Offensively, Nurkic has shown himself to be a heady basketball player who makes plays for both himself and his teammates.

He helps organize Portland’s offense, pointing teammates in opportunistic directions and signaling the guards when a potential cut presents itself. While Lillard garnered a boisterous applause for a gorgeous dime to a cutting Maurice Harkless on this March 2 play, it was Nurkic’s screen that created an open lane.

When the Thunder attempted to trap McCollum after denying a pick, he found Nurkic, who could have easily had his way with the undersized Alex Abrines. Instead, Nurkic made an immediate touch pass to Noah Vonleh.

In just eight games in Portland, Nurkic is averaging three and a half times more assists per game than at any point during his three seasons in Denver. That’s a small sample, but could be a sign of what’s to come.

Hopson inherited a team that actually had expectations again. The nine-win 2015 had enlivened the fan base, and heading into 2016 I saw a schedule that featured only one sure loss.

USM is projected 72nd in S&P+ and plays only one team projected higher. The trip to LSU is a likely loss, games against Kentucky, Marshall and perhaps Louisiana Tech are tossups (with a coin slightly weighted in USM’s favor), and the other eight are likely wins. But those are based on Monken’s work. A coaching change always threatens progress.

A brief step backward is on the table if the offense isn’t quite as good on third-and-long and the defense isn’t as good at forcing third-and-long.
The Golden Eagles went 3-0 in those three “tossup” games (though Marshall’s collapse made that anything but a tossup) and lost to LSU. If you had told me that 12 months ago, I’d have assumed they finished about 10-2. Instead, they fell to 7-6 with losses to Troy, UTSA, Charlotte, ODU, and North Texas.

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Maybe Hammond thought he needed to make a big play.

As usual, the American Athletic (Cincinnati and SMU), West Coast (Gonzaga and Saint Mary¡¯s), and Missouri Valley (Illinois State and Wichita State) are the only other multi-bid conferences this week. With a victory at Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Houston Cougars can give themselves real hope to being a third American entrant. Meanwhile, with Wichita State looking like a solid top-15 team in any metric that¡¯s not the RPI or a poll, I¡¯m increasingly confident the Shockers will make the field if they reach the Valley final and lose to Illinois State. On the flip side, my confidence level isn¡¯t as high on the Redbirds¡¯ chances if the situation¡¯s reversed.

And that day is coming soon, as nearly two weeks¡¯ worth of elimination basketball began last night with a quartet of Atlantic Sun quarterfinals. Over at Blogging the Bracket, my Conference Tournament Central page will have updated scores, matchups, and TV information all the way through Selection Sunday. I¡¯ve even written a brief primer summing up the biggest Championship Week changes for this year, headlined by the Ivy League¡¯s first-ever tournament.

Authentic Mens Patrick Willis Jersey It¡¯s going to be a fun two weeks, so buckle up. My next update, a full one with a quick look at the lock and bubble picture, will arrive Friday. Starting Sunday morning, new brackets will arrive daily.
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There’s nothing wrong with letting the damn thing go into the end zone and letting the offense line up on the 20-yard line. In fact, there is a lot right about doing that. It wasn’t a desperation move because, hell, the Chiefs were actually up at that point in the third quarter, 21-13.

Maybe Hammond thought he needed to make a big play. Turns out after fielding the punt on the goal line, he ended up taking it all the way back to the Chiefs’ 48-yard line. Doesn’t take a math major to see that means he had a 48-yard return, which would definitely qualify as a big play.

the Eagles fall in the rankings after stumbling against Seattle

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The Broncos remain contenders to get back to the big game, and come in at fourth in our rankings after holding off the Bills. Manning had his worst game of the season though, throwing for just 173 yards while tossing two picks. His streak of games with a touchdown pass sadly ended at 51, three short of Drew Brees’ NFL record. Without much help from Demaryius Thomas (two catches for 11 yards) and missing Julius Thomas (active but on the sideline nursing an ankle injury), the Broncos instead turned to their run game. C.J. Anderson ran it in for three scores. Denver showed the ability to lean on that part of its offense when the pass game wasn’t clicking.

Meanwhile, the Eagles fall in the rankings after stumbling against Seattle. They still boast a strong defense and potentially electric offense, assuming Mark Sanchez can prove he has a short memory. Philly doesn’t have any time to dwell on Sunday’s game, though; the Eagles host the Cowboys in a crucial matchup of the NFC East leaders this week.
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The Colts stick at the sixth spot after dispatching the Browns with an Andrew Luck-engineered game-winning drive, moving to 9-4 and strengthening their hold on the AFC South. Luck struggled throughout the day against a stingy Cleveland defense, turning the ball over three times before gutting it out when it mattered. Regardless, winning on the road is always a tough proposition, and I’m sure Indy will take this win for what it was — ugly — and move forward.

When I watched the replay, I saw Hoyer’s accuracy get progressively worse during the game. At the end, he threw what I like to call some “what the fuck?!” balls. Why in the hell are you throwing late to Tyler Gabriel with three Bills defenders on him?! And keep in mind that going into the fourth quarter the Bills were only up 14-3, not a great situation, but not an insurmountable lead.

