The Houston Texans have clinched a playoff spot, but if they want to find success in the postseason, they have to improve in the red zone.
The Texans are 31st in red-zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown on just 16 of their 41 red zone drives this season (39 percent). Houston is tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the fewest red-zone touchdowns in the NFL, and only four teams have had fewer drives reach the red zone, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
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Houston’s red-zone struggles are not just a recent issue — it is something it has had problems with all season — but during its current three-game winning streak, it is just 2-of-10 in the red zone.
Such was evident in the second half Monday night; not so much the first.
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As for the Seahawks (9-5-1), of course Quinn is familiar with them from his days as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Falcons and Seahawks clashed during the regular season and the Seahawks escaped with a 26-24 win after a controversial no-call when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman grabbed Julio Jones.
“We’ve played Seattle, so my general thoughts on them, I know just how tough they are defensively,” Quinn said. “I know what [QB] Russ [Wilson] can do with his feet. I think [WR] Doug Baldwin has taken his stuff to another level. And the addition of [TE] [Jimmy] Graham and how they feature their guys. They play with real speed on special teams, so I know them better than most because we played them.”
The Packers, Lions, and Giants are the other teams in the NFC playoff picture as the fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds. Atlanta beat Green Bay at home during the regular season (33-32).
Maybe the Falcons will host the Seahawks again, like they did during the 2012 playoffs. First things first, though, and that’s taking care of the Saints this Sunday.
Then the Falcons can talk playoffs all they want.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need a little help, but they can secure a spot in the postseason on Sunday. If they manage to net their fourth consecutive win by beating the rival Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets fall to the New England Patriots, then the Steelers will guarantee a spot in the playoffs.
Elite Kids Maurice Jones-Drew Jersey Pittsburgh can still take the AFC North as well, though they can only guarantee a wild card spot on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bengals are two games up on them with two games to play, and the Steelers managed to split the season series thanks to a 33-20 win in Week 14.
Philadelphia has now lost four of its last six games and would be eliminated from playoff contention if it didn’t play in this division.
The Eagles’ problems are the same as ever — their offense doesn’t really have an identity, which is by far the biggest sin of Chip Kelly’s tenure. Say what you will about Kelly’s methods or execution, but nobody expected his offense to be boring. DeMarco Murray, last year’s league-leading rusher, is reduced to sitting on the bench while Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles get three to four yards on long-developing stretch runs.
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Sam Bradford looks less convincing than ever as a franchise quarterback. Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper are poor substitutes for DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, while Nelson Agholor has been a non-entity in his rookie year. Chip Kelly’s wild ride has been more like a leisurely stroll this season.
After that, New York went 1-3 over its next four, including ugly defeats to the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. Their once promising season seemed to be in jeopardy of spinning out of control with Fitzpatrick at the wheel.
Game Kids Trevor Linden Jersey Aaron Rodgers said he believes he’ll “be closer to 100 percent than [he] was in the Chicago game.”
Adrian Peterson didn’t seem overly concerned with his health after his return on Sunday against the Colts, saying he had a few “nicks,” but the Vikings kept him out of practice with knee and groin injuries on Wednesday, and Peterson was non-committal about playing on Saturday against the Packers.
Whether Peterson plays on Saturday — and whether his health is the sole factor in the decision, with the Vikings’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread — remains to be seen.
Kuechly practiced in full all last week and wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report. He said he understands the staff is being cautious and praised the medical team for being thorough.
He admitted, however, that it was tough when Rivera told him he wouldn’t play Monday.
“I wouldn’t say frustrating,” he said. “Even last year, the same as this year, you just want to play. That’s probably the most frustrating part, if that’s what you want to call it.
“You want to be out there playing, because that’s what you prepare the whole year for.”
Kuechly opened Wednesday’s news conference by saying he didn’t want to revisit the night he was injured and the tears that were captured on television as he was carted off the field. But he did address the outpouring of support, including texts and messages from players from other teams and fans throughout the league.
Game Kids Tyson Alualu Jersey “The thing I appreciate about that situation was the amount of support people showed,” Kuechly said. “You play a game, and it’s an intense game and a battle, but at the end of the day everybody understands it’s just a game.”
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David Johnson took a few more steps Sunday to becoming the best running back in Arizona Cardinals history.
With a 5-yard run with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter, Johnson became the first player in league history to start a season with 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first 14 games. His sights can now be set on Barry Sanders¡¯ NFL record of 15 straight games.
But Johnson¡¯s exploits weren¡¯t contained to just the league¡¯s annals. In less than two seasons, Johnson has already left his mark on the Cardinals¡¯ record book as well.
¡°It shouldn¡¯t bother Dak because one day he will benefit in spades from Jerry¡¯s loyalty because I know Dak is going to do so many special things for our organization.¡±
Everything Stephen Jones says about Prescott tells you the Cowboys have no intention of benching Prescott at any point this season. Prescott will lead this team the rest of the way, whether the season ends in triumph or disappointment.
