured an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary to send the game to overtime, but the Cardinals punched right back with big plays by Larry Fitzgerald to win.

Earlier in the day, the New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs to advance to their fifth straight AFC Championship game for a chance to go to a second straight Super Bowl. The Chiefs scored a touchdown late to make the score look closer than the game itself, 27-20. With Julian Edelman back, the Patriots’ offense looked like its old self.

Needless to say, Washington went three-and-out on that drive after the big loss on third down. I’m not sure anybody paid it a second thought since the announcers never bothered to show just how open Jackson was on that play almost right from the snap. I get on bad announcers a lot these days, and after seeing Jackson streaking down the field all by himself on the all-22, I just can’t understand why they wouldn’t have let the home audience see that in real time. Even on the TV copy, if you know that both safeties bit on the play-action fake, you can tell that Jackson is going to be wide open. But somehow it kind of slipped under the radar and the game just went on.

On paper you might not even know whether Peppers was on the field for that play. But the film gives you the truth plus all the context in the world. It’s hard not to wonder if that game has a different ending if Washington gets out to a 12-0 lead on the strength of Kirk “YOU LIKE THAT?!” Cousins hitting DJax deep for a touchdown. Hell, maybe folks would have even forgive Jackson for that earlier mistake on the touchdown that wasn’t.

Peppers’ pressure made sure that non of that ever happened and the Packers were able to bounce back from their poor start to win and advance to the next round.

Limited Dwayne Harris Jersey Even if they failed on third down, they could’ve at least cut the Chiefs’ lead to 10 right before halftime. That could’ve been huge seeing as how the Texans were getting the ball to start the second half. The one thing he could not do in that situation was throw it to the other team.

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It’s also very clear that Tom Brady is not Tom Brady without Rob Gronkowski

The average passer rating for the league as a whole since 2010 is 87.0. It puts Brady in a range with the likes of Kyle Orton, Michael Vick, Joe Flacco and Sam Bradford, all of whom have passer ratings between 83 and 86 over that time frame. It’s true that every quarterback will look worse without his No. 1 weapon, and it’s entirely possible that Brady and the Pats are better-equipped to handle Gronkowski’s absence this time around with Bennett.

Kids Darren Fells Jersey It’s also very clear that Tom Brady is not Tom Brady without Rob Gronkowski. Remember who Brady goes to when the chips are down. As much as he trusts Julian Edelman, it was Gronkowski who Brady threw to on fourth-and-the-season twice against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game last season, even though his tight end was double-covered on both occasions. They simply aren’t the same team without him.

What’s next for the rest of the league?

The players meet with coaches throughout the week, but Mitchell quizzes scouts for supplemental intel. Pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt — nicknamed “Baby GM” by some in the building — always has the “raw nuggets,” Mitchell said.

Whether applicable or not, the new information is good to store in the mental bank.

“Every time in a game do I have time to look at his gloves? No,” Mitchell said. “But it’s a little tip where I have information, and if all the calls are made, let me take a quick glance out there.”

Mitchell’s group includes linebacker Ryan Shazier, rookie safety Sean Davis, linebacker Tyler Matakevich and cornerback Ross Cockrell.
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Davis, who was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 11, says his chemistry and communication with Mitchell has improved in part because of the meetings and off-field time spent at the weekly defensive backs hangout session.

“I’ve got a nice little group of guys,” Mitchell said of the scouting room. “Sometimes they can give us extra information on a specific player, since they’ve looked at them extensively … I’m just trying to get every advantage.”

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How do the 2016 NFL MVP candidates stack up?

Clearly Prescott has been clutch, but how can we measure his total value and compare it to that of others around the league?

Many will point to Total QBR as an all-encompassing barometer of quarterback success. Total QBR has value, but because it is expressed on a per-play basis, it is not the best measure of a quarterback¡¯s total impact.
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There is another metric, however, that might be an even better gauge of a quarterback¡¯s value to his team. QB points added accounts for both efficiency and usage. The number associated with this statistic represents the number of points on the field a quarterback contributes over the course of the season, beyond what would be expected of an average quarterback (one with a QBR of 50) with the same number of plays.

It makes sense that a quarterback who both is efficient and has a high usage rate would receive greater consideration for the NFL MVP award, and such quarterbacks have! Seven of the past eight quarterbacks to win MVP ranked in the top two in that statistic in their award-winning seasons.

“Every day, he jumps the line and starts running,” receiver Walter Powell says. “We let him get his catch on. It’s like, ‘There you go, big guy. Now go on'” — Powell makes a shooing motion with his hand — “‘and go do your own thing.'”

