12

Rams’ Marcus Peters, Saints’ Sean Payton say barbs are in the past

McVay’s quip aside, Peters and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton both downplayed their rematch and potential “bowl of gumbo” heading into Sunday’s highly anticipated contest at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Peters chided the media for “trying to make it something that it’s not” and praised Payton’s competitiveness. Payton noted that the Saints wanted to draft Peters with one of their first-round picks less than four years ago, adding that he has “great respect for him.”

That did not appear to be the case in early November. The Saints handed the Rams their first loss in that Week 9 game, and the decisive score occurred when Michael Thomas zipped past Peters for a 72-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, part of a 211-yard game for the Saints’ All-Pro wide receiver. Afterward, Payton said the following: “They were going to travel Marcus to [Thomas], and that was fine by us. We thought we liked that matchup — a lot.”

“Tell Sean Payton to keep talking that s—,” he said. “We’re going to see him soon, you feel me? Because I like what he was saying on the sidelines, too. So tell him to keep talking that s—, and I hope you see me soon. We’re going to have a nice little bowl of gumbo together.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“It gives you some flexibility,” McVay added, citing Talib’s “command” and “ability to communicate.”12

Peters experienced what appeared to be a down season in his first year in L.A., coming up with only three interceptions while being graded 100th among 119 qualified corners by Pro Football Focus. His response, when asked about how 2018 played out: “We ain’t done yet.”

Peters has a chance to ensure that by redeeming himself.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“You look forward to those rematches and stuff like that,” Peters said, “but s—, I didn’t know it was going to turn out like this. Y’all didn’t know it was going to turn out like this. It just happened. Y’all have fun spinning the gumbo thing all week.”

“I see y’all trying to make it something that it’s not, man,” Peters said. “Just all respect to Sean Payton and what he does. During the game, things was happening. But I just love the fact that he’s a competitor. When I was coming out of the draft, it was the same way — fiery, energy — when I was meeting with him and things like that. It wasn’t nothing to be disrespectful. Shoot, I was pissed off. I didn’t have the game that I wanted to have.”

11

Who believes in the Patriots? Almost everyone, actually

Tom Brady stood at the lectern after winning his eighth straight divisional-round playoff game, wearing a black ski cap on his head, smiling patiently as he listened to a question attempting to summarize the sentiments of his haters, who are apparently numerous.

Hey, Tom, the questioner began, as one does when greeting a friend, or loved one. Once again this week, there was a lot of talk about how this was the end of the dynasty, and how you’re were going to fall off a cliff. I’m sure winning is sweet, but is it even sweeter when you continue to prove people wrong?nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Brady, who still had traces of eye black faintly visible on his 41-year-old face, mulled the question for several seconds, trying to stifle a wry grin that would potentially reveal far more than his answer.
Which he has almost no shot of winning: Brady is going up against the juggernaut that is the Kansas City Chiefs, a team it’s almost impossible to imagine him defeating, as long as you ignore that he did it once already this season; or that only four teams (Broncos, Ravens, Jets, Colts) have ever kept him from playing in the Super Bowl.11

The reality is Tom Brady simply wanted it more, and we, his critics, have been afraid to write the truth, even those three times we voted him the league’s Most Valuable Player, or the four times we voted him the MVP of the Super Bowl.

“Everyone thinks we suck and we can’t win any games,” Brady said on the field after earning a berth in his eighth consecutive AFC championship, twice as many as Jim Kelly led the Buffalo Bills to consecutively in the 1990s. “We’ll see. It’ll be fun.”

Brady was letting us know, in that moment, that he has heard our whispers, he has absorbed our doubts, while also continuing to ignore the noise because he never hears what is said or written about him, especially not the thousands and thousands of words written each week discussing his greatness.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

With 28 career playoff wins, how could anyone argue otherwise? Obviously, a quarterback who didn’t like winning so much would have, eventually, lost some of those games on purpose, or even grown tired of winning, as Brady’s old golf buddy, President Trump, likes to say. Perhaps that is the real difference between Brady and Philip Rivers, a man who fell to 0-8 in his career against the Patriots in this divisional-round loss. It has little to do with the fact that Brady has played his entire career for an organization with tremendous wealth and stability, in front of a rabid and loyal fan base, and for an exceptional coach with an uncanny knack for talent acquisition.

