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It wasn’t pretty, but for at least one more night, the Browns are still in the playoff hunt


“Right now for these young guys in there, every game is important,” said interim coach Gregg Williams, who improved to 4-2 since he took over for Hue Jackson. “We’ve been playing each and every week like it’s a playoff. So they’re pretty experienced right now.”
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The Browns will need help on Sunday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, if Pittsburgh (vs. New England), Indianapolis (vs. Dallas) and Tennessee (at the New York Giants) all win, the Browns are eliminated from the postseason regardless.

Which means the Browns will be fans of the Patriots, Cowboys and Giants — they need only one of the three to win to stay alive heading into their Dec. 23 game against the Bengals.9

Saturday’s game was a struggle — for both teams. But the Browns got a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield and some big runs from Nick Chubb (100 yards on 20 carries) as they beat the Broncos for the first time since 1990.

“No, it definitely wasn’t our best game, starting with myself,” Mayfield said. “But coming out with a win on the road is hard. And we did that.”nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Mayfield was nowhere near as effective as he had been the previous four games, but when it mattered most, he came through. After a T.J. Carrie fourth-quarter interception, Mayfield hit Jarvis Landry for 12, Rashard Higgins for 16 and Landry again for 6 before he found Antonio Callaway for the 2-yard touchdown that provided the winning margin.

Denver would get a field goal to cut the lead to one, but Chubb broke a 40-yard run and the Browns were able to keep the ball until 1:49 remained. On fourth-and-1 from the 10, Williams bypassed a field goal attempt and went for the win, but Chubb was stopped for a 2-yard loss.

“The easy thing to say is yeah, you can kick a field goal and make them score a touchdown, but if you get the first down nobody is going to say a thing,” Mayfield said. “We’re aggressive.”

NFL draft: What will the Cardinals do with a near-certain top-3 pick?


When Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks tried to pick out his roster’s most glaring holes recently, it took him a moment to settle on an answer.

“It is tough to say because there are so many areas that we can improve on,” Wilks said initially.

But Wilks was able to pick nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I think the No. 1 thing is, when you have a franchise quarterback, as we do in Josh [Rosen], in my opinion, you have to do a great job of protecting him,” Wilks said. “I think it starts up front with the offensive line.”10

When it comes time for Wilks and general manager Steve Keim to take a deep dive into the roster following the franchise’s first 10-loss season since 2012, he’ll find a team riddled with holes — some gaping — and severe needs.

Fortunately for Wilks and Keim, the Cardinals will be picking at or near the top of this year’s NFL draft.

The Cardinals are currently projected to have the first overall pick in April, according to the ESPN NFL Football Power Index. If the season ended today, however, they’d own the No. 2 pick.

While fixing problems on the offensive line will be a must for the Cardinals this offseason, when it comes to the draft, they might be better suited to fix one of their other needs, ESPN NFL Insider Todd McShay said.

How many offensive linemen are worthy of being a top-five pick?nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“None,” McShay said. “I say that, but I also think you get to six or seven to 15 and I think there are two or three guys that are worthy of it.

“To me, if you’re taking a player on the offensive side with the first five picks you’re probably reaching a little bit because you have a need on that side of the ball.”

‘Elite’ football IQ allows hybrid safety Adrian Phillips to thrive on Chargers


On a star-studded defense that includes the likes of Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Melvin Ingram and Casey Hayward, a little-known safety for the Los Angeles Chargers could be the key cog that helps slow down an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes.

Versatile safety Adrian Phillips’ unique skill set allows the Chargers to play a smaller, speedier personnel group that helps contain potent passing games, yet still holds up against the nfl jerseys china nike

Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Phillips is one of the most cerebral players that he has coached — high praise considering that group includes Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Derrick Brooks.

That intelligence allows the University of Texas product to play several positions on the field.9

On Thursday, the Chargers will need Phillips and the rest of the defense to help slow down a Kansas City offense that has recorded a league-high 87 explosive plays (runs of 16-plus yards or passing plays of 20-plus yards).

“First of all, he’s extremely intelligent,” Bradley said. “He can play strong safety, free safety, dime [linebacker] and nickel [linebacker] for us, and we’d feel extremely comfortable if he was in any of those positions.

“So that intelligence, he’s got a football IQ that is, to say compare him to anybody, he’s just one of the most elite guys in that area that I’ve ever been around.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Phillips, 26, got an opportunity to play last year because injuries at linebacker forced Bradley to think out of the box, using a 5-foot-11, 210-pound backup safety as a linebacker in obvious passing situations.

