Tuesday 29 November, 2016 | RSS Feed

NFL standings 2016: Cowboys are another game closer to clinching


The Dallas Cowboys took another step closer to clinching the top seed in the NFC. Jason Garrett’s team had a 31-26 victory over Washington on Thanksgiving, and thanks to a Seahawks loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Cowboys gained a game on their closest conference competition. In the Dallas win, Ezekiel Elliott continued his stellar rookie season with 97 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. Dak Prescott also impressed with 195 yards through the air and one touchdown, along with 39 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown. The Seahawks weren’t greatly affected by their loss to the Buccaneers, who showed out with great defense to put themselves a game out of the NFC South lead. Every team in the NFC West lost this weekend, so Seattle isn’t in immediate danger of losing its lead there. In the conference, the Seahawks also remain ahead of the Lions and the Falcons, who both won this week to improve to 7-4 on the year. The Buccaneers now trail the Falcons by just a game in the NFC South at 6-5. Mike Evans continued his resurgent season with two touchdowns in the first quarter, which was all his team needed to pull out the victory. If they perform in similar fashion along the way, we could see them sneak into the top six and the postseason. The New York Giants are 8-3, but hold a wild card spot because of the Cowboys’ 10-1 mark in the NFC East. The Giants knocked off the Cleveland Browns on the road by a final score of 27-13. Odell Beckham Jr. had 96 yards and two touchdowns for Ben McAdoo’s team, who is still hoping to catch the Cowboys. The two teams play for a second time this season on Dec. 11. The Giants got the best of the Cowboys in Week 1, by a narrow margin of 20-19. Washington’s loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving dropped it to 6-4-1 on the season, but the team shouldn’t feel too bad about the loss. Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed hooked up for two exciting touchdowns, and DeSean Jackson looked like his old self with another score. Washington’s greatest threats in the wild card race appear to be Tampa Bay and Minnesota, but Green Bay and Philadelphia are still hanging around at 5-6. The Lions still lead the NFC North, but after the Packers beat the Eagles on Monday Night Football, you can’t count them, or the Vikings, of the NFC North race just yet. With the Cowboys and Giants on a roll, the Eagles’ best shot at a playoff spot is going on a late run and grabbing a wild card bid.

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Russell Westbrook could become the 2nd NBA player ever to averag


The only player in NBA history to average a triple-double throughout an entire season is Oscar Robertson. This year, Russell Westbrook is trying to become the second. And after his triple-double against the Knicks on Monday, Westbrook is on pace to do just that. "Yeah, he could do it. He could do it," Thunder coach Billy Donovan told the Norman Transcript on Nov. 28. "I’m not gonna say he is or isn’t because I think the more important thing is Russell is winning, but he’s a guy that has great impact on generating assists. He has a great impact on rebounding the basketball, and he can score. So, there’s certainly a possibility that can happen.” With Kevin Durant gone, Westbrook has full control of the offense. He’ll obviously score double-digit points, and averaging double-digit assists seems likely. The big question is whether the 6’3 guard can rebound enough throughout the year. Oscar Robertson did it in the 1961-62 season, averaging 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists when the NBA’s pace was up at a ridiculous level. He came close (within 1.0 assist or rebound) four more times. The last player to come relatively close to averaging a triple-double was Jason Kidd in 2006-07, when he averaged 13 points, 9.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds. LeBron James and James Harden are also close this season, but nobody is as close as Westbrook. We’ll track Westbrook’s attempt this season below.

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New bowl projections after Rivalry Weekend: What will the Playof


2016 is shaping up to give the College Football Playoff committee its hardest decisions ever. Below, a rundown of the postseason picture, based on guesses updated after Rivalry Weekend. That weekend included an Ohio State win over Michigan that knocked the Wolverines out of the Playoff, but that wasn't enough to secure a Big Ten Championship trip for the Buckeyes. Penn State and Wisconsin will play for the conference title, and how the committee handles this will be fascinating. In year three of the Playoff, we'll finally learn something about exactly how the committee really works. There's still a chance that conference title weekend could either resolve a dilemma or give us whole new ones, but for now, here's how things might shape up. I'll update this somewhat on Tuesday night, after the committee reveals its new rankings, and then we'll be five days from seeing the real deal on Selection Sunday.

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Sunday Shootaround: Kawhi Leonard speaks up, and the Spurs liste


BOSTON -- Kawhi Leonard talks now. He talks to the coaches after timeouts and before the huddle. He talks to his teammates on the court, many of whom are new to San Antonio and the Spurs way of doing things. He talks on the plane and he talks in the locker room, making a point of being available to answer postgame questions. Leonard has emerged this season a team leader. Of all the many internal developments that are taking place within the Spurs ecosystem, this may be the most important. "He’s not just doing it by example anymore," Spurs guard Danny Green told me. "He’s leading by action." This may not seem like a natural fit for player who is shy to the point of reticence, but it is a necessary one now that Tim Duncan has retired. The way Leonard sees it, he has the experience to voice his opinion. "Definitely, I want to be vocal," he said. "If I see something they’re doing right, if I see something they’re doing wrong, I just want to point that out and keep getting better." His methods are suitably subtle: a small conversation about proper spacing here, a note about pick-and-roll coverages there. Leonard is not demonstrative, flashy, or given to anything that would be in any way considered an antic. And that’s perfectly fine for the Spurs who were defined for two decades by Duncan’s steady, reserved persona.

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