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Redskins Fan

Washington Redskins are in need of a Leader. posted by Redskins Fan

The (3-6) Washington Redskins are having yet another disappointing season. RGIII when not battling nagging injuries has looked less than stellar. The defense is nothing to write home about and the head coaching lacks any sort of innovation, on either side of the ball.

However the most disconcerting thing about the Redskins this year is how they are handling themselves off the field. Multiple times this year, the Redskins’ locker room has caused the team headaches and distractions that while, never show up on the stat sheet, are definitely a contributing factor to their poor on field performance.

Players weren’t happy when word got out that certain veterans were laughing and joking in the locker room within a half-hour or so of a 10-point loss to the Seahawks last month. And then two days before last week’s game against the Vikings, a substantial group of players became so rowdy and disruptive that Robert Griffin III’s media session had to be moved outside the locker room. And there’s been evidence that the team feels RGIII has ‘alienated’ himself from the rest of the team.

This is troubling for a team that is struggling to win games, it shouldn’t be struggling to keep their team dynamic. This wouldn’t be happening with a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady on the team. Not that RGIII can’t be that focal leader for this team, but he has yet to display that.

For many years, it was London Fletcher, the defensive captain who never missed a game. But when he retired at the end of last season it left a vacuum that has yet to be filled. And if the Redskins don’t fill it soon, it can and will be a very long, disappointing season for the people of Washington.

Continue reading "Washington Redskins are in need of a Leader."

Bucs Fan

Bucs players but up huge fantasy numbers in week 10 win. posted by Bucs Fan

After an otherwise dismal output during the beginning of the season, it was finally a great week to be a Bucs fantasy owner. Tampa Bay went with Josh McCown under center as the team squared off against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The signal caller connected with his two favorite receivers on multiple occasions, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Both receivers were integral to the Bucs offense as they came away with touchdowns.

For those who thought drafting rookie Mike Evans to their fantasy rosters was a risk, that risk has paid off as the wide out is coming off a multi-touchdown game and continued to add to his fantasy stock by racking up huge yards against the Falcons.

After a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the rookie has come on as of late and really shined as he's seen several targets and hit pay dirt to drive up fantasy points.

And as for Vincent Jackson, he is always a must have on anyone’s roster. Even if he has off weeks from time to time, and for those who might be frustrated at Vincent Jackson’s inability to get touchdown points, do not be discouraged. The Tampa Bay quarterback clearly views Vincent Jackson as his go-to wide-out moving forward, especially in the red zone, and owners should not drop him from their roster.

And for those owners who don’t have McCown and are able to pick him up, this is the week to do so. With McCown playing in a week when most teams are on a bye, and his desire to build a bond with both Evans and Jackson, expect huge numbers in the coming weeks as the Bucs take on the Washington Redskins and the Chicago Bears in the next two weeks.

Continue reading "Bucs players but up huge fantasy ..."


Colts Fan

What Indianapolis Colts Must Improve Most Coming out of Week 10 Bye posted by Colts Fan

A bye week in the NFL is not just about getting banged up players back to full strength, it is also a time to self evaluate as a team and see what areas need improvement moving into the later half of the season.

While the Colts have a lot of positives that have led them to a 6-3 record and first place of the AFC South, there are a few areas in particular that need addressing if they hope to make the playoffs, and the biggest area is Andrew Luck.

Yes Andrew Luck has already established himself as an elite Quarterback, which is impressive, given his young age in the league, BUT that can also come back to bite him and the Colts if he’s not careful.

He knows he’s good and feels at times that it all rests on his shoulders to lead his team to victory. This isn’t college where you can rifle a ball into anywhere, look to Cook on Washington as a prime example. This isn’t college, this is the NFL where corners and safeties will and do make gun slinging quarterbacks pay.

Luck is this team. He is their undeniable leader and if his decisions are bad or too ambitious, the Colts will suffer which they have a few times already this year.

With 9 pics already on this season, Luck makes bad decisions like throwing loft passes over the field just to avoid a sack. Arguable the most dangerous throw in the game as he is not seeing where he is throwing, but just throwing to avoid the sack, and that’s when game changing pics happen. Ball security, not a loss of downs, need to be on Luck’s mind moving forward.

Continue reading "What Indianapolis Colts Must Improve ..."


