The guy who pulled the intentional safety and the dropkick out of mothballs is still lurking on the sideline

Belichick saved his timeouts until after the two-minute warning against the Cardinals in Week 1 this season and had it work out again; the Patriots nursed a two-point lead, sweating out a potential game-winning Chandler Catanzaro 46-yard field goal attempt — a dangerous game for a guy who had been 16-of-18 on kicks between 40 and 49 yards up to that point. Catanzaro missed, bailing out Belichick yet again.

That’s a relatively minor fault, though, and Belichick often puts his team in the best position to win with his fourth-down and late-game decisions. The famous fourth-and-2 call against the Colts ended up going against the Patriots but made sense given the quality of the two legendary offenses in that game at the time. While the numbers in a vacuum were inconclusive, Belichick rightly chose to back his already-legendary quarterback with the game on the line instead of his defense.

The guy who pulled the intentional safety and the dropkick out of mothballs is still lurking on the sideline, though, and it would be foolish to assume he won’t try something unconventional if he thinks it will work. His creativity and aggressiveness make him the most trustworthy coach in close situations in the postseason.

That’s a relatively minor fault, though, and Belichick often puts his team in the best position to win with his fourth-down and late-game decisions. The famous fourth-and-2 call against the Colts ended up going against the Patriots but made sense given the quality of the two legendary offenses in that game at the time.

While the numbers in a vacuum were inconclusive, Belichick rightly chose to back his already-legendary quarterback with the game on the line instead of his defense. The guy who pulled the intentional safety and the dropkick out of mothballs is still lurking on the sideline, though, and it would be foolish to assume he won’t try something unconventional if he thinks it will work. His creativity and aggressiveness make him the most trustworthy coach in close situations in the postseason.

Kyle Lowry had the best summer of his professional career

Kyle Lowry had the best summer of his professional career, winning an Olympic gold medal by coming off the bench for Team USA. Lowry is poised to continue his rise in the NBA and wants to push the Raptors deeper into the playoffs.

Game Youth Travis Wood Jersey You didn’t get a chance to rest much. What was the USA Basketball experience like for you?

The combined six losses suffered by Cleveland, Houston and San Antonio last week convinced the Committee (of One) that the Warriors (34-6) deserved to reclaim their perch atop the rankings, even though their 14-point blown lead in the fourth quarter on the Cavs’ floor was just three short weeks ago.

We can’t wait to see what sort of shape the Warriors are in when we reconvene Monday. After playing the visiting Cavs at Oracle, the Warriors will host Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday before traveling to Houston to face James Harden’s Rockets on Friday. Even Sunday’s visit to lowly Orlando is worrisome, as it will force Golden State to play a game at noon ET for the first time in more than 20 years, dating back to March 1995.

Game Youth Vance McDonald Jersey Rest assured, there’s a lot to digest throughout our 1-to-30 ladder beyond just what’s happening at the top. Many thanks, as always, go to ESPN Stats & Info and the Elias Sports Bureau — with ESPN research ace Micah Adams running the point — for the considerable background data provided to assist the Committee’s efforts to set the rankings order properly.

Torrey Smith’s adorable 1-year-old son can’t stop dancing

Limited Cory Schneider USA Jersey Torrey Smith’s son can’t stop doing “The Whip” and the world is a better place for it. The other day Smith shared the first video of his son dancing, and this one is even better. The kid is just a year old and already a better dancer than I’ll ever be.

Torrey, if you’re reading this, please keep shooting these videos because they’re amazing and adorable at the same time.

The Packers have the best player at the most important position in the game of football in Aaron Rodgers. That almost alone gets them onto this list, but that’s not where their checklist stops. They’ve got an excellent GM-head coach pair in Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. The two work together almost seamlessly to build their roster through the draft, while rarely venturing into the dangerous and unpredictable waters of free agency. This also keeps their salary cap healthy, which is one of the more underrated but important aspects of building a team.

Green Bay has remarkable stability and continuity in its offensive system, and while the defense has been up and down over the past couple of years, it invariably has a few vocal leaders and star players. The Packers have talent on the defense, and if they can click over the next few seasons, they’re going to be a team to reckon with because you can almost assume the offense will remain strong under Rodgers.

Limited Carlos Martinez Jersey The Packers won it all in 2010 and could tack that win onto a dynasty claim if they win a few more over the next couple of years. They’ve got many of the variables necessary to do so.

Whether or not Joe Flacco is #elite, he’s at least a franchise quarterback who has played some of his best football in the postseason. The offense looked good last year — finishing eighth in weighted DVOA — but similar to Seattle, Baltimore’s identity lies with its defense. The Ravens consistently field tough, hard-nosed defenses and always seems to have the intimidation game on lockdown.

Aaron Rodgers got help from everyone to send Packers to NFC title game

It is possible that no Green Bay Packers quarterback will ever make a play to match Bart Starr’s sneak to win the Ice Bowl a half century ago. In subzero, subhuman conditions, Starr beat the Dallas Cowboys on sheer willpower at a time when the NFL would never consider pushing back a game like it did on Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.

