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For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end

THE PROBLEM WITH living your life under the spotlight is that the camera captures only the public eruption, not the months of silent anger. On Dec. 3, when the New England Patriots played the Buffalo Bills, Tom Brady walked to the sideline after throwing late and behind receiver Brandin Cooks on third down, ending a first-quarter drive. Brady was angrier and more irritable than usual, as has often been the case this season in the eyes of some Patriots players and staff. As he unsnapped his chinstrap, Brady passed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sideline. Limited Blaine Gabbert Youth Alternate Black Nike Jersey - #7 NFL Arizona Cardinals Vapor Untouchable Brady kept walking, and glaring at McDaniels, so the coach repeated: "We had him open." Brady snapped, pivoting to McDaniels and yelling at him, "I Harrison Barnes Authentic Jersey got it!" Everyone within earshot, including head coach Bill Belichick, turned to watch as Brady screamed. He removed his helmet, and as a Patriots staffer held him back -- and with McDaniels' father and legendary high school coach in Ohio, Thom, in the stands behind the bench -- capped off the exchange by yelling, "F--- you!" Video of the scene went viral, with many rationalizing it as a symptom of Brady's legendary competitiveness. Brady would later apologize to McDaniels, who dismissed the incident to reporters as "part of what makes him great." After all, many in the Patriots' building knew that Brady's explosion wasn't really about McDaniels. It wasn't about Cooks. And it wasn't about the Bills game. It was about the culmination of months of significant behind-the-scenes frustrations. For almost two decades, Belichick has managed to subvert the egos of his best player, his boss and himself for the good of the team, yielding historic results. This year, though, the dynamics have been different. THE PATRIOTS ARE in uncharted territory. They haven't just won games and titles. They've won at an unprecedented rate and over an unprecedented span, which makes the feelings of entitlement creeping inside Gillette Stadium unprecedented as well. The Patriots, in the only statement anyone associated with the team would make on the record for this story, responded to specific questions by saying that there are "several inaccuracies and multiple examples given that absolutely did not occur," though they declined to go into detail. But according to interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team's inner workings, the three most powerful people in the franchise -- Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft -- have had serious disagreements. They differ on Brady's trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team's long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick's bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group. Brady, Belichick and Kraft have raised expectations and possibilities so high that virtually no other team in the Super Bowl era could truly comprehend what it's like to be them. Brady and Belichick weren't only pushing the boundaries of what a team could accomplish. They also were challenging basic understandings of how a group of high achievers escape the usual pulls of ego and pride. For 17 years, the Patriots have withstood everything the NFL and opponents could throw their way, knowing that if they were united, nobody could touch them. Now they're threatening to come undone the only way possible: from within. THE CRACKS FIRST revealed themselves in early September. The season had just started, and Guerrero was once again becoming an issue in the Patriots' building, just weeks before the release of Brady's first real book, "The TB12 Method." It was more than a fitness and diet guide. For Brady, a self-described "loner" who always seemed most comfortable surrounded by family or on a football field, the book represented a move to extend his brand beyond the game -- and beyond the Patriots. Until a few years ago, he seemed uninterested in ever doing so, content to be a father and husband and son and brother and transcendent quarterback, knowing there wasn't time for much else. Guerrero persuaded Brady to find time. The two had worked together for years, with Guerrero having found a spot in Brady's famously small group of advisers, eventually becoming a godfather to one of his sons. Guerrero has a history of controversial methods -- in 2005, he paid a judgment to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that he had claimed dietary supplements could help cure cancer -- and he believed he had discovered a way to revolutionize how athletes train. In his book and in the Archie Bradley Jersey building, Brady was offering opinions not only on training but also on lifestyle, writing that he envisioned a world populated with TB12 Sports Therapy Center franchises.,101113