By happenstance the Chargers turned a weakness into a strength, creating a hybrid safety-linebacker in Phillips.

The fourth-year pro has totaled 63 combined tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception in 474 defensive snaps this season.

“When I sit back and think about where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, it’s just all been a blessing,” Phillips said. “It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t smooth sailing. There were a lot of nights that I was frustrated and trying to find my way.

“But to be where I’m at now, I wouldn’t change any of that because it made me the player and person I am now.”

Next Packers coach must make it work with Aaron Rodgers


In fact, some might consider Aaron Rodgers the most attractive thing about the job.

But consider this: What if the Packers are vying for coaches who also have the option of working with a young, impressionable quarterback like, say, Baker Mayfield in Cleveland?cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Perhaps that coach might look at what Mike McCarthy went through in recent years with Rodgers and decide that he’d rather work with a quarterback he can mold rather than one he’d have to manage. McCarthy’s relationship with Rodgers wasn’t the sole reason he was fired moments after Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals; they successfully co-existed for years before this with conflict they both often described as positive and had a successful run.

Coaching an elite quarterback with high-level intelligence like Rodgers isn’t easy, and any candidate for this job might be wise to ask McCarthy what that’s like. Or just cue up Rodgers’ postgame media conference after this year’s win over the Bills in Week 4, when Rodgers trashed McCarthy’s offensive plan.10

Earlier this season, after Rodgers rekindled the talk of a disconnect with McCarthy’s game planning, former Packers coach Mike Holmgren told that he was disappointed Rodgers brought it publicly. Holmgren said he never had to deal with that while coaching Brett Favre and that no coach should.

“It’s a different time now with social media and the stuff that gets out that previously would have been behind closed doors, it’s out there now,” Holmgren said at the time. “But still, my approach to those types of things was, first of all, I’d want to find out if in fact that’s what was said. Then if it was said, let’s talk about this. I had a rule — I didn’t have a lot of rules — and one of them was we’re going to operate from a mutual respect. I won’t embarrass you, and I don’t expect you to be embarrass me.

“When I read stuff like that, first of all I don’t know exactly what to believe. But secondly, it’s sad to me a little bit. I certainly did not want to hear that, no one does. I know both of those guys. I know Aaron a little bit, and I know Mike pretty well. I have tremendous respect for those guys. If in fact he was critical, then I would say, ‘Don’t do that. You don’t have to do that. You’re too good to do that.’”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

McCarthy was careful to never publicly criticize Rodgers, though any coach couldn’t help be feel emasculated by that. McCarthy’s public demeanor changed after that. He looked like a dead-man walking, at times.

Saints need to ‘punch back’ after getting knocked down


“We won 10 in a row. We felt like we were rolling. So now it’s time to get that mojo back,” Brees said in the aftermath. “Get back to work when we get back and get ready to roll.”

The Saints (10-2) will probably bounce back just fine after an extended break before their Week 14 trip to Tampa Bay. And it’s probably fair to chalk this up as one of those “any given Sunday — or Thursday” games, as Alvin Kamara called it.

Because if anyone has earned some benefit of the doubt, it’s this Saints’ offense, which entered the game as the fifth-highest scoring team in NFL history through 11 games, and Brees, who is still on pace for the league’s best passer rating of all time at 123.2.

But they just went from becoming the league’s biggest bullies to getting punched in the mouth. And now they have to prove it didn’t faze nfl jerseys nike china

The Saints now trail the Los Angeles Rams (10-1) in the NFC standings. And after their trip to Tampa, they’ll finish the regular season with three games against playoff contenders (at Carolina on Monday Night Football, versus Pittsburgh on a short week, then home against Carolina again).10

“We would love to be perfect. But that wasn’t the plan. And that’s OK,” veteran offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod said. “Our goals are still in front of us. We’ve got four more weeks to do what we need to do. [But] it’s not gonna be easy.

“Nobody’s gonna sit back and wait for us to punch ’em in the mouth. They’re gonna punch us, and we gotta punch back. That’s just what it is. When you’re 10-1, they’re gonna play you like a playoff game. Their intensity’s gonna be high, and we need to match that. And we didn’t get it done. So we have to realize that going forward. Because it’s December. This is when the season gets made.”cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Bushrod’s comments actually echoed those of Cowboys defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence from earlier in the week:

“They’re going to have to match our intensity,” Lawrence said, specifically referring to New Orleans’ offensive line. “S—, for 60 minutes straight. If you hit a m—–f—– in the mouth and then they ain’t doing what they’re regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed. Now you got them where you want them at, and then you f—ing choke their ass out.”

