Brady defends OBJ and offers some friendly advice.

Brady had some interesting comments when asked about the criticism of Beckham being at the center of the boat controversy during Brady’s weekly hit with “Kirk & Callahan” on WEEI radio in Boston, and the star quarterback both defended Beckham and also shed light on his own experiences away from the facility during a work week.
“Well, it’s a tricky situation,” Brady said. “Players are off, everyone decides what they want to do in their off time. When I was young I did a lot of things that when I look back, I wish I probably wouldn’t have done — flying cross-country, things like that. It just wasn’t publicized.
“It’s up for every team to decide and Coach [Bill] Belichick for example, last week we worked Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then had the weekend to rest a little bit, rest our bodies, and then we’re in [Monday] for work. The Chiefs, they had the whole week off. Every team has a different personality and obviously when you win, it takes care of all those things. It sucks when you lose.”
Beckham can relate to that last part, and had he played well and the Giants not lost this boat story would have sunk immediately. Instead, it became the Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson story of this generation — fairly or not.
Beckham is barely 24 years old and is starting to learn the power of social media, something Brady didn’t really contend with until later in his career. In fact, Brady spoke of one time he left the Patriots facility — perish the thought! — when he was injured before later thinking better of it.
“I flew out because I was from California and when I had off time that is where I went,” he said. “Looking back there was one time I was actually injured pretty good and I decided to do it. I landed and stayed overnight and I realized, ‘[Shoot], I better fly back’ and I flew back the next morning because it wasn’t a very smart decision.
“You’re younger, you don’t have all the experience that you have and I am at a point doing this as long as I have, I cherish the opportunity that we have. I am putting everything into it. I will have time at the end of the year to do things I need to do, but right now it’s focus on what my job is and that is to put everything I have into this week.”
And even if Beckham more than made up for it with his work on the Packers after returning to the team, the perception-is-reality world we live in isn’t going to see that. He even admitted after the game that all the boat talk “did a great job of putting it in people’s mind, ‘OK, now if the Giants lose it’s because you went to Miami.’ ”
So did a boat trip end the Giants’ season? No, it most certainly didn’t in and of itself. But as Brady noted, sometimes those types of trips are the things players might regret later down the road, even if the actual effect is minimal.


Steelers destroy Dolphins in what sees the big 3 play for the 1st time in the playoffs.

Injuries forced Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell to wait three seasons for the chance to run onto the field together in the playoffs. The wait for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Big Three” to do it again won’t be nearly as long.
Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores, Brown caught five passes for 124 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from Roethlisberger as the Steelers overwhelmed the beaten-up and mistake-prone Miami Dolphins 30-12 on Sunday.
Pittsburgh (12-5) ran off their eighth straight victory by avenging a whipping by the Dolphins (10-7) in mid-October to set up a visit to AFC West champion Kansas City (12-4) next Sunday. The Steelers rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on 2 October.
Seahawks ease to 26-6 wild card win as Lions’ season ends on a sour note

Bell missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons with knee injuries, and Brown sat out a divisional-round playoff loss to Denver 12 months ago due to a concussion. They played as if trying to make up for lost time.

The Dolphins tried to hype themselves up by running around in shirt sleeves in the single-digit wind chill during warmups. Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier did them one better, racing around shirtless — as if to send a message that his team is plenty comfortable playing this time of year.

The Steelers scored on their first three possessions, and Miami’s playoff victory drought was well on its way to 17 years and counting.

Brown turned a pair of short passes into long scores. The first, a 50-yard sprint down the left sideline, came after Brown patiently waited for tight end Jesse James to provide the one block he needed. The second, a crossing pattern Brown turned into a 62-yard touchdown, ended with the All-Pro receiver pointing at a Miami defender as he crossed the goal line to put the Steelers up 14-0 before the game was 10 minutes old.
Matt Moore, making the first playoff start of his decade-long career with Ryan Tannehill still sidelined by a sprained knee, played on despite taking a helmet-to-chin shot from Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree in the second quarter. Moore returned just minutes after sitting dazed on the turf and completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But he fumbled twice with the ball in Steelers territory and the game still in doubt.

