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He finished the Music City Bowl with 32 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns and was named the MVP of Northwestern’s 24-23 win over Kentucky.

Of course, not only will it be an all-SEC final in Atlanta, but Saban’s fingerprints will also be all over it. Georgia coach Kirby Smart coached under Saban for nine seasons at Alabama, the last seven as defensive coordinator.

We feel like this is just like the battle of who’s the best in the SEC, Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison said.

Georgia beat Oklahoma in its semifinal game to get to the championship game. The Dawgs won a wild game that featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Alabama, meanwhile, looked like the same Alabama that Saban has guided to four national championships in the past eight years. The Crimson Tide made life miserable for Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant and not only beat the Tigers but also beat them up physically.

We just wanted to let everybody know that we’ve been through a lot of things this whole season with all the injuries and everything, and the fact we were able to get back some of our guys, I feel like we’re back to the defense we really wanted to be, Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans said.

The fact that it was Clemson made it personal for the Alabama players, especially those who were around for last season’s last-second loss to the Tigers in the national championship game. What’s more, the Tide players were even more ornery after hearing for the past several weeks that maybe they didn’t belong in the playoff after they lost their final regular-season game to Auburn and didn’t win their conference championship.

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The Chiefs picked up their first loss.

The Patriots struggled with the Jets. And the Packers could be without Aaron Rodgers the rest of the season. Is it time to panic? NFL Nation takes temperatures across the league.

Mike McCarthy & Co. were able to overcome Rodgers’ previous collarbone fracture and win the NFC North, although that run required several improbable twists and turns. The Lions blew a division that seemed to be theirs for the taking, as they had a comfortable advantage with tiebreakers before losing to the 2-8 Bucs at home, falling to a 61-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker, and blowing a fourth-quarter lead with a pick-six before losing to the 5-9 Giants in overtime.

Second quarter: Giants 10, Broncos 3 The Broncos finally looked like the woke up. Trevor Siemian hit Demaryius Thomas for a 40-yard gain and that got them to the 10-yard line … where three incomplete passes led to a field goal attempt.

Second quarter: Giants 10, Broncos 0 The Broncos got a break when Demaryius Thomas’ fumble was overturned but then a few plays later, Trevor Siemian was picked off by Landon Collins. He then .. Idk, growled?

There are no guarantees on how quickly a collarbone will heal, and Rodgers would miss the rest of the season if he elects to have surgery (note: Rodgers will have surgery, and the quarterback’s season potentially could be over). If doctors advise that Rodgers can heal with rest, though, the data points from those passers suggests Rodgers will miss between six and eight weeks.

The strong defensive front of the Texans will have to finish the season without Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt �� a pair of pieces that just won’t be replaced.

O’Brien You don’t replace JJ and Whitney with one guy each. It’s multiple guys. The train doesn’t stop running.

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Attempting to trade Manning only to have the quarterback void the deal would just cause more problems for a team that is already spiraling.

Trading Manning might make sense from a bird’s eye view, but the Giants are going to be hesitant to make any move that obviously hurts the team in the immediate. There are jobs on the line, and Giants general manager Jerry Reese could be signing his own pink slip if he trades Manning.

If the Giants want to part ways with Manning, the best time would probably be after the 2018 season. Cutting the quarterback in spring 2019 would save the team $17 million in cap space and leave the team with just $6.2 million in dead money.

At that point Manning will be 38, and that seems like a much more likely end to his tenure with the Giants than any midseason trade.

A loss to the Kansas City Chiefs isn’t a death sentence. Deshaun Watson threw five touchdowns, and the AFC South remains winnable. But man, Sunday night was rough.

Cleveland has won four of the last seven games with Tennessee, but the Titans won 28-26 in Nashville last season.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: In his first game following Adrian Peterson’s trade to Arizona, firming up Ingram’s starter status, Ingram scored a whopping 30.0 PPR and 25.0 non-PPR fantasy points, the second- and third-best totals in his 83 career NFL games. Most notably, Ingram received four carries within three yards of the goal line — that out of five offensive snaps in those situations — converting two of them for touchdowns. That’s a plus for a player who at times has struggled on those opportunities, occasionally landing in coach Sean Payton’s doghouse, and it bodes well considering the Saints’ favorable second-half schedule.

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The secret to keeping NFL games on track is this little chain clip

With 2:10 left in the Dallas Cowboys’ game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 5, Ezekiel Elliott was stopped on a key fourth down and the ball was awarded to the Packers. The chains moved and everyone got set up for a Packers’ first down.

Except Cowboys coach Jason Garrett threw a red challenge flag, the replay showed a different spot for the ball, and suddenly the referees needed to measure for a first down.

It since has grown to a sizable number of NFL and WNBA players and even spread abroad when a German professional soccer team took a knee during pregame ceremonies in solidarity last Sunday.

This was the first play of the second half for the Raiders offense, down 24-10.

