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Chiefs end home playoff curse, advance to AFC title game

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If the Kansas City Chiefs could have designed the way they will enter the AFC Championship Game, they would have drawn up their 31-13 divisional-round win against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Chiefs didn’t merely beat the Colts on Saturday, they used them as a launching pad. Kansas City will have a full head of steam going into next week’s game against the winner of the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots (1:05 p.m. ET, Sunday). The AFC title game will be in Kansas City for the first time.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “It’s something we feel as an organization we should have accomplished in recent history. Since Andy [Reid] came here, we’ve had a lot of shots. But finally we get a chance to win that AFC championship and to get to do it at home is so special for us.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

The victory was a big confidence boost for the Chiefs, particularly on defense. They played their best defensive game of the season, forcing the Colts to go three plays and punt on each of their first four possessions.10

The defense pitched a shutout until the Colts scored an offensive touchdown with less than six minutes left. The Colts scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt in the second quarter.

The Chiefs, who entered the game allowing 18 points a game at home, didn’t allow a touchdown in their final regular-season game, a 35-3 win against the Oakland Raiders.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Kansas City made some recent defensive lineup changes that seem to be working. Third cornerback Charvarius Ward and safety Jordan Lucas, who is starting in place of the injured Eric Berry, have played well over the past couple of games.

The Chiefs had been plagued by defensive penalties most of the season but against the Colts they had just one — a pass interference call against Ward with 41 seconds remaining. They had no defensive penalties against the Raiders.

“You could feel the energy all week,” Reid said. “I think some of the young guys are maturing right in front of our eyes and playing well. We added a couple of guys in there. … Everybody’s taking up their game.”

With the emphatic victory, the Chiefs buried their many playoff demons. They won at Arrowhead Stadium in the playoffs for the first time since January 1994. The streak included losses of one, two, three and four points.

Rams QB Jared Goff is really funny … if you’re paying attention

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There’s sometimes a smirk or raised eyebrow. And it’s often coupled with a sly, dry barb launched at a reporter or aimed at a teammate.

Take Week 14, when a reporter asked, innocuously enough, how would the Rams quarterback prepare to play a defense that had intercepted a league-high 21 passes?

“Try to throw it to our guys,” Goff deadpanned.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The response drew a chuckle from the small media contingent, and that smirk appeared on Goff’s face. It was another unexpected zinger from Goff, who is routinely dull in his delivery but chooses his spots wisely.

Goff’s humor is dry and nonchalant. He’ll deliver a one-liner, then continue like it never happened. If you’re not paying attention, or simply aren’t around Goff frequently, his jokes might go undetected.9

“He’s really good at poking the bear,” Rams receiver Cooper Kupp said. “If he can find something that kind of can get you, he’ll sit there as innocently as possible and just little pokes here and there, just to see how much of a rise he can get out of you.”

It’s also part of a budding, and almost unexpected, boldness off the field, where the Northern California native has shown more of a willingness to engage his personality as he adapts to shouldering the responsibilities of leading the NFC’s No. 2 seed against the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, Fox).nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“As time goes on you become more comfortable in your role and I think that’s no different with [being a leader],” said Goff, who received an $18.5 million signing bonus as a rookie. “Just being able to be the leader I want to be, the teammate I want to be, the person I want to be, and just continue to mature and grow and be the best I can be every day.”

In his third season as a pro, and his second under coach Sean McVay, Goff has improved his timing, accuracy and decision-making. The proof is in his results. Goff has passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, while completing 64.9 percent of his throws. He also has rushed for a touchdown.

Solanke transfer, like Neymar deal before it, could permanently distort the transfer market

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This may be the only time you will see Neymar’s and Dominic Solanke’s names appear in the same sentence, but the two forwards actually have something in common: Both men may have distorted the transfer market with their fees.