Redskins Fan

2014 Washington Redskins posted by Redskins Fan

The Washington Redskins were a complete mess last season. Quarterback Robert Griffin struggled after returning from injury too quickly. He eventually found himself riding the bench for the last three games of the season because of his poor performance and bickering with the coaching staff and even his teammates.

This year figures to be a rebound year for the Redskins. The front office hired Jay Gruden, former offensive coordinator of the Bengals who did a creditable job with Andy Dalton. He’ll be called upon to resurrect Griffin’s career. It helps that Griffin is not coming off an injury this time.  He also needs to be more cooperative and avoid being a Prima donna.

The team also did upgrade its offensive line to help Griffin. The Redskins signed Shawn Lauvao to a four-year deal and he’s expected to start at left guard. He’ll be joining left tackle Trent Williams and center Will Montgomery.

The big offseason move in Washington was the signing of DeSean Jackson after he was released by the Eagles. A speedy Jackson would contribute right away to the Washington offense, but he can also be a locker room headache aside from being constantly injured.

Pierre Garcon will be back, and the team expects he’ll be dynamic as he was last year. Despite the struggles of their quarterback, Garcon played well with 113 catches and five touchdowns. He’ll have his reception numbers go down with the entry of Jackson, though.

The Redskins defense was brutal last year, surrendering close to 30 points a game. So the management looked for help on defense by signing former Steeler Ryan Clark. They also acquired Tracy Porter who’ll join DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson. Redskins fans should also be excited with the signing of Jason Hatcher.

Continue reading "2014 Washington Redskins"


Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 NFL Preseason Wrap-Up: Bears 33, Redskins 31 posted by Joe Anello

It was a great start and a great finish for the Chicago Bears as they won their first preseason game of 2012 thanks to a 57-yard field goal from Robbie Gould. That’s the most excited I’ll get about the fact that they won. Because as you all should know by now, WINNING IN THE PRESEASON DOESN’T MATTER IN THE SLIGHTEST. That being said, there are some positives to discuss coming out of the win. Let’s go through them so you can get back to not caring about preseason football.

-Jay Cutty to Brandon Marshall: the connection we were all hoping to see. Bear fans weren’t waiting long as Cutler hit Marshall on the first offensive play from scrimmage for 41 yards. Later in that same drive Cutler found his buddy again for another completion, this time for 20 yards. It was a breath of fresh air to see a QB/WR combination on the same page and talent level. When Marshall tip-toed the sideline and stayed inbounds I did a double-take. “Wait. A Bear wide receiver… making a wide receiver move?” I know. It’s crazy. That drive ended with a catch by rookie Alshon Jeffery and a short yardage score by the bruising Michael Bush. It was as complete an offensive drive as I’ve seen in my years of preseason football. And it all started with Cutler and Marshall.

-RG who? The Bears’ first string defense locked down the hyped rookie, never letting him find a groove and getting pressure in his face. Henry Melton and Julius Peppers showed plenty of spark in their time on the field. Shea McClellin also had a solid night operating from the end position. On their second defensive drive, Chicago showed an outside blitz with safety Major Wright, who chased Griffin III into the arms of Israel Idonije, who knocked away a football that Peppers was oh so happy to gather up. That turnover set up a nice, short TD run from Bush, his second of the night.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 NFL Preseason Wrap-Up: ..."


Joe Anello

Notes from Day Three of the NFL Draft posted by Joe Anello

And it’s all over! Following a near eight hour session in which we saw rounds four through seven of the NFL Draft, we can finally put a cap on all these selections and start whipping around the league for analysis and impact. Now, as I don’t know as much about these late-rounders as I did the first two days’ worth of players, I won’t run you through too many opinions on their front. Instead I’ll add in my two cents about the draft presentations and coverage. I’ve got OH so many opinions when it comes to that.

-In one of the more interesting moves of the day, the Washington Redskins drafted Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins early in the fourth round. A perplexing move to some of the draft analysts, this pick sent the ‘net into a mini-tizzy as everyone tried to explain the rationale behind bringing in a competent QB to give Robert Griffin III pressure at his back. Cousins has the makings of a quality back-up in the NFL without ever having held a professional clipboard. Still, he was projected by some to have legitimate starting capability. He’s not going to wow you in any of his tape, but he’s an intelligent thrower who has enough arm strength to make nearly every throw. Let’s not get anything confused though. RG3 is the quarterback of the Redskins. Washington is just taking the Philly approach to things. They’ll draft Cousins, use him as a back-up in case Griffin ever gets hurt (which is likely given his play style) and then use his reputation to get assets back in a trade at some point. I get it.

