Gettleman might make things work and restore the Giants to their accustomed level of success.

WR Allen Hurns vs. Patriots CB Eric Rowe: When the Jaguars spread the field for Bortles, he needs to avoid forcing it to Westbrook, Lee or Cole. This is a good week to get Hurns going in the slot, given another savvy possession veteran receiver, the Titans’ Eric Decker, ripped the Patriots for six catches and 85 yards on seven targets last week.

It’s been another injury-riddled year for Hurns, but Jacksonville can’t hold him back from being a key part of the game plan against the overmatched Rowe.

RG A.J. Cann vs. Patriots DT Malcom Brown: While the Malcolm on the outside will contain Lee, this Malcom in the middle can be a huge force in blowing up the running game at the point of attack. There is a big drop-off from Linder and Omameh to Cann in Jacksonville’s interior run-blocking for Fournette.

It also is possible that the hiring of Gettleman could take the Giants out of the running for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to fill their head coaching vacancy. Some within the league suspect that McDaniels wants to work with Patriots executive Nick Caserio or ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as his GM. The Giants interviewed Riddick but went with Gettleman, who formerly worked for Ernie Accorsi in the team’s front office. Accorsi assisted the Giants’ search.

But not everyone within the sport considers that a sure thing.

DT Malik Jackson: Much has been made about Tom Coughlin knowing how to beat the Patriots with a strong front four. But on a team full of younger players with little playoff experience, Jackson is the one who’s been on the field to defeat New England twice in the AFC championship game while in Denver.

Jackson was a beast in the games against Buffalo and Pittsburgh as Jacksonville’s savvy anchor. Campbell and Ngakoue have the double-digit sacks, but Jackson can have a bigger overall impact vs. run and pass Sunday.

He’s as competitive as they come; he just doesn’t rub people the wrong way when he expresses that competitiveness. He’s also a better athlete than people think — just think back to the Helmet Catch in Super Bowl XLII, where he was only able to get the ball off after escaping certain doom in the pocket.chargers_083

Belinelli also had the best shot of the night, though this one didn’t count.

McDaniels is zero for one as an NFL head coach, having managed only 11 victories in a 28-game tenure with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010. He was unable to make things work with quarterback Jay Cutler, and he was fined $50,000 by the league for failing to immediately report a violation when a Broncos employee improperly videotaped part of a walk-through by the San Francisco 49ers in London a day before the two teams played there.

McDaniels will be very much in the spotlight in the coming weeks, as his name is linked to coaching vacancies. He has an interesting choice to make. For now, he’s not tipping his hand, speaking only about the Patriots’ preparations for Monday night’s game at Miami.

“I’m just interested in the Dolphins right now,” McDaniels said. “That’s where my focus is at and that’s where it’s going to stay.”

After a frenetic last few seconds of the first half, in which both teams turned it over and the Jazz failed to get off a shot before the buzzer, Belinelli hurled one up from a 3-point line at his own end of the court — about a 65-footer.

Jazz: Missed their first 10 shots but bounced back to lead 20-19 by the end of the opening period. … Former Hawks star Joe Johnson had four points in 16 minutes. The 36-year-old Johnson played for the Hawks from 2005-12, making the All-Star game in six of seven seasons. Utah is the third team he’s played for since being traded by Atlanta. … Rudy Gobert had 10 rebounds.

Hawks: Coach Mike Budenholzer picked up a technical with 3:55 left in the game with his team up by 21 points. After the Jazz made the free throw, Budenholzer yelled at official Courtney Kirkland, “The game’s not over.” … Eight players hit 3-pointers. … Ersan Ilyasova was held to five points but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.patriots_039_a40c16664832efe5-180x180

This worked out well for some teams last year. The Rams moved on from Jeff Fisher and brought in 31-year-old Sean McVay.

The new year is a time for fresh starts. That’s true for so many NFL teams, who will begin 2018 by bringing in a new head coach to turn things around for this season and beyond.

