5 Reasons to get excited about the Oakland A¡¯s in 2017

Today is New Year¡¯s Day. That means 2016 is officially over and in the past, and the world has moved on to 2017. That¡¯s good news for Oakland A¡¯s fans, because 2016 sucked for almost every reason imaginable for our baseball team.

The flip of the calendar brings a clean slate and a renewed sense of hope. The flaws and mistakes of yesterday can be addressed, our dreams for the future come one step closer to realization, and most importantly the club is back in a five-way tie for first place.
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It¡¯s Harden¡¯s precocious drive-and-kicks and his ability to shed any other defender in the league if you give him a couple of screens that keeps the offense humming. And it¡¯s his lightning quick lefty jumper that bails the team out when a possession does break down. That doesn¡¯t happen much, though. The Rockets only take 12 percent of their shots on offense with less than seven seconds on the shot clock ¡ª something Mike D¡¯Antoni has directly inspired from his success with the Suns last decade, of course.

Authentic Mens Kevin Minter Jersey This is the season of ridiculous stat lines ¡ª mostly triple-doubles. Harden spearheaded the push on Saturday, the last day of 2016, but Westbrook is right there with him. He had an absurd evening himself on New Year¡¯s Eve, recording a triple-double in the first half ¡ª the quickest he¡¯s ever done it in his career.

Where has the sanctity of the triple-double gone? The statline is so highly regarded that the official NBA application sends you a push notification every time it happens. They¡¯re sending so many this season, they might have to reconsider. Besides Westbrook and Harden, even rising Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon recorded one on Saturday. Whatever the record is for triple-doubles in a season, this year will break it.

Incredibly, much of this run has come without Marshawn Lynch or Jimmy Graham

Incredibly, much of this run has come without Marshawn Lynch or Jimmy Graham.

Four weeks ago, shortly after Baldwin had commented on the evolution-to-come for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson found himself struggling, with a 10-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Now, four weeks later, it sits at 26-to-7.

The Seahawks have scored 29 points or more in five straight games, another team record, and after starting out the first eight games of the year with just 12 offensive touchdowns, they have 23 in the last five. Doug Baldwin has nine touchdowns in those five games after scoring just 11 in his entire career previously. Rookie Tyler Lockett has emerged as a viable deep threat and has five touchdowns on the year. Jermaine Kearse is contributing. Luke Willson has stepped up to fill in for Graham.

How have the Seahawks so suddenly turned things around?

Well, it starts up front. After being sacked 31 times in their first seven games, Wilson’s only been sacked seven times in the last six, including zero Sunday against the Ravens. It’s amazing what a little bit of time in the pocket can do for a passer like Wilson.

A lot of this could be attributed to the Seahawks’ decision to replace Drew Nowak with Patrick Lewis at the center position. Lewis improved the line’s communication vastly, as Seattle’s coaches have told us, and they’re getting on the same page with their protections.

Here is a look at our rankings of all 32 teams playing this week. That is followed by each writer making a pick, providing some reasoning for the pick, and then providing some alternatives to consider. Best of luck!

I’m riding the hot hand here. The Packers are steam-rolling the competition right now and Detroit doesn’t look like a squad built to go back and forth with a top offense. Seattle should be able to beat the 49ers with their third stringers and I also like Denver beating an Oakland team that will be without Derek Carr.

Prescott dismissed the suggestion that Detroit

Prescott dismissed the suggestion that Detroit — still trying to nail down a bid to the tournament — had far more to play for than the home team did.

“If you’re a competitor,” he said, “you want to win. That’s enough to play for, simple as that.”

He credited his offensive coordinator, offensive line and receivers for making him look good. If the Cowboys quarterback sounded a bit like Tom Brady at the microphone, there’s a reason.
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Surging: Miami’s regular-season finale on Sunday is at home against the Patriots. That meeting offers the Dolphins a chance to show themselves — and the Patriots — that they can play with New England. In Week 2 at Foxborough — before Miami’s offensive line came together and Jay Ajayi emerged — Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots built a 31-3 lead on the Dolphins and held on to win 31-24.

Slipping: Houston’s AFC South rivals had rough outings on Sunday. The Tennessee Titans lost their quarterback, lost a game to the 3-12 Jacksonville Jaguars and lost a potential playoff spot. The Indianapolis Colts were defeated in Oakland and eliminated from postseason contention even before Houston played. The Texans took care of their own business in an ugly game on Saturday night, but they already had received some help in the form of disappointing performances from the two teams behind them.

Authentic Mathew Barzal Jersey Worth noting: The Steelers are a perennial playoff team, but it hasn’t been easy. This is only the second time they’ve won their division since 2010. Their 2014 team was a division champion as well.

The Cardinals defense prepares for the playoffs without its best player

Jonathan Bullard Mens Jersey Danny Kelly: It was just last week that we were talking about Tyrann Mathieu as one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year, and now he’s been lost for the season with another ACL tear. It’s clearly a huge loss for the Cardinals — he is one of their best players and is a game changer from a number of different spots in the defense — but it’s something that they’re going to have to overcome.

