Browse Month by January 2018
Chicago Bears

The Vikings hadn’t won a playoff game since they advanced to the NFC Championship in an eventual defeat against — guess who?

franchise tag would be. It’s mind-blowing how impressive the 49ers have looked in the five games that he started compared to the previous 11. This also comes as he’s had minimal time to take in Shanahan’s offense.

Lifting their own curse, the Vikings had a lot to celebrate.

The question of why Colin Kaepernick is unemployed has been hotly debated since he opted out of his Niners’contract in early March (something he did to get ahead of their plan to release him) and became an unrestricted free agent. I’ve been consistent on this one—and it’s not about what I think, but I what know, having spoken with someone with just about every team in the league about it over that time.

But as The MMQB continues its coverage of the anthem protests across the NFL, and Kaepernick’s place in the debate, and looked for a new way to approach this story, I wanted to go to the teams and ask why they individually decided to stay away. I went to teams that would have had reason to kick the tires on backup or stopgap starter-level quarterbacks, and granted anonymity in pursuit of honesty.

This isn’t enough points given what we’ve seen from Saints-Panthers this season. Yeah, it’s tough to beat a team three times (so they say, whoever they is), but the Saints are just a bad matchup for Carolina.

Their offensive line negates Carolina’s dangerous defensive line and their pass-catching running backs can negate the blitz-heavy approach that Steve Wilks brings with Carolina’s defense. New Orleans has been very good at home and Drew Brees has been great at home in the playoffs: in four home playoff games with New Orleans, he’s completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 1,153 yards and 8.4 yards per attempt with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. I think the Panthers have a lot of upside, but they need Cam Newton to be perfect, and he doesn’t have enough around him for it to happen.sabres_005

Pittsburgh Steelers

He’s already doused the flames, telling reporters he absolutely plans on being back in New England next season.

In New York, he’d be paired with Dave Gettleman, a newly hired general manager who recently spent more than three years in charge of the Carolina Panthers roster. Unless the Giants fired their brand new GM, Belichick would walk into a job where he’s splitting roster management duties with someone else.

There’s also the issue that he’s under contract with the Patriots. How long that deal is, what kind of stipulations it has, and even how much Belichick is getting paid are all secrets, but it’s a reasonable assumption that he isn’t a few weeks away from becoming a free agent coach.

Brady said he practiced in full on Friday, though he was listed as a limited participant on the injury report.

Asked how his injured right hand was feeling and whether he threw any footballs Friday, Brady said: I’m not talking about that.

But those who watched him were relieved and impressed, with one source saying, He threw the ball all over the yard.

Burkhead, meanwhile, will play Sunday after missing the past three games with a knee injury he suffered in Week 15 of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Burkhead is expected to be a regular part of New England’s running back rotation against the Jaguars.

Fellow running back Mike Gillislee, meanwhile, again was inactive due to a knee injury that is not sufficiently recovered.

Don’t get down on Watt for his inability to get after the quarterback — after all, it’s only his second ever NFL game — but it is a reminder that Watt is rookie and we probably shouldn’t expect too much of him just yet. He’s not going to be like his brother, J.J. Watt, in his first professional season. He’ll probably be forced to give up some snaps to Harrison, who’s been doing this forever. And he’s going to experience some growing pains.

But everything Watt has done seems to demonstrate that he’s going to be able handle himself when the real games begin. No, he didn’t get a sack on Sunday. But there’s more to playing outside linebacker than getting sacks. He looked solid in run defense. That matters too.sabres_818

Pittsburgh Steelers

The NFL’s two Wild Card games on Sunday will attract bets from average Joes to professional bettors.

The Jaguars are favored by 8.5 against the Bills and the Saints are favored by 6.5 over the division-rival Panthers in a game that has already seen plenty of line movement.

With two eye-popping games and NFL odds already on the move, you need to know what SportsLine’s advanced computer model is picking.

With a 176-80 record, SportsLine is beating nearly every expert tracked on NFLPickWatch for the second year in a row.

In Bills-Jaguars, the model is leaning Under (39.5), saying it hits in 53 percent of simulations. Buffalo could have major issues moving the ball with a limited LeSean McCoy (ankle), if he plays at all. The Bills cleared 24 points just three times this season.

Jacksonville, meanwhile, is No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense (16.8 points per game).

The model also has a strong against the spread picks for both Sunday Wild Card games that you absolutely need to see and is calling for a team with strong Super Bowl aspirations to go down hard. You can only get those picks at SportsLine.

Baez said researchers determined that Hernandez’s case was the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age. Hernandez was 27 when he was found dead in his cell on April 19.

Hernandez’s brain was examined by Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist who had previously conducted a study of 202 brains, 111 of them from former NFL players, and found that all but one of them was diagnosed with CTE. Of the 202 brains in the study among players from all levels of football, 87 percent had CTE.

CTE has been shown to have side effects. Several former NFL players experienced symptoms of depression and some committed suicide. It wasn’t known whether Hernandez had CTE, because while a person can experience symptoms, CTE cannot be confirmed until after death.sabres_801

Chicago Bears

NFL, Google have Vikings, Patriots in Super Bowl 52

The Philadelphia Eagles should not play the NFC Championship Game this weekend. Neither should the Jacksonville Jaguars with the AFC Championship Game.

I was pissed because I seen Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip in front of the ref and you all don’t call nothing? Bouye said. It don’t make no sense, man; it’s a lot of stuff that don’t make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting; we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn’t control, and we kept it close.

The alleged head-butt from Amendola seemed to perturb Bouye the most.

I’m going to defend my teammates, Bouye said. You all see it on TV, the one where Amendola head-butted Gip. Right after the whistle was blown. Right in front of them. I’m just asking how you going to let them do that?

Bouye also said that multiple NFL players were texting him after the game about how the Patriots got all the calls during their win.

You all see it, Bouye said. I got players hitting me up in the NFL saying the same thing. But at the end of the day, we can’t put the blame on them. We didn’t execute good enough. They executed good enough.

This will be the second head-coaching opportunity for McDaniels, 41, who went 11-17 as Broncos coach in 2009-10. After a year with the Rams as offensive coordinator following that stint in Denver, McDaniels rejoined the Patriots in 2012 and has led an offense that has finished in the top four in points scored for each of the last six seasons.

In Indianapolis, McDaniels will get the chance to work with one of football’s top talents at quarterback in Andrew Luck, provided Luck’s health doesn’t continue to hold him back.

We have an edge to us, veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said. We want to intimidate opponents. We do a lot of trash talking. I love the intensity, but I have to tell the young guys sometimes to do it smart, do it between the whistles. That trash talking is a big part of our game. I am big fan of greatness, and I study a lot of great athletes — Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. They were the biggest trash talkers. Reggie White was a big trash talker. So it’s OK to do it, especially when you are beating people. I don’t wanbears_137-223x223