NFL playoff odds and predictions for all 32 teams after Week 4

We’re only four weeks in, but 2017 has certainly been a topsy-turvy season so far. Just a month ago, many fans were talking about the chances of New England going 16-0; now the Patriots are just 2-2 and somehow tied in the standings with the New York Jets. Other powerful teams from last year have also gotten off to 2-2 starts, including Dallas, Oakland and Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs are the last undefeated team despite cutting their No. 1 receiver in the offseason and losing their best defensive player to an Achilles tendon tear in Week 1. Even more shocking are the 3-1 starts from the Los Angeles Rams, who had one of the worst offenses in history a year ago, and the Buffalo Bills, who haven’t made the playoffs this century.

Players attending Tuesday’s meeting included New York Giants LB Mark Herzlich, Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and New York Jets LB Demario Davis, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter

Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, told Outside The Lines that commissioner Roger Goodell did not mention the meeting during a call with him on Monday. He told OTL that he viewed the late notification of the meeting as insulting to our players’ leadership.

The league tries to use some of our guys to give them cover, to get them on their side, Smith told OTL. Our players’ leadership wasn’t pleased, and I wasn’t pleased.

The statement did not reveal the substance of Tuesday’s meeting but called it a productive conversation and concluded by saying we are all committed to an ongoing dialogue.nike_steelers_2063

Colts take QB Andrew Luck off PUP list

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed the entire preseason, was taken off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Saturday.

Luck underwent labrum surgery in January, but he has not been seen throwing by anyone leading up to the season. But by taking him off the PUP list, the Colts at least have the option to consider using him in the regular-season opener against the Rams.

Wagner, who lives in Seattle, helped police discover who stole Brady’s jersey after the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. He said he is an avid sports memorabilia collector who began exchanging messages with Martin Mauricio Ortega, a former executive of a tabloid newspaper in Mexico City.

According to Wagner, Ortega sent him photos of his collection of jerseys in December, including Brady’s Super Bowl 49 jersey. Wagner said he was suspicious but let it go.

Once news broke that Brady’s Super Bowl 51 jersey was stolen, Wagner said he put two and two together and tipped off the FBI and NFL.

Both of Brady’s jerseys were recovered, and Wagner became a Patriots hero.

Savage went through one in Cleveland after he was hired away from Baltimore’s front office to rebuild the Browns along with first-time head coach Romeo Crennel. During their four seasons together, the 2007 Browns posted what remains their best record (10-6) since the franchise resumed play in 1999. But that was overshadowed by three other losing seasons, leading to the firing of Savage and Crennel following the 2008 campaign.

Cleveland’s drafts and free-agent decisions under the Savage regime were a mixed bag. Mistakes made while trying to politically navigate through a toxic behind-the-scenes environment contributed to his failure, as well.nike_steelers_2063

Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott ‘surprised and disappointed’ by NFL discipline

It was rumored in recent weeks that Ezekiel Elliot could receive a short suspension prior to the start of the NFL season. No one expected him to get six full games, including Elliott.

The 22-year-old running back tweeted a statement Friday in response to the NFL’s six-game suspension saying he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the decision.

“There’s a certain standard we have and it’s something we weren’t very pleased with,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I haven’t had a chance to visit with him yet, but it’s something that we’ll handle it internally.”

Long has been sidelined since November when he tore a ligament in his right ankle against the Buccaneers. The team has been working with him to increase his practice and workout time as he recovers.

As to why Long got into several fights, Fox didn’t offer any information nor did he try to dive into the issue.

“I really can’t answer that at this point, I’m sure obviously there was some frustration — again, that’s not how we operate,” Fox said. “I didn’t really see everything, just know that there was a disturbance and we don’t need that. That’s why he left the field.”

Paul George appeared on the cover of “NBA 2K17.” The Pacers, fearing they would lose him for nothing after the 2017-18 season, traded him to the Thunder for a fairly meager return (Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis).

There’s little need to rehash the events that led to the departure of Kevin Durant, who was on the cover of “NBA 2K15.” He left the Thunder for the powerhouse Warriors to go after his first ring. Mission accomplished.

