Hoiberg was hired to revolutionize the Bulls¡¯ offense

Further evidence that something is wrong comes from Marc Stein¡¯s Friday report that Hoiberg is the NBA head coach with the hottest seat as we approach the midway point of the season. I wrote back in November that this could be the first season in a long time without a midseason firing, provided Alvin Gentry could survive New Orleans¡¯ awful start. Stein¡¯s researchers determined that the last season without a firing was 1970-71, 46 years ago!

Limited Mens Paulo Orlando Jersey I didn¡¯t even include Hoiberg on my list when I wrote that piece, in part because the Bulls started well and in part because the Bulls gave Hoiberg a huge amount of guaranteed money in 2015. He has at least $15 million in guaranteed salary remaining (including this season). Plus, the Bulls are still paying Tom Thibodeau after firing him in 2015. The idea that Hoiberg would be at risk seemed (and seems) absurd.

But Houston¡¯s .882 win percentage in December wasn¡¯t just a run of luck. Rather, it was a perfect storm created by general manager Daryl Morey, drawn up by new head coach Mike D¡¯Antoni, orchestrated by James Harden, and supported by a tailor-made, hand-picked cast that¡¯s propelled Houston into serious contention for a deep playoff run.

And it¡¯s those complementary pieces, behind Harden¡¯s historic run, that catapulted the Rockets into a league-best month to end 2016.
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When tests revealed Capela suffered a small fibula fracture in his left knee, the Rockets community collectively held its breath. After all, their center wasn¡¯t just a rim protector, but an effective screener whose rolls collapsed the defense and created additional passing lanes for Harden.

Philip Rivers will attempt to play through flu

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is under the weather, but he’s active and will start against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Rivers came down with the flu late in the week, which is severe enough that the Chargers promoted Brad Sorensen from the practice squad and plan on having the third-year quarterback ready. Rivers will make his 157th consecutive start this week, which is second behind Eli Manning among active quarterbacks.

Rivers has been one of the few steady things in a chaotic Authentic Youth Jarret Stoll Jersey season for the 3-9 Chargers. Through 12 games, he has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 3,713 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. Rivers is on pace to reach the 4,000-yard mark for the seventh time in his career.

Although Rivers has been a rock under center for San Diego, the Curley Culp Authentic Jersey same can’t be said about his receiver corps. Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman have been ruled out this week, leaving Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown alone atop the depth chart. Brown was just signed this week and has yet to play a snap in the 2015 season, which should give you an idea of how desperate the Chargers have gotten at receiver.

I think the overall mindset of your team is important to consider here. If you’ve been grinding out wins, sitting guys might signal a time to rest and it would be hard to ramp it back up for the playoffs.

The third factor is the age of your resting starters. If these players are veterans who know the ropes of what’s coming up, it makes more sense to rest these guys because they won’t be blindsided with having to ramp back up for the playoffs. They will know how to properly handle the time off and be ready to roll.

Does a team have a bye week or not? Factoring in the long layoff has to play a part in this decision. Do you want to lose the rhythm of your team by sitting guys from the end of Week 16 until the Divisional round? It would be almost three weeks until they see live game action again.

I was part of this situation in 2013. I was the starting right guard who played right tackle in a meaningless Week 17 game. We, the Chiefs, were locked into the fifth seed.

2016 NFL Draft order: Titans reclaim first overall pick

Limited Cameron Erving Jersey The race for the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is once again wide open. With the Cleveland Browns winning on Sunday, three teams now sit at 3-10 on the season.

Cleveland’s win moves the Browns from first in the draft order last week to third this week. The Tennessee Titans move up to the top pick followed by the San Diego Chargers at second.

The three teams are separated by strength of schedule, the first tiebreaker considered in the draft order. If those are the same, conference record then division record are used. If all of that is equal, a coin flip takes place at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The strength of schedule below uses full-season schedules.

