Dee Ford bullied the Broncos out of the playoff chase

In my estimation, there wasn’t a lot of difference between the top defensive front performers this past weekend, so I decided to go just go with my gut for Hoss this time around. There were several teams playing for their playoff lives and the guy I ultimately chose showed up big time in one of those games to help make sure his team made it to the postseason.

The Denver/Kansas City game was effectively a loser-leave-town match. The stat sheet may not have shown it, but Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Ford’s performance was a big part of why the Broncos won’t get a chance to defend their Super Bowl crown this season.

It’s funny because just last week I brought up how well Ford had played the first half of this season filling in for an injured Justin Houston and how he had fallen off a tad bit since Houston’s return. With Houston out again on Sunday, Ford again found his inner Beast Mode and went to town on the Broncos. He didn’t record a sack during the game and he technically only had two tackles, but Ford’s impact on the outcome was much greater than that when you watch the film.

Dalton, 28, is having a career-best season for the Bengals with 25 touchdowns, six interceptions and an NFL-leading 107.4 passer rating entering Week 14. Against the Steelers, he threw just five passes, completing three for 59 yards with an interception (his seventh of the season) before leaving with the injury.

Dalton appeared to suffer the injury while making a tackle after throwing the interception, jamming his right hand in the process.

The backup for the Bengals is former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He never played as a rookie and has appeared only in clean-up duty for the Bengals in 2015, completing 3 of 4 passes for 22 yards. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is their emergency backup quarterback.

Cincinnati leads the AFC North with a 10-2 record and can clinch the division with a win against the 7-5 Steelers.

Russell Westbrook doesn’t waste time for triple-double No. 15

Another night, another stat sheet stuffed. Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook continued to show off his versatility on the court, recording his 15th triple-double of the season — 29 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists — in a 106-94 win over the Miami Heat.
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His most recent one gave him 30 triple-doubles in this calendar year, second most by any player in NBA history behind, you guessed it, Oscar Robertson in 1961. The Thunder improved to 12-3 when Westbrook records a triple-double.

Westbrook accounted for 51 percent of the Thunder offense on Tuesday (29 points scored, 26 points from 11 assists). It was the 11th time that he reached that mark in a triple-double this season. Steven Adams continued to be the main beneficiary of Westbrook’s passes. Adams was on the receiving end of four of Westbrook’s assists and for the season is shooting 66.7 percent off of his passes, highest on the team.

Elite Mens Mika Zibanejad Jersey What made this triple-double more special than most was the short amount of time it took for Westbrook to hit the magic number.

We’re truly sorry. We’d like to oblige. But how do we break the habit when he goes to Boston and savages the Celtics for 45, 11 and 11? Or when he follows that up by hitting poor Minnesota with just the third 30-point, 15-assist game in Christmas Day history?

Only Oscar Robertson (22) and Wilt Chamberlain (seven) have more career triple-doubles featuring 40-plus points than Angry Russ’ six. Only Robertson and Tiny Archibald, meanwhile, had previously managed 30-and-15 games on Christmas.

Washington vs. Eagles 2015 final score: Washington clinches NFC East with dominant win

Mens Connor McDavid Jersey 1. Your new NFC East champions

If nothing else, Washington guaranteed that the NFC East winner will finish the season at .500, saving the league some embarrassment from its most-hyped division having a losing record. Washington was far from perfect this season, but it’s done enough to rise up the scrap heap and secure a home playoff game. Now it can rest and prepare for its Wild Card opponent, which would currently be the Seattle Seahawks.

2. Jordan Reed is the real deal

Reed always had talent, but injuries and poor quarterback play have prevented him from reaching his true ceiling. He looks to have reached it this year. Cousins-to-Reed is gaining the same kind of supernatural chemistry that we see with Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown, Tom Brady-to-Julian Edelman and Philip Rivers-to-Antonio Gates.

3. Philadelphia has some serious questions to answer this offseason

What, exactly, is the Eagles’ identity right now? For all the bluster and hot takes about Chip Kelly’s methods, nobody expected his offense to be this boring and directionless.

