Monthly Archives: March 2017

Vegas is giving the Saints 9.5 points to beat the Falcons on the road in Week 12.

The Atlanta Falcons host the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South game that doesn’t look nearly as good as it did in August. Vegas bookies agree, giving the Saints a 9.5-point spread in the game, according to OddsShark.

Walden will now miss Indianapolis’ away game against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. He signed a four-year contract with the Colts this summer and has served as a starter throughout the season. The suspension means that rookie Bjoern Werner may see a big increase in playing time. Another option for Indianapolis is Cam Johnson.

The Colts currently have a strong hold on first place in the AFC South but could be looking to get home-field advantage for a longer period of time by moving up the standings. This trip out west will not be easy, as the Cardinals are currently on a three-game winning streak.

I think that defensively, that was probably the closest that it came, Babers said in his office about the win. I would say offensively, I’d probably go more to the Pittsburgh game [a 76-61 loss]. I think [the VT game] was a fabulous defensive game by us. We did some things on offense and we made some plays, but I really believe that game was a defensive win.

I want [my team] to be loose, he said. I want them to be freewheeling, and I want there to be interaction between them and their coaches. Now that being said, there’s a discipline to this game, and that’s where all that stuff kicks in.

Pryor looked on his way to putting the stigma of the number two well in the past

Sunday night was the third 4th quarter comeback of the season for Luck, and the seventh of his already brilliant young career. He’s also logged ten game-winning drives, the most by any quarterback in the entire league over a two-year stretch. To say Luck is “clutch” is like saying fire kinda burns a little. Right now, Luck defines clutch in the modern NFL. No one is performing better in the big moments than No. 12 for the Colts.

Over weeks 3-5 of this season, Pryor looked on his way to putting the stigma of the number two well in the past. He showed great progress in his pocket passing, and showed enough flashes to help lead the Raiders to a win over the Chargers in week 5. But since then, he has had numbers that the Raiders have not seen since the former number two took the field.

Over the past four games, Terrelle Pryor has had a passer rating of 42.0 (45.7, 25.7, 55.7, and 40.9) with 1 passing touchdown to 8 interceptions. The last quarterback to have a four-game stretch that bad was JaMarcus Russell who had a passer rating of 41.2 (47.6, 46.0, 22.6, and 48.5) over the first four games of the 2009 season.

During those four games, Russell threw for just one touchdown to four interceptions. That’s half the interceptions Pryor has had over these past four games. And like Pryor’s last four games, the Raiders actually won one of those games as well — 13-10 win over the Chiefs.

Not only is that the worst passer rating over four games since Russell, those two instances were the only ones in nearly 50 years in which a Raiders quarterback had a passer rating that low over a four-game stretch.

AFC playoff picture 2017: Broncos, Chiefs battling for conference, division supremacy

With over half of the NFL schedule in the books, the 2017 AFC playoff picture is beginning to take solid form. Parts of that picture are what we expected to see — the Broncos are a one-loss team after eight games; the Patriots sit atop the AFC East — while others are a bit more surprising — the Chiefs remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten; the Texans are on life support at 2-6.

Five teams currently have a 4-5 record, all of which are in the AFC, which will be the easier conference in which to sneak into the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers are all one game under the .500 mark. Of the five, the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens appear most likely to crack the postseason, but it’s been the Browns that are trending upward in the AFC North. The Chargers, Dolphins and Titans have all cooled considerably after hot starts.

Remember, though, the Redskins also made the playoffs a year ago after starting the season 3-6. It would take quite the run, but currently four NFL teams hold the same 3-6 record.

Over in the NFC, the two 3-6 both reside in the NFC East. Washington has a 3-6 record for the second year in a row, and the New York Giants also have a 3-6 record after a disastrous start. The fun thing about the NFC East is a 3-6 record puts those teams only two games out of the division lead. The Giants have won three straight games, play against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 11 and still have three division games on the schedule. Could this be another late season run from the Giants?

With the amount of scenarios outlined above, it stands to reason we could see a team which currently has a losing record make a surprising run to the postseason. After all, it has happened before.


Ireland vs. Wales is the game to watch during UEFA World Cup qualifying

Searching for intrigue in Europe’s World Cup qualifying can often feel like a thankless task. With 13 places to be allocated over 55 teams, the system doesn’t really lend itself to Groups of Death. Even the sight of Spain and Italy jostling at the top of Group G lacks the requisite peril, with the safety net of the playoffs spread out below.

Thank heavens, then, for Group D. It turns out that the key to an interesting qualification group is to ignore all the traditionally big teams and throw together a handful of fairly well-matched sides. And despite the presence of Austria, the surprise package of Euro 2016 qualification, Wales, the darlings of the actual tournament, and Serbia, it’s the Republic of Ireland sitting on top of the table.