As you can see on the play, the safety was shading left, offering no help in covering Cooper who clearly breaks free instantly. Had Manuel even looked his direction, and of course had Cooper caught it, he had nothing but open space in front of him. That would have almost certainly been a touchdown. A 75-yard touchdown at that.

Making that play would have been a huge boost to bring the Raiders back to within one score to lead out the second half. It may have been a momentum shift. But instead they went three-and-out, then went three-and-out again, before going on a scoring drive late in the third quarter.

It’s difficult to tell every single time this happened without access to the coaches tape. But based on just these two plays, Del Rio is right. And no matter how many drops Coop has, he’s still a starting receiver. If he is in there, he shouldn’t be ignored.

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The Browns decided before the season that Kizer was the guy to lead a turnaround.

But moving forward with Hogan in the starting role for now is the right call for Cleveland. Kizer is raw and needs to develop, and the pressure of starting for a team that’s won a single game during his head coach’s tenure isn’t the best environment for it.

But with Bill Lazor breathing life into this offense while the defense continues to play great, the Bengals now looks like the best team in the division, at least if we’re going off the last three weeks, during which the Bengals have shown their dominance.

Mariota was slow and stiff, clearly favoring his bad leg for most of the night. When he was sailing passes and taking hits early on, it looked like we were in for a repeat of last week’s Sam Bradford debacle. When he threw a pick-six in the third quarter that extended the Colts’ lead to 19-9, it would’ve been reasonable to write off the Titans at that point.

Minnesota’s coach, Mike Zimmer, canceled practice. NFL teams never cancel practice. The game never stops. In a way, it’s a repudiation of Next Man Up to send everyone home — an acknowledgment that some injuries transcend the transactional. Sometimes, even in such a brutal world, circumstances dictate that the next man can’t reasonably be expected to step up, at least not right away.

It happened at the beginning of practice, and obviously Coach made the right call to cancel, Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner says. We weren’t going to get anything done that day.

He has been general manager for 11 seasons and will have made the playoffs in only four of them — two of which were in his first two seasons. This is a large sample size.

However, that might be the only positive from the future Hall of Famer’s move west.

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The best team of yesterday’s NFC West remains the Seattle Seahawks.

They’re not alone. Reserve linemen Don Barclay, Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs, who would be 3-4-5 to fill in at tackle, are all on injured reserve. Lane Taylor moved from guard to tackle to fill in earlier this season, but Taylor was carted off with a knee injury against the Vikings.

I think Seattle is better one through 53, but there’s no argument Rams have some solid pieces. However, they also have two of the oldest 10 or 12 starting offensive linemen in the league, have had phenomenal injury luck thus far and have yet to beat a team that currently has a winning record. They’re better than they have been, but haven’t arrived just yet in my opinion.
Turf Show Times thinks that, despite the Rams losing to the Seahawks in Week 5, the true best team is to be determined:

The best team of tomorrow’s NFC West looks like it could be in LA.

But today? I’m not sure if we’re closer to yesterday or tomorrow. And given what happened Sunday, I’m not sure that either of those two teams know either.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen says, Across this league, everyone has respect for Teddy, and he cites Sam Bradford as proof. Bradford texted get-well wishes to Bridgewater the day after the injury — about the same time the Vikings’ front office started asking tight ends coach Pat Shurmur, once Bradford’s offensive coordinator in St. Louis and Philadelphia, for a detailed scouting report on his former quarterback. Three days after that, Minnesota traded a first-round and a conditional fourth-round pick to the Eagles to turn Bradford into its Next Man Up.

Nobody knows when Bridgewater will play again. The team says he’ll be back next year, but there’s no guarantee. His knee dislocated, and the impact tore multiple ligaments connecting the patella to the tibia and fibula. When the Vikings traded for Bradford, back when nobody expected Minnesota to start the season 5-1, it was noted that Bridgewater is under team control through 2017.

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Sam Bradford’s night ends as Case Keenum enters the game.

Every scene Gerald McCoy touches turns to gold. He wears socks bearing the likenesses of pro wrestlers. He wears Incredible Hulk cleats. When Ed Hochuli comes to Bucs camp to clarify the rule changes to celebrations, McCoy breaks down the intricacies of what is and is not sexual. There is an entire montage dedicated to his excellence on the field. He hilariously riffs on the customer service at Chik-Fil-A. He has a superhero-themed man cave that depicts him as Football Batman.

McCoy already has the accolades: five Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pro selections. But he deserves ad campaigns and the adoration of casual fans. This recap is conflicted on Jameis Winston but an unapologetic cheerleader for Gerald McCoy.

Sam Bradford’s night ends as Case Keenum enters the game. Bradford was efficient enough, completing 7 of 11 passes for 95 yards and not turning the ball over. Keenum did just enough to lead the Vikings on a field goal drive near the end of the first half.

