One year after ending the Raiders’ 13-season playoff drought, Jack Del Rio has already been kicked to the curb.

Smith, a 2017 All-Pro selection after two straight Pro Bowl nods, is a freak show, and this season he has been arguably the NFL’s best safety. In his sixth season, all with Minnesota, Smith matched a career high with five interceptions, and he set a new career high with 12 passes defensed.

Kelce, who has been the Eagles’ starting center (when healthy) for seven years, still has a case to be made as the NFL’s best at his position. He remains the anchor of what has become one of the league’s best offensive lines, even without Jason Peters.

After the Raiders’ 30-10 loss to the Chargers on Sunday, Del Rio announced that he’s been fired and in something that came as a surprise to absolutely no one, Jon Gruden has been hired to replace him.

To lure Gruden out of the ESPN broadcast booth, the Raiders gave him a 10-year deal that will be worth up to $100 million. Although the Gruden hire makes plenty of sense for the Raiders, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work out. Gruden has coached since 2008 and hasn’t won a playoff game since leading the Buccaneers to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Abdullah Anderson, DT, Bucknell — Anderson was one of the defensive stars at the Rose Bowl. He’s quick off the snap with a strong push. The 6-4, 295-pound pass rusher knows how to use his hands and he had a strip-sack that led to Herron’s touchdown in the NFLPA Bowl.

Jacob Alsadek, OG, Arizona — Alsadek is huge at 6-7, 325, and understands how to redirect pass rushers. He has good balance and bends well and does a good job of getting to the next level.

Troy Apke, S, Penn State — Apke was an excellent special teams player at Penn State and showed off his ball skills at the NFLPA Bowl. After having just one interception all season and two for his career, the 6-1, 198-pound safety picked off Michigan quarterback John O’Korn in Saturday’s NFLPA Bowl and was named game MVP.chargers_070

This is the Bears’ window to escape the NFC North cellar.

The Giants gave Ben McAdoo his … well, not a vote of confidence, but he’s not going anywhere the rest of this season. Now they return to MetLife Stadium, where they lost 51-17 to the Rams last time in the building.

The brief window of optimism about the Bears hanging in the playoff race slammed shut fast with three straight aggravating losses. Now it’s just getting Mitchell Trubisky experience and making decisions on the coaches, front office and roster. If the Eagles are going to cool off at any point, this week isn’t likely to be the time. Jay Ajayi has now broken off long runs in each of his two games since the trade from Miami. Dropping a weapon like that into this offense doesn’t even seem fair.

Speaking of underwhelming quarterbacks in Jaguars history, that defense is doing Blake Bortles a big favor in covering up his weaknesses and giving him chances to do something with the few times he needs to throw. He has the seventh-lowest passer rating (81.8) among current starters, and it’s not hurting his team.

Yes, a shutout is a shutout, and three shutouts are three shutouts. Also yes: The Ravens’ defense has accomplished this against some dreadful offenses in the Bengals, Dolphins and Packers. But that means the defense is doing what it’s supposed to do, and if Joe Flacco and the offensehold up its end, the Ravenskeep their playoff hopes alive. It helps that they’re 11-1 at home in prime time under John Harbaugh.
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Dallas, AT&T Stadium chosen as site of 2018 NFL draft

Dallas has been chosen as the host of the 2018 NFL draft, with all three days taking place at AT&T Stadium, commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday.

The event will be held April 26-28 at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys had earlier pushed for the draft to be held at both AT&T Stadium and The Star, the team’s new training facility in Frisco.

Philadelphia had been in contention to again host the draft, while Green Bay and Kansas City were considered long shots.

It will be the first time the draft will happen in an NFL stadium. Last year’s event drew an estimated 250,000 fans and was held outdoors for the first time, taking place on the steps of the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The draft never has been held in Texas. A move there represents yet another venue for the event after a run from 1965 to 2014 in which the draft was held annually in New York.

After two years in Chicago, the draft returned to Philadelphia earlier this year for the first time since 1961.

It took Brady fewer games to reach the mark than Favre and Manning. Brady, 40, only needed 240 regular season games to compile those 186 wins. On the other hand, it took Favre 298 games while Manning played in 265 games. Now, Brady can break the all-time record for most regular season wins by knocking off the New York Jets next Sunday.

What does this mean for Brady?

This is yet another reason the five-time Super Bowl champion is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all-time. Brady is a four-time Super Bowl MVP, a two-time league MVP, and a 12-time Pro Bowler. His entire career is loaded with accomplishments.
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They sweep and head to their fifth National League Championship Series in 10 years.

If the D-backs win: Who starts Game 4? Game 1 starter Taijuan Walker lasted just one inning after giving up four runs. Zack Godley relieved him and threw 100 pitches in relief over five innings. So that would likely point to Patrick Corbin, since Walker’s start may still be too fresh in Torey Lovullo’s mind. Corbin had a weird year, pitching much better at home even though Chase Field is a good hitters’ park. He had a 3.15 ERA there and allowed just seven of his 26 home runs at home. One-year home/road splits are tricky, but Lovullo probably goes with Corbin if the D-backs remain alive.

