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Sony Michel’s big day bodes well for Patriots against Chiefs

New England Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel had earned a reputation for performing on the biggest stage at the University of Georgia. And in the biggest moment of the Patriots’ season, he delivered a standout performance in a 41-28 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional-round playoff game.

Michel’s emergence couldn’t have come at a more important time, and the Patriots will need it again in next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS).cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Keeping the ball away from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be critical, and Michel — who was supported by bone-crunching fullback James Develin, unsung blocking from tight end Rob Gronkowski and an offensive line determined to impose its will — showed he can be relied upon to be a go-to guy in a playoff game.6

“He had a great game, and he’s just had a great year. He’s just battled and fought hard,” said quarterback Tom Brady. “I really love Sony as a person and his commitment to the team. He’s just been a lot of fun to be out there with, made a lot of hard yards. It’s great to see.”

The 31st overall pick in the draft, Michel finished with 129 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns. He became just the third player in the past 25 postseasons with three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game, joining Ricky Watters (1993) and LeGarrette Blount (2013).cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Michel also became the only player in the past 25 postseasons with 100 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game. In 2018, only one player had 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a single half — Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who was voted second-team All-Pro

Fans who followed Michel at Georgia won’t be surprised, as the humble, soft-spoken 23-year-old was the offensive star of the Bulldogs’ double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl last year. He had 11 carries for 181 yards with three touchdowns in that game, along with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Can Andy Reid rewrite the book on ‘Playoff Andy’?

Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs won a very important football game here Saturday night. Their 31-13 victory over the Colts was the franchise’s first home playoff win in 25 years — since Joe Montana was their quarterback. It came one year and six days after the Chiefs coughed up an 18-point halftime lead and lost a home playoff game to the Titans. Saturday’s win came at the expense of the same quarterback — Andrew Luck — who engineered a 28-point second-half comeback to beat them in a playoff game five years ago, in Reid’s first season as Chiefs coach. This was a demon-exorcising victory, and Reid knew it.

“I’m into history; I love history if it makes you better,” Reid said. “That was the important thing for our guys — don’t get caught up on all the stuff that happened in the past. They’re out in the community. I’m not. I’m locked down in my office, so I don’t hear all that stuff, but they’re actually out there. So just keep it positive and move forward.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

But the moving forward matters when you’re talking about the Chiefs in January — and when you’re talking about Andy Reid in January. There have been too many collapses, too many near misses, too many teams that were too good to go home as early as they did, for that not to be a part of these twin stories. The Chiefs always blow it in the playoffs. Reid always blows it in the playoffs. Death, taxes and those two things.5

So the fact that Reid’s Chiefs won Saturday matters, because it means they host the AFC Championship Game next week. Win one home game, Andy Reid, and you go to the Super Bowl for the second time in your otherwise brilliant 20-year head-coaching career. Win one home game, Chiefs, and you go to the Super Bowl for the first time in 49 years. Decades of frigid frustration sit 60 good minutes away from erasure.

“This is a new era, new team, new mindset,” Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones insisted. “We’re changing the culture around here.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

They might be. Spending the week before the game in this town, I expected to find Chiefs fans gnawing their fingernails to the nubs with memories of last year, five years ago, all those playoff disappointments. But fans felt pretty good about this game, and as lifelong Chiefs fan Allen Roberson told me Wednesday night, “Mahomes is the difference.”

That would be young Patrick Mahomes, the 23-year-old superstar quarterback to whom Reid turned over his playoff team a year ago without any guarantees that he could handle it. The Chiefs made last year’s playoffs with Alex Smith at quarterback, and even after Smith’s career year, they traded him to Washington the week of the Super Bowl, anointing Mahomes the starter after a rookie year spent sitting on the bench.

Asian Cup: Qatar, Japan, Uzbekistan win opening games

Qatar and Japan won their opening games at the Asian Cup on Wednesday, but for both teams it’s all about 2022. Quite literally for Qatar, who are hosting the next World Cup that year and scored their first goal at 8:22 p.m. — or 2022 — Qatar time.

Japan’s quest for a record fifth title started with a 3-2 victory over Turkmenistan, while Qatar earned a 2-0 win over Lebanon amid political tension with the host nation.

After giving up an early goal, Japan — who have a young squad that’s been rebuilt with an eye on the next World Cup — scored three in quick succession to turn the game around.

Yuya Osako scored in the 56th and 60th minutes, the latter following a goalkeeping error, and Ritsu Doan made it 3-1 in the 71st.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Arslanmurat Amanov scored with a long-range shot to give Turkmenistan — the Asian Cup’s second-lowest-ranked team — the lead in the 26th minute. Ahmet Atayev converted a penalty toward the end after a foul by Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.6

After losing to Belgium in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup, Japan are trying to rebuild. Coach Hajime Moriyasu left some experienced players off the team for the Asian Cup, including midfielder Shinji Kagawa and forward Shinji Okazaki. He is instead giving more prominence to players like Gonda, whose last competitive international game was in 2013.

