2017 NFL season preview: Packers still class of NFC North

The Packers got within one game of the Super Bowl last season and should again be a championship contender.

The signing of free agents Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks gives Green Bay a dangerous tight ends group to go with Richard Rodgers. The Packers also used their first four draft picks on defensive players and selected three running backs late to add depth behind converted receiver Ty Montgomery.

What places the Packers head and shoulders above everyone else in the division is that they have the best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, who led the NFL last season with 40 touchdown passes.

Brady said the Patriots need to change their attitude and create a better sense of urgency.

“We’ve got to dig a lot deeper than we did tonight,” Brady said following Thursday’s game.

The Patriots are not out of the Super Bowl talk, but mounting injuries will be tough to overcome. Brady was not sharp Thursday, but is just a season removed from a Super Bowl MVP performance and the Patriots still have Bill Belichick running at the helm.

“We didn’t do much to deserve to win,” Belichick said following the loss. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s pretty obvious. We have to improve just about Cheap Custom Hockey Jerseys everything. We just weren’t competitive enough.”

The Patriots have been here before and bounced back to win Cheap Cycling Jerseys a Super Bowl. If they do get there, they just might have to go through the Chiefs.

The Vikings sure aren’t going to ask Sam Bradford to throw it downfield.

After all of the injury concerns in the preseason, the Lions are surprisingly healthy entering Week 1. The two biggest concerns are tight end Eric Ebron and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Neither played in the preseason but both seem on track to appear in Week 1. How Detroit handles their snaps is a key — particularly for Ansah — but the Lions seem as if like they’ll have a full complement of players for the Cardinals.

It has already been determined that starters Andrew Luck (shoulder), Vontae Davis (groin) and Ryan Kelly (foot) will not play against the Rams. Chester Rogers, who spent most of training camp as the third receiver, continues to remain out because of a hamstring injury he suffered late in the preseason. There was some thought that he would practice Wednesday, but he was listed on the team’s injury report as “did not practice,” which reduces the odds of him playing against the Rams.

Running back Leonard Fournette (foot), wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and quarterback Blake Bortles (wrist) practiced Wednesday and are expected to play Sunday, but things aren’t so clear when it comes to running back T.J. Yeldon (hamstring). He would be a big loss, too. Not so much because of his work in the run game — he’s behind Fournette and Chris Ivory — but his work as a pass-protector. He is by far the Jaguars’ best pass-blocker among the backs. With the struggles of the offensive line and the fact that J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are coming, not having Yeldon would be a serious Cheap Basketball Jerseys blow. It doesn’t look good at this point, though he still has a chance to play but certainly would be limited.

Cook can run, can catch and can handle whatever he needs to Cheap Authentic NFL Jerseys handle, and the offseason injury to Latavius Murray means Cook has basically been working as the starter since he got there. Which rookie RB do you like? There are a lot to choose from this season.

Dennis Smith Jr.’s demeanor is why he’s the perfect next face of the Mavericks

Rick Carlisle has always loved Dennis Smith Jr.’s game. But it was a pre-draft meeting, weeks before Smith’s name was called on the Barclays Center stage, where Carlisle became convinced this was the Mavericks’ guy.

“I liked his combination of confidence and humility,” the Dallas Mavericks head coach tells SB Nation. “When talking to him before the draft about our situation, he just had a strong belief in himself. That was clear. He had that belief without being cocky or arrogant. I admire that.”

That humble confidence is a huge credit to how Dennis Smith Sr. raised his son and daughter as a single parent in Fayetteville, N.C, molding Junior — as he calls him — into who he is now. It’s why Smith will insist Jr. is added to the back of his Mavericks jersey.

FIBA appears to get the junior levels right — the top young players in the world tend to participate in every major FIBA junior event. But that’s not the case at the senior level, and that’s a problem.

What FIBA ought to focus on is making it as easy and painless as possible for stars to show up. This is a star-driven sport at the highest level. One bridge solution: summer qualification from late July to early September that follows the global round-robin style instead of centralized tournaments. Cram all of those windows into a part of the calendar when more stars are likely to be available.

Instead, FIBA has followed its own plan, trying in vain to be more like cash cow Cheap Jerseys Borntrade global soccer. It’s turning into quite a lonely path, and basketball around the world will suffer for it.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Spain won bronze, not silver, in Cheap Jerseys And Hats From China the 2016 Olympics.

It doesn’t matter how badly Irving wants to go to New York.

Only three players in the NBA can choose their fate: LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, and Dirk Nowitzki. The remaining 500 players are not fortunate enough to hold a no-trade clause rarely get to determine where they end up in a trade.

The fact remains New York doesn’t have the assets Cleveland — or anyone else for that matter — would want in return for a player of value. Yes, Anthony and LeBron are close friends, but Melo has his sights set on Houston. That could change, but for now, the Knicks’ star doesn’t want to join up and chase a ring with the Cavaliers.