Continue reading "Notes from Day Three of the NFL Draft"


Joe Anello

2012 NFL Free Agency: Day One posted by Joe Anello

Free agency news is all over the internet with teams announcing the typical flurry of moves within the first hours of the new league year. I don’t have the patience for an introduction, so let’s just get to the news of the day!

-Mario Williams is all up in Buffalo as we speak, and he won’t leave unless he turns down a boatload of cash. If you’re even thinking about heading to Buffalo, you know what they’re going to pay you. You just want them to pay for a first class flight too before you sign the dotted line. The defensive end is going to be a very rich man. (Richer, really.) Likely joining him in upstate New York will be Saints wide-out Robert Meachem. Not a bad haul thus far for the lowly Bills. (Edit: Mario IS apparently leaving Buffalo without a deal and Meachem has signed with the Chargers. Well done Bills.)

-Marques Colston never hit the market, re-upping with the Saints shortly before free agency began. It’s a five year, $40 million dollar deal for the big-bodied receiver, who decided to remain a target of Drew Brees. (Smart move.) You can see the dominoes that fell after the Colston deal became official, with Chicago making a deal for Brandon Marshall ( my thoughts here) and the ‘Skins making a glut of Snyder-like moves, as you’ll read next…

-As always, the Redskins make a fool of themselves in free agency in mere minutes by signing two wide receivers and using too much cap space to address one position. (They’re still talking to Eddie Royal as well.) Josh Morgan signed on for a two-year $12 million dollar stint, coming off a whopping 15 catches in San Fran. And as the “the fuck are they doing?” deal of the say, the ‘Skins gave 42.5 million dollars on a five year contract for Pierre Garcon. With over $20 million in guarantees, this deal is utterly ridiculous. Sign him? Sure. But bathe him in pirate gold and fan him with virgin women? Probably a bad idea. The Redskins improved their lot at receiver, but not enough to warrant this kind of money dump. And this after they were docked salary cap space! Still, I love the 'Skins. What would free agency be without them?

Continue reading "2012 NFL Free Agency: Day One"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Week 15, 2011 posted by Joe Anello

I’m not sure what else you could have wanted from week 15 in the NFL. Two impressive streaks ended, the “Trap of the Week” proved to be true once again and one win never mattered as much as it did for Indianapolis. (And Candlestick Park was sans light… for a few second before auxiliary lighting come on. Not as much drama.) Many a-loser won on this day. Oddsmakers be damned! Get ready for The Final Drive!

(1-13) Indianapolis Colts 27
(7-7) Tennessee Titans 13

Oh Tennessee. How could you? You somehow managed to give their first lowly Colts a victory whilst in the midst of your own playoff hunt. For shame. While it’s nice to get a win (I’m sure), Jim Caldwell should still get effing fired.

(6-8) Kansas City Chiefs 19
(13-1) Green Bay Packers 14

Another streak brought to a necessary conclusion! Honestly, as much as we generally thought the Packers COULD do it, it’s probably better that they didn’t. Injuries to their offensive line killed them yesterday against the Chief pass rush, just one facet of a defense that made it difficult on Aaron Rodgers. Well done Romeo Crennel. Oh yeah, and the Chiefs can somehow still get into the playoffs.

(5-9) Washington Redskins 23
(7-7) New York Giants 10

BOOM! You got TRAPPED Eli! This was such an obvious upset to pick, even in a day that ended up with a metric ton of stunning results. How the Giants could come out and lay an egg like this when they had a chance to put some distance in front of the Cowboys is appalling. (And hilarious.)

