Vikings hope to extend Barr, Diggs, Hunter

Before the Vikings splurged on quarterback Kirk Cousins, coach Mike Zimmer spent time pushing back against the kind of cap-busting move that would make it hard to keep the team’s young core players in place. The Vikings apparently will be trying to do both.

With Cousins signed and linebacker Eric Kendricks extended, the Vikings have three other young stars they hope to keep in the fold: linebacker Anthony Barr, receiver Stefon Diggs, and defensive end Danielle Hunter.

One thing they won’t have to worry about is ownership; Spielman said that the Wilfs have never refused a request from the front office to sign a given player.

Brezinzki calls the situation a “good problem to have,” but it remains to be seen whether this approach solves the problem that the Vikings have been plagued with for more than 40 years: Getting back to the Super Bowl, and perhaps this time winning it.

For Washington to compete for a spot in the NFC playoffs this season, they’ll need to navigate a schedule full of strong contenders. The good news for the Redskins: Several of those contenders will have to travel to Washington.

Toughest tests: Nobody likes having to play in the Superdome, where the Saints will be difficult to beat. The Redskins have to play another road game in a dome when they face the Cardinals in Arizona, not to mention their annual trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys. Seven of the 10 non-divisional opponents on Washington’s schedule are strong playoff contenders. And the Colts, Cardinals and Buccaneers won’t be push-overs.

Biggest breaks: Some of Washington’s toughest opponents in Atlanta, Carolina, Green Bay and Houston have to travel to FedEx Field, which should help. The Redskins also have just one long trip out west on their hands — the game in Arizona.
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Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average.

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. MORE PATRIOTS How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder.

The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount.

Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He’s not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a “body-catcher.”

Ballard didn’t exactly fleece the New York Jets, not if the player the Jets take with the third overall pick becomes a franchise NFL quarterback. What’s a franchise quarterback worth in today’s NFL To the Jets, it’s worth three juicy picks in the 2018 NFL draft — No. 6, No. 37 and No. 49 — plus a second-rounder in 2019.

The story here is not that Ballard worked the Jets. The story is that Ballard worked the system. If the Jets won their end of the trade, so be it, but the Colts absolutely won theirs. They swapped picks, moving down just a tiny amount from No. 3 to No. 6, and in the process added three premium picks

Colts win. Today they win, anyway, and today is all we have.
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Struggling Cavs need to get ball to Kevin Love more, Tyronn Lue says

The Cavaliers were coming off a four-game losing streak when they headed into their matchup against the Magic on Thursday, and down the stretch it could have been anyone’s game.

Cleveland was able to pull off the win, 104-103, despite blowing a 23-point lead in the second half. It was the second time in three games the Cavs blew a lead of 20 points or more.

“Right now we’re in Strugglesville,” LeBron James said, per ESPN. “But it felt like a win. We needed it. Definitely.”

Giordano and Monahan scored 61 seconds apart to put Calgary up 4-0 with 13:59 left and chase Johnson, who finished with 18 saves.

Hamilton then beat Robin Lehner with a shot inside the right post for a power-play goal with 1:21 left in the period.

Buffalo squandered a chance to win three straight at home for the first time since a 4-0 run in January 2017, and came out inexplicably flat two days after a 5-3 win over Toronto.

“It’s difficult to swallow,” coach Phil Housley said, by saying the Sabres failed to match the Flames intensity.

“New Orleans has no intention of trading Anthony Davis,” Woj said. “Boston’s uniquely positioned in that they have draft picks and young players and all the things — if a team was gonna trade Anthony Davis — all the things you’d want. But [the Pelicans] aren’t trading Anthony Davis… He wants to make it work in New Orleans. He wants to get into the playoffs.”

Woj also notes New Orleans wants to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this offseason, and it would take a “radical change in direction” for the Pelicans to consider putting Davis on the trade block.