Japan are unbeaten in six games since the World Cup, five of those victories.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In the other Group F match, Uzbekistan beat Oman 2-1. Eldor Shomurodov scored the winning goal in the 85th minute.

Uzbekistan finished the match with 10 men after defender Egor Krimets was sent off in stoppage time for fouling an opposing player who was through on goal.

Qatar dominated possession but lacked a cutting edge against Lebanon before Iraqi-born Bassam Al-Rawi curled in a free kick in the 65th. Almoez Ali made it 2-0 from a rebound 14 minutes later.

Earlier, Lebanon thought they had scored their first major-tournament goal since 2000 through Ali Hamam from a corner, but it was ruled out for a foul away from the ball.

Kane reminds Chelsea of what they’re missing as Spurs grab advantage

When Stuart Pearce was England Under-21s manager, he went to visit Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. The two spent a few days together, Guardiola offered various pieces of advice on all aspects of the game, but as the two men parted he turned around and offered one final suggestion: “By the way, get a Messi in your side.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Mauricio Pochettino might say something similar about Harry Kane.

Kane’s first-half penalty was the difference between Tottenham and Chelsea in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal at Wembley on Tuesday. It was a penalty awarded after the VAR ruled Kepa Arrizabalaga had fouled Kane in his area, a ruling that came after Kane’s run was adjudged to have been kept onside by Cesar Azpilicueta. The latter proved controversial, with Maurizio Sarri slamming the decision, citing “the pictures on our camera,” which revealed that “Kane was offside, clearly offside.”5

“I think we deserved more, because in this match we played better than the opponents,” he explained, in plain-enough terms. “We were in control of the match. We played about 70 balls in the opposing box, against 11 balls from Tottenham. Eighteen shots against seven, I think. Five goal opportunities against two.”

All of which is the sort of analysis that you can paint as either a good or a bad thing for Chelsea. Good that they dominated, particularly in parts of the second half, but the fact they didn’t convert that dominance into goals and a victory must be a concern.

Which, in turn, emphasised the glaring difference between the two teams at Wembley. Kane’s goal may have been only a penalty, but where the England captain is concerned, for “penalty” you can read “goal.” He’s missed only one of his past 14, that against Liverpool last season, a failure that dogged him for a full seven minutes before another came along, which he of course buried.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Those seven minutes perhaps encapsulated one of the main reasons why Kane is so good. It’s like he has one of those memory erasers from “Men In Black,” but rather than making him forget extra-terrestrial encounters, it wipes misses from his brain, freeing him from the self-doubt that might lodge in the brains of others.

Alternate broadcast of some Wizards games to focus on betting

The future of sports-betting-infused game broadcasts will be on display Friday, when the Washington Wizards host the Milwaukee Bucks.
Friday’s game will be the first of eight that are scheduled to have the gaming-focused broadcasts, which were first reported by SportsBusiness Daily.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

The predictive contest, “Predict the Game,” will ask approximately 30 questions throughout the game, such as: “Will Wizards forward Trevor Ariza score 10 or more points in the first half?”

In addition, odds, point spreads and over/unders will be shown on broadcast graphics.6

“Combining the excitement of live Wizards games with engaging predictive gaming and data feeds will deliver a very entertaining experience for viewers, from first-time gaming players to savvy sports bettors,” NBC Sports Washington senior vice president and general manager Damon Phillips said in a news release. “The level of interest from fans, partners and sponsors in this area continues to increase, so we are pleased to offer this compelling product this season.”

“It’s the 1.0 version of where we’re ultimately going,” Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards, told SportsBusiness Daily. “This will get more advanced. … The challenge for operators will be to make sure that the game play is supportive and not interruptive of the broadcast itself.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Last May, the United States Supreme Court overturned a federal statute that had prohibited states outside of primarily Nevada from offering sports betting. Since the decision, legal sportsbooks have opened in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

The District of Columbia has passed legislation to allow sports betting, including at sports venues like Capital One Arena, home to the Wizards and Washington Capitals, but the law is awaiting final approval.

In recent months, NBC Sports has registered sports-betting-related web domains, including NBCSportsbook.com and NBCSportsSportsbook.com.

Additional alternate broadcasts are scheduled for Wizards games on Jan. 27 at the San Antonio Spurs, Jan. 30 against the Indiana Pacers, Feb. 2 against the Bucks, Feb. 22 at the Charlotte Hornets, March 3 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, March 19 against the Utah Jazz and April 5 against the Spurs.

Despite loss, Nets can finally point toward a brighter future

For the past five years, any mention of the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets immediately brought up one thing: the blockbuster, draft-night trade in 2013 that altered the course of both franchises and inextricably linked them for years to come.

A move the Nets thought would elevate them to championship contention instead helped them win a single playoff series — and served as the firepower behind Boston’s execution of one of the most efficient rebuilds in NBA history, thanks to Brooklyn’s descent to the bottom of the standings.nfl cheap jerseys nike

As the Nets remained there, the trade — and its seemingly never-ending draft obligations — served as a constant reminder of how all of that losing would not translate into any of the one currency losing teams always can hang onto: hope.

