Browse Month by January 2017
Jacksonville Jaguars

Steelers vs. Patriots odds, 2017 AFC Championship: New England home favorite

The New England Patriots are 10-3 straight up and 9-3-1 against the spread in their last 13 games against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots can punch a ticket to Super Bowl LI with another win over the Steelers this Sunday night.

New England is a 5.5-point home favorite in the AFC Championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. In their last 11 home games, the Patriots are 9-2 both SU and ATS.

Tom Brady and the Patriots played an uncharacteristically bad game last Saturday, but it didn’t matter much against the punchless Houston Texans offense. New England came away with a 34-16 win, covering the massive 16.5-point spread even without its best effort.

Facing a much more capable offense this week, New England can’t afford another dud like it had on Saturday; but the Patriots rarely play poorly twice in a row under Bill Belichick.

With the win over Houston, New England improved to 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS over its last eight games, per the OddsShark NFL Database. The Patriots have covered the spread in each of their last six games.

Ryan wasn’t the only player honored by the PWFA on Wednesday. Raiders pass rusher Khalil Mack earned the organization’s coveted Defensive Player of the Year award after terrorizing quarterbacks in 2016.

Mack’s sack total dropped from 15 to 11 this season, but he arguably made an even bigger impact this fall despite a dip in numbers. His ability to baffle blockers and create game-changing turnovers made him a focal point for any offense unfortunate enough to face him.

Mack is the first Raider to ever win the PWFA’s top defensive honor. Ryan is the first Falcon to claim its MVP award.

Mack and Ryan, unsurprisingly, were both members of the PWFA’s All-Pro team, released earlier this week. For more previews of the upcoming AP awards, you can also check out the organization’s rookie awards, which honored Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa on Tuesday.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Steelers are finally hitting on all cylinders

The Pittsburgh Steelers put on quite the performance last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell looked like the stars we’ve known them to be, and the defense didn’t allow the Dolphins to get anything going.

The Steelers had this in them for a while, but it hasn’t all come together at the same time for Mike Tomlin’s team. The transition from Bill Cowher to Tomlin in 2007 was seamless, and the franchise never skipped a beat. But the past few seasons, things haven’t gone quite as well as they should have.

The talent is there. With a trio like Ben Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell, you’d think that things would be smooth. But that hasn’t always been the case.

The 2015 season was a transition year for the Steelers defense. Dick LeBeau resigned in January after 13 years on the Steelers staff, spearheading some of the best defenses in the NFL for over a decade. The Steelers defense put together the league’s 21st best unit that season, which is pretty uncommon for a defense that was consistently ranked at or near the top from 2000 through 2012.

To go along with this, injuries struck Tomlin’s team in the worst way. Last year, defensive back Cortez Allen was on IR all season except for Week 1. Maurkice Pouncey spent the entire season on IR, and Bell missed the second half of the season, a year removed from a season where he had over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. This was after he missed the first two games due to suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. In the postseason, DeAngelo Williams — who was Bell’s backup — missed both of the team’s games due to injury.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jason Pierre-Paul draws inspiration from 5-year-old following hand injury

Jason Pierre-Paul injured his hand in a fireworks accident on the 4th of July. The Giants’ defensive end has been rehabbing with a large wrap around his hand, and now he’s drawing inspiration from a special little girl.

Hailey Dawson threw out the first pitch for the Orioles on Tuesday night and got to meet her favorite player: Manny Machado. We talked to Hailey’s mom about her daughter’s journey and what the first pitch means to her — now we know that this girl is inspiring elite NFL players too.

In the NFL, he has recreated what he mastered at the college level as Oregon’s head coach. That is no small feat. Neither is the fact that he won a division title in his first NFL season and 20 games in his first two NFL seasons.

He features the hybrid, quick-paced offense; the analytical and computer-driven game metrics; the advanced views on player nutrition and health. He is intelligent more than quirky, competitive as much as blunt — a visionary, a modern day chemist/philosopher/coach, in Lurie’s eyes.

Thus, Lurie has granted him power to shape the front office, the roster, the style of play and the team’s identity. This is how Lurie believes the Eagles will leap from consistent winners to perpetual champions.

“He wants it a certain way, his way,” former Eagles star safety Brian Dawkins said. “He wants to create his own culture. He doesn’t want guys that are going to speak out more than the leadership does. It’s a big year, his third year. It’s more his guys. It got a little messy to get it here and yet he still won 10 games two years in a row.

“The racist thing has not been a good thing. The huge players like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy being gone has been an adjustment for many people here. These are the things for Chip to overcome. Winning is the deodorant.”

Jacksonville Jaguars

Bengals vs. Colts 2015 live stream: Start time, TV schedule and how to watch online

As usual for Week 4 of the preseason, the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts won’t exactly be treating Thursday night like a regular season matchup. Key starters will be watching from the sidelines in baseball caps, while second- and third-stringers play their hearts out for one last chance to make the team.

