NFL panic index, Week 17: 4 playoff teams have QBs with no postseason experience

Christmas Eve was a rough one for two of the league’s most promising young quarterbacks. The Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Titans’ Marcus Mariota each left the second halves of their Week 16 games on carts thanks to a pair of broken fibulas.

Mariota’s injury closed the door on an uneven playoff push in Nashville. Carr’s bum wheel likely razed his MVP chances and puts his team’s first postseason appearance since Nickelback was an emerging young talent in the hands of a backup.

Other teams have had their postseason fates altered by the fickle hands of the injury gods. Thanks to the stretch run of the 2016 season, and Ryan Tannehill’s sprained ACL, NFL fans may be treated to a showdown between Matt McGloin and Matt Moore.

It hardly seems fair when the other starting quarterbacks in the AFC playoffs include a four-time Super Bowl winner (Tom Brady) and a two-time Super Bowl winner (Ben Roethlisberger).

There’s more playoff experience among the starter quarterbacks in the NFC. Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, and (if the Packers clinch a spot) Aaron Rodgers all have Super Bowl rings. Depending on if the Lions or Washington lock down a playoff berth, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins have both played in the postseason. So has Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

For four of the 10 teams already officially in the playoffs, they’ll be trotting out a quarterback who has zero experience on this big of a stage.

The Raiders have plenty of talent; Amari Cooper, Donald Penn, and all 265 pounds and 57 years of Sebastian Janikowski rank among the team’s standouts. But despite placing seven players on the AFC Pro Bowl team, Oakland’s success rises and falls on two men — and one of them won’t return this season.

Cincinnati place-kicker Randy Bullock’s attempt for a winning field goal sailed wide right on Saturday night

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Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5). A brilliant Ben Roethlisberger comeback against the Ravens on Sunday night clinched the Steelers’ second division title in three years and eliminated Baltimore. Pittsburgh will host a playoff game on Jan. 7 or 8.

Houston Texans (9-6). When Cincinnati place-kicker Randy Bullock’s attempt for a winning field goal sailed wide right on Saturday night, it made Houston champion of the AFC South for the second year in a row. The Texans’ Week 17 game in Nashville now has no relevance.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4). The Chiefs can still claim the AFC West, but they need to beat San Diego in Week 17 and hope the Raiders lose in Denver.

Miami Dolphins (10-5). After a 1-4 start, the Dolphins have won nine of their past 10 games. And Miami clinched a playoff spot with Denver’s loss to Kansas City on Sunday night.
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Prescott is every bit as poised in 2016 as Brady was in 2001. This isn’t to say that Prescott is destined for long-term greatness, for a legacy seat in Brady’s ballpark. But just like Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana were the ultimate standards for young hopefuls of bygone generations, Brady is the benchmark for today’s up-and-comers.

“The guy every week just sounds under control and looks under control on the field, and it really is extraordinary. He’s only going to get better.”

And in terms of intellect and temperament, Prescott seems to have a lot of Brady to his game. The comparison goes far beyond the fact that Prescott and Brady were draft room afterthoughts who replaced injured stars in Tony Romo and Drew Bledsoe.

the Bears have struggled with tackling and with containing quarterbacks over the past three weeks

On defense, the Bears have struggled with tackling and with containing quarterbacks over the past three weeks. In three straight losses, the Chicago defense let Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater all have career games. Gabbert, Cousins and Bridgewater combined for 727 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. On Sunday, Winston and the Bucs won’t make things easy.

Elite Youth Mitch Williams Jersey The Bucs are coming off of a tough 31-23 loss on the road to the St. Louis Rams in Week 15. The Rams gutted out the win in what may well be their last game in St. Louis, helped along by two rushing touchdowns from receiver Tavon Austin. The Bucs put up a fight, though, and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to make it a game. Winston threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns while Mike Evans caught nine passes for 157 yards.