Neither the Saints nor the Texans present challenges that the Jaguars shouldn’t have a strong chance against, but Jacksonville has also proven capable of losing any matchup, dropping games to the Chargers, Titans and Falcons in the last four weeks.
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For the Saints, the game could be the last in New Orleans for Sean Payton, who has been the subject of plenty of rumors, although he has denied he has any intention of leaving the team. It could also round out Drew Brees’ time with the Saints, although the quarterback is dealing with a plantar fascia tear that had him questionable for action against the Jaguars.

The Patriots didn’t want to lose Brissett

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Jones is the most complete wide receiver in the game, a rare combination of speed, size and route-running ability at all three levels of the field. This season, Jones has produced 1,253 yards receiving (despite missing the past two games) and is averaging a ridiculous 17.4 yards per catch, but it’s the tape that would scare me more than the raw numbers as an opposing defensive coordinator because of his ability to take over games with Matt Ryan throwing him the ball.

The Patriots didn’t want to lose Brissett, in part for the insurance he provides behind Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, and also because practicing aids his development. Perhaps Brady’s recent injury history was part of the consideration; the 39-year-old MVP candidate previously managed a knee injury that had him missing extended practice time, and now has the thigh injury.
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To make room for Brissett, the Patriots waived rookie defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton.

Brissett earned the respect of many in the Patriots organization for stepping in for the injured Garoppolo late in the second quarter of the team’s Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins. He then started and played well in a 27-0 win over the Houston Texans in Week 3, before starting again in a 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.

Brees is once again covering for a brutally bad defense, but he can do only so much. None of the other 508 teams in ESPN’s data warehouse dating back to 2001 has allowed as many points in its victories as the 29.5 figure for the Saints this season. That is an exceptionally high bar for the Brees-led offense to clear. It shows how much the Saints ask from their quarterback in relation to what others ask from theirs.

Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery finished with 28 fantasy points in Week 15, double his previous career high

As we do each Sunday right here, we recap the week’s winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week’s best and worst.

Ty Montgomery, WR/RB, Green Bay Packers: He’ll likely go down as the lesser-heralded hero of the fantasy football semifinals — assuming your league plays them in Week 15 (either single- or multiweek matchups), as most do — as Montgomery’s 28 fantasy points obliterated his previous career high of 14, set just one week ago (Week 14), and ranked among the week’s highest individual scores.

Luckily for Ryan, the Bills defeated the Browns 33-13, and the coach’s parking spot at One Bills Drive should be safe for at least another week. Even though the Bills can still be eliminated from the playoffs later Sunday if the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots, a 20-point Bills win would be an odd event to precede Ryan’s firing in the coming hours or days.

How long Ryan will remain the Bills’ coach is still in question. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Ryan is probably approaching his final games at the helm in Buffalo, and that Ryan is aware of what’s likely to come. Despite the Bills’ win Sunday, it remains unlikely that Ryan returns as coach next season. Defeating the Browns is hardly an accomplishment worthy of changing ownership’s mind about Ryan’s fate.

Game Youth Ted Karras Jersey If Ryan has any hope of remaining coach next season, his team will need an emphatic, convincing win Saturday over the surprising Miami Dolphins, now 9-5 after their win over the New York Jets. Ryan will also need to take care of business at MetLife Stadium in the regular-season finale against the Jets, and even then, Ryan’s past failures could still bury him as coach.

Game Youth Teemu Selanne Jersey File this Bills win over the Browns as nice to have for Buffalo, but not much more.

Josh Norman hopes old friend Cam Newton decides to throw some passes in his direction Monday

During Weeks 1-13, Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott posted a Total QBR of 85.0, the best mark in the NFL. But that plummeted to 22.1 against the New York Giants on Sunday night in a Week 14 loss, as he completed only 17 of 35 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Was the rookie quarterback exposed in a way that will continue to be an issue, or can the Cowboys make some corrections and adjust the offensive call sheet to facilitate more production? Let’s discuss three ways Prescott and the Cowboys can learn from the tape over the past two weeks to improve the offensive efficiency in Dallas.

