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This game certainly lived up the hype, but left many with a sour taste in their mouth.

Despite the win, the Eagles lost Carson Wentz to a knee injury. Bettors were hurt pretty badly as well, specifically those who took either the Rams at the closing line of +2, the second-half line of -2.5, or had them in a teaser.

All of those wagers were losers after a wild play to end the game. Trailing 37-35 with just one second left on the clock, the Rams tried to play the lateral game, which actually led to a touchdown — only not for Los Angeles. Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham scooped up the loose ball and ran it into the end zone to give the Eagles an eight-point win.

“I was surprised he got back up”: Jared Goff led the Rams to victory despite being on the receiving end of two sacks from fellow Cal alumnus Cameron Jordan, the second leaving the Saints defensive end surprised at Goff’s durability. “I was joking with him that I was surprised he got back up after that second sack, but he responded well,” Jordan said. “That is something that I expect nothing less from another Cal Bear player.”

There’s some reason to believe the prime for NBA players has extended because of an increased focus on maintaining health and performance, as well as improved techniques and technology. Just as James is historic in the minutes he has played since a young age, so too is his dedication to playing at a high level. His business partner, Maverick Carter, told Bill Simmons last year that James spends $1.5 million a year on his body. That investment appears to be money well spent.

The Patriots won’t have Rob Gronkowski, but they’ll have their red-hot running game in a rematch from just two weeks ago, this time with their defense facing Jay Cutler. Tom Brady will again have fun attacking the Dolphins’ overmatched corners, and there’s a good bet for another Cutler pick six against a talented secondary that’s playing much better than it was earlier in the season.
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Case Keenum looks unstoppable at the moment, and Minnesota’s defense is cleaning up.

At the same time, he’s getting better shots now than perhaps ever before. According to Basketball-Reference.com, 43.7 percent of James’ attempts have come within three feet, the second-highest rate of his career. Remarkably, despite the fact that a player’s dunks per minute typically decline from the moment they enter the NBA, James made a career-high 145 dunks last season. (He’s down from that pace this year, but his 5.3 layups per game would be a career-high, per Basketball-Reference.com.)

“He still can play in the midrange. We still want him to take good midrange shots. But we have tried to make it an emphasis to not hesitate to shoot. He’s so tall that on the catch he can get that shot off, and his inclination has probably always been to fake it and drive it. But he shoots it with ease and feels good every time he shoots it.”

Even with Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have enough of a lead that they ought to squeak out a first-round bye — and maybe even the No. 1 seed. The Vikings have both the Bengals and Bears left on their schedule and should secure a bye. Likely needing one fewer postseason win than the Saints, Rams or Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl, the Vikings are the favorite to represent the NFC. And though they might be a hair worse than New Orleans, let’s not overlook the Vikings’ ability after Sunday’s road loss. Entering Week 14, Case Keenum was the Total QBR leader among healthy quarterbacks, and Minnesota had the fifth-best defense in the league, per FPI.

But Matt Ryan and Atlanta are getting hot like they were during their 2016 Super Bowl run. The Falcons have learned how to use their new home to their advantage, and Vikings are overdue for a letdown. With Devonta Freeman set to return and re-join Tevin Coleman, the difference will be the hosts’ superior backfield committee.lakers_007

The Chiefs are still in front.

This is big for Dallas, too. Philadelphia has the division on lockdown but is behind Minnesota for the top playoff seed. The Eagles need to keep winning and need a little help from Vikings’ opponents so they can be up two games after Week 16, before the rematch with the Cowboys.

The worst thing, however, would be the Rams slumping and falling to 10-6 from their current 9-3, while the Seahawks jump up to take the NFC West with a second win over the Rams. That’s because Los Angeles, like Green Bay and Atlanta, beat Dallas earlier in the season.

Which is harsh to say about Mahomes. But Reid deserves the benefit of the doubt about whether his quarterback is ready to play under playoff-contending conditions — at least more benefit than Buffalo coach Sean McDermott deserved.

Reid needs to fix his offense, that’s for sure. The Chiefs are very lucky the AFC West has played out the way it has — the rotten start by the Chargers, the rotten ongoing stretches by the Raiders and Broncos — or else they wouldn’t still be in control of the division.

Smith is still looking over his shoulder. Reid shouldn’t panic yet, not with five weeks left.

But Reid has had his hand on the trap door before, and he’s not afraid to throw it open.
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Brown held on for the tying touchdown and neither player was ejected.

After re-watching video of the play, the Raiders coach admitted to reporters Monday that Stewart’s hit wasn’t as malicious as he first thought.

“In looking at it, and being honest, I think Amari did duck his head as the guy was approaching,” he said (via the East Bay Times). “That makes it a little harder on the defender and that was probably the one piece that I didn’t have access to prior to that comment.