If the Dodgers win: They sweep and head to their fifth National League Championship Series in 10 years. They’ll get to line up Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, which wasn’t the case in either 2013 or 2016 (he started Game 2 both years).

With that in mind, look for Cubs manager Joe Maddon to stack his lineup again with lefties, which probably means Jon Jay and Ben Zobrist at second base (or maybe he gives Ian Happ a start). Note the Cubs are carrying 14 position players, so that also gives Maddon more flexibility off the bench in case Baker brings in one of his lefty relievers.

The prediction: Arrieta is a bit of an unknown with his health, but this could be a game in which both managers have to go to the pens early. Maddon does have John Lackey in reserve. Look for a little more offense, but the Cubs use their home-field advantage to clinch the series with a 5-4 win. Yes, another one-run loss for the Nationals.

Fertitta: This is a really well-run team. Competitively, they do whatever they can to put a good basketball team on the floor every year. It has very good management, from [CEO Tad Brown] to [general manager Daryl Morey] to the head coach to [general counsel Rafael Stone] to PR. It’s kind of weird to walk into a situation where I don’t have to make any changes.

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Alabama started running the ball more with Yeldon and Eddie Lacy and finally got on the board.

During the two-hour meeting, the players also noticed there was no consensus among owners about what to do. Each owner was dealing with the protest differently, and the differing approaches — and ideas — seemed to rile up themselves more than anything the players had said.

Alabama started running the ball more with Yeldon and Eddie Lacy and finally got on the board. Receiver Amari Cooper was a popular target on the next scoring drive, and by halftime the Crimson Tide were within six. Still, Saban wasn’t happy.

Nico Johnson: “Our game plan that week was to make Johnny a pocket passer. We didn’t want him getting outside and ripping and running and extending plays because that’s what he was great at. Well, we didn’t do that. So Saban, after seeing us frustrated on the sideline for not doing our job, he ripped into us. And Coach Smart said the same thing: ‘Just do your job. Just do your job.’ Because we weren’t. A lot of us weren’t doing our job and a couple players got pulled out because of that.”

Lacy began to pile up yardage in the third quarter and the Crimson Tide added a field goal to cut the A&M lead to three points. As day turned to night and the deficit shrunk, the home crowd fed off of it.

Texas A&M receivers coach David Beaty: “One of the biggest memories for me was just how electric that place was. It was unreal. That’s why you want to play college football, right there.”

The next A&M possession was two plays: a 42-yard Manziel toss down the right sideline to Swope and a 24-yard corner route to Malcome Kennedy for a touchdown to give the Aggies a 29-17 lead.

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There are two new high-tech helmet models you’ll likely be seeing on the field this season

I think LeBron was the wisest…going to a state with ZERO income tax. That’s just smart. Can care less about Irving and Mr. Burn Haden. It’s not like Haden ran an interception back for a TD to win the Super Bowl or anything.

Kosar, a Youngstown native, became the Browns’ starting quarterback as a rookie in 1985, and led the franchise to its most successful period since the 1960s. In 1993, Kosar was released by the Browns, with coach Bill Belichick citing his diminishing skills. Kosar signed with the Cowboys, who won the Super Bowl that season.

There are two new high-tech helmet models you’ll likely be seeing on the field this season, both of which try to offer greater protection against concussions. The first is the Vicis Zero1, the product of a Seattle startup operation. A bunch of Seahawks players have tried it out, and it has also been spotted on a few other players, including Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Among other things, it features an exterior shell that deforms upon impact. Here’s a good video report (additional info here and here):

Next up is the Schutt F7, which is easy to spot because of its two exterior flex plates (and was the subject of a detailed Uni Watch report earlier this year). It has been showing up here and there in the preseason.

“The farthest they’ve been is Nashville,” Edwards said of his mum and pop, who plan to take in Weeks 3 and 4 of the NFL season when the Jets play home games against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. “I’ll show them the 9/11 Museum, the Statue of Liberty. A Broadway show, that’s for sure. Times Square.
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That led to the big Thursday reveal of Lonzo’s first signature shoe.

Everybody knows by now what LaVar is charging. Everybody knows all the jokes that inspired. The reviews of the shoe itself are pretty good. Some have claimed they would buy it. Others have claimed they can’t wait for the shoe to flop and end up in the discount bin, and for Lonzo, and LaVar and the entire Ball lineage to end up on food stamps. (Which is a wonderful wish to have for a teenager, by the way, on the sole premise that his father gets on your nerves.)

But everybody was, and is, talking about it.

LaVar, as it also has been pointed out, is getting more mileage for himself and his son with less effort and expense than anyone could ever imagine from what was once an anonymous, nondescript dad of a ballplayer.

If this was his viral marketing plan, then amidst all our vein-popping fury, we’re not giving him enough credit for how he played it all … and played us.

You don’t even have to go back that far to see a recent parallel: LeBron James forming a management company and becoming the string-puller instead of the one being pulled … and having his business partners being patronizingly described by Phil Jackson as his “posse.”

Compared to that, what LaVar Ball is trying is even more extreme. He has no history of being a negotiator, manufacturer or CEO. He set an insanely high price for his son’s shoe deal — likely on purpose, in hindsight — saw them reject it, then set out on his own.

