In the grand scheme of things, there¡¯s not much difference between 8-8 and 7-9.

In fact, many New Orleans Saints fans might argue that the only thing 8-8 gets you is a worse draft pick.

But for a Saints team that has been stuck at 7-9 the past two years in a row, an 8-8 finish would be symbolic of the optimism they¡¯re feeling.

Jairus Byrd and the Saints can avoid a third straight 7-9 season with a win Sunday at Atlanta.

Both Drew Brees and Zach Strief have compared the team¡¯s current vibe to when the Saints went 7-9 and 8-8 in 2007 and 2008, respectively, before winning the Super Bowl in 2009.
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“Any time you step out there, you¡¯re playing to win,” Saints safety Jairus Byrd said. “So 7-9 versus 8-8, just from the fact that we¡¯ve been 7-9 these past two seasons, to go 8-8 that¡¯s improvement right there.

The 15-yard penalty came on a drive that eventually led to a Dez Bryant touchdown pass to Jason Witten to give the Cowboys a 35-21 lead en route to their 42-21 victory over Detroit on Monday night.
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“You know I don’t get into talking about officials and what they call and what they didn’t call,” Caldwell said. “I yell at ’em and tell them what I felt on the field, and when it’s over, it’s over. The call they made, they made.

We’re here six days out of the week, long hours, so I’m sure we’ll cross paths. But that story’s in the past. He said what he said, I said what I said, and it’s time to move on and go win a ballgame.”

Marshawn Lynch is still essential to the Seahawks even if his role has changed

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Danny Kelly: Another team that’s going through a transition after losing a key starter is the Seahawks. With Marshawn Lynch already on the sidelines with an abdominal injury, Seattle lost Thomas Rawls too when he suffered a broken ankle two weeks ago. Down to their third- and fourth-string options in Bryce Brown and Christine Michael — both of whom were signed off the street, by the way — the Seahawks rushed for 182 yards against the hapless Browns last week, which was actually their third-best total on the year.

Christine Michael looked the best out there, and while he’s bounced around due to maturity issues (plus a lack of fundamentals in some areas), he looked pretty powerful and explosive out there for Seattle on Sunday. It ALMOST makes me jump back onto the hype train that I’d been riding the first two years of his career, but I definitely do feel a little snake-bitten about that still so I am holding off before declaring him the Seahawks’ savior.

Alex Delvecchio Jersey “At the pace he’s going, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, I have no doubts that he’ll be leading the team and the organization when he needs to be there,” Azim said.

Lynch has worked with Azim in the past and the trainer said the goal isn’t just to get the running back on the field again, but to “release the beast” that has defined Lynch’s career.

“Beast Mode is alive,” Azim said. “We can all assume this or that, but it’s all about how he feels. … He was like, ‘Oh man, I gotta get my legs back.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God. You do have your legs back!’ But around Marshawn, you can’t be normal. You can’t have normal be OK. When he does things that are not normal, then it’s, ‘OK, that’s Beast Mode. That’s Marshawn.'”

Lynch has played in just seven games in 2015 and has 417 rushing yards with three touchdowns. His injury-filled year will end a streak of four consecutive seasons with more than 1,200 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns for the Seahawks.

the Pelicans’ struggles haven’t sent Davis into any sort of public upheaval

The league created a huge incentive for a select — and we really do mean select — group of franchise players to stay put. When Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer, the amount the Thunder and the Warriors could pay him was reasonably close over the first four years of a contract. The new rules will change that and give the “home” team a much larger advantage.

Boston nearly won it at the end of regulation but Al Horford’s putback of his own miss came after the fourth-quarter buzzer. In overtime, Thomas — with defenders swarming his every move — assisted on Boston’s first two field goals (jumpers from Jae Crowder and Horford) then hit a 3-pointer — for his 40th point of the night — to put Boston up four with three minutes to go.

“The creation of NBA Academy Africa marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the NBA on the African continent, and the focus on elite player development speaks to our commitment to basketball excellence,” said Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA’s VP and managing director for Africa. “SEED shares our goal of providing top African prospects with comprehensive training, education, and life skills development so they have the resources to achieve on the court and in life.
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“As we continue building a predictable development path for our youth, I am confident that the number of African players in the NBA will continue to grow too.”