12

Fantasy Premier League: The pros and cons of Marcus Rashford

When the two strikers faced off on Sunday, it was Rashford who had the upper hand. His goal decided the match and helped Manchester United pick up their biggest win since sacking Jose Mourinho. Since the change in management, the Englishman has started every match scoring a fantastic four goals while also recording an assist. In fact, over that period his England contemporary and opponent this week, Harry Kane, is the only striker to be involved in more goals (seven). As for shots on target, no other forward has recorded more than Rashford’s 12 over the past five matches, with teammate Paul Pogba the only player overall to have recorded more overall (15).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

That last stat may be a nice little hint as to just how effective Manchester United have been in attack since the hiring of Solskjaer. In his brief managerial tenure at the club, the Red Devils have led the league in goals scored, assists, and shots on target, and sit second in chances created. Compared to those statistics under the previous administration, this has been a massive improvement at the club. The result of this has been incredible as 42 percent of Manchester United’s wins, and 34 percent of their goals, have come in the five matches since Solskjaer took charge.12

Naturally this outstanding on-pitch improvement has bled into fantasy and, while Pogba has likely been the biggest beneficiary, Rashford has quietly re-established himself as one of the best strikers in fantasy. While his overall ranking does not necessarily flatter him in the ESPN game (45th), he has recorded a tier-high 85.9 points over the past five matches, with Kane and Salah being the only forwards to have recorded more points over that stretch. There’s more to Rashford’s game than just goal scoring though — his creativity has significantly boosted his value this season as his six assists lead his tier on the season.

There’s more to Rashford’s recent form than just the managerial change, it’s also how he’s been deployed. All five of the 21-year-old’s starts under Solskjaer have come as a forward, a position from which six of his seven goals have come this season. The strange thing is, despite his usage by previous managers, this is by no means a new trend. Ever since the Louis van Gaal days it was evident that Rashford was better up front than when shifted out wide. Unfortunately for the latter, the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku in consecutive seasons meant Rashford had to play on the left in order to get any meaningful minutes. Over his young career, 64 percent of his goals have come when playing up front, and this is certainly evidenced in fantasy as well. When playing as a striker this season, Rashford averages 12.25 points, just about four points better per game than when playing anywhere else. That number would make him a top-20 player in the league, and the best in his tier.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whether or not, Rashford can keep this up does remain to be seen, however. He has already scored as many goals (seven) as he ever has in a Premier League season, while already having recorded the most assists in his career (six). Fantasy wise, he boasts 203 points in our game, which is within 50 points of his total from all of last season. Of course, the main reason he’s already reaching his season-high marks is playing time. Rashford is currently on pace for 2170 minutes, just about 400 more than he’s ever played before. If he keeps up his current rates of production, he could be in line for a 12-goal, 10-assist season.

11

Emery says Arsenal can sign only loan players … and the reason should worry fans

Last week, Arsenal boss Unai Emery said something surprising: “We cannot sign players where we have to make a payment … we can only make loan signings.” That’s not what you’d expect to hear from a club that is six points away from fourth place and in danger of finishing outside the Champions League spots for the third successive season after 19 consecutive years of playing in the world’s biggest club competition.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Nor is that what you’d expect from a club that ranked sixth in the most recent Deloitte Money League, boasts the second-highest average attendance in the Premier League and has made a profit every year since 2008. (Most recently, they reported profits of £44.6 million in 2017, followed by £25.1 million in the first six months of the following season.)

To some, Emery’s words brought to mind the mid-to-late Arsene Wenger Era, in which the club sat on enormous cash reserves. The manager said they could buy players, but they wouldn’t do it “for the sake of it,” and supporters blamed the owner, Stan Kroenke, for being stingy.11

It’s not quite like that now. Emery would happily spend money if he could. Rather, Arsenal offer a case study of how big decisions from newcomers, made in a short time, can have massive knock-on effects. Their situation illustrates how hard it can be to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

One was the decision to re-sign Mesut Ozil. Like Sanchez, he was six months away from free agency, and he, too, wanted a big bump in salary: from $9.6 million to $20 million-plus. Arsenal chose to extend his deal through 2021 at something close to his requested wage.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Finally came the signing of forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a club record £57.6 million. Aubameyang had been on the market the previous summer, but Wenger opted instead for another central striker, Alexandre Lacazette. Adding Lacazette was a sizable investment (£46.5 million rising to £52.6 million with bonuses), though at that stage, he had gone nine consecutive games without a goal, and his return to that point (nine in 27) wasn’t earth-shattering.

