The Chicago Bears are set to host the Baltimore Ravens for a Week 11 matchup on Sunday

The Celtics are deep, but Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford are their bread and butter. That’s why they went after Jimmy Butler and Paul George at the trade deadline. They need another star to legitimately compete with the Cavaliers, let alone one of the West’s powerhouse teams.

Mens Darren Fells Jersey In the playoffs, it’s the stars that matter. The supporting cast plays a role, but it’s a team’s top talent that moves the needle. It’s why Atlanta nearly (and should have) blew it up midseason. It’s why the Celtics nearly mortgaged their future for an All-Star at the trade deadline.

And it’s why the Cavaliers are still the heavy favorites to come out of the East no matter where they finish in the standings.

Cleveland is planning for Golden State or San Antonio, or maybe even Houston. LeBron’s history shows a shaky regular season doesn’t mean much come playoff time.

Because May and June are when the legacies are made. October through April are when the bills get paid.

The Chicago Bears are set to host the Baltimore Ravens for a Week 11 matchup on Sunday. Both teams are hoping to compete for their division, but both are trailing and can ill-afford to lose any games. Both divisions — the AFC and NFC North — are tight races between multiple teams.

Kids Luis Gonzalez Jersey Chicago is 5-4 and coming off a loss to the Detroit Lions. It was a very demoralizing loss given that the Lions are now in the lead within the division, and it came right after besting the rival Green Bay Packers the previous week. Baltimore was the opposite — they fell to the Cleveland Browns in Week 9, but kept themselves relevant with a 20-17 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10.

The Buckeyes weren’t particularly great along the OL last season

And they almost were, as the Jets rolled with Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson for most of the season. Winnipeg’s goaltending was certainly their biggest weakness of the season, but head coach Paul Maurice finally seemed to realize that their goaltender of the future was not going to be Pavelec.

Hellebuyck has shown flashes of greatness, and stability, while Hutchinson can live as a capable backup. It’s not perfect, but Hellebuyck especially is young and still developing. Not everyone can have a Matt Murray at the outset of their goaltending careers.

The Buckeyes weren’t particularly great along the OL last season, and when starting left guard Michael Jordan went down against Clemson, they unraveled in a hurry against an athletic front. They’ll be returning everyone, save for center Pat Elflein, and redshirt senior guard Billy Price is sliding over to fill that vacancy.

The Ohio State run game has been geared around inside zone and power blocking. Wilson tended to build his Indiana units around outside zone, which works rather differently and doesn’t feature the same kinds of QB option complements. While Wilson might emphasize balanced formations and the pass, it’s unlikely Meyer would stop combining inside zone and power, particularly the QB read varieties with Barrett entering his final season.

This is where the marriage between Meyer and Wilson might be made or broken.
While Wilson is used to calling plays at tempo and distributing widely, how will he do so with the zone/power-read schemes that have defined Ohio State?

If Wilson can adapt to Meyer’s system while bringing a more effective passing attack, this could be a devastating combination for 2017 and beyond.

If not, they might have to re-orient, perhaps building around whichever young blue-chip wins the QB job in 2018.

Patriots’ passer Jimmy Garoppolo is now the most attractive option available to quarterback-needy teams

Authentic Mens Peyton Manning Jersey Thompson was seemingly on her way to a second major championship in Sunday’s final round when, as she walked from the 12th green to 13 tee, a tourney official notified her she would incur a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball on the 17th green during Saturday’s third round, and would lose another two strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard. The assessment meant she dropped from two shots in front of the field to a two-shot deficit.

Whan was satisfied with how the tour handled the situation, but said he understood why so many in the golf world ripped the delay of a day in docking Thompson the four shots.

“I think it’s a fair critique and a fair criticism whether or not somebody can point something out that causes us to review it, and whether or not we should do that a day later,” Whan said. “But that’s not an LPGA thing. That is pretty much an every major tour thing.