(9-5) Detroit Lions 28
Continue reading "The Final Drive: Week 15, 2011"


Randolph Charlotin

Pick Six: Week 14 posted by Randolph Charlotin

1. I’ve said before that the Patriots have the best pair of tight ends in the NFL. Let me just add that one of them is the best tight end in the NFL. Rob Gronkowski was a beast, breaking tackles en route to career high in receiving yards in a game (160) and set a new standard for touchdowns in a season by a tight end. He broke the record with his 14th TD grab then extended it when QB Tom Brady quickly tossed a pass over a blitz to Gronk. The Big Gronkowski did the rest, breaking a LB Ryan Kerrigan tackle then racing to the endzone and to the arms of a waiting Pats fan to celebrate.

2. The sideline argument between Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was blown way out of proportion. This happens during intense games. What no one said was that Brady’s frustration was building because the offense failed to score three red zone touchdowns. In fact, WR Wes Welker dropped a sure score just before the interception. This game wouldn’t had been close if the offense executed as Brady expected, and the sideline exchange of words would had never happened if Welker caught the previous pass.

3. It’s a lot easier to score when you don’t have to run 50 yards. DT Vince Wilfork pounced on a loose ball in the endzone, jarred out of QB Rex Grossman’s hand by DE Andre Carter, and Wilfork held onto the pigskin while under the pile for his first career touchdown. A lot easier than trying to return interceptions, right?

4. While I do support the league’s initiative for player safety, the way the game is being called is ridiculous sometimes. Washington LB London Fletcher was flagged for a personal foul when he led with his forearm just as Brady started going into his hook slide. Later Wilfork was flagged for hitting RB Roy Helu just after Helu stumbled to the ground without contact. Nevermind that Helu could had got up and ran. Should Wilfork be gentle and softly touched Helu down or something? Give me a break.

Continue reading "Pick Six: Week 14"


Randolph Charlotin

Hours Before Kickoff: Week 14 posted by Randolph Charlotin

What should had been a blowout of a clearly inferior team became an embarrassing one score win over the Indianapolis Colts as the defense gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Two of those scores came at the expense of CB Devin McCourty. Colts RB Donald Brown swatted McCourty away with a stiff-arm en route to a 5-yard TD run. Less than eight minutes later, WR Pierre Garcon got behind McCourty and caught a 12-yard TD over McCourty’s head. McCourty lunged to no avail to stop the completion, beaten so badly that he couldn’t even look back to find the ball.

No one has an answer to what has happened to McCourty this year. Theories include the reduced off-season stunting his development, playing with an injury, the dreaded sophomore slump, opponents knowing how to get after him after viewing a season’s worth of film, to Devin switched places with his twin brother Jason for the season.

(Patriot fans probably wish they had Jason instead of Devin right now. Jason has 87 tackles, eight passes defended, two interceptions, a sack, and a forced fumble for Tennessee. That’s dramatically better than Devin’s output this year of 63 tackles and three passes defended.)

Pointing a finger to any one explanation doesn’t fully rationalize such a dramatic decline in Devin McCourty’s play. He’s gone from best corner since Ty Law to consistent burn victim a la Chris Canty. How does a former first-round pick go from one extreme to another in one off season is a mystery.

McCourty isn’t a Darius Butler case. Butler was an athletically gifted corner drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Butler improved gradually and earned more playing time during his rookie season, and was starting by the end of the year.

Continue reading "Hours Before Kickoff: Week 14"

Washington Redskins News

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RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports


Judge allows Redskins to go forward with name case (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports


Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Two conference favorites emerge (Shutdown Corner)

