The Eagles return from their bye rested and clearly feeling good about themselves.

Once again, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem. Meanwhile, the Christian Hackenberg experiment is going as expected. In the first half, the Jets’ quarterback went 2 for 6 for 14 yards with a 42.6 passer rating. On the other end of the quarterback spectrum, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Marcus Mariota impressed. In non-quarterback news, Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey looked downright dominant and Jaylon Smith got the start for the Cowboys.

The Seahawks won their game against the Vikings on Friday but suffered a pretty big loss too, as left tackle George Fant was lost for the season with a knee injury. You can read about that plus Michael Bennett continuing his protest, Russell Wilson and Sam Bradford looking sharp, Dalvin Cook excelling and Blair Walsh’s revenge in Friday’s roundup.

They play Sunday night at Dallas against the Cowboys, who will be without Ezekiel Elliott and have key injuries at other positions. The Eagles have a great opportunity to all but wrap up the division title, which is already a near certainty.

The win Sunday night in Denver was routine and the Patriots are spending the week in Colorado, practicing at the Air Force Academy, for this weekend’s meeting with the Raiders in Mexico City. The AFC East race is over. It’s all about the race with the Steelers for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

That would put things in a different context. Whether the Giants are persuaded by that remains to be seen.

Trubisky time. … It clearly is time for the Bears to turn to prized rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It’s not all Mike Glennon’s fault, for sure. But Thursday night’s 35-14 loss at Green Bay was dreadful, and there’s no reason not to get the Trubisky era underway.

Bravo, Deshaun Watson. The rookie quarterback for the Houston Texans giving his first NFL game check to three workers in the team’s cafeteria who’d suffered major losses from the flooding in Houston was classy and touching. What more can you say? …
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The 34-year-old Gore continues to defy the odds when it comes to how productive older running backs can be in the NFL

He began the season eighth on the all-time rushing list but he has moved ahead of Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis to fifth on the list.

Gore, who said last week that he plans to return for his 14th season, likely will pass Curtis Martin (14,101) for fourth on the all-time list in 2018.

Also on Sunday, Gore reached 1,200 yards from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, which extended his NFL-record streak to 12 years.

If they decide to fire him, Joseph, 45, would become the first non-interim coach in franchise history to last only one season. Should the Broncos part ways with Joseph, general manager John Elway will conduct his fourth head coach search in his seven seasons on the job.

Joseph, the team’s first African-American head coach, replaced Gary Kubiak a year ago when Kubiak stepped away from coaching because of health concerns.

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Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz could be forced to retire due to concussions

Fiedorowicz was selected by Houston in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft and signed a three-year contract extension worth $21.5 million with the Texans last summer. He has 89 catches for 881 yards and six TDs in his career.

Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman will start for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor, the team announced.

The Bills are 6-6 and contending for an AFC wild-card berth entering Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Taylor was injured on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage in last Sunday’s 23-3 loss to the New England Patriots when he was sacked while scrambling toward the sideline. Taylor remained in the game until early in the fourth quarter, when he was carted off. In his place, Peterman completed 6 of 15 passes for 50 yards.

The Bills benched Taylor before their Nov. 19 game against the Los Angeles Chargers in favor of Peterman, a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half against the Chargers before being replaced by Taylor, who reclaimed the starting job the following week.

Brown currently leads the NFL in receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,195). He is tied for second with eight receiving touchdowns.

The Steelers are currently 9-2 on the season, three full games in front of the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North.

1987 was supposed to be a magical year for Vince Evans. The former Bears quarterback had returned to the NFL after several years in the USFL, and found himself in Los Angeles, where he’d gone to school at USC, as a backup with the Raiders.

Jones claims that details of the contract were not disclosed and that the deal moved away from a more incentive-based version. He also alleges that the committee is not unanimous on the deal, going back on Blank’s assurance that the committee would be in complete agreement on it.
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Andy Reid’s team is a little out of its identity at the moment

On his uncivil war with Goodell and the league, Jones said, “I’m not really going to spend any time here tonight because it would take me an hour. And seriously, I’ve got a lot of things as we move over the next days ahead that will be apparent.” Jones did claim he hasn’t heard from fellow owners asking him to pipe down, but that if he did his response would be simple. “Ask them to pipe down,” he said.

Jones can keep this soap opera going as long as he wants because he owns the sport’s signature franchise. Some Dallas fans agreed with his decision to show more support for accused-batterers Elliott and Greg Hardy than he showed protesting players, and some didn’t. But all Dallas fans agree that they’re not happy with 5-5 and with the 21 years and counting of failing to reach the NFL’s final four.