Aubameyang, on the other hand, had scored 69 goals in 79 Bundesliga games the previous two years. While there were some reservations about his character — he missed training sessions in Dortmund and tried to engineer a move away the previous summer — they ultimately agreed to both the fee and a wage packet of some $12.8 million a season through 2021, nearly twice what Lacazette had agreed to six months earlier.

12

Former MLB pitcher John Wetteland arrested on child sexual abuse charge

John Wetteland, a former All-Star and World Series MVP, has been charged in Texas with continuous sex abuse of a child under age 14.

Wetteland, 52, was arrested Monday and freed on $25,000 bond, according to Denton County jail records. Wetteland lives in the Dallas-area suburb of Trophy Club.

Bartonville Police Chief Bobby Dowell said the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contacted his office last week. After an investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Wetteland, who was taken into custody by Denton County sheriff’s deputies.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Dowell said that because of the nature of the offense and the stage of the investigation, he had no further details to release. DFPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said details of the agency’s cases are confidential.12

According to a consolidated complaint and probable cause affidavit, Wetteland is accused of having a child perform a sex act on him, beginning in 2004 when the child was 4, and that it happened twice more during a two-year period.

The Associated Press was not able to contact Wetteland or his attorney for comment.

Wetteland was the Most Valuable Player of the 1996 World Series when he was with the New York Yankees. He’s also been inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame.

Wetteland, a three-time All-Star, had 330 saves over a 12-season career that also included stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos. He also had a 48-45 career record with a 2.93 ERA.

In 2009, while Wetteland was on the Seattle Mariners’ coaching staff, authorities responded to a 911 call from his home in Texas. Media outlets reported that Denton County authorities described the call as a mental health issue, saying Wetteland was contemplating suicide.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Wetteland said in a statement at the time that “the circumstances leading to my elevated blood pressure and heart rate have been addressed.”

The Rangers, with whom Wetteland has no current role, issued a statement Tuesday saying they “have been made aware of this situation and have no further comment.”

10

Patrick Mahomes inherited clutch gene from his major league dad

To understand how Patrick Mahomes, 23, could remain so composed on his rocket-ship rise to stardom is to know his family’s history when it comes to big games and the poise required to win them.

Nearly two decades before Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started preparing to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes’ father, Pat, was as nervous as a pitcher could be while waiting for that phone to ring in the New York Mets’ bullpen. But once it did ring, and once the caller requested his services, everything changed.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

The Mets had lost eight of nine games at the end of September 1999, a collapse that appeared certain to cost them their first postseason appearance in 11 years. Their manager, Bobby Valentine, assured his players they would still make the playoffs if they could just rediscover the belief they had in each other. The Mets would need to sweep Pittsburgh in the season’s final series for a shot at advancing, and Valentine trusted few Mets more than he trusted Mahomes, a fearless 29-year-old righthander who was about to make the biggest pitches of what would be an 11-year career.10

“For the first time in my life I had a manager who totally believed in me,” recalled Mahomes, who had already pitched for the Twins and Red Sox, and for the Yokohama BayStars in Japan. “Bobby was the first manager who let me be me on my mound.”

Valentine also let his reliever bring his 4-year-old son to work. Mahomes had one of the Mets’ clubhouse guys put together a uniform for young Patrick, who was allowed on the field during batting practice.

“An adorable kid,” Valentine said. “I recall Patrick running around in my clubhouse, jumping up and giving guys high-fives after games. During batting practice Pat would take him into the outfield behind second base.”