“The Brow” has been absolutely ridiculous in the month of January: 34.0 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals per game on 55.4 percent shooting from the field. He is still only 24 years old, and he is under contract through 2020-21 with a player option for that final season. It’s no surprise contenders would want a player of his caliber.

However, he has clearly expressed his desire to win with the team that took him No. 1 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Not only that, but by the end of his current contract, he will be eligible for a supermax deal, giving the Pelicans a financial advantage over every other NBA team at the negotiating table.
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Prolific Davis lifts Pelicans past Heat in OT, 124-123

Heat: James Johnson had 12 points and blocked two shots. … Dragic had nine rebounds and eight assists. … Miami finished with a 70-62 advantage in points in the paint. … Heat players wore black patches reading MSD in white to honor the victims of the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Coaches wore Stoneman Douglas lapel pins with the school’s symbol, the head of an eagle. “It’s an absolute honor for us to wear these,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I know I speak for everybody in that locker room and everybody in the organization — we are so very inspired by the leadership and courage and absolute fearlessness of the kids and young men and women. … Such a tragic event, but we hear their voices loud and clear, and we are behind them.”

As of right now, I can tell you that the organization is conducting itself as if Leonard won’t be returning to the fold for the rest of this season. That’s not to say that’s what’s going to happen. But with each passing day, Leonard’s prospects for a return this season are diminishing significantly.

The notable example this year is Jimmy Garoppolo, the quarterback the Patriots traded to the 49ers at midseason. Garoppolo’s going to get the same payout the rest of the Patriots get, because of a clause in the CBA that protects players like him.

If a player was on a Super Bowl team’s roster for at least eight games and isn’t on another team in the same conference at the time of the Super Bowl, he gets the full share that all of his ex-teammates get. Because the 49ers are in the NFC, Garoppolo is eligible to get paid big, and he’ll make either $56,000 or $112,000.

At his salary — and on this massive slate especially — I’m looking for 50-plus fantasy points. With Davis being an absolute beast without DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns averaging over 60 fantasy points per game vs. Houston this season, Nikola Jokic entering the break on fire, and even the dirt cheap Hassan Whiteside, who beats out Drummond in both player efficiency rating and usage rate in a great matchup for big men, out there tonight, Drummond is the odd man out for me.
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Smith signed with the Giants as a free agent during the offseason.

Webb, a third-round pick this year, is waiting in the wings. Head coach Ben McAdoo said Tuesday in the wake of the announcement that Webb would also get playing time this season. What those two players show the Giants’ brass will help determine what path they pursue in the spring to address the quarterback position as the team undergoes a rebuilding effort.

I was still angry.The fumbling issue was even bigger problem this past , losing six of his 10 fumbles.Bill Belichick The coaching job that Bill Belichick has done for the New England Patriots year and year out can’t be understated.That seems to be the consensus among the people at the highest levels of the sport.I am lucky the coaches and front office know I am and are patient when I make mistakes, said.Local newspapers ran a contest, and more than 10 fans chose the nickname Devils titans_036named after the state’s most twisted, violent legend.

There’s also the Broncos. John Elway hasn’t been very good at finding quarterback talent, except for when he signed the other Manning brother — a move that worked out pretty well for Denver.

Or Manning could go to a division rival like Washington, if it does let Kirk Cousins hit free agency this offseason. He could also choose to stay in New York, filling a need for the Jets.

However, sticking around while a team rebuilds, especially one that could be on the verge of cleaning house in the front office and with the coaching staff, isn’t how most quarterbacks in their late 30s with two Super Bowl rings would choose to spend the twilight of their career.

The Bills handed both the Falcons and Broncos their only losses of this young season.

Sean McVay is the early front-runner for Coach of the Year for his work with second-year quarterback Jared Goff, who’s thriving so far after playing only seven forgettable games as a rookie. The former No. 1 overall pick still has a ways to go before he has the complete confidence of his coaches and fans. But the Rams are 3-1 with a chance to deal a body blow to the division-rival Seahawks this week. And if the improvements to the roster and the offensive scheme are real enough to stick, maybe the Rams don’t have to be in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes next March after all.