A lot of that also depends how the Washington Redskins deploy Norman. Norman has followed the other team’s best receiver at times — two weeks ago that even meant covering Larry Fitzgerald in the slot. He has stayed on one side at others — he played strictly on the left against Philadelphia on Sunday.

Josh Norman hopes old friend Cam Newton decides to throw some passes in his direction Monday.

Game Youth Richard Rodgers Jersey The Redskins will challenge the Panthers to test Norman.

“Throw it to his side and let’s see,” Redskins end Ricky Jean Francois said. “Let me show you why the Redskins paid him that money. He’ll show you why if they throw to his side. But most quarterbacks don’t never point to that side.”

Jean Francois pointed to the Panthers’ general manager, Dave Gettleman, as someone he’d like to thank.
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“I understand what the GM did and let him go,” Jean Francois said. “Cool, you brought him over to our team. You gave us a great part of your defense, and we’re taking advantage of his skill set. This man can take off one half of the field. Not many corners can do that. Not many corners can get a quarterback to not pay attention to that side of the field. It helped his pocket, and it helped our team.”

NFL playoff picks and predictions 2016: Seahawks, Chiefs heavily favored in wild card matchups

The NFL regular season is over, and just 12 teams remain in their quest for a Super Bowl title. The playoffs start in earnest with the Wild Card round this weekend, featuring four exciting matchups.

Authentic Mens Paul Kariya Jersey But first, let’s look at the records of SB Nation’s experts this season. After 17 weeks, Stephen White came away as the regular season champion, with 159 correct picks. He had to hold off a late charge from the OddsShark computer, which had the best record in Week 17 and finished just one game behind at 158. Danny Kelly finished third, with Joel Thorman, David Fucillo and Matt Ufford all tied for fourth. PFT Commenter, as one might have guessed, brought up the rear.

In other words, Stephen is the voice you should probably trust when we go through these playoff picks. Also, a computer is better than six of our writers. Take that as you will.
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The first game of Wild Card weekend pits the Kansas City Chiefs against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Both teams are enjoying unlikely playoff runs after poor starts to the season. The Chiefs started 1-5 and were basically written off when Jamaal Charles tore his ACL, but they rattled off 10 straight wins to seal the No. 5 seed. Houston was in a similar predicament, starting 2-5, losing Arian Foster for the year and going through four quarterbacks. Despite those setbacks, the Texans rallied to win the AFC South at 9-7.

It’s been a struggle at times. During Washington’s 6-2 run over the second half of the season, the running game has only produced four outings with triple-digit yardage. Still, Gruden stuck with the running game, averaging just over 26 attempts per game. Running the ball has been more about setting up the passing game.

As David Price vents on Twitter, Chris Sale shuts out the noise

If David Price didn’t already know that his career 0-8 record as a starter in the postseason elicits strong feelings from Boston Red Sox fans, a little birdie could have told him.

Price has a Twitter account (@DAVIDprice24) and isn’t afraid to use it. He follows more than 1,800 people, has 1.64 million followers, and has tweeted more than 15,000 times. He interacts with friends, fellow athletes, even fans, and lately the ace lefty with the $217 million contract has taken several not-so-subtle jabs at critics of his string of postseason duds, the latest of which came two months ago in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Cleveland Indians.

The Cardinals had to extend beyond their comfort zone to sign Fowler, offering him a blanket no-trade clause, according to a source, to go with a contract that some in the industry view as market-altering. The deal will pay Fowler $16.5 million per season through 2021.

Authentic Mens Kosuke Fukudome Jersey The reason the Cardinals felt compelled to go that high was their need for speed and defensive competence. They were a below-average fielding team and one of the worst baserunning groups in the majors last season. General manager John Mozeliak said Fowler was the team’s No. 1 target all offseason.

“It was an honor just to be considered to be in the Cardinals organization,” said Fowler, who will wear No. 25 in honor of his mentor, Barry Bonds. Fowler’s usual 24 is retired by the Cardinals; it was worn by former manager Whitey Herzog.

