This game would’ve been a lot closer without Thomas.


Part of the problem is that it’s hard to find good head coaches, and most of the ones hired in this cycle aren’t going to work out. Everybody wants to find the next Sean McVay, but it’s more possible than not that there is no McVay in this year’s field of candidates. (And by the way, I get why everyone wants to find the next McVay, but didn’t Jacksonville go in the exact opposite direction and win only one fewer game than the Rams? Why aren’t teams trying to find the next old-school Tom Coughlin/Doug Marrone combo to design a boot-camp-style training camp and whip their sorry groups into shape?)

It’s tough to find the right guy, but teams could do a better job of helping their chances to succeed. For instance, I disagree with the separation-of-powers Giants hiring the general manager before the coach. And I kind of disagree with the Bears firing the coach and extending the GM. I think the coach is the more important hire, and if you’re doing this, you need to make sure the coach-GM combo is in lockstep and that the coach is OK with the GM. San Francisco did this last offseason. Buffalo kind of did, too, though it took a little longer to sort it all out. Would the Giants be in a better situation now if they’d changed the coach and GM together two years ago instead of just one?

Regardless, I’ll repeat my annual sermon here about coaches. You’ll hear a lot about “defensive-minded” and “offensive-minded” head coaches, and which your team needs. It’s baloney. What your team needs, no matter which team we’re talking about, is a leader of men. An NFL head coach has to be someone who can communicate and implement his vision for how to win games, who can assess his roster and figure out a way to win with it (not turn it over to bring in only players who “fit his system”). Offense, defense, whatever … this is the head coach. It’s not easy, but it’s essential.

He only played about four minutes in the quarter, but his impact was clear. When the quarter started, the score was 91-87. Thomas sparked a 7-0 run with his playmaking to push the lead up to 100-91.

In just under a minute of play, Thomas made all three of those plays putting the game away. Obviously, it’s a small sample but it’s exactly what James and the Cavaliers wanted to see out of their All-Star point guard.

In one of The Good Life scenes, Jacinto’s character, Jason, asks Ted Danson’s character, Michael, if the Jaguars will ever win the Super Bowl. Michael responds, “Jason, I can’t predict the future. But no. They won’t.”

Should the Jags continue to rewrite history, Mande said he would be Wholesale NFL Jerseys at the Super Bowl parade. While he is happy to be wrong in this case, Mande said there’s Nike NFL Jerseys From China one prediction he figures will stick.

“We mentioned the Cleveland Browns sucking in Season One,” he said, chuckling. “I don’t expect that to change.”

It appears that both Chicago and Ottawa’s windows to win are either closed or only open a crack.


When we hear analysts refer to teams’ “window to win,” it can mean one of two things: Franchise players are in their prime or a good-not-great club has all of its best players peaking at once.

For example, the Chicago Blackhawks routinely traded their early-round draft picks at the deadline for role players while superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were at the height of their powers. Last season, we saw the Ottawa Senators ride a hot streak to the Eastern Conference Final — only to have a predictable slide backward this season.

And once that window slams shut, it’s rebuilding time.

At the end of last season, the Los Angeles Kings’ window looked like it was closed, locked and boarded up. They finished 2016-17 with 86 standings points and scored the fourth fewest even-strength goals in the NHL behind three franchises building from scratch (Colorado, New Jersey, Buffalo).

Lacking the cap room to make a big free-agent splash and with few exciting prospects coming through the system, the Kings seemed to be on the cusp of fading to the back of the Pacific Division.

The Celtics are hoping that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will be past their primes by 2019. If the Grizzlies pick in the top eight then, the pick becomes top-six protected in 2020 and completely unprotected in 2021.

This trade was one of the more puzzling ones from the 2016 draft. The Celtics traded Deyonta Davis (the No. 31 pick) and the rights to the No. 35 overall pick (someone named Rade Zagorac) to Memphis for a top-14 protected first round pick in 2019.

The Grizzlies got this pick when the Clippers traded Lance Stephenson for Jeff Green in Feb. 2016. Jeff Green: the gift that keeps on giving.

One thing about the Steelers: They tend to play much closer games than they should. Based on talent alone, they probably are the NFL’s most skilled squad.

Here comes Jacksonville, following an offensive stinker in beating outmanned Buffalo. Logic says this should be a rout.

Forget logic and remember that Ben Roethlisberger was so victimized in a MLB Jerseys China 30-9 Week 5 loss to the Jaguars that he had one of the worst games of his career.

There’s also the Antonio Brown factor: How healthy is the unanimous All-Pro receiver, who was injured in Week 15?

Jacksonville has a staunch defense with a terrific pass rush, too. Its New Nike NFL Jerseys secondary is among the league’s best.

It doesn’t happen all the time, which is what makes it so great when it does.


Sports are at their best when they remind us we don’t know what to expect. Remember next year, if your team enters Week 17 with a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs as the Bills did Sunday: As long as that percentage is above zero, it’s worth watching. Just in case.

