Matt Barkley, Bears crumble in ugly loss to Washington

Many praise John Fox for motivating his Chicago Bears no matter the circumstances.

The narrative died on Saturday.
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Fox¡¯s team committed countless blunders as the Washington Redskins bulldozed the Bears 41-21. Name the mistake, and it probably happened to the home team — busted coverages, blown assignments, questionable playcalling, poor decision-making, missed tackles, turnovers, untimely penalties … the list keeps going.

The effort was there, but mentally the Bears (3-12) looked unprepared from the opening kickoff.

Bears quarterback Matt Barkley threw five interceptions and two touchdowns in Saturday’s loss to the Redskins. Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports
Genuine fear existed in the nation¡¯s capital that the Redskins (8-6-1) — on a super-short week — would be upset by Fox¡¯s (9-22 in Chicago) feisty squad.

The Bears quickly eased those concerns.

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman became the 19th player to land on injured reserve Friday, so the talent gap between the Bears and Redskins is obvious.

Barkevious Mingo Authentic Jersey The Bears, however, suffered from serious lapses of judgment in all three phases — starting on offense with the quarterback.

Matt Barkley (five picks) has moxie. Chicago doesn¡¯t usually throw in the towel when Barkley is the quarterback.

the Lions dropped to 24th overall, according to the NFL Vegas power rankings

The New England Patriots — already the 9-5 Super Bowl favorites at the Westgate SuperBook and the No. 1 team in the NFL Vegas Rankings here at Chalk — have also extended their lead atop the NFL ATS Standings.

Graham Glasgow Game Jersey The Patriots are 11-3 ATS after their 16-3 win as 3-point road favorites at Denver with the Dallas Cowboys falling 1.5 games back at 9-4-1 ATS, as they failed to cover for the fourth straight game in their 26-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as 7-point home favorites. There is then a cluster of six teams at 9-5 ATS: Oakland, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
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Following an 11-point loss to the Giants in Week 15, the Lions dropped to 24th overall, according to the NFL Vegas power rankings. Our handicappers give ratings for all 32 teams.

Bortles is talking about Gus Bradley, whom the Jaguars (2-12) fired Sunday night after his 48th loss in 62 games as the team’s head coach. The players embraced Bradley, who emphasized positivity and concentrated on being your best instead of stressing wins and losses. He spent nearly as much time speaking with the players about their lives, mindset, beliefs and attitudes nearly as much as he did about football.

Bradley certainly wasn’t an old-school, hard-ass coach. He was more new-age in his approach.

Most of the players loved it, but it didn’t result in many victories. Just two this season, which is the ninth year in which the Jaguars have failed to have a winning season and the sixth year in a row with double-digit losses. Their latest loss, 21-20 at Houston last Sunday, was the ninth in a row and GM Dave Caldwell fired Bradley after the game.

Man proposes marriage via brick at Vikings stadium

Two years ago, Indianapolis Colts fan Nick Running met Jane Momany, a Minnesota Vikings fan, at a game in Minnesota.

Three months after that meeting, Running saw that the Vikings were selling bricks to fans surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium, which would open in 2016.

Despite only knowing Momany for a short time, he was ready to make the purchase.

On the brick was inscribed: “Jane, will you marry me? Love, Nick.”

Roethlisberger’s overall attempts per game are down from 39 to 36.6, but he maintains that his stats are secondary to wins. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who’s seen Roethlisberger over the years change his game to become a quick-strike passer who takes fewer sacks, said Antonio Brown and other Steelers playmakers understand throwing 40 passes isn’t best for the game plan some weeks.

“He’s seeing what he needs to see, doing a great job preparation-wise,” Haley said of Roethlisberger. “The ball’s coming out when it needs to come out. And he’s able to give you those big plays when you need them. I think he’s just continued to get better each and every year.”

And he’s three touchdown passes away from 300, a feat just nine quarterbacks in NFL history have reached.
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Game Youth Alexey Shved Jersey Bell has been a central figure in the Steelers’ game plan, with 118 carries over the past four weeks and 166 total touches for 933 yards over his last five weeks. But if the Bengals put that extra safety in the box, deep balls to Brown might be there. And despite a miserable last two months, deep threat Sammie Coates had a few big gains against Cincinnati in Week 2 and hopes to duplicate that production.