When Stephen Jones discusses Prescott’s performance Sunday against the New York Giants — his worst of the year — he makes it clear that he doesn¡¯t think the Cowboys lost just because Prescott was 17-of-37 for 165 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a season-low 45.4 passer rating.
Instead, he talks about missed assignments, penalties and missed opportunities that led to the loss.
So all of you waiting for Romo to save the Cowboys from the “dregs” of their 11-2 season probably need to understand that it’s not happening. The Cowboys understand there’s an ebb and flow to every season, especially one with a rookie quarterback.
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Dak Prescott struggled against the Giants, but the idea of Tony Romo taking over is just sports-talk fodder.
The NFL relaxed its in-game video and social media rules for individual teams on Friday, part of an ongoing evolution of a policy that has drawn protests from some quarters.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anyone who wants less football,” said Goodell, referencing the recent Dallas Cowboys-Minnesota Vikings game as the most watched Thursday Night Game ever.
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In fact, it’s the rise in the Thursday Night viewership that partially helped the league rebound. Those games from Weeks 10-14, which also included a highly anticipated Kansas City Chiefs-Oakland Raiders matchup, were up 35 percent compared to 2015.
The last time the Seahawks lost a home playoff game was Jan. 8, 2005, when Russell Wilson was 16 years old. The Seahawks have played 26 playoff games either home or away (excluding Super Bowls, which are at neutral sites). They are 11-2 at home, 3-10 on the road.
The Week 10 Sunday game on Fox featuring the Cowboys versus the Pittsburgh Steelers drew 28.9 million viewers. Two weeks later, the Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins pulled in 35.1 million viewers on Fox. And last week, the Cowboys’ game against the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football was watched by 26.5 million people.
Wilson is 4-0 at home in the postseason, making him one of five quarterbacks since 2001 with at least two home wins without a loss. Heâ€™s also 38-5 at home, including the playoffs in his career, the best mark by any quarterback with at least 10 starts since his debut in 2012 (Tom Brady is next at 36-6).
James Laurinaitis Limited Jersey Three people shot barely qualifies as news in a city that is at once a great place to visit and live while also being a very easy place to die. People get shot in New Orleans all the time without anyone even really noticing, their occurrences three times the number of murders per capita as Chicago over the past five years. But on Sunday and Monday, the fame of Smith and McKnight made the city spend a troubling 24 hours confronted with its own rotting core.
Peyton Manning is back in the starting lineup for the Denver Broncos and will take over for Brock Osweiler during the team’s postseason run, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak announced on Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to Peyton leading our football team. I feel very good about that,” Kubiak said Thursday. “Best for our football team and I also know that Brock will be ready to play.”
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Osweiler is reportedly dealing with a sprained knee but that did not factor into Kubiak’s decision, according to NFL Network. Kubiak confirmed that Osweiler sat out of practice Thursday and probably wouldn’t be back on the field until Saturday.
Kubiak added that he felt comfortable where Manning was at “physically and mentally.”
After missing six games while rehabbing a torn plantar fascia, Manning returned to the lineup as a backup for Osweiler in Week 17, but took over for the 25-year-old quarterback in the third quarter after five turnovers for the Broncos offense. With Manning in the lineup, the Broncos outscored the Chargers, 20-7, to overcome a 13-7 deficit and pull out a 27-20 win that gave Denver the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Giants are insisting Coughlin resigned on his own terms, but that seems difficult to take at face value. Few football coaches walk away on their own terms, especially when they have a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback at their disposal.
But the fact is, the Giants have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons and finished with a 6-10 record in 2015. Coughlin’s teams had a propensity to be undisciplined, too, especially when it came to managing the clock at the end of games.
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After months of rumors about his pending exit, Payton is staying in New Orleans.
“Here I am and nothing’s changing and I plan on finishing my career here,” Payton said at his press conference Wednesday. “I think Zach Strief said it best last week: I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.”
Jerry Crasnick’s take: Royals GM Dayton Moore isn’t resigning himself to losing Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Danny Duffy when they become free agents after the 2017 season. “I think we’ll make a run at some of these guys to long-term contracts,”
Jesse Rogers’ take: Even though he’s the oldest member of that group, Lackey might have the best chance of returning, if he wants to keep playing. Otherwise, the Cubs are likely to move on from most of those players, though depending on Jay’s initial season with the team, he could be a candidate for another year. The biggest storyline will revolve around 2015 Cy Young winner Arrieta.
The Indians should already be getting an offensive upgrade with the return of Michael Brantley, and not spending big on Encarnacion keeps more payroll flexibility for in-season deals or the following seasons.
Game Womens Tracy Mcgrady Jersey Ron Cook wonders whether Andrew McCutchenâ€™s relationship with the Pirates is permanently scarred.
There was an effort last offseason to explore whether the two sides could navigate their way to a very elusive middle ground, with each side extending itself to an uncomfortable place. To get to that place, the Pirates would have had to agree to pay McCutchen far more than a small-market team should commit to one player, in percentage of payroll, and McCutchen wouldâ€™ve had to accept far less than what his market value might be after the 2018 season.