What’s most striking about Incognito is the level of sheer earnestness. The engine has no governor. He attacks every drill with the choppy steps vital to his profession. Legs underneath him to maximize balance and force, his feet constantly moving, his head up, he’s every offensive line coach’s Platonic fantasy. That’s the message: It means so damned much to this guy.

“Here’s what Richie’s done here,” offensive line coach Aaron Kromer says. “He’s come in and been the hardest worker on the practice field. He sets the tempo. He’s shown the young guys how to practice hard. Doing drills, he’s finishing to the point where you’re like, Whoa. You look at the other guys and say, ‘Just do it like that.’ And just by virtue of other guys paying attention to what he’s doing, it really helps the culture of the room.”
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How do the 2016 NFL MVP candidates stack up?

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Ravens owner gives 2014 season high marks despite his ‘absolute crappy year’

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti called 2014 his “worst year as an owner,” but said the 10-6 season was a success for the franchise, in a season-review press conference held Tuesday.

Just one day after a loss in Week 1 to Clint Dempsey Authentic Womens Jersey the Cincinnati Bengals, a video surfaced showing Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious. Rice, who had served half of his two-game suspension, was released by the team later in the day and Bisciotti was criticized, along with the NFL, for the small punishment originally given to the running back.

For his part, Hasselbeck is happy to be along for the ride.

Even with Rice no longer on the team, Newsome said his situation will still impact the way team evaluates players in free agency and the NFL Draft.

“The one area where we will definitely take a hard look and it will be tough for us to bring a player to Baltimore is someone that has domestic abuse in their background,” Newsome said. “Other than that, we will exhaust every character aspect of a player. But we believe in allowing the information to lead us to a decision.”

The Ravens are slated to pick No. 26 in the 2015 NFL Draft and are projected to take Arizona State wide DaMarcus Beasley Authentic Womens Jersey receiver Jaelen Strong in the latest mock draft from SB Nation’s Dan Kadar.

The 36-year-old pass rusher posted on Instagram Sunday that he plans to travel to Arizona to begin training for his 13th NFL season. If Harrison could manage eight sacks in 2015, he would pass Jason Gildon for the franchise record for career sacks.

“I am off suicide watch,” Bisciotti said. “I’m stable mentally. I’ll probably be your owner for a while.”

Without Rice, the Ravens found success with running back Justin Forsett, who finished the year with 1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl. Couple the success of Forsett with a postseason run that included eliminating the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Bisciotti said the 2014 season was a success for the franchise.

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The Celtics eventually waived Lee and his $14.4 million contract in February

The Celtics, who built as much as a 14-point first-quarter advantage, watched their lead erode, not because of Leonard (who had a quiet — by his standards — 25-points, 10-rebound, four-assist night, ) or Aldridge (10 points, four rebounds), but the play of a reserve trio in Mills, Lee, and rookie Davis Bertans who combined for 49 points on 18-of-25 shooting Ron Parker Authentic Womens Jersey overall (Boston’s entire bench combined for 30 points on 12-of-25 shooting).

Watching Lee dominate on the glass (seven offensive rebounds) will be tough for Celtics fans to stomach, especially after he arrived in Boston with a Larry O’Brien hangover from his summer of celebrating a championship victory with the Golden State Warriors. Lee morphed quickly from starting big man to squeezed out of the rotation in Boston’s overstocked frontcourt. The Celtics eventually waived Lee and his $14.4 million contract in February.

“I’d love to be perfect and play great all the time,” Lee said. “It wasn’t the case last year to start the year, and it wasn’t out of a lack of effort or disrespecting Boston or anything like that. It just worked out the way that it did.

Towns got going during a second-quarter stretch, one in which it looked like the Warriors missed Green’s force. So, on back-to-back second quarter possessions, Kevin Durant provided some force of his own, going right into contact. On the first, he wrestled himself into a putback and-1. On the next, he drove right into the teeth of the defense for a hanging layup.

That appeared to get Golden State out of a rut and into a place where they could have some fun: Specifically, the Warriors rode another wild JaVale McGee run to a bigger lead. McGee is unpredictable, especially on defense, but it’s been difficult Spencer Ware Authentic Womens Jersey to question the effort and increasingly, the impact. In this game, as in others, he sprinted to his spots, stretching the opposing defense and opening opportunities for more than just himself. When McGee did have opportunities, teammates were eager to feed him (4-of-5 for eight points), delighting in guiding his skyward movements like kids who have commandeered a remote-control drone.

On the JaVale McGee experience, Durant said, “It is different. It’s a different look. Zaza [Pachulia] is more cerebral on the ground, makes the correct pass, and JaVale is more, put pressure on the rim and toss it up and make the defense guard the rim. That opens everything up for us.”