At £198 million, Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017 was a moment of financial folly that sent shockwaves through the game. The transfer was over £100m more than the previous record of £89.3m — set by Paul Pogba’s 2016 switch from Juventus to Manchester United — and it triggered a domino effect of similarly inflated deals. PSG went on to negotiate a £166m deal for Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, following an initial 12-month loan period. Barcelona dipped into their Neymar cash by spending a potential £135m on Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and then, six months later, splashed out a further £142m on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

In a game flush with money at the top end of the market, those transfer fees were perhaps an inevitable consequence of the riches flowing through Europe’s biggest clubs. In fairness to the players involved — even Dembele and Mbappe, teenagers at the time of their big moves — they had all shone in the Champions League before making their moves. Even Bayern’s repeated bids for Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, an 18-year-old with high potential, look reasonable given the Bundesliga giant’s need for young talent, as does Chelsea spending nearly £60m for Christian Pulisic, a player with a track record in Germany and a skill set that will help the Blues over the long term.8

Yet Bournemouth’s move for Solanke feels significant in a different sense. It’s not unusual to see teams completing surprisingly expensive deals, but the Cherries’ £19m move for a player with one Premier League goal and just five starts since his Chelsea debut in 2014 feels significant for all the wrong reasons.nfl nike jersey cheap

Solanke cost Bournemouth less than a tenth of Neymar’s world record fee but it’s still a major outlay for a club of their stature; it could yet rise to an eventual £25m if the former Chelsea youngster is able to trigger £6m worth of incentivised add-ons.

The deal means that Solanke becomes the third-most-expensive English striker of all time behind Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney. Carroll ultimately flopped at Liverpool after his £35m move from Newcastle in January 2011, but he had at least proven himself in the Premier League at St James’ Park — Carroll had scored 33 goals in 90 league games for Newcastle — prior to his transfer. Rooney, who was just 18 when he completed a £30m move to United from Everton in August 2004, was a star for club and country before swapping Goodison Park for Old Trafford. He was also clearly a prodigious talent.

However, Solanke makes the top three on the list having scored just one Premier League goal during his time at Liverpool and Chelsea. The 21-year-old started five league games in a season-and-a-half under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield (also making 16 substitute appearances) and did not appear at all in the Champions League. At Chelsea, he never kicked a ball in the Premier League and became a symbol of the club’s failure to promote its highly rated youth-team prospects.

Popovich exercising patience as Spurs navigate uneven start to season

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So when the embarrassing San Antonio Spurs losses stacked early in December the way the sweaty jerseys piled on the floor of the locker room after their 108-101 setback Saturday at the hands of the Houston Rockets, the organization seemed almost flippant in not displaying even the slightest hint of frustration.

Step 2 in this process involves the players justifying Popovich’s faith by continuing to make strides toward achieving continuity through trust in one another and familiarity from time spent together on and off the court. Despite the loss to the Rockets, the Spurs believe they’re getting there.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

With 10 new players on the roster (counting two-way players), San Antonio appears to be trending toward its consistency of old.

“We’ve gotten better for sure,” LaMarcus Aldridge said after finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. “We’re playing a better brand of basketball. I think we’ve learned how to play with each other.”8

Until the third quarter of Saturday’s game, that certainly appeared to be the case. San Antonio built an early seven-point lead in the second quarter, and led at intermission 43-41 despite shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from range.

But Houston changed the complexion of the game in the third quarter with a high-powered display from long range. Houston knocked down nine 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ranked as its most long-range connections of any quarter so far this season. The Rockets drained 69.2 percent of those attempts, outscoring San Antonio 43-26 in the quarter to go up 84-69 at the buzzer on Gary Clark’s 25-footer. Houston jumped out to an 18-9 run over the first six minutes of the quarter.

Eric Gordon then handed Houston its largest lead of the night (17 points) just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a driving layup.

Still, San Antonio found a way to cut through the deficit to go up 97-96 with 3:03 left to play on a Rudy Gay 3-pointer off an assist from DeMar DeRozan.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“We stayed in it and fought,” said DeRozan, who led the Spurs with 28 points and eight assists. “We had a chance. It came down to a couple of rebounds. I thought we could’ve taken advantage of the one-point lead. We fought. We’ve got to be happy about that. But we can’t have the start in third quarter like we had.”

The Spurs also can’t afford to be outworked on the boards the way they were in this one. Houston held the rebounding edge 58-43, but where that showed up most was in second-chance scoring. The Rockets scored 26 second-chance points to San Antonio’s seven.

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

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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 run.cheap 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.”

Newcastle revival continues with victory at Burnley

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Newcastle United surged clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a Ben Mee own goal and Ciaran Clark’s header in the first half helped them to a 2-1 win at struggling Burnley on Monday.