Some coaches warned Mahomes that he needed to guard his son as line drives were whistling all over Shea Stadium, but the pitcher thought Patrick already knew how to handle himself on a ballfield. Pat and Patrick used to play a game called 500 that earned a participant 25 points for fielding a ground ball, 50 for fielding a one-hopper, and 100 for catching a fly ball. Patrick figured he needed to run down some 100-pointers during BP if he wanted to finally defeat his dad. He was 5 years old in the 2000 season when he caught his first big-league fly, off the bat of Robin Ventura. “I can still remember him holding up the ball, all excited,” his father said.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But back in the fall of 1999, times were tense at Shea. On the night of Oct. 1, the Mets and Pirates had tumbled into extra innings when Valentine asked Mahomes to face the middle of the Pittsburgh order.

12

James Harden sets Rockets record with 36 first-half points

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni worried Monday that James Harden was “dog tired” and would have to carry an even heavier burden with the news that a thumb injury would sideline center Clint Capela for four to six weeks and leave Houston without three starters.

Harden’s horrible 3-point shooting in Sunday’s road loss to the Orlando Magic hinted that fatigue might be a factor for the reigning league MVP. However, Harden responded by scoring a season-high 57 points Monday night, continuing his historic run by carrying the Rockets to a 112-94 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“What he just did, we kind of take it for granted a little bit,” said D’Antoni, who recorded the 600th win of his NBA coaching career. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at that, isn’t that cute? It’s 57!’ I mean, on dead legs and he played 43 minutes last night. It’s beyond impressive. It’s rare that people can do what he’s done, if anybody.”12

Harden indeed entered rare air with his 17th consecutive game scoring at least 30 points. It’s the longest such streak since Wilt Chamberlain had 20 straight 30-plus-point performances in 1964. The only other players with streaks of 16 straight 30-point games since Chamberlain were Kobe Bryant in 2003 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.

Harden, who has led the Rockets to a 13-4 record during this run, shrugged at being part of such exclusive company.

“The win was important,” Harden said. “I’ve got to get some rest tomorrow and be ready to go Wednesday. Same thing.”

Harden extended his streak with time to spare before halftime. He scored a team-record 36 points in the first half, one shy of Vernon Maxwell’s franchise record for points in either half.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Harden, who finished three points shy of his franchise record, was 17-of-33 from the floor, including 6-of-15 from 3-point range, and 17-of-18 from the free throw line before receiving a standing ovation when he exited the game with 3:35 remaining.

The Rockets had lost three of their previous five games entering Monday, and MRI results revealed ligament damage in Capela’s right thumb that sources say will need to be surgically repaired. With guards Eric Gordon (knee contusion) and Chris Paul (hamstring strain) still out, the Rockets’ spirits easily could have sagged.

Harden didn’t let that happen, scoring two-thirds of Houston’s points in the first half while D’Antoni tinkered with the rotation, quickly opting to play small lineups when 36-year-old fill-in starting center Nene Hilario rested.

11

NBA clears Cavaliers of wrongdoing in Patrick McCaw signing

The NBA has cleared the Cleveland Cavaliers of any wrongdoing in their brief alliance with forward Patrick McCaw.

At the urging of the Golden State Warriors, the league investigated Cleveland’s signing of McCaw as a restricted free agent before releasing him. cheap nfl jerseys from china nike McCaw played two seasons with the defending champions but did not re-sign with them last summer. The Cavs signed him last month to a two-year, $6 million offer sheet, which the Warriors chose not to match.11

McCaw played in three games for the Cavs and was waived before his contract became guaranteed. He signed with Toronto last week.

The league said Monday it found “no violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The Cavs could have forfeited a draft pick had they been found guilty of any offenses.

12

James Bettcher’s first season came with giant limitations

Bettcher is a coach accustomed to leading top-10 defenses, which he did in each of his three seasons as a coordinator in Arizona. He is used to playing uber-aggressively and attacking opposing quarterbacks with blitzes from every direction. His Cardinals defenses were 10th, second and first, respectively, in blitz percentage each of the previous three seasons.