This season, in which nothing makes sense from week to week, we have something that seems like a safe proclamation. The New England Patriots are the clear favorite in the AFC. And the Green Bay Packers have established themselves as the favorite in the NFC. That's not to say these are going to be your two Super Bowl teams. We've had plenty of seasons in which the best team doesn't win the Super Bowl or even make it there. But if you don't live in Arizona or Colorado, these are probably the two teams you're betting on to make it to the end. The Patriots have lapped the field in the AFC, and they might be on the way to doing it twice. They've beaten three straight division leaders by at least three touchdowns. They’re 32-3 in the second halves of seasons since 2010, and have won 15 straight at home. This team isn’t the 2007 squad or anything, but it would be a major upset if they don’t win the AFC title. The Packers aren’t in the Patriots’ league yet. If the Packers beat the Patriots at Lambeau Field on Sunday, we can re-evaluate. But the Packers are the top team in the NFC. The Packers have won seven of eight. They are undefeated at home, winning there by an average of 26.8 points. They also have a schedule that could lead to them winning out. If they hold serve at home against New England, Atlanta and Detroit, and win at Buffalo and Tampa Bay, it’ll be a tough task for the Cardinals to hold off a 13-3 Packers team for home-field advantage (although the Cardinals have a two-game edge in the loss column and in the first tiebreaker, which is conference record). I’m not sure Drew Stanton and that offense could hold off Green Bay, even if it's in Arizona, though. The Packers have the highest point differential in the NFC by far, had the highest DVOA ( Football Outsiders’ per-play metric ) in the NFC by far going into last week’s games, and have a quarterback with a 119.2 rating in Aaron Rodgers. They’re not unbeatable, but nobody else in the NFC is either. Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field isn’t really a Super Bowl preview, because single-game elimination tournaments are unpredictable. But it's the best two teams in football on the same field. We’ll see if the Packers can make a legitimate claim to the top spot overall. Here are the post-Week 12 NFL power rankings: 32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10, LW: 31) They were feisty for a while against the Colts. And still lost by 20. 31. Oakland Raiders (1-10, Last Week: 32) Who would have thought the Raiders would give us one of the more entertaining games of the season? 30. New York Jets (2-9, LW: 28) The Jets probably hit rock bottom on Monday night, losing 38-3 against a Bills team that could barely practice before the game. Geno Smith replaced Michael Vick late when Vick was hurt. Really doesn't do much harm to start him the rest of the way.   29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9, LW: 30) I think Lovie Smith gets a huge bonus if Josh McCown makes a certain number of starts. It's the only way I can explain it. 28. Tennessee Titans (2-9, LW: 29) After 345 yards against a solid Eagles defense, Zack Mettenberger is your 2015 Titans starter. If it's anyone else, the Titans' organization has lost its mind. 27. Washington Redskins (3-8, LW: 27) Has to be tough to play that well, when a C-minus effort at quarterback would result in a win, and come away with the loss. 26. New York Giants (3-8, LW: 26) I'm still mesmerized by Odell Beckham. 25. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1, LW: 25) The best hope is that Cam Newton is healthier after the bye. Actually, that's their only hope. 24. Atlanta Falcons (4-7, LW: 24) My dream, in the name of chaos, is for a 10-loss Falcons team to win the NFC South and host a playoff game with an interim coach because Mike Smith has been fired. 23. New Orleans Saints (4-7, LW: 21) Well, if they can't win at home anymore, then they're just a bad team. 22. Minnesota Vikings (4-7, LW: 23) Cordarrelle Patterson has more than two catches in a game one time since Sept. 21. He has posted yardage totals of 8, 15, 9, 9, 24 and 18 in that stretch. Can't blame the coaches forever. Especially compared to this year's unbelievable rookie receiver class, it doesn't look good for Patterson. 