Authentic Wendell Smallwood Jersey With Romo headed to the broadcast booth, Patriots’ passer Jimmy Garoppolo is now the most attractive option available to quarterback-needy teams. New England has been patient with Tom Brady’s backup, waiting for the market to unfold rather than making any rash decision to move him. As the pool of viable starters drains, head coach Bill Belichick can set his own price when it comes to moving the three-year veteran, who is under team control through at least 2018.

Rafael Montero is their starting pitching depth until Lugo can come back, so they even have a backup on hand, but New York has gone from being able to wave away nearly any pitcher injury to a far more troublesome place before they could even begin their second game of 2017.

Tecmo Bowl’s Kick 6 will make your day better

Johnny Unitas Kids Jersey You didn’t know you needed it, but you got it. Someone has given us the 8-bit version of The Kick Six, Auburn’s incredible victory over Alabama in 2017. It is, for my money, the greatest college football play of all time (don’t @ me):

Our intrepid Tecmo Bowl artist is named Kyle Mac, and he has a ton of these videos on his YouTube channel.

For those unfamiliar, Tecmo Bowl was the late-80s video game sensation played on the original Nintendo game console. Bo Jackson’s Tecmo Bowl avatar is perhaps the most destructive force in video game history.
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Some of you will cringe at me needing to explain what Tecmo Bowl is. Know that it is because you are old. I, a millennial, did not know what console or arcade portal Tecmo Bowl was played on.

Thompson had at least 99 yards in seven games last year, and while his pace slowed down over the second half of the season, X-man Jon’Vea Johnson’s picked up. Over a late four-game span, he caught 20 passes for 373 yards. Swanson caught 10 of 14 balls, and backup slot man Danzel McKinley-Lewis caught seven of eight. Sophomore Diontae Johnson returns after missing 2017, and there are plenty of three-star youngsters in the wings, most namely redshirt Neru N’Shaka.

Turnover on the line and in the receiving corps means last year’s levels will not be guaranteed. But the shuffling on the line and Woodside’s ball distribution minimize this concern. This should again be the best offense in the MAC, and I’m not sure it will be close.

The Houston Texans released safety Ed Reed on Tuesday.

J.R. Ella from Canal Street Chronicles broke down the struggles along the Saints’ offensive line:

After eight games in their NFL season, the New Orleans Saints offensive line has already allowed 20 sacks. Last year, they gave up a grand total of 26 sacks. The disturbing news is what the film breakdown reveals: rather than simple miscommunication, this unit is often overmatched.
Local Takes: Dallas Cowboys

Joey Ickes from Blogging The Boys calls for the Cowboys to give up on linebacker Ernie Sims:

The coaches love Sims aggressiveness, which can be a great trait for a player if he can keep it under control. However, his aggressiveness has continually gotten this defense in trouble. Against Detroit it was Sims who vacated his underneath zone, biting on a play-action fake by Matt Stafford, which left Brandon Carr out to dry resulting in an 87-yard catch-and-run on a slant route by Calvin Johnson. It was also Sims who missed multiple tackles, and was juked by Christian Ponder to finish up the Vikings first touchdown drive.

Be sure to check out SB Nation’s team blogs, Canal Street Chronicles and Blogging The Boys, for more analysis and highlights from the game. It was unclear whether Kaepernick would defend himself against the claim, but the wait wasn’t long. He dismissed Dilfer’s critique on Wednesday, as reported by Eric Branch. On Wednesday, Kaepernick dismissed Dilfer’s critique because he isn’t in the building. He also acknowledged that he hadn’t heard what was said about his development.

The Houston Texans released safety Ed Reed on Tuesday. Reed had seen his role diminish in recent weeks, giving way to Shiloh Keo in the starting lineup. He played in just 13 defensive snaps in that game. He’s also been banged up off and on, and has been critical of the team this season. It would be surprising to see him play again at this point.