Authentic Kids Lawrence Guy Jersey Now, with the 30-year-old Fowler in center field alongside young outfielders Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, the Cardinals feel they have one of the better defensive outfields in the league.

“One of things we wanted to address was athleticism, someone who could hit at the top of the order, if possible, to allow us to have flexibility with [Matt] Carpenter, and we were looking to find someone who is extremely competent on the basepaths,” Mozeliak said.

“I think we were able to accomplish that, but Mr. Fowler is more than that. There’s always the baseball element, but one of the things about Dexter that excited us is he’s a student of the game.”

All this comes despite the Chiefs trailing the Raiders in the AFC West by a game

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook releases updated futures odds across major sports every week. ESPN Stats & Information senior researcher Matt Willis breaks down the biggest changes within the marketplace, including who is moving up or falling back among odds to win championships and major awards.

Game Womens Elvis Dumervil Jersey After a Week 13 victory thanks to Eric Berry’s interception returned for a two-point conversion, the Kansas City Chiefs jumped from 18-1 to 10-1. Just two weeks ago, Kansas City was at 25-1 after a loss to the Buccaneers. Now the Chiefs are the fourth favorite to win the Super Bowl, following the Patriots (2-1), Cowboys (7-2) and Seahawks (9-2).

All this comes despite the Chiefs trailing the Raiders in the AFC West by a game. Because of that, the Raiders are still even money to win the division, with the Chiefs right behind at 6-5.
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Speaking of totals wagering, the Oakland Raiders (six straight overs), Washington Redskins (five straight) and the Atlanta Falcons have the best over record at 10-2, as all three went over again in Week 13. Right behind them is the Tennessee Titans at 9-3.

The best under teams would surprise many people, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants are both 9-3 with the under after the Steelers beat the Giants 24-14 in Week 13 to stay under the total of 49.5. The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens were tied with the Steelers and Giants at 8-3 last week, but both went over their totals and dropped to 8-4 along with the Patriots, Rams and Lions (who have a league-high six straight unders).

Records based on Consensus Closing Lines; teams ranked by ATS records with SU record the first tiebreaker followed by ATS streak.

The four-team field for this season’s College Football Playoff was announced last weekend, with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington making up the field.

Pacman Jones posts profanity-laced rant about refs after Bengals blow playoff game

The Cincinnati Bengals lost their AFC Wild Card game to the Pittsburgh Steelers and they really have no one to blame but themselves after committing two late penalties that moved the Steelers closer to field goal range.

Jerome Simpson Elite Jersey This isn’t the first time that Pacman Jones has gone to Instagram to voice his frustrations over the Steelers. He also did that during the regular season, saying that they needed to “shut the f*** up and play football.” The Bengals lost that game as well. After deleting the original post, Jones posted a slightly toned-down version a few minutes later:
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How they got here: Ben Roethlisberger throwing bombs to Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, and then again to Antonio Brown, was one of the biggest keys. Plus, the Steelers went for two a lot — and converted. The defense, while not a classic Steelers defense, was mostly able to hold its own.

Losing in the playoffs has become a predictable theme for the Bengals. They have an NFL-worst 5-13 playoff record all-time and haven’t won a postseason game since January 1991, the league’s longest active drought. Head coach Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the postseason and the team has suffered one-and-done exits in each of the last four years.

Although recent history suggests Cincinnati doesn’t have much staying power once the calendar flips to January, there is some precedent for a different outcome this year. The 2015 Bengals matched the 1981 and 1988 teams with a franchise-record 12 wins during the regular season. Both of those clubs advanced to the Super Bowl, giving fans in Cincy a glimmer of hope that this will finally be the year the Bengals extinguish their ugly playoff demons.

The Steelers, meanwhile, have one of the league’s best playoff pedigrees. They are 33-22 in the postseason, the fourth-best mark all-time, and are one win shy of the NFL record for postseason victories held by the Dallas Cowboys.