the Texans will grab the fourth seed in the AFC and will host a wild card playoff game

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Game Clay Matthews Jersey Mallett did not play well, and was eventually replaced by Hoyer at the end of one game, and then again before Hoyer was named the full-time starter. Hoyer led the team to a few wins and the Texans started to look competitive while the Colts floundered. Unfortunately, Hoyer is dealing with a concussion that has forced him to miss time, leading the Texans to go to backup T.J. Yates after Mallett was released for violating team rules.

It gets worse. Yates had to go on injured reserve with an injury of his own and Weeden, signed after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys — after he was insufficient as a backup for Tony Romo — is now the starter. Weeden holds the postseason future for the Texans in his hand, provided Hoyer does miss Sunday’s game, as expected.

If he can get them a win on Sunday, the Texans will grab the fourth seed in the AFC and will host a wild card playoff game. Weeden completed 11 of 18 passes for 105 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions against the Colts in Week 15. He has completed 70.7 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions in five games this year.

The roster will likely change quite a bit given there are still two games to play, the Super Bowl-bound teams will surely have some representatives that won’t be able to play and, of course, injuries are always a factor.

Most people aren’t thinking about the Pro Bowl at this stage, but the NFL is determined to do everything it can to make the game interesting, though it’s unclear if the drafting format has led to increased interest in the game as a whole.

The Pro Bowl itself will take place on Jan. 31 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What does that mean for Paul’s free agency in 2017?

Q: Did the old guys get anything?
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A: Oh, yes. If you’ve been in the league at least 10 years, your minimum salary will now be $2.3 million, up from $1.4 million. And players like James, Paul, Anthony and Wade will really benefit because of a rule tweak. It used to be that you couldn’t have a four or five-year contract if you turned 36 years old during the deal. Now that age limit has been increased to 38.

Q: What does that mean for Paul’s free agency in 2017?

With trade season officially open, the Pelicans are coming up on another decision in what figures to be a long, much-parsed game of chess leading into Davis’ third NBA contract.

Elite Youth Graham Zusi Jersey But even with two games separating them from the last-place Dallas Mavericks, the Pelicans find themselves just three games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, with 52 games to play and five straight at home on deck to close out the calendar year.

An active Holiday has made a major difference: New Orleans is 8-7 with the deliberately paced guard in the lineup and 2-13 without, and has the West’s ninth-best net rating since his return on Nov. 18. Yet the disparity also underscores the importance of surrounding Davis with elite-level talent, which the Pelicans have no obvious route to obtain outside of the draft lottery.

Living life in the fast lane is fine, but at some point, the NBA amounts to one big horse race. The pace the Pelicans keep from here on out could determine whether the franchise can rise from a stretch of four out of five seasons as an also-ran, and, perhaps more important, how long their lone superstar will stay so calm, cool and collected.

They swapped starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert out for Colin Kaepernick after five weeks

At various points throughout the rest of the game, the 49ers tried safety Antoine Bethea and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the middle. None of it was enough to slow down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan & Co. Save for a couple of fumbles, Atlanta’s offense was nearly flawless in racking up 550 total yards on the day, including 248 on the ground. Falcons running back Devonta Freeman became the 11th running back to surpass 100 yards rushing in a game against the Niners this season, finishing with 139 yards and three touchdowns.

Along the way, the 49ers set a franchise record for most rushing yards allowed in a season, surpassing the old mark of 2,363 with two games left to play.

Elite Womens Nerlens Noel Jersey Also questionable for the Panthers: wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (back) and backup linebacker David Mayo (concussion). Coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin looked good Saturday, and he is expected to play.

“He’s right on track,” Rivera said.

The Panthers (5-8) brought Newton along slowly this week to give his shoulder, which showed no damage after an MRI on Tuesday, time to rest.
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Rivera said there will be no restrictions on Newton, a dual-threat quarterback, in the game plan.

“He looked good,” Rivera said. “He moved around good [Friday] and moved around good today.”