Andy Reid’s team is a little out of its identity at the moment, as the Kareem Hunt express has slowed and the Alex Smith explosiveness isn’t producing as well as it did earlier in the season. It would be disastrous for the Chiefs not to get a top-two seed and a home game at Arrowhead in the playoffs after the start Kansas City had to the year.

The Eagles, Steelers, Patriots and Saints have emerged as the NFL’s most feared foursome after nine unpredictable weeks of the regular season. While the AFC powerhouses are no surprises, the NFC re-boom of Philadelphia and New Orleans is real and spectacular, too.

That also means there has been little margin for error for some established contenders. Kansas City and Seattle were breathing down the top, but tough losses to NFC East foes have them trending in the wrong direction at the worst time.rangers_567-115x115

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 28 points and Jamal Murray scored 20.

Kyle O’Quinn added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks. Lee and Enes Kanter each had 12 points for the Knicks. McDermott finished with 11 and Jack finished with 10 assists.

Nuggets: Host Toronto on Wednesday. The teams will play again in Toronto on March 27. The Raptors won both matchups last season.

Knicks: Host Houston on Friday. The teams last met on New Year’s Eve 2016, with the Rockets posting a 129-122 victory. They play again in Houston on November 25.

Then Hayward was injured before the season was six minutes old, and the Celtics lost their first two games, on back-to-back nights.

“Things were going rough for him at the beginning of the season. A lot of people doubted him,” said guard Terry Rozier, who had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter. “I feel like we all had to adapt to him. It’s worked out pretty well.”

Reserves Brandon Paul had 18 points and Rudy Gay scored 14 for San Antonio.

It was the first game this season that LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t lead San Antonio in scoring. He had 11 points.

He wasn’t consistent, and everyone knows he deals with knee problems, which affected his draft stock and clouds his long-term outlook. As for the short term, Ajayi should be healthy enough to upgrade Philadelphia’s running game, though it’s far more balanced than what he encountered in Miami, and perhaps just as critically he’s a strong option in pass protection. Have to keep Carson Wentz upright!heat_051

Smart’s hustle plays aren’t lost on his new teammates.

Hoyer was one of the few bright spots for the 2013 Browns, winning his first three starts before being forced to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

What happened? The Browns were 7-6 with Hoyer in 2014 when head coach Mike Pettine made the ill-fated decision to instead start Johnny Manziel. Cleveland lost all three remaining games, and Pettine never came close to fielding a winner again before getting fired following the 2015 campaign. Hoyer has since bounced between Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.

Matt Cassel won’t help them win anything, so they had better hope Marcus Mariota can return after only one week out of the lineup. With a still-shaky defense, Mariota needs to play to lift everything in the offense.

What happened? The new Browns administration that arrived in 2005 didn’t think much of McCown’s future after his rookie struggles and subsequently traded him to Tampa Bay. McCown, who lasted in the NFL as a reserve for four teams over the next 12 years, is currently a free agent after being released by Dallas at the end of the 2017 preseason.

“He’s a scrapper. He’s a competitor. He’s a bulldog,” Gordon Hayward said of Smart. “And it’s fun to play with guys like that. He’s always going to make the energy play, the hustle plays, and I think, in the [first Philadelphia] game we had where he dove on the ball and he got the ball and we got a layup, those are like game-changing plays.”

Smart’s offensive play has been solid through Boston’s first three preseason games. He’s averaging 10.7 points per game on 54.5 percent shooting overall. He has connected on 7 of 12 3-point attempts (58.3 percent). Even in off-day workouts, Smart simply looks more confident shooting the ball.
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Dolphins-Buccaneers won’t be played in Miami Sunday as Irma looms

The Miami Dolphins will not play their regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, the NFL announced Tuesday.

Mike Nugent, Josh Lambo and Marshall Koehn all worked out for the Raiders on Monday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. All three kickers lost position battles over the weekend.

Price, who is 6-3 and 318 pounds, is viewed as a run-stopping defensive tackle. He played in just one game last season for the Packers and spent time on the practice squad. The Indianapolis Colts attempted to add him to their active roster last year but he chose to remain on the Green Bay practice squad after the Packers upped his salary.

Brady, addressing his wife’s comments in August, did not confirm he suffered a concussion in 2016.

“I don’t want to get into things that happened in my past, certainly medical history and so forth. I really don’t think that’s anybody’s business,” Brady said last month. “What happened last year — I’m focused on this year and improving and working on things I need to get better at. So that’s how I approach everything.