Houston went on a 12-3 run with Westbrook on the bench to end the third

So one of those guys could be MVP, but Kawhi Leonard is right there, too. He had a ridiculously efficient season. When the Spurs played the Rockets in March, he had 39 points.

That’s not all that impressive.

That’s not the fun part. With less than a minute to go, he hit a clutch 3-pointer, then ran down the other end to block Harden’s shot. It sealed the win and showed everyone why Leonard is such a fantastic player in two clutch possessions.

What happened: We got the MVP battle we wanted. Russell Westbrook posted 51 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds — the first 50-point triple-double in NBA playoff history — while James Harden put up 35 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. The Thunder jumped on the Rockets early, starting the game on a 16-4 run and holding a six-point lead at the half. Then, it all went south for OKC at the end of the third quarter.

Turning point: Houston went on a 12-3 run with Westbrook on the bench to end the third. Watching OKC’s advantage shrink to three points must have changed Westbrook’s mentality. He had done a good job finding his teammates and picking his spots up to that point, shooting 13 of 25 entering the fourth quarter.

However, Westbrook finished 17 of 43 from the field, choosing to put the entire offense on his shoulders, even if it meant declining to pass to open teammates. It’s hard to blame the guy who has a 50-point triple-double, but Westbrook’s “me against the world” mentality hurt the Thunder’s chances of stealing Game 2.

Maybe the team can get him in a sign-and-trade using the non-guaranteed contracts they’ve cobbled together in recent days if the reported discussions for Iman Shumpert fail. That would allow them to keep their mid-level exception intact, and not necessarily hard cap themselves at this stage. Toronto, Tucker’s old team, would be able to pick up a trade exception in the process that may be useful down the road.

For a team trying to contend sooner rather than later, though, this is a smart acquisition. falcons_059

it looked like McCown and Griffin were neck-and-neck for the backup job

The key to the Packers’ offense against the Saints is to get their newer players more reps and gameday experience. Luckily for Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers under center, it has a seasoned vet to establish a good rapport with his new receivers ahead of the season, even if Rodgers won’t see the field during the last preseason game.

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Drew Brees will also forgo any playing time on Thursday, and the duties will instead fall with Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson and Ryan Griffin.

Early in training camp, it looked like McCown and Griffin were neck-and-neck for the backup job, but Griffin only played for 42 seconds against the Houston Texans and managed to throw an interception in that short time. Now it looks like Griffin has fallen below rookie Grayson in the depth chart.

The most disappointing thing is how well he was playing at the time of the injury. That Seahawks game was probably hands down his best overall game as a pro. He was all over the place. He missed several sacks on Russell Wilson, but hell, so does everybody else. Most importantly, he found a way to get Wilson on the ground for the third sack of his career and his constant pressure on other plays forced Wilson into several errant throws.

But all that momentum seemed to be erased by the hip injury.

Yeah, not so fast Holmes.

Ingram wasn’t quite as explosive off the ball when he came back for the final seven weeks of the season, which is predictable since he was coming off the hip injury. But he still did quite a few good things to close out the year, including three sacks in the last four weeks of the season. It’s also worth noting that the Chargers thought enough of him that he was inserted back into the starting lineup the moment he was physically ready and eligible to play. Just like 2013, Ingram still was able to generate at least some momentum heading into the offseason.

Eddie Lack hasn’t played in almost two months due to a combination of performance, injury, and illness

Eddie Lack hasn’t played in almost two months due to a combination of performance, injury, and illness. For Jorge Alves to get the call to back up in an NHL game was phenomenal and heart-warming, truly a story for the ages, and one that Canes fans should carry with them forever.

Even if Lack had been available he would have been coming into Saturday’s game against the Lightning from a long layoff, and it probably wouldn’t have affected the outcome. But while Ward is 5-2-0 in back-to-back games over the last year, three games in four days with travel is a tough grind on the entire Denver Broncos Authentic Jersey team, and the starting goaltender isn’t typically asked to shoulder that entire burden.