After the Packers QB lit up the Cowboys on the way to the NFC Championship Game — Green Bay’s eighth straight win — you might be wondering the answer. Our panel of NFL insiders weighs in.

All last week, the Packers faced the same question: Who would make up for the loss of Jordy Nelson? The answer turned out to be simple: Everyone.

Down 11 in the fourth quarter, the Texans drove to the Patriots’ 28-yard line. On fourth-and-4, O’Brien called again for a field goal to draw within eight points, which Nick Novak hit.

The argument that the Texans would eventually need a field goal while down 11 is foolish on its face. Think about how many things have to go right for that scenario to play out:
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You have to hit the field goal, which is hardly a gimme in its own right.

Limited Mens Robin Ventura Jersey You have to prevent the Patriots from scoring again.

You have to hope for a fourth turnover from a team which is famously loathe to give the ball away or expect to generate a long possession from your offense, which has been awful all season and produced just two drives of 30 yards or more all game, and those produced a total of three points.

NFL preseason results and scores 2015: Marcus Mariota throws pick, Bills QB battle heats up

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota made his preseason debut with the team on Friday, and it was a so-so performance overall. Mariota was mostly accurate with his passes, completing 7 of 8 for 94 yards, but it wasn’t smooth sailing by any means.

Mariota didn’t look particularly comfortable in the pocket, which was one of the biggest complaints about him coming out of college and it’s obviously something he still needs to spend time working on at the next level. Still, he only missed on one pass and he did lead the Titans on a scoring drive.

The big story for the Giants is, unfortunately, the injuries sustained at the safety position. They were already thin at the position going into Friday’s games, and to lose two of them to injury is terrible. Fortunately for them, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. managed to play a couple snaps and didn’t seem to aggravate his hamstring injury. For the Bengals, starter Andy Dalton looked good with 3 of 3 completions for 31 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Greg Little caught three passes for 65 yards.

Blake Bortles can still go either way for the Jaguars, so it’s good to see he had a solid game on Friday. Bortles completed 11 of 15 passes for 118 yards . Backup Chad Henne was solid as well, completing 9 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. For Pittsburgh, the starting offense looked great and DeAngelo Williams didn’t explode into pieces of glass and dust, so that’s nice as well! Both teams’ starters looked on point for the brief time they were all in.

Oakland wants to see quarterback Derek Carr take the next step this season, but he had a shaky start against the Rams. Carr completed 6-of-9 passes for 43 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He did lead them on a drive that ended in a field goal, but the interception came well in the red zone, when the Raiders had a 2nd-and-goal from the 6-yard line.

The players will also receive paid tuition and books at local community colleges

A new pro football league announced Wednesday it plans to begin hiring players in winter 2017 and staging games in summer 2018.
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The Pacific Pro Football League is for players who have graduated from high school but aren’t in college and haven’t been out for three years in order to make themselves eligible for the NFL. The four-team league, based in Southern California, says it will pay players an average salary of $50,000 and play eight games “under professional football rules, protocols and style,” according to a statement sent out by the league.

Each team will have 50 players, according to the league, with coaches coming from the professional and college ranks. The players will also receive paid tuition and books at local community colleges.

With the NFL appealing the ruling, the official end of the DeflateGate saga is still far on the horizon, but for now, the Patriots will have their star quarterback at the helm when the team plays host to the Steelers on Thursday night.
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That represents a big challenge for Pittsburgh, a team that was among the NFL’s worst at slowing opposing passers in 2014. Only three teams allowed more passing touchdowns and only five allowed more passing yardage, while the Patriots finished in the top 10 in both categories offensively.

After losing starters like Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Jason Worilds to retirement, and cornerback Brice McCain in free agency, the Steelers looked to add some young talent in the draft, taking pass rusher Bud Dupree in the first round and cornerback Senquez Golson in the second. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Dupree has looked like a raw player with a lot of growing to do and Golson is done for the year with a shoulder injury.

So instead, Pittsburgh will likely have to rely on its high-powered offense to lead the way while the Steelers defense hopes young players improve as the year goes on.

Marcell Dareus agrees to new $108 million deal with Bills

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and the Buffalo Bills have come to terms on a six-year, $108 million contract extension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal includes $60 million guaranteed. Dareus also gets a $25 million signing bonus, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

Mens Dak Prescott Jersey “Marcell Dareus is a tremendous player and we feel he has a great opportunity to reach his potential as a player and leader here with the Buffalo Bills,” general manager Doug Whaley said in a statement released by the team. “Throughout this process, we wanted Marcell to remain a Buffalo Bill for the long-term and he made it clear to us that he wanted to continue his career in Buffalo.”