“I’m not sitting here worried about last year or five years ago. There are other people that do worry about that — my wife, or my parents, or my sisters, people that love me and care about me. But I do the best I can do to be prepared to play — mentally and physically — and I give the game everything I can.”

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Jimmer Fredette catching NBA’s attention, report says

Could Jimmer Fredette be returning to the NBA?

The former NBA guard is reportedly reaching out to teams after a stellar MVP season with the Chinese Basketball Association, and the interest could be mutual, according to The Vertical.

Fredette, who plays for the Shanghai Sharks, has helped the team advance in the CBA playoffs, much in thanks to Fredette’s 37.5 points per game.

He also made headlines back in the U.S. scoring 73 points in a double-overtime loss to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions on Feb. 20, which is the fourth-highest in CBA history.

However, just because Fredette can play in the CBA doesn’t mean he will excel in the NBA. He averaged 6.0 points and 1.4 assists per game in the five years he was with the league.

Only time will tell if Fredette will make his way back to the U.S., but now he needs to focus on taking his team past the quarterfinals of the Chinese playoffs.

Following an underwhelming season, the Rockets had an opportunity to start anew by focusing their attention on building a team entirely around James Harden. Rather than trying to keep Dwight Howard or sign another star player in free agency, that meant making smaller deals to surround him with the type of players who could help him return to MVP form in a system that would maximize his all-around brilliance. It’s how the Rockets have gone from being a No. 8 seed to a No. 3 seed without making any blockbuster moves.saints_014-223x223

John Wall literally dunked it on Mike Muscala’s face

You can joke that you dunked on someone’s face, or you could be John Wall and literally dunk on someone’s face. That’s what he did to Mike Muscala during Game 5 of the Wizards-Hawks series.

When the Spurs personnel is Mills, Ginobili, Leonard and two bigs, then Kawhi draws the assignment because Mills and Ginobili get toasted. If Green or Simmons come on, then they draw the assignment.

So the time you’re most likely to see Leonard on Harden is going to be an end of game situation. The advantage will be Harden if the Rockets run their offense, but it’s Leonard’s if Harden and the Rockets drop into hero ball.

How did the Rockets deal with the Spurs size?

Popovich tried to play with Houston in game one. Pau Gasol got chased from the floor in that game and only played 13 minutes. Popovich didn’t like the result of that game and went with two big men in the next three games.

Aldridge, Gasol and Lee don’t create many problems for the Rockets offense. They’re smart enough to rotate with the ball, so Houston isn’t getting too many open shots, but they’re not contesting many shots.

They do create rebounding problems on both sides of the floor. The Rockets just are not big enough to contend with two near-seven footers who have a primary goal of swallowing rebounds.

George has never been the Pacers’ problem. The Pacers have been Paul George’s problem. And unless the Pacers somehow build a contender by the end of next season, they’ll continue to be his problem. George does not want to leave, but unless something drastic changes, he won’t have any other choice if he wants to win.

That’s the Pacers’ fault, not Paul George’s.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Feb. 22 and was updated with new information on April 20.
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Keepers: You can start Eli Manning in Week 12 (this is not a joke)

It’s the last bye week of the season, the fantasy playoffs are just around the corner, and it’s actually okay to start Eli Manning this week. Let Keepers guide you through your Week 12 sits, starts, and free agent moves.

After a week of R&R, the Rams are poised to see how much noise they can make down the stretch with 30 carries a game for Zac Stacy and their own brand of the Lions’ “sack or scorch” pass defense. Jeff Fisher despises and fears offense, but there are rumors that even he took a journey to the mysterious East over the bye week to study arcane scrolls detailing the dark art of “downfield passing”. Since, you know, he traded up into the Top 10 to grab a receiver with 4.3 speed and all.

The Titans almost managed an upset of the Colts behind stout cornerback play and a dink-and-dunk fandango to Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker. Ryan Fitzpatrick is proving to the the kind of backup QB that every team wants (and Green Bay probably wants most of all) and the defense has quality at all three levels. The sum of those parts still comes out to an average squad, though – and one that will be facing some very difficult decisions at the QB position this offseason.

Give Tom Flacco this: he’s mastered small sample sizes. In 2017, backing up star Zach Terrell, he completed 10 of 12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown (passer rating: 242.4) and rushed 28 times for 266 yards (9.5 per carry) and two scores.

Keep that up over a full season, and you’ll win the Heisman!

He won’t keep that up, obviously. But the younger brother of (much taller) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe offered at least a few hints that there might be life after Terrell. Granted, Flacco will have to hold off three-star sophomore Jon Wassink, but one can assume decent quarterback play.
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