That doesn’t make for exciting viewing for fans who want to see stars like A.J. Green and Andrew Luck, but it provides some of the most intense action you will see in the preseason. For the Bengals, AJ McCarron will get plenty of playing time to build on his strong performance in Week 3’s win over Chicago. Getting a rare chance to play with the starting offense after Andy Dalton left with a sore neck, McCarron went 12 of 17 for 149 yards and a touchdown against the Bears.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday that, in terms of roster decisions, the performances this week will serve as a confirmation of what he and his staff have seen in practices and the first three preseason games.

The Colts might have to consider giving some snaps to their starting offensive line, which has struggled in both run blocking and protecting Luck. However, given T.Y. Hilton’s concussion in Week 3, there’s no way that Chuck Pagano is going to put any of his skill players out there, so having the line blocking for backups might not be worth it.

Indianapolis has TE Coby Fleener (ankle) and WR Anthony Dorsett (knee) back from injury after both missed Saturday’s win over the Rams, but Pagano isn’t likely to send them into the gladiator pit that is a fourth-week preseason game.

I thought Hunt showed some flashes from time to time last season, but the problem was he just couldn’t stay healthy. Those flashes, no matter how fleeting, showed that he was finally making some progress. He dealt with a back injury this spring, but returned to action in the preseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Dolphins are mammals: An important lesson for Steelers fans

Some Pittsburgh Steelers fans are having a little problem ahead of their team’s playoff game on Sunday against Miami: They’re struggling with the concept that dolphins aren’t fish.

You know who would know the difference? A restaurant. Because restaurants need to innately know the proteins they’re serving, be aware of allergies, and know from farm to table where the food is coming from. If anyone could clear up this mammalian quandary, it would be a famous restaurant.

He missed an opportunity to get revenge on Cincinnati and Vontaze Burfict the following year. Bell missed the bulk of that season thanks to a torn MCL suffered when the mercurial linebacker dragged him down in a Week 8 loss. While the Steelers were able to use Burfict’s dirty play against him to squeak out a wild card win that year, they were stopped in the following round by the Denver Broncos.

Pittsburgh is 11-6 in the playoffs since Roethlisberger assumed the team’s starting position but just 1-2 when Bell has been sidelined due to injury. In his stead, the Steelers have turned to running backs like Jordan Todman, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Josh Harris, Ben Tate, and Dri Archer. It hasn’t been super successful: In those three postseason games, the team’s running backs gained 214 yards on 61 carries — an average of 3.5 yards per touch.

Meanwhile Bell, who was named a second-team All-Pro earlier this week, ran for 451 yards in his last three games. The hybrid back averages 4.5 yards per carry for his career.

Jacksonville Jaguars

49ers owe $69 million to the coaches they’ve fired

The 49ers are going to have to shell out a lot of money to coaches who don’t work there anymore. As a matter of fact, they’re going to be paying out $69 million to people who don’t even work there anymore, according to Adam Schefter.

Adam Schefter just said the 49ers owe $69 million to Chip Kelly, the previous head coaches and assistant coaches.

They fired head coach Chip Kelly this weekend after just one year on the job. It’s the same thing they did this time last year when they fired Jim Tomsula after just one year on the job. They fired Jim Harbaugh the year before that, but he actually lasted four years and was pretty successful.

Tomsula signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the 49ers, so they’re still on the hook for $7 million to him.

The sports world also got treated to strong performances by other young stars. A buzzer-beater from 22-year-old Anthony Mantha capped off a two-goal game for the Red Wings’ forward. Dylan Larkin and Mitch Marner also contributed with goals for their respective teams.

On a day that kicked off a celebration of 100 years of NHL history, the hockey community got one hell of a look at its future.

It should have the wheels turning in the heads of every NHL and NBC executive. The Blackhawks may bring the money in outdoor games, but we’re overdue for new faces. How about the Oilers and Connor McDavid in a primetime game? The Jets and Patrik Laine? The Sabres and Jack Eichel?

Sunday’s Centennial Classic was just a taste of what the NHL can do outdoors away from the shadow of the Blackhawks, and boy was it fun.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tom Brady sets single-season record for best touchdown-interception ratio

With another efficient performance to close out the regular season, Tom Brady set a new record for best touchdown-interception ratio in a single season. He had 28 touchdowns to just two interceptions on the year, leading the New England Patriots to yet another division title.

The previous record holder was Nick Foles, with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in 2013. Here’s the top five, via NFL RedZone:

The Raiders were lost in the woods for the bulk of the 2000s, thanks to an inability to develop homegrown talent and several mistakes on the free agent market. The franchise has used a sudden turnaround in each department to spark their rise from the bottom of the NFL to the top of the division.

“As I told our team last night, this is an extremely difficult decision to step down as head coach. I love to work and I love football, but ultimately the demands of the job are no longer a good fit for me,” Kubiak said.

This season has been a disappointment for Denver. The Broncos are 9-7 and were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16, thanks to a lackluster offense that hasn’t been able to do enough to get wins despite another strong season from its defense.

Following Denver’s Week 5 loss at home to the Atlanta Falcons, Kubiak was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for flu-like symptoms. The team released a statement saying Kubiak was being evaluated as a precaution, but later announced he had been “diagnosed with a complex migraine condition that caused extreme fatigue and body weakness.”