The only thing I was shocked about was that the Browns stayed with him as long as they did in a game they had a chance to win. That made me wonder what Hoyer’s mindset is at this point. Does he think he deserves to start just because he has so far this season no matter how he plays?

File under Weird ’80s Stuff: John Elway in a bathrobe

I work out of a cubicle tucked in the far northwest corner of the NFL Media newsroom. On my desk sits a television that is tuned to NFL Network pretty much all the time unless there’s a televised police chase taking place in the greater Los Angeles area.

Based on this news, the franchise tag will not be an option for the 2014 Pro Bowler.

The Patriots and Bennett have a “mutually respectful” relationship, Rapoport added, but it will be quite a challenge for the two sides to find common ground on value once the new league year begins on March 9.

As we pointed out after the Pats’ Super Bowl LI victory, the one financial constant of the Belichick era is a steadfast refusal to set the market for any player — a policy that now leaves Bennett on the outside looking in.

The team is understandably unwilling to pay any tight end more than Rob Gronkowski’s $9 million annual figure.

Soon after trading for Bennett last offseason, New England offered him a new deal worth $7 million per year, Rapoport reported early this month. Bennett promptly rejected that offer.

At this time last year, Bennett was available to 31 teams for the bargain-basement cost of a fourth-round pick. After transforming his reputation from clubhouse headache to selfless Super Bowl champion, he’s now counting on one of the remaining 30 teams to overpay for his services.

While we marvel at the feats of a nearly 40-year-old Tom Brady, don’t forget what Harrison has accomplished — and the havoc he continues to wreak — in Pittsburgh. The player and team remain a perfect match, much to the disdain of the AFC North.

Like Elway and so many other former athletes, Lynch’s post-football career simply didn’t satisfy the competitive fire.

Staring at the r¨¦sum¨¦s of some of the last teams in Chris Dobbertean¡¯s latest bracket can be perplexing. Clemson has a 4-10 record in its conference, Providence is 16-11 with two wins of any real consequence, Arkansas … just seems like a team that has no business hearing its name called on Selection Sunday. I get all that. I¡¯m just not sure what we¡¯re expecting after doing this same thing every March for as long as any of us can remember.

There is never going to be a ¡°historically strong bubble.¡± There¡¯s never going to be a year where you hear Joe Lunardi say, ¡°sure Duke is 22-5, but I don¡¯t think you can call them a lock just yet, not in a year like this.¡± The bubble is supposed to be underwhelming. That¡¯s the nature of the beast when you¡¯re talking about a postseason tournament that includes almost 1/5 of the teams from a sport that has 351 of them.
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The last handful of teams that hear their names called three Sundays from now are going to be weak. They¡¯re just not going to be historically weak.

Like Elway and so many other former athletes, Lynch’s post-football career simply didn’t satisfy the competitive fire. It’s a fire that Shanahan recognized still burns in Lynch when the subject of working together in San Francisco was first broached.
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He enjoyed doing the announcing and being a part of the NFL, but the fight to go through something with a group of guys and what we go through together, and it is not easy and it¡¯s a grind for everybody, but it is worth it. That¡¯s really what people who played, people who coached, those are the reasons when people get out of it, they miss it so much.”

It’s that same competitive persona that made taking this particular job appealing to Lynch. Although he had never been all-in on moving into personnel, he said he has had conversations with teams in the past about making the move. In the run-up to recent drafts, Elway has invited Lynch to help the scouting department.

Pete Carroll says the Seahawks have made big offers to Marshawn Lynch

Elite Austin Howard Jersey The Seattle Seahawks know how much running back Marshawn Lynch means to their offense. It’s no surprise then that head coach Pete Carroll says the team has begun extension talks with the All-Pro “in earnest,” according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

Carroll has been speaking with the media as part of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. He told reporters that the Seahawks have “big offers out there” for Lynch, and that they expect him to remain in Seattle for the foreseeable future.

Gasol took advantage of Cousins and Kawhi Leonard sitting after halftime, starting and finishing the second half at center and playing the most minutes (21) of any West reserve. Gasol was two assists away from joining Durant with a triple-double, including setting up several highlight dunks, and he hit a Dirk Nowitzki-esque fadeaway when Kerr called his number after a late timeout.

Elite Brett Favre Jersey Of all the All-Stars, Green probably saw the least change in his typical role. As usual, Green focused less on scoring — attempting just two shots in 17 minutes — and more on setting up his teammates, defending and rebounding. His pass led to Curry’s dunk, and a pair of Westbrook dunks were also among Green’s six assists.

Melvin Gordon: The value of running backs is all over the place in the NFL today, but if any back is considered likely to go in the first round, it’s Wisconsin’s Gordon. He put up 2,587 yards in 2014, the second most in FBS history. He’s a solid all-round back who needs a decent showing everywhere to keep his name at the top of the list.

T.J. Yeldon: The Alabama back is 6-foot-2 and 221 pounds … he’s quick for his size, but nobody is quite sure what his top-line speed will be. The 40-yard dash will be the most important thing for him, and it could decide whether he’s one of the top three backs taken in the draft or if he falls out of the top five.