Game Jimmy Hayes Jersey Winston is certainly part of the team’s turnaround, as is new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, whose scheme has boosted the Bucs’ offensive performance. A strong ground attack, buoyed by a resurgent season from running back Doug Martin also has helped. Martin is the NFL’s second-leading rusher this season, trailing Adrian Peterson by just 9 yards.

The Bears are coming off of a devastating 38-17 loss to Peterson’s Minnesota Vikings, which knocked them out of playoff contention. Chicago has faced injury-related adversity all season, especially among its receivers. Alshon Jeffery has battled recurring injuries throughout the year, first-round pick Kevin White never set foot on the field during the regular season after undergoing surgery in August, and the team also recently placed tight end Martellus Bennett on injured reserve.

the Marlins had only been around as a franchise for four seasons

As the hot stove burned in late 1996, the Marlins had only been around as a franchise for four seasons, and they¡¯d never finished a season with a record above .500.

But they were also trending upward: Florida had improved its winning percentage in each season the team existed, including an 80-82 record in 1996, which saw them post a 31-24 record (a 91-win pace) in August and September.
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Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga, already a ¡¯90s business icon for his ownership stake in video-rental titan Blockbuster Entertainment, was also sinking more money in his teal-clad expansion club.

It’s the final Hispanic name on the U.S. census list that claims the highest number of players in MLB. Twenty players are named Gonz¨¢lez in MLB, not counting Marco Gonzales, who uses a slight variation on the most common spelling of the name.

Another one of the most common Hispanic last names in MLB, Rodr¨ªguez, is the surname for 18 MLB players, and the No. 2 most popular surname for Hispanics on the U.S. Census list.

Garc¨ªa is the most popular Hispanic surname in the United States overall; in MLB, 16 players claim the name. That is the same total for another common MLB Hispanic name that didn’t even make the census list: Ram¨ªrez. Other popular Hispanic surnames in the majors are Hern¨¢ndez (15), Cabrera (12), Mart¨ªnez (9) and L¨®pez(8).

Dennis Smith Authentic Jersey What are the reasons that Hispanic surnames in the United States have risen?

It’s not only an increase in the Hispanic population, but a lack of variety of surnames in minority populations, as was pointed out by the New York Times.

To live in New Orleans is to die in New Orleans

Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said on the team’s pregame show Sunday that he was not “satisfied” with how former wide receiver Michael Floyd handled his arrest Monday.

Bidwill said the team first heard about Floyd’s arrest, which occurred around 3 a.m. Monday, from sources, and then the media, about 90 minutes before Floyd told the team he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and failure to obey a police officer. Floyd was found asleep behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade early Monday morning in Scottsdale.

Virgil Green, TE, Broncos: Green was knocked out of the game after his first and only catch of the afternoon against the Patriots. The TE sustained a concussion in the first quarter and was ruled out.

Limited Kids Paul Stastny Jersey Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Thielen took a huge shot over the middle from Darius Butler in the third quarter. The hit drew a 15-yard penalty, and Thielen was slow to get up. The WR went to the locker room and was eventually ruled out with a neck injury. The Vikings also lost FB Zach Line to a concussion on Sunday.

Stephon Tuitt, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers: Tuitt limped off the field on the Steelers’ first defensive series with a left knee injury. The third-year defensive tackle went to the locker room for further evaluation and did not return to the game.

Kids Mike Smith Jersey Vincent Rey, LB, Bengals: Rey injured his hamstring in the second quarter on kickoff coverage. The team listed him as questionable, but he returned to the field in the second half.

Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati Bengals: Burfict was slow to get up in the second quarter against the Steelers after taking a hit to the head. He walked off the field with the help of trainers, but he kept pulling his arm away to try to walk on his own. Burfict went to the locker room for concussion testing and returned to the field in the third quarter.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 2-7 in games played in Denver over his career

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 2-7 in games played in Denver over his career, which is a stat of note entering Sunday¡¯s game between the Patriots and Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

“If you want a different outcome, then you’ve got to do things differently and we’ve got to play better. I think that’s what it comes down to,” Brady said this week. “We’ve been close, but close is not good enough when you play in the NFL. You’ve got to be able to finish your job.”