The Titans' route to beating the Chiefs

lies with the playmaking ability of Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry. Mariota's legs are the wild card in this matchup for a Titans offense that took a big step backward in 2017, finishing 23rd overall. Tennessee beat Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in December 2016 and they're confident they can do it again. I'll believe it when I see it. Chiefs 25, Titans 20 -- Cameron Wolfe Women's Chris Kunitz Authentic Black Adidas Jersey: NHL Pittsburgh Penguins #14 HomeAll teams are better when they win the turnover battle, but few depend on winning that part of the game like the Chiefs. They were 9-1 this season when they were ahead in turnover differential and 1-5 when they were or negative. They also were 6-1 in games against teams that finished in the bottom 10 in turnovers. The Titans, with Mariota among the league leaders in interceptions, finished in that bottom 10. It’s not hard to picture a Marcus Peters interception making the difference in this game. Chiefs 23, Titans 17 -- Adam Teicher Blaine Gabbert Youth Limited Red Jersey: Nike NFL Arizona Cardinals Vapor Untouchable Home #7The Falcons are a lot healthier than anticipated, according to coach Dan Quinn, with running back Devonta Freeman recovering quickly from a knee injury, Cody Whitehair Youth jersey wide receiver Julio Jones much better off ankle and rib injuries, and return man Andre Roberts running well off ankle/knee injuries. All of that is Donnel Pumphrey Authentic Jersey good news for the offense, with Jones being that big-play threat, Freeman serving as another outlet in the passing game when Matt Ryan gets rushed, and Roberts setting up good field position with big returns. The Falcons haven't put their best game together yet this season, but one would figure the offense will fare better than the combined 2-for-9 in red zone opportunities over the past two games. Last year's Super Bowl implosion should be motivation going into this postseason. And this offense is capable of exploding anytime, even on the road against an Aaron Donald-led defense. It comes down to Matt Bryant's foot, though. Falcons 31, Rams 28 -- Vaughn McClure For those wondering whether the Rams will be rusty after resting most of their starters Sunday, look no further than what they did after their bye week, when they beat the New York Giants 51-17 on the road. Granted, the Falcons are a much better team. But the Rams' front seven should have its way against the Falcons' beat-up offensive line and make life difficult on an immobile Matt Ryan. I worry about how the Rams match up with two big, physical receivers in Julio Jones and Mohamed And I worry about the Rams' kicker, Sam Ficken, an undrafted free agent from 2015 who hadn't kicked in a regular-season game until two weeks ago. Greg Zuerlein's season-ending injury may eventually catch up to the Rams, but not in this round. They're rested, they're at home, and frankly, they're better. Rams 31, Falcons 24 -- Alden Gonzalez The Bills have been able to cover up their 29th-ranked run defense this season when they have been able to force turnovers, and Blake Bortles presents the best opportunity for Buffalo to pull off an upset. Bortles is 8-0 this season when he does not throw an interception but 2-6 when he Aaron Colvin Jersey does. The Bills are 8-3 when they force at least one interception and 5-1 when they force at least two. The Bills have three defenders -- safeties Jordan Poyer (5) and Micah Hyde (5), as well as cornerback Tre'Davious White (4) -- in the top 12 in interceptions this season, and if those players come up big, the Bills can steal a possession and win a low-scoring game. Bills 16, Jaguars 13 -- Mike Rodak This is the time of year the Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette for, and they're going to ride the rookie running back pretty hard against the Bills, which makes sense because the Bills' rushing defense ranks Authentic Phil Simms Jersey 29th in the NFL (124.6 yards per game). Fournette, who is just the second rookie in franchise history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, said he's ready for a heavy workload. His career high in carries is 28, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he approached that number Sunday. The Jaguars' defense has been much better against the run since the addition of Marcell Dareus, and with the iffy status of LeSean McCoy, the Jaguars are going to make the Bills put the game on Tyrod Taylor's shoulders. Jaguars 24, Bills 14 -- Michael DiRocco The two regular-season meetings between these two, both Saints wins, came down to a few big plays that turned things in the favor of New Orleans. Cam Newton didn't play particularly well, either. The Panthers will eliminate many of those errors, but the Saints and Drew Brees are still too good at home. Brees' ability to get rid of the ball before the Carolina pass rush can have an impact is the key. The Panthers have gotten to him only three times in two games. Not much for a team that averaged 3.3 sacks in its other 14 games. Saints 24, Panthers 21 -- David Newton The Saints know the formula for beating the Panthers after winning by double digits in each of their first two meetings: containing Cam Newton and running for nearly 150 yards both times. But both of those things are a lot easier said than done. No other team rushed for more than 120 yards against Carolina’s loaded front seven this year. And now Newton has tight end Greg Olsen back, while the Saints have lost linebacker A.J. Klein and safety Kenny Vaccaro to injured reserve. (On the flip side: They’ll have breakout star CB Marshon Lattimore back after he missed the first two games against Carolina.) Ultimately, the Saints’ loaded offense is still the biggest game-changer, and the Panthers haven’t shown that they can stop Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Brees and Michael Thomas. Saints 29, Panthers 23 -- Mike Triplett

Could a team of remaining free agents make the playoffs?

Let's say Jacque Pernod (not a real dude), the poutine king of Quebec, put up a billion dollars in order to get a new Montreal Expos franchise on the docket for the 2018 MLB season. Well, that's too much money to turn down, so baseball makes room for a 31st team. However, it's too late for an expansion draft, so commissioner Rob Manfred says, "Well, Jacque, you're going to have to make do with the guys currently not under contract." Men's Nike New York Giants #87 Sterling Shepard Game Royal Blue Team Color NFL JerseyThat would leave Pernod to construct his first roster for the new Expos in a fashion very different from the way the old Expos teams were built: through expensive free-agent contracts. But we know one thing about about baseball's newest spendthrift owner: He has bottomless pockets. So he says, "Oui! Vive les Expos!" With budgetary concerns out the window, Pernod can outbid every team in the marketplace for baseball's remaining free agents. But how would that team look? Youth Authentic Adidas Martin Frk Green Jersey - #42 NHL Detroit Red Wings Salute To ServiceOver at FanGraphs, they a running tab on the WAR projections across baseball and adjust them every time a move is made. One thing that jumps out at you right now is that there is more projected WAR left in this winter's free-agent glacier than there is on the teams holding baseball's top 2018 projections: Could Pernod really construct baseball's best team just by buying up the best remaining free agents on the marketplace? Frankly, it seems unlikely. On the face of it, you'd think that composite projected WAR total would in reality simply be a product of the quantity of remaining free agents, not the quality, with the list lacking the kind of real difference-makers you need on a championship's test that notion by constructing the best possible team from the pool of remaining free agents. We'll build a full 25-man roster because, as we know, the Bobby Hull Youth jersey Expos' new patron spares no expense. By the way, we'll be putting the nouveau Expos in the National League, where they belong. The projected WAR figures noted below are from the Steamer projections at FanGraphs, though some have been tweaked so as to not overshoot realistic team-level benchmarks for plate appearances or innings pitched. Also, Pernod firmly believes in a roster of 13 position players and 12 pitchers, so that's what we're going with here. A couple of bullpen spots are reserved for swing guys. Not bad! An instant playoff contender for the long-suffering fans of Montreal, all for the outrageous Authentic Josh McRoberts Jersey price of a team built entirely on one winter's free-agent market. Of course ... it's never so simple. Teams need many more players than this to get through a season, and to get an aggregate replacement-level performance from those unseen roster-fillers is a big ask. Also, these are free agents: This is a roster laden with downside, injury risk, minimal athleticism and a questionable defensive profile. Nevertheless, this much is true: As the calendar flips to 2018, there are a lot of potential wins out there, stuck in free-agent limbo. More than enough wins to -- at least marginally -- shake up the 2018 pecking order of teams. Pernod's hopes for instant-contender status for his Expos may have ended in dissatisfaction. But for some teams, there Womens Wendel Clark Jersey will be excitement ahead generated by some of these productive veterans who are patiently waiting out the tedious winter market. Scott Boras has a history of waiting out the free-agent market, as Max Scherzer’s $210 million deal with the Nationals in 2015 and Prince Fielder’s $214 million deal with the Tigers in 2012 both came in January (among others). Is this a case of Boras waiting? Or are teams simply not interested in Arrieta after seeing his WAR dip from 8.7 in his Cy Young season in 2015 to 3.4 in 2016 to 1.9 in 2017? If the Rangers miss out on Darvish, Wilson Chandler Youth jersey Arrieta makes a lot of sense, and he’d be returning home. (He went to high school in Plano, a Dallas suburb.) The Nationals, of course, have their own history of Boras clients and have been kicking the tires on adding another starting pitcher. Buyer beware: Arrieta averaged 6.9 innings per start in 2015, but that went down to 5.6 in 2017. We all know about his conditioning and injury-free history, but his fastball velocity has dropped from 94.6 to 92.1 during that span. A six-year, $150 million deal for Martinez isn’t unreasonable given his projected production over that time. Still, that’s a lot of money to give a guy who is already considered a below-average defender and would be in his age-35 season in Year 6. Maybe that’s why the rumors with Martinez have been minimal this offseason. The Red Sox are still his logical landing spot, even after they re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland (Hanley Ramirez would be the DH right now). Long shot: How about the Braves? They need a hitter, they’ve cleared Matt Kemp off the roster, and they have a young roster that has room to add a big salary. Buyer beware: Martinez’s most similar comp at age 29 was Jason Bay, who had a great run from 2005 to 2009, averaging 31 home runs per season while hitting .279/.378/.515. His last big season came with the Red Sox at age 30. Then he signed with the Mets as a free agent and hit just 37 home runs over the last four seasons of his career. Granted, Bay had some injuries, but like Bay, Martinez could be described as a player with “old player’s skills.” Let’s see how he ages.,105982

