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Amid Charlotte uproar, Panthers happy to stay in their quiet football bubble
  • NFL

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The pads and cleats were being stripped away. The showers were running. Laughter and the stench of sweat filled the air. Nothing about the Panthers’ post-practice locker room indicated anything out of the ordinary for a Wednesday afternoon. The Vikings are coming to town Sunday — business as usual.

    Never mind the racial tension and public uncertainty unfolding in the city surrounding Bank of America Stadium.

    STEELE: Time for Panthers, owners to speak up

    With protesters filling the Charlotte streets after the police-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, the ignorance-is-bliss formula, right or wrong, seems to be working for the Panthers. Their leader, after all, is quarterback Cam Newton, the public face of the no-opinion tactic. It's a stark contrast to the Black Lives Matter-based protesting Colin Kaepernick has brought to the NFL over the past month. The Panthers didn't want to talk about social issues before Tuesday's shooting, and the close-to-home strike doesn't change anything.

    "Actually, to be all the way real, I don't think one person in here came in and had an opinion on that situation," wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. told Sporting News. “I mean, not one person. We have a lot of people who will fight on their opinions to death. But as whole, as a group, we haven't had not one conversation. I haven't, but I know as a whole in this locker room, nobody really talks about that situa[......]

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    Still alive in AFC, Jets sadly have no choice but to count on Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • NFL

    After all the drama of the last three weeks surrounding their quarterbacks, the Jets suddenly find themselves in two very bizarre positions: in the playoff chase, and stuck with a completely unpredictable, hyper-sensitive and well-paid quarterback.

    Yes, things almost would have been easier for New York had it lost in Cleveland on Sunday.

    MORE: Jets-Browns highlights | Week 8 scoreboard

    Had they lost, the Jets would have had yet another quarterback controversy raging all week, true, and some insanely nasty back-page headlines back home. But what they have instead is a 3-5 record, which leaves them in the thick of the AFC race … and Ryan Fitzpatrick coming off another victorious half of football to cover up for one wretched half.

    So this is the rollercoaster the Jets will ride for a while now.

    In the last two games, they lost Fitzpatrick’s replacement Geno Smith for the season, won behind Fitzpatrick over the Ravens, rode out Fitzpatrick’s post-game temper tantrum and Todd Bowles’ sharply-worded retort, stumbled through a horrendous half by Fitzpatrick against the Browns and then pulled themselves together after halftime to win, 31-28.

    The difference between 2-6 (or, worse, 1-7) and 3-5 is enormous for the Jets. They can’t give up on the season now. They can’t look to the future and go young and see what they have in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. They can’t say, thank you for your service, Ryan, but it did[......]

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    Jeff Fisher's contract extension means nothing
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    Don’t cross Jeff Fisher’s name off your hot-seat list just yet.

    While the Los Angeles Rams have signed coach Fisher to a two-year contract extension that would keep him with the team through 2018, ESPN reported it is not known whether the deal includes team options, and cautions, "As a fact, nothing is guaranteed beyond this season."

    IYER: Rams keep taking the Fisher bait

    Even with the extension in place, Fisher’s future with the Rams is “still up in the air and will largely depend on how the team plays this season and how it finishes out,” the report says.

    If the Rams play well, Fisher will keep his job; if they don’t, he'll get fired but make more money because of this extension. 

    While Fisher’s new deal was signed this season, it was agreed to during the preseason, according to an NFL Network report. Fisher’s current deal was to expire this year.

    A decision to bring Fisher back next season will certainly perplex Rams fans. The team has had a losing record in each of the first four years of Fisher’s tenure, and this season — his fift[......]

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    Sheldon Richardson rips Brandon Marshall
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    First, the Jets were embarrassed Saturday on the field in a 41-3 loss to the Patriots.

    Then, one of the Jets' top players directed the "E" word toward a teammate. A high-profile one at that.

    MORE: Joe Namath takes shot at Jets

    "He should be embarrassed," defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said, via New York Daily News of wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

    More, please.

    "There's no reason," Richardson continued. "He just should be. He knows what he did. It's cool, bro. … It's irrelevant. Scratch that comment."

    Marshall, who criticized Richardson earlier this week for a social media snafu, seemed to take the high road.

    MOCK DRAFT: Jets go for defense

    "That's Sheldon, man," Marshall told two reporters, according to the Daily News. "It's Sheldon. Our stories and our journey, the start of our careers are totally different, but really similar. It hurts to see someone with so much potential and so many people trying to help him. … I just wish him the best. I hope that he gets everything he wants, man.

    "He's an amazing talent. I just want him to s[......]

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    Falcons vs. Rams: Score, results, highlights from wild-card game in LA
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    When Rams quarterback Jared Goff took the field against the Falcons on Saturday night in the wild-card round, he was one of four NFL quarterbacks making postseason debuts this year. But the inexperience for Goff and the Los Angeles offense contributed to its 26-13 defeat at the hand of Atlanta.

    The Falcons dominated time of possession 37:34-22:26 thanks in part to great third-down defense and their ability to contain Rams running back Todd Gurley in the passing game — he had 10 receiving yards on 10 targets. The Falcons advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they'll face the Eagles on the road in Philadelphia.

    MORE: Watch NFL in U.S. live and on demand with fuboTV (7-day trial)

    Los Angeles actually ended up out-gaining Atlanta in total yards, but two costly turnovers, both on special teams, were too much for the Rams to overcome. Gurley ended up with 101 yards rushing on 14 carries, but with the Rams in catch-up mode for the majority of the second half, his production on the ground wasn't as valuable.