The NBA launched three academies in China (Hangzhou, Jinan and Urumqi) in October, has the NBA Global Academy planned in Australia and NBA Academy India which will open in 2017 in Delhi.

Authentic Womens Jordan Zimmermann Jersey Each academy will be staffed by NBA-trained coaches with focus on player development, education, leadership, character development and life skills for male and female prospects.

Bortles is likely to stay on the injury report during the week because of his shoulder

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Limited Kids Rougned Odor Jersey Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars, right shoulder: Bortles is likely to stay on the injury report during the week because of his shoulder, but it hasn’t curtailed his throwing on Sunday. Again this week he practiced in full each day and was removed from the game status injury report.

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, groin: Taylor has played through the groin injury for the past two weeks and after practicing fully each day will do so again. The Bills host the Cleveland Browns this week.

Matt Forte, New York Jets, knee, ACTIVE: Forte has been a regular on the injury report due to a maintenance issue with his left knee. This week is different, however, as he took a hit in Week 14 that hyperextended his right knee and forced him out of the game early.

An MRI revealed a meniscus tear but Forte believes the injury is old and he has been playing with it throughout the season (it is not uncommon for a running back to have a degenerative meniscus tear brought about by wear and tear and be able to play through it).

Arizona has some of the country’s strictest DUI laws, and there are some who think Floyd could serve jail time if his results are high. But wherever they come in, he is expected to face a multigame suspension from the NFL.

Floyd will not be active Sunday, when the Patriots visit the Denver Broncos, sources said.

New England claimed him Thursday, one day after he was released by Arizona. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday that the wideout would travel with the team to Denver but didn’t say if he would play.

The Giants have the most total points among defenses since Week 7

Authentic Antoine Bethea Jersey Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: Landing in the top six among NFL among tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns since the Bucs’ Week 6 bye, Brate should find success against a Cowboys team that is top 10 in most points allowed to opposing tight ends.
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Zach Ertz, Eagles: No, it’s not a great matchup with Baltimore, but I don’t care. Here’s the entire list of players in the NFL with more targets over the past four weeks: Julian Edelman. That’s it. That’s the entire list. With 42 catches for 414 yards and two TDs in his past six games, Ertz has finally fulfilled the promise we all knew was there. He’s a top-10 play for me.

Martellus Bennett, Patriots: Bennett has just 15 targets — I repeat, TARGETS — in the past four games that Rob Gronkowski has not played, and only Travis Kelce has produced more than 50 yards in the past seven games against the Broncos. Bennett is a TE2 this week, not a top-10 play.

Seattle Seahawks: Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s not true. At home against a Rams team that just lost its coach and is traveling on a short week, I like Seattle’s chances, especially when you consider the Rams have allowed at least eight fantasy points to opposing defenses in six straight games.

New York Giants: The Giants have the most total points among defenses since Week 7. They’re as hot as any team in the NFL right now and are at home against a banged-up Matthew Stafford, who has traditionally struggled outside of a dome.

Others receiving votes: Over the past three weeks, the Tampa Bay Bucs are fantasy’s top-ranked defense, and only the Rams have surrendered more fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Dallas Cowboys the past two weeks. I should have put the Buffalo Bills D in the actual “love” section above, considering they are still available in about 30 percent of leagues, and you know, the Browns.

Carolina Panthers: With a total of just seven fantasy points in their six road games, this doesn’t look like a great spot for Carolina in what should be a high-scoring game. Opposing D/STs are averaging just 2.3 points per game versus Washington this season.

Bengals vs. Steelers is the best kind of playoff football

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It’s hard to dial up the intensity of the rivalries between AFC North teams, but somehow the stage provided by the NFL playoffs manages to do so. Less than a month ago, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers met in a game that was important for both teams’ postseason hopes and it featured its fair share of bad attitudes.
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Now, it only stands to intensify when the two teams meet with seasons on the line.

“We don’t like them. They don’t like us,” Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in December. “I’m not going to sit here and give you bulletin board material, but that’s as simple as it can be.”