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The effort was made, and the player and team could not find a delicate middle ground. Business is business. Now the two sides will move steadily toward that time when McCutchen moves on to another team.
Jackson used to be an assistant in Cincinnati — he helped revive Andy Dalton’s career — and Thomas always admired him from a distance. After games, they’d find each other on the field and chat about football.
Jackson is brash and detail-oriented and has a good feel for his players. He knows how badly Thomas wants to win, and that motivates Jackson. “I hate that he’s part of any struggle,” the coach says.
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From the headlines, at least, tension appeared to be brewing between Thomas and the front office in late November. Cleveland had just been clobbered by Pittsburgh, and Kessler was knocked out of the game because of that shaky new line that does not include Mack and Schwartz.
Alford was in the last year of his deal. Because of his speed and athleticism, he was destined to attract some type of attention had he hit the open market. Although Alford has struggled at times with penalties, the Falcons think he can thrive in Quinn’s defense.
Jason Verrett Mens Jersey “It’s the speed that he plays with out on the outside and the ability to match up on different guys,” Quinn said. “He’s got the versatility to also play nickel. … He’s got a real awareness for the football in terms of going after it and ballhawking.”
Alford leads the team with 12 passes defended to go with two interceptions. He is fifth on the team with 47 combined tackles.
He has 14 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He’s averaging a dreadful 5.8 yards per attempt. Anything below 6.4 is considered terrible. The Texans are averaging only 17.3 points per game, which is 3.9 points below their numbers from last season, when Brian Hoyer was playing quarterback. Houston has scored 24 points or more in only three games this season.
“So the reason for my donation is … A very close friend of mine in AA was blocked by you years ago. He was not sober at the time and basically mad at the world, he followed some advice you gave (which didn’t work out) and proceeded to be an ass on twitter. I am making this donation on his behalf and would ask you to please unblock [redacted] on twitter. This is someone who has helped me beyond any sort of gift I could buy him, and as a podcast listener decided this would be a good idea as a fun surprise. Just a few weeks ago he told me the whole story as to how he got blocked and how he regrets it and wishes he was still able to follow you. Matthew, again I thank you for everything you do. Best Regards, Ryan.”
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Kids Davonte Lambert Jersey “Matthew, I just wanted to write to say thank you. I’m a regular reader of the Love/Hate column, have been for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been amazed at how you can use that short introduction to a fantasy football piece to make us as readers feel a certain way. A lot of the times, it makes me laugh, but other times it causes me to reflect a little.
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If the Texans can beat the Colts in Week 14 and follow up with a win here, they’ll have a 97 percent chance of winning the South. Even if they lose their other two games against the Jags and Bengals, they would have an 84 percent shot of winning the division with an 8-8 record, thanks to their superior tiebreakers.
While they’ve all but clinched a playoff berth, the Raiders aren’t yet guaranteed to make the postseason. If it goes on a four-game losing streak, Oakland would lose the division and have a 13 percent chance of missing the playoffs altogether, with the second-place teams from the AFC East and AFC North competing to take its spot. If the Raiders just win their lone remaining home game against the Colts in Week 16, that will be enough to carry them into their first playoff game since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.
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I refuse to narrow down a man who lines up in as many places as Michael Bennett does to just one position on the defensive line. As usual, he was all over the place against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He made plays from damn near everywhere, too. I had Bennett with seven total tackles, including two tackles for a loss, two pressures and three hits on the quarterback, as well as two other plays where he didn’t make the tackle but he totally blew everything up so his teammates could.
One of those plays was a third-and-1 with 8:46 left in the first quarter. Bennett was lined up as the left defensive end in a five-technique between Vikings rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings and tight end Kyle Rudolph. He not only beat both of their blocks, but also managed to blow up backup tight end MyCole Pruitt, who was pulling from the backside, before taking on Adrian Peterson in the backfield and forcing him to go laterally while losing ground. Eventually, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and a host of others took AD down for a loss of 2 yards which forced Minnesota to punt. But it all started with Bennett’s penetration.
The Giants were believed to primarily be pursuing candidates with extensive head coaching experience, but it seems as if Eli Manning’s endorsement will push McAdoo over the top.
Elite Carl Soderberg Jersey Manning, who was visibly emotional when Tom Coughlin resigned earlier this month, reportedly lobbied ownership to bump McAdoo up to head coach. Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo says Manning expressed a strong desire to the Maras for the offense to remain the same, which means McAdoo was the logical choice to replace Coughlin.
“Iâ€™m excited,” Eli Manning said about McAdoo’s promotion. “Iâ€™m excited for the Giants organization and for the team. I think Coach McAdoo is a great coach, a great teacher, and will be a great leader of this team. Iâ€™m excited to continue to work with him and grow within this offense, and get this organization back where it needs to be.”
McAdoo joined the Giants’ staff in 2014 after seven years as an offensive coordinator in Green Bay. He coached tight ends with the Packers until the 2011 campaign when he made the switch to QB coach. Aaron Rodgers thrived under McAdoo’s tutelage, posting a 106.9 passer rating in those two seasons.