21. Chicago Bears (5-6, LW: 22) Totaling 204 yards and 12 first downs at home against one of the worst defenses in football. I'm convinced Marc Trestman's play card this year is just "MATT FORTE CHECKDOWN" in 300-point type and that's it. 20. St. Louis Rams (4-7, LW: 20) What about this for a great full-circle scenario: The Rams send a late-round pick to Washington for Robert Griffin III? 19. Houston Texans (5-6, LW: 19) I didn't really think the Texans were going anywhere this season with or without Ryan Mallett, but his injury cost them the chance to evaluate Mallett for next year, which is a blow. 18. Buffalo Bills (6-5, LW: 18) Great, professional effort by the Bills to win after their issues leading up to the game. "Great, professional effort" doesn't apply to their opponent on Monday, but still a nice win. And a fun celebration by tight end Scott Chandler after a touchdown, too. 17. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, LW: 16) Not hard to envision them finishing 4-1, given how the schedule looks. Not hard to envision them going 2-3 or worse, given how bad they look on their worst days, either. 16. Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1, LW: 17) Four wins in five games is pretty impressive. I'm not quite ready to put them back in the circle of trust, because their bad days were incredibly awful and burned in my brain forever, but it's a start. 15. San Diego Chargers (7-4, LW: 14) Ryan Mathews is back, plays great and ... wait, he's back in the locker room with a shoulder injury? It stinks for him that his body hasn't cooperated. Hopefully he can change that reputation. 14. Cleveland Browns (7-4, LW: 15) Josh Gordon is obviously their most important player down the stretch, but Isaiah Crowell might be a close second. He hasn't had more than 14 carries in a game, although he's averaging five yards per carry. The Browns might be ready to unleash him down the stretch. 13. Detroit Lions (7-4, LW: 10) A couple of good teams will miss the playoffs in the NFC. How about the team with the offense that hasn't even scored 200 points (only the Jets, Raiders, Jaguars and Titans are in that group, and they're all in the bottom five of these power rankings) and has a point differential of just plus-7 this season? 12. San Francisco 49ers (7-4, LW: 13) I'm not sure there has been a tougher receiver than Anquan Boldin, ever. Maybe Hines Ward. Maybe. Definitely haven't seen another receiver get hit as hard as Boldin was by Ryan Clark, have the defensive player get an unnecessary roughness penalty, and the receiver runs off while the safety is injured. Incredible play. 11. Miami Dolphins (6-5, LW: 12) This is a really good team. They might not make the playoffs, but they're good. 10. Baltimore Ravens (7-4, LW: 11) Justin Tucker is a legitimate playmaker for the Ravens. It's hard to make a 55-yard field goal look like an extra point, which he did on Monday night. 9. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, LW: 6) Prayers go out for Eric Berry for a full recovery. 8. Seattle Seahawks (7-4, LW: 9) For either the Seahawks or 49ers to really get to where they want to go, they'll probably have to sweep the other. That's what makes this Thanksgiving matchup so good. 7. Dallas Cowboys (8-3, LW: 8) Tony Romo since fracturing the transverse process in his back: 38-of-53 for 521 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and one last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive. Someday more people will appreciate how good he is. 6. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, LW: 7) The Colts' games against the AFC South should just get skipped due to lack of interest. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (8-3, LW: 5) The Eagles are tremendous at destroying awful teams. One potential problem might be the lack of awful teams in the playoffs, outside of the NFC South champ. 4. Denver Broncos (8-3, LW: 4) A lot can change before January. But right now, this doesn't look like a team that can beat New England. 3. Arizona Cardinals (9-2, LW: 3) Not much reason to downgrade them for the loss at Seattle. It was a desperate Seahawks team, which is still really tough at home, and the Cardinals' offense was shorthanded without Larry Fitzgerald. Nice win for Seattle, but not really a bad loss for Arizona. 2. Green Bay Packers (8-3, LW: 2) If you want to argue the Packers' defense isn't good enough to win the NFC, you must also point out the NFC team without a flaw to me. 1. New England Patriots (9-2, LW: 1) In 1996, the Jaguars cut controversial receiver Andre Rison during the season. He was immediately picked up by the Packers, who had lost Robert Brooks to a season-ending knee injury. It was a gift from the Jaguars to the Packers, already the best team in the NFL that season. The Packers won the Super Bowl.About 18 years from now, someone might retell the same story, replacing Jaguars with Steelers, Brooks with Stevan Ridley, and Rison with LeGarrette Blount. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Seahawks shut down Cardinals, 49ers stay in contention (Reuters)