e was five years into his professional career

, playing against a 73-win Warriors team that had dispatched the Cavaliers one year earlier. He shot poorly early in the series, absorbing criticism that he was shrinking in the moment. 2014 Olympic Hockey Team USA Ryan Callahan Premier Women's Nike White Jersey: #24 Home But not on June 19, 2016. It was Game 7 and a tie score with 53 seconds remaining. After an inbounds pass from LeBron, Kyrie held the ball, dribbling six times toward the right wing, where JR Smith set a screen on Klay Thompson, a stout defensive player, and that forced the smaller Steph Curry to switch onto Irving. Nike Super Bowl LI 51 Youth Shaq Mason Elite Red Alternate Jersey - New England Patriots NFL #69Irving hesitated for a second, then stepped back and lofted a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of the league's reigning MVP, a shot Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert later declared "the most important possession of our lives." It swished, and Cleveland's long, painful championship drought was history. Irving finished with 26 points and six rebounds. LeBron submitted a Keith Hernandez Womens Jersey triple-double and was named Finals MVP. The two embraced at midcourt, the cornerstones of Cleveland's future. Nineteen months later, Irving is in Boston and rumors are swirling that James could soon leave Cleveland too. LeBron cornered the NBA notion that athletes should dictate their own destinies; Irving ripped that page out of James' book and implemented it accordingly. Together, over three years, the duo played in two All-Star Games and three Finals. They weren't particularly close, nor were they openly at odds. Teammates say LeBron's habit of referring to Irving as "the kid" and his "little brother" was eventually viewed by Irving as a subtle lack of respect. Another player, advised by the Cavaliers not to discuss Irving publicly, noted that LeBron also predicted Irving would be an MVP one day. Today, when asked if he feels that James viewed him as a basketball equal, Irving answers, "I don't know if he did or not, but I don't really care. I didn't lose any sleep over it." Those close to Irving insist his leaving wasn't all about LeBron, and not one of them was surprised that Irving asked to move on from Cleveland. In 2015, Irving was named third-team All-NBA and had a right to believe it could be a recurring phenomenon. Instead, Damian Lillard, Thompson and Kyle Lowry were chosen ahead of him in 2016. Last season, it was Isaiah Thomas, John Wall and DeMar DeRozan."[Playing with LeBron] has its positives,'' Irving says, "and it also comes with responsibilities. It was clear to me that we needed each other." Irving was the point guard in name, but LeBron often assumed his role as a ball-dominant point-forward in crucial situations. It produced results. The team averaged 54 wins and went to three straight Finals in their three seasons together. But Irving's teammates say there were times Kyrie felt marginalized -- despite the fact that over the three years, he averaged nearly the same usage rate without LeBron (29 percent) as he did with him (28.6). "Ky wasn't as happy last year," says one of his former teammates who talks with Irving regularly. "He wasn't disruptive -- just a little disconnected." "Happiness comes and goes in the NBA," Cavs veteran Channing Frye says. "Kyrie had every right to do what he wanted." "I saw Kyrie high, I saw him low," Iman Shumpert says. "He's seen me tear up a locker room. We're friends. You help each other through it.'' During a rare practice in the middle of last season, coach Tyronn Lue, who was standing next to assistant coach and Irving confidant Phil Handy, called out to his young point guard. "Ky," Lue said, "I want you to play a little faster." "Why?" Irving asked. "Because if we play faster, we Authentic Red Schoendienst Jersey get shots off easier." "I don't need to play faster to get my shot off," Irving replied. "I can do that anytime." "I'm not talking about your shot. I'm talking about RJ and JR," Lue said, citing teammates Richard Jefferson and Smith. "Well, that's No. 23's job," Irving replied, referring to James. According to members of the Cavs organization who witnessed the exchange, Lue ended the conversation by walking away, shaking his head. Both Lue and Handy, whom Irving affectionately calls his "OG," Cliff Avril Authentic Jersey confirmed the incident but declined to elaborate. "Kyrie is a great player," Lue says. "Please tell him I wish him the best."Irving, for his part, laments the fact that his conversation with Lue ended without a resolution. "At that time, we had probably lost Authentic Kevin Pamphile Jersey a few [games]," Irving says now. "[Lue] is coming up to me and saying, 'We've got to play faster,' and I probably wasn't willing to accept it at the time. So maybe I'd like a do-over on that. "But those conversations go on every day in the NBA. In this case, instead of those things being addressed so you can move forward, it gets held on to, and it becomes a big thing. I was trying to figure out where I fit in and at the same time asking myself, 'What's best for the team?' Sometimes, I didn't know the answer. I had to figure it out on my own. It wasn't like I was getting answers from everyone else." When the 2016-17 season ended, Irving was making millions. He had his own shoe campaign. He'd been to the Finals again. Yet something, he says now, was missing. "Sometimes, in the search for 'the moment,' you can get lost," Irving says. "I want to be an All-Star. OK. I want to be MVP. OK. I want to win a championship. I want to average this much. I want to be better than this person. I want the media to accept me this way. "You start formulating all these false realities, and you realize that's not it at all. Once I separated myself from that, I started looking at things I wanted to do with my life that would make me happy." cheap jerseys paypal cheap nfl jerseys usa wholesale jerseys paypal cheap nfl jerseys from china nike nfl jerseys from china nike nfl jerseys wholesale nike nfl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys china

