The first? The 4 p.m. ET tip is arguably the first time in Arizona coach Sean Miller’s eight seasons in Tucson that the league’s two traditional powers and rivals (across various eras, but still) will meet up with the Bruins, and not the Wildcats, looking like the obviously superior team. For pretty much all of Miller’s tenure, the Wildcats have either been marginally better (and there have been some pretty marginal UCLA teams in the past eight years) or — more often in the years since Alford arrived — downright dominant.
The 2013-14 Bruins were 28-9, 12-6 in the league, had the conference’s best offense, went to the Sweet 16, and even knocked off Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, and were still never mentioned in the same national-title-contention breath. The 2014-15 Wildcats were a juggernaut. The 2015-16 team was just OK, by Miller’s standards, but still vastly better than the 15-17 Bruins, Jan. 7’s home upset notwithstanding.
The script has been flipped, as the kids might say.
Our 2017 farm rankings are based on seeing prospects and talking to scouts, executives and team officials. For the prospect rankings, at least 10 prospects will be ranked, though most teams will have more than 10 players in the minors who project to be more than replacement-level big leaguers — and every one of those players count.
This means some teams near the top of the list get “credit” for having 20 or more of these types of players, whereas the bottom third may struggle to include 10. Favor is given to prospects with higher upside compared to those with less potential to become stars but with a higher probability of reaching the majors in some role.
As few clubs are able to afford stars on the open market, a team developing its own stars is critical for many franchises. A prospect who projects as a star is currency to acquire current major leaguers. Teams in the top 10 have potential stars and second-tier prospects with future big-league value, while teams in the bottom 10 don’t have much of either.
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“He has a real high football IQ and I’ve learned a lot from him,” said Jaguars third-year cornerback Demetrius McCray. “He’s a players’ coach and he’s just a real genuine guy, too. A real genuine guy. He loves his players. Loves his players. He puts his players first.”
But it hasn’t translated into wins yet. And many fans complain that a team that is built around the idea of improvement hasn’t improved.
Perhaps the sole highlight during Mularkey’s time as the head coach of the Jaguars came in a November game that was nationally televised on Monday Night Football. The normally stoic coach angrily threw down his clipboard of plays when he didn’t agree with referees.
He was human. He had emotions. It was a revelation, but far too little, too late for Mularkey, who was fired less than two months later after just two wins in his only season as head coach.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers: The talent’s still there, but he just hasn’t been the same without the Tallahassee Police Department in his corner.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars: This is just a smart ass take on quarterback rankings, but I don’t want the angry drunks of DUVALLLLL Twitter clogging up my mentions so we’ll just put Bortles at No. 22 and quietly step away from the screen.
Authentic Allen Bailey Jersey Josh McCown, Rams: “Nick Josh, for us, is the perfect fit … So this was a good deal. But for us, we get a younger experienced quarterback that’s won a lot of games in this league, can make all the throws and is somewhat durable,” explained Jeff Fisher at the introductory press conference. It’s their first year back in Los Angeles, so the Rams have to make an electrifying (re)-introduction to the fans there. Who better than Fisher and Kerry Collins Josh McCown to make that happen.
Philadelphia Eagles: Rookie Carson Wentz provided hope and a few highlights, but some fatal flaws ultimately did the Eagles in. It isn’t hard to see why the Eagles stumbled after starting the season 3-0.
San Diego Chargers: Injuries and up-and-down play led to the Chargers’ last-place finish, but San Diego’s poor showing really boils down to coach Mike McCoy’s failings in the fourth quarter.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers followed a blueprint similar to 2015 by offering a promising blowout victory in Week 1, only to follow it up with a series of missteps while losing 13 straight games.
Game Youth Sean Lissemore Jersey As usual when two teams come together for preseason workouts, there was a scuffle between the Eagles and Ravens, but it didn’t last long before Tim Tebow made his presence felt:
A little scuffle between #Eagles-Ravens third team offense and defense until Tim Tebow parts them, [email protected] said, like the Red Sea.
Joint practices around the league have turned into fight fests, but Bill Belichick and Sean Payton kept things peaceful as the Saints and Patriots worked together Wednesday at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The teams will work together for two more days before playing each other Saturday.
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The big news on Wednesday was the return of Tom Brady, who missed Tuesday’s practice while attending DeflateGate settlement talks. Brady skipped Wednesday’s hearing in Manhattan.
