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Zebra Technology Youth Taylor Gabriel Jersey , Part 1On Sunday, I had a chance to meet with the people behind the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Zebra Technologies. I learned a number of things, not the least of which is that I am ready for this technology to be put into even wider use throughout the league.At its simplest level, Zebra uses small RFID devices to track things. They track a lot of things. The company has a presence in shipping and logistics, in medicine, and now in sports. They keep track of players on the field and the ball in the air. They actually keep track of the referees, too. They obviously produce a wealth of data from all of their tracking, and that data has the potential to change the game even more than it already has.Obviously, there are diehards who like to talk about the human element of the game. There are fans who feel that using RFID chips instead of human judgment somehow takes the passion out of football. I have a couple of responses to this, but the first one is one that the casual fan is simply going to have to take my word on--John Pollard, the VP of Business Development for Zebra, is not going to take the passion out of anything. This is a man who loves his football.What they doBefore explaining Zebra’s contributions to football in any greater detail, I have to admit to a certain sense of amusement over the name. I associate “zebras” with the refs in football, and this last week of football demonstrated--once again--that the refs are not exactly perfect when it comes to making accurate and precise calls. There is a big difference between Gene Steratore’s use of an index card to determine a first down in a Cowboy-Raiders game and what I saw in action on Sunday.The company has twenty-two sensors in place around the stadium, and they have chips inside shoulder pads for every player (with a third chip to track linemen who might drop their shoulders down when lining up) and in the balls. They track the refs, too, which means that Zebra tracks the zebras (sorry, I couldn’t help it). As a result, they can tell how fast Jordan Howard runs when he hits a hole and they can determine the closing speed of a linebacker trying to cut him off.The operation includes three people in a booth--or a catwalk, or wherever the stadium finds to host them--checking each other’s work and tracking not just what happens on the field but also checking in with the NFL head office regarding how plays are classified. At any given time, they know who is on the field and they also know the players’ directions and speeds.It’s important to note that their RFID technology is not the only option available to the game of football. Some systems use optics, like the way tennis determines if a ball hits a line or not, and others use GPS. Pollard explained to me, however, that optics are hard to use in football because of the number of bodies piling up next to each other and that GPS has a lag built in that isn’t suffered by the RFID system that relies on the receivers in the same stadium, instead of relying on satellites that are a bit farther away, to say the least.What they do for teamsPollard demonstrated the difference between his data and what most fans used to have access to using a reference Bears fan should appreciate. He pointed out that it didn’t matter what 40-yard-dash time Dick Butkus might have had, his sideline-to-sideline speed when closing on another player was terrifying in his era. What Zebra’s technology does is quantify that closing speed and then put it into context with the rest of the league.One thing that might surprise the casual fan is how much information they have that is not used. With transmitters sending a signal more than ten times a second, they told me that they can tell me the speed of a pass and even the rotations on the ball in the air--basically, they literally know how well a quarterback is ‘spinning’ it. The rifling of a pass by Mahomes, Trubisky, or Watson could—in theory-be compared. However, not all of this information gets released.For the entire league , there are agreements in place on who gets what information, and some information is collected as a byproduct of the system without anyone ever seeing it. Obviously, some in the game are worried about distributing information on throwing speed or even player speed, afraid it’s going to have negative impacts on the players. At one point, teams only received their own information, so they would get tracking data from half of the game but not from the players lined up on the other side. Now, teams are seeing more information, and they are being more cautious about sharing what they are learning from that information.However, individual teams also have deals with Zebra, and those teams are getting a lot more information. Derek Kenar (their senior operations manager) pointed out that they can track a player coming back from injury and determine if he’s getting back up to speed or not. There are interesting implications, too, for teams that track practices and for pregame warm-ups.For example, if a player likes to warm up by throwing a few balls and running around the field, most people probably don’t think anything of it. However, if a receiver likes to take laps before the first whistle blows, and if he runs as much before the game as he does during the first quarter of football, should coaches be concerned when his speed slows after the half? How much tread is he wearing off his tires, so to speak? When practice gets involved, if one player throws the ball fifty or sixty times before practice even begins, then there’s a chance that player is wearing himself out ahead of schedule.If a player is getting older, how much of a dip in acceleration is concerning? For that matter, if there is no dip in acceleration, and it can be shown numerically, does that prolong a player’s career?Another example of one of the implications deals with what staff does for a team. We’ve heard all season long about how open the Chiefs’ wide receivers are getting. Determining how many defenders are within a yard or two of each open receiver used to be a subject for intense film review, hand-counting, and trial-and-error. Now, it can be found with a few clicks on a computer screen. This doesn’t mean that there is less work for the staffers, but it does mean that instead of gathering that data the work can now be doing something with it.Teams that embrace the analytical approach are obviously out in the forefront of working with Zebra. The Lions, the Rams, the Cowboys, and the Eagles are all clients of their practice system. Zebra does not have a deal in place with the Bears, even though they are headquartered in Lincolnshire, and the Beloved have another contract through the end of the year. Still, it’s probably only a matter of time before more teams partner up with this company.Zebra vs Zebra?Go back to Gene Steratore and his Index Card of Destiny. When the technology exists to figure out exactly how far ball advanced down to the tenth of a second , or when a program can tell officials exactly how many players really were on the field at the time of a snap without relying on human judgment, then the game changes. There are hundreds of things that currently rely on human discretion, and while Pollard and Kenar didn’t bring it up, I found myself thinking about what happens when the genie gets just a little bit more out of the bottle and that number can be cut in half.Speaking only for myself, I’d rather have a millimeter-precise program tell me where the ball was if my choice is either the program or the same people who called the Browns-Raiders game. The NFL is, probably wisely, keeping this technology carefully regulated. Fans of almost any sport have their stories of times that visual replay clearly indicated the call on the field (or on the court, or whatever) was wrong, and over time that forced the professional leagues to adapt and to incorporate the new technology.I am sure that there is recorded data somewhere that would validate a number of controversial referee decisions, and I am equally sure that there is data that would be embarrassing to the officials at a game. For me, I just want the game to be called as fairly and as consistently as possible. That sounds like something that can be made better with this technology, but I know some will disagree.Like I said at the opening, I am ready for us to have a richer picture of the game, and more accurate information about what really happens on the field. Next up, I want to share some of what Next Gen Stats is already telling us about the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears. Bill Belichick will probably never see it, but Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy left a thank you note on social media for his coach anyway on Thursday"Happy anniversary to me and my trade day! What a day that turned out to be!" Van Noy wrote on Twitter to commemorate the two-year anniversary of his trade from the Detroit Lions.Among the hashtags at the end of the post were "thanksbill," a digital shout-out to his notoriously social media averse Patriots coach.It's also was a continued celebration of a journey to New England that Van Noy said he considers to be "a blessing."Van Noy was still trying to find his place in the NFL in 2016 when he got the call that he had been dealt to the perennial Super Bowl contender.Two years, two Super Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl ring and contract extension later the linebacker has grown into one of the Patriots' key cogs on defense."It's big time," Van Noy said. "Happy to be a part of this."Despite often being the odd man out with the Lions after they drafted him in the second round in 2014, Van Noy arrived in New England and almost immediately found himself being put to use alongside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.Van Noy played both middle and outside linebacker during his seven regular-season appearances in 2016 and was on the field for all three playoff games, including the comeback Super Bowl win over Atlanta.Those efforts were rewarded last season when the Patriots signed him to a two-year, $11.7 million contract extension."Kyle has a lot of versatility for us. He can do all of the things really that a linebacker needs to do," Belichick said. "Play the run, rush the passer and play in coverage. He does a good job at all of them and his versatility has been valuable for us."Van Noy has validated the faith Belichick showed in him.His 73 combined tackles ranked third on the team in 2017 and his 5陆 sacks were second only to Trey Flowers' 6陆.Van Noy also saw his responsibilities increase, including being given the responsibility of wearing the wired helmet to receive the defensive calls from the sideline.The Patriots have struggled to limit teams this season, giving up 400 or more yards in five of their seven games. But Van Noy has remained one of their most consistent players as they've tried to work through their issues.He has started all seven games and is second on the team with 36 total tackles. He also has one of the Patriots' 10 interceptions.In addition, Van Noy has shown value on special teams, scooping up Hightower's blocked punt in the third quarter at Chicago last week and returning it 29 yards for a touchdown in New England' 38-31 win.The Patriots will need a similar output as they prepare for their fourth road game of the season at Buffalo on Monday. New England's win at Chicago is its only win away from Massachusetts this season.Van Noy said sharing the field with Hightower has made him a better player."Playing with someone like him, obviously he's an incredible player," Van Noy said. "We know what each other's doing."I've played his position. He's played mine. So it's easy to know what each other has to do. We play off each other. He can count on me and I can count on him. ... We try to have that foundation for the rest of the guys."Notes: Rookie RB Sony Michel (knee), CB Eric Rowe (groin) and OL Brian Schwenke did not participate in practice on Thursday. It is the second straight day that Michel and Rowe were absent from practice this week. Michel was helped off the field in last week's win at Chicago and eventually carted to the locker room after he had his leg pinned underneath him on a tackle by Bears lineman Bilal Nichols. Rowe continues to be dogged by the groin issue that has contributed to him missing three games this season.