and what he hopes to find in Boston

IT'S THE FIRST day of school, September 2008, and a teenager navigates the hallways of St. Patrick High School, alone, fending off a twinge of panic. He senses the sideways glances. He hears the whispers. He notes the blatant stares. For a fleeting moment, the 16-year-old considers, Why did I do this? Why didn't I just leave well enough alone? He'd been content at Montclair Kimberley Academy, the tony private school where he'd racked up 1,000 points over his freshman and sophomore years, leading the team to a New Jersey Prep B state title. Everybody knew the precocious point guard, the one so innovative with the ball that the faculty flocked to games to see what he would do next. Women's Red Schoendienst Replica Pink Majestic Jersey: MLB St. Louis Cardinals #2 Fashion Cool BaseThe comfortable choice would have been to stay alongside his childhood friends from West Orange, the ones who'd been balling with him since fourth grade, who engaged in epic games of 21 in each other's driveways -- the ones who knew that their friend was different when a piece of his backboard ripped off, and, after hundreds of attempts, he mastered a new shot Gerald Everett Authentic Jersey that accounted for the trajectory of the ball off the damaged corner. But during countless AAU tournaments when he spent his free moments studying elite players, he wondered how he measured up. There was only one way for Kyrie Irving to find out. So he transferred to St. Patrick, located in Elizabeth, about a half-hour drive south of Montclair. It was a national powerhouse program coached by Kevin Boyle, who'd mentored NBA pros Al Harrington and Samuel Dalembert. Now, as Irving wanders through a blur of faces in a maze of unfamiliar hallways, a boy in high-tops and jeans struts toward him. "Who are you?" the boy asks. "I don't know who you are." Irving doesn't respond. He knows exactly who this freshman is -- it's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of the top high school prospects in the country. Irving is all-but-unknown outside his prep-school bubble. Still, Kidd-Gilchrist has been notified by Coach Boyle that this scrawny kid is hoping to join their team, and Kidd-Gilchrist feels compelled to size him up. A few weeks into the school year, Kidd-Gilchrist begins hearing stories that Irving is blowing past everyone in preseason pickup games and converting crazy finishes. "I'm thinking," Kidd-Gilchrist says, "Well, that's fine, but he can't score on me." The first day of practice, Kidd-Gilchrist heaves the ball at the bashful, taciturn newcomer and chortles with a half-smile, "You and me. Let's go." Over the course of the next 10 minutes, Kidd-Gilchrist comes to understand. Irving lifts his head to snatch the ball, then reveals his ballhandling wizardry. He dribbles left, then right, then left again with so much deftness, it's as if the ball is on a string. He explodes forward, then glides back before launching a textbook jumper. Kidd-Gilchrist inches closer, but as he does, Irving zooms past him to the basket, lofting one-handed floaters and twisting layups. His new teammates are watching now, congregating in a semicircle as Kyrie blitzes the best player on one of the top high school teams in the country. Kidd-Gilchrist is stunned by the ferocity with which this seemingly reticent kid attacks not just the rim but also him. "He wasn't afraid," Kidd-Gilchrist says, "of anybody.'' Irving and Kidd-Gilchrist went on to lead St. Patrick to a championship that season. A year later, Kyrie committed to Duke as one of the top point guards in the nation. His decision to switch high schools was the first time in his life that he revealed an insatiable thirst for new challenges, no matter how daunting -- or inexplicable. "I had to show them I could play with them," Irving says. "And, after a while, I had to show them I could dominate them." For many, the swap from the Cavaliers to the Celtics last August was vexing. Irving was a champion on a contending franchise with a transcendent star, LeBron James. Who walks away from that? What they didn't know was Cleveland had explored trading Kyrie in June, long before he asked out, a fact conveniently omitted when word of his demand leaked. Irving made the decision to remain silent while the details of his request were, in his word, "distorted." I didn't feel the need to say anything because I knew the truth, and so did they," he says. "So it didn't matter what others said." Still, for a split second, Irving winces, as though someone has pricked him with a pin. "They didn't want me there," he says.Seven days later in Cleveland, James has just put the finishing touches on a win over Atlanta, the Cavaliers' 15th victory in their past 16 games. He conveys through the Cleveland public relations Womens Matt Holliday Jersey staff that he has already addressed Irving's departure and will decline to answer questions regarding their relationship. Now, as he stands near his locker at Quicken Loans Arena, he's asked about Irving's contention that the Cavs didn't want him. "That makes absolutely no sense," James declares.Asked to elaborate, James smiles politely, slings his bag over his shoulder and exits the arena. nhl jerseys wholesale cheap nba jerseyscheap nfl jerseys basketball jerseys cheap