The Panthers will hold one more light practice on Sunday before departing for Washington.

The Seahawks probably want home field more than any other team

Limited Youth Richard Sherman Jersey The Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1) are 7-0 at home and have clinched the NFC West, which means they are guaranteed at least one home playoff game. They are also in a battle for a first-round bye with the Lions (9-4). The Seahawks probably want home field more than any other team.

The Seahawks lost their first playoff game at their current stadium (then known as Qwest Field, now CenturyLink Field) and have since won nine straight there. The only teams that had longer home playoff win streaks in NFL history are the Packers (13 wins from 1939 to 2001) and the Patriots (11 wins from 1996 to 2007).

Big games certainly have helped ratings rebound from the 15.5 million average seen from Weeks 1-9, as have the success of the Cowboys, who at 11-2 are tied with the New England Patriots with the best record in football.

Through the first 14 weeks, the biggest declines have been for ESPN’s Monday Night Football and NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which are down 15 and 13 percent, respectively, compared to 2015. Thursday Night Football, which is shared by the NFL Network, CBS and NBC, as well as with Twitter, is down 17 percent.

Networks that air Sunday day-time games have had the narrowest drops. Fox is down 4 percent in viewership, while CBS has seen a 7 percent decline.

Limited Kids Tyler Toffoli Jersey While the league wants to provide fans with a way to see the best moments of games on social media, executives have been weary of letting them do too much, so as not to discourage fans from watching at all. This year, the NFL put limits on what teams can put out editorially within the games and required that highlights be pulled from the league’s server.

Said Goodell: “You have to prepare to cannibalize yourself to deliver what the consumer wants. But we want to make sure to have the right balance.”

Belichick admitted that he was disappointed Kelly was let go after just three seasons

Despite the turmoil that’s engulfed the Eagles’ season, the fact remains that Kelly compiled a 26-21 record in three seasons in Philadelphia — including two 10-6 finishes. That’s not good enough for a franchise that’s desperately in search of its first Super Bowl title, but it’s better than the records that all-time greats such as Belichick and Bill Walsh accumulated in their first three years as head coaches. In fact, Belichick said last week he wasn’t able to fully install his program in New England until 2003, his fourth season as Patriots head coach.
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“The coach that comes in usually has a different philosophy than the coach that left, so you have to try to implement that philosophy,” Belichick said. “That means you’re going to turn over a high percentage of the roster because the players that the other coach had don’t fit the new philosophy, so a lot of the players are going to have to change in part because of the philosophy and probably in part because of the scheme.”

Belichick admitted that he was disappointed Kelly was let go after just three seasons.

“Pretty much everybody is on a one-year contract in this league. I don’t know how you build a program in one year,” Belichick said. “Chip is a great coach. He’ll end up somewhere and he’ll do a great job there.
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Things got fun down the stretch, but it’s hard to see either team being favored in their respective matchups. Green Bay travels to D.C. to take on a red-hot Washington team that’s hard to beat at home. The Vikings get a Seahawks team that just dismantled the Arizona Cardinals, 36-6. Oh, and it’s a rematch of a 38-7 Week 13 beatdown at TCF Bank Stadium. Both teams will have to play much better than they did Sunday night to avoid the division getting shut out in the postseason.

Wade Davis worth price tag of Jorge Soler for Cubs

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Stephen Strasburg said relying too much on his new slider put stress on his pitching arm and contributed to the injury problems that sidelined him during the second half of last season and the playoffs.

“I fell in love with it,” the Washington Nationals right-hander said Sunday at the team’s annual fan festival, “because it was working, especially the first half. I mean, it was a quick out.”

Strasburg threw sliders on 17.1 percent of his pitches last season, according to Fangraphs, more than changeups (13.1 percent) or curveballs (12.6). He said because he wasn’t as used to throwing sliders, he had trouble delivering the pitch exactly the same way each time.

Red Sox executive Dave Dombrowski, left, and Mike Hazen, now Diamondbacks general manager, are just among the most recent to take big risks in pursuit of victory.