Ranking quarterbacks used to be so easy. Peyton Manning was first. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, in some order, were second and third. We had 8-10 guys who were easy starters, another handful who were fine needy/bye week plays, and a bunch of guys who were Chad Henne or something, whom you ignored except when you needed to play a defense against them.
There was nothing unanimous in our group’s consensus rankings, and there was a lot of discord — one quarterback was ranked as high as third and as low as 12th, another between fourth and 12th. Jay Cutler could be 13th at the position, or he could be 25th. With so much variance in opinions, a key to your draft will be figuring out who might rise and who might fall.
Young only started eight of the 15 contests he played in last season. I know some folks think starting is overrated, but I will always call bullshit on that. In all but the rarest occasions, the starter is going to play the lion’s share of the game no matter how good his backup is. He is going to be the one in there at crunch time, giving him more opportunities to make big plays. That also means being a backup sucks a lot more than starting, which I can speak to from experience.
I felt like Young should have been starting over defensive end Jared Allen — another free agent addition — most of last season anyway. But, hey, I don’t coach the Bears.
Then again, the cats who made the call to start Allen over Young last year don’t coach the Bears anymore.
(Would be a dubious NFL record for the two of them to share). Fortunately teams are starting to recognize that you dont need to draft a QB of the future when hes allready on your roster, and the Chargers gave a huge contract extention to Phillip Rivers- a known commodity who can get you as far as any of the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Cowboys went 12-4 in 2014, and their formula for success revolved around Murray. Plus, then-Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott was a sophomore at the time, ineligible for the draft. And there was no reason to think the Cowboys would be so poor the following season that they would have a chance to select Elliott in the 2016 NFL draft.
¡°This 15 for Ohio State is pretty good,¡± Smith, the NFL¡¯s all-time leading rusher, said to Garrett.
After a season spent with tunnel vision, Garrett knew of Elliott, if not about him at the time.
“So I kind of watched him because Emmitt knows a little something about running backs. I watched him closer and closer, and obviously he had a big game that night,¡± Garrett said. ¡°And then you watch him throughout the next year, and he obviously is a really, really good football player.”
Veteran value refers to players signed to free-agent contracts, subject to negotiation, projection and skill assessment. We hear plenty about free-agent busts. Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, who earned $21 million this season and has $16 million fully guaranteed for 2017, is the most recent example. We occasionally celebrate high-priced veterans who provide equitable return, such as the dominant Kelechi Osemele — whom the Oakland Raiders made the NFL’s richest guard ($12.7 million in 2016 and another $12.7 million in 2017).
That group combined for 677 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns this season.
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You aren’t going to find a veteran free agent who provided a similar ratio of production to earnings this season. So the natural question becomes: Has there ever been one?
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Comparing dollars from different eras is tricky, as is attempting to equate production from various positions. I reached out to some people I trust with deep knowledge of NFL contract negotiations over time, and none of them could agree on someone who provided demonstrably more value than Blount this season.
Thanks to scheduling anomalies, Embiid won’t have another back-to-back until Jan. 20-21. After that? He has another back-to-back. Then three more leading up to All-Star Weekend and a probable date with Rihanna.
All of those back-to-backs in a two-week span up to the break will dent Embiid’s trade value. But from now until Jan. 20? Embiid might not miss a single game. His momentum and value should spike over the next two weeks.
He’s already the talk of the NBA. Hype drives trade value. Embiid is a self-running human hype machine.
We just ranked him in our top 20. This might be the time to cash out for a more stable asset. Try for Nikola Jokic. Myles Turner. Draymond Green. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Game Kids Tim Brown Jersey Preternaturally cantankerous Philly fans might argue that Embiid’s stats could improve, even at just 25-28 minutes a night.
League officials track the numbers, and they know coaches wonder when good team defense as we have traditionally measured it might become impossible. Does the NBA want the equivalent of a 53-47 National Football League game? “It’s an interesting question,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations. “And it’s a good problem to have.”
For now, everyone is waiting to see what happens over the last 40-plus games — and if the scoring explosion is real.
Limited Youth Phil Kessel Jersey Maybe it’s all just an illusion. We see fast breaks and 3-point barrages, and assume something new is happening. Maybe pace is tricking us. The league has seen per-possession scoring at this level before, including in the three seasons leading to the 2011 lockout — not that long ago! The 3-boom was in its relative infancy then, and offenses were still killing it.
It was clear all season long that the 49ers had problems up and down the organization. On Monday, after firing head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke, we started learning the depths of their dysfunction.