The first-time head coach turned the offense around, made Todd Gurley relevant again, and showed everyone why Jared Goff was worth the No. 1 pick in 2016.

While Pederson addresses the media, safety Malcolm Jenkins—who will be announced as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee later in the week—is sitting in the hotel lobby, meeting with his San Diego-based philanthropic strategist about the next steps for his social justice work through the Players Coalition. Defensive end Brandon Graham, also taking advantage of the players’ off day, takes his wife and 22-month old daughter, Emerson, to the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles. “Best gummy bears I had in a minute,” he reports back.

Sidney Jones, the second-round pick who is out with an Achilles tear, drives 40 miles north to his hometown, West Covina, to pick up his younger brother from school. In the late afternoon a group of seven players heads to a housing development in Santa Ana to install siding on two homes being built through Habitat for Humanity for Orange County. “It was fun to get some handiwork in,” receiver Torrey Smith says, “and have a good time together.”

Referee shall blow his whistle or declare the ball dead: … Whenever he is so held that his forward progress has been stopped.

Here’s what the NFL’s rules say about it now:

The Forward Progress of a runner or airborne receiver is the point at which his advance toward his opponent’s goal ends and is the spot at which the ball is declared dead by rule, irrespective of the runner or receiver being pushed or carried backward by an opponent.

It’s pretty self-explanatory on the surface. The play is over when the ball carrier’s forward progress is stopped. But like the rest of the rule book, this one has some inherent flaws.

Kathy Mair, an Eagles football operations employee who used to work for the Angels, suggested reaching out to her old team. The stadium’s calendar in December was wide open, practices would be closed and they could offer the infrastructure of a professional sports team: weight room, kitchen facilities and even clubhouse attendants. Since NFL rosters are more than double the size of MLB rosters, the Eagles set up in both the home and visitors’ clubhouses. The honor of using Mike Trout’s corner locker? That went to linebacker Nigel Bradham.nationals_009

Booker called it “an x-factor play that only Marquese can make.”

“It’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding,'” Gruden said, speaking in general. “Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and [27] touchdowns. He’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning the division with all the injuries we had, he competed and did some good things.”

Gruden has praised Cousins’ growth throughout the season and said earlier this year that people “were blind” if they couldn’t see his improvement. But Gruden and the Redskins know that Cousins might not return and must plan accordingly.

“We have to,” Gruden said. “There are ways to plan for it. We have to make sure we have all our ducks in a row whether he’s here or not. We have to make this team better.”

Booker made two more at the line with 6.5 seconds remaining to make it 104-101. With the Hawks needing a 3-pointer to tie it, Schroder instead drove for the layup to cut it to one, but by then there was just a half-second to play and the Suns handed Atlanta its seventh straight road loss.

Some hate mail.played a key role the impressive outing by rumbling for 74 yards on 10 carries as the designated hammer for the offense.opened the scoring with unassisted goal and helped out on a Tavares tally Tuesday’s 3 win over Detroit.I think we can be a lot better.Or perhaps doctors are just better at diagnosing them today.None of the calls were that bad this game.

I was told, point blank.

Dennis had said the Jazz would take the cautious route getting Favors repaired, that they were concerned about the next five to 10 years, not the next five to 10 .That gives him significant upside.Another situation worth watching and February is that of eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Peters.It’s tough to tell if the injury continued to affect his performance, but given how much he has to fix, he remains a big risk fantasy leagues.

Mitchell Trubisky finished his rookie season with a turnover-free game, completing 20 of 36 passes for 178 yards.

The Minnesota Vikings will be without starting center Pat Elflein as they look to clinch a first-round bye in their regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears.

The rookie was ruled out with a shoulder injury Friday and will miss his second game of the season.

Along with Elflein being out, defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (ankle) and long-snapper Kevin McDermott (shoulder) suffered injuries against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday and also will be sidelined in Week 17. Cornerback Tramaine Brock will miss a second straight game with a foot injury.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said of the offensive line combination. “You’ll have to see Sunday.”

