Can Toledo’s Logan Woodside carve through Appalachian State’s defense?

Limited Cam Fowler USA Jersey Given how Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler had been playing this season, his benching on Sunday wasn¡¯t that surprising.

Osweiler got hooked after throwing two interceptions on his first 11 pass attempts. The Texans survived that and won behind backup quarterback Tom Savage.

Griffen also committed a neutral-zone infraction that gave the Colts a first down on third-and-5. Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford got picked off by Mike Adams, and the Vikings’ defense was dissected by a Colts offense that was content to keep Minnesota in its base personnel, run the ball and exploit throwing windows over the middle.

It’s not the most one-sided defeat of Zimmer’s tenure with the Vikings, but given what was at stake, it might be the most unnerving. And as the Vikings head to Green Bay next week for a date with a Packers team that has won four straight, they have more questions than answers.

Will Peterson — who didn’t play most of the second half after gaining 22 yards on six carries — see the field again this season? Should the Vikings push to get Harrison Smith back for the Packers game, as they’d initially hoped to do? What caused such a collapse in a game in which the Vikings still had everything to play for?
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The Vikings will be asked many of those questions this week, and they’ll have plenty of questions to pose on themselves, too. A season that began with championship aspirations — which seemed to persist even after injuries to Teddy Bridgewater and Peterson — is officially on the brink.

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian’s name has been connected to jobs in Chicago and elsewhere recently

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian’s name has been connected to jobs in Chicago and elsewhere recently. Polian laughed at that this week and said, “There is no job and I’ve spoken to no one on any team about anything.” There is nothing close or in the works.

What a year for Patriots special-teams standout Nate Ebner. First he competed for the U.S. rugby team in the Olympics in Rio, now he leads the NFL in special-teams tackles. He is vying to become the rare athlete to participate in the Olympics and the Pro Bowl in the same season.

“You guys are all going to be successful in life,” the man said, “no matter if it’s here or anywhere else.”

That’s when it hit Vinatieri. He understood that military academies broke down people before shaping them into warriors. “But I kind of like who I am,” Vinatieri told himself. “I’m not sure I want to give up my individuality at this point. I’ve worked my butt off to become who I am, and now you’re trying to tear it down.”

Game Youth Will Lutz Jersey He returned to Rapid City and found an older brother who was angrier than any commanding officer might be 1,700 miles to the east. Adam idolized Chad, a superior athlete, and Chad couldn’t believe his kid brother was already back home. The Vinatieris don’t quit anything, never mind the United States Military Academy.

“You had an opportunity that none of the rest of us ever had,” Chad told him. “I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough to be there, and you were. And you just pissed it away.”

Adam absorbed the withering critique from his big brother and stood his ground. “I’ve proven everybody else wrong all these years,” he told himself. “I’ll prove [everybody] wrong again.”
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When a deal eventually is worked out, as it likely will be, it would make Bell among the highest-paid running backs — a distinction that currently belongs to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, who signed a six-year, $85.28 million contract in September 2011.

Quarterback Drew Brees has just one year left on his contract

New Orleans enjoyed its most successful run in franchise history under Payton, reaching the postseason five times and capturing its first ever championship with a Authentic Youth Minnesota Twins Jersey 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 44. Payton holds the highest winning percentage of any head coach in team history as well.

New Orleans’ run of three straight seasons with double-digit wins came crashing to an end in 2012 when Payton was suspended for the entire year due to the Bountygate scandal. The NFL determined Payton knew about the alleged bounty scheme and attempted to cover it up. The four Saints players who were suspended for their supposed role in the scandal had their punishments vacated by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The Saints bounced back in 2013, going 11-5 with a perfect 8-0 record at home. They advanced to the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs before being eliminated by the Seattle Seahawks, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Osweiler hasn’t led the Broncos to an explosive, high-scoring offense, but he has protected the football much more than Manning, who had a disastrous year from that standpoint. The Broncos will win the AFC West if they beat the Chargers on Sunday, though they could also clinch with a loss by the Kansas City Chiefs.