By Simon Evans (Reuters) - Defending Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks handed the Arizona Cardinals just their second loss of the season with a 19-3 win in their NFC West clash on Sunday despite quarterback Russell Wilson being sacked seven times. The win keeps alive the slim hopes of Seattle (7-4) of catching the Cardinals (9-2) while the San Francisco 49ers kept themselves in contention with a 17-13 win over the Washington Redskins. ... [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NFL Winners and Losers: Denver Broncos maybe saved their season (Shutdown Corner)

Always remember this about the 2014 Denver Broncos: They will be graded on an unfair curve. A 39-36 win against a sneaky good Miami Dolphins team would be fine for most teams. It wasn’t bad for the Broncos. But the warts matter because these Broncos have just one goal.  The Broncos’ season won’t be a success if it falls short of a Super Bowl championship. Fair? Not really. But they have nowhere else to go after the past two seasons, and they’re built to win now. Before stars like outside linebacker Von Miller, receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas break the bank with their next contracts, and before quarterback Peyton Manning finally declines, it’s Super Bowl or bust. And when the Broncos were trailing 28-17 after three quarters, they didn’t look like a future Super Bowl champion. They really didn’t look like a Super Bowl champion when you compare them to what the New England Patriots did in destroying the Detroit Lions earlier in the day – or when you compare anything about the Broncos and Patriots the past few weeks. The Broncos came alive in the fourth quarter and won. C.J. Anderson finished with 167 rushing yards, Demaryius Thomas scored three touchdowns, and Emmanuel Sanders was clutch on a go-ahead drive. It might be too much to say the fourth quarter saved the Broncos' season, after losing two of their previous three, but the bar is so high for these Broncos that it might be accurate. Still, there are issues. Manning missed more throws than we’re used to seeing, and that can be said about him over the past few weeks. He is 38 years old, so it bears watching. The defense gave up 36 points at home. The special teams made some big errors, including a fumbled punt and a missed 33-yard field goal by Brandon McManus (who can’t feel too secure about his job with the struggles he has had) that led to this reaction from the Broncos bench: Looks like a pretty tightly wound team, but for good reason. The Broncos play at the Kansas City Chiefs next week, and while the Chiefs did the Broncos a huge favor by losing at Oakland on Thursday, the AFC West is still up for grabs. The Broncos, at 8-3, lead the Chiefs by just a game. But an AFC West title isn’t that big of a deal for the Broncos. Neither is an AFC title, for that matter. There’s one goal in Denver. Over the past month, including for three quarters Sunday, it looked like they’re far behind the Patriots in chasing that goal. They need to hope the fourth quarter Sunday was a sign they’re turning it back around. The Broncos land in winners and losers this week, the latter for their various struggles the first three quarters. Nobody said they're being evaluated fairly. The bar for them is as high as it can get. Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 12 of the NFL season: WINNERS Cleveland Browns’ coaches: There was a lot of talk before the Browns played at the Atlanta Falcons that receiver Josh Gordon would be limited in his return from a 10-game suspension. Maybe he’d get 20-30 snaps. That made no sense. Gordon was a 2013 All-Pro, and the Browns need his playmaking ability desperately. Whether it was a smoke screen or the Browns had a change of heart once the game started, Gordon played 51 of 74 snaps, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal , and he had eight catches for 120 yards , including a huge catch on Cleveland’s game-winning drive. The Browns needed every bit of what Gordon gave them. And now they can go forward with full confidence that one of the NFL’s best receivers can play as normal the rest of the way. The Browns have pushed a lot of right buttons this season. Brian Hoyer, who the Browns stuck with at quarterback even with first-round pick Johnny Manziel on the roster, threw a couple bad fourth-quarter interceptions on Sunday, but when the Browns took over with 44 seconds left on their own 20, he led them to the game-winning field goal. The Browns cut Ben Tate this week, and their two rookie running backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West combined for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. The Browns have benefited from a friendly schedule to get to 7-4. But they’re here and they’re going to get only better with Gordon and the presumptive return of tight end Jordan Cameron from a concussion. There are some tough games left, but maybe the Browns’ coaches will keep pushing the right buttons down the stretch and get them to the playoffs. Eddie Lacy: With Aaron Rodgers playing at such a high level (he had a 109.7 rating on Sunday … and his season rating dropped. It’s 119.2 now), we’ve forgotten that the Packers also have a heck of a running back. Lacy had his best game of the season on Sunday. He had 138 total yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in Green Bay’s 24-21 win. Lacy is coming on after a slow start to the season. He looks like the player who was offensive rookie of the year last season. If Lacy is running like that, and Rodgers is as great as ever, how is anyone going to stop Green Bay’s offense?   