Joe Flacco Womens Jersey Because he played so many roles for Arizona, how do you think they will adapt? He was part corner, part safety, part nickelback, and part linebacker — so do you think they’ll try to use someone else to emulate what he can do, or does replacing the Honey Badger mean Arizona will have to turn to a number of different guys to play individual roles in different situations? If you had to predict it now, what do you think they’ll do?

Per usual, the Jets have one of the better defenses in the league, ranked fifth overall. But the real difference with the Jets in 2015 has been their offensive firepower. They are 10th in yards and 11th in points scored, which is is a far cry from their ineptitude on that side of the ball under Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez.

Eleven-year NFL veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has arguably been the best Jets quarterback since — wait for it — Chad Pennington. He’s passed for 3,428 yards this season, which means he’s only 404 yards from surpassing his career high. He’s completed 60.5 percent of his passes and thrown 26 touchdowns as well.

the Pelicans are coming up on another decision in what figures to be a long

That other night would be Dec. 8, when a loss to the 76ers led to Davis grumbling in his greatest display of discontent this season via mostly one-word responses. An injection of reinforcements since has bought the Pelicans some time — even if it’s just another week or two.

“I just let stuff play out until it’s time to really say something, [then] I’ll say it,” he said. “But other than that, I like to see where stuff goes, see how stuff works out. Just ’cause something doesn’t work out one game or two games or whatever, you don’t want to jump the gun. I kind of just see how it goes over a period of time and then make a decision from there.”

A: It means he can ask the Clippers for $50 million more than he could have if he had been a free agent last year. The Clippers don’t have to give it to him, of course, but he is in a much better position to get a lot more guaranteed money. Being the union president can pay off .
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Q: What about the guys in the middle?

A: NBA salaries are a zero-sum game: They get 51 percent of the revenue pie to split up among 450 or so players. So if the guys at the top are getting more, and the guys at the bottom are getting more, it means the middle class might get squeezed. This could be the beginning of a very top-heavy league, where the stars get the lion’s share of the money.
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Q: Are there any other new rules to know about?

A: One you’ll notice is that teams can now have two players who they can keep on their roster while letting them play in the D-League. These players will be on “two-way contracts” that will enable a team to control their rights and call them up to the parent team — sort of like how it works in baseball.

Stephen Jones sat in the stands with the other parents

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Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who attended several Highland Park games during the season, watched with Jerry Jones in a suite.

Stephen Jones sat in the stands with the other parents, just as he did throughout the six-game playoff run that included games at the Cowboys’ new 12,000-seat indoor practice facility that doubles as a home field for schools in the suburb of Frisco, 30 miles north of Dallas.

“He’s been by my side each step of this whole thing since spring,” the younger Jones, a junior, said of his dad. “My freshman year, when I got hurt last year, he’s been giving me advice, cheering me on with my mom. It’s been awesome.”
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Temple (12-4) went ahead 7-0 on a 38-yard run by Jemiyah Franklin, followed by a 16-play drive from its 8-yard line to the Highland Park 22. The march ended on a failed fourth-down pass as Temple dropped to 2-7 in title games in its second appearance in three seasons.

The great unknown is just how mobile Rodgers will be, especially as the game progresses. Given that he is such a threat on the ground with his ability to escape pressure and extend plays when healthy, one has to wonder how this latest injury will impact his overall productivity.

The Packers appear to be obtaining insurance for Rodgers, which hints at their level of concern. On Saturday they elevated quarterback Joe Callahan from the practice squad, something ESPN’s Bob Holtzman said to watch for earlier in the week based on past practices.

Then there’s the weather. Holtzman noted Rodgers once told him he struggles with his leg muscles tightening up when the weather is extremely cold — and that is precisely what is expected on Sunday.

If weather projections prove accurate (zero degrees Fahrenheit or slightly below), this will be the coldest temperature at kickoff in Chicago’s football history. Soft tissue injuries are common in extreme cold, increasing the risk for reinjury. Ground surfaces can be slick in extreme cold, which can be more problematic for someone with a lower-extremity ailment. Oh, and it’s supposed to be windy. Quarterbacks don’t love throwing in the wind.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is treating Le’Veon Bell

Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” blasted in the Seattle Seahawks locker room Thursday night following the team’s 24-3 win against the Rams.

Players put on navy T-shirts that read ‘Hold down the west’ and posed for pictures to celebrate their division-clinching victory.
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Pete Carroll’s squad is going back to the playoffs for the fifth straight year, and the Seahawks are NFC West champs for the third time in four seasons.

Carroll was asked afterward about the path this specific team has taken.

“It has been strange,” Carroll said. “It’s been different than any of the other years that we’ve had.”

Authentic Mens Michael Jordan Jersey The Seahawks are 9-4-1 with upcoming matchups against Arizona (5-7-1) and San Francisco (1-12). They’ve got an excellent shot to finish with 11 wins and overtake Detroit for the No. 2 seed.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is treating Le’Veon Bell, who is garnering darkhorse MVP consideration, like the workhorse that he is.
Here’s what Pittsburgh’s game plan likely will be, according to sources around the league: The Steelers are expected to use the $12.377 million franchise tag on Bell, restricting his ability to go to another team, while trying to hammer out a long-term extension in the offseason. This would provide the Steelers with the protection they would need for a player who is as good as any in the game, but who has been suspended twice and is one strike away from a 10-game suspension.