Frank Reich’s offense: An introduction While the coaching search didn’t go as expected Cheap Andrew Luck Jersey , the Indianapolis Colts ended up finding and hiring Frank Reich, who by all accounts was a good candidate for the job. Reich enjoyed a long playing career as a backup quarterback. Most of his time was spent with the Buffalo Bills playing for Marv Levy and Ted Marchibroda while playing behind hall of fame quarterback Jim Kelly. After his playing days were behind him, Reich left football for a few years to pursue other interests. Reich had always maintained a relationship with long time Bills general manager, Bill Polian. Reich called Polian, who as you know was busy leading the front office for the most successful decade any team has ever had in NFL history, and asked for a job as a coach. Reich eventually worked his way to become quarterbacks coach, and if we’re being honest, probably learned as much from Peyton Manning as he was able to teach him. Not a bad gig for your first job as an NFL position coach. Reich went on to become the wide receivers coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 under then head coach Ken Whisenhunt. 2013 saw Whisenhunt get the ax and accept the offensive coordinator role with the San Diego Chargers, Whisenhunt thought enough of Reich to bring him along for the ride. Our new head coach served as a quarterbacks coach for a year before taking over play calling duties in 2014, when Whisenhunt took the Tennessee Titans head job.Reich led the Chargers offense with mixed results for two seasons when head coach Mike McCoy had an opportunity to hire Whisenhunt, after the Titans job didn’t exactly work out. McCoy fired Reich, who then took the opportunity to upgrade his job by heading to the Philadelphia Eagles as their offensive coordinator under Doug Pederson , working along side John DeFilippo for two seasons. Those two seasons in Philadelphia saw Pederson, Reich and DeFilippo build a potent offense. All three men have been hailed for their effort in helping Carson Wentz progress as a passer and the way they were able to modify everything they did on offense when Wentz went down with a torn ACL in week 14 and backup quarterback Nick Foles emerged as the guy who would have to lead them into the playoffs, and ultimately led the Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory.But you knew all of that, right? At this point the story has been told about Reich in some way shape or form a few dozen times, so why did I take the time to write it again? Because Frank Reich’s history as a player and coach is ultimately what is going to determine how he leads this team and more importantly for the purpose of what I’m writing about, what his offense will look like. Frank Reich did give us a few hints into his vision for the offense:Most of that is pretty standard fare for an introductory press conference. He was asked about his offense, what’s he supposed to say: “We will be a vanilla, reactionary, slowed down offense.” So it’s not surprising he said what he said on some levels, but when you consider what he said with his history as a player and coach, maybe those standard answers aren’t just an answer that sounds good for the reporters. Over the next few days I’m going to give you more intricate details on what I expect the 2018 Frank Reich led Indianapolis Colts offense to look like. I will say, that while this is an educated theory (I subjected myself to all 16 San Diego Chargers contests of the 2014 season for this series Womens Matt Slauson Jersey , you’re welcome) it is at best a theory. We don’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt what his offense is going to look like, but I feel I can get pretty close considering his influences and what the man himself has said. Tomorrow morning we will cover Frank Reich's time at Maryland and progress as the week goes on, culminating in what I expect his offense to look like. I hope you enjoy reading about the Colts new head coach as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing this piece.Frank Reich’s offense: The Maryland yearsFrank Reich’s offense: The NFL yearsFrank Reich’s offense: The assistant coaching years, part 1Frank Reich’s offense: The assistant coaching years, part 2Frank Reich’s offense: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts, part 1Frank Reich’s offense: The 2018 Indianapolis Colts, part 2 Short week! Well, there’s a lot to talk about in such a condensed week, especially on the Indianapolis Colts side of the equation. The team’s injury report is pretty insane. The Colts actually already have 7 inactives for the game and only 52 on the roster less than 24 hours before game time.On one end, it’s a plus-minus situation weekly any more and with only having four days between games, this isn’t the ideal point in the season to face the Patriots by any means. The positive shining through those dark clouds: Andrew Luck is NOT on that injury report. And that means hope for this beat up roster. On the docket today we’re going to discuss the Patriots’ Week 4 game against the Miami Dolphins to see what we can gain from it. There were some definite trends Youth Eric Ebron Jersey , but on the other hand, Belichick is known to completely scrap those tendencies from one week to the next. At any rate, we also see some weaknesses and strengths alike from various positions that very well could affect what Frank Reich may attempt to dial up Thursday night. Their offense featured some very interesting personnel groupings in this one as well. What I saw from both sides of the ball in a nutshell, and how the Colts can try to combat their current situation within these matchups. In the second half of the show, I joined the guys of the Vegas Stats and Information Network on “Between the Sidelines” with Matt Youmans on Sirius XM Radio (@VSiNLive) Wednesday evening, and they were gracious enough to allow me to use their audio on this show. We talked a little about everything including the Colts injury situation at some key positions, specifically Anthony Castonzo and if he’ll play Thursday. The question of whether or not the Colts could get blown out is brought up, how to figure out the eye test with the Colts’ offense with so many ups and downs also becomes a valid question going forward.Additionally, we talk about how the offense and defense have almost completely switched expectations through the first four weeks of the season and how Darius Leonard has energized this defense in the meantime. There is much more from this conversation on ‘Between the Sidelines’ in the second half of the show. Please subscribe, rate and review the show anywhere you listen to podcasts.Stampede Blue Podcast Links:Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Art 19 | SB Colts Cast YT Channel | Google | Spotify

Chiefs injury notes ahead of Monday Night Football vs. Denver Editor’s note: Every week Cheap Steven Nelson Jersey , our in-house medical expert, Aaron Borgmann, will share some notes on the injuries coming out of One Arrowhead Drive.LB Ben Niemann — Hamstring strainAs we spoke about last week, the team will want to make sure someone that takes so many reps on special teams is fully ready as to not risk re-injury to avoid further setbacks. Once full practice or no limitation in practice has been designated, like it was Thursday, he’s probably a good bet that the player will be full go for the game.LB Terrace Smith — Shin contusionTypically seen due to a hit from a leg or helmet, shin contusions don’t sound like much but can actually be very painful due to the amount of swelling that can build up in the lower leg compartment. Often, symptoms do not show up until the next day , so the player or medical staff may have not been alerted to it until after the game or even a day or so later. Swelling control and early motion are key here in order for the player to return to practice and play. A shin contusion can be quite debilitating if left untreated, but it sounds like the player is on the correct path to return. Player will be monitored throughout the week and potentially even need additional padding in the game if it is severe enough.LB Dee Ford — Groin strainAs was eluded to by head coach Andy Reid during his press conference today, the player sounds as if he is doing fairly well. “He’s actually doing very well right now. We’re optimistic,” is a great sign for the player’s status. Indications were that this would not be a long-term situation. Not to be understated is the extra day of treatment and rehab due to the Monday night game. The medical staff will undoubtedly ease this player back to action whenever he returns to practice. Any soft tissue muscle strains must be treated with care due to the risk of lingering re-injury. At this player’s position, speed and quick movement are essential, so if the player does return to practice this week in some capacity, fans can be optimistic as well that all parties feel as if he can contribute on some level.S Eric Berry – Sore heelNO CHANGEAaron Borgmann is the owner of Borgmann Rehab Solutions and a former 12 year NFL Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer Chiefs wide receiver DeAnthony Thomas broke a leg during practice and could miss the rest of the season, the latest in a string of injuries to befall the unbeaten team.The Chiefs also listed Justin Houston as doubtful for Sunday night's game against the Patriots in New England with a hamstring injury. Free safety Eric Murray has been ruled out with an ankle injury and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is out with a broken bone in his leg.Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said that Thomas was taking part in Thursday's practice when he got stepped on from behind Kansas City Chiefs T-Shirt , fracturing the same leg he broke in a game last December. Thomas had surgery to repair the break and had a metal rod inserted, though the latest break did not damage that repair."He had what we consider a freak accident," Burkholder said. "All indications are right now that he won't need surgery and he will heal up on his own, but he will need some time to heal up."Thomas surprised many by making the Chiefs' roster in training camp, given his relatively modest production his first four years in Kansas City. And while he has just three catches for 15 yards and a touchdown, Thomas has proven to be valuable on special teams."I'm sorry for the kid. He's a tough little nut, man," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He'll come back and he'll be all right. You hate that to happen Kansas City Chiefs Hats , as hard as he worked to get back."Reid characterized Houston as a "longshot" to play against the Patriots, likely leaving Kansas City without its top pass rusher against Tom Brady and Co. Tanoh Kpassagnon is likely to start alongside Dee Ford, though both of those outside linebackers have also been hobbled by injuries.The Chiefs tried to shore up their pass rush this week by signing Frank Zombo, who was cut in camp after spending the past five seasons with them, and former Browns linebacker Nate Orchard.Zombo's familiarity with the defense means he could play Sunday. Orchard also could be active."I think he could come out and help you if needed. He can do that," Reid said. "He is good enough to be worked in, plus he was familiar with us being in Cleveland for a year, with this system."In the defensive backfield Kansas City Chiefs Hoodie , the Chiefs are almost certain to be without Eric Berry, who continues to be listed as doubtful and has not practiced since early in training camp with a heel injury.Fellow safety Daniel Sorensen is also on injured reserve with a broken leg, which means the latest injury to Murray leaves the Chiefs desperately short on depth. Jordan Lucas will likely start opposite of Ron Parker, though he's played primarily special teams since arriving in a trade with Miami.Lucas did pick off Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in last week's win over Jacksonville."He's played quite a little bit before he got here and then he played for us last week," Reid said. "He knows what's going on and actually had some nice plays back there."

It’s been a very active week for a team that is on a bye. The Dallas Cowboys swing back into action in Week 9 , so we’re back to predicting their game, along with the rest of the NFL. So far this season, Dave Halprin leads the pack with an 84-35 record (with two tie games thrown out). Hot on his heels is OCC at 80-39 and Michael Sisemore at 78-41.This week, it’s unanimous from our panel that the Cowboys will beat the Titans. That’s a lot of faith in a team that has struggled, but being at home, and with new offensive weapon Amari Cooper on the roster, there is some optimism around the team. Elsewhere in the NFC East, the panel likes Washington over Atlanta by a 6-4 count. Both the Eagles and the Giants are on a bye this week. Chicago is a unanimous pick over Buffalo, as is Kansas City over Cleveland, Carolina over Tampa Bay, and New England over Green Bay.Here are all of Week 9’s picks: From the moment the Jones family removed the interim tag and made Jason Garrett their next head coach, they have all practiced an extreme amount of patience. This organization has been about as patient with their coach as any outside of the Bengals with Marvin Lewis.Maybe Jerry Jones is using his past regrets as a guide for this determination to make it work with Garrett.Prior to Garrett , the Cowboys averaged a new coach every three years and Jerry has always felt firing Chan Gailey after two seasons was a misstep. This ownership has emphatically stood behind this coach, despite only two postseason appearances now halfway into his eighth season.Any time he has been asked this season, Jones routinely shoots down the suggestion that Garrett’s seat is even lukewarm. It makes you wonder if a switch was flipped during this past bye week. This team’s actions have shown they are in win-now mode by trading next year’s first-round pick for Amari Cooper and firing a position coach midseason. Well, what happens if they don’t win?I’ve long supported Garrett as have many of my colleagues, but a second straight year without a postseason appearance would justify making a move. Garrett has always had a plausible, yet convenient, excuse in the past why you shouldn’t fire him. Think about it, when the Cowboys had three straight 8-8 seasons, the lack of talent was the culprit. They finally came close in 2014 but lost Tony Romo in week two of 2015 which made a 4-12 season excusable. After embarking on a new era led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, they certainly weren’t making that change. Even this past year when they missed the playoffs at 9-7, they put that one on the six-game suspension of Elliott and other missing key players. It’s always been difficult to figure out what kind of coach Garrett is because there are times where he can get his players to run through brick walls for him. There are also mistakes that can be directly attributed to decisions he has made. This season has been a perfect example of the roller-coaster you are on with these Cowboys.After the Cowboys lost to the Texans in overtime, Garrett was vilified for lacking guts to go for a 4th-and-1 at Houston’s 42-yard line. As always Authentic Zack Martin Jersey , Cowboys social media was ablaze, waging war about who to blame. Mainstream media was grabbing quotes from Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns, who seemingly called out the offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan. It was a tumultuous week with the Jaguars top-rated defense coming in. Convenient timing struck again as Garrett’s Cowboys hung 40 points on Jacksonville when nobody thought they would get more than a few field goals. All excitement was deflated the very next week. With sole possession of the NFC East on the line, Dallas went to Washington and lost their fourth straight road game. So, here they are at 3-4, with a struggling Titans team on the horizon at home. It’s a game that they should by all rights win and since it’s a home game, the odds are that they will. Their home and away splits are the only indicator of expectations we have had this season which points to an 8-8 finish that won’t be acceptable. That’s why it looks like they are trying at all costs to avoid that by paying such a high price for their new receiver. The front office is fixing any mistake they can to remove excuses away from the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.That’s why these last nine games will weigh heavily on this coaching staff because the wagon is hitched to the majority of the talent. Dak Prescott is one of many players on offense that must play better but he’s not going anywhere soon. Such is the same with Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and this offensive line. The only thing to do is win football games and hope that these moves will indeed make them a better football team. Jason Garrett has been successful before when he’s backed up against the wall but the climb ahead has never been steeper. The Cowboys are the 12th NFC seed, looking up at the Buccaneers, Falcons Authentic Tyron Smith Jersey , Packers, Seahawks, and Panthers. They have already lost to two of those teams so hopes for a wildcard berth would require more than one of them to collapse. Garrett is going to have to win the NFC East and he’s down two games to the Washington Redskins right now. Garrett still has one more game to get even with Washington, followed by two against the Eagles, and one more date with the Giants. Though it ultimately comes down to the division crown, Garrett will likely need wins at Atlanta and at home against Tampa Bay.All in all, Jason Garrett is facing a daunting task that will require him to go 7-2 the rest of the way. He was able to finish 7-4 after a 2-3 start last year but he’ll need to be better this time around. It may seem a little unfair to pin everything on the coaching staff but this regime received the benefit of the doubt last year. They doubled down on Jason Garrett and his right hand man, Scott Linehan. They switched out all but one offensive position coach and allowed Linehan to hand pick his own staff. The events of this past bye week is yet another example of this organization’s investment in Garrett and his staff. It’s now time for tangible results because eight years is quite a long time to keep asking for “trust in the process”. That’s especially the case for a process that has yielded only one playoff win. cheap football jerseys

