Browse Month by March 2017
Tennessee Titans

The battle for the NFC East is not over yet!

The New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys in the Meadowlands in Week 12. New York has won four straight games and is looking to make an amazing turnaround to make the playoffs and win the NFC East. The Cowboys are coming off a bye week and trail the Philadelphia Eagles for the lead in the division. With a win for either team, the NFC East title picture will get a bit more interesting.

The folks in Vegas are surprisingly in favor of the home team, as the Giants are considered 2.5-point favorites in this matchup, according to OddsShark. Both teams are expected to score quite a bit, as the over/under for the game is 47.5 points. With two horrible defenses, this game has the makings of a shootout.

If New York wins, it will be tied with Dallas for second place in the division at 5-6. If the Cowboys comes out on top, they will be tied for the lead with the Eagles.

Babers did see The Lion King and Jersey Boys with his family. In the latter, he saw the future of his program.

The thing that cracked me up was the opening line of Jersey Boys. Now I’m sitting here, first and second Broadway show, never been to one live, Babers said, and in the Jersey Boys, the opening line says — they’re singing — but the first time the guy talks, he goes, ‘Hi, my name’s Tommy DeVito, and I put New Jersey on the map.’

Our partners with SB Nation College Football spoke to QB recruit Tommy DeVito, who is all-in with the Syracuse Orange. He explains why and what his future plans are in this video.

That moment was close to the vision he’d promised. In his introductory press conference, Babers asked those in attendance — even the media — to close their eyes and envision a team that could win in all three phases and bring a din to the Carrier Dome.

Tennessee Titans

Cincinnati is enjoying a breakout season for Andy Dalton.

On the other side, the Bengals are trying to bounce back after losing last Thursday night to the Dolphins in overtime. Cincinnati is still sitting pretty, currently in the No. 4 seed with a 6-3 record, but can not afford to slip much with Cleveland nipping at its heels. While this game is more important to the Ravens, it would be a tough pill to swallow for the Bengals should they lose.

Cincinnati is enjoying a breakout season for Andy Dalton. Many question if the redhead from TCU can get the job done, but the numbers speak for themselves. In his first two seasons, Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs both times and has thrown for 2,587 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, ranking him fourth and fifth respectively.

Of course, Dalton’s biggest playmaker is wide receiver A.J. Green. The former University of Georgia star can be unstoppable at times, amassing 57 catches, 862 yards and five touchdowns through nine games. Marvin Jones has also emerged as a threat on the outside, totaling 28 receptions for 435 yards.

Over at Silver and Black Pride, Jeff Spiegel wonders whether Dennis Allen is the right man for the job:

If Allen’s not the guy, though, why give him another season? Think about how much more attractive this job is as a blank slate job with tons of cap space and some impressive young players at a few positions.

If the Raiders wait a year, then they’ve got a bunch of guys already signed under contract — signed to fit whatever scheme next year’s coach is in favor of — and the job becomes less attractive (especially if the team didn’t do well enough to earn the coach another season).3

Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL picks and predictions 2017, Broncos vs. Chargers: San Diego expected to lose at home

If you’re a fan, it’s easy. Just plunk down some cash on your favorite team. Easier said than done. I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years watching the Rams. I’d never be able to afford a cooking consultant to tell my nanny how to make kale salad for my kids if I bet on the Rams.

You have to take a long-term view, disassociate yourself from the mercurial ups and downs of the NFL season. Sure, the Colts got thrashed by the Rams last week, but they also lost to the Chargers before beating the Broncos and the Dolphins before beating the 49ers. Just make the best bet you can, and in this case, the best bet is on the Colts to beat the Titans by more than three points.

The are having a fine season by many standards. The team sits in decent shape for the postseason with a 4-4 record, and can currently boast possession one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Philip Rivers leads the NFL with a 72.2 completion percentage and is third with a 106.5 passer rating.

However, the Chargers are sizable underdogs at home to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Across NFL panels at SB Nation, CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo!, only ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson was willing to side with the Chargers against the 7-1 Broncos. Given the Broncos’ performances this season, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that they are so heavily favored. SB Nation has Denver on top of its latest power rankings, while San Diego ranks 14th.

The Broncos are favored by a touchdown on the road, according to OddsShark, so expert picks are in line with Vegas. Assuming the prognosticators are correct, Denver should improve to 8-1 this weekend.


Tennessee Titans

6 ways NFL teams screwed up free agency in 2017

For many NFL teams, free agency can be the perfect time to add a missing piece or two to an already strong roster. In fact, many of the most recent Super Bowl champions rode the performances of free agent acquisitions on the way to their respective victories.

The 2016 Patriots saw LeGarrette Blount — signed to a one-year, $1 million contract — break records in the team’s championship run last season. In 2015, the Broncos — a team composed of several marquee free agent additions including Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward — proved that spending in free agency can actually work out in a major way.