The Republic of Ireland’s newfound team spirit doesn’t have quite such aggressive branding as the Welsh, with their over-arching #TogetherStronger. But speaking after the game against Austria, O’Neill confirmed that he felt his group had a club spirit:

“There’s no comparison, man,” Irving said. “Last year compared to this year, you can’t even [compare]. It wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be fair because you see how we go on [comparing] the record, what’s our record at this particular date, and honestly, none of that s— matters. We’re trying to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible. Everybody is getting back. It’s been a very, very weird season for all of us. Injuries here and there. Things to figure out. New player trades and stuff like that.

“We’ll figure it out. I’m not concerned, though. These guys, our culture that is built here now over the last three years has been very great and something that we can all lean on to. We just got to stay more connected and just be there for one another, and we’ll be all right.”

Is Colin Kaepernick being blackballed by NFL teams? Prove he is not

It seemed a little early to condemn NFL teams for freezing out Colin Kaepernick. Barely a week had gone by in free agency. With one exception — albeit a grotesque, borderline-obscene one — not many quarterbacks had been coming off of the market. Bleacher Report is Friday story on how front-office types still want nothing to do with him for his protests during the national anthem shined another light on it.

A few notes about our top 100 list.

This list, as with any kind of rankings, is subjective. The SB Nation NFL staff worked together to create it. We put a great deal of thought into it, but you will inevitably disagree with it. That is fine. Save your tweets. We know. This is merely a guide to help the world keep track of which free agents are signing where.

The final salary cap for 2017 has now been set at $167 million. That is a jump of nearly $12 million over last year is $155.7 million cap. That is consistent with the annual bumps we have seen since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement went into effect.

*Yes, Tony Romo is not technically a free agent, but he kinda is in that he is available and the entire offseason sort of hinges on what he does next.

We’ll keep this list updated with players who get cut as well as for who is signing where and for how much. So keep checking back.

Packers vs. Vikings 2017 results: Green Bay cruises to 44-31 win

The Green Bay Packers thoroughly beat the Minnesota VIkings on Sunday Night Football in Week 8, coming away with a 44-31 win to improve to 5-2.

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson opened up the scoring with a 109-yard kick return on the game’s opening kick, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers responded quickly. Rodgers tossed a beautiful touchdown to Jordy Nelson to tie the game. The two would hook up for another touchdown later in the half, a 76-yard touchdown that gave the Packers a 17-10 lead. Then Green Bay punt returner Micah Hyde returned a punt 93 yards to blow the game open.

According to the Miami Herald, Rackley was hit in the head during the first half of Jacksonville’s 42-10 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Not surprisingly, Rackley did not return to the game after being hurt.

Looking forward to Week 9, the Houston Texans have to be wondering whether quarterback Matt Schaub can play after injuring his ankle in Week 6 vs. the St. Louis Rams. If he can, does Schaub start over Case Keenum? Only time will tell.

Houston would also love to see Arian Foster back and 100 percent after only playing one series against the Kansas City Chiefs in its last game. Foster was forced to leave after aggravating his hamstring injury, but should play this week opposing the Indianapolis Colts, per the team’s official site. Ben Tate is trying to overcome four broken ribs, also suffered in the Chiefs game.12

Redskins vs. Broncos 2016 picks and predictions: Denver looks to rebound against Washington

The Broncos (6-1) will host the Redskins (2-4) in Week 8. The Broncos are coming off their first loss of the season against the Colts, while the Redskins earned their second win of the year against the Bears in Week 7. The Broncos could sweep the NFC East with a win over the Redskins on Sunday.

The Broncos are a 13.5-point favorite over the Redskins in Denver. While their record certainly deserves to give them a lot of confidence from Vegas, CBS Sports’ panel is not sold on the spread. The eight-man panel split their votes 4-4 against the spread, but had an 8-0 tally for the Broncos with straight up picks. The Yahoo! Sports’ two panelists both picked the Broncos in a straight up matchup.

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Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley got a bit of good news on Wednesday with reports that he will be let out of the hospital on Thursday, Jason la Canfora from CBS Sports reported. Finley was involved in a scary collision against the Browns in Week 7 and was carted off the field with a neck injury.

He spent the night in the ICU as a precaution, but was seen walking around on Monday. Doctors diagnosed Finley with a bruised spinal cord, and speculation around the league is that the Packers will place him on the injured reserve. Finley has 25 receptions for 300 yards and three touchdowns on the year.