Now they’re looking for a low-cost starting pitcher (they Dez Bryant Game Jersey could wait out the Jason Hammel market), a reliever, and a utilityman. The Royals have some interest in bringing back Luke Hochevar, but are unsure when he’ll be able to return from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in August.

If Cafardo is right, that is some good news for Royals fans. The Wade Davis trade will be the only deal that moves a veteran member of the core. It also means that despite Dayton Moore’s public pronouncements that he likes the starting rotation depth, the team is still looking to add pitchers.

Currently the rotation would feature Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, and Jason Vargas. Other options would include Mike Minor, Matt Strahm, Chris Young, and Josh Staumount. The starting pitching free agent market has been notoriously weak, but there are a few options out there that could be upgrades at a reasonable price.

Thanks to losses to both the Colts and the Texans earlier in the year and a poor record in divisional play

After dominating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14, the Jacksonville Jaguars climbed to 5-8 and just one game behind the 6-7 Colts and 6-7 Houston Texans. With three weeks left, that puts the Jaguars right in the thick of the race, but actually getting in is easier than it looks.

Thanks to losses to both the Colts and the Texans earlier in the year and a poor record in divisional play, the Jaguars don’t have the advantage in the tiebreaker over either team. So the Jaguars would have to earn a better record than both teams to get in and that’s made tougher by the fact that the Colts and Texans play each other in Week 15.

Ideally for the Jaguars, the Colts and Texans would tie on Sunday, but if that doesn’t happen then Jacksonville will have no choice but to win out to give itself a chance. The Jaguars haven’t strung together four consecutive wins since 2007, but that’s almost definitely necessary to get in. If they can, this is the most realistic scenario that hands the AFC South over to Jacksonville.

Like the Cowboys, the Jaguars would be a division winner if things went right and that would mean Jacksonville hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1999.

With three weeks left to play, the concern for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos is a first-round bye. Both teams are 10-3 and just one game behind the New England Patriots for the No. 1 seed, but neither team has clinched a spot in the playoffs. While it’s impossible for both the Bengals and Broncos to be left out of the postseason field, especially with the two teams playing each other in Week 16, there’s still a chance that hijinks could keep one out.

Both Denver and Cincinnati can clinch in Week 15 with a win, so they can put the doomsday scenarios to bed sooner rather than later, but if either team loses out then there’s a chance things could get hairy.

The Marlins aren’t even entertaining the possibility of trying to “replace” Fernandez

The Marlins aren’t even entertaining the possibility of trying to “replace” Fernandez, because his impact was so profound. If spring training began today, Miami’s rotation would consist of Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley, Tom Koehler, Justin Nicolino Nick O’Leary Authentic Jersey and Jose Urena. Even if the Marlins wanted to sign a big name — which is typically a foreign proposition for them — the free-agent market is bereft of front-of-the-rotation arms. The other alternative is a trade, and they lack the talent in their farm system to make a run at Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, Chris Archer or other commonly mentioned alternatives.

“What the Marlins are doing, and specifically Mike Hill, is a little different than what we were dealing with,” Mozeliak said. “He was dealing with the rumors: ‘Do we trade Jose Fernandez or try to sign him long term?’ Jose had already established himself Nickell Robey-Coleman Authentic Jersey as one of the elite players at the major league level.

“Not to sound callous or coldhearted, but I remember shortly after Oscar’s passing I was reflecting and I said to a few people, ‘We’re not going to miss him next year from a baseball standpoint. It’s going to be two or three or four years down the road, when we don’t have the No. 3 hitter we thought we’d have.'”

Left without their ace, the Marlins try to take solace in positive signs. Stanton, Miami’s quiet superstar, assumed more of a vocal leadership role in the days after Fernandez’s death, and the players and staff grew closer amid painful circumstances. But Fernandez’s absence won’t truly hit home until the first day of spring training in Jupiter, Florida, when the clubhouse will be a much quieter place.