The first fumble, caused by an unblocked James Harrison, ended a Miami drive at the Pittsburgh 13. The second, when Moore collided with running back Jay Ajayi, set up a Chris Boswell field goal that pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 23-6 midway through the third quarter.
Shazier stepped in front of Moore’s pass on Miami’s next possession, and when Bell darted it from 8 yards, the Steelers were up 30-6.
The Dolphins hardly looked like the team that pushed around the Steelers three months ago when Ajayi ran for 204 yards and two scores. That set the stage for Miami’s 9-2 finish to send the franchise to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“Last time we felt like we didn’t play well,” Bell said. “Those guys got after us, they jumped on us early.”
There was no running room for Ajayi this time. He was held to 33 yards on 16 carries, forcing the Dolphins to rely on Moore and a defense incapable of handling the Steelers.
“The defense played great today, stopping their run game, making it tough on (Ajayi) on their side, he’s a great runner,” Bell added. “On the other side, we wanted to control the ball, score some touchdowns and we did our job today.”
After Brown controlled the first quarter, Bell dominated the second. He carried 10 straight times during an 83-yard touchdown drive as Pittsburgh showcased the varied ways it can beat you.

It’s a healthy blueprint they’ll take to Kansas City next weekend.

Steelers coaching philosophy messed around in frozen practise 

PITTSBURGH — Before he went out to practice Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell debated aloud with teammates how many layers he should put on.
The Steelers were practicing inside, but there was a high of 23 degrees outside and the indoor facility at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex is a large metal building that already sucks the heat out of the air.
Before practice began, though, Mitchell saw Tomlin and could tell his head coach would only be making the team’s afternoon session colder.
“I was like ‘This is one of those adversity moments.’ He likes to put us in those situations just to — [mess] with us, to be totally honest. To be totally honest, that’s what he’s doing,” Mitchell said.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said overhead doors at either end of the building were left open with the fans that line the walls above the end zones blowing in the frigid outside air. Thursday’s practice was only missing the wind, Haley said.
In his four years as a Steelers Mitchell said Tomlin had never seen Tomlin arrange such a practice. But Pittsburgh hosts the Miami Dolphins in a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, when the forecast calls for a high of 18 degrees and a low of 9. Mitchell gave Tomlin credit for putting his team in similar conditions in advance.
“When I talk about him being a great coach it’s little things like that,” Mitchell said. “I can guarantee you no one wants to be freezing like we were, but at the end of the day it’s going to be cold where we play and you got to be able to execute and have your mind right for the job.”
Both Tomlin and Dolphins head coach Adam Gase have dismissed the significance of weather in Sunday’s Wild Card game, though Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said it will initially affect Miami players .
His twin brother, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey – who won’t play – is already talking about the cold for Sunday, Pouncey said.
On Thursday at least, Mitchell said, it helped the Steelers.
Said Mitchell: “I thought we had a great practice today, so.”

Without a shadow of a doubt Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career. Even as good as 2007. 

Back in 2014, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady said that he would retire from football when he started to “suck.” Teams around the league rejoiced, especially after his down season in 2013.
Brady’s only gotten better in each subsequent season and expects to play another 5-6 years. “Why would I stop now?,” Brady asked this past week.
In fact, Pro Football Focus (PFF) thinks that Brady is playing the best football of his career, with both his 2015 and 2016 seasons grading a fraction ahead of his 2007 season.
PFF notes that Brady is better at handling pressure in his age-39 season than he was as a younger player. His 2016 passer rating on deep passes 20+ yards down the field is 122.2, well ahead of his 2nd-best rating of 100.7 back in 2007.
The fact that Brady has done this with a different offense seemingly every week due to injury is even more impressive. Remember that Brady had Randy Moss and Wes Welker for every game in 2007 and featured three All Pro offensive linemen; Brady hasn’t had a healthy Rob Gronkowski- his best offensive player- for half the season, and his offensive line isn’t nearly as qualified.

Almost every doubter and detractor of Brady is converting to a believer at this point.
Brady is peaking at age-39. We think. He’s found a way to improve every year since 2013. Maybe he’ll be even better in 2017, although I’m not sure what facet of his game he can improve moving forward. Perhaps he’ll improve his deep ball connection with WR Julian Edelman, because that’s the only weakness in his game.

Even if Brady remains flat, or slightly declines in his age-40 season, he’ll still be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The rest of the league will continue to wait for him to start sucking. They might be waiting a long time.

How the Derek Carr-less Oakland Raiders can go all the way and win Super Bowl 51

Biggest Strength
Simply put, offense. The team has scored the seventh-most points in the NFL, has the sixth-best rushing attack, and finished the season seventh in offensive DVOA. This all comes with the caveat that it was the now-injured Derek Carr leading it (more on that later), but nevertheless, the Raiders have proven adept at putting points on the board.
Biggest Weakness
Quarterback is the obvious one. Carr going down in the final weeks of the regular season, followed by another injury to backup Matt McGloin, means the season has turned into an unabridged nightmare. Defense was was the biggest concern before all this, which finished the season ranked 23rd in DVOA.