As we showed you on Tuesday Daniel Sorensen Jersey , the Kansas City Chiefs jumped from fourth to second place in our aggregated pundit power rankings with their 27-24 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday — and after folding data from the number-crunchers, the Chiefs move from third to second in the Week 15 True Power Rankings.Here’s how the crunchers see the NFL — now that Week 14’s games are in the books.Cruncher Power Rankings for Week 15Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsThe Chiefs held steady — or improved — in all of the data-based models.But the Los Angeles Rams’ 15-6 loss to the Chicago Bears dropped them out of second place with the crunchers, and the Chiefs took their place.Once again this week, the top teams remain the same.The Bears’ win served them well with all the models except the unweighted PE model — where they remained in second — and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Oakland Raiders came within a whisker of dropping them out of the top tier.We do see one odd thing here.The New England Patriots actually rose one spot with the crunchers after losing to the Miami Dolphins on that crazy last-second play, because the Patriots remain strong in Elo.The Patriot’s Elo score did, in fact, drop after the loss, but their one-point loss to the Dolphins cost them less than the Los Angeles Rams’ nine-point loss to the Chicago Bears.This is another example of why rankings of statistical data can sometimes be misleading.We’ll come back to this when we get to this week’s cruncher grades.Now let’s combine the cruncher rankings with Tuesday’s pundit rankings to create the Week 15 True Power Rankings.True Power Rankings for Week 15Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsWith the Chiefs in second place with both the pundits and the crunchers, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Chiefs would rise to second place in the combined rankings.The Houston Texans drop out of the top tier after losing to the Indianapolis Colts, and the Ravens move in with the top teams.Wait... what?Yes, the Ravens move up two spots after losing to the Chiefs.We can see part of why this happened by looking at the inverse version of the Ravens chart we saw in Tuesday’s pundit power rankings.This version of the chart compares the individual cruncher rankings against the aggregated pundit rankings — which is the black line.The pundits haven’t been all that crazy about the Ravens all season — and started bailing on them during the three losses that led up to Joe Flacco’s injury.But the crunchers have been fairly high on them all along — as we see here, more so in some models than in others — and eventually, that resulted in the pundits undervaluing the Ravens quite a bit in comparison.But the pundits have been getting back on board since the Ravens starting winning again. Then they decided the Ravens showed them something by nearly knocking off the Chiefs on the road — so they gave them a little boost.The crunchers, on the other hand, thought they should come down a little — but not a lot — because they lost narrowly to a better team.Also note that the Ravens’ DVOA ranking rose a bit after the loss, too.This is because DVOA is less concerned about wins and losses than some of the other models. But again... rankings can be deceptive.The Ravens, Steelers and Texans are in a really tight group; the difference between the three is just 0.4 ranking points.If the pundits hadn’t decided to be generous, the Ravens probably would have stayed out of the top tier, and the Texans would have remained.And here’s your weekly reality-check: the Week 15 cruncher grades.Cruncher Grades for Week 15Chiefs AFC West Teams Other AFC TeamsThe Chiefs drop measurably — but not significantly — in this week’s grades.Again, we see a group of teams at the top of the league, a group at the bottom and a whole lot of average in between.The Bears and the Ravens move in with the top teams Limited Travis Kelce Jersey , and the Patriots fall out.But why would the Patriots go down in the cruncher grades, while going up in the cruncher rankings we saw earlier?Or for that matter, why did the Ravens rise in the cruncher grades, while dropping in the cruncher rankings?It’s all about the math.Rankings have a basic problem: they don’t tell us anything about the difference between two values — only that one is greater (or less) than another.So when you average rankings together, some error can start creeping in.But the cruncher grades are calculated using the actual values behind the rankings, rather than the rankings themselves.Further, since these data models use different scales, we must convert the values to standard deviations from average, so we can compare (and average) them together.This helps eliminate some of the problems you run across with rankings and can give a more truthful picture of what’s going on.That’s why we always refer to the cruncher grades as a reality check.That’s it for now.Big game Thursday!Join us again on Tuesday. We’ll fire up the spreadsheet again and see how the NFL shakes out after Week 15. It’s our Monday column, The Re-Up. In this column, I’ll write about some deeper thought I had about the last game and finish with some fun stuff to ponder at the article’s end. Check out last week’s column here.Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsOne week ago, after the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC West division win over the Denver Broncos, team owner Clark Hunt held a press conference for his annual midseason check-in.The tone of the press conference played out, for the most part, as expected—excitement in Kansas City hasn’t been this high in a long time due to Patrick Mahomes, Hunt is pleased with both head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach and yes, Eric Berry “literally is day to day.”But there was a moment, in particular, that jumped out to me when I listened back. And it came when Hunt was questioned about his franchise quarterback’s leadership qualities.Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images“I think watching his demeanor when he talks about the team in press conferences, that’s one example,” Hunt said of Mahomes. “He’s very quick to give credit to his teammates and he does have a tremendous group of teammates. Those offensive skill players are really special De'Anthony Thomas Jersey , and I think he rightly points a lot of the credit for our success to them. “Then also watching him in the locker room in postgame situations, whether it’s been one of the wins or our loss in New England, the way that he carries himself and the way that he speaks to his teammates. You can just see how they respect him. He’s very, very well spoken, and I think he hits the right message in those situations.”So I pulled up the New England post-game tape to zone in. As if you don’t remember, that’s the game in which the Chiefs offense scored 40 points and still lost.“Yeah, I missed some throws,” Mahomes, who went 22 of 36 for 352 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, said after the game.Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports“You can’t miss those throws,” he added. “We left some points out there and so when you go back and look at the tape, you have to learn from that and try to do better whenever you get the next opportunity.”Uh, what?Now living in an NFL landscape that is well aware of all that Mahomes is capable of on the field, I actually think Hunt nailed a prime of example of something that probably isn’t talked about enough when it comes to the second-year quarterback.It is a trait Mahomes shares with the likes of Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and the Manning brothers.Absolute and undeniable confidence, competitiveness and even cockiness on the field with complete humility and selflessness off.Watch this clip from the Week 2 Chiefs-Steelers game.Mahomes went 23 for 28 for 326 yards and six touchdowns, and he invites the Pittsburgh Steelers to come and stop him.Fast forward to Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and check out this clip.Mahomes went 28 for 39 for 358 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, and he waves at the Bengals as they try to rough him up after the whistle on the sideline.And how about a touchdown Dustin Colquitt Jersey Salute to Service , a brush-off and a flex on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos? The Chiefs won that game, too, thanks to overcoming a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit by way of an off-hand pass to shatter those Mile High dreams.After each instance, Mahomes left the competitiveness and the fire in between the lines, reported to the podium after the game and talked about the opposition with respect while crediting his teammates.I asked Reid about Mahomes’ ability to balance that competitive fire with being the face of the franchise on Monday.“In the moment, I guess—he’s not going to come in here and bark and do all that and flex for you,” Reid said. “I think he’s into that moment. He loves playing and we all get to see that. At the same time, he is professional enough to where when he’s off the field he handles that situation—whatever that situation is—whether he’s with little kids or with y’all, he handles it the right way, and he’s got a knack for that.”Mahomes had his eighth game in a row of 300-plus yards on Sunday in the Chiefs eighth win of the year. He threw for three touchdowns, but the post-game topic of discussion once again had nothing to do with him.Instead, he complimented opposing quarterback Baker Mayfield and discussed how eager Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce were to play well in their hometown.Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports“I knew they wanted to play well and win here in Cleveland,” he said. “They love it here in Cleveland so they wanted to play well in front of their families. It was cool for them to have a combined five touchdowns between both of them.”And more specifically on Hunt, who has become one of the hottest players in the National Football League of late...“When he’s running the ball like that, and catching out of the backfield, it makes it that much harder for defenses to stop us,” he said. “I feel like when you have guys like that at every position, trying to do their role and being the person that they are, is when you have those good offenses.”None of what this season has become would be possible without Mahomes, but you’ll never hear that from him.RAPID REACTIONThis week’s Rapid Reaction was taken from my opening thoughts on the Arrowhead Pride post-game show Authentic Steven Nelson Jersey , as first heard live on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City.STAT OF THE GAMEGIF OF THE GAMEThe shade...TWEET(s) OF THE GAMEand staying on theme...FIVE QUOTES1. Andy Reid on his favorite Kareem Hunt screen passes: “My favorite thing is the one like Kareem had where he scores. Those are the ones.”2. Offensive lineman Cam Erving on him, Mitchell Schwartz, Austin Reiter and Andrew Wylie playing for the Chiefs in the win over the Browns (via friend of the site Tom Martin): “We showed everybody in the Cleveland Browns front office what a mistake they made, four out of five [Chiefs starting offensive linemen] were on their team... It was just a statement game, man.”3. Quarterback Baker Mayfield on Browns general manager John Dorsey: “We believe in what he is doing. We believe in the guys that he has brought in here and everything they are about. It is about building culture. That is where it starts. He established a culture there. He brought in the right pieces. You have to get people to believe in that. It doesn’t matter who you have if you have that fixed, then you can go a long way. We are working on that. Like I said earlier, we have to keep getting better.”4. Running back Kareem Hunt on the feeling when Andy Reid dials up a play for him: “He believes in me. If I get the ball in some space, I can make the play to get whatever yardage we need.”5. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes on checking on cornerback EJ Gaines immediately after taking a rough hit: “Football is family. Everybody knows what we all go through, nobody wants anyone to be injured. I knew we had the touchdown, so I wanted to make sure that he was all good. Hopefully he’s healthy.”THE BIG THOUGHTPhoto by Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesLike we have seen in recent years when it comes to professional baseball, football is heading in a direction in which statistics and analytics are going to matter more. Head coaches and personnel men already factor them in when it comes to decision-making on the field. Former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles made headlines when it was revealed how much of a role analytics played in their Super Bowl-winning season in 2017. But Sunday should serve as a reminder that while analytics are worthwhile, this is a sport played by human beings. This was the first opportunity Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce had to play in front of a hometown Cleveland crowd—literally, the stuff of dreams—and it showed.They played their hearts out.“I was a kid that grew up right down the street in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, dreaming of one day being able to play in this stadium in front of these fans,” Kelce said after the game. “It’s a dream come true. It’s a cool feeling. Browns fans, I’m sorry we had to do it, but we’re about business over here in Kansas City. It’s fun playing with these guys in this locker room.”There are some moments in sports you’ll never be able to place a number on, and that’s what keeps us watching.POLL OF THE WEEK

FOXBOROUGH , Mass. (AP) — Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers says thinking about how to defend against the Los Angeles Chargers has kept him up at night.“Over the bye I had a dream about not setting the edge,” Flowers said this week. “I woke up and it was a nightmare.”New England’s leader this season with 7½ sacks, it was Flowers who gave opposing offenses fits as part of a defense that’s had its struggles but did just enough during the regular season to earn victories against some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks including Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.The Patriots’ next challenge is Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers , who will arrive in Foxborough on Sunday still looking for his first playoff victory (0-2) against New England and his first win over the Patriots with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback.Rivers is 1-5 overall in regular-season meetings with New England, with his lone victory coming in 2008 when Brady was sidelined with a knee injury. He has yet to throw a touchdown pass against the Patriots in the postseason.But Flowers said none of Rivers’ past shortcomings are evident when he dissects the 37-year-old quarterback on film.“He’s definitely a veteran that’s been very successful over his career,” Flowers said. “I guess the experience just allows him to know that he can take over the offense, he can change things. It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to be aware that he can come in and take over.”Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in that way the challenge of defending Rivers is not unlike the one Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger presents. Both are big presences in the pocket, giving them the ability to spot open receivers. Their size also makes them difficult to tackle.“Makes good decisions with the ball, uses everybody — as he always does,” Belichick said.That said, defenses have been able to get to Rivers with the pass rush this season. He was sacked 32 times during the regular season, up from 18 a year ago.A perennial 4,000-yard passer, Rivers is among the NFL’s best quarterbacks at throwing the deep ball. But according to analysis done by Football Outsiders, the Patriots finished the regular season second only to the Chicago Bears at defending passes that travelled at least 16 yards in the air .The Patriots also enter Sunday’s divisional round having forced eight turnovers in the final three games of the regular season.Rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson was responsible for one of those turnovers, an interception against Buffalo. One of New England’s latest undrafted gems, he finished with three interceptions on the season. It’s helped fortify a veteran-led secondary that’s made things difficult for opposing quarterbacks.Safety Duron Harmon leads the Patriots with four interceptions. First-team All-Pro Stephon Gilmore has two picks on the season.Jackson says he’s looking forward to his first bite of playoff football.“Of course New England Patriots Hats , I’m nervous — this is my first playoff game,” he said. “I’m nervous, but I’m ready. It’s a ready nervous.”While New England’s defensive personnel has changed over the years, Rivers said the Patriots have consistently made things difficult on him over the years.“The ability for them to be very multiple and do things very well and really you see how … they do of trying to take away what you do best,” he said.Rivers may have to throw the ball even more this week with running back Melvin Gordon dealing with a knee injury he sustained during last week’s wild-card win over the Ravens.Gordon helped take a lot of pressure off Rivers during the regular season. In 12 games, he rushed for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also catching four scores out of the backfield. His 5.1 yards per rushing attempt average was also key in helping Rivers and offense sustain drives.Gordon rushed 17 times for 40 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore.Chargers coach Anthony Lynn rested Gordon at practice on Wednesday and acknowledged he likely wouldn’t be 100 percent by Sunday.Harmon said he is expecting Rivers’ best, whoever is in the huddle with him. He said he’s not trying to overthink the challenge.“Just try to make it hard on him,” Harmon said. “Give him different looks. Try to make him play that game with us and hopefully we can win that mind game against him.” In the NFL, 35 is considered old. Few players make it over this threshold and still remain successful among colleagues that are in a lot of cases more than 10 years younger. However, those who do survive in the league that long are oftentimes still at the top of their game, especially at positions that pose a slightly different athletic challenge than most. The quarterback spot is the best example, and 2018 serves as a perfect reminder of that.39-year old New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the Los Angeles Chargers’ 36-year old Philip Rivers are both in the middle of arguably their best seasons to date. The Pittsburgh Steelers’s 36-year old Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, and soon-to-be 35-year old Green Bay Packers passer Aaron Rodgers also still play at the same high level as they used to in their earlier days in the NFL.And then, there is Tom BradyAt 41, he is the league’s oldest quarterback (and oldest non-kicker in general) and he keeps defying expectations of what being an older play in the NFL means. Since turning 35 in the offseason leading into the 2012 season, Brady has led the New England Patriots to two Super Bowl trophies New England Patriots Hoodie , and has won a combined three MVP awards (one regular season, two in the title game).2018 is more of the same. While Brady’s statistical output looks comparatively pedestrian when compared to his ridiculously productive last three seasons, he still is very much in the conversation as the league’s best quarterback. And even though he finds himself in unchartered territory for players his age he keeps adding to his already legendary r茅sum茅 — and according to the man himself, he plans to keep doing it.“I’d like to go till I’m 45,” Brady told NBC Sports’ Peter King after Sunday night’s victory over the Green Bay Packers and fellow old man quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I know I said that a hundred times, and no one believes me. But I mean, I feel good. I could go play another game tomorrow. I know what to do. It’s fun. What else would you rather do than run out in front of 70,000 people and throw a football?”While Brady regularly pointed out his goal of playing until turning 45, he put on a more cautiously sounding tone this offseason. Of course, his remarks also left plenty of room for interpretation: he told Oprah Winfrey that he thinks about retirement more than he used to and also spoke in an interview with his own TB12 brand about “seeing the end line now.” His most recent statements, however, leave little doubt about what he wants to do.Brady being asked about hanging up his cleats is nothing new. Back in 2014, for example, the then-37-year old told WEEI that he will retire when his game is no longer up to the lofty standards he sets for himself. “When I suck, I’ll retire,” the future Hall of Famer said before continuing: “I don’t plan on sucking for a long time.” We are nine weeks into the 2018 season and Brady is still far from sucking. 45 seems to be as realistic as it has ever been.