Lawrence said his comments made more waves than he expected. But what he said made sense: It was up to the Cowboys’ defense to stop letting things come so easy for a Saints offense that was practically on cruise control and see how New Orleans would react.

Rob Gronkowski is back to being himself, catching TDs and having fun


New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has an infectious personality that can uplift teammates, whether it’s on the field or in the locker room. Teammates say his demeanor often stands out in a hard-driving work environment in which levity can sometimes be in short supply.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Because of that, when Gronkowski is hurting physically and not quite himself, as he was for about a month leading into Sunday’s game against the

So while Gronkowski provided a trademark “Wow!” moment with his 34-yard touchdown catch in Sunday’s win, it was everything around that play that seemed to be even more meaningful.10

“He’s ‘The Gronk.’ He looked like he was having fun, and that’s awesome,” noted receiver Julian Edelman. “That’s what we want.”

Gronkowski’s reaction to the touchdown, a double arm thrust and thunderous spike, was reflective of that. It was part of restoring his confidence, which is one critical piece to the team’s hopes of making a strong charge into the postseason.

Then there was the reaction of his teammates, as everyone from Tom Brady to Edelman to Josh Gordon celebrated the play, which showed Gronkowski’s impact on everyone nfl jerseys china nike

Teammates celebrating someone else’s success is always a positive sign of togetherness, but this one seemed even a little more significant because of what it represented: a signature play to show that Gronkowski — while still a difference-maker on the field at times – is in a much better place emotionally than he had been over the past month or so as he battled ankle and back injuries.

“It felt good,” he acknowledged. “I’ve been putting in the work to get back, and now I just feel like I can keep on improving and do what I have to do to help the team.”

Brady called the touchdown the type of play that only Gronkowski could make among NFL tight ends, while Edelman credited Gronkowski’s blocking as a key on his 21-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter.

Le’Veon Bell’s bitter divorce with Steelers was years in the making


Privately, a faction of the Steelers wanted no distractions after a 2017 season that couldn’t escape them. The team survived a divisive Week 3 anthem sit-out in Chicago, Antonio Brown’s Week 4 sideline flare-up, the loss of Ryan Shazier to a spinal injury and James Harrison’s clumsy exit on the way to a 13-3 season. But the year was long, and the days before a playoff loss to Jacksonville featured Bell’s sit-out comments and a Sports Illustrated story quoting safety Mike Mitchell saying Pittsburgh would beat New England in a rematch.

Teammates valued Bell as a great player and vibrant locker room personality, but they also knew he makes his feelings known on social media. So, on the Monday of Week 1, they made sure not to bash Bell publicly to avoid any clap-back fuel from the nfl jerseys china nike

When Wednesday of that week arrived and Bell wasn’t there, several offensive linemen didn’t hesitate to call him selfish. Even if Bell came back, they knew it was pretty much over.9

“After Week 1, there was a calm in this locker room,” guard David DeCastro said. “It had kind of passed. We knew what we had to do. Do our best job, so there were no questions about ‘what if.’ It gave us a chip on our shoulders naturally.”

Things became clouded after that. Bell planned to return in the Week 7-8 period, but something changed. Many believed the Oct. 30 trade deadline became a factor, though the Steelers never got a legitimate offer for Bell. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Bell and the Steelers discussed a deal that would have Bell report if the team promised not to tag him in 2019, which the team couldn’t promise. The Athletic reported earlier this month that Bell got “new info” in the week before the reporting date that the franchise tag would be too steep (more than $25 million) for the Steelers to use, thus affecting his plans.

Even as of Week 10, though, china nike nfl jerseys cheap Bell was in Pittsburgh and team president Art Rooney II left the door open for Bell to enter.

Now, the stage is set for tense divorce proceedings, and both sides are gunning for the house.

Bucs’ Jameis Winston passes first test in regaining starting QB job


In order for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-9 Sunday – Step 1 in his quest to re-assert himself as the starting quarterback – he had to recognize that he couldn’t do it trying to be somebody else.

He had to stop chasing backup Ryan Fitzpatrick and his “FitzMagic” reel of highlights that electrified the league while he was home serving a three-game suspension.

“It’s definitely challenging when you have such a wave from a guy who’s doing such an amazing job and you’re trying to fit in. I think it was more trying to prove to everyone what I’m capable of,” said Winston, who was pulled in the second half of Week 8 and benched until head coach Dirk Koetter re-named him the starter this nike jerseys for cheap

“Any player, you’ve always got to be yourself. I’ve been playing this game since I was four years’ old. I think the most important thing is to be the best ‘me’ – never try to chase someone else, chase the man in the mirror and compete against him every day.”10

It was the first time he didn’t turn the ball over in a season full of forced throws and sometimes reckless decisions. It was also his first game without throwing an interception since Dec. 24, 2017.