San Diego at second is noteworthy. While the top of the draft will have good choices to fill the Chargers’ needs — specifically along the offensive and defensive lines — there will be a quarterback at that spot. Both Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Jared Goff of California should be available, assuming both go pro. Is this the offseason where the Chargers seek the eventual replacement for Phillip Rivers?

Limited Derek Holland Jersey If Tennessee gets the No. 1 pick, and it’s likely considering their strength of schedule, could they option off the pick? If not, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil or Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa should be in play for the pick.The possibilities at the top of the draft look intriguing.

Amid reports that O’Brien risked losing the Texans’ locker room if he chose to stick with Osweiler, the team has announced that Savage will start in Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans. It will be valuable NFL experience for Savage as the playoffs loom.

Savage has played in just four NFL games in his three-year career, and Houston will want to avoid getting bounced in the first round in embarrassing fashion, like they did last season in a 30-0 shutout by the Chiefs.

NFL playoff scenarios, Week 17: Patriots can clinch top seed, Lions vs. Packers decides NFC North

Ten teams — the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Miami Dolphins — have clinched playoff spots for 2017. Four more are battling for the final two openings, while most of the 10 teams already in the playoffs are jostling for seeding and byes.

A Sunday Night Football matchup between the Packers and Lions will determine the NFC North winner, with the loser potentially getting bounced from the playoffs altogether or grasping on to a wild card berth.

The Falcons, Seahawks, Raiders, and Chiefs are all looking to join the Patriots and Cowboys as teams who get to avoid playing in the Wild Card round, while the Patriots look to secure their home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Here are all the current playoff clinching scenarios for the upcoming week, courtesy of the NFL.

The Seahawks kept rolling with a dominating win themselves, blowing out the Ravens 35-6 in Baltimore. Russell Wilson has the Seattle offense clicking at historic levels and the defense did their job in taking the Jimmy Clausen-led offense out of the game.

Elsewhere, the Saints knocked off the Buccaneers 24-17, the Browns dominated the 49ers 24-10 and the Rams outlasted the Lions in an ugly game, 21-14. Oh, and by the way, the Chargers, Titans, Ravens, Lions, and 49ers were all eliminated from NFL playoff contention.

New Orleans continued their Jekyll and Hyde season Sunday with a nice road win over the Buccaneers, but while they’ve been wildly inconsistent this year, Drew Brees has largely remained the constant. A testament to Brees’ consistency, the future Hall of Famer threw for 300-plus yards for the 93rd time in his career per ESPN Stats and Info, which ties Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history. Amazing.

Washington vs. Eagles 2015 live stream: Time, TV schedule and how to watch online

The NFC East’s long, bizarre season could come to a close on Saturday night when the Philadelphia Eagles host Washington. Or it could not conclude, because that’s how the NFC East rolls this year.

If Washington (7-7) wins, it clinches the division title and a No. 4 seed in the playoffs, no questions asked. However, if the Eagles (6-8) win, they control their own destiny and can clinch by beating the New York Giants the following week. Saturday’s win would give the Eagles an edge over Washington on division record, and next week’s win would drop the Giants to at least nine losses.

That sounds easier said than done if you watched Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football in Week 16. The Eagles were barely competitive in a 40-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and their defense once again failed to show up.

They need to win out, and they need the Bengals to lose out, but the Steelers could earn one of the top three seeds in that scenario. If Pittsburgh can’t take the AFC North, they can grab a fifth or sixth seed as a wild card team. Currently, they are in a heated race for the wild card spots with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets. All three teams are tied with a 9-5 record, though the Chiefs currently hold the tiebreak based on best win percentage in conference games.
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But the Giants still have a lot to offer on the field, and Manning is always dangerous at quarterback. Despite all of the issues this season, the Giants rank 12th in the league in total offense, and sixth in the league in passing yards per game at 270.1. That has also led to the sixth-most productive scoring offense with 26.6 points scored per game.
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Defensively is where things really fall apart for Coughlin’s Giants. They rank dead last in the league in yards allowed per game at 423.0, and 23rd in the league in points allowed, at 25.6.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy loved Rodgers’ run-the-table remark

“In my opinion, he’s the best out there because of all the different things he can do, his arm strength, the things he sees, the communication he has with the receivers, the way he moves in the pocket, and honestly I think they have a great scheme and the things they do for him,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said this week. “Anytime you’re playing a guy like him, you’re holding onto your rear end the whole game anyway.”
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Maybe it’s a coincidence but Rodgers seems to know just what to say and when it say it. His R-E-L-A-X comment on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show after the Packers started 1-2 in 2014 preceded a four-game winning streak on the way to a 12-4 season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy loved Rodgers’ run-the-table remark.