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The Cubs can replace a lot of what Fowler brings to the table

Here’s the crazy thing: The Cubs can replace a lot of what Fowler brings to the table. On paper, at least. The switch-hitting Zobrist can lead off just fine — he had a .386 on-base percentage with 96 walks to just 82 strikeouts in 2016. He won’t necessarily be an every-day player in Chicago’s crowded lineup, but that’s OK, because at 36 years old and coming off Cam Newton Authentic Jersey back-to-back seven-month seasons, he doesn’t need to start 140-150 games.

When a tough righty is on the mound or Baez needs a breather, Zobrist can still play second base. When the Cubs are up against a dominant lefty, he can play left or right for Schwarber or Heyward. There’s no reason to think Heyward can’t play center — he was ready to in 2016 before Fowler returned — opening right field for Zobrist. Almora doesn’t have to be left out of the mix as he starts games as well, perhaps against lefties, which could move around the deck chairs some more without Fowler. If anyone can make it work, it’s manager Joe Maddon.

Although nothing has been agreed upon at this point, it seems inevitable that this swap is going to take place. The only question might be what the September roster limits will look like. But expanding the size of the roster and adding at least 30 full-time players with full service time and benefits is a no-brainer for union head Tony Clark.

The Mariners grew so frustrated with Walker they sent him down to the minors in early August. Manager Scott Servais basically questioned Walker’s competitiveness. “When you go out there and take the mound as one of five starting pitchers, there’s a certain level of expectation,” Servais said at the time of the demotion. “You have to go deeper in games. You’ve got to be competitive when you go out there. Just the consistency of it, not knowing what you’re going to get from time to time.”

In one of his first starts back from the minors, Walker allowed six runs and Cameron Artis-Payne Authentic Jersey three home runs while getting knocked out in the first inning. After that, he took some advice from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and added a little Felix Hernandez-like twist to his delivery to help him hide the ball better and keep his shoulder from flying open. Two starts later, against the same team that had just shelled him, he pitched a three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout against the Angels. Over his final five starts, he posted a 2.93 ERA. That’s the kind of upside the pitching-starved Diamondbacks are banking on.

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That would mean more work for Chris Ivory and Denard Robinson

Ravens coach John Harbaugh expected cornerback Jimmy Smith to play last Sunday with a back injury, but Smith missed his first game of the season. Harbaugh declined to give an update on Smith on Monday, and there should be a better indication on his availability when the Ravens return to practice Wednesday. Smith is perhaps the one player Baltimore can afford to be Jay Prosch Authentic Womens Jersey without on defense. In six full quarters without Smith, the Ravens have allowed quarterbacks to complete 75 percent of their passes and produce a 126.9 passer rating.

The Bengals have gone from one of the healthiest teams to the opposite end of the spectrum in one game. Wide receiver A.J. Green has a hamstring strain, running back Giovani Bernard went down for the season with an ACL tear, and it’s up in the air if cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Shawn Williams will play Sunday in Baltimore. Expect to see more of rookie wideout Tyler Boyd now that Green is out for at least this week, and potentially beyond.

Barring a quick recovery by Luck – typically, players in concussion protocol are sidelined for at least a week, but it is impossible to project individual cases – maybe Tolzien will provide a Turkey Day surprise.

Yet for a .500 team that has its first winning streak of the season and a slim margin for error, this setback to the heartbeat of the franchise could not have come at a worse time.

Ben Roethlisberger is coming to town, triggering one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses Jeff Allen Authentic Womens Jersey for a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that routed the Colts the past two times they’ve played.

With Luck – who was brilliant early, then clutch late during the 24-17 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday – it seemed the Colts might have a chance to survive a shootout Thanksgiving night. The Steelers defense has been suspect, and unlike the previous two meetings the Colts get Pittsburgh on their own Lucas Oil patch this time around.

Scott who?

Tolzien, who joined the Colts this year, has been in the NFL as nothing more than a backup for six seasons, and in his six appearances with the Green Bay Packers, produced a 1-5 TD-to-INT ratio and 67.1 passer rating.

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NBA scores 2016: James Harden continues to create for teammates

For NBA fans who thought James Harden at point guard made no sense, it’s time to concede.

Harden calmly picked up his third triple-double of the season in the third quarter of Houston’s 126-109 win over Portland, finding guys like Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who combined for nine three-pointers.

Watch The Beard set up Ariza for a corner three with Nikola Mirotic Authentic Womens Jersey his patented euro-step that freezes C.J. McCollum just long enough to create an uncontested look.

Not quite satisfied? Here’s Harden’s first-quarter highlights, where he put up half of his numbers.

Glad we cleared that up.

At this rate, Drake is going to have to get a new jersey the next time he performs in the Bay Area.