Defense wins championships (the Broncos should know). It’s why the Bills are sitting atop the AFC East while the Patriots look on from 2-2. Here’s how all 32 teams (and their defenses) stack up.

Clay: Neither. The Rams have been impressive, but after facing the Colts, Redskins, 49ers and Cowboys defenses, I wonder how the offense will perform against an absurdly tough slate the rest of the way that includes the Jaguars, Giants, Texans, Vikings and Eagles, in addition to the Seahawks and Cardinals twice each. The Bills are a fringe team, but it won’t be easy fending off New England for the division or fellow wild-card contenders like the Raiders, Broncos, Texans, Titans and Ravens.

Foxworth: Buffalo. Those are more impressive wins than the Rams beating the Colts, 49ers and Cowboys. The Rams’ offensive improvement deserves the praise we’ve heaped on it. But, in my experience, a tough defense makes for a more reliable team. And that’s what the Bills have. Tyrod Taylor and the Bills’ offense have made the plays that they need to win, but they haven’t been great. That’s in part because they haven’t been able to get LeSean McCoy on track. If they can figure out how to reignite that punishing and explosive running game from a year ago, the Bills will certainly be a viable contender at the end of the season.patriots_303-180x180

Lue had hinted during the season that the Cavs were holding back their best PNR defense

About those defensive struggles … The big question for the Cavs all year, especially in the second half of the season, has been their inability to play consistent defense, particularly in the pick-and-roll. That appeared to be an Achilles heel heading into the playoffs.

But the Cavaliers just suffocated the most pick-and-roll heavy team in the league. Coach Ty Lue had his defense blitzing the play aggressively, taking Toronto out of its comfort zone. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have looked as healthy as they’ve been in a while, and James’ ability to read and cut off the pick-and-roll was a factor in forcing Toronto into poor shots.

Lue had hinted during the season that the Cavs were holding back their best PNR defense, and the way Cleveland handled Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan indicates he was right. The Cavaliers allowed Toronto 0.90 points per possession and 44.4 percent shooting on ballhandler pick-and-rolls against the Raptors, which would put them right in the middle of the pack in postseason rankings. (Against the roll man, they allowed 1.03 points per possession and 48.6 percent shooting, also middle of the pack.) The Cavaliers don’t need to be top-tier against the play, they just need to be decent. And they were.

What they won’t do: Bring back this same group. Doing so would vault them at least $30 million over the luxury tax, for a total bill of something like $250 million. You don’t pay that for a noncontender.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe spoke with the team’s general manager, Masai Ujiri, after Sunday’s loss and came away believing the Raptors won’t be able to retain everyone on the roster. There’s just not enough money to go around to keep stars Lowry and Serge Ibaka along with key contributors such as PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson.
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There’s a strong history of rookie running backs making an immediate impact ,too.

The Jaguars aren’t moving on from Bortles and that leaves plenty of room to be skeptical. On the other hand, they used their first-round draft pick on Leonard Fournette, which suggests the Jags will emphasize taking the ball out of the fourth-year quarterback’s hands.

Fournette is a 6’0, 240-pound tank who is well-suited for a role as a workhorse running back. That would be a welcome change in philosophy for the Jaguars, who finished No. 4 in the NFL in pass attempts and No. 24 in rush attempts (although, being behind in most games contributed largely to that).

There’s a strong history of rookie running backs making an immediate impact ,too.

Ezekiel Elliott was a huge reason for the quick turnaround the Dallas Cowboys made from a 4-12 team in 2015 to a 13-3 powerhouse in 2016. He was also part of a larger trend of running backs drafted in the top five who helped their teams increase their win totals:

The NFL released a statement Wednesday saying that the reports relating to Brady from the independent spotters and neurotrauma consultants stationed at games.

“There are no records that indicate that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms,” the statement read.

The league said it will continue to work with the NFLPA to review the matter.