I have to imagine ether 2/3rds of the city of Buffalos populaton calls in sick every Monday during football season, or the town operates under a mutual understanding that everyone is hungover untill Tuesday. Keeping your sunglasses on all day in the office is the upstate New York equivlant of the jeep wave for workers who came within a metric mile of any tailgate or sports bar on a NFL sunday.

Seems the world totaly forgot about PEDton Mannings steroid use and you have to wonder if this isnt Belichick up to his old tricks again. Jim Nantz admitted that him and Phil Simms actively decided to not talk about the Manning accusations during there broadcast of the Broncos win over the Chargers. This is a clearly designed scheme to make the public so angry at Simms and Nantz that they would have no choice but to realize the inconsistency with the manner the Patriots& Tom Brady were treated for deflating footballs, and it would wing a cascade of public sympathy to the Patriots side. Nice try Bill.

David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and had neck surgery the past two years

Back issues limited Neil Walker to 113 games and Lucas Duda to 47. Maybe they¡¯ll heal enough to count on them for 20 to 25 home runs in 130 games. But on a scale of 1-10, how certain do you feel about that?
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David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and had neck surgery the past two years. He hit .226, struck out 55 times in 37 games and had no way to put any zip on a throw across the diamond. Maybe he’ll come back and play half a season well (and get $20 million to do so). But on a scale of 1-10, how certain do you feel about that?

We can keep going. Asdrubal Cabrera played through a knee strain. Jose Reyes will be 34, and the strains to the intercostal and hamstring come a lot quicker when you get older. Maybe they¡¯ll both be great in 2017. But on a scale of 1-10, how certain do you feel about that?
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In fairness, there isn’t clear evidence to suggest Price was adversely affected by the negativity he encountered last season. When he struggled before the All-Star break, he tended to be his own harshest critic, and prior to his playoff loss, he put together a 14-start run in which he went 8-2 with a 3.24 ERA.

¡°To be honest with you, we never talk about it,¡± Stroman said of Price¡¯s postseason record. ¡°I just think it¡¯s one of those things — it¡¯s a coincidence. He¡¯s an unbelievable pitcher. However you look at it, you can¡¯t take away from what he¡¯s done in his career. One thing I¡¯ve learned about David, his mentality never changes. I can never tell. Even when I talk to him face to face, you couldn¡¯t tell if he struck out 13 or had a bad game.¡±

But the fact that Price would interrupt his honeymoon to fire off a snarky tweet about his postseason failures is proof that he hears the chatter and, on some level, it bothers him.

To hear Sale tell it, at least, obliviousness is bliss.

“I’m not a big media guy,” Sale said. “I don’t have Twitter. I’m not going to be reading as much about everything as probably the next guy.”

It¡¯s OK. Chances are Price will fill him in.

Thomas sees the Sunday scores and feels happy that Mack and Schwartz are on teams in the playoff hunt

Authentic Youth Joe Maddon Jersey Thomas sees the Sunday scores and feels happy that Mack and Schwartz are on teams in the playoff hunt. But he still misses his boys. He looks around the room now, and all he sees are kids. The Browns drafted 14 players in 2016, and all of them made the 53-man roster in September.

It’s like taking a bunch of kindergartners to calculus class, Thomas says. One of the starting quarterbacks, Cody Kessler, is a rookie who looks like he’s in a boy band. In one game this season, Thomas estimates the Browns had at least 10 different offensive line combinations on the field.

Cornerback Robert Alford, who would have been a free agent after the season, has signed a four-year contract extension with the Falcons.

Authentic Youth Nicolas Meloche Jersey “Robert loves the culture and the organization and the city, and he believes there’s something special going on here,” said Brian Mackler, Alford’s agent. “He wanted to be part of it for the next four years and become a Falcon for life.”

Alford is the second player to receive an extension this season, joining right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who received a five-year, $33 million extension. Owner Arthur Blank also rewarded general manager Thomas Dimitroff with an extension through 2019.

