The Cowboys’ rookie quarterback threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns

Rodgers has thrown 24 touchdowns to one interception since Nov. 13 and has a 117.9 passer rating in the past eight games. Two months ago, analysts picked apart his fundamentals in numerous “What’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers?” pieces. Their thoughts? His mechanics were messed up. In mid-October, Rodgers was the 26th-rated passer in the NFL.

“At 4-6, he was still the same player,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We weren’t playing good, and sometimes he didn’t do quite as good as he normally does.”

Yes, two months can change careers and legacies. On Nov. 20, Packers fans were calling for McCarthy’s head. The team plane arrived back in Green Bay sometime around 2 a.m., and the coach drove to his office and set up for the day’s work.

His depth chart might as well have been written in pencil. The defense, which had given up 153 points in the four-game skid, was decimated by injury; the running game was down to Ty Montgomery, a receiver converted to a running back. McCarthy’s family hears the brunt of it when things are bad, and by late November, his mother started lighting more church candles.

When McCarthy heard what Rodgers said that night after the loss at Washington, that he was confident things would turn around, the coach loved it. It was exactly how he felt.

They’d soon get some key players back, and both Rodgers and McCarthy thought that if the team could hang on and get a shot of confidence, the Packers would be OK.

The Cowboys’ rookie quarterback threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers managed to pick off Prescott once, a key takeaway by defensive back Micah Hyde that saved at least three points and possibly seven, but Ryan isn’t exactly turnover-prone. He threw only seven interceptions all season and hasn’t thrown one during the Falcons’ five-game winning streak.

McNair didn’t just expose Redman to professional football

McNair didn’t just expose Redman to professional football, he also took his nephew to the University of Pittsburgh for a Nike camp. “I was one of the best kids there. They offered me a full scholarship verbally, but then they saw my grades, and my grades were terrible,” he shared.
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Game Klay Thompson Jersey “My uncle told me, ¡®You have to buckle down. If you want to make it where I’ve made it, your athletic ability can only take you so far.'” Those were tough words to hear, but Redman took the advice to heart. “If someone has been where you want to go, you have no choice but to take heed and listen,” he said.

By his senior year, the offers were rolling in. Redman hoped to play for Temple, but he would have had to sit out a year because of his grades. It was actually Mark Harrison, an acquaintance from Paulsboro’s arch rival Woodson, who helped secure him a spot at Bowie State University, a small Division II school in Maryland where he could play immediately.

And UK NFL fans aren’t stupid. The next watershed moment in the NFL’s British expansion will come on Oct. 25, 2015, when Jacksonville plays Buffalo in Wembley. Stateside that’s just an old-fashioned crappy hangover game relegated to a 9:30 a.m. ET regional broadcast.

None of this really matters, because it’s the NFL. One saving grace for fans in Jacksonville (and London) is that UK merchandise sales of all 32 teams is white hot, to the point where multiple third-party merchandise vendors at Wembley told me they can’t order enough of any item of any NFL team fast enough. But as American NFL fans already know, corporatism never loses in pro football. If both the Jags and Bills limp into that October game and manage to keep the Wembley sellout streak alive, the likelihood of a London franchise seems that much more imminent.

The Browns will release Robert Griffin III and try to sign Tyrod Taylor

The Ravens will lose two starters on defense, which has long been the strength of the team. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil will get cut to free up $6 million in much-needed salary-cap room, and nose tackle Brandon Williams will leave in free agency after another team gives him a deal similar to the one signed last year by Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison ($24 million guaranteed). The Ravens are expected to address the need for a pass-rusher early in the draft, and Baltimore can move promising second-year defensive lineman Michael Pierce into Williams’ spot. — Jamison Hensley

The Bengals will not be able to re-sign both Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth, meaning their offensive line will take a huge hit. The Bengals will need either Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher to step up as they enter the third year of their careers. With another big draft class likely on the way, expect at least one new offensive lineman to be in the mix. — Katherine Terrell