The Los Angeles Rams proved that they are an elite team , but they’re not the only oneIn a battle of offenses, the Rams matched the New Orleans Saints blow-for-blow early on. Keeping the score knotted up at 14, things were looking good at that point except that the Rams scoring drives lasted 3:21 and 2:28, while the Saints drives took 5:35 and 4:24. While less plays means less chance for a turnover, it also meant the Rams defense might get winded sooner; and then came the second quarter where the Saints did Saints-like things and put up 21 points. While I could care less about whether Sean McVay uses Todd Gurley to set up the pass or vice versa, the defense will need more time to regroup against teams as competent as the Saints. The Rams made adjustments and answered though, and had actually tied the game with ten minutes remaining. Although they lost, it seems pretty clear that if these teams meet up again, playing at home could be very important. In fact, over the last two seasons Josh Reynolds Color Rush Jersey , the teams have each beaten each other while playing at home. While the Saints had to reestablish their credibility after an early season loss to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, they have clearly arrived and are as hot as any team at the halfway point. In any event, there will likely be some scoreboard watching for Rams fans from here on out, and Sean McVay may be required to actually roll out all the weapons against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17. I hate to beat a dead horse, but when will the real Marcus Peters please stand up?Or (gulp), is this it? Though he’d valiantly deny it, perhaps he isn’t completely healthy; but even if that’s the case he needs to play smarter. It’s understood that he’s been a great gambler throughout his career, and a few turnovers could have completely changed the outcome against the Saints, yet Peters needs to gamble with some level of moderation. The Saints, for all their explosiveness don’t have a ton of overwhelming receivers. They have Michael Thomas Samson Ebukam Jersey , and鈥?Michael Thomas so containing him just a little bit could have done wonders.Believe it or not Thomas’ catch rate was tied for his lowest of the season at 80%, but there were plenty of plays where Peters was in the vicinity and got bullied or like the Thomas’ last touchdown he was simply burnt with the game on the line. Nobody would expect perfection. Guarding great receivers in this era is like guarding a great point guard in the NBA, you just hope for a some containment and even a win here and there.Maybe Wade Phillips needs to scheme Peters back into form, and maybe having Aqib Talib back soon will help, but in the meantime, perhaps playing slightly more conservative will help provide some level of containment, at least until he’s physically able to play his preferred game. Rams-Seahawks: Week 5 national media predictions | Seattle TimesIs anybody picking the Seahawks against NFC West behemoths, the Los Angeles Rams. Nope. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and that intimidating defense haven’t lost yet this season, and nobody expects CenturyLink Field to stand in the way.Perfect Rams looks to continue early run against Seahawks | Tampa Bay TimesThe last time the Los Angeles Rams visited Seattle Dominique Easley Color Rush Jersey , they were announcing themselves as the new powerhouse in the NFC West by handing the Seahawks a drubbing unlike any they had experienced in Pete Carroll’s tenure.Game preview: Rams head to Seattle for first divisional road test | Rams’ official siteThe Rams enter their first divisional road test against the Seahawks 4-0 for the first time since 2001, and will look to improve to 2-0 in the NFC West. For the Seahawks (2-2), Sunday’s game provides the chance to get rise above .500 and be the league’s first team to slow down quarterback Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams.Peters looking forward to the challenge of facing Wilson | Rams’ official siteLos Angeles will face another significant test for the secondary this week in quarterback Russell Wilson and Seattle’s offense. While the Rams have had success on Wilson in the past, there are many players now on the club who have not faced Wilson before — including Peters. He’s looking forward to going against the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Pete Carroll embraces challenge of slowing down Rams | Pro Football TalkThe 2-2 Seahawks host on Sunday the 4-0 Rams, not only a division rival but also one of the very best offenses in the league. Seattle coach Pete Carroll looks forward to the opportunity to take on his rivals from Southern California.Wilson has a hamstring injury, but he’s off the final report | Pro Football TalkSeahawks quarterback Russell Wilson rarely is injured. Technically, he has an injury entering Week Five. But he has no official designation on the final Week Five report.Rams at Seahawks Week 5 preview | Pro Football FocusBeyond providing data for all 32 NFL teams, PFF also supports network broadcasters with game-preview packets that are used to enhance the in-game experience for fans and viewers. This Rams-Seahawks preview features the same information their broadcast partners use for team research and in-game production.NFC Players of the Month for September | Pro Football FocusWith four weeks of the NFL season in the books, it’s time to look at the first players of the month across both conferences. Here are PFF’s Players of the Month for September. Ranking all 32 wide receiving corps through Week 4 | Pro Football FocusNow through Week 4 of the 2018-19 NFL season, we have come together to rank all 32 wide receiving corps in the NFL. The ranks pull from grades , advanced stats and more that each of the team’s wide receivers have generated in four weeks of play.Everything runs through Gurley in Rams’ explosive offense | LA TimesWith so much open space in front of him, Todd Gurley hardly could believe his eyes.Juggernaut Rams set to welcome back Barron | SportsnautStarting inside linebacker Mark Barron, who’s missed the first four games of the season with an ankle issue, is expected to return to the lineup for the team’s Week 5 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.3 key matchups for Rams at Seahawks | Seahawks’ official siteHere are three key matchups that could make the difference when the Seahawks host the Rams at CenturyLink Field Sunday.3 predictions for Week 5 against the Seahawks | Ramblin FanLos Angeles faces NFC West foe Seattle as absolute supremacy in the division heats up in Week 5.3 biggest causes for concern vs. Seahawks | Rams WireThere aren’t many concerns facing Los Angeles, but here are the three biggest.Suh can line up anywhere and produce up front | LA TimesThe pressure comes from all angles and positions along the Rams’ front, be it nose tackle, defensive tackle or end. Ndamukong Suh is making an impact from all three spots.Suh has been everything Rams hoped for and “a little bit more” | Rams WireThe Los Angeles Rams had high hopes when they signed Ndamukong Suh this offseason. The main allure was pairing him with Aaron Donald in the middle of the defense, having two All-Pros next to each other on any given play.2019 NFL mock draft | CBS SportsEnjoy this 2019 mock draft where every NFC West team is picking inside the top 8 (two of them go 1 and 2)...and the Rams’ pick dead last. Videos via Rams’ Official SiteOne-on-one with Cairo SantosMark Barron on Rams’ defense + being ready for SeattleSean McVay Friday press conferenceTodd Gurley on Rams’ offense + Week 5 matchupMarcus Peters talks Seahawks prep