Kasen Williams almost had another highlight play, but a sure touchdown went right through his hands. Fortunately for Seattle, Chris Carson made a crucial first down on a swing pass, bailing out Wilson under pressure. Mike Davis entered at running back and scored the second touchdown of the game, a 22-yard catch-and-run.

Minnesota’s defense had no coverage on Davis, who ran in nearly untouched out of the flat.

Darren McFadden is the direct backup, with Alfred Morris and Rod Smith also in the mix. Meanwhile, the Rams pulled off a stunning trade Friday, acquiring Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills and giving Jared Goff a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Watkins reunites with former Bills teammate Robert Woods, both of whom will likely hang out on the bench all night.

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Photos emerge of Frank Clark’s fight with Germain Ifedi in training camp

On Thursday, a camp fight broke out between Will Pericak and Rodney Coe that escalated to Michael Bennett and ultimately ended with Frank Clark punching Germain Ifedi and costing both players some practices.

Training camp fights are common, but this immediately seemed different. A flying punch is not a scuffle, and comments from coaches, players, and media indicated that this was beyond the normal heated disputes teams see in practice.

The Bears have their own quarterback situation brewing in Chicago. No longer able to blame their woes on Jay Cutler, they traded up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick. Before that, Chicago also invested in veteran Mike Glennon. Trubisky will be given time to adjust to the NFL and the team’s offense, with the starting role going to Glennon and the No. 2 spot belonging to Mark Sanchez for now.

With all the weapons the Bears have in the run game, namely breakout rushers Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford, the offense is expected to be heavily revolved around the ground game. The air attack lost Alshon Jeffery this offseason, but brought in veteran wideout Victor Cruz to complement third-year receiver Cameron Meredith. Meredith was forced into a bigger role last season, but that could lead to a big jump in production this year. The receiver group also welcomes back Kevin White, who due to injury has only played four games since he was drafted in 2015.

While preseason games aren’t usually too exciting, there are definitely a few reasons to watch this one. Both teams will have an opportunity to start fleshing out their QB situation, and the Bears have a chance for the first time since 2009 to see what their offense can be without Cutler. Plus, it’s still football, and that’s better than nothing.

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Let’s guess Aaron Rodgers’ favorite ‘Game of Thrones’ character

Aaron Rodgers is giving away four free tickets to the Green Bay Packers preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. But to win the tickets, Packers fans have a riddle to solve.

First, Packers fans have to know which restaurant in the Green Bay area is Rodgers’ favorite. Then, they have to guess the quarterback’s favorite character on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

No part of this thought process makes any sense to me. If you were going to propose to someone at a sports game, wouldn’t you think to do it at a real sports game? And if so, don’t make it a Dolphins game! And if you do do it at a Dolphins game, make sure Jay Cutler isn’t there, because he’ll look super sad when he finds out about it even if he’s happy!

Here’s my official stance on marriage proposals, as previously stated:

I am anti-public proposal because asking someone to marry you seems like a very intimate moment (though I don’t know that for sure, because I have not been formally proposed to) and I can’t understand why you’d want to share that with a whole bunch of strangers.

Pretty simple stuff, right? Doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room. The only caveats I granted were that if you must propose at a sporting event like, if it’s written in your dead grandmother’s will that if you don’t, your entire family will get boils, or you’ll have to Instagram your smoothie for a week that you have to be sure the person you’re proposing to will say yes. Because if you think there’s even a chance they’ll swat the ring out of your hand and sprint away, you shouldn’t ask to tether yourself to them forever on a jumbotron.

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Kirk Cousins’ cousin drafted by the Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals’ draft has been all about family. Not only did they pick a one-time batboy and son of manager Dusty Baker, but now they’ve added to the Washington, D.C. family tree. In the 20th round, the team selected Jake Cousins, the cousin of Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

That’s a lot of cousins!

The younger, baseball-ier Cousins cousin is a pitcher who played for the University of Pennsylvania and maintained a 3.15 ERA over 11 starts this year. We’ll have to see where he fits into the Nationals organization, but for now, Kirk Cousins is just happy to have some family in the city:

Take Josh Donaldson, for example. He was drafted in the supplemental first round back in 2007 by the Cubs. He spent six years as a catcher, occasionally trying other positions, and he was traded to the A’s in the interim. Everything that led to him getting drafted 48th overall in the draft was still there. Good bat speed. Athleticism. Max effort playing style.

Then he reinvented himself and became one of the best hitters in the galaxy.

The other 29 teams didn’t know he was going to do that. So is that how teams should evaluate these high schoolers and college kids? By guessing how they might respond to a revolution in how the game is played?

Not sure exactly what they were going for here. The Dodgers have a fine farm system, but they can’t just waste their first-round picks like this.

Lackey, who eternally looks like an angry Little League parent yelling at you to put his son in, is the very definition of PROFBO. He’s 38 and allowing all of the dingers. While his strikeout rate is still high (23.3 percent, just a shade below last year’s), his walk rate is slowly creeping up as the homers begin to spook him.

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