Alford was one of two cornerbacks the Falcons drafted in 2013, joining first-round pick and fellow starter Desmond Trufant. Trufant is on injured reserve after undergoing pectoral surgery, but the 2015 Pro Bowler figures to be rewarded with a lucrative extension. The Falcons exercised the $8 million fifth-year option on Trufant’s contract through 2017.

Alford, 28, was a second-round draft pick in 2013 out of Southeastern Louisiana. He became a regular starter during his second season and has started all 12 games this year.

Kenny Britt now has a score or at least five catches in five straight and yes

Game Womens Steve Bartkowski Jersey Others receiving votes: DeAndre Hopkins (ducks) now has three straight games with 58-plus yards (he had two such games in his first nine) and Indy has certainly struggled against No. 1 wideouts, giving up big games to Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Rishard Matthews and Robby Anderson, who was the No. 1 for Bryce Petty.

Dallas is allowing 99 yards a game to the slot over the past four. … Fortune favors the bold, they tell me, so while this is a VERY risky pick, I have a weird feeling this is the week we see the real Sammy Watkins against a Steelers squad that has given up 98 receiving yards a game to the opposing team’s No. 1 WR the past five games. But again, we have yet to see the real Sammy this season, so it’s truly a faith-based pick for the risky/desperate. …

Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: Brate has scored in four of his past six games, emerging as a terrific complement to Mike Evans in the passing game. In fact, during this six-game stretch, Brate actually has more red zone targets than Evans. The Saints are middle of the pack in terms of defending the position, but given Brate’s usage in a game in which Jameis Winston should move the ball, the matchup doesn’t scare me.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Same issue as Diggs here, as Rudolph has gotten 25 targets the past three weeks and turned them into just 121 yards. Because he’s getting dinked and dunked to death, he’s usable in PPR, but outside my top 10 in standard. This is a tough matchup, as the Jags have given up just three scores to tight ends all season.
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Dennis Pitta, Ravens: Shoutout to Sal Pal, who called a big Dennis Pitta game last week on Fantasy Football Now, but with his two scores last week, he now has two touchdowns in the past 1,098 days. Because he’s not really targeted in the red zone, I’m not expecting a repeat performance against a Patriots team that has allowed just one score to a tight end in the past 10 games.

Baldwin’s route is just so effective that Jerraud Powers has no shot at defending it

This is a staple of the Seahawks’ offense, and the way in which they run these routes is completely legal about 95 percent of the time. The idea is to run one route outside while crossing another close by it — i.e., a “rub” — but the key is to avoid initiating contact with the defender. The goal is to simply make him have to go around or in front of the other receiver in his way.

Take this touchdown vs. the Browns.

In this play, Tramon Williams (No. 22), the outside corner over the top of Jermaine Kearse, knows this rub route is coming. He makes a beeline to get underneath Baldwin’s outside route, thus allowing his teammate to stick with Doug on his route, while Williams can still defend the slant to Kearse (yes, they’ll still run this play at the goal line).

Bennett didn’t get Bridgewater on the ground for a sack, but he did keep him from being able to set his feet and throw to McKinnon on the crossing route. Bennett’s hit also knocked Teddy off balance and forced him to stumble right into the path of a charging Avril, who blasted him in the chest and knocked him down for an 8-yard loss.

Womens Buster Posey Jersey Baldwin’s 10 touchdown catches from Week 12 to 15 tied the mark that Hall of Famer Jerry Rice set back in 1987 for most touchdown receptions in a four-game span, and Russell Wilson’s 11 touchdowns to Doug Baldwin from Week 12 to Week 16 tied the NFL record for most between quarterback-receiver duo in any five-game span (Brett Favre and Sterling Sharpe, 1994).

Elite Youth Riley Dixon Jersey When Russell Wilson targeted Doug Baldwin this year, he completed 80.4-percent of his passes, which, according to ESPN Stats & Information, hasn’t been done by any other quarterback/wide receiver duo in the last 10 years.

“We remain confident that the Raiders can build a new stadium in Oakland without a direct public subsidy. We stand ready to work with the Raiders and the NFL to responsibly make that happen. Good night Raider Nation, members of the media, and who are eagerly awaiting a resolution on this. Back to work tomorrow.”