Frustration from #49ers coaches as it relates to GM Trent Baalke: He never talked to them. Never asked em what players they liked.
Baalke reportedly had too little communication with Kelly¡¯s staff and his players. And those issues stretched as far back as the 2016 draft, when Kelly lobbied to select Dak Prescott and was ignored by the GM, according to NFL Network¡¯s Mike Garafolo.
It¡¯s worth pointing out that this could easily be the opposite, too. Kelly seems to be getting his side of the story out before Baalke gets his chance.
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Prior to the injury, the Texans fell into a 7-0 hole against the Titans, but Savage started with completions on five of eight passes for 25 yards. During his last play before leaving the game, Savage ran a quarterback sneak and was hit by a couple of Titans linebackers and was slightly slow to get to his feet.
Osweiler began the season as the starter for the Texans after joining the team in free agency. But he struggled in 2016 with 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions before he was replaced by Savage in Week 15.
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Despite the team¡¯s struggles at quarterback, the Texans clinched the AFC South title in Week 16 and are guaranteed the No. 4 seed in the AFC.
Throughout the season, SB Nation medical expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi will provide his insights on the most notable injuries in the NFL landscape and how they might affect roster decisions on game day. Here is a look at some key injuries and their impact for Sunday’s games.
It’s been a tough past couple of weeks for the New England Patriots, but the cavalry is on the way Sunday night against the Texans in the form of Rob Gronkowski. The All-Pro tight end suffered a knee sprain and bone bruise two weeks ago in the Patriots’ loss to the Denver Broncos and sat out last week’s home defeat to Philadelphia. Gronkowski has practiced on a limited basis late this week and tested the knee in pregame warmups before the team’s medical staff and head coach Bill Belichick made a decision on his status.
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Gronkowski wound up being active, though early reports indicated he may be on a pitch count to minimize the risk of re-injury as the Patriots make their push toward the playoffs. His backup, Scott Chandler, was also on the injury report but he was also declared active for the game. Wide receiver Danny Amendola also played, though Julian Edelman was ruled out once again.
Gavin Escobar Youth Jersey The Denver Broncos found themselves dealing with two ailing running backs as they prepared for Sunday afternoon’s divisional matchup with Oakland. Ronnie Hillman was good to go despite dealing with a lingering foot injury, and C.J. Anderson was questionable due to an ankle sprain that forced him out of last week’s win over San Diego in the second quarter.
“I thought he did a good job of standing in there in the first half and delivering some balls on third down and made some crucial third down throws and runs,â€ Jackson, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He made some first downs with his legs, which extended drives which gave us a chance to score more points. I think we had probably more yards, more first downs, more points in the first half than we have had in a long time, and that is kind of the way you hope to play.”
This is not ideal, obviously, and two overzealous safeties allowed this to happen, but a slightly underthrown ball saves the day for the San Francisco 49ers.
Jaelen Strong Womens Jersey And, that’s rare. Palmer is one of the best deep-ball throwers in the NFL right now — if not the best — and has demonstrated that he can hit targets on a dime even in the face of pressure.
Limited Youth Brandon Pettigrew Jersey The Texans offense, in particular the running game, had finally shown signs of life about half way through the second quarter after having fallen behind to the Chiefs 13-0. Alfred Blue popped for a big 49-yard gain on second-and-9 from the Texans’ 36-yard line that took them all the way down to the Chiefs’ 13-yard line. Eventually, Blue and his backup Jonathan Grimes would get the Texans set up with a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line. That gave them at least three plays to cut into Kansas City’s lead.
Then the J.J. Watt wildcat debacle ensued on first-and-goal. Don’t ask me why a team that just had success running with their, ya know, running backs decided to turn to Watt instead of Blue and Grimes on first down because I have no idea. But they did, and that wasted a precious goal line play on bullshit in a situation on a stage that called for a non-bullshit play.
Second-and-goal saw comedy turn into disaster when Brian Hoyer — lined up in shotgun to advertise “Hey, we as a team are about to make another bad decision!” — was intercepted for the third time (!) in the first half, this time by Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga in the end zone. Had he just thrown the ball away, the Texans had another down to try to get it in the end zone.
But he did.
Everybody remembers that play because it was so indicative of Houston’s overall epic failure, but do you remember who it was that pressured Hoyer into that interception in the first place? That’s right, it was that big ass nose tackle Poe who was coming for him.