A win for the Broncos Game Brad Richardson Jersey over the Chargers, who are well out of the playoff race at this point, will also give them the No. 2 seed in the conference and a first-round bye in the postseason. If the New England Patriots manage to lose to the Miami Dolphins and Denver wins, the Broncos will grab the top seed and seal home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Experts aren’t exactly split on Sunday’s game, though there are a couple siding with the Chargers. Over at CBS Sports, seven of the eight analysts think the Broncos will win, with Jason La Canfora picking the Chargers. Here at SB Nation, it’s a similar spread. Six of the seven panelists, plus the OddsShark Computer, think the Broncos take it. Only Matt Ufford is sticking with San Diego.

Rebuilding White Sox should think about keeping Jose Quintana

The perception of some of Rick Hahn’s peers is that he wanted to start rebuilding long ago, perhaps as far back as before the trade deadline in 2015, given the needs of the Chicago White Sox. They sensed that the general manager wanted to take advantage of Chris Sale¡¯s value in the trade market, to retool and rebuild and, most important, get the White Sox out of the dreaded no-man’s land — the place of teams not quite good enough to seriously contend but with enough talent to be mediocre.

Hahn hauled the franchise out of that place this week, with two big trades of impactful veterans that drew compliments from his peers, and the White Sox already are deep into the marketing of the player currently regarded as their most valuable asset: starting pitcher Jose Quintana. The left-hander, who turns 28 in January, has thrown 814 1/3 innings over the last four seasons, with a 3.35 ERA, despite pitching his home games in the hitters’ haven that is the White Sox home park.

To sum it up: Quintana is really good with virtually no risk, and at the moment, he is the most coveted pitcher in the market.

With Sale, the Red Sox are more likely to win 93 games again, more likely to make the playoffs and thus more likely to win the World Series. With Eaton in the outfield, the Nationals believe they have a better chance of running down the Cubs. Every team is searching for and finding the small edges: shifting, pitch framing, spin rates, exit velocity and on and on, down to new sabermetric studies on things like nutrition, team chemistry and work ethic.
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Elite Youth Kendall Wright Jersey But Chris Sale isn¡¯t a small edge; he¡¯s a big edge. Yes, in five years maybe Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech are starting in the All-Star Game. But finding an advantage in today¡¯s game isn¡¯t as simple as searching minor league numbers for hitters with a good on-base percentage or playing your second baseman 10 feet to his left.

Everybody has the data. Not every GM has the courage to risk making a trade that could get him fired.

The Browns have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in three of their past four

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Others receiving votes: Dec. 6, 2015, was the last time Eli Manning didn’t throw for at least 350 yards or multiple touchdowns in a home game. I expect more of the same against a banged-up Cowboys secondary that has shown some leaks recently. … The Browns have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in three of their past four, and Andy Dalton has more than 15 fantasy points in four of six road games this season, so despite the injuries, the Red Rifle is usable in a solid QB2 sort of way. … I know, I know. Colin Kaepernick killed you last week.

But if you somehow survived it, I’m back on board. Even when you include last week’s stinker, he’s fourth in total QB fantasy points over the past five games, and he’s home with good weather against a Jets D traveling cross country on a short week in a season they seem to have given up on. It’s worth noting the two mobile QBs the Jets have faced, Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson, have averaged 24 points against them.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins: A common question I got on Twitter when the initial ranks came out was, “Would you really start Kirk Cousins over Tom Brady?” Hey, I get the question and would certainly understand it if you didn’t want to go there. But since Week 8, no team has allowed more total QB points (and the fourth-most QB points per game) than the Philadelphia Eagles.

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this season for Russell Wilson in fantasy, but he’s got a good matchup in Green Bay this week.

Albert McClellan Jersey Russell Wilson, Seahawks: I know, I know. Wilson has been shaky this season on the road, but current weather forecasts have this game as simply cold and partly cloudy but not a snowstorm or anything, and this is a pretty good matchup. The Packers have allowed more than 22 points a game to QBs the past four weeks, including games against Carson Wentz and Brock Osweiler, and while Wilson’s fantasy point totals have been inconsistent, he has thrown for more than 270 yards in four of his past five games. He’s also averaging nearly 10 yards a carry the past two games, so I expect a high floor for Wilson with obvious upside.