Falcons fans would love to see Ryan gift-wrap another 500-yard game against the Panthers on Christmas Eve

Mike Zimmer brought Andre Patterson to the Vikings in part to change the philosophy of the team’s defensive line.

Hunter surged off the ball, aiming at Parnell’s outside shoulder. He swatted the tackle aside with two quick hands, churned forward and pulled Bortles down, pointing back to the sideline at Patterson. If the play was a display of the force Hunter brings to bear, it also was a testament to the teacher that head coach Mike Zimmer has been hiring for four decades.

The Saints and Panthers rank in the bottom four in passing yards allowed per game at 268.3 and 272.4 yards, respectively. Ryan already lit up the Panthers for a franchise-record 503 passing yards back in Week 4. He threw for 240 yards against the Saints in Week 3 as his running backs combined for 194 yards.

Facing a 49ers team on Sunday that surrenders a league-worst 170.8 rushing yards per game might entice Ryan to hand the ball off on every snap. But he’ll certainly take some shots with the 49ers also giving up 48 pass plays of 20-plus yards, tied for third-most in the league.

Of course, other factors could determine how many passing yards Ryan compiles over the last three games. The injury status of star receiver Julio Jones is one of them as Jones continues to recover from a toe injury. Ryan threw for a season-low 237 yards without Jones last Sunday, but the Falcons demolished the Los Angeles Rams 42-14. Ryan sat out the fourth quarter last Sunday, something that could happen again this week against the 1-12 49ers.

That’s not to say Ryan can’t go for 300 yards without Jones, especially with speedy Taylor Gabriel averaging 17.4 yards per catch. But, of course, Ryan would rather have Jones on the field.
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Falcons fans would love to see Ryan gift-wrap another 500-yard game against the Panthers on Christmas Eve, but that would be a much tougher task on the road.

And how about a Ryan-Brees aerial display in the last regular-season game at the Georgia Dome? Sounds fun.
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For the record, Ryan has five games of 300 yards or more this season, and the Falcons are 3-2 in those games. However, he hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in the last four games, and the Falcons are 2-2 in those games.

Hayward has been waiting longer than anyone to see whether this version of the Jazz can win

Trey Lyles is the blurry outline of a power forward who can shoot 3s and make plays off the bounce — a clean fit who could clear the lane for either Favors or Gobert.

Decision-making timetables in the NBA don’t wait for blurry outlines to crystallize. The Jazz have about $13 million in cap room they can use now to give Favors or Hill a raise, and a long-term extension based off that higher salary. They cannot extend both.
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Favors is five years younger than Hill; an extension would synch perfectly with his prime. Hill plays a position of greater need, especially after Dante Exum missed a year of development — another lost chance to gather information — recovering from an ACL tear. Exum is plainly unready to lead a functional offense, and it’s unclear when (or if) he won’t be.

Check the date. I have long been a resident of Romo Island. To be clear, I am a Prescott fan, but I believe his limitations can cost the Cowboys in the playoffs. In this game, the Giants confused the Cowboys’ protections with zone blitzes, and dropped defensive linemen into the passing lanes of Prescott’s hot receivers. The blitzes weren’t particularly well-disguised.

Game Mens Wayne Gretzky Jersey If Prescott were to ignore the pre-snap alignments of the D-line and linebackers and focus on the alignment of the secondary players, it would have been clear where the blitz was coming from. Especially as the game progressed, the cornerbacks and safeties were lining up steps behind the blitzers so they could pick up the vacated coverage responsibility.

I could be wrong, but I believe that Romo, a 14-year NFL veteran quarterback, has seen every blitz that NFL defenses have to offer. In fairness to Prescott, the running game will suffer without him. On a couple of occasions during this game, I saw defenders step toward Prescott, respecting his ability to run the zone read, only to see the NFL’s leading rusher, Elliott, carry the ball into their secondary.

Wade Davis worth price tag of Jorge Soler for Cubs

Pablo Sandoval says he isn’t proud of what he has become over the past two years and insists he is ready to make the most of the second chance he’s about to receive.