With the Vikings losing to the Carolina Panthers, oddsmakers were planning to make the Eagles the solo favorites in the NFC. Instead, the Westgate installed Minnesota as the favorite in the NFC at +275. The Eagles are next at 7-2 (+350, followed by the New Orleans Saints at 9-2 (+450), the Rams at 11-2 (+550) and Falcons at 6-1. The Eagles moved down to 12-1 to win the Super Bowl.

The New England Patriots remain the consensus Super Bowl favorites and are 2-1 at the Westgate, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7-2.

Smith-Schuster came under fire for his brutal hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the fourth quarter that was deemed a “dangerous and unsportsmanlike” act followed by an inappropriate celebration. Smith-Schuster wasn’t ejected for the block that sent Burfict off the field on a cart but was penalized for unnecessary roughness and taunting as he stood over the injured Burfict.

Later in the fourth quarter, Iloka seemingly retaliated when he “violently struck a defenseless receiver” and slammed Steelers wideout Antonio Brown with a brutal helmet shot in the end zone.

“We have to be more consistent and make the right plays every time,” Simmons said. “When we make mistakes and do not have guys like Joel and Cov to make up for it, it gets tough. We have to just come together as a team and get through it.”royals_008

Reports began to swirl on Sunday that McAdoo could be sacked as early as Monday depending on the team’s Week 13 performance.

In a video produced by the Bears, Miller shared his emotional story for the first time about what happened during a play that would ultimately change his career. When the injury initially happened, Miller said he heard his leg “pop,” but he didn’t think it was that bad.

Prior to his decision, as Ohtani moved closer to jumping from the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan to an MLB club, Manfred and Dan Halem, the commissioner’s chief legal officer, warned club executives time and again about following the rules in their pursuit of the 23-year-old star.

“I can’t recall a topic more fully communicated with teams than the rules of engagement with Ohtani,” another official told ESPN.

Manfred and Halem have spoken repeatedly at owners meetings about the potential for rule-breaking. At the most recent general manager meetings, last month in Orlando, Florida, Halem reiterated to club officials that any team found guilty of violating the rules would be hit hard.

The Giants on Monday fired their head coach of nearly two years amid a disappointing 2-10 season, NFL Media first reported.

Giants president John Mara confirmed the news during his Monday press conference, adding that general manager Jerry Reese was also relieved of his duties. He insisted that Eli Manning’s benching was not a factor in the decision.

Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was named interim coach for the remainder of the season and Kevin Abrams will serve as interim general manager.

The Giants seemingly hit rock bottom during Sunday’s loss to the Raiders as Geno Smith started at quarterback in place of veteran Eli Manning, who had been benched last week.panthers_014

The Raiders allowed that to happen on 36 percent of Carr’s dropbacks in this contest.

Denzel Valentine, Chicago Bulls (7.1): This combo guard has at least four assists in five of his past seven games and has averaged 2.6 3PG over the past seven appearances. You need to be in an appreciably deep league (think at least 12 teams with deep rosters) to consider Valentine, but he’s unquestionably been more productive of late.

This issue was even more pronounced on vertical passes (aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield), as New England had a 52.9 percent PPR on those attempts.

What makes this matter even more concerning is the Patriots got pressure on 33.3 percent of dropbacks where they didn’t send a blitzer, so this was a matter of New England’s defense getting a pass rush with its defensive linemen.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the top two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, each threw four touchdown passes Sunday. It was the first time in NFL history two quarterbacks selected 1-2 in the same draft tossed four touchdown passes in a game on the same day.

Titans safety Kevin Byard had two interceptions in the Titans’ 23-20 win over Baltimore. Byard had three picks in Tennessee’s last game, a 12-9 win over the Browns on Oct. 22, and joined Hall of Famer Mike Haynes (1976), Willie Buchanon (1978), Albert Lewis (1985) and DeAngelo Hall (2010) as the only players with five interceptions over two games.

Following Monday’s dominant win, Newton said he wanted to “tone it down” in the locker room by playing “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce and “Someone Like You” by Adele as his the team celebrated.
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Brett Hundley was not ready to be a competent replacement for Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers overall, though, were even less prepared to survive without their star quarterback.

Glenn, a former star at Ohio State who lived in the Dallas area, was driving when the vehicle left the highway, struck a concrete barrier and rolled, authorities said. Glenn was ejected. Jones said Glenn’s fiancée was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Her name and further details weren’t released. Jones had no immediate information on whether the couple wore seat belts.

The first team in NFL history to win eight straight after an 0-2 start, the Saints will try to extend that record Sunday against the Rams.

The Steelers’ fourth-ranked defense has to be licking its chops after watching the Packers’ inept offense Sunday against the Ravens.