NFL evaluators make picks on wild-card games

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has a history of Womens Willie Snead Jersey slipping into bunker mode from time to time at the start of a season. It might be wise for Wolverine fans to follow suit as the program embarks on what could be a long, uncomfortable offseason. Reebok Jeff Petry Premier Youth Jersey - NHL Montreal Canadiens #26 Red Third New CD On the heels of a disappointing finish to an 8-5 season, patience is evaporating quickly in Ann Arbor. The “wait until next year” crowd is dwindling. Michigan, which collapsed in the fourth quarter of an Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina earlier this week, has slid back to the middle of the pack in a league with an upper tier full of teams that don’t look to be going away anytime Authentic Ryan Johansen Jersey soon. The operative word for the next seven or eight months is a scary one in college football circles: uncertainty. It would be wrong to call 2018 a “do or die” year for Harbaugh and his football team. What would the “die” in that trope really mean here? A new coaching regime? Absolutely not; Harbaugh remains as good Alan Branch Jersey of a cultural fit as his alma mater could hope for and has a football mind at every level of the game. So does that mean it’s time for a reality check about Michigan’s ability to compete for championships? That doesn’t seem right, either. The school has the resources, interest and recruiting prowess to remain among the programs that cycle through national championship contention runs. The uneasiness ahead of Michigan comes from trying to fill in the blank after that “or.” Do or ... what? Insert a giant Joey Bosa sack celebration shrug here. The Wolverines ought to remember what that looks like. Some of the same issues that existed when the older Bosa helped beat Michigan in Harbaugh’s first season have yet to be solved. None is bigger than the team’s inability to finish. In the past two years, Michigan has a losing record in games played after Halloween. The Wolverines are 4-6 in November and bowl season during that time, and in all six of those losses they held a second-half lead. The first season of those late-game losses (three of them by a total of five points) may have seemed like a reason to believe that Harbaugh and the Wolverines were ever so close to breaking through. A repeat this year had the opposite effect. So, what’s the problem? “Yeah, one thing, it's being able to just kind of sustain the momentum,” Harbaugh told reporters immediately after Monday’s loss to South Carolina. “Keep the momentum and then get the knockout punch. That would be what my thought would be right now.” The problem may be simple. The solution is not. Losing late -- in seasons and in games -- usually causes the arrow of blame to land on a team’s strength and conditioning. The Wolverines hired a new strength coach last month, but that’s much too simplistic to be heralded as a fix for their issues. Other changes may be on the way. Michigan’s offense this season bumbled and fumbled away victories (outscored 37-0 in the fourth quarters of their five losses) for a myriad of reasons that could fall on a myriad of shoulders. Playcalling, quarterbacks, insufficient blocking, youth and more have taken their share of criticism. One new player -- like Shea Patterson, who provides his own layer of uncertainty while waiting for an NCAA wavier to play in 2018 -- or one new coach won't solve all those woes. What’s that mean moving forward? More uncertainty, which may be the least favorite word for a sports fan. The good team with an optimistic future gives its fan a chance to beat his chest while waiting for a new season. The fan of a decidedly bad team at least gets to commiserate and complain about the need for wholesale change. Michigan this year appears to be stuck in an awkward in between. Any bold proclamations about the future of Michigan football -- good or bad -- in the coming offseason are worthy of skepticism. And anyone claiming to know what 2018 means for the capital-B Big Picture for the Wolverines is selling a bill of goods. Of course, that won’t stop the opinions from coming, which brings us back to that bunker, Michigan fans. It’s going to be an uncomfortable, uncertain offseason for you. Best to hunker down now. It was a great year for rookies in the NFL -- at some positions. There were legitimate stars at running back, cornerback and quarterback, if we include Deshaun Watson's shortened season. It was tough to pick standouts at positions like wide receiver and guard, where the highest-ranked players headed into the 2017 draft didn't produce. So my 2017 All-Rookie team has some first-round picks and others littered throughout from Rounds 2 through 7. Teams got a lot of value on Day 2. I did a team in the preseason and at midseason, and there are several changes. I'm including again where each player landed on my final top 300 prospects list before the 2017 draft.