“As you know, it’s not the most unaggressive sport,” Bundchen said. “Football — like, he had a concussion last year. He has concussions pretty much — we don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions.”
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Uffsides NFL Week 12 preview: Broncos vs. Patriots

The biggest game of the NFL Week 12 slate is the Sunday Night Football showdown between the Broncos and Patriots, as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face off for the 14th time in their Hall of Fame careers. Matt Ufford and the Uffsides crew preview Week 12’s games and make their picks.

His latest too-little-too-late comeback did little to assuage worries that he won’t be a plus player prior to September 2017 – if then. We know the secondary is outrageously bad, but at some point Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are going to have to have good games on the same day if they want to win another game this season.

WMU does have to replace its two most disruptive defenders in the front seven; rush end Keion Adams and weakside linebacker Robert Spillane combined for 28.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, five passes defensed, and five forced fumbles. They were a two-man havoc rate.

Still, ends Eric Assoua and Nathan Braster combined for 13.5 TFLs of their own, and linebackers Asantay Brown and Caleb Bailey combined for 17.5. It appears there’s plenty of attacking talent to go around, and that’s before mentioning the five three-star linebackers moving to Kalamazoo this fall.

Poor Ike Taylor took his lumps in man coverage against Calvin Johnson, but he hung tough and freed the rest of his mates to take advantage of Matt Stafford’s non-Megatron mediocrity. Pittsburgh has probably dug themselves too deep a hole to make a realistic playoff push, but with four division games in their final six they aren’t buried yet. If nothing else, the last two weeks have restored some well-deserved Steeler pride.

It only took Fleck until his second season to start getting the offense figured out. WMU improved from 121st in Off. S&P+ his first year to 42nd, 22nd, and 25th, respectively, over his final three years.

The defense, however, took longer. WMU ranked 93rd in Def. S&P+ in 2017, and while there was clear, definitive improvement last year despite turnover, the Broncos were still only 69th.
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Crabtree remains on the injury report for the second week in a row because of his ankle

Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders, ankle, (Q): Crabtree remains on the injury report for the second week in a row because of his ankle. He played last week after being limited in practice daily and was on the field for 88 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, leading the team in receptions while posting over 100 yards. It’s pretty safe to say he isn’t being held back because of the ankle. After another week of daily limited practices, Crabtree is expected to play against the Bills. It is a late game however (4:05 p.m. ET) so fantasy owners should verify his status before kickoff.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, back, (Q): Hilton returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the Colts’ early practice this week with a back injury. On Thursday, the day of the team’s first formal injury report, Hilton was listed as limited, but he upgraded to full on Friday and Saturday. Despite the questionable tag, he is expected to play Monday night against the Jets.

Maybe it’s success in the passing game, maybe it’s lack of consistency in the run game, but either way, after last week I can’t imagine trusting Rawls as anything more than a flex play this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs since Week 2, is fifth against the run the past four weeks and has given up 100 total yards to opposing running backs just once since a Week 7 bye.

Until last week’s goose egg, Brandin Cooks hadn’t received fewer than five targets in a game since his rookie season. Expect him to rebound this week.

Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas, Saints: Thomas is easy. He’s as hot a wideout as there is in the NFL in a good matchup, but Cooks is a gut call. After last week’s zero-reception debacle for Cooks, I expect Drew Brees to force-feed him the ball (and the Lions not to make the same mistake the Rams did, bringing double-coverage to Cooks every play and leaving many other players exposed).

There’s a zillion great stats that show how awesome Brees is at home fantasy-wise, so here’s just one: He’s averaging 27.6 percent more yards per pass attempt at home this year than on the road. In the four home games since their Week 5 bye, Cooks and Thomas as a tandem have gained 604 yards and scored six touchdowns (that’s 75.5 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per player per game). To put that in perspective, if you extrapolate it over a 16-game season, each player would have 1,208 yards and 12 touchdowns. Yeah, you’re starting both guys.