Authentic Mens Marian Gaborik Jersey In a joint English-Spanish interview with ESPN.com and ESPN Deportes’ Marly Rivera, Sandoval said he got “complacent” after signing a five-year, $95 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in November 2014 and pledged to “start my baseball career all over again” now that he is fully recovered from left shoulder surgery.

“My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished,” Sandoval said by phone in his first public comments since August. “I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be.”

Mens Braydon Coburn Jersey Two days later, Chapman bettered that — by nearly 40 percent — when he inked a five-year, $86 million deal to hook back up with the Yankees. Then there’s fellow free agent Kenley Jansen, who’s expected to score a deal similar to Chapman’s. All of which raises the question: If the Orioles were willing to trade Britton, just how much could they get in return?

As good as Melancon, Miller and Chapman are — and they’re three of the best in the biz — Britton is even better. In 2016, he was a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities and his 0.54 ERA was the lowest ever for a reliever (min. 50 innings). He finished fourth in the Cy Young balloting and received almost as many first-place votes as eventual winner Rick Porcello.

This is nothing new for Britton. Since taking over as Baltimore’s closer on May 15, 2014, his 120 saves are second only to Melancon, and his 1.44 ERA trails only Wade Davis. In other words, he’s been good. Really, really good. As if that weren’t enough, he’s relatively low-mileage: At just 28 years old, he’s younger than Miller (31), Melancon (31) and Jansen (29). All of which is to say, the Orioles could get a gargantuan return if they’re willing to trade Britton. The operative word there is “if.”

In 2014, the Browns were beating the Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s a blue-collar city, and for a blue-collar guy like myself, it’s easy to fall in love with the people and kind of the chip on the shoulder that a lot of people have because they feel like they’ve been slighted for so long. It’s so important for me to be here for the turnaround. I don’t want to just get a Super Bowl ring [by] being traded to a dream team. It would feel unsatisfying. Unfulfilling.”

It’s human nature for a player to check out, at least mentally, when his team is out of the playoff picture by Halloween. Thomas has practically had to beg to stay in on a couple of occasions.
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In 2014, the Browns were beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, manhandling them, actually, when then-coach Mike Pettine told backup Vinston Painter to go in and replace Thomas; the coach didn’t want his best player getting hurt in mop-up duty. Pettine was in his first year, and didn’t know any better. Thomas did a double take when he saw Painter.

THE BEST SEASON, no doubt, was 2007, his rookie year. The Browns went 10-6, came oh-so-close to making the playoffs, and Thomas must have figured it would always be like that, because he’d always played on winning teams. He went to the state tournament a combined five times alone in basketball and football at Brookfield Central High in Wisconsin, roughly 15 minutes from J.J. Watt’s hometown of Pewaukee.

Thomas would be missed if he can’t play or is limited this weekend at Tampa Bay. He is leading the team in every receiving category, with 69 catches, 831 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Saints have a deep receiving corps that includes Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman. Middle linebacker Craig Robertson also missed practice with a shoulder injury. He’d be hard to replace as an every-down player and the team’s leading tackler.
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Coach Mike Zimmer wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Smith returning from an ankle injury that had him on crutches and in a walking boot last Thursday, pointing out how often Smith plays through injuries. But given that Smith hasn’t practiced during the Vikings’ first two sessions of the week, his ability to play Sunday appears to be in doubt.

The 10-2 Raiders are 7-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer this year

Three-quarters of the NFL season is over. If you’re waiting for your favorite team to break out, well, it’s probably not going to happen. For several organizations, the season is all but over. That said, just about everyone else has something to play for, whether that’s trying to win a division, claiming a top seed, or simply trying to advance into the postseason by any means necessary.
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While many of the remaining contests will matter for one team or the other, with one-quarter of the season left to go, we can pinpoint games that will be most important for clarifying the playoff picture. I’ve gone through and highlighted the three games from each week with the most meaning over the four remaining weekends of the 2016 campaign — you can even consider this a viewer’s guide for the 12 most essential games of the 64 left on the calendar.