“He’s disruptive. I don’t know if they have a stat for awarded sacks, where the quarterback’s running away from you and somebody else gets a sack, but I know he has at least five or six of those,” Ingram said. “Pass deflections, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, hurries, no runs coming to your side of the field because you’re setting the edge. … [He] leads the NFL in tackles for loss. I don’t know what else you’d ask for.”

Jordan, a two-time Pro Bowler, was hurt by the Saints’ record and the fact that he has only 6.5 sacks. But Pro Football Focus has him rated as the second-best edge rusher in the NFL behind only Khalil Mack because Jordan also ranks so high in categories like tackles for loss, run stops, QB hits and hurries and pass deflections.

Jordan cracked that he blames the “12th Man,” since two Seattle Seahawks defensive ends made the roster.

Game Kids Trae Waynes Jersey Brees and the Saints take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday in New Orleans. While their chances are slim mathematically, they still have a shot at the playoffs but would need to win out.

Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston are two of the NFL’s emerging young stars at quarterback

Jeff Linkenbach Mens Jersey Peyton Manning is enjoying his first year of retirement after leaving the NFL with a win in Super Bowl 50.

Even at 39 years of age, Tom Brady is having another MVP-like campaign, but his seasons are dwindling. Drew Brees is 37. The top quarterbacks from the Class of 2004 — Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger — are 35, 34 and 35, respectively. Aaron Rodgers is 33. Before he suffered injuries the past two seasons, Tony Romo, who is 36, would have been on this list.

Over the next few years, the NFL will see a change at its most important position when these star quarterbacks begin to join Peyton Manning.
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The run-challenged Lions managed 56 rushing yards on 19 carries. Down four points in the fourth quarter, a team that has come back to win in eight of its nine victories this season instead saw its deficit grow thanks to big-play Beckham, who one-handed the game-sealing touchdown.

¡°There¡¯s no question that one of the strengths of Jameis coming out was the personality that he had,¡± Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ¡°[He] played in a big-time program, had a lot of success, was clearly the leader of that program. When he was playing there [he was] the guy that everybody looked to, and you see it in his play.

¡°I¡¯ve always thought he¡¯s had tremendous poise. You can see it in his feet. You can see it in the pocket, the kind of poise he has. He doesn¡¯t seem to get rattled in there. Plays big. Plays tall.¡±

Ryan Succop’s game-winning 53-yard field goal in a frigid Arrowhead Stadium gave the Titans — and the ex-Chief — the win. Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images
Earlier, Succor and special-teams coach Steve Hoffman concluded the kicker’s maximum distance was probably 47 or 48 yards.

Browns’ Joe Haden: ‘We have the right head coach’

Three games remain in what has been a miserable season for the Cleveland Browns, but Joe Haden is already eager for 2017.

Limited Aubrayo Franklin Jersey “I’m super excited about it,” the cornerback said Friday.

And he meant it.

“You can be 0-13 one year and turn around and be 13-0 the next year,” linebacker Chris Kirksey said.

His example: The Raiders, who started 0-10 in the rookie seasons of Derek Carr and Khalil Mack. Oakland finished 3-13 and now are 10-3.

“At any moment things can change,” Kirksey said.
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“In ’08 down there, the night before, it was like minus-40,” he recalled this week. “I remember going to dinner thinking, ‘How the heck are we going to play in this tomorrow?’ It warmed up to about minus-it-was-in-the-teens, maybe, with the windchill. That was definitely a tough day as well, and a tough outcome for us.”