There have been and will be no contract discussions until the offseason, as the Steelers’ long-standing policy is to not do in-season extensions. Until then, Bell will continue piling up numbers that will impact how much he receives.

Bell has 1,616 yards from scrimmage, the second most in a player’s first 10 games of a season (Jim Brown had 1,704 for the Cleveland Browns in his first 10 games in 1963). Bell is coming off a game in which he became only the second player in NFL history to have at least 225 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and at least 50 receiving yards in the same game, joining Brown again (November 1961).

2016 NFL mock draft: A new QB for the Browns

With the regular season over, nearly two-thirds of the league has its sights set fully on the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans start things off at No. 1 with the smart, obvious and sort-of-boring choice. After that, look for plenty of surprises.

Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Adding an offensive tackle with the No. 1 pick may seem a little dull, but it would be a smart move by a team that needs to make a handful of them this offseason. Picking Tunsil would force 2014 first-rounder Taylor Lewan to the right side. In doing so, having Lewan and guard Chance Warmack would give the Titans one of the league’s better run-blocking right sides in the league.

Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Johnny Manziel’s time in Mens Dave Hollins Jersey Cleveland is basically done, and he never really gave good enough reason to keep him around. Once again the Browns are starting anew. What better way to do it than with a quarterback? Of the many glaring needs on the Browns, quarterback is the most obvious and important. Goff is ready for the NFL from a mental standpoint and has solid athleticism.

BLACK SUNDAY: Monday has been Adrian Clayborn Jersey known as “Black Monday” in the NFL as the day when middling teams axe coaches for leading underwhelming seasons. Some teams couldn’t wait to begin searching for new leadership, however.

First, there was the Cleveland Browns, who fired head coach Mike Pettine, their third head coach in four years, and general manager Ray Farmer. The Browns then promoted their general counsel to vice president of football operations, which means that a man who has zero scouting experience now has final say over their 53-man roster.

Not to be outdone, the San Francisco 49ers moved quickly to fire Jim Tomsula, a man who CEO Jed York hand picked to be the 49ers’ head coach not even a year ago after “mutually parting” with Jim Harbaugh.

Free-agent 3B Justin Turner close to deal with Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a contract offer on the table to retain free-agent third baseman Justin Turner, and the two sides are close to working out a deal, a major league Joel Ward Kids Jersey source has indicated.

Turner, 32, has come into his own after the Dodgers signed the right-handed hitter before the 2014 season. He became a free agent after he was non-tendered by the New York Mets.

Despite offseason microfracture knee surgery, Turner had his best major league season in 2016, batting .275 with a .493 slugging percentage, well above his career mark of .439. Turner easily established career bests in home runs (27), RBIs (90) and doubles (34).

Turner also was a Gold Glove Award Nathan MacKinnon Kids Jersey finalist at third base.

While no details of a potential contract have been revealed, there is some indication that both sides are fine tuning the contract language, not always a simple process.

If the White Sox continue to dismantle their roster to acquire more young players, Quintana is their third huge asset. As Buster Olney wrote Friday, however, general manager Rick Hahn doesn’t need to trade Quintana:

But before the White Sox trade the left-hander to Houston or some other team for another boatload of prospects, it might be worthwhile for Hahn and his staff to think about this: Sooner than expected, the White Sox might need somebody exactly like Quintana.

Through the trades with Boston and Washington, Chicago has added young players who will make an impact with the White Sox next year. Those include Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, who already have major league service time. Pitchers Dane Dunning and Michael Kopech are a little further away and more likely to reach the majors in 2018.

Derrick Johnson ruptured Achilles in Chiefs vs. Raiders

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson ruptured his left Achilles in the second quarter of Kansas City’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Oakland Raiders. The team almost immediately ruled Johnson out for the rest of the game.

Following Kansas City’s 21-13 win, head coach Andy Reid confirmed that the injury was a ruptured Achilles.

Johnson, who fought his way back from a torn Achilles during the 2014 season, was unable to walk off the field and had to be heavily assisted by athletic performance staff. The injury appeared to occur without any contact.

Chiefs players and Johnson appeared dismayed following the injury, suggesting that it may be serious.

Johnson, 34, has 89 tackles, one sack, and one interception for the Chiefs this season.

To add insult to injury for the Raiders, they had stopped Hill on a punt return just a minute before but after a penalty, they had to redo the kick.

It was just 22 degrees at kickoff and both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter. Hill and Alex Smith have been on fire since, though.

Smith is often criticized for not throwing deep, but that hasn’t been the case in this game. He also completed a 39-yard pass to Chris Conley in the first quarter, and he hit Conley for another 31-yard catch in the second quarter. Smith was a perfect 5-for-5 on throws of 10+ yards in the first half.

It’s a valid question, Coach Pagano.

Derek Carr and Latavius Murray are having a phenomenal season, and the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line has been instrumental in their success. Carr and Murray decided to show their appreciation for one of the best lines in the league by treating them to courtside Warriors seats on Monday night.