As the Patriots look to change that history, here’s a snapshot look at those nine games:

“I’m upset about us throwing from the 1,” Sherman said. “I’d rather do what most teams would do, making a conscientious decision to run the ball.

“I was letting [Carroll] know. We’ve already seen how that goes.”

Carroll said the Super Bowl loss is still on the mind of many coaches and players.
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“I’ve got a lot of games like that,” Carroll said. “That was the worst one. I’ve got a lot of things that fuel me, and I don’t mind holding on to some stuff because I need the edge and I need to be whatever it is that makes me. I don’t mind.
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“I’ve made the choice to leave some things on the shelf that I’m going to run into every once in a while. And it’s going to remind me of what I believe in and what I stand for and what’s important to me, and I know that Sherm feels the same way. And a number of our guys do. But no, it’s not fresh. It’s not something we talked about. But that just stirred up something, and it caught Sherm wrong and he went off.”

“But Adam was a very good runner,” Nelson says. “We had a game in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where he ran the option as good as you could ever run it. I used to pull out that old VHS tape many times to show younger quarterbacks how to run it. Adam had confidence. He wanted the ball, and he wanted to be the guy in charge.”

Cowboys¡¯ offense played poorly and will need Romo for playoffs

I am frustrated with the oversimplification of football analysis. As a cornerback, I am familiar with being blamed by media and fans for a deep pass caught on my side despite not being responsible for the deep zone. So this season, I will be watching the coaches¡¯ video and analyzing the impact of all 22 players on the field and the coaches¡¯ game plan.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys lost for the second time this season. And, as expected with ¡°America¡¯s Team,¡± the reactions from fans and analysts are all over the map. But none of their opinions matter to us. Let¡¯s see what the coaches¡¯ film shows us.
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Almost everyone with max-level cap room will at least call Hayward’s agent. His beloved college coach works in Boston. The Clippers explored a sign-and-trade for Hayward in the summer of 2014, when he was a restricted free agent, per several league sources; Doc Rivers loves him. The Clips have no easy path to max space, but as the Warriors showed in maneuvering for Andre Iguodala, any team that needs mega-space can get there in a pinch.

He doesn’t draw double-teams on the block, and the lack of such a threat can bog Utah’s offense against tuned-in crunch-time defenses.

So what? How many championship-level No. 1 options are there, really? Three? A half-dozen? What are you supposed to do if you don’t get one? Tank over and over, until you win the lottery in the right season? Cross your fingers that the next generational superstar will be born nearby and want to play for his hometown team aside from the occasional stint at the beach?
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Utah is counting on the combustion effect of mixing enough really good players. Gobert has made his own leap to that level, with Hayward. The big man is the co-favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, and he is transformed on offense. He’s catching more cleanly on the pick-and-roll, and finishing around the basket with astonishing force.

Now that everyone is smart, GMs must go bold to succeed

¡°The sheer quantity of brain power that hurled itself voluntarily and quixotically into the search for new baseball knowledge was either exhilarating or depressing, depending on how you felt about baseball. The same intellectual resources might have cured the common cold, or put a man on Pluto.¡±
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Womens DeMarre Carroll Jersey — Michael Lewis, ¡°Moneyball¡±

Lewis¡¯ seminal book was subtitled ¡°The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.¡± It¡¯s remarkable in retrospect: Bill James¡¯ ¡°Baseball Abstract¡± was first published nationally in 1982; ¡°Moneyball¡± came out in 2003. It took 34 years since James introduced readers to sabermetrics and 13 years since Lewis explained the market inefficiencies Billy Beane¡¯s small-market Oakland Athletics tried to exploit for all 30 front offices to fully enter the modern age of baseball.

The expulsion of Dave Stewart from the Diamondbacks (presumably to somewhere in the New Jersey Pine Barrens), with Mike Hazen of the Red Sox taking over as general manager, and the hiring of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to run the baseball operations for the Twins to replace old-school scout Terry Ryan means that every franchise is now doing some heavy numbers-crunching.