This year, it could make matters worse that Rodgers has a right calf injury that so far this week has prevented him from practicing. Rodgers said he has to make sure he drinks enough fluids on Sunday because muscle fatigue can be just as problematic in the cold.

Just about everyone who’s played in Green Bay or Chicago has a coldest-game-ever story. For Packers offensive line coach James Campen, it was Dec. 22, 1990, against the Lions. It was 2 degrees, which ranks as the fourth-coldest game in Lambeau Field history, and the former center tried to play in short sleeves.

“All of us linemen went out with no sleeves, and we all ran back in and put sleeves on,” Campen recalled. “There was only one guy who did not have sleeves on, and that was Sterling Sharpe. That was a cold day.”

For some, this Sunday might end up as their coldest-game ever.

“We’ll be able to get a full assessment in warmups — or I don’t know if you can call it warmups, for what we’re going to be dealing with out there,” receiver Davante Adams said. “Whatever it is, we’ll be ready.”

The Bengals use Eifert as a de facto slot receiver at times

The Bengals did this same thing against the Steelers a few weeks earlier. From the other side of the formation, they did a delayed release downfield, and after Eifert sold the pass-blocking set, he released and caught the ball in stride. That’s where, again, he does what most people his size cannot do. Especially that sick little spin move. How many 6’6, 250-pounders are that light on their feet?
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The Steelers have seen this play, so they’ll be ready for it this weekend, of course. But it’s not like the Bengals hadn’t put it on tape before their Week 14 matchup. Here’s the same concept from Week 12. Again, it’s just so hard to pick up as the defense.

Elite Youth Justin Williams Jersey For the second year in a row, the Jazz are jostling for dead last in pace. They jog it up, take their positions, and fly through complex sequences of cuts and screens until something cracks. “I used to say, ‘Gosh, we are playing slow — am I bad at my job?'” Snyder recalled, laughing. “But we just don’t have a team that is going to be quite as good playing fast.”

It requires a fine balance: Work the offense, but not so long that you run up against the shot clock. “You always want to get up shots in the segments of the shot clock where you can be efficient,” Snyder said. “Teams that have more shooting are probably going to shoot faster, because they can find good shots early. We just kind of gravitated toward this style.”

Teams that have more shooting. The Jazz can be a good team playing the Gobert-Favors combo 25 or 30 minutes per game. They just don’t know if they can be a great one, and if they can’t — if they have to stagger them more — whether it makes sense to pay both of them near-max contracts. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph navigated tight quarters with one-on-one post-up brutality and brainy interior passing.

Joe Thomas excels for the Cleveland Browns, but how long will he stick around to start winning?

Joe Thomas excels for the Cleveland Browns, but how long will he stick around to start winning? Senior writer Liz Merrill offers insight.

THERE IS SOMETHING romantic, or maybe maniacal, about a man who comes to work every day, pours his heart and soul into preparing for a game and does so well that he grades off the charts, but loses that game nearly every week and still comes back every Monday for more.

In Greek mythology, a guy named Sisyphus was punished by being forced to roll a gigantic boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back repeatedly, for eternity. That’s Joe Thomas, seemingly. But Thomas didn’t do anything wrong to warrant his boulder.
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“Get the f— out of here,” he told Painter.

He was asked how often he thinks about using early play-calls to set up later opportunities.
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“Always,” Bevell said. “I’m always trying to think ahead and always trying to set things up.”

During various film sessions this season, the Seahawks have noticed the effectiveness of the fly sweep. They saw the Atlanta Falcons have success with it and took note of the Kansas City Chiefs using it against the Bucs.

On three separate occasions in the first half, the Seahawks used 13 personnel (one RB, three TEs) and showed fly-sweep motion. But instead of giving Lockett the ball, he helped block the edge defender, and they handed off to the running back.

The play where they finally gave Lockett the ball featured a nearly identical look to the previous three — 13 personnel and Russell Wilson under center.