Cycling race gets canceled for the 1st time ever because of high winds

Organizers of the Cape Town Cycle Tour had to cancel the event over the weekend because of high winds, the first time it’s happened in its 40-year history. According to News24, cyclists were originally going to ride a shorter route to account for road damage and protests that were to take place. Before the race, a weather advisory was put out, cautioning riders of high winds, but predicting they wouldn’t be as rough as those from a previous event in 2009.

Organizers also announced they would donate hospitality food and water to the people affected by a devastating fire in Hout Bay that destroyed homes and left thousands homeless.

Last season, the Hawks defeated UCLA and Georgetown on the road and Notre Dame and USC on a neutral floor in Orlando, and still got left out after falling to Iona in the Metro Atlantic final. This time around, Monmouth’s best non-conference wins came over Memphis (on the road) and Princeton (at home), and they lost to Siena in the MAAC semifinals. While King Rice’s team will get a look, thanks to its RPI, the results probably aren’t there to avoid a second consecutive snub and NIT trip. If only they could swap their last two sets of non-conference results.

Tatum dealt with injury problems of his own, missing the first eight games of the season after hurting his foot. After a so-so debut against Maine on Dec. 3, he broke out against Florida for 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Fast forward to the ACC Tournament, and he was a first-team all-tournament honoree. Krzyzewski said after the title game that Tatum could have shared the MVP award with winner Luke Kennard.

For Giles, it was something he’s seen so many times before.

Allen might get the most attention from the media and Kennard might have the MVP trophy on his shelf, but with Tatum’s athleticism and Giles’ potential emergence, those two are going to be nightmares for opposing coaches to game plan against.14

Stop motion artist recreates the Villanova-UNC championship game using a ton of Lego figurines

Have you ever thought about what the final seconds of the Villanova-UNC buzzer-beating final from last season would look like portrayed by Legos?


My oldest daughter was born right at the beginning of March Madness. I remember watching non-stop basketball in the hospital and the first few days of bringing her home. Maybe that’s part of the reason her and I have shared a special bond when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. Last year she picked @novambb to win the whole thing and I picked @unc_basketball I’ll never forget watching her reaction to the final 10 seconds of that game. This year for her birthday I wanted to do something special for it. So I told her I was going to make a Lego re-enactment video dedicated to her. Happy Birthday Jovie! I hope this year is as magical as last year.

Of course, that won’t stop us from arguing about which of the four deserves it most.

In the process, that raises a whole set of external questions. Why is it called “Most Valuable Player?” Is the award criteria vague on purpose? How is it possible that an MVP “moment” (or a seven-second sequence in one game) determines the narrative so much? Are we unknowingly participating in a league conspiracy to drum up interest in the regular season? And if so, is that so bad?

Defensive end Xavier Thigpen and DE/OLB Darian Yancey combined for 17.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles, and while senior Derrick Dixon played in only five games and made just 5.5 tackles, 2.5 were behind the line. Three-star redshirt freshman Jacques Turner could break into the rotation.

Tackles LaDarius Harris and Draper Riley combined for 8.5 TFLs, and sophomore backup Demarrio Smith had 1.5 in minimal opportunities. They are joined by three-star, 308-pound JUCO Delmond Landry.13

Kenny Stills re-signs with Dolphins in a good deal as wide receiver market heats up

The Miami Dolphins are keeping their deep threat, re-signing wide receiver Kenny Stills, according to Rand Getlin. Earlier in the day, the Dolphins re-signed defensive end Andre Branch.

At the NFL Combine, head coach Adam Gase sounded uncertain as to whether or not they’d be able to keep him. “I don’t know. One day I feel good about it, one day I feel like crap about it. I hate free agency,” Gase said.

He continued, “Kenny, obviously, he’d love to stay here but he’s going to stay for the right price and what’s comfortable for him and I don’t think anybody would blame him for that.”

LaVar Ball responds to Charles Barkley’s criticism: “If Charles thought like me, maybe he’d win a Championship.” Mike Glennon: The free agent has started a grand total of 18 NFL games, but he is being consistently linked to the Bears. He’s reportedly set to earn around $15 million per year. What a time to be alive.

“Here’s the thing, I don’t pull anything back. Whatever I say, I say. It’s just like with Charles Barkley is saying with all these guys. If Charles thought like me, maybe he’d win a championship. Oh yeah, it hurt because he’s saying sometimes when stuff comes out of people’s mouth is just stupid. Guess what? You talking too. So, everybody has an opinion how things were. I don’t care about that I put the goals up high. I know what my boy is about. I know the work he’s put in. It’s not a one-on-one sport, but if it is one-on-one, I’m going to take the taller, faster, stronger guy.”

It will be interesting to see if LaVar’s continued comments will have anything to do with how NBA team’s view Lonzo’s future in the NBA.13

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