“I had a new pitch, and I probably abused it. So I need to go back to what I’ve thrown much longer,” said Strasburg, who was sporting a thick beard at the fan festival.

“One of our scouts, Dick Egan, was always telling me, ‘We have to get Mitch Moreland. He’s a player, a competitor, a gamer, a winner,'” Dombrowski said. “I came here, and the guys told me the same thing.”

Moreland said he had “a couple of options” on the free-agent market but preferred the Red Sox, because he believed they gave him the best chance to win the elusive championship.

“And that was before the Sale news broke, too,” Moreland said, referring to Tuesday’s blockbuster trade for ace lefty Chris Sale. “Seeing that, it just shows you we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Peters was actually beaten downfield by the receiver, Michael Crabtree, on the play

On his interception, Peters was actually beaten downfield by the receiver, Michael Crabtree, on the play. But he indicated after the game he wasn¡¯t worried about that.

¡°I knew that he wouldn¡¯t be able to throw the ball that far,¡¯¡¯ Peters said of Carr. ¡°I knew the ball was going to hang.¡¯¡¯

Jannik Hansen Kids Jersey The Chiefs will play against him with plenty of confidence, as they always seem to do.

Hopkins, who is in his fourth NFL season, has one more year on his rookie contract after Houston exercised its fifth-year option during the offseason. Previously, the Texans had extended each of their first-round picks drafted under the current collective bargaining agreement before or during the fourth year of their deals.
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For Hopkins, one difference this year is the Texans¡¯ offseason addition of quarterback Brock Osweiler. Osweiler, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract in March, has failed to connect with Hopkins.

One area in which Osweiler has struggled this season is throwing downfield, so the Texans offense has found its identity through its run game and short passes to tight ends instead spreading the field through the air.

¡°Our team is No. 1 in our division, so whatever I¡¯m doing, whatever my presence is in the football field, it¡¯s better than having numbers and my team not being No. 1 in our division, if you ask me,¡± Hopkins said. ¡°So right now I¡¯m in a good place. It¡¯s not really a numbers game for me. It¡¯s more my team winning the ultimate goal.¡±

Analysis — Hayward recorded his seventh interception of the season against Tampa Bay, a career high. It equals the most by a Chargers defender since Eric Weddle finished with seven in 2011. The franchise record is 10, set by Antonio Cromartie in 2007. Hayward has a pick in four of the Chargers¡¯ last five games. … The Chargers held the Buccaneers to 81 yards rushing and have held nine of their 12 opponents this season to less than 100 yards on the ground. The Chargers have not allowed a player to rush for 100 yards this season.

Vontaze Burfict facing suspension for helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown, per report

Vontaze Burfict’s decision to level Antonio Brown with a helmet-to-helmet hit in the closing minutes of Bengals vs. Steelers could have repercussions beyond costing Cincinnati a chance to advance in the NFL playoffs.

Burfict is facing a suspension for the hit, which would be levied at the beginning of the 2016 season. The Bengals linebacker could face a multi-game suspension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Brown sustained a concussion as a result of the hit, which occurred when he was trying to pull the Steelers within field goal range in the fourth quarter.

A defenseless Brown was open in the middle of the field after stretching to attempt to catch a high pass. Burfict arrived late to not only lay a hit on Brown, but he also led with his head.

McCarron is poised to start Saturday’s playoff game against the Steelers as Dalton isn’t quite ready, however. Against the Steelers, McCarron completed 22 of 32 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked three times, and the Steelers easily won the game, 33-20.
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There is no next time after this game though, so McCarron will have to play smart, mistake-free football and hopefully he will get more from his running game than the 56 combined yards from Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard that he got the first time he played the Steelers.

Game Youth D. J. Swearinger Jersey Fortunately, Hoyer, the player who has looked the best at the position for Houston this season, is healthy again heading into the playoffs. Hoyer ranks 18th in the league in quarterback rating with 91.4 for the season. He and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins combine for a deadly combination. Hopkins has caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns this year.