A win Thursday in Detroit not only would avenge an earlier loss to the Lions but also all but wrap up a division title for the Vikings. However, a loss would give the Lions a season sweep and open the door for Detroit.

But before locking themselves in financially to the massive contract Garoppolo will command, San Francisco should want a first-hand look to determine whether it’s prudent to spend that type of cash on a passer with two career starts and 94 career pass attempts while stuck behind Brady.

Linebacker Rey Maualuga was incredulous at learning how many yards his team gave up. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was “disappointed” in how the Dolphins couldn’t get off the field against Newton. Defensive end Cameron Wake was among those who didn’t want to talk about the ugly performance at all. It’s hard and puzzling to accept how things got so out of hand.nike_bills-079

Titans vs. Steelers: How to watch, live stream ‘Thursday Night Football’

Per Bovada, the Steelers opened as 7-point favorites over the Titans, and that spread remained intact as of Thursday morning. The over/under points total was set at 44 1/2.

Getting caught up in the numbers with Big Ben has been a bad way to measure him over the years, yet it took some gaudy stats to remind us all of the big impact he’s still capable of having. Go figure.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Middle Tennessee’s Brent Stockstill hooked up with Patrick Smith for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the game at 10. That started a scoring frenzy which saw both teams combine for 35 points in the final quarter. Much to the chagrin of those on the under, the game went to overtime, level at 24.

As much as it would be fun to have a de facto championship game to decide the division in Week 17, Jacksonville’s overall play and schedule edge is bound to develop a good cushion before then. Luckily for Tennessee, as bad as Buffalo and the rest of the wild-card hopefuls are now, even a 3-4 slump will look good enough to stay in the AFC playoff picture.

Still, it’s important for the 49ers to play Garoppolo before the 2017 campaign ends. Doing so gives him a head start on the 2018 season, when San Francisco should be fielding a more talented roster from having high draft picks and ample cash to spend in free agency.

Garoppolo’s performance also could determine just how much of a financial commitment the 49ers are willing to make toward keeping him.nike_bills-115

Suffering from poor quarterback play, AFC stuck in troubling slump

Forget what happened in Week 2. Jacksonville’s current profile looks the part of a surefire playoff team, and a dangerous one at that. The Jaguars’ whipping of the Steelers in Pittsburgh is a reminder they’re somebodies that nobody, including Pittsburgh, New England and Kansas City, wants to face in January.

Although Garoppolo’s contract expires at the end of this season, he’s a lock to get slapped with the franchise tag if a contract extension isn’t in the offing. The 49ers didn’t trade what will assuredly be a high 2018 second-round draft pick to New England for a half-season marriage.

SN’s Vinnie Iyer in his Week 11 NFL picks against the spread picked the Steelers to beat the Titans and cover that 7-point line, 27-17.

SN’s David Steele in his Week 11 NFL picks straight up went the other way and predicted a Titans upset of the Steelers in a close game, 23-21.

None of that works, however, unless Roethlisberger is decisive and in a groove about knowing when to go deep and when to take the short to intermediate stuff when it’s open. After a few red-zone snags early against Tennessee, Roethlisberger regained command there, too.

Roethlisberger has been in the results business since he made his first start for the Steelers. Going for substance over style points has made him unique among his contemporaries, a throwing throwback.nike_bills-012

Patriots’ Tom Brady on possible trade: ‘Player movement is not new’

Brady, already the winningest quarterback in NFL history, broke a tie with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning last month to earn the most regular-season victories (189). His extensive list of records and accomplishments while with the Patriots also includes most division titles (14), Super Bowl wins (5) and Super Bowl MVPs (4).

The Patriots (6-2) are scheduled to visit the reeling Broncos (3-5) at 8:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

Whether it took Fiala a month to find that form, or that the addition of Turris brought out his best play, there’s no question an explosive offense has gotten even deeper.

“We are changing our mindset and playing more offense,” Fiala said. “We are attacking the game and that’s what we’re doing now to find success.”

The Predators (12-6-2) figure to find more success in this one. Montreal (8-12-2) has struggled in every facet of the game in coach Claude Julien’s first full season, and key injuries haven’t helped a thin roster.

Trailing by four with just over seven minutes to play, a stop from the Dolphins defense would have given Culter and Co. a shot at the win. Instead, the Raiders drove 87 yards in six plays, aided by back-to-back penalties on the Dolphins, setting up a Lynch 3-yard TD run to make it 27-16.

As the Pirates weigh decisions on whether and when to move Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, both of whom are part of this projection, it’s worth considering how Pittsburgh plans to escape the middle by spending up to its budget just to retain its core. If those two stay, and there are arguments either way, then the Pirates would still have to do some uncharacteristic spending to move the needle for next season.
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