Andy Dalton struggling vs. Ravens

Andy Dalton is struggling against the Baltimore Ravens as the Cincinnati Bengals are currently trailing 17-0 at halftime.

Dalton completed just seven passes for 40 yards in the first half, throwing an interception in the second quarter to finish with a passer rating of 23.8. He did not get on the same page as his receivers, and the normally reliable A.J. Green is having his worst game of the season, heading to the locker room with seven yards receiving.

Antoine Vermette Jersey Both quarterbacks are struggling with swirling winds in Baltimore, but Dalton is having an especially hard time. He is averaging 2.2 yards per attempt, and the team continue to throw on a day Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are having more success.

Cincinnati is hoping Dalton can turn it around, but that seems like a long shot unless the winds die down.

Demaryius Thomas is rapidly approaching Superweapon status, killing defenses on all manner of routes despite rarely employing deep throws in Denver’s quick-pass assault. Peyton Manning just has too many weapons right now, and he’s getting the ball out so fast that even a subpar day from his OL can’t slow him down. The secondary can still get picked on by precision passing, but the deep ball is becoming less of a worry as Von Miller continues to bring the heat.

James Neal Womens Jersey Austin has caught a lot of heat for his lack of production so far this year. This kid was supposed to be the next Percy Harvin. Instead, his stats have been anemic and his impact before Sunday had been negligible. He has lost more than 250 yards on returns due to penalties, and his offensive coordinator seems to think a bubble screen innovative. But nobody wants to hear excuses, they want to see results.

Meet Michael Ezeike, the Nigerian former soccer player who is 2018’s next big receiver

Update: As of March 23, Ezeike has also added an offer from Boston College, while TCU, Nebraska, Cal, and Tennessee have reached out. He is well on his way to having 20 or 30 offers.
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LOS ANGELES — Huh. Who is that? He looks like a future NFL player and wasn’t on my list of guys with major college offer, I said to myself as a huge pass catcher flashed across my camera Sunday during the Los Angeles Nike Football Opening Regional Camp, a collection of 400 of the best players from the Southwest.

Mens James van Riemsdyk Jersey That’s ‘Big Mike,’ said a local scout who had seen Ezeike last week. He’s gotten a lot better.

Big Mike is Michael Ezeike, of Ontario (Calif.) Colony High School. He came into the camp with offers from Washington State, Oregon State, Fresno State, Hawaii, New Mexico, and San Jose State.

Those are fine offers, but the player we were watching throws defenders off him, plucks balls naturally with his hands, uses a 6’5, 210-pound wingspan to create separation, and changes direction well for his size. A prospect like Ezeike typically has three times as many offers.

I spoke to Ezeike after the camp, and it’s clear to me that he is about to blow up. Ezeike is of Nigerian descent, and he grew up playing soccer, not football. He is just now coming into his own, learning both the game and how to use his big, still-growing body.

Put Ezeike in the mega camps that have already happened this year in Dallas, Houston, Miami, Orlando, wherever — he’d still stand out. Currently rated the No. 128 receiver in the nation, Ezeike is criminally underrated, and is just scratching the surface of his potential.

I asked Ezeike what offers he thought might come next. I was thinking Vanderbilt, Boise State, Wyoming, and Boston College, he said.

Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul agree to 4-year deal

The Giants and star pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul have agreed on a four-year contract, the team confirmed Friday afternoon.

Pierre-Paul earlier in the day had denied reports by NFL Media, which was first to report a deal, and, which reported that the contract would be worth about $17 million per year with $54 million guaranteed.

By mid-afternoon Friday, Pierre-Paul apparently had made it official. Though the Giants didn’t release terms of the deal, they reportedly were different than initially reported: an average of $15.5 million annually with $40 million guaranteed, according to NFL Media and other outlets.

There is not a simple answer to the question, as the unidentified GM noted. Some teams just don’t think he can play, and others flat-out don’t like him after his anthem controversy last season. But there is another group of front-office members with another interesting take.