As long as Anthony holds that position, New York has little to nothing to offer for Irving. The Knicks aren’t trading Kristaps Porzingis for Irving, whose contract expires in two years. You don’t need a WojBomb to figure that out. And aside from Tim Hardaway, rookie Frank Ntilikina — who didn’t play in Summer League — second-rounder Damyean Dotson, and second-year guard Ron Baker, the Knicks’ roster leaves much to be desired.

Cleveland isn’t going to trade Irving unless it’s on their terms. Moving him to New York doesn’t make any sense, at least not at the moment.

The Celtics have 10 first-round NBA draft picks in the next 3 years. Here’s how they got them

Let’s say the Grizzlies fall into a slump or run into the injury bug for the second time in three years. Their core is already old and isn’t getting any better. Zach Randolph Cheap Infant Jerseys is out the door already, and Tony Allen isn’t far behind.

Why not jump-start your rebuild by getting your first-round Cheap Jackie Robinson Jerseys pick back and maybe taking a prospect or two in the process? It makes sense for both sides if things start to go south in Memphis.

Zach Randolph and Memphis were perfect for each other

The greatest miracle the Grit ’N Grind Grizzlies pulled wasn’t making Memphis fall in love with the local basketball team (the South has long been a hoops mecca). It wasn’t providing a counterweight to a league getting faster, freer, and smaller. The biggest achievement of Grit ’N Grind was turning Zach Randolph into what he has become.

Randolph was the trouble child incarnate before arriving in Memphis. He’d been cast off from the Blazers, ridiculed with the Knicks, and salary-dumped by the Clippers. (The Clippers!) In Memphis — with stability, good coaching, and great teammates — he found a new identity and a real career.

Now, he’s been signed by the Sacramento Kings on a two-year deal to provide a veteran presence and buckets under his old coach Dave Joerger. Tell someone stuck in 2008 that Z-Bo would eventually be a stabilizing, culture-positive veteran for a young team. They’d laugh you out of the room! But we’re there.

This is the second meeting that Milwaukee will have with Rose, so there may be more smoke here than any of the meetings that had taken place before. However, it’s still a long ways off from being final for either side.

Milwaukee’s point guard situation isn’t great, to be sure. Malcolm Brogdon surprised the whole NBA after being selected in the second round, playing 75 games and winning Rookie of the Year. Matthew Dellavedova started most of the year, shooting under 40 percent from the field but filling Cheap Hockey Jerseys From China his role well in his first season away from Cleveland. It’s nothing against either player to call them one of the worst point Cheap Hats And Jerseys guard duos in the league.

However, the Bucks don’t need better point guards.

Durant’s cap hold was $31.8 million.

If Iguodala would have left, that number would’ve dropped to $109.7. Curry obviously got a raise, but the Warriors would leave his small cap hold ($18.2 million) on the books until the last minute and finalize his deal at the end. Shaun Livingston’s first-year salary on his new deal is about $3 million less than his cap hold, so the Warriors could have gotten down to $106.7 million by putting pen to paper first. Renounce the rights to Zaza Pachulia, Matt Barnes, David West, and Ian Clark, and that gets the Warriors down to about the cap level, once you add in small holds for any incomplete roster spot under 12.

Durant’s cap hold was $31.8 million. As soon as he officially signed his new deal, his actual salary would have replaced his hold on the Warriors’ books.

If Durant were to take the $25 million he ultimately took with Iguodala, then Gay could have slotted in with a starting salary in the $6-7 million range. But Durant would have been willing to sacrifice more, though, perhaps even enough to get Gay up to eight figures. If that were the case, Durant would have needed to sign for just $20 million next year to fit Gay in at a reasonable number.

The Heat can still go after another big-name free agent this summer. There is rumored interest between Miami and unrestricted scorer Rudy Gay, though no official reports have confirmed as much.

If the Heat can’t add a star, their best bet is to bring back the Cheap Girls Softball Jerseys group that almost pulled off the impossible. Miami started the season 11-30 before a 30-11 run brought the team to .500 for the season. The Heat didn’t make the playoffs, finishing in ninth place after tying with the Cheap Full Dye Softball Jerseys Chicago Bulls, who held the series tiebreaker, 2-1.

Jazz might try to replace Gordon Hayward with Otto Porter. That’s not going to work

After Gordon Hayward made the decision to leave Utah for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the Jazz are pivoting toward making an offer on Otto Porter, according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Tony Jones.

Porter enters restricted free agency after his best season with the Washington Wizards. The 24-year-old forward averaged 13.4 points on 43.4 percent three-point shooting and could command multiple max offer sheets this summer. The Wizards reserve the right to match any competing offer on Porter to retain his services for the future, and they reportedly plan to do so.

“If lavar ball beats me I’ll superglue this wig to my head forever. It’s only one BIG BALLER BRAND and that’s me THE SHAQ BRAND. Wake up bro. I made more free throws in a game then the Points you averaged mr 2.2 a game. Respect this first balloter #relax #justwatchyoursonplay#shhhhhh #youtoloud#youcanneverbeattheonealboyz”
Shaq is demanding respect from LaVar Ball by dancing in a wig and betting that he’ll glue it to his head for the rest of his life. Shaq would assuredly dominate LaVar in the matchup, so Cheap NFL Jerseys Nike really it comes down to the sons.