Of the 12 playoff teams this year, eight were not in the playoffs last year, including all four NFC division winners. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that ties for the most new playoff teams from one season to the next since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990 (there were also eight new playoff teams in 2003). It’s the first time since the league expanded to eight divisions in 2002 that one conference had four division champions that weren’t playoff teams the year before.

And this isn’t a parity-means-mediocrity issue, either. Five of the six NFC playoff teams won at least 11 games, and the sixth was last year’s conference champion. These are high-quality teams and a field from which it’s tough to predict a winner. (I think I’m taking the New Orleans Saints, for example, but their first game is against a team they already beat twice, and it’s hard to beat the same team three times, so how the heck do I know?)

Roethlisberger’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in seven straight games and the Steelers ended the season with a 9-1 sprint, the lone setback a loss to New England on Dec. 17 in which his only mistake came on a poorly executed fake spike that resulted in a game-ending pick.

What’s working? Nearly everything.

Having two of the top skill position players in the league in wide NFL Jerseys Cheap receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell helps. So does the continued Wholesale NFL Jerseys China evolution of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant’s immersion into the offense following an ill-advised trade demand.

Yet Pittsburgh’s offense will only go as far over the next month as Roethlisberger can take it. Though he downplayed looking for payback after the Jaguars shut him down in ways that few teams have in recent years, not everyone is buying it.

The Timberwolves have now lost a couple games in a row and three of their last five.


Not so much. See, while the proliferation of calculated win probabilities as part of football analysis can be helpful and make for cool-looking graphs (like the wild one above), it also can lead to fan complacency. That 97 percent is a comforting number, but what it means is that, three times out of a hundred, the outcome is not the one it appears to ensure. Three times out of a hundred isn’t impossible. It’s not even all that crazy. By rights, the Ravens should have been fine Sunday. But that ball isn’t round, and sometimes it bounces funny.

The stunning turnaround at the end of the Bengals-Ravens game, as Bills players and the city of Buffalo watched with what they well knew was the slimmest of hope, is a reminder of why we watch these games. Sports are at their best not when they confirm our expectations, but when they reset them. We watch these games to be dazzled, and Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12 with 44 seconds left in the season was the “oh my God” moment of Week 17.

If somebody had told you right before that play that there was a 3 percent chance the Bengals were scoring, you’d have thought their estimate high. But you had to watch, just in case. That play, that moment, were the answer to, “In case of what?” If you’re a Bills fan, it was the best kind of unexpected joy. If you were a Ravens fan, it was that familiar kind of sports-inflicted pain. If you didn’t care who won but were just watching to see something amazing, you got your reward.

It’s harder to get points against the Boston Celtics than any other team in the Baseball Jerseys league, but still, the Minnesota Timberwolves made scoring look absolutely painful on Friday in a 91-84 defeat. It was the fewest points that Minnesota` scored in a game all season, and it came Wholesale NFL Jerseys Supply with 37-percent shooting from the field.

It’s not a concerning trend in an up-and-down NBA season, but Minnesota still isn’t making their basketball look easy. Sometimes, their three-headed blend of Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins looks divine, but just as often, like Friday, it looks like it still isn’t fitting together well.

Against Boston, Towns recorded his fourth 20-20 game with 25 points and a monstrous 23 rebounds. However, Butler and Wiggins both shot 3-of-12 from the field, a continuation of Wiggins’ worst season as a pro. He’s averaging slightly more points on a slightly lower field goal percentage than his rookie year, while his rebounding and assists are both down. The former No. 1 draft pick’s inability to consistently hit outside shots continues to hurt him, especially with another isolation-heavy wing joining him.

The one inspiring the most optimism is Trubisky.


The Bears demolished the Bengals 33-7, breaking an increasingly ugly five-game losing streak that may well have put the nail in the coffin of coach John Fox or general manager Ryan Pace, or both. There’s no reason for optimism with the franchise except the handful of young players that have arrived NHL Hockey Jerseys the last couple of years.

It’s a wary optimism, considering the bleak history at that position with the Bears and the downward spiral the last four seasons. Plus, there’s the history of potential that takes a minute to be realized, a history repeating itself with him now.

Now, though, says center Cody Whitehair, who has bonded with the man to whom he’s been snapping from the beginning, it’s being realized.

I’ve never really played with young guys before; they’ve always been older players, Whitehair said, noting that in his two seasons his quarterbacks have included Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and Mike Glennon. But for Mitch to just come in, to not really know what to expect — the biggest thing about him Wholesale Jerseys is the way he carries himself, the confidence he’s had.

On Jan. 8, Georgia will play Alabama for its first national title in 37 years in the College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T in Atlanta. Regardless of what happens there, the Bulldogs will never forget what they experienced in their first Rose Bowl victory since 1943.

If it was a measure of heart attack, I’d be on the Richter scale pretty high, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.

We’ve had too many forgettable games in CFP semifinals the past two seasons. Alabama and Clemson might have produced two memorable national championship games, but the lopsided semifinals left many of us turning away.

We were afraid to blink during the Rose Bowl on Monday. It had everything: the biggest comeback and first overtime in the storied game’s history, plenty of star power, divergent styles and two wildly different halves.

It’s a helluva college football game, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. You know, an epic Rose Bowl.