This is a tough contract to evaluate. Ingles is one of the best role players in the NBA, a player capable of hitting 44 percent of his 3s in addition to defending up and down the lineup. He can make plays for teammates with his tremendous vision, as well as rebound and get the break going on his own due to his ball-handling ability. Ingles is the kind of player who just helps you win games on the fringes, pure and simple. He can fit with just about any lineup, and he can make a positive impact due to his wide breadth of skills.
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There’s one more stipulation that could throw a wrench in things, too.

In the NBA, every team that doesn’t make the postseason has a chance at the No. 1 pick. That’s 14 teams, and this year the Boston Celtics have the top odds — thanks to a trade that landed them rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ pick — and a 25 percent shot at picking first. After the first three picks of the NBA draft are decided by the lottery, picks Nos. 4-14 are then established by the standings.

But with more teams on the outside of the playoffs in the NFL (20), the odds would likely be diluted and give the Browns an even smaller chance at the No. 1 selection. SB Nation’s Jason Kirk broke down how the NFL could set up a draft lottery — with the Browns receiving a 20 percent chance at the right to take Garrett.

There’s one more stipulation that could throw a wrench in things, too. In the event of two NBA teams finishing with equal records — something that occurs less frequently in the NBA, due to a 82-game schedule — they split the chances equally.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how a draft lottery could’ve been set up for the 2017 NFL draft:

Gronkowski’s new contract could make him the highest-paid tight end in the league if he’s able to hit that top tier. That surpasses Jimmy Graham, who earns $10 million per year.

While the two-time Super Bowl champion is considered the best tight end in the league, he isn’t the most durable. In his seven-year career, Gronkowski has played in just 88 out of 112 possible games due to injuries. He missed the second half of the 2016 season after undergoing back surgery for the third time since 2009.yankees_1093_abde32b67baa971d-180x180

Tony Romos retirement cost the Texans the chance to play the Patriots in season opener

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The NFL released its schedule for the 2017 season on Thursday evening, and apparently the Houston Texans missed out on playing the Patriots in the NFL Kickoff Game — all thanks to Tony Romo.
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This offseason, the Texans and Broncos were the frontrunners to land Romo after he lost his job to Dak Prescott. Instead, he opted to retire and join CBS in the broadcast booth.

On Good Morning Football Friday, NFL Senior Director of Broadcasting Mike North indicated that the Texans would have been favored to open against the Patriots, had Romo joined them.

No. 1 picks between 1947 and 1958 were won via lottery. Yep, the NFL used to do that, but only for the first pick. The Colts won one of those in 1955, but theyd had the NFLs second-worst record anyway.The Colts took No. 1 picks from the Saints in 1967 and Falcons in 1990 via trades. (The Colts also immediately traded away 1983 No. 1 pick John Elway.)

The Browns pick first in 2017, their only top picks since their back-to-back combo of Tim Couch and Courtney Brown at the turn of the millennium. They have a chance to totally dominate this draft, if they dont Browns it up, and are expected to pick Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett at the top, along with a QB at some point.

Luke Joeckel, Ereck Flowers, and Greg Robinson were all highly regarded draft prospects, and all three have struggled so far in the NFL. Watching their college film, its clear that they are athletic and talented, and have the potential to be excellent pros. Joeckel and Robinson played in college offenses that barely resembled anything that exists in the NFL. I could hardly find any clips to make comparisons. Flowers played in a pro-style offense, so its even more disappointing that he hasnt made the transition well.

Refs penalize 49ers’ Bruce Ellington for lightly tossing ball at opponent

When refs announced an unsportsmanlike conduct on 49ers WR Bruce Ellington for “throwing the football at” a member of the Rams after fair catching a punt, we thought we were going to see something juicy on the replay. We saw this:

I think everybody agrees that athletes shouldn’t be allowed to angrily chuck things at their opponents, including the ball of the game they were playing. As enjoyable as it was to watch Chris Dudley flip out and hurl a ball at Shaq’s back after getting dunked on, we can all agree it’s unsportsmanlike and uncalled for and could lead to unnecessary injury, if the ball is thrown hard enough.

But Ellington tossed it. He tossed it lightly. He tossed it so lightly that the Rams player easily caught the ball after it softly ricocheted off his chest, with no flinching or recoiling after getting hit by the ball.

The penalty was within 15 yards of San Francisco’s end zone, so it was only a 5-yard penalty, but, still!

I think someone needs to have a chat with Jameis Winston, after he made what appeared to be an inappropriate comment while speaking to an elementary school classroom earlier this week. Winston empowered the boys in the room, telling them they were “strong,” and that they’d accomplish anything they wanted in life, then adding “but the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle.” Twitter immediately jumped on Winston for the word “silent,” in particular, and Winston later said that he used poor word choice. The word “silent” is bad, but this goes beyond that. Speech like this basically implies that men and women are not equal and are defined by these gender roles, and Winston is saying all of this to elementary school students. According to the Tampa Bay Times, one girl in the class turned to a teacher and said, “I’m strong too.”3