In other words, the brain power in the game has grown in multiples since Lewis penned his ode to Beane. The data to study and review have also grown exponentially. Many of the smartest analysts, once publishing to sites such as Baseball Prospectus, are now working for teams. As one person in the game told ESPN Insider contributor Eno Sarris at the winter meetings, “We were in an era where a lot of great statistical analysis was being done on the internet, but now the internet is far behind right now due to the proprietary data the teams have.”

Yes, there is still time to make more moves. But the Mets’ 2017 is likely to be about chasing a wild card rather than catching the Nats in the NL East.
That altered his motion, and the fact that he went with the slider more often than he should have, Strasburg said, led to a tendon issue in his right elbow — although one that is now resolved, he added.
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Not every team has an Ivy League whiz kid running things — Al Avila of the Tigers, for example, has a 25-year history in the game, primarily as a scout — but they all have an analytics department of various robustness and influence.

Hopkins said he isn¡¯t ¡°pointing fingers¡± at Osweiler for his numbers or any struggles on offense this season

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Osweiler is an NFL-worst 9-of-51 (17.6 percent) on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He is 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) in that same category when targeting Hopkins downfield, though all three completions have been for touchdowns. Osweiler is 1-of-13 targeting Hopkins 20-plus yards downfield since Week 3, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

¡°My numbers aren¡¯t where they need to be,¡± Hopkins said earlier in the season. ¡°But if you look at the film, you¡¯ll see that I¡¯m helping my team out in a major way by drawing double teams, by drawing extra coverage from the secondary, leaving other NFL players one-on-one to win their matchup.¡±

After the play, Peters inexplicably punted the ball into the stands, drawing a delay of game penalty. Back on the sideline, it was Berry who got into Peters¡¯ face and scolded him for drawing a penalty that could have, but didn¡¯t, cost the Chiefs a chance to win.
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So each team¡¯s seasons were defined by the results of the games between the Chiefs and the Raiders.

Rivera relished the opportunity to talk about something other than his benching of Cam Newton for the first series on Sunday because the quarterback didn¡¯t wear a tie on the flight to Seattle.

TE Martellus Bennett, who is being relied upon as the primary player to help replace Rob Gronkowski, hasn’t consistently looked like the same player since spraining his ankle in a Week 5 matchup against the Browns. He is coming off arguably his worst game of the season, recording two catches for 4 yards and two holding penalties last Sunday against the Rams. While the Patriots naturally appreciate his toughness, Bennett’s injury status and ability to effectively do the job bears monitoring.

Kansas City still has a 90 percent chance of making it to the playoffs even with a loss to Denver at home

This week’s column, though it had a larger message, hit me at one line; ‘life is too short to deal with people who feel the need to try to harm someone or put negativity into the universe.’ I teach sixth grade in North Philadelphia. Today, we had a “lock down drill,” where we practice what we would do in the case of an active shooter or other intruder. After the drill, I commended my students for doing so well at staying quiet (no easy task, I assure you) and I explained the importance of such a drill. I asked them if they had ever, at their old schools (my school and our network starts with 6th grade, so they all went to other schools until this year), experienced a true lock down, as in not a drill.

“My students went on to tell me about the active shooters (like, more than one) that they had nearly come in contact with at previous schools. I’m in no way the bleeding heart type, but I couldn’t help but get emotional. In this world we live in, there’s so much anger, hate and senseless violence that these poor kids have had to hear the sound of gunshots ring through the halls of their school while they were just trying to learn.

Alex Chiasson Authentic Jersey “When I got home tonight after work, I had a soda (spoiler alert: it wasn’t really soda) and read your column. That line has been stuck in my head since, and I felt compelled to say something. When I was talking to those kids and trying to explain the unexplainable, trying to help them understand something that I can’t even understand, that sometimes people hurt others for no reason at all, the best I could do was tell them that there’s a lot of hate in the world, but that they don’t have to add to it. Like you said, life’s too short. Thanks for that. Josh.”