Potential Path
It’ll be Houston first — the weakest team in the playoffs — then probably the Patriots in New England, then either the Steelers or Kansas City. Not good, basically.
How They Can Win
Luck, mostly. Remember, the playoffs aren’t designed to reward the best team overall, but instead to crown the best team on the night, in a one-off game. Maybe opposing teams find it tough to plan for a quarterback they no almost nothing about, and the offensive system is less dependent on Derek Carr than we though. The rushing game should still be reliable, after all. All that, plus better play on defense, plus a bit more luck, and that might be the recipe.

NFL Week 17 recap Washington Redskins blow play-off chance against NY GiantsKansas City Chiefs crowned AFC West champions after win over San Diego

Kirk Cousins threw a late interception as the Washington Redskins blew their chance at a play-off place with a 19-10 home loss to the New York Giants.
Facing a team with nothing to play for, the Redskins were their own worst enemy in a listless performance. Cousins was twice picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the second half, with the second coming with less than 90 seconds left and the Redskins trailing 13-10.
After New York punted, Washington got the ball back one final time with six seconds left, but as they tried for a miracle play Jordan Reed’s attempted lateral pass was picked off by Trevin Wade who ran it in for another touchdown.
The Redskins would have made the play-offs with a win provided the late game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions did not end in a tie, but they instead face an off-season of questions and recriminations.
Meanwhile New York will advance as the first wild card in the NFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs were crowned AFC West champions as they beat the San Diego Chargers 37-27 while the Oakland Raiders lost 24-6 to the Denver Broncos.
In what could be the final NFL game played in San Diego if the Chargers complete a possible move to Los Angeles, Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns and scored another on the ground to lead the Chiefs to victory.
At the same time, everything was going wrong for the Raiders in Denver. Starting quarterback Matt McGloin was lost to a shoulder injury as they slumped to a heavy defeat against a team who may be the defending Super Bowl champions but are also a team out of the play-off picture.
Although Oakland are still play-off bound, they advance as the number five seed and appear to be down to their rookie third-string quarterback as McGloin joins Derek Carr on the sidelines.

After the game, it was reported that Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who suffered a complex migraine on October 9, had told his players he was stepping down, although a formal announcement will come on Monday.
Another coach on his way out — San Francisco’s Chip Kelly — saw his team lose as the 2-14 49ers blew an 11-point lead to go down 25-23 to the Seattle Seahawks, who wrapped up the third seed in the NFC as West division champions.
All four of Matt Ryan’s touchdown throws came in the first half as the Atlanta Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 38-32 to secure a first-round bye in the post-season.
Ryan had 235 of his 331 yards before the interval as the Falcons took a 35-13 lead into the locker rooms, then watched nervously as the Saints scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to threaten a comeback.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ incredibly slim chance of snatching a play-off place ended despite a 17-16 success against the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs needed to win while hoping six other results went in their favour — including a tie between the Giants and the Redskins.
But before the game even kicked off, the Bucs’ hopes were over when the much-changed Dallas Cowboys lost 27-13 to the Philadelphia Eagles as tight end Zach Ertz notched two touchdowns and 139 receiving yards.
Back-up quarterback Landry Jones showcased his abilities by throwing three touchdowns for 277 yards as he guided AFC North winners the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 27-24 overtime win against the Cleveland Browns, who wrapped up a miserable 1-15 season.
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and 276 yards as the New England Patriots won 35-14 against the Miami Dolphins to clinch home advantage throughout the playoffs.
LeGarrette Blount ran another in for the Pats in a high-octane match highlighted by Julian Edelman’s 77-yard touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead rushed in two touchdowns for 119 yards as they eased past the Baltimore Ravens in a 27-10 success at the Paul Brown Stadium.
The Jacksonville Jaguars narrowly fell to their 13th defeat of the regular season at the hands of AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts thanks to a touchdown from tight end Jack Doyle with just nine seconds left on the clock to steal a 24-20 win.
Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes to help the Minnesota Vikings to a comfortable 38-10 victory over the Chicago Bears, the Tennessee Titans edged past the Houston Texans in a 24-17 success and a Ryan Fitzpatrick-inspired New York Jets got the better of the Buffalo Bills with a 30-10 home win.
Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals took out a season’s worth of frustrations on the Los Angeles Rams in a 44-6 win.