Newcastle celebrated a third successive league victory after failing to win any of their opening 10 fixtures and moved up to 13th place on 12 points from 13 games.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Magpies are four points clear of the relegation zone and three points ahead of 17th-placed Burnley, who stretched their winless league streak to six games.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez praised his team after a solid performance.10

“We had an idea of how to play, we knew crosses would come from everywhere, we defended well, our effort and attitude was great,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“We suffered a bit at the end but we could have scored a third goal. Our defenders did well because the [Burnley] strikers are big and then they put another big lad up front.”

The kick off was delayed by half an hour when the referees’ assessor Eddie Wolstenholme collapsed in the tunnel and was taken to hospital, but once the match got underway Newcastle dominated the opening period.

The Magpies took a fourth-minute lead after a Federico Fernandez shot from 20 metres took a heavy deflection off Mee and Clark then made it 2-0 with a superb header in the 23rd minute as he met a fine cross from the left by Matt Ritchie.

Sam Vokes pulled one back for Burnley shortly before the break with a looping header from 15 metres, with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka caught out of position after a long ball by Mee.

Ritchie was guilty of an astonishing miss just after the break when he shot wide from two metres with Burnley keeper Joe Hart beaten. Joselu also hit the post for Newcastle with a stinging low shot and they then held on in the closing stages.

Fantasy hoops roto rankings: Kyle Lowry reaching new heights

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Anyone who has played fantasy basketball during the past decade knows Kyle Lowry and knows him well. They’ve seen him develop from a defensive-minded player without a jump shot in his early days to the well-rounded scorer and playmaker that he is now.

Still, it’s safe to say none of us have seen this Kyle Lowry, the 32-year-old version who in his 13th NBA season is playing the best ball of his lengthy career.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

He enters Week 5 of the fantasy basketball season as the NBA’s leader in assists with 11.0 per game while maintaining a healthy 17.2 PPG scoring average. He also is shooting 49.7 percent, averaging 2.5 3-pointers per game and chipping in defensively as well with 1.5 steals a game.

How much have people taken notice in fantasy leagues?9

Let’s put it this way — this week in one of my leagues, I offered Ben Simmons for Lowry in a trade with fellow league manager who knows his stuff. Two hours later, the trade was rejected and there was a counter offer. Simmons wasn’t enough. He wanted Giannis Antetokounmpo.

I wasn’t willing to go that far, but it’s safe to say that Lowry’s stock is on the rise. I’ve bumped him up to No. 11 this week, just ahead of Damian Lillard, who is having a terrific start to the season as well.

Other notables working their way up in the rankings this week include Lowry’s former teammate, DeMar DeRozan (22), as well as Kyrie Irving (31), Zach LaVine (37), Trae Young (47), Enes Kanter (50), Lonzo Ball (65), Serge Ibaka (66), Buddy Hield (76), Lauri Markkanen (85) and Brook Lopez (88).cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Some of these are overdue adjustments — such as Hield, Kanter and Ibaka, who were too low in previous rankings — but some are for other reasons.

Carmelo Anthony: Perception of Knicks hurt team in free agency

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Carmelo Anthony believes the perception of the Knicks during his tenure with the club had a negative effect on its chances to land a top free agent.

“I think just the business. Everything that was going on. The perception of New York Knicks … not basketball but the organization,” Anthony said Thursday when asked what kept the Knicks from landing a top free agent when he was there.

“I think it probably scared a lot of people away. Scared some people away. Not knowing the nuances and the ins and outs of kind of what was going on, who is in charge, who is not. So it was more than just basketball when it came to people making those decisions,” he said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

During Anthony’s six-plus seasons in New York, he played under four different team presidents/general managers and four different full-time head coaches.10

After team president Phil Jackson signed Anthony to a max contract in the summer of 2014, the Knicks had a chance to add a significant free agent in the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016.

But New York couldn’t get a top-tier free agent to sign in either year. In the summer of 2016, the Knicks didn’t get a meeting with free agent Kevin Durant, and signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract after trading for Derrick Rose, his teammate with the Bulls.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

During Rose and Noah’s first season in New York, the relationship between Anthony and Jackson publicly deteriorated, leading to a negative perception of the club among some NBA players. Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City prior to the 2017-18 season by president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Mills believes the perception of the Knicks has changed recently. The club plans to pursue a top free agent in the 2019 offseason. Anthony, in Brooklyn on Thursday to practice with the Houston Rockets ahead of Friday’s meeting with the Nets, was complimentary of first-year Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

“I think we all have to start from somewhere. And I think what Coach David is doing over there, he’s getting it right as far as mindset goes,” Anthony said. “The talent will come, but I think the mindset of how he approaches the game trickles down to the organization, how serious he takes the game, his approach to the game. You could just tell by the energy he brings.”