Elite Kids Britton Colquitt Jersey The Browns will release Robert Griffin III and try to sign Tyrod Taylor. Griffin played better in his final two games, but didn’t do enough to warrant another year under Hue Jackson. Jackson will instead turn to Taylor, who protected the ball, stayed healthy and played better than he’s given credit for in Buffalo. — Pat McManamon
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The Steelers will add at least one more viable pass-catcher for Ben Roethlisberger’s arsenal. Antonio Brown has been the only stable option throughout 2016, and while Martavis Bryant will return from suspension, he must prove he can be trusted. The Steelers will pair Brown and slot receiver Eli Rogers with a shiny-new draft pick unless Sammie Coates returns strongly from an injury-plagued season. — Jeremy Fowler

O’Brien would then punt on fourth-and-5 on New England’s side of the field

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Fortunately, the Texans got another gift and didn’t waste it when the otherwise-brilliant Dion Lewis fumbled the ensuing kickoff away, with Osweiler punching it in to C.J. Fiedorowicz for a score on second down to make it 14-13. (Models would also suggest they should have gone for two to try to tie the game, even in the second quarter, but that’s less important.)

O’Brien would then punt on fourth-and-5 on New England’s side of the field, the sort of decision you make when you’re playing in what is likely to be a low-scoring game in which field position would be difficult for both offenses overcome. While his defense held up temporarily after a punt that netted all of 26 yards, this was not one of those games.

Down 17-13 in the third quarter, O’Brien again punted from no-man’s land on fourth-and-4 from the Patriots’ 41-yard line. The Patriots then drove 90 yards in eight plays to score a touchdown and go up 11 points. After a third (longer) punt inside Patriots’ territory, O’Brien got a second gift from Brady, who threw his second interception of the game after throwing two picks all season.
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The NFL playoffs — and the race to Super Bowl LI — are in full swing, including this weekend’s divisional round games. Check out ESPN.com’s coverage of every postseason game.

But if the Packers win the whole thing this year like Starr’s team did in 1967, they will talk about Aaron Rodgers’ final pass on Sunday to beat those same Cowboys for decades to come. The great ones need memorable moments, signature plays, to frame their impact on the sport, and that 36-yard throw to Jared Cook on the sideline in the final seconds was a little like Tiger Woods’ forever chip-in on Augusta National’s 16th hole.

Robinson is slotted behind Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller on the New Orleans depth chart entering the season

Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints
Robinson is slotted behind Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller on the New Orleans depth chart entering the season, which is somewhat akin to being Sam Bradford’s backup quarterback — you don’t have a job quite yet, but you know the injuries are comin’. Ingram’s history as a productive running back is only about two-third of last season, while a broken collarbone derailed Spiller’s season. Robinson will see some real action this season, one way or another.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens
You probably trust Justin Forsett as a starting running back — he had six-plus fantasy points 14 times in 16 games last year, with at least nine points 12 times. And now he has Marc Trestman as his offensive coordinator, which must be manna from heaven for a running back. The flip side is that he’s a 29-year-old running back who had 1,692 rushing yards total in five years before exploding for 1,266 last year. He’s not the most known commodity, and finished 2014 with two bad games in his last three. Behind him on the depth chart is a bunch of nothing, with Taliaferro the best of the bunch.

The rosters on Thursday will look a lot different than they did during their last meeting, due in large part to both injuries and starters resting ahead of the season. The big news out of Green Bay this preseason was the season-ending ACL injury for star wide receiver Jordy Nelson, which was followed by receiver Randall Cobb leaving the field during the Week 3 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

While Cobb is not expected to be out long, Nelson was placed on injured reserve this week. The Packers currently have Ty Montgomery, Myles White and Jeff Janis at the position, but the three are young and inexperienced. Each has shown glimpses of having big-play ability, specifically third-round draft pick Montgomery, who caught two passes for 72 yards against the Eagles.

it seems as if the star running back will be in the lineup for Week 1 against the Colts

Levy was held out of practice again Wednesday with the same hip injury that has kept him off the field for three weeks. Bleacher Report’s sports medicine writer Will Carroll tweeted Wednesday the Lions are concerned that Levy could be out for a significant duration of time.
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DeAndre Levy out this weekend. Concern is possible internal damage. Could be extended absence, surgery. Trying to manage symptoms.