This could actually be a pretty good game. Either way, our money’s on the O’Neals, so Cheap Authentic MLB Jerseys we may never see Shaq in that wig permanently, but we can always imagine what could have been.

Because other top Western Hemisphere teams will be missing big stars as well, Team USA should still be able to qualify with relative ease. Using lower-tier players won’t really build the USA Basketball program up any further unless the powers that be decide to start using high school players.

MLB trade rumors roundup: Justin Verlander, Justin Wilson, and more

A few big names are being bandied about in advance of the trade deadline, but until they actually get the call to say they’re going to another team they are technically only rumors in the rumor mill. So once again, we’ve rounded up all of the day’s hottest (or not so hot) trade rumors in one easy place for you to consume.

The Astros would really like to nab at least one of the Tigers’ available Justins, if not both. They’re not the only ones though, as the Brewers are also looking at acquiring the Verlander variety of Justin, while multiple teams are making calls about Wilson.

The Rockies have bullpen needs and management isn’t afraid to talk about it.

Boston is still reportedly very interested in the Giants’ Eduardo Nu?ez, because they are still obviously in need of a third baseman to fix their extensive problems at the hot corner.

In 48 games at third this year, Nu?ez has committed seven errors, and sports a -7 Rtot alongside a -3 Rtot (which would translate into -20 and -9 for a year’s worth of work at the hot corner). He also has a .941 fielding percentage, a full 23 points below league average.

So no, he would not be a significant upgrade defensively based on what Boston is currently working with. But they needed to do something, and with a a .297/.322/.409 line and four homers, 27 RBIs, 19 doubles, and 17 steals, he’s something that works.

Getting some offensive support and letting Devers settle in for Cheap Yankees Jerseys the time being is their best option and they went for it. Now they hope by the end of the season, when Nu?ez finishes up this Echl Cheap Jerseys rental stint and heads for free agency, Devers has successfully turned into the savior everyone expects him to be.

the Mariners could use Gray and would happily give up prospects to get him.

Gray could solidify Seattle’s rotations for multiple years, making it far easier to swallow sending top prospects to Oakland than if Gray were only a rental.

This grade gets a B- because while it may be true the Dipoto wants Gray in his rotation for the next two-plus years, well, so does everybody else. I’d like a refurbished, 3-bed/2-bath brownstone in Chelsea but student loans exist and I also need to eat food to survive. We all have hopes, Seattle.

In theory, the Mariners could use Gray and would happily give up prospects to get him. But at this point those prospects might not exist given that their farm system lacks the depth of other teams currently making offers, including the Brewers, Astros, and Cubs.

While the Mariners would have to give up top prospect Kyle Lewis and may be glad to do so, they just moved their No. 2 prospect Tyler O’Neill to get Marco Gonzales from St. Louis and they shipped another four prospects to Miami for David Phelps. Although Lewis is the 34th-ranked prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list this season, he probably won’t be enough to beat out all the other offers on Manchester United Cheap Jerseys the table.

In short, the Yankees still have plenty of exciting new youth MLB Jerseys Usa to go around, and they added the 27-year-old Gray and his two-and-a-half years of team control to the organization in exchange for a haul of kids. Gray will help the Yankees get under the luxury tax threshold next season in much the same way that Judge and Frazier will, and that will allow the Yankees to have plenty of cash available for their next wave of major signings. That’s worth giving up prospects for, even leaving aside that Gray makes them a more capable contending team today.

Bartolo Colon tossed a (big, sexy) complete game at 44 years old

No matter how old he is, Big Sexy is still Big Sexy. Bartolo Colon proved last night that even at 44, he can still pitch with the kids. Now with the Minnesota Twins, Colon pitched a complete game against the Rangers on Friday, allowing four runs and nine hits on 106 pitches. He didn’t exactly stifle the Rangers, but he more than got the job done. The Twins backed him up with eight runs, giving Colon all the breathing room he needed.

The Dodgers were rumored to be in on Darvish even before the Rangers made him officially available, and before their current ace, Clayton Kershaw, hit the disabled list. With Kershaw on the DL because of his back for the second season in a row, though, and the plan of Kershaw and one of Zack Greinke or Rich Hill not enough in the past to push the Dodgers past the NLCS, Los Angeles went in a different direction for 2017 and added Darvish to the rotation.

Now, when Kershaw returns, they have him, Darvish and Hill, plus whichever of their other many capable but-oft-injured starters happen to be around in October. Thanks to whichever of the Dodgers’ seventeen former general managers read our piece on the subject.

Darvish is just a rental for the Dodgers, but four consecutive first-place finishes in the NL West have brought them no further than Game 6 of the NLCS, and the front office is trying not to make that five with yet another postseason defeat. Out of every pitcher available Wholesale NFL Jerseys China at the deadline, Darvish was the one with the best chance of turning that tide, so even if that’s his lone purpose, it’s Quality Cheap Jerseys a good one.