Del Rio is only the third Raiders head coach in franchise history to have played significant time in the NFL

This isn’t really a huge game in terms of the playoff picture for the Cowboys; they already have clinched a playoff spot and are overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East. Their chances of winning home-field advantage in the NFC would rise from 93 percent to 98 percent with a victory, but even if they lose, they would have a 95 percent chance of winning the division and an 85 percent chance of staying home in Dallas throughout January. Dallas would need to lose two more games to be in any serious threat of missing out on the divisional crown.

The experience has caught the players’ attention.

Drew Stanton Game Jersey Del Rio is only the third Raiders head coach in franchise history to have played significant time in the NFL or AFL, along with Shell and Flores.

“Sometimes you get some coaches that have never played,” Condo continued, “and then some players know that and then they start second-guessing, ‘Who’s this guy? He’s never stepped on the field in his life.'”

Not so with Del Rio’s staff.

“You talk about cool dudes?” Mack mused. “All throughout the staff, former players who just know how it’s supposed to feel, how it’s supposed to be and the energy that’s supposed to be around the football team is exactly what they brought.”
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What is likely to be the first matchup in the to-be-legendary series between Tom Brady and Trevor Siemian could determine whether the Patriots end up with the top seed in the AFC. The Raiders currently hold the top seed in the conference by virtue of the strength of victory tiebreaker, but the Patriots don’t play in the brutal AFC West, which is why they have a 50 percent crack at coming away with the top seed (the Raiders are at 35 percent).

DeAngelo Williams ruled out for the Divisional round of the playoffs

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams met with foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte on Monday, and was ruled out for Sunday’s Divisional round matchup against the Denver Broncos. Williams missed last week’s crazy Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals with the same injury.

Whatever the Seahawks are doing on offense this week, you can rest assured that Doug Baldwin will be a focal point. Obviously, the Panthers have Josh Norman to match up with him when he’s outside, and that’s going to be a great battle to keep an eye on. Baldwin will have his hands full with Norman, Cortland Finnegan, and the rest of Carolina’s defensive secondary, but the Panthers’ cornerbacks and safeties won’t have a cakewalk out there either. This is no longer a “pedestrian” receiver corps in Seattle.

But Kansas City’s biggest weapon may be quarterback Alex Smith’s ability to protect the football. Smith only threw one interception this season and went 312 consecutive pass attempts without throwing a pick. (Though it could be tough for the Chiefs to produce much offense if Jeremy Maclin winds up sitting out with a reported high ankle sprain.)
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This will be the first time Andy Reid has faced Bill Belichick in the playoffs since the Patriots narrowly edged the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, meaning he may have revenge on his mind. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton also worked under Rex Ryan when the Jets knocked off the Patriots in the Divisional round in 2010.
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New England is rightfully the favorite in this game but the Chiefs may prove to be a tough out — especially if their dominant pass rush can take advantage of a porous Patriots offensive line and get to Brady. The Patriots might very well advance, but it probably won’t be easy.

MLB Rumor Central: Mark Melancon weighing multiple offers?

Free-agent closer Mark Melancon appears to be in line for a big payday when he chooses his next team.

Rumor CentralThe 31-year-old has received multiple contract offers of four years and more than $60 million, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports, citing sources. The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals are two teams involved, while “perhaps one other” club appears to be in play.
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That other team isn’t expected to be the Colorado Rockies, who have shown interest in the right-hander this offseason, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post notes, writing that Melancon has indicated he would take less to pitch for his hometown club.

Rosenthal writes that the Giants’ offer is thought to be the strongest. San Francisco pursued Melancon “fervently” before he was dealt to the Nationals ahead of last season’s trade deadline and looks like an obvious fit, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets.
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Melancon posted a 1.64 ERA and 47 saves between the Nats and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016. For what its worth, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote earlier this offseason that he wouldn’t give Melancon more than a one-year deal due to his checkered injury history.

“My job is pretty simple,” Mbah a Moute told “Stand in the corner and make plays.” He’s doing just enough so far; Mbah a Moute has canned 42 percent of his corner 3s, and he looks more comfortable pumping-and-driving.

Steve Ballmer, L.A.’s moneybags owner, has already said he’ll pay the cost. Maxing out Griffin is a no-brainer, and the team expects Paul to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal ends up being in the revised collective bargaining agreement) to stick around, per several league sources. That would take him well past age 35. Gulp. Suitors will line up for Redick.

