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.

Larry Fitzgerald put the Cardinals on his back in overtime, sending his team to the NFC Championship.

The Green Bay Packers took the Arizona Cardinals into overtime with a series of unbelievable plays, but the Cardinals came out on top with the 26-20 win thanks to the superhuman efforts of Larry Fitzgerald.

With his season on the line, Aaron Rodgers converted a fourth-and-20 play with a 60-yard heave to Jeff Janis. An illegal motion put Green Bay at first-and-15 with 12 seconds left at the Cardinals’ 41-yard line, setting up one final Hail Mary throw. Rodgers nailed Janis on the final play of regulation with a 41-yard touchdown pass, sending the game to overtime.
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A big reason for the Packers’ win in Washington was the resurgence of the running game. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks working in an even committee (both players got 12 carries) and wide receiver Randall Cobb mixing in for a few backfield plays, Green Bay combined for 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The Packers controlled the clock and never allowed Washington time to mount a comeback.

The Packers defense also came up big, sacking Kirk Cousins six times and forcing two fumbles. Green Bay will need that kind of defensive effort again if it hopes to slow down the Cardinals’ high-octane offense. Arizona’s secondary is looking a lot more vulnerable ever since losing Tyrann Mathieu to a torn ACL, so if the Packers offense stays on the same page this game has a lot of shootout potential.

They ended up third in the NFL in pass plays of 20+ yards (66) and third in pass plays of 40+ yards (16). Palmer finished the year first in the NFL in yards per pass attempt (8.7) while throwing 35 touchdowns, tied for second most league-wide. To say that Palmer is having a renaissance in Arians’ scheme is an understatement.
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Patrick Peterson nearly made an incredible play in the second quarter, picking off Aaron Rodgers and running 100 yards for what appeared to be a pick-six to give the Cardinals a two-score lead over the Green Bay Packers.

Five possible landing spots for third baseman Justin Turner

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Justin Turner’s ascendancy from utility infielder to top-10 MVP finisher has been one of the most unexpected surprises in recent seasons. The New York Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, even though he produced at a league-average rate in just more than 200 plate appearances. Terry Collins liked him, but there were reports that the Mets were upset with a lack of hustle and were perhaps turned off when he described himself as a hitter not “looking to walk.” Maybe they were simply too cheap to give him the small raise he would have received in arbitration.

The Dodgers signed Turner as a free agent, and he has done nothing but hit since. He reaches free agency at age 32, after hitting .275/.339/.493 with 27 home runs in 152 games, numbers that look even more impressive when factoring in that he hit .235 with three home runs through May, after offseason microfracture surgery on his left knee. He placed ninth in the MVP voting, and with Yoenis Cespedes returning to the Mets, Turner, Dexter Fowler and maybe Jose Bautista are the impact bats who can play somewhere besides first base.

“You’ve got to battle every night like we ain’t won nothing. Last year is last year, and after ring night, it’s over with. Now it’s a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night, and we have to understand that.”
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Because of the way James’ contenders in Cleveland and, before that, Miami were built — plucking or luring complementary talent to surround himself with or without Wade — it’s easy to think of him evaluating possible future teammates as he makes his way through the league. Someone like Gibson — whose 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists weren’t far off James’ own 27 points, five boards and 13 assists — would be a nice addition to stay atop the East and eventually clash for another ring in the Finals.

There’s little not to like about Gibson. He has started all 18 games for Chicago and — at 12.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, 29.1 mpg and 54.7 percent accuracy — is averaging career bests in rebounds, assists, minutes and field-goal percentage, while just a tick off his scoring high (13.0 in 2013-14). He has a team-friendly salary of $8.9 million at the end of a four-year, $33 million extension signed back in the league’s fiscal dark ages of October 2012.

the Yankees have already done that with Gary Sanchez

Derek Jeter Limited Jersey To replace Nova, the Yankees won¡¯t be signing Nova. At least, it is highly unlikely. The free-agent class is so thin that Nova is one of the better choices, just not for the Yankees. Lefty Rich Hill is a much better possibility. Hill, 36, posted a 2.05 ERA in 20 starts. There are concerns about his injury history and the fact that he has gained prominence so late in his career. However, the Yankees need starters, and Hill is the best one on the market.

If not Hill, the Yankees could go for someone like Jason Hammel. Or they could make a deal for a pitcher, but again, with the free-agent starting-pitching class so weak, the price to trade for a starter is high.

The Yankees’ starting staff currently consists of Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Warren. Even if they add Hill, that rotation doesn¡¯t feel like one that will ride a float down the Canyon of Heroes.

The offseason is still young, but at the moment, the Padres¡¯ payroll projection is at a little over $50 million, with about half of that to players currently on their roster. To put that number into perspective: As it stands, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will each make more in salary than the Padres¡¯ active roster of players in 2017.

Adam Rubin: With Cespedes having re-signed for four years at $110 million, the Mets have a glut of outfielders. And that means either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson likely will be traded — with a decent possibility it happens during the winter meetings. Both are in the final year of their contracts in 2017. Bruce is owed $13 million, and Granderson is owed $15 million. Currently, the Mets have Cespedes, Bruce, Granderson, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo under control for next season.
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Mark Saxon: The Cardinals will make one major free-agent signing and one major trade within the next 10 days based on a conversation that starts at the winter meetings. The team will have a whole different feel by the holidays.

Of the big closers (Jansen, Chapman, Melancon), which will sign first (and where)?

Could Kenley Jansen be headed to the Dodgers’ biggest rival?