To work with dynamically generated playoff odds, I used the web simulator created by The Upshot, which generates playoff odds after identifying winners and losers for specified games by simulating the season thousands of times. When I mention games after Week 14 and how they impact playoff odds, keep in mind that unless stated otherwise, I’m only identifying a winner for that particular game and then using The Upshot to simulate the remaining games, which includes games that might have occurred before the one in question. If that seems confusing, or you enjoy nerd fun — well, then play around with the simulator yourself.

Authentic Youth Khalil Mack Jersey The only starter whose status is in question for Sunday is outside linebacker Mike Morgan, who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice because of a hip injury. Morgan came off of injured reserve last week after missing time with a sports hernia and played well. He starts in the Seahawks’ base defense, but comes off the field when they go to nickel. Other than safety Earl Thomas, who is out for the year with a fractured tibia, the Seahawks go into this week’s game with a healthy squad. — Sheil Kapadia

Then the J.J. Watt wildcat debacle ensued on first-and-goal

That’s pretty damn good for a nose tackle, by the way.
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Poe’s biggest play of the game came as a pass rusher, but if you didn’t see the game you might not realize that. I’m sure you probably remember the play itself.

In the case below, as Fitzgerald motions over, the Cincinnati Bengals show what looks like a zone defense. That’s a signal to Palmer that the safety to Fitzgerald’s size may be responsible for help in the mid-range. This is key, as he slips a pass over that safety’s head on the long-developing crosser.

He’s well-known enough in the NFL watching world, and even more in the home city of the New England Patriots. The introduction would seem superfluous, especially for a hulking mass of a man, who couldn’t be anything else but an NFL star.

Jones, at one time in his life, was a black boy growing up in the United States. His exercise in surrendering himself in an interaction with the police is a well-drilled lesson in self-preservation that is as traditional as any family heirloom.

Game Kids William Gay Jersey He must never forget to drop to his knees, put his hands behind his head, avoid eye contact and to speak in a calm, measured tone. To disengage the situation before it even starts. In a bid to plead for help from this outside source that tasked with helping citizens, he must never forget the primary relationship between his black person and the police, and the threat that he, regardless of his massive figure, poses. It had to be done under no provocation or warning, and he has been taught and conditioned to know so.

Innocent of all things except for what he classifies as “a stupid mistake” and in a time of desperation, he ran to the closest source of help. But in the midst of all of this, in the cloud of his confusion, anxiety and need, he could never forget that he is a black man, and that his interlocutors are police officers.

Take this concept. It’s essentially a deep crossing route that looks like a shallow post at first and then just becomes a really, really long run to the other side of the field.

fearless players in the NFL before he was brave enough to talk in front of a group

For most of his life, Chancellor Whitney Mercilus Jersey avoided these pregame speeches. Even as team captain in high school, in college and during his first years in the NFL, he never once spoke in front of an entire team. There was an entire locker room ready to follow him before he was ever ready to lead. He was considered one of the most intense, fearless players in the NFL before he was brave enough to talk in front of a group.

But now, in the moments before a Monday night game against Buffalo, he approaches the team huddle in the center of the locker room. He walks past Carroll and the other coaches who always stand on the outer ring, and then past Wilson and Sherman until he reaches the middle of the circle. One player speaks before each Seahawks game, a rotating core of four or five superstars, but Matt Paradis Authentic Jersey teammates say that Chancellor’s speeches feel most akin to a religious chant. He closes his eyes. His muscles tense up. He opens his eyes and looks possessed, demanding eye contact with every player on the team.

“I make those plays, but I love it when other guys step up and make those plays and we’re spreading the ball around. That’s when we’re jelling together, when we have confidence in everybody to step up and make that play in that situation.”

Jones’ selfless attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.

“It’s huge when your leaders and your best players are guys that are unselfish and want to win,” quarterback Matt Ryan said of Jones on 680 The Fan. “That trickles down to the rest of the team. And there’s no better example of that for us than Julio. He is about winning games and doing everything that he can to help us win games.”

Chancellor became closer to God, and more players started praying in the locker room. He began warming up with bands around his ankles to loosen up before games, and soon half the defense was wearing those same bands. He started drinking Reliant Recovery Water, and Wilson began drinking it too.