    Here are all the[......]

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    NFL's new 'lowering-of-helmet' rule could change football as we know it
  • NFL null

    ORLANDO, Fla. — After this year's annual NFL meeting, everyone should now understand exactly what constitutes a catch. The league's next challenge: clearly defining a far more radical change that will alter the way an entire sport is played.

    This isn't hyperbole. NFL football as we know it may never be the same depending upon what becomes of the "lowering-of-the-helmet" ban approved Tuesday by team owners.

    The exact wording of the rule will be completed later in the offseason. But as explained by NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay, the league is shifting from "situational protection" shielding defenseless pass-catchers and long snappers to covering “all players at all times."

    A 15-yard penalty will be assessed with possible ejection for egregious use-of-helmet violations.

    "If you lower your head to initiate contact and you initiate, that's a foul," McKay told co-host Mark Dominik and me Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Really what we're looking at are space plays. If you're there to receive a blow, that’s different. We're not saying you can't protect yourself. But if you're going to go forward and bring your head and initiate contact, yes (it’s prohibited)."

    Think about what this means.

    The ballcarrier who leads with his head and collides with a defensive player while charging toward the goal line tryi[......]

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    Week 4 NFL picks, predictions
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    In Week 4, the nation should focus less on the early games, the doubleheader games and the primetime games in favor of those off-the-grid, 4:05 p.m. ET kickoffs. As luck would have it (bad luck, in this case), two members of the Quarterback Draft Class of 2018 get their first NFL regular-season starts in that odd, non-national-TV-window time frame.

    Baker Mayfield, the first pick, and Josh Rosen, the 10th, aren't coming in off the bench to save the struggling veterans this time. Their teams, the Browns and Cardinals, belong to them now; they’re where they were meant to be when the draft-day investment was made. Their respective coaches, Hue Jackson and Steve Wilks, are getting coast-to-coast side-eyes about their debuts, but the transition was likely never going to be smooth considering the depth of the hole from which both franchises are digging out.

    All of which makes a pair of games featuring four teams with a combined two wins (and one tie), shoehorned between the marquee matchups, must-see matchups.

    MORE PREDICTIONS:
    Week 4 NFL picks against the spread

    Week 4 NFL picks, predictions

    (All times ET)

    Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New En[......]

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    NFL playoffs: Picks, odds for Chargers vs. Patriots divisional-round game
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    A divisional playoff game in New England featuring the Chargers and Patriots feels like a time warp. Gillette Stadium is where the Chargers' postseason runs ended after the 2006 and 2007 seasons, the former in the divisional round and the latter in the AFC championship game.

    This time, one could argue the Chargers, this time from Los Angeles, are bringing to New England the best team they’ve had during quarterback Philip Rivers' career.

    MORE: Full 2019 NFL playoff schedule

    Some interesting numbers around this game: The Chargers are 0-7 against Tom Brady and the Patriots, including playoffs, since Rivers became the starter in ’06. Rivers’ only career win against New England came in 2008, when Matt Cassel was the Patriots’ starting QB.

    Another nugget: The Patriots are undefeated at home this season, a perfect 8-0. The Chargers are 8-1 on the road, with their only loss coming to the Rams early in the season.

    That sets up one juicy divisional playoff game. Below are Sporting News’ picks and predictions for Chargers vs. Patriots.

    NFL playoff picks: Chargers at Patriots

      Date, time: Sunday, Jan. 13, 1:05 p.m.Location: Gillette Stadium, F[......]

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    Cowboys' Dak Prescott says everyone can get huge contract with NFL salary cap trends
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    Dak Prescott isn't worrie夜网论坛d about being the highest paid NFL player, or even the highest-paid quarterback.

    The Cowboys star said the way mega contracts and the salary cap for the NFL are trending, eventually every good player will be able to sign a lucrative deal.

    “For somebody to say you can only take so much because of the salary cap or you can only do this or that, I don’t know how fair that is to say,” Prescott said, via USA Today. “Because with gambling, with everything going into this league, everything is going to continue to keep going up. It’s important for all these guys to get every bit of their worth.

    "I want to see (running back) Zeke (Elliott) the highest paid. I want to see (receiver) Amari (Cooper) the highest paid. I want to see myself up there. And I don’t think any of that is too far-fetched. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, a year or two later, you’re not going to be the highest paid. That’s just the way the game goes.”

    The Cowboys and Prescott have been working on getting a deal signed, but Prescott said the bigger contract isn't going to make him a different or more successful player.

    “Success is such a big umbrella in my eyes,” Prescott said. “I don’t even think about judgin[......]

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    Sterling Shepard injury update: Giants wide receiver in concussion protocol
  • NFL null null

    The Giants could return to New York for their home opener in Week 2 without their top receiver.

    According to the New York Post, Sterling Shepard is currently in concussion protocol. 

    Shepard, who had six receptions for 42 yards in the Giants' 35-17 loss to the Cow夜网论坛boys, is dealing with a concussion sustained sometime during Sunday's game.

    Before the Post's report confirming the diagnosis, coach Pat Shurmur said Shepard "may" be dealing with a concussion during a conference call with media.

    “He’s getting tested. He has to go through some of the testing," Shurmur said. "It appears he might be in the protocol here. Each guy is different, as you know. We’ll just have to see how it goes.’’

    The concussion doesn't eliminate Shepard from the upcoming contest against the Bills, but if he does not recover in time, he will likely miss action.

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