MLB's aces aren't extinct yet

The 2017 World Series was graced by a left-hander who ranks among the greatest pitchers of all time, a right-hander who is likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and another left-hander who recently won a Cy Young Award. But despite those résumés and the past successes of others, the starting pitchers accounted for just 65⅔ innings pitched over the seven games. Men's Mitchell and Ness Orlando Magic #15 Vince Carter Authentic Black Throwback NBA JerseyThat’s an average of fewer than five innings per start. No starter threw a pitch beyond the seventh inning. That’s where we are now, with analytics so embedded in the decision-making that managers are strongly discouraged from allowing some pitchers from even trying to get through an opposing lineup for a third time. The safer bet, statistically, is on the growing army of relievers who are assuming a greater share of innings -- and, as we’ve seen this winter, getting paid more for their work. The ace pitchers who once lorded over the art of pitching aren’t nearing extinction yet, but there are fewer than ever before, adding even more value to those trusted to face the enemy lineup a third or even a fourth time. Within that context, we start our top-10 series with this: the top 10 starting pitchers in major league baseball, based on input from evaluators and ESPN researchers Paul Hembekides and Sarah Langs. For example, 1905 was the year Christy Mathewson threw three shutouts in the World Series, and 1959 was the year Harvey Haddix took a perfect game into the 13th inning, and 1982 was the year Rickey Henderson stole 130 bases, and 1967 was the year Carl Yastrzemski won the last Triple Crown Jeff Skinner Youth jersey of the century. It sure does help when the number is a record, which necessitates us constantly bringing it up whenever somebody remotely challenges them. If somebody throws three no-hitters in Cory Littleton Jersey a row next year, you'll subsequently hear Johnny Vander Meer's name about 95 percent less often than you do now. But some numbers persist despite not being records -- Roger Maris' 1961 chase and Hank Aaron's 1974 jog around the bases will be remembered for many decades after "61" and "755" quit being records -- and some performances are memorable without a specific number, such as Sandy Koufax's breakout in 1963. 1b. Incredible team (often captured by a nickname) Because we like to argue about which team was the best team ever, and we like to show off by proving we can name decades-old lineups. So 1927 and 1928 were the years of Murderers' Row, 1975 was the year the Big Red Machine peaked, 1996 was the year the Core Four came together and launched a new Yankees dynasty, 1969 was the year of the Miracle Mets. 1c. Incredible single play, or sequence of plays, often aided by iconic photo or video images These are the single moments when a player was so good, so impactful or so loud it overwhelms the rest of the season. Of course, 1954 was the year not of the 111-43 Cleveland Indians -- the best record in AL history -- but of The Catch. And 1951 was the year of Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round The World, not Willie Mays' debut. And 1988 was most memorably the year of Kirk Gibson's home run, not Orel Hershiser's 59-inning scoreless streak. Baseball is a game of slowly building records, of naps on the couch and dull Augusts, but the very, very biggest moments can stand out like an air horn in a library. 2. The moment the timeline begins History is a long drive, and as with all long drives we remember the first and last miles more than the hours of unchanging landscapes in the middle. On the merits, the first World Series -- in 1903 -- wasn't that memorable, Authentic Mark Herzlich Jersey and in many ways, the play would have been unrecognizable to a modern fan: One team's ace was ineffective after injuring himself in a trap-shooting contest, another pitcher threw five complete games, and the best player on the field (Honus Wagner) made six errors. And yet nobody would dispute that the 2017 Series and the 1903 Series belong to the same lineage, which makes 1903 the infrastructure upon which our modern game is built. And so 1922 is the year baseball got its antitrust exemption, and 1929 is the year Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig first got uniform numbers, and 1935 is when night baseball began, and 1946 is when Jackie Robinson desegregated the minors, and 1950 is when Vin Scully started broadcasting games -- unless that one belongs under category 2b ...We can debate what's modern, but there are various points where the weird old-timey baseball they used to play became the cool and normal baseball we all love now. Which is why 1952 is the year Topps launched the modern baseball card, why 1965 is the year of the draft, and why 1976 is the year of free agency. This is probably the category for 2002's Moneyball A's -- a great team, but more historically memorable as the first modern team. 3. Bloopers and/or extraordinary failures I don't know that most people know what Snodgrass' Muff (1912) and Merkle's Boner (1908) actually were, but they're probably the most famous plays of the first quarter of the 20th century. Failure has a better set of vocabulary than success does, for one thing, but it's probably also the case that failure can fail a lot more dramatically than success can succeed. You actively hope for the walk-off homer, but you're not even considering the walk-off slow grounder through the first baseman's legs. So the 1986 season is the year of Bill Buckner, and the 2003 season is the year of Bartman and Grady Little, far more (in my opinion) than 2004 and 2016 will ultimately be remembered as the years of the Red Sox and Cubs winning. 4. Pathos Sometimes overlapping with reason No. 3 -- Muffs and Boners are undeniably stories of pathos -- but mostly its own thing. The pathos events are the years when happy, playful baseball must grapple with the fact that it exists in a larger world of death, injury and human failing: 1939, the year Lou Gehrig retired; 1957, the year Herb Score got hit by the line drive; 1919, the year of the Black Sox. 5. Disruption of baseball's basic equilibrium In 1944, Joe Nuxhall pitched in the majors when he was 15. Of course, he pitched in the majors not because he was the most incredible pitching prospect in history, but because all the good players had to go fight in the war, and so for two seasons baseball was basically profoundly weird. This happens sometimes, for reasons less dramatic than wars: The 1968 season was the year of the pitcher, the 1993 season was when the offensive environment of the steroids era really began (along with baseball in Colorado), and the 1987 season was a very brief juiced-ball moment. These are seasons we remember mostly as years when baseball broke, and when everything that happened has to be taken with a little bit of skepticism; you might even think of them as the year the stats don't count. You might actually put 1998 here, the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa homered so many danged times. Nike NFL Jerseys China Baseball Jerseys Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys SupplyWholesale Jerseys Free Shipping Cheap Jerseys Online