Jets quiet at deadline, refuse to sacrifice future for present

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They protected their future assets — and they’ll need plenty to repair this roster — but you have to believe coach Todd Bowles would have appreciated some reinforcements. He’s concerned about now, not the future, because his job is to win games. He has lost 27 of his past 40, so, yeah, there might be a sense of urgency, but he doesn’t have the final say on trades. That belongs to general manager Mike Maccagnan.nfl cheap jerseys nike

So the Jets (3-5), losers of two straight, will have to live with their underwhelming pass rush and beaten-up group of receivers. A segment of the fan base might be upset, wishing their team had done something. Anything.

Frankly, I don’t blame the Jets for not pulling the trigger on Fowler. It didn’t make sense to pay a premium for a two-month rental. They’ve liked Fowler since 2015, when he came out of Florida, but the price was steep. The Los Angeles Rams gave up a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 fifth-rounder for the free agent-to-be, who underachieved through most of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Rams are a Super Bowl contender; the Jets are not. They can wait until March, when they probably will try to overpay him as a free agent.8

Cooper would’ve made sense because he’s only 24 and under contract in 2019, but no team was crazy enough to meet the Oakland Raiders’ demand of a first-round pick. Oh, wait, the Dallas Cowboys did just that. The Jets would’ve been nuts to give up that much, considering their first-round pick might be in the top 10 — again.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Golden Tate? He’s 32 years old and headed to free agency, so he wasn’t a good fit for the Jets. The Philadelphia Eagles, trying to defend their Super Bowl title, sent a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Tate.

Demaryius Thomas? At 6-foot-3 with a wide catch radius, he would have helped rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who is being forced to make too many tight-window throws. Thomas is 30 years old, but he’s signed through 2019 — a non-guaranteed $14 million. Pricey, but he might have been worth a test drive. He wound up going to the Houston Texans, who gave up a fourth-round pick as part of their swap with the Denver Broncos.

Bengals off to hot start, but Steelers game looms large

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There’s a set of televisions on the wall between the tunnel at Paul Brown Stadium and the Bengals’ locker room.

The televisions were airing the conclusion of the Browns-Ravens game on Sunday afternoon just minutes after the Bengals came back to win 27-17 against the Dolphins. A number of players came through the tunnel and stopped to watch the game before Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hurried them along.

It’s true that the Bengals don’t need to worry about what their division opponents are doing right now, when they sit alone on top of the AFC North with a 4-1 record. But it’s also true that everything changes this week, when the Steelers come to town.

“We handle things by blocking out all of the noise and continuing to grind,” Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green said. “Nobody gave us a chance when the season started. Why do they believe in us now? We’re going to continue to keep playing and keep playing for each other.”cheap nfl jerseys wholesale

The Bengals have checked almost every box in this young season. They’ve won games by virtue of their defense when the offense struggled, and their offense has had unprecedented success in games when the defense struggled. They have a knack for forcing turnovers, and they’ve been able to put teams away late when it was needed most.7

It was the Steelers who knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs in the 2015 wild-card round, and Cincinnati hasn’t beaten Pittsburgh in four tries since that night. This team certainly seems to have its best chance in years to change that.

The Bengals are 8-24, including playoffs, against Pittsburgh in the Marvin Lewis era, and they have not beaten the Steelers in their past six tries. The Bengals jumped to a 17-point lead in their previous meeting before the Steelers came back to win 23-20.

The players might not admit it publicly, but they know how much this one means. The win against the Dolphins proved that the Bengals can erase deficits and come up with game-changing plays to come out on top. A win against the Steelers would not only give them solid footing in the AFC North and a 5-1 record before they face the Chiefs on the road but also symbolize something bigger.replica nike nfl jerseys

“This is a divisional game, and everyone knows what that’s about, but we’ve just got to go out there and play hard,” running back Joe Mixon said.

A win next week would say that whatever happened in the past isn’t keeping the Bengals down this time. It would prove that the team is full of enough