It’s not breaking news that teams need to spend at least some money in free agency to assemble a championship-caliber roster. But there isn’t an exact formula, either. On the other hand, screwing up free agency is actually pretty easy.

“When it comes to toughness, that’s an area that I’m definitely going to look at and take very seriously,” Thompson said. “Because at the end of the day, I’m the man in the middle, so I got to make sure I bring that toughness, and if it’s being questioned, I got to pick that s— up.”

Cleveland now holds just a one-game lead over the Boston Celtics for first place in the Eastern Conference.

“I think seeding is always something you pay attention to, but we need to focus on ourselves,” Kevin Love said. “It’s not like we were out there tonight thinking, ‘If we lose this game, Boston …’ We were thinking about getting better, and we didn’t do that tonight.”25

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it is the best place to go to get his ring and stay in a prominent offensive role.

All four players are young, and Fairley is the only one who proved himself to be a dominant player in the NFL. Okafor, Te’o, and Klein will likely be the three starting linebackers. While they are inconsistent, all three provide youth and experience.

Acquiring Te’o was solid, but the Saints still have work to do, especially when it comes to bolstering the secondary. New Orleans ranked last against the pass in 2016 and decided to part ways with veteran safety Jairus Byrd.

New Orleans improved its front seven, but it needs to find players who can make plays in the secondary. Luckily, there are some talented defensive backs coming out of this year is draft.

As for Te’o, he will get the chance to go to the Saints and resurrect his career.

The Patriots are willing to take more chances with past-their-prime veterans than other teams, because they are not afraid to cut ties quickly if the wear and tear or something else indicates the player isn’t a good fit.

From Peterson is perspective, it is the best place to go to get his ring and stay in a prominent offensive role.

Eddie Lacy was signed by Seattle, James Starks was cut and converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery will go into first offseason as a full-time running back. There is an obvious void for a veteran power back in Green Bay, and Peterson is built to run well behind its strong line.30

Tennessee Titans

49ers vs. Jaguars 2017: San Francisco thrives, Jacksonville fails to make plays

The 49ers are now 6-2 following their Week 8 win over the Jaguars in London. It seems that despite the change of scenery, the Jaguars are just as lowly on a different continent. 49ers Colin Kaepernick ran all over the Jaguars and with the help of running back Frank Gore’s two rushing touchdowns, was able to get the blowout victory. The 42-10 win for the 49ers puts them just on the heels of the Seahawks for the lead in NFC West.

The Jaguars are now 0-8 and are one of only two teams to not yet win a game this season. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew was able to have his best performance of the season with 122 all-purpose yards. Quarterback Chad Henne continued his up-and-down season with 228 passing yards and a touchdown.

Thomas left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. The tight end was not able to come back into the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday to discover the severity of the issue. Denver also watched safety Duke Ihenacho go down with an ankle injury of his own. After the contest, Ihenacho was seen walking out of the stadium with a walking boot on.

Peyton Manning, who entered the game with an injured ankle, was able to play without displaying a limp and threw for four touchdowns, albeit along with three interceptions.

As for the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, they received a scare when running back Jamaal Charles left in the third quarter with a knee ailment. However, Charles was able to return and finish the game without looking any worse for wear.

Adam Stites of Big Cat Country believes talent is the obvious issue for the Jaguars this season:

Tennessee Titans

Giants’ Tom Coughlin challenges Hakeem Nicks to improve

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin is not sugarcoating his disappointment in wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Coughlin, who has seen his team struggle mightily to a 1-6 season, has seen enough from Nicks to hit the media with a few comments that are not typical in today’s NFL. Per the piece:

Meriweather’s suspension was a result of repeated violations of the NFL’s stance against dangerous hits. He earned a $42,000 fine earlier this season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Eddie Lacy that gave the Green Bay Packers running back a concussion. Meriweather has racked up $137,000 in fines in seven seasons in the NFL. As a result of missing next week’s game, Meriweather will lose out on $70,588 of his $1.2 million base salary.

Meriweather had the appeal expedited in hopes that he might be ready for the Redskins’ Week 8 matchup against the Denver Broncos. He will miss the game, but he will be able to return on Nov. 3 to play the San Diego Chargers at home. The Redskins are expected to start rookie safety Bacarri Rambo in Meriweather’s place.

I raved about Terrelle Pryor in this space two weeks ago. He then crashed and burned against the Chiefs and had a bye week, because that’s how these things tend to go. Hopefully he will vindicate me this week. Something tells me that the Steelers will make a miracle run to the playoffs and continue to troll everyone who dislikes the Steelers.