If Levy doesn’t play Sunday, Josh Bynes could take his place. Bynes, 26, was signed off the Ravens’ practice squad last season.

LeSean McCoy (RB, Bills):

Though McCoy missed three preseason games with a hamstring injury, it seems as if the star running back will be in the lineup for Week 1 against the Colts. Head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday he thinks McCoy is “going to be ready to roll,” per the Buffalo News.

The Patriots have won with a bad pass defense before; they went to the Super Bowl in 2012 with Edelman slotting in at corner. But the Revis loss will be tough to overcome. Quarterbacks who targeted Revis last season only completed 43.4 percent of their passes for 523 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. He was flat-out dominant.

The fortunes of the Patriots defense seems to ride on its young front-seven, as Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower appear to be on the verge of superstardom. But it might take some time to get there.

As the Patriots showed last season after starting 2-2, it’s all about how you finish. There’s little doubt that the Pats should be atop the AFC East once again, poised for a first-round bye.
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But it might take a little time to get to that level. Patriots fans who are expecting a repeat of 2007 could be disappointed.

Odell Beckham suffers hamstring injury, returns late vs. 49ers

Odell Beckham, Jr., left Sunday night’s game against the 49ers with a hamstring injury and has been ruled questionable to return. His last play before leaving was a weaving 17-yard touchdown reception to give the Giants a 20-13 lead near the end of the third quarter.
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Beckham returned late in the fourth quarter as the Giants were driving for a game-winning score. Though he didn’t catch another pass, he drew a pass interference penalty on 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock that gave the Giants a first down on San Francisco’s 12-yard line.
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The pass defense is playing so well because the pass rush has been excellent assisting them. Going into Sunday, the Broncos led the league with 18 sacks, and they added another four of them against the Raiders. Von Miller had an impressive sack in which he forced and recovered a fumble on Carr.

Denver’s defense is allowing an average of just over 15 points per game. They had the second most sacks in the NFL, 18, coming into this game, and added another four to their total.

One concern for the Broncos defense going forward: the injury to DeMarcus Ware. He left the game in the second quarter and did not return this week because of a back injury. The extent of his injury isn’t known, but Ware was on a ferocious pace so far this season, a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year already.

So, there is this pervasive, revolting reputation for Dalton that he is all hot in the regular season and all cold in the postseason. That he fires up a big balloon in every regular season only to gash it annually in January. That he is the hare and the tortoise wrapped into one.

Dak Prescott was drafted in the fourth round and look how that worked out

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Will the real Seahawks please stand up? I’m waiting for them. These are pros who know when the playoff button has been pushed, but it’s clear they miss safety Earl Thomas. Seattle is just 2-3 without him, and he’s out for the rest of the year. But this defense usually steps up at home in front of its 12th Man.

Even though Detroit’s Darius Slay is a good corner, I like Seattle’s offense to do pretty well against the Lions’ defense, especially tight end Jimmy Graham. Keep an eye on receiver Paul Richardson, who will be Tyler Lockett’s replacement. I have a ton of respect for what Matthew Stafford has done this season, but I think the Lions are running out of gas a little bit. I’m looking for Seattle to be the team I picked to represent the NFC before the season.

It’s what he does. “I didn’t even look at [the rehab] the way a lot of people did,” Wake said. “It was an obstacle in front of me. It was a bump in the road. The way I’ve always been, and the way I always have my mentality set, is that there’s nothing that I can’t defeat. All it takes is hard work and dedication. Since I’ve had some issues in my career that I’ve had to attack, starting out early, that was just another one of those things. Just get in the weight room and attack the rehab. That was pretty much my mindset from day one.”
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Sounds logical. Only it’s full of flaws.