Isaiah Thomas shows All-Star flashes in long-awaited Cavs debut

CLEVELAND -- Isaiah Thomas walked toward his locker before the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 127-110 on Tuesday, and before he could slip on his jersey ahead of his first game in more than seven months, his teammates caused a commotion to mark the moment. "I feel like a damn rookie," Thomas muttered under his breath as he sat down in front of his wine and gold No. 3 uniform. He didn't play like a rookie, however, as he scored 17 points and played 19 minutes in his long-awaited Cleveland debut. Youth Randy Jones Authentic Brown Majestic Jersey: MLB San Diego Padres #35 Cool Base 2016 All-Star National League BP"It was a special night for me," Thomas said afterward. "I haven't played in Nelson Cruz Jersey seven months, so to be able to be out there and compete against another team was special. Obviously to get the win was even bigger but just to be able to compete and be out there in a game setting, it was a great feeling for myself." Thomas checked in to a standing ovation with 4:33 left in the first quarter -- his first official action since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals when he played for the Boston Celtics and faced the Cavs as an opponent on May 19 -- and picked up an assist on his first trip down the floor, passing to his old Boston teammate, Jae Crowder. Nike DeMar DeRozan Men's Authentic White Jersey - Basketball #9 Team USA 2016 Olympics"It was a special moment," Thomas said of the reception. "I haven't played in a game, and you would think I was here for a few years and playing and battling in Finals with this team, but it was special for my family to be here, my wife and kids to see that, that's genuine love right there and I appreciate them patiently waiting and giving me the love they did tonight." Thomas took a spill on his second possession after crossing up Damian Lillard, but got back up with no damage other than a grimace on his face. He attempted his first shot the next time he touched the ball, rimming a 3-pointer in and out. avs coach Tyronn Lue said he was hoping Thomas would experience a hard fall like that. "Once he hits the floor, gets banged and sees he has no damage or he's not hurting, I think that will help him get past the mental block of coming back, being out for seven months," Lue said before the game Thomas missed his next shot, a corner 3, but got his third shot to go -- a pull-up 14-foot jumper with 1:11 left in the first quarter. He didn't stop there, scoring an and-1 layup on the next possession as he exploded past Portland guard Shabazz Napier. Thomas closed the first quarter by air-balling a 3; however, he made his first shot of the second quarter on a pull-up 3. When Thomas checked back in later in the second quarter, he immediately found LeBron James, who was posting up, for a feed down low, resulting in a bucket and showing a glimpse of what James could accomplish working more off the ball because of Thomas. James offered a glowing report about his new teammate. "He's very good, very good," James said. "Very dynamic. Can shoot the pill. Can get in the lane. Can pass the ball. He's going to just create so much for our team." James also credited Thomas' mentality. "What I like most about him is he has a chip on his shoulder for life," he said. "That's just who he is. When a guy's got a chip on his shoulder for life, he ain't going to -- he's never going to not work hard. Not going to never give it his all. Not going to never disappoint you. Now basketball, you miss shots and things of that nature, and we're not worried about that. You make turnovers, all of that, that's not what I'm saying, but a guy like that -- he's going to always put in the work. And when you put in the work the game is going to always give back to you." Making sure his night included a little of everything, Thomas was also whistled for a technical foul for arguing a non-call with a referee in the Authentic Peter Budaj Jersey first half. It was Womens Rasul Douglas Jersey actually his second technical foul of the season -- he picked one up while wearing street Rico Gathers Youth jersey clothes when the Cavs played the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in November. Thomas didn't check back in until late in the third quarter, and his first shot hit the underside of the rim. But on the next possession, he found himself open in the corner and hit a 3-pointer to extend the Cavs' streak of hitting 10 3s or more as a team to a franchise-record 26th straight game. Lue said that when he devised a game plan to stop Thomas as an opponent, his top priority was keeping Thomas off the foul line. The Blazers fell victim to Thomas' foul-drawing ways, as he used a pump fake to get fouled on a 3-point attempt later in the third quarter and earned three freebies. By the fourth quarter, Thomas seemed to find the rhythm that he claimed was eluding him in the three scrimmages he played in the weeks leading up to his debut. He hit a pull-up 3-point jumper in transition to push the Cavs' lead from six to nine at 100-91. Thomas checked out for good with 8:10 left in the fourth and the Cavs up 102-91. Lue dapped him up on the sideline before Thomas headed to his seat on the bench. His 17 points came on 6-for-12 shooting (3-for-8 from 3), and he had three assists."I know it's going to take time at first and we got to go through the steps of going out there and playing in the game and figuring those things out, but once I get comfortable, then all the restrictions got to be off soon," Thomas said before Tuesday's game. Thomas was asked pregame to compare how his body feels now compared to before he suffered his hip injury in March and aggravated it during the playoffs. "I mean, my hip is better, but I have no rhythm," he said. "I have no feel for the game right now. I've been out for so long it feels like I lost my powers. So even when we're out there scrimmaging, I can move around and do what I want, but I just don't have my powers yet." The prospect of playing against Kyrie Irving on the TD Garden parquet is something that gets Thomas' energy up; he couldn't help but break into a wide smile Friday when a reporter mentioned the upcoming Celtics game. However, he'll have to wait until the Cavs' game in Boston on Feb. 11. "That minutes restriction don't make it hard at all," Thomas said when asked about sitting out Wednesday. "It would be hard to play in Boston with a minutes restriction. Whatever they say, I can't play in back-to-backs for however long. I've got to follow their rules and continue to get better each and every day." Thomas claims he can play 40 minutes right now, despite the Cavs holding him to about half that total on Tuesday.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Marvin Lewis just can't quit each other

The team announced Tuesday that Lewis will return next season, signing him to a two-year contract that runs through the 2019 season. This comes after two days of discussions between Lewis and team owner Mike Brown that were all about “getting on the same page.” The Bengals are going to bring back Lewis, but his return needs to come with major changes. It has become clear the Bengals' fan base has grown weary of seeing the same results year after year. That was evident during the last few games of the season, when the team was playing in front of an increasingly sparse crowd. Dion Sims Men's Limited Green Jersey: Nike NFL Chicago Bears Salute to Service Tank Top #88Some fans on social media have threatened to stop going to the games at all if Lewis returns. The Bengals want to sell tickets as much as any other team. There's no way the front office is blind to what has happened with the fans in the past year. The team's lack of playoff wins now stretches all the way back to the 1990 season. Although Lewis has done plenty of good for the team during his tenure, in the end, his legacy will be defined by the postseason wins. He’s currently 0-7, which is the worst playoff record in NFL history for a coach with at least five postseason games. That has to change, and the team needs to help him get there. Major changes are the only way the team is going to able to sell another two years of Lewis to a disenchanted fan base, and it's likely in those discussions with Brown that Lewis was asking for the same thing. The lack of indoor practice facility, while frustrating for the coaching staff because the team has to waste time sitting on a bus traveling to the University of Cincinnati, is probably not the sticking point. The Bengals are the northernmost NFL team without an indoor facility, but even if the decision were made this week to get one, it likely wouldn't be built in time to Lanny McDonald Authentic Jersey do much good for next season. Lewis is likely seeking more control over personnel, much like he was the last time he and Brown went into these discussions after the 2010 season. Although Brown appeared to cede more control at the time, the Bengals still have one of the smallest scouting staffs in the league, rarely sign free agents or make big trades and seem reluctant to part with assistants or players who have money left on their contract. The firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese two weeks into the season was an anomaly for a team that thrives on continuity. That needs to change. With the contracts of many of the Bengals' assistants up, now is the perfect time for the team to make changes to the coaching staff. And the first order of business should be getting the offense back on track. If the Bengals want to sell this to the fans, they need to start in the offseason. They need to do everything possible to fix the offensive line, whether that means moving on from longtime assistant Paul Alexander, signing a quality free agent or taking a lineman in the first Womens Todd Gurley Jersey round of the draft. They need to hire an offensive coach who can get quarterback Andy Dalton back to the form he showed in 2015 with Hue Jackson. Free agency should be a priority, not a last resort. The Bengals need to show that they're serious about being a team that can win games in the postseason, not simply a team that's content to get there. And to win back their fan base, they need to start those changes now. The obvious choice is Brady, who is a strong candidate for NFL MVP honors, and one can never go wrong with that. While his performance dipped over the last few weeks, he still finished the season with a league-high 4,577 passing yards. With Brady always in the lead position, it's always good to add the "non-Brady-MVP" category, and that would be a toss-up between Lewis and Rob Gronkowski. Since taking over lead-back duties on Oct. 15 against the Jets, Lewis has been the team's most consistent, dynamic, dual-threat playmaker as he finished the season with 180 rushes for 896 yards and six touchdowns, with 32 catches for 214 yards and three touchdowns. -- Mike Reiss Suggs led the Ravens with 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Baltimore was 6-1 in games in which Suggs recorded a full sack. A fourth-quarter strip sack sealed a 23-16 win over the Texans in late November. He ranks as the franchise's all-time leader in sacks (125.5) and forced fumbles (36). -- Jamison Hensley The Steelers have legit candidates in Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Cam Heyward. But Roethlisberger gets the slight nod for his electric late-season surge. No QB finished hotter than Big Ben, who threw for 1,953 yards and 16 touchdowns from Weeks 11 to 16. He ranked second in passing yards before sitting the season finale against Cleveland, and his 28 touchdowns ties for fifth league-wide. Take out that five-interception game against Jacksonville -- which was clearly an aberration -- and Roethlisberger's season line of 14 interceptions doesn't look so bad. Brown was brilliant all year, but so was Roethlisberger, who was near-perfect in the Steelers' game against New England without Brown. -- Jeremy Fowler NHL Hockey Jerseys Baseball JerseysCheap NFL Jerseys Paypal Wholesale Jerseys All