I have this earmarked as the potential best game of the late afternoon games. The Jets’ defense is the best it’s been in years and will keep them competitive every week. The Bengals are in the driver’s seat in the AFC North after a big win over the Lions, and also have a fierce defense. There’s a lot to like in this game.

Jacksonville Jaguars

NCAA bracket 2017: East region is the region of death

The NCAA tournament bracket has been set, and the East region is topped by the Villanova Wildcats this year. Last year’s tournament champion lost just three games this year on the way to conference regular season and tournament titles, and Jay Wright’s club is primed to make a repeat appearance in the Final Four, if not win the whole shebang outright.

No. 3 Baylor played at times lights-out basketball this season, but the Bears faded down the stretch, picking up a bad loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament to end their season. Scott Drew’s club could collect itself and make a run into the Sweet 16, but it’ll first have to get through No. 12 New Mexico State to do it.

Here’s the full East Region bracket, from SB Nation’s updating bracket:

Here’s Iverson recalling being starstruck when he first played against Jordan.

“I remember the first time I played against him, and I walked out on the court, and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life, a human being didn’t look real to me. No, I mean, like — I don’t know if y’all watch Chappelle’s Show, but he talked about a certain incident where somebody seen Rick James, and like I literally seen his aura. It looked like he was glowing. And I’m sitting there, and I’m saying to myself, like ‘Man, that’s Mike.’

3. You can also probably see the crossover as a proverbial passing of the torch, a superstar veteran getting a taste of what his fans have learned through watching him. But let’s not forget that the (in)famously competitive Michael Jordan is a just a little bit salty about what Iverson did to him.

During Iverson’s appearance on SportsCenter, he recalled a moment he had with Jordan, when he visited a Charlotte Hornets game. Iverson told him that he was his hero, and Jordan responded, “Well, I couldn’t have been too much of a hero to you, if you crossed me like that.”3

Jacksonville Jaguars

What are the likeliest landing spots?

While the NBA has sign-and-trade agreements, the NFL doesn’t. The Cowboys would have to find a team willing to trade for Romo on good faith that he’d be ready to renegotiate his contract on arrival. That’s probably not a tough sell, but Dallas isn’t going to get much in return for a 37-year-old quarterback with an untrustworthy clavicle, anyway.

By releasing Romo, the Cowboys can allow him to do due diligence and select a team that he believes is his best fit, and allow him to negotiate a deal from scratch.

What are the likeliest landing spots?

Las Vegas still gives the Cowboys a good chance at retaining Romo’s services, but it still seems like an unlikely scenario. Instead, the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, and Houston Texans look like the likeliest candidates to land Romo.

Nowitzki had only scored 20 points in five games this season, but he nearly reaches that in the first quarter alone. Dallas keeps running plays for him, and those shots are barely touching the rim. Once, in a rare miss, he rushes a jumper and airballs it. Given how patient Nowitzki is in any other moment, it shows how much he’s gunning for this record, and how he’s getting it tonight.

A minute into the second, it happened. Nowitzki, isolated on the right baseline, rises up over Larry Nance Jr. for his trademarked fadeaway jumper. The ball falls through the basket beautifully, just like the 29,998 points that had come before them.

Play doesn’t stop right away, and Cuban’s frantic call for a timeout on the sidelines is ignored, so Dirk keeps playing. The ball finds him again, and he steps into a three-pointer. Of course it goes in. Only then is the timeout called, and his teammates mob him.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Dirk Nowitzki’s dream career isn’t over yet

I actually don’t remember the young, lost Dirk Nowitzki all that well. He arrived in the league before the advent of League Pass, debuting in the blur that was the 50-game lockout season. He was a bit of joke among basketball fans … until he wasn’t. Dirk didn’t have some gradual rise to the top of his field, though he did improve over time. It was more the case that one minute, he was a bust that made us skeptical of European imports. Then all of a sudden, he was magical.

The 16 teams are split into four pools of four teams each, playing first-round games in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan, Jalisco, Mexico and Miami, Fla. The first round is a round robin format, with the top two teams from each pool advancing.

The second round features two pools in Tokyo and San Diego, the latter at Petco Park. The second round is also a round robin format, with the top two teams from each pool advancing.

The final four teams will battle in the semifinals and finals at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with the championship game scheduled for Wednesday, March 22.

This is the fourth WBC, with the Dominican Republic hoping for a repeat of its undefeated championship run in 2013. Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics, in 2006 and 2009.

From an experience standpoint, the primary question mark comes at safety, where two starters (Michael Egwuagu and Jordan Moore) need replacing. Considering the big plays UTSA allowed, that could be reason for concern.

Another potential concern: injuries. The Roadrunners simply didn’t have to deal with as many as other defenses did. Most contributors played in either 12 or 13 games. That doesn’t happen every year.22