Things were certainly “different” in his first year with the Giants, beginning with Bettcher failing to command a top-10 defense for the first time in his career. It wasn’t what the Giants or Bettcher were expecting when he was hired last offseason. The Giants finished 24th in total defense (371.4 yards per game) and 22nd in weighted DVOA (42 percent).china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Hamstrung by a lack of lack of talent and inexperience, this was an unfamiliar Bettcher defense. The Giants blitzed only 26.3 percent of the defensive snaps, which was 22nd in the NFL. That was significantly less than when Bettcher blitzed 33-45 percent of the time in his three years with the Cardinals.12

“Different place. Different players. Every situation is different,” Shurmur said. “No different than working on offense if you have a different style of quarterback. You have to maximize the strengths of the players you’re working with. Same here. Our roster looks a little bit different than it did in Arizona, so he’s trying to do what he can to try to get the most out of our players.”

Three of the four top-paid players on the roster are on offense. Gettleman used the No. 2 overall pick on running back Saquon Barkley. His top free-agent acquisition was left tackle Nate Solder, who signed the largest contract in NFL history at the time for an offensive lineman, and his biggest move since taking the job was signing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a long-term deal that made him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. Four of the Giants’ past five first-round picks were also offense, offense, offense. This team is invested in its offense.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Yet the defense that itself scored three touchdowns in the second half of the season was the primary culprit for 5-11? It’s a tough narrative to accept for what another NFL executive described as a group of “mismatched parts and not many playmakers.”

It seems a strange approach to deflect blame from an offense that took time to get accustomed to Shurmur’s new scheme and get its offensive line in order. The second half of the season was better, but it was already too late.

11

Michael Thomas primed for playoffs, fueled by doubters

Thomas was named a first-team All-Pro in his third NFL season after setting franchise records with 125 catches and 1,405 yards to go with nine touchdown grabs. And now he’s got another chance to flex on the biggest of stages, as the No. 1-seeded Saints begin their playoff run Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles (4:40 p.m. ET, Fox) in an NFC divisional-round game.

“The playoff stage is just all about winning,” Thomas said this week, rejecting the question about what it means for him personally. “Whatever it takes to win, be the last team standing, play for a championship and ultimately win a championship is what the playoffs mean to me.

“[This opportunity] is a blessing. It’s what we work for. That’s what training camp, OTAs, all the meetings, all the extra work after [practice], the offseason reps — it’s a testament to the position we’re in now. And we just want to keep it going.”

Thomas, however, has never made any secret about his lofty aspirations to be considered “right there with the best of them” when all is said and done in his career. And we already have seen glimpses of how he thrives on the biggest stages.

You might remember Thomas catching the game-clinching, 72-yard touchdown in the Saints’ most high-profile showdown of this season against the Los Angeles Rams — then pulling a cellphone out from under the goal post because he had prepared ahead of time for having such a big moment in the spotlight.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Last season’s playoffs were no different.11

Thomas caught eight passes for 131 yards in the Saints’ wild-card victory against Carolina. Then he caught seven passes for 85 yards and two scores in the divisional-round loss at Minnesota. Both of Thomas’ touchdowns came in the second half as New Orleans rallied from a 17-0 deficit — even though he was being guarded by All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

Brees has had some great pass-catchers in his 13 years with the Saints — including Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham. But Thomas has emerged more than any of them as someone Brees will target in those gotta-have-it moments, even when he’s being swarmed by No. 1 cornerbacks and double-teams — in part because of the lack of proven depth the Saints have in the rest of their receiving corps.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Listen, you make good, wise decisions, smart decisions. [But] if he’s one-on-one, I like our odds. Even when he’s 2-on-1, it better be a really good 2-on-1 or else there’s usually still a place you can throw the ball where he can get it and they can’t,” said Brees, who called Thomas’ astounding total of 125 catches “pretty awesome.”

“That says a lot about him, because obviously he gets a lot of attention. It’s not like they just put him on an island every game. He’s getting a lot of double coverage. He’s getting a lot of safeties leaning his way and different things. So, he’s gotta work hard to get open and he does. He does a great job of that.

“He’s highly competitive. He expects to be the guy to get the ball and make the big play, so that’s great. It also opens up opportunities for other guys.”

Payton quickly rejected the notion the Saints would ever target Thomas no matter how heavily he’s being covered: “No, no, no, no, no, no. No. … We don’t just drop back and throw the ball indiscriminately to a player.”