“I think Jameis was more settled in tonight. He knew where he was going with the ball. He made plays with his feet. It was like the old Jameis back there,” right tackle Demar Dotson said. “To me, he looked good back there, he was more poised back there.”

Winston completed 29 of 38 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 117.4. He looked far more like himself Sunday instead of the struggling quarterback who matched last season’s 11 interceptions in his first five games this nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Winston said it had to do with a simplified approach.

“It’s easier to keep it simple when you’re very decisive,” Winston said. “Making quick decisions, getting the ball out of your hand, trying to execute on every single play and trying to understand that sometimes you’ve gotta check the ball down, sometimes you’ve gotta talk to yourself and say, ‘Hey, I’m just going to take this sack.’”

Sony Michel proves he’s the key to the Patriots’ offense


The New England Patriots are widely viewed as a contender because of the presence of head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski — three of the best ever at what they cheap jerseys nike

But the key for the 2018 Patriots to achieve their championship hopes just might be rookie running back Sony Michel.

The first-round draft choice from Georgia, No. 31 overall, was the best player on the field in the Patriots’ 27-13 victory over the New York Jets. His 133 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots player since Jonas Gray totaled 201 in the 2014 season.

“Coach kind of gave us a challenge this week, on being able to run the football – consistently,” Michel said.

Belichick’s challenge reflected how when Michel gets going on the ground, it takes the burden off Brady, Gronkowski, receiver Julian Edelman and others in the passing game.8

Simply put, he settles things nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Michel’s breakthrough was among the best news for the Patriots from Sunday’s win, which wasn’t as decisive of an overall performance as they hoped to deliver coming off their bye — red-zone struggles on offense, in particular, were notable.

But proving they can successfully turn to the running game — especially as the weather in the Northeast is getting colder and adverse weather conditions are a more likely possibility — is an important ingredient for most teams with championship hopes.

“Any time you can run the ball like we did, it helps a lot of things. You have to play the run, play-action [passes], and we had some chunks [of big plays],” Brady said.

“It always opens up everything else. It keeps you out of those long-yardage situations, which we have been in the last couple weeks,” echoed Belichick.

The Patriots topped 200 yards rushing as a team to improve to 8-3, keeping pace with the AFC’s top seed, the 9-2 Chiefs. The Steelers (7-3-1) and Texans (7-3) are also in the mix.

JuJu Smith-Schuster goes from hero to Hines Ward in two days


Brown is the unquestioned alpha receiver and is tied for the league lead with 11 touchdowns. But while trailing in the fourth quarter at Jacksonville, Ben Roethlisberger turned to JuJu Smith-Schuster for four catches for 74 yards on the final two drives, including a beautiful back-shoulder fade against Jalen Ramsey that helped seal Sunday’s 20-16 win.

“I think JuJu was kind of a hero today,” Roethlisberger said after the game.

Smith-Schuster’s prowess as a pass-catcher is undeniable now. He’s 12th in the NFL in receptions (64) and yards (866), leading the team in both official nike nfl jerseys

But coach Mike Tomlin points to a different area of Smith-Schuster’s game — his physical play as a blocker — that’s grown the most from year one to two, and it leads him to some high praise.11

“He’s Hines Ward-like in some of those things,” said Tomlin from his weekly press conference Tuesday. “I realize what I said when I said that. But, this guy enjoys (physicality). He embraces it. I think it helps us.”

As a rookie, Smith-Schuster laid major hits on Vikings safety Harrison Smith and Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the latter drawing a one-game suspension. Smith-Schuster promised he wouldn’t abandon the physicality in his sophomore year, and he’s exceeded nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Roethlisberger openly wondered during training camp how Smith-Schuster would respond to defenses game-planning more for him this year. Nearly four months later, Roethlisberger is calling Smith-Schuster a “special football player” after a game-winning performance.

“I tip my cap to him because we moved him around and put him in spots to win today, and he won for us,” said Roethlisberger, who connected eight times for 104 yards with Smith-Schuster.

Smith-Schuster typically mans the slot in three-receivers sets, but the offense took him inside-out to exploit matchups.

Smith-Schuster turns 22 on Wednesday and was the league’s youngest player when the team drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. He’s marketable off the field and explosive on it. But because of the youth, some wondered whether he’d showcase the maturity necessary to make a year two leap.