Dareus, who was set to play this season on his fifth-year option, is coming off the best season of his career. He earned first-team All-Pro honors and totaled 10 sacks to help give Buffalo one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Even for a sport criticized for its money-grubbing, soulless ways, the NFL has room for all types, from the endlessly hyped stars to the no-named role players.

Mens Clark Gillies Jersey And that’s why we held out hope that the fringe players we had grown attached to over the course of this five-week program would be able to make the Texans’ 53-man roster. What they may have lacked in size or skill, Charles James, Kourtnei Brown and EZ Nwachukwu made up for with heart and hard work.

But the NFL is a business, not a fairy tale. And if you’re the sort who seeks out spoilers, you found out the gut-punching news on Friday and Saturday while feverishly refreshing Aaron Wilson’s Twitter page: All three Hard Knocks favorites were cut.

Chris Bosh pondering NBA future, searching ‘for what I’m looking for’

Chris Bosh still is unclear about what his future holds, and while mentioning how he’s getting a “taste of retirement” stopped short of saying he will no longer pursue an NBA career.

Bosh has been sidelined since February because of complications related to blood clots. He’s still technically a member of the Miami Heat, though has not been around the team in any official capacity since he failed a physical in September and was not permitted to resume on-court activities.

Bosh, speaking at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, was asked how he’s spent time away from the court.

Between Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dorian Finney-Smith and (maybe) Justin Anderson, the Mavs have a bunch of interesting wings waiting for better players at other spots — especially point guard. Related: Have you seen the point guards in this draft class?

Game Womens Troy Brouwer Jersey So, umm, when do we start getting worried about this? Now? Next month? Yesterday? Because right now, this is uncomfortable. Parsons hasn’t cracked 20 minutes in a game since November, and no one with the Grizz knows when the team might finally clear him to play in back-to-backs.
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When Parsons is on the floor, he looks like he needs a few squirts of WD-40 around his knees. He’s upright and stiff, slower both with and without the ball, and he requires a Dirk-level deep knee bend to load his jumper. His shot has always been on the flat side, but it’s a clothesline right now. So far, the fears Dallas and Portland had about Parsons’ knee issues look to have been on point.

The pro of these multiple games was that a few non-traditional markets got to play

Elite Youth Mitch Williams Jersey The pro of these multiple games was that a few non-traditional markets got to play. A con was that people didn¡¯t tune into the Winter Classic like they used to. The 2015 Winter Classic suffered from both outdoor game fatigue and ¡°these guys again¡± fatigue. The game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals – two teams with minimal history between them but with star power and national fanbases – plunged in the ratings. The 2014 Winter Classic pulled a 2.5 share; the 2015 Classic was at just a 1.9 share. The league continued the Stadium Series with a game between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks that packed Levi¡¯s Stadium.

As a reminder, the Bulls, who are built around superstar Jimmy Butler, added Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo in the offseason. Both are career 29 percent three-point shooters.

Elite Youth Teemu Selanne Jersey As another reminder, coach Fred Hoiberg was hired in 2015 to bring his spread 4-out offense to the stodgy Bulls.

Getting back to Martinez though: it looks like on average, he¡¯ll cost about $27M through the arbitration process. Lance and many of the other deals shown above show that guaranteeing them in advance should result in a discount from that number. That¡¯s an important consideration when trying to find a price the Cardinals should offer him for an extension.

Pete Carroll celebrated Seattle’s win by dancing around on top of lockers like a madman

Pete Carroll is known for his enthusiasm. So much so that the fact he climbed on top of lockers in Baltimore to celebrate a win doesn’t even seem all that surprising.

Never change, Pete. The only question left is how he got up there. Did he scale the lockers himself? Did some linemen hoist him up there? Our money is on Pete just climbing up there like some sort of NFL coaching spider monkey.

There are some exceptions to every rule and here is the one for teams that prefer to keep the guards inside. There are times, when you’re uncovered and you look for work inside, but there’s nothing there. Then you have free reign to go find someone to hit. These are awesome blocks. Here’s T.J. Lang delivering a huge shot looking for work.

The second way to block up slide protection is to scheme which side the center is going to block no matter the call linebacker. The call linebacker is who we are tasked with blocking.

Game Youth Will Rackley Jersey This way of blocking slide protection is rare and is used for two reasons: to help against an outstanding defensive player or to help an offensive lineman. However, you’d be surprised at the amount of times we never altered our pass protection concepts for a great rusher.

Here’s an example of the Titans doing such a thing against the Chiefs.

The declared linebacker is on the left. Both the center and quarterback make that clear. The center should be setting left or in the middle to help either of the guards. Instead, he quickly makes sure no one is coming, then turns to the right to hammer the rusher over the guard. This would allow the guard to make his way to the tackle. The Titans do this often. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s unique to their scheme.
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So look, there are different ways to skin a cat and each team tries to allocate help to certain spots on the offensive line. I can’t tell you which one is better. All I can tell you is what the goals of the schemes are. Hope y’all enjoyed.