Kansas City still has a 90 percent chance of making it to the playoffs even with a loss to Denver at home, and the Broncos see their playoff hopes fall from 67 percent to 55 percent if they can’t pull the upset at Arrowhead.

Jon Lester Kids Jersey I give to the Jimmy V Foundation every year during ESPYs week, and giving again now, to have the opportunity that maybe you read this, and get unblocked; very easy decision. Plus, it puts a little positivity into the universe.

The sneakiest player in the Packers defense

My fourth and final unsung hero is familiar to anybody who has had even the most passing interest in top pass rushers over the last decade or more. Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers had himself a nice game on Sunday in a win over Washington even though many of his best plays ended up with a teammate’s name bellowing over the loudspeaker.

Kids Devin Funchess Jersey I’m going to say off the bat that Peppers’ stats probably wouldn’t wow you. Just three tackles, by my count, and not a single sack on the day. He did, however, also have two pressures, another play where he all but gifted a sack to Clay Matthews and he also had two hits on the quarterback.

New England looked like they were guaranteed a top seed before a Week 17 lost forced them to the second seed. Still, that’s good enough for home-field advantage against the Chiefs, and was enough for a first-round bye, so they will be rested. That’s great news for wide receiver Julian Edelman, who has been out for the past seven games with a broken foot.

Getting Edelman back is huge for Brady and the offense, but there’s also some bad news relating to tight end Rob Gronkowski. He is dealing with a knee injury and his status for the game on Saturday is up in the air. If he plays, he surely won’t be at 100 percent and that’s a big blow to the Patriots.

Gronkowski led the Patriots with 72 receptions for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Gronkowski has a lengthy injury history but he was mostly reliable this season, so his injuries are coming at a terrible time. Edelman, despite missing seven games, was second on the team with 61 receptions for 692 yards and seven touchdowns.

Kids Jeff Hornacek Jersey Brady was just as productive as ever this year, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 4,770 yards with 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The Patriots are as dangerous as ever based on Brady and his ability to spread the ball around alone, though if the lack of targets was going to catch up with New England, the playoffs are a bad place for it to happen.

The Clippers appear ready to ride or die with Mbah a Moute

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The Clippers appear ready to ride or die with Mbah a Moute. Wesley Johnson, who started nine games last season, has logged zero seconds alongside L.A.’s other four starters; the team prefers him as a small-ball power forward on its revamped bench mob. Paul Pierce is on a retirement tour, and for reasons no one can explain, Alan Anderson can’t even get in during garbage time.
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The Clippers are almost out of trade assets after their predictably disastrous Hail Mary for Jeff Green. They could package Crawford and a first-round pick in search of an upgrade on the wing, but that offering won’t net much, and the team loves Crawford. Wings don’t come cheap; the Bucks surrendered a former Rookie of the Year to snag Tony freaking Snell, and Jerami Grant fetched Philly a protected first-round pick. It is almost impossible to find a gettable wing who moves the needle.

(As an aside, the Clippers can indeed trade a 2021 or 2022 first-round pick despite owing a lottery-protected 2017 pick to Toronto and a first-round pick that goes to Boston “two years after” they flip the initial pick to the Raptors. The league quietly tweaked trade rules over the summer so that teams could simultaneously owe two picks with that “two years after” language attached. In the past, a team could owe only one such pick.)

The Clips will need Mbah a Moute’s stout, switchy defense against Kawhi Leonard and Golden State’s army of wings. “For us to win, he’s got to be on the floor,” Redick said.

“We had rifts,” Griffin recalled of that team.

Paul is always yapping at teammates; a basket microphone caught him telling DeAndre Jordan to “wake the —- up!” early in that Pacers loss. Eight-plus months of that can grate on anyone. Some with the team miss Matt Barnes, because Barnes was the only player crazy enough to tell Paul — in profane terms — to stop talking.

“That’s me,” Paul said. “I gotta be who I am. I try hard to say stuff in different ways to different people.”