Dak Prescott was drafted in the fourth round and look how that worked out. Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round. Great things can happen, for sure. But here’s the deeper thought: Brady spent four years at Michigan and Prescott spent five years at Mississippi State. Their maturity was beneficial for a lot of reasons.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is no less appreciative. “He’s had a great year. Outside of that, Cam’s been a great leader,” Joseph said. “He’s been a great example for our young kids. That’s important.”

They needed a point guard after trading Rose and while chasing Wade

Instead of sculpting a roster to help usher in the Hoiberg-Butler era as Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah moved on, the Bulls front office opted for win-now mode, signing Wade and Rondo. Now Rondo has been benched and will potentially be waived, and Wade is being wasted as Butler¡¯s sidekick. So the Bulls are not winning now, the Hoiberg revolution is further delayed and the team may cut bait and eat salary anyways. What a waste of time and resources.

Gerald McCoy Womens Jersey On the bright side, the Raiders will face another team with quarterback issues of its own in the Texans. Last year¡¯s Houston squad was shut out, 30-0, to the Kansas City Chiefs. This year¡¯s Raiders team, even with Carr¡¯s injury, feels just as talented as last year¡¯s Chiefs squad, with playmakers all over the offense and defense. As long as the team¡¯s stars ¡ª Mack, Cooper, Crabtree and others ¡ª step up, Oakland will have a shot to win in Houston.

Greg Salas Womens Jersey So far we¡¯ve covered four items: two negatives being removed, one budding positive, and one piece of instant gratification. This last one is sort of the dormant wild card.

Good news! The A¡¯s have assembled that depth. By my count, there will be as many as 21 deserving candidates competing for 15 combined rotation spots in Oakland, Triple-A Nashville, and Double-A Midland, plus two more returning from Tommy John recovery midseason. A dozen of them have already reached the MLB level, and at least three more have realistic shots at debuting in 2017. And none of that counts their top three picks from last year¡¯s draft, all of whom are highly touted (including one Top 100 prospect).

Greg Olsen suffers knee injury vs. Falcons

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen left the team’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a knee injury Sunday. Olsen went down awkwardly in the end zone and his knee bent backwards. The training staff came onto the field and he was down for some time, but he eventually walked off the field under his own power.

Olsen went to the locker room with a knee injury and the Panthers announced his return as questionable. He didn’t return to the game.

After the game, head coach Ron Rivera said that Olsen is “fine” and that he could have played if he was needed. He said that Olsen will be sore going forward.

Olsen caught three passes for 52 yards before leaving the game. He’s the team’s top tight end and leading receiver by a wide margin. Coming into Week 14, Olsen had 62 receptions for 917 yards and six touchdowns, well above the next-highest receiver, Ted Ginn Jr., who entered the the week with 35 catches for 525 yards and six touchdowns.

Sixth-year veteran Ed Dickson is the primary backup for Olsen. He’s in his second season with the Panthers and has just 12 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on the season. After Olsen left with an injury, Dickson caught a touchdown pass from Cam Newton, though, which is a good sign.

For the Giants, their offense finally showed some explosiveness last weekend, so I would understand if they choose to play their starters a few drives to try continuing those good vibes. Also, I would start Eli to continue his starting streak — 198 consecutive regular-season starts — the most impressive stat no one talks about. But only for a series. Then take out Eli, Odell Beckham Jr., center Weston Richburg, and guard Justin Pugh. On defense, they are elite and beat up. Don’t even dress those guys.

Same with Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t even bother playing all the stars. Both these teams don’t have bye weeks either, so it makes sense to give them the one week off.

Siemian turned it on in the second half, throwing for 279 yards and three touchdowns. It was an inspired comeback, and the Broncos would have won in regulation if they hadn’t surrendered a touchdown and successful two-point conversion with 12 seconds left.