“You felt Jose every fifth day on the mound, and the energy he brought,” Hill said. “But this was also a young man who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He had a pure energy and passion for the game that was infectious. I don’t think you can separate the two.”

As the Marlins go down an uncharted path this offseason, the memories of Fernandez will simultaneously haunt and sustain them. They’re still trying to process the unimaginable, while doing their best to make it through another day.

With few alternatives, the Marlins have discussed fortifying their staff at the back end to help compensate for the loss of Fernandez’s 182 innings. Relievers A.J. Ramos, David Phelps, Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington combined for 332 strikeouts in 256? innings this season. If the Marlins can add a power arm or two this winter, they’ll have a bullpen that will take some heat off the rotation and allow Mattingly to pick his spots.

Columbia suspends wrestling amid probe into lewd, racist texts

Columbia University on Monday said it had stopped its wrestling team from competing while it investigates apparent lewd text messages sent by several of its team members.

“The Department of Athletics has decided that Columbia wrestlers will not compete until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter,” Columbia said in a statement.

“He was staring me down. That Jimmy Smith Youth Jersey was cold-blooded,” said Nowitzki, who was watching the game from the bench due to an Achilles injury.

Porzingis mentions Nowitzki as a player who inspired him when he was younger in Latvia.

So he’d appreciate the praise Nowitzki heaped on him Monday night.

“He’s not only a 7-footer but he is like 7-4 out there with an 8-5 wingspan,” Nowitzki said. “He’s got an incredible touch. He can move. He can dribble. He can put it on the floor more now. He is going to be a great player in this Joe Flacco Youth Jersey league for a long, long time.”

Nowitzki said that after watching Porzingis score 24 points and grab 11 rebounds in the Knicks’ win. He may see more of Porzingis this summer.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek tried to arrange a workout with Nowitzki and Porzingis before the season, but it didn’t come together due to scheduling conflicts. The players hope to work out together in the coming offseason.

Antonio Gates may not have more than 38 receiving yards in any game this season

Antonio Gates may not have more than 38 receiving yards in any game this season, but he’s still Philip Rivers’ most-trusted option in close. AP Photo/Joe Mahoney
Antonio Gates, Chargers: Again, with the Benjamin injury, I expect San Diego to go to more two-tight-end sets in this one, especially considering the Titans have given up 221 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends during the past two weeks. And while Hunter Henry was a thing there for a minute (and he’ll certainly be involved Sunday), Gates has run 70 routes the past two weeks to Henry’s 39.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Yeah, now that Mitchell Schwartz Authentic Womens Jersey Norv Turner is gone, Rudolph will really explode! Wait, what? Um … this is such a brutal week for tight ends, I’m banking on the connection with Sam Bradford — Rudolph has at least five catches in four of his past five games and is top five among tight ends in targets — and the matchup. The Lions have been burned for a tight end touchdown in six of eight games this season, and have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Coach Mike Tomlin told ESPN and WDVE 102.5 after practice Friday that Roethlisberger “had a good day today” but the team has not yet made a determination on Nick Foles Authentic Womens Jersey his availability.

“We’ll see how his body responds to the work,” Tomlin said. “We don’t have to make the decision today so we won’t. We’ll continue to push forward toward game day.”

Roethlisberger has been listed as limited in every practice this week. Teammates say Roethlisberger has gotten first-team reps this week. Landry Jones is the backup and is ready to make his second consecutive start if necessary.

Tomlin declined comment on how he prepared Jones and Roethlisberger this week.

Roethlisberger underwent surgery Oct. 17 to repair the knee injury.

In other Steelers injury news, running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) and cornerback William Gay (foot) are also questionable.

Others receiving votes: The Cowboys are top 10 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends this season and Gary Barnidge has at least five targets in seven straight games, putting him on the streamer radar. … My favorite streamer this week is Cameron Brate, in a game I believe Tampa will throw a ton. The Falcons allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. … Speaking of streamers, Lance Kendricks of the Rams has five or more catches in three of his past four games and gets a Carolina team that has given up at least 14 fantasy points to opposing tight ends in four of its past six games.