It gets worse because Bradley Beal is injured, though it doesn’t appear to be serious. The Wizards are bottom-10 in both offense and defense, and the team’s playoff aspirations are already in big trouble.

The schedule repents the rest of the month. Washington will play three straight home games against the Knicks, the Heat and the Suns before traveling to play the Magic. Those last two teams might be the worst in the NBA, and none of the four are on a back-to-back.

But a 2-8 start hasn’t left the Wizards any room for error. The team can’t just Pau Gasol Authentic Womens Jersey play at a slightly above .500 pace — it requires a concerted effort to even get back to .500, and then win a few more games to pick up a low seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Washington can do it, of course. We’re halfway through November. But its first 10 games aren’t doing the last 72 any favors.

So that’s why any Wizards fans you might come across in the near future look like this.

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Rob Gronkowski ruled out for Sunday by Patriots

The New England Patriots have ruled out tight end Rob Gronkowski for Sunday’s game at the San Francisco 49ers.

The Pats listed Gronkowski as out with a chest injury on the injury report released Friday afternoon. He was not present for practice earlier Friday, marking the third straight day he was absent because of the injury sustained Sunday night Joseph Fauria Authentic Womens Jersey in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Hogan’s absence should mean more repetitions for veteran Danny Amendola and rookie Malcolm Mitchell at wide receiver alongside Edelman.

Rule 12, Section 3, Article 2 prohibits teams from committing “successive or repeated fouls to prevent a score.” If they do it again after receiving the required warning, according to Article 3 of the same rule, the act is to be declared “palpably unfair.” (For those seeking further clarification, “palpably” means “obviously.” I had to look it up, too.)

In such instances, referees are instructed to award the yardage a player would have reasonably gained — including a touchdown if applicable. They also return the lost time on the clock and have the option to eject the player(s) responsible.

Those instructions existed before the 49ers took down the Saints’ receivers and will continue to apply moving forward. They allow for a benefit of the doubt in one instance, but protect against a team routinely holding, tackling or otherwise committing intentional penalties as a substitute for actual defense and as a means of premeditated strategy.

We’ve seen similar instances before, and so has Boger — most notably at the end Josh Bynes Authentic Womens Jersey of Super Bowl XLVII. As you might recall, the Baltimore Ravens decided to punt from their end zone while clinging to a five-point lead over — yes — the 49ers with 12 seconds remaining. Ravens coach John Harbaugh ordered a play that called for his punt protectors to intentionally hold the 49ers’ rushers, giving punter Sam Koch a better opportunity to kill time prior to stepping out of bounds for a safety.

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Westbrook’s poster dunk is also the dagger that seals big OKC win

Almost the first thing Victor Oladipo did when he got back to his locker following the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 105-103 win over the Houston Rockets was grab his phone.

“Dunk him!” Oladipo roared.

Westbrook threw it into gear, and the Authentic Calvin Pryor Jersey Thunder defense that was so problematic against the Magic and Pistons slapped the cuffs on James Harden and the Rockets. Houston didn’t score for the final six minutes, until Eric Gordon hit a meaningless 3 with 0.9 seconds left, missing 13 of their final 14 shots from distance and scoring only 13 points in the quarter. At the heart of it was Andre Roberson, who is often panned for his offensive issues. He almost exclusively guarded Harden; the Thunder barely switched on screen-and-rolls, keeping Roberson on Harden Authentic Christian Hackenberg Jersey as much as possible. The payoff: Harden scored a season-low 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, plus he had six turnovers (and to be fair, 13 assists).

“I think Dre’s been doing an amazing job, especially defensively, all year long and he’s not getting credit for it,” Westbrook said. “He comes out and competes and guards the best players every night and does a great job of it.”

Roberson prevented the showdown so many anticipated, a fireworks show between two of the league’s top scorers and assist-makers. While Harden struggled, Westbrook continued his torrid pace: 30 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. (Those numbers actually lowers his season averages.)

It was the formula the Thunder are operating by this season. But unlike recent games where Westbrook failed to get support, whether in scoring or on defense, the Thunder showed up against the Rockets. Oladipo had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, finally giving a glimpse of what the “Flash Brothers” can look like. There have been signs of the Westbrook-Oladipo tandem clicking, but this was the first time it truly came together.

The Thunder weren’t shy about the importance of the result. Westbrook dubbed it a “big win,” and he’s not normally one to speak of anything being more important than another. It’s still November, and it’s a long road ahead. But after four straight failures and grumblings of feared issues becoming concrete reality, winning, and with such a flourish, could be a significant boost.

“It was huge for us,” Oladipo said. “It was real important to me. This organization is known for winning. Losing is unacceptable. We got to do whatever it takes in our power to continue to keep winning.”

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