The Vikings will use their seventh offensive line combination of the season Sunday. In 2016, the Vikings used eight personnel groupings on the offensive line.

Minnesota’s starting offensive linemen were together for roughly 12 minutes in Week 16 for the first time since Oct. 9. Every starter except Berger has missed time.

The Bears saw positive signs from their rookie QB, but they missed the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Now a coaching change seems imminent.

Stefon Diggs caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings (13-3), who reached 13 wins for only the second time in the history of the 57-year-old franchise after holding a second straight opponent without an offensive touchdown.

He failed, however, to guide the Bears (5-11) across the goal line despite 11 plays from the 10-yard line or closer in the fourth quarter.lions_014

Red Sox still looking for a big bat as powerful Yankees get even stronger

Dombrowski said reports that the Red Sox have made Bradley available in trades are “false.” He also said the Sox are in the market for only one hitter, rather than trying to double up with, say, Martinez and a second-tier free agent such as first basemen Carlos Santana or Logan Morrison.

“I don’t know where we’d play these two bats. I’m trying to figure that one out,” Dombrowski said. “But I would say we’d be more limited to probably one bat.”

If they fall short …: The Lions will have wasted another season of Stafford in his prime by not having upgraded at running back or pass rush during the 2017 offseason.

Tonight’s opponent is the Bulls, owners of the fourth-worst defense, the ninth-worst rebound rate and no real inside/outside type of defender to matchup with Horford. He seems like a lock to achieve value tonight, so the question is just how high is his ceiling in this good spot?

But at some point, Bortles may be forced to show he can provide difference-making plays in the passing game when the Jags face quality opponents on a consistent basis. A preview of that scenario in the playoffs could happen Sunday against Seattle.

The Jaguars have a chance of securing a postseason berth depending on the outcome of their game and five others in Week 14. Jacksonville is still likely playoff-bound regardless for the first time since the heyday of David Garrard, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

But losing to the Seahawks will paint the Jaguars as a strong one-and-done candidate considering the relatively soft schedule they’ve played this season. Only two of Jacksonville’s eight wins have come against opponents that currently have winning records (the Steelers and Ravens).nike_chargers_543-180x180

Jimmy Garoppolo is 2-0 as the 49ers’ starter.

Mayfield gave Oklahoma its sixth Heisman winner, which moves the Sooners into a tie with USC for the third-most all time (not including Reggie Bush’s vacated 2005 Heisman). Alongside Heisman winners Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Jason White and Bradford, Oklahoma will soon erect a statue of Mayfield in its Heisman Park, which sits just to the east of Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium.

There’s no reason to think he won’t have a third straight prolific game, as Kyle Shanahan has found his play-calling groove with all of the team’s versatile weapons, even without a healthy Pierre Garcon. Marcus Mariota is more banged up and less effective. The Titans have lost their grip on the AFC South, and now a playoff berth is in serious danger.

But Paul’s value to the Rockets goes beyond his fantasy implications because he completely changes both the potency and the robustness of the team offense while making a tangible contribution to the team defense. The Rockets team was built — yes, largely using analytics — around the concept of a central ball handler creating offense with four high-efficiency finishers around him at all times. Most of those finishers are spot-up 3-point shooters, but the center slot can also be manned by athletic bigs who can dive to the rim off the pick-and-roll.

Using this approach in the D’Antoni system, with a single gifted lead guard, can create an offense that is often oppressive to opponents because of how difficult it is to face the barrage of high efficiency — often 3-point shots — that is produced.