Nationals keep hot stove burning, bring Derek Norris back

Executives like Mike Rizzo are what keep the hot stove burning.

On Friday afternoon, two days before the start of MLB’s annual winter meetings in Rizzo’s backyard, the Washington Nationals general manager acquired catcher Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league pitcher Pedro Avila. Even though the swap solidifies Washington’s backstop situation and basically takes them out of the running for free agent Matt Wieters, you can expect Rizzo and the Nats to be plenty active going forward.

Derek Norris’ relatively bargain price gives the Nationals latitude to concentrate on more pressing roster needs.

A 2007 fourth-round pick of the Nationals, Norris — who hit .186 last season but was an All-Star with Oakland in 2014 — fills the void created by the departure of free agent Wilson Ramos. More accurately, he’ll try to fill that void. It’ll be nearly impossible for Washington to replace the offensive production that Ramos — who had a career year, hitting .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs — gave them last season.
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Assessment: You’re either indifferent with this or you just checked your copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia. (That’s an old reference for you kids; back in the old days you used to have to look up statistics in a book.)

Assessment: Excellent rule. It will lead to more roster maneuverings — perhaps one reason the 26th-man roster move wasn’t agreed upon — but I like the idea that if a player sprains his ankle and is going to miss a week, a team doesn’t have to either (A) play a man short for a week, or (B) disable a player for longer than necessary. It’s also a little easier with this rule to stash a pitcher who has a tired arm or sore elbow or something, where he can go on the DL and miss one or two starts, and maybe that will prevent a few injuries.

Authentic Womens Josh Sitton Jersey Assessment: But the season will start four days earlier, giving the players a few additional off days during the season. At least the games will start earlier instead of pushing the playoffs back even deeper into November. In the past, Manfred has discussed cutting the season down to 154 games, but you can imagine how the owners feel about cutting four games of revenue.

So the union is still selling out the young Latin players to some extent, hoping the owners will reinvest some of that money into the major league payroll.

KAT puts up a historic night despite Timberwolves loss

Karl-Anthony Towns scored a career-high 47 points in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 106-104 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Towns became the youngest player in franchise history to record a 40-point game.

Here is a By the Numbers look at what Towns accomplished:

2 — Towns becomes the second player to record a 40-point, 15-rebound game this season, joining Anthony Davis, who has two such games. All three of those games were losses.

3 — Adding the 18 rebounds he grabbed, Towns became the third-youngest player to record a 45-point, 15-rebound game. Only Kevin Durant (20 years, 116 days) and Shaquille O’Neal (20 years, 347 days) were younger than Towns (21 years, 15 days) when they accomplished the feat.

4 — Towns is also the fourth-youngest player to record a 40-point, 15-rebound game, trailing Durant, O’Neal and Davis.
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Authentic Womens Justin March-Lillard Jersey 6 — It is the sixth straight game in which a Kentucky big man scored 40 points and grabbed 15 rebounds (Davis did so four times, and DeMarcus Cousins once). Russell Westbrook was the last non-Kentucky player to record a 40-point, 15-rebound game in the NBA.

22 — Towns’ career high while playing at Kentucky was 25 points. He nearly doubled that total Wednesday, scoring 22 more points than his college best.

100 — It took Towns 100 games to record his first 40-point game. It took Kevin Garnett 353 games at the age of 23 to score 40 points in a game.

LEAN MUSCLE: Over the past 18 months, Antetokounmpo has put on an impressive amount of muscle-his weight went from 196 pounds on draft day to 222 this season. But, crucially, he’s managed to do it without bulking up. “To be big is one thing, but to have muscles that are tuned to their optimal characteristics is another,” says Troy Flanagan, Ph.D., the Bucks’ director of performance. All that lean muscle mass allows him to generate force quickly, which gives him the agility and explosiveness that the NBA game demands.

CORE: Typically, in players of Antetokounmpo’s length and power, sports scientists see core instability, but this is yet another area in which the big Greek resembles more compact players. Other long players will have stability in the sagittal plane (which divides the trunk down the middle) but not in their frontal or horizontal planes. Antetokounmpo checks all boxes. The result? The aerobatic ability to dribble the length of the floor, elevate for a rebound, fly laterally through the air for an alley-oop-all complex movements that originate from the core.