METAIRIE , La. (AP) Patrick Robinson spied Drew Brees stepping up to throw deep down the middle, sprinted back toward his own end zone and made an outstretched interception of a ball that initially looked to be thrown beyond anyone’s reach.”Impressive,” was how Saints coach Sean Payton described the play by Robinson, a cornerback who is one of several recent additions aimed at strengthening a club that nearly advanced to the NFC title game last season.The onset of offseason practices this week has provided Payton and his staff a chance to begin forging roles for players such as Robinson, as well as fellow newcomers such as linebacker Demario Davis, safety Kurt Coleman, receiver Cameron Meredith and first-round draft choice Marcus Davenport.It’s also a chance to see if any of the club’s younger running backs – such as rookie Boston Scott – might fill the void created by Pro Bowl rusher Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension for use of a banned substance.”Obviously, we hate to miss a guy like that. He’s such huge part of what we do and such a great teammate, too,” Brees said of Ingram after Thursday’s non-padded practice, the first open to reporters this offseason. ”We’ll manage.”Alvin Kamara is on track to emerge as New Orleans’ top running back after being selected as the Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.But while Kamara played a more versatile running and receiving role that Payton calls a ”Joker back,” Ingram was a force on more traditional runs.At only 5-foot-7, Scott is smaller than Ingram, but Payton won’t discount the rookie’s ability to compete for snaps Ingram might otherwise have gotten.”He’s shorter, but he’s built pretty well. He is someone who has good instincts,” Payton said.”It’s early, but he’s done some really good things. There’s a running ability he has as well. I wouldn’t look at him as a ”Joker” back, if you will. He’s got some of those traits, but he does a pretty good job with some of the in-line runs.”The preseason performance of Scott, a sixth-round draft choice out of Louisiana Tech, as well as that of Trey Edmunds, a second-year pro out of Maryland, could determine how the Saints cope with Ingram’s suspension.”I’m going to work Terron Armstead Jersey , do everything I can to learn the playbook and just grind,” Scott said. ”By the time preseason rolls around, I’ll be ready.”The Saints hope they’ve bolstered the passing game by adding receiver Cameron Meredith during free agency. Meredith led Chicago in receiving two seasons ago, but is coming back from a major knee injury that wiped out his 2017 season.Meredith did some route-running and catching on Thursday, after which Payton pronounced him ”way ahead of schedule.””He’s going to factor in this year,” Payton said.Meredith, meanwhile, discussed his motivation to regain his 2016 form.”It was a major injury. I’m not going to downplay it,” Meredith said. ”I’m excited to go out there and prove people wrong.”On defense, the Saints cannot yet be sure how well 2017 starting end Alex Okafor will come back from his torn Achilles.In the meantime, Davenport is expected to get a lot of offseason work as the Saints try to refine his pass-rushing skills in time for the fall.”He’s a tremendous worker,” Payton said. ”He’s coming along really well. There’s a strength element you feel.”The Saints expect the linebacker group to be strengthened by Davis, a former defensive leader with the New York Jets, as well as the return of second-year pro Alex Anzalone, who started four games as a rookie before the rest of his season was cut short by a shoulder injury.Both can play multiple roles.”I’m down with whatever my coaches want me to do,” Davis said. ”I’m here to win.”Robinson, Payton said, has returned to the club that drafted him in 2010 a more confident and capable player after winning a Super Bowl with Philadelphia last season.Robinson ”has played on the biggest stages and had success,” Payton said. ”It’s good seeing him back in our building.”Notes: Ingram was not at practice, even though the terms of his suspension allow him to participate in all offseason and preseason work. Payton said he disagreed with Ingram’s decision, but respects it and has had friendly phone conversations with Ingram about it. Brees said he also has spoken with Ingram, adding, ”I know Mark’s doing what he needs to do to get himself ready to play this season. He’s doing what’s best for him and therefor what’s best for the team.”— Now THAT was a complete win - utter domination for most of the game.It felt like smooth sailing for the most part Tre'Quan Smith Color Rush Jersey , but there were still plenty of ups and downs along the way. Here are a couple that stood out.Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty ImagesUp: Drew BreesLet’s get this one out of the way.Drew should be firmly planted into two very important conversations after his Monday Night Football performance against the Washington Redskins: 1) He is now cemented into the conversation for top three greatest QB to ever play the game, and 2) He should now be considered on the top three MVP candidates for 2018.What Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff are doing is great. But Drew Brees deserves and MVP. He’s the only quarterback in 2018 not to have thrown an interception, and with a Week 6 Bye, the streak will live on a bit longer.Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesUp: Mark IngramThe crowd was electric for Ingram’s pre-game introduction, and Ingram fed off that energy early in the game.Ingram’s end-of-game stats don’t look too impressive if you take away his two touchdown runs, but Ingram’s return showed how important he is when it’s less than a yard or two from a first down or goal line. Ingram’s skillset brings back a much-needed dimension to the Saints offense.Honestly, so many other players on offense stepped up, “Up”s could go out to nearly everyone, but let’s let Ingram have this one all by himself.#DeuceDeuceisLoosePhoto by Daniel Shirey/Getty ImagesDown: InjuriesAt one point in the game, it just felt like Saints defenders were dropping like flies.Marshon Lattimore. AJ Klein. Ken Crawley. Taylor Stallworth.Fortunately for the Saints, most of the injured defensive players were able to return later in the game. If there was ever a week for Saints players to get banged up, though, it would be the week before the bye. Lattimore was officially ruled with a concussion, forcing the Saints to turn to their back-up back-up cornerback (already forced to play PJ Williams in place of Patrick Robison, now on IR). Fortunately for the Saints, that back-up back-up is next on the list.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsUp: Justin HardeeForced into action on the defense, Hardee had himself a day. Yes, he got beat on a couple of deep plays, but he generally played pretty well. He also set up the Saints for another big touchdown on an interception and return, leaving the Saints with a first-and-goal to go.What’s even crazier to think about?That’s right.This was the first year Hardee has ever played cornerback.Maybe the Saints consider expanding his role on the defense?