Too bad they can’t be ranked higher than this after three consecutive 28-point victories. Carson Wentz and the defense have kept them rolling. They’ll get some good tests with back-to-back long road trips to the NFC West.lakers_008

Offense-needy NFL teams could plunder Vikings’ Shurmur in 2018

Keenum also hasn’t had to carry the offensive load himself thanks to Jerrick McKinnon and Latavius Murray stepping up to fill the void in the running game created by Cook’s absence. The Vikings are averaging more rushing yards in the past eight games (130.2) than when Cook was in the backfield (108).

“It’s on me. I dropped it,” Diggs said. “I dropped the ball, and I gave it to them. It’s on us. All the plays we have the opportunity to make, we have to make. We left a lot of plays out there.”

The strengths, discipline and fundamentals Minnesota is known for let the team down. Keenum did not.

Everything was caving in on Keenum, but he hung tough and improvised to keep the Vikings in the game. The pressure the Panthers could apply against a one-dimensional attack was just too much to overcome in the end.

Eli Manning would inherit two good starting wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and possibly a special young left tackle in Garett Bolles. He can still get the ball out quickly to limit sacks and turnovers, which would be a big help to a Broncos defense that is still strong, but less dominant than it was when it helped Peyton ride off with a second ring.

Beyond the convenient storyline of deja vu, there’s some sense to Eli getting a Mile High to finish his career.

The Bengals took control of the AFC North with a victory at Heinz Field, a game in which wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh scored two touchdowns. Housh, however, made his biggest statement by wiping his cleats on a Steelers “Terrible Towel” before heading to the locker room. “It used to be Pittsburgh’s time,” fellow Bengals receiver Chad Johnson said afterward in this Cincy Jungle article. “Now it’s Cincinnati’s time.”

Shazier remains in a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospital after undergoing spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday.

“His actions after the hit are more disturbing than the hit itself. Often times plays like that are teachable moments,” Tomlin said. “He’s a better sportsman than he displayed after the block.”

“You give that guy the game ball because we know his heart is in it,” Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “And he deserves it.”

“We are going to give him the hat and T-shirt tonight,” linebacker Vince Williams said of the Steelers’ commemerative gear to mark their AFC North title, which they clinched with the win.

Buzz around the NFL has former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman as the most likely candidate for the open general manager job with Giants, Pro Football Talk reports.

Giants co-owner John Mara fired GM Jerry Reese, along with coach Ben McAdoo, Monday, a day after the team dropped to 2-10 on the season with a loss to the Raiders. Mara said he wants to hire a new GM before bringing aboard a new coach.

Former Chiefs GM John Dorsey, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Falcons assistant GM Scott Pioli (the son-in-law of legendary Giants coach Bill Parcells), Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer and Vikings assistant GM George Paton are also mentioned as possibilities.royals_009

Brett Brown: I treat film study with Markelle Fultz like a ‘college classroom’

“That’s a slippery slope at times,” Brown said. “He’s had a great motor in trying to grow his conditioning in that regard, doing the same thing in the weight room. Picking the areas that you can continue to develop really an amazing basketball body.”

Troy has a productive offense as well, led by senior quarterback Brandon Silvers. The four-year starter enters the New Orleans Bowl having thrown for more than 10,000 yards in his career. Silvers has passed for 2,985 yards and 13 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season.

North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson, who has produced 1,215 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this season, is doubtful for the bowl game because of a foot injury, according to Littrell. If he doesn’t play, he would finish his career ranked third in Mean Green history in rushing touchdowns (32) and fourth in rushing yards (3,205).

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier was transported to the hospital after a scary back injury on an attempted tackle in the first quarter. Late in the game, Vontaze Burfict was taken off the field with a head injury after an illegal crackback block by Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

While the injury to Shazier was unintentional, Smith-Schuster was called for two penalties for his hit on Burfict — one for unnecessary roughness and one for taunting as he stood over the injured Burfict.

“I don’t have any intentions to hurt anyone when I play football,” Smith-Schuster said. “I didn’t mean to hurt Vontez Burfict, I just wanted to throw a block for my teammate. I apologize for standing over him and that isn’t me. Praying he gets better.”panthers_015