The Chiefs will host the Titans in their opener at

Arrowhead Stadium. If they win that, they will find themselves in either Pittsburgh or New England for the divisional round, depending on what happens in the Jaguars/Bills game. If Jacksonville wins, the Jags go to Pittsburgh and the Chiefs go to New England. If the Jags lose, the Chiefs -- as the highest-seeded wild-card-round winner -- would play the 2-seed Steelers in Pittsburgh in the divisional round. If they win their divisional round game, the Chiefs would play the Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars or Bills Trevor Rosenthal Jersey in the AFC Championship Game. The only way that game would be in Kansas City is if the opponent is the Bills. Men's Adidas Sacramento Kings #55 Jason Williams Swingman Purple Road NBA JerseyReason for hope: This team has been to the playoffs before -- just last year, in fact. And while that experience was a Bud Norris Womens Jersey disappointing home loss to a Steelers team that didn't score a touchdown, sometimes negative experiences help teams grow. This Kansas City team has beaten the Patriots, Eagles and Chargers (twice), and their loss to the Steelers was a close one. They shook off their 1-6 midseason slump with three straight wins to claim their second straight division title, and they come in playing well. Youth Chris Davis Authentic Grey Majestic Jersey: MLB Baltimore Orioles #19 Road Cool BaseReason for concern: That 1-6 midseason slump did happen, and it put on tape for a lot of teams a blueprint for limiting the Kansas City offense. If the Chiefs' run blocking has a bad day, it makes them one-dimensional and allows teams to beat them with relatively simple Cover 2 shell concepts. Oh, and on defense they struggle against the run. X factor: Justin Houston. The Chiefs' best pass-rusher hasn't been fully healthy for the playoffs the past two years. When he is, he's still a difference-maker on defense, where Kansas City needs to be better than it has been for much of this season. A healthy Houston could give the Chiefs an edge they haven't had in recent January matchups with the likes of Pittsburgh and New England. Path to Super Bowl LII: The Titans travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in the first round. If they win Brent Burns Jersey that, they would travel to either New England or Pittsburgh for the divisional round. (New England if the Bills beat the Jaguars, Pittsburgh if the Jags beat the Bills). Win that, and the Titans would find themselves in an AFC Championship Game against either the Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars or Bills. The only way it would be a home game is if the opponent were the Bills. Reason for hope: Uhhh ... they beat the Jaguars twice, which helps give them confidence they can beat the Jaguars. And hey, if DeMarco Murray can get back healthy, they have a 1-2 running back punch that can theoretically help them control games and maybe win ugly. Reason for concern: They'd lost three games in a row before Sunday's playoff-clinching victory over the Jags, and they really haven't looked good in awhile. Marcus Mariota had 12 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions heading into Sunday's regular-season finale. The Titans have not been able to get the passing game going at all. Talk about coach Mike Mularkey's job security can't be helping matters. X factor: Mariota. The dazzling young quarterback out of Oregon entered this season seemingly poised to make a big leap, and he did not. But the playoffs offer a fresh slate, and Mariota does bring a unique skill set with his ability to run as well as pass. If he gets on a roll, he could make a little magic. Path to Super Bowl LII: The Bills' first playoff game in a generation will be a road game in Jacksonville. Win that, and they would head to New England to play the Patriots, against whom they went 0-2 this season. But if they shocked the world and won that, the Bills would play an AFC Championship Game in either Pittsburgh, Kansas City or Tennessee. As the 6-seed, the Bills cannot host a playoff game. Reason for hope: If he's healthy, running back LeSean McCoy gives Buffalo a true top-of-the-league difference-maker in the running game and the passing game. The Bills have a solid offensive line, and if they can control games, they might have enough playmakers on offense to surprise a team or two. Reason for concern: McCoy was carted off Sunday with an ankle injury, and without him the Bills wouldn't be the same team. But even with him, obviously very few of them have been here before. And while quarterback Tyrod Taylor might be the darling of the QBR/advanced stat circuit, one of his failings has been an inability to elevate his game and make the big-time plays that are required of quarterbacks in playoff games. X factor: Kelvin Benjamin. Acquired from Carolina in a surprising deadline trade, Benjamin was to give the Bills the No. 1 receiver their offense lacked. He has struggled with a knee injury, however, and might not be fully healthy until he gets that thing fixed in the offseason. But he was their go-for-it move, and if he can play like a No. 1 wide receiver in the playoffs, Womens Tyron Smith Jersey he could make a difference. Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Nike Nike NFL Jerseys China Nike NFL Jerseys Cheap Baseball Jerseys Cheap Jerseys 90 NFL Jerseys Nike Wholesale Jerseys All