The Steelers win over Baltimore wasn’t easy Mike Wagner Jersey , but it was their first complete game of the season. With no more division games left until a crucial contest in Week 17 against Cincy, the Steelers will get to measure themselves against the rest of the league. A good measuring stick is Cam Newton and the NFC South’s Panthers. If you want to know how my emotions fluctuated throughout the day, keep on reading.Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ most recent battle.Quarter 1Carolina isn’t the second-best running team in the league for nothing.The Steelers need to find a way to shadow McCaffrey.By the look of things Sean Davis Color Rush Jersey , this is a crucial third down already.There’s going to be a lot of trips to the end zone tonight.They gotta answer back.Wow! That was fast.Gotta love JuJu. Bradberry looked more like Ray Bradbury on that play.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsThat’s a nice penalty.Nice all the way around. Watt made that happen. That would have been a safety. Great break on the ball by Vinny.Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsNewton was trying to save the safety. Bad move.Steelers need to get in a position where they force Cam into passing and neutralizing the run.Nice three and out.Haven’t seen a reverse in years. Nice call, Randy.Who says Jesse James can’t block?Conner is the most rootable Steeler since Rocky Bleier. VinnyVidiVici is having a great night.Quarter 2That Tide commercial with the Terrible Towels was very unrealistic. None of those fans look like Yinzers,The pass rush is definitely a key. Giving secondary time.15 yards for James Conner on what should have been a loss of two.Chuks Okorafor is mammoth.Who doesn’t love Rosie Nix?Aikman talking about Conner’s lack of explosiveness is verbal vomit.Fans could have gone to the concession stands and back with the time Ben had on that long pass to AB.Phillip G. Pavely-USA TODAY SportsJulius Peppers is amazing for an 80-year old man.Boswell crushed that ball. Nice!Defense is getting shredded on this drive. Gotta buckle down.Switzer is so quick. Can’t wait til he gets into the end zone.To quote my good buddy Mike, AB looked like he was going 100 mph on that play.Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images30 points by halftime is incredible.My 9-year old red-headed daughter doesn’t throw tantrums like that of Jackson on the Panther’s sideline.Definitely not an interception. Would have liked to have seen Edmunds get one.Great combat run by Ben.Quarter 3Let's score to start the half.Good first down throw to Switzer.Ya down with DHB? Yeah, you know me.I want the century mark for No. 30. He tripped there, could have had it on that last play. Primetime Ben is definitely a Nielsen hit tonight. That pass to Vance was incredible.Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesCarolina is getting chippy.This Bud’s for you. Time to remove the bust label.Burnett with a good tackle. He makes the defense better.Third down efficiency is really amazing.Wait! Why is Conner in the blue tent?Eric Reid is a punk.The O-Line definitely has Ben’s back. They will fight for him.Ejection? Pretty surprised. But good.Good. Conner is back.Que Cher , “Just Like Jesse James”.I never expected this.Nix is such an asset everywhere he plays.Quarter 4Good for Samuels.Most points in the history of Heinz Field. Is it too greedy to ask for 60?I’m cool with Conner calling it a night. Not comfortable with the trip to the locker room.Glad Roethlisberger is out. That’s one of the greatest performances ever by BB.Let’s see what Dobbs can do.Burns and Matakevich are in. Welcome to garbage time.And Burns is back on the bench.Told y’all to take the over.Hahaha! Carolina’s Kyle Love is asleep on the bench.Ridley is running well, as well.Another complete game. Great team win. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty as I replay the game more and more in my head, my perceptions and maybe my prescriptions will alter. But for now, you just got a glimpse of the first thoughts that popped in my mind while I was watching this game. Feel free to get your knee jerks on in the comments section. The frustrations of wide receiver Antonio Brown were one of the storylines from a drama-filled opening month for the Steelers and he capped the first quarter of the season with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Ravens.Just one of those catches came after halftime of a game that was tied 14-14 at the break and the Ravens would score the only 12 points of the second half on their way to the win. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the blame for the offensive flameout and said after the game that he’s not on the “same page” with anyone right now.Head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he remains confident that “the cream rises” over the course of a long season and that will wind up applying to Brown as well.“We missed some opportunities in that game no doubt, particularly on possession downs,” Tomlin said Jordan Berry Jersey , via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I’ve seen that tandem a lot of the years. They’ll smooth it out. They’ll find their rhythm.”Brown hasn’t lacked opportunities as he’s seen the second-most targets in the league, but he hasn’t done much with them. He’s caught 29 of the 52 balls thrown his way for 272 yards, which works out to under 10 yards a catch and leaves Brown on pace for a career-low in that category.

It’s been said that the Rams are like a younger version of the Saints , specifically they borrow from the 06-09 iterations of the team.From the 09’ team the dynamic between Wade Phillips and Sean McVay is very easily comparable to that of Sean Payton and Gregg Williams in that all are aggressive coaches.Well minus the drama Offensively they are lead by a young gun slinger in Jared Goff who has a knack for getting the ball to the open receivers that McVay schemes up within his system, and is adept at pushing the ball downfield on the called shot plays.Heck, one Todd Gurley equals the combination of a healthy 06’ Deuce McCallister and Reggie Bush.Defensively they are lead by a talented defensive line that is headlined by star defensive tackle Aaron Donald who wrecks games in a way that former Saints 1st round pick Sedrick Ellis was meant to.I almost feel like Blades tagline fits here “All of their strengths, but none of their weaknesses”.Keyword there is ALMOSTInherently they actually suffer from a few of the Same issues New Orleans suffered through during that time and the biggest issue is their lack of size, and simply put - big people beat up little people.In the midst of his bounty gate suspension Sean would have a conversation with mentor Bill Parcells and return with a bigger, faster, stronger mantra as it pertained to drafting and free agent acquisitions.Every now and again New Orleans will make an exception(Brandin Cooks and Sheldon Rankins), but it’s rare because, as Parcells often said, if you let a few in Trey Hendrickson Jersey , pretty soon you’ll have a team full of them.In order for an “exception” to win them over he must have an overwhelming trait available that compensates for what would be considered short comings (no pun intended). In respects to the aforementioned, it would be speed for Cooks, and intelligence/character for Rankins and as it pertains to the former he is now the feature wide receiver on a Los Angelas Rams team who’s cup runneth over with exceptions.He joins Robert Woods (both under 200 lbs) as undersized speed threats on the offensive side of the ball.Conversely, New Orleans doesn’t have a corner on the roster under 6’0 195 lbs with the exception of Crawley.That same problem also manifest on the defensive side of the ball where both Rams’ inside line backers Mark Barron (a former safety) and Corey Littleton barely tip the scales at 230 lbs.Aaron Donald, while amazing, is only 290 lbs (small for a defensive tackle) and their free safety Lemarcus Joyner is 5’8 191. I’ll say it again, big people beat up little people.Payton’s teams of old were considered finesse for a reason and while a lot of it had to do with style of play there was a tiny singe of it that had to do with how the team was built.They just weren’t physically imposing to go along with not really playing a physical brand of football.It was those teams that would go against NFC North or AFC North squads like the Bears and Ravens and get squashed because stylistically they weren’t great matches.Guess what brand of ball the Rams play?Am I saying it’s a significant advantage?No...because there are guys like Cooks (who burned Rams for 2 TD’s in 2016), Barry Sanders, Darren Sproles, Sam Mills Josh Hill Color Rush Jersey , and Tyrann Mathieu that make you look at and value smaller players a differentlyStill, David triumphing over Goliath is such a miraculous tale simply because the featdoesn’t happen very much. METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Newly signed veteran cornerback Marcus Williams and safety Robert Nelson have joined the New Orleans Saints at training camp.The roster moves announced Sunday by coach Sean Payton give the Saints two players in the secondary named Marcus Williams, the other being a second-year safety and 2017 second-round draft choice.The newly acquired Williams has played four NFL seasons, mostly with the New York Jets, for whom he played 39 games with 14 starts. He was traded last season to Houston and played in 10 games there as a reserve, intercepting one pass.Nelson also is entering his fifth NFL season. He played in seven games for Cleveland in 2014, 11 for Houston in 2016 and two last season with the Jets.Payton says the club waived guard Trevor Darling and defensive back De’Vante Harris to make room on the 90-man training camp roster for the new defensive backs.41View Gallery Gallery:PHOTOS: Saints open preseason with 24-20 loss at JacksonvilleDouglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports | Douglas DeFelice

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