Cardinals defense: You can’t tell from the 19-3 final score, but the Cardinals’ defense had a heck of a game. It was the only reason the Seahawks didn’t turn it into a blowout. Calais Campbell had a great game with three sacks, and he deserves to go to an elusive first Pro Bowl. The Seahawks didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter. The Cardinals’ offense provided next to nothing, but the Cardinals' defense tried valiantly to keep the team in the game. This might be how it goes for the Cardinals the rest of the season. The defense is going to have to play very well to overcome an offense that lost quarterback Carson Palmer. The Cardinals will play better on offense than they did on Sunday, when they ran up against a tough opponent with Larry Fitzgerald out, but the onus will be on the defense to carry them as far as they’ll go. The Cardinals looked up to it against the Seahawks, even if the offense didn’t cooperate. Odell Beckham’s catch: Best NFL catch I’ve ever seen. The one-handed touchdown looked ridiculous from every angle, and that was before the shot that showed he caught it WITH THREE FINGERS. Zoomed in picture of Odell Beckham Jr.'s catch via @bencelestino pic.twitter.com/HEwjVtRo13 — Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) November 24, 2014 It just doesn’t get any better   LOSERS Shaun Hill’s interception: No interception is good, really. Some are worse than others. Very few picks in the NFL this season will be worse than the one Hill threw at the end of the St. Louis Rams’ loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Rams were at San Diego’s 4-yard line, down 27-24 with about a minute to go. In that situation, the Rams either win with a touchdown or at least tie the game and go to overtime. So you’d think. Kenny Britt ran a crossing route at the goal line and had no separation from the man covering him. And somehow, the longtime veteran Hill never saw safety Marcus Gilchrist. Gilchrist read Hill, jumped in front of his pass to Britt, and picked it off to finish the game. The Rams weren’t going anywhere at 4-6 coming in, but it was still a crushing way to lose.   The overpaid NFC North quarterbacks: Here are the combined numbers of a pair of NFC North rival quarterbacks on Sunday – 35-of-73, 394 yards, one touchdown … $34.3 million 2014 salary cap number. It’s not that Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford are bad or anything. They are what they are: Average or maybe slightly above average starting quarterbacks who are being paid to be superstars. At least Cutler’s Bears overcame his 130-yard day against the NFL’s 30 th ranked pass defense coming in (hint: that’s bad) and beat the Buccaneers. The Lions were blown out by the Patriots, and have now gone 22 straight possessions without a touchdown. They employ Calvin Johnson, one of the three greatest receivers of all time, by the way. They’re one of five teams in the NFL with fewer than 200 points this season. The others are the Raiders, Jets, Titans and Jaguars, four of the worst teams in the NFL. This is why the Bears and Lions will continue to chase the Green Bay Packers. They’re paying those guys like they’re Aaron Rodgers, but they aren’t in Rodgers’ class. In a salary cap sport, that’s a big obstacle to overcome.   Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden: The story with the Washington Redskins on Sunday morning was that Gruden had the green light to keep Griffin on a short leash and bench him if he struggled at San Francisco. Griffin struggled. And he never came out. Griffin went 11-of-19 for 106 yards. He was sacked five times, and many of them were because he held the ball too long. He wasn’t very good, and as it turns out, even a mediocre performance at quarterback would have beaten a flat San Francisco 49ers team. As it was, Washington led until 49ers rookie Carlos Hyde’s 4-yard touchdown with 2:59 to go. After that the Redskins had six plays on two possessions: three Griffin incompletions, two sacks and one Griffin run for 6 yards. The second sack forced a fumble that the 49ers recovered to finish the game. If Gruden really could have changed quarterbacks, and didn’t, he probably regrets it now. But this relationship is about more than winning one game in a lost season. We can say whatever we want about Griffin’s regression, but the fact is that Washington has to give Griffin every chance to succeed. The Redskins have invested way too much into him to turn back after three seasons (one of which was a rookie of the year campaign). Gruden needs to make this work, somehow. Griffin does too. Maybe that’s why he didn’t come out on Sunday when it was clear he was struggling again. Perhaps Gruden feels like there’s no turning back if he benches Griffin. Maybe leaving him in will help the franchise down the road. It hurt Washington on Sunday though. Bill O’Brien: The Houston Texans coach won’t like ending up on the losers section of the list. Here’s how I know:   The Texans have done a fine job after a 2-14 season last year, but Sunday was a big blow. Against an inconsistent Bengals team, the Texans lost 22-13, and that was with a pick-six off Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. The offense, without Arian Foster again, couldn’t replicate what it did at Cleveland last week. It couldn’t do anything, really. Quarterback Ryan Mallett struggled, with just 189 yards on 45 attempts. The Texans held the ball for just 20:50. It was a disheartening performance that drops them to 5-6 and probably in need of five straight wins to get to the playoffs in the AFC. No wonder O’Brien wasn’t in a good mood. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

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