Some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team, the GM said. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there is another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.
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President Trump is Twitter wars have been well-documented before and after he took office. In fact, just this week he started a beef with rapper Snoop Dogg.
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Having the president engaging in 140-character spats isn’t good for anyone, and especially not a professional football team trying to avoid distractions.

But ignoring Kaepernick is talent probably will end up being difficult for at least one team. After all, the 29-year-old QB didn’t play too poorly last season with the 49ers. He threw for 18 touchdowns with just four interceptions and had a 59.2 completion percentage. He also ran for 468 yards in 12 games, proving his mobility is still a weapon.

This UVA team wasn’t quite as good as the last few, but the Hoos were better than their seed.

veryone remembers Remmers for his struggles when he started at right tackle for the Panthers in the Super Bowl (it didn’t help that Carolina didn’t bother to send an extra blocker to assist), but he’s a solid right tackle. The Vikings scooped up Reiff and Remmers in 24 hours, not a bad haul. This was their biggest need.

Peppers returns to Carolina where they can use some depth for their pass rushers. He had 7.5 sacks last season, so even at 37, he can be effective in a situational role.

Adams is another old-timer — he turns 36 this month — but he’s a good one. He had 12 picks over the last three seasons with the Colts. You probably didn’t notice because, lol, Colts defense. They needed veterans in the secondary.

I’m not exactly sure what the 31-year old linebacker brings to the table at this point, other than a part-timer. But at two years, $12 million, with $11 million guaranteed, the Dolphins probably don’t intend for him to be a in part-time role.

Virginia has had elite (or close enough) teams every year since 2013-14. The Hoos’ tournament losses in that span have looked like this:

This UVA team wasn’t quite as good as the last few, but the Hoos were better than their seed. They entered Saturday as the No. 10 team on Ken Pomeroy’s ratings index, and their defense has been just as elite as ever.

But it’s important to distinguish “not scoring many points” and “playing bad offense.” Because in Virginia’s case, those two are not the same thing.

Bennett has a couple of defining principles as a head coach. One is his belief in the pack-line defense, where one player pressures the ball while the others pack in tightly to prevent penetration. Another is his fear of allowing fast-break opportunities for the other team. And another is his appreciation for basketball at a snail’s pace.


USC¡¯s the latest in a streak of First Four teams to advance in March Madness

After beating SMU, 66-65, in dramatic fashion, add the USC Trojans to an interesting list of teams with a distinction of not succumbing to what could be seen as an impediment.

USC overcame a 12-point deficit to tie the game initially, then went down nine in the second half yet still came back to win. That¡¯s in addition to the 17-point hole they dug out of to beat Providence. But it¡¯s the second NCAA tournament game they¡¯ve played in the last 48 hours after the First Four win over the Friars.

As far as the First Four teams that learn their fate on Selection Sunday, only to have to play on Tuesday or Wednesday against an unfamiliar foe, you just have to saddle up and play. That¡¯s how La Salle coach John Gianni described it when talking about his team¡¯s First Four game.
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Amendola has already missed four games this season with a variety of injuries.
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Lions Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson returned to practice on Thursday, according to Lions reporter Tim Twentyman. Johnson has been hampered by a knee injury and took a day to rest on Wednesday. He was able to put up 155 receiving yards and two touchdowns on nine catches in the Week 7 loss to the Bengals.

Both of the Bills’ top running backs, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, practiced on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak. Jackson injured his knee during the Bills’ Week 7 win over the Dolphins. Spiller has been hobbled with an ankle for weeks. There is a chance that Spiller may sit out this Sunday against the Saints.

Jaguars wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts were at practice on Thursday, according to Hays Carylon of the Florida Times-Union. Blackmon has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and Shorts is recovering from a sprained SC joint. Both are expected to play on Sunday against the 49ers in London.