That was the case, at least, everywhere outside of Brooklyn. Inside the team — and, specifically, the offices of general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson — there was simply too much work to be done to spend time worrying about the situation they inherited.5

“I’ll give Sean a lot of credit: We just kind of put it in a box, and we never really talk about it,” Atkinson said before his Nets lost 116-95 to the Celtics on Monday at TD Garden. “But I do love the fact that it’s Brooklyn and Boston, and this is what the NBA’s all about. I hope we can improve enough where these games become more and more meaningful as we go down the line.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

While no one would mistake the Nets for being in the same class as the Celtics quite yet, the Nets do have something cooking in Brooklyn, despite the restrictions both Marks and Atkinson have spent the past two-plus seasons working under. Even after losing Monday night, the Nets have won 12 of their past 16 games, a stretch that has allowed them to surge into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Given the dearth of quality teams in the East outside the top five, there’s no reason to think the Nets can’t stay there.

That the Nets are even in the conversation for a playoff spot is a credit to the plan Marks and Atkinson have put in place since they arrived with the organization in 2016. That plan required them to get creative to create assets when the franchise otherwise didn’t have any. The assets the organization should’ve had wound up in Boston, as first-round picks in 2014 (James Young), 2016 (Jaylen Brown) and 2017 (Jayson Tatum) gave the Celtics a pair of young wings to build around. The 2018 Nets pick that became Collin Sexton was the key piece of the trade that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston in the summer of 2017.

Eagles bring ‘different team’ into rematch with Saints

Shortly after flipping off his former coach, Sean Payton, for running up the score, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins got dressed and exited the visitors’ locker room at the Superdome without saying a word. Considering Jenkins usually stands at his locker until every last question has been exhausted, that was saying something.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

He spoke tersely to a couple of reporters who caught up with him in the corridor before he headed for the bus, clearly stinging from an embarrassing 48-7 loss to his former team.

“It was one of those things that I didn’t feel like as a team we had a lot of fight. I would rather get thrown out of a game than just lay down and take it,” Jenkins said later that week. “At this point in time, we need to figure some things out about ourselves.”6

Well, they have. The Eagles were 4-6 following that Week 11 loss. They have won six of seven since, including a 16-15 thriller against the Chicago Bears over the weekend to set up a rematch with the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET).cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I think we’re a different football team now than we were then,” said coach Doug Pederson, “and you know, we’ve just got to put a good plan together in all three phases and, you know, go back down there. We’re on the road. It’s going to be in a dome. It’s going to be loud again, all those things. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

The Eagles’ offense has been much better since that matchup as well. Philly averaged 20.5 points per game in its first 10 games compared with 27 points per game in its final six regular-season games. Nick Foles has a good bit to do with that. He led the NFL in completion percentage and yards over the final three regular-season games in place of the injured Carson Wentz — all wins.

“It wasn’t a good game for us but at the same time, the thing that impresses me about my team is even in those moments where it wasn’t a good game for us, we still stuck together,” Foles said. “So it’s going to be a tall task this week. New Orleans, they had a bye week and they are a tremendous team. They had an amazing season but you know, I love these guys that I get to go play with. I know we’re ready for this week. Just one day at a time. Now we get to go back home, get a little sleep, get our bodies ready to roll again.”

‘Money Badger’ Michael Badgley continues to make clutch kicks for Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley is playing postseason football in January for the first time, and enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s the playoffs,” Badgley said. “During the regular season, every point matters. But in the playoffs they matter even more. With the team we’ve got, as long as I can go out there and get my side of the job done, we’re definitely a threat, so it’s awesome.”

An undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami, Badgley at this time last year was beginning his pre-draft preparation.

But fast forward to this year, and Badgley has been the soothing balm to the Chargers’ kicking woes.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In his latest effort, Badgley buried a franchise postseason-record five field goals, including a long of 53 yards, in his team’s 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He’ll be called on again this Sunday when the Chargers play at the New England Patriots in a division-round game.5
Because of his clutch performances, Badgley earned the nickname the “Money Badger” from Chargers fans on Twitter.

“I have a lot of confidence in that young man because he has a lot of confidence in himself,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said.

Badgley said one of the reasons for his success is the meaningful relationships he’s quickly developed in the locker room, starting with veteran punter Donnie Jones and long-snapper Mike Windt, and expanding to the rest of the team.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“Just in the locker room, becoming friends with everybody,” Badgley said. “And then when I go out there and get the extra point or the field goal, that makes more of a difference than a lot of people know.

“So it’s awesome with the locker room and camaraderie we’ve got with the whole team. It starts day one when you first get in. You have no idea, but you’re looking around like, ‘Oh, there’s Philip [Rivers] and there’s Antonio [Gates].’ It’s one of those things where you want to just make the kicks and develop trust.”

Maurizio Sarri: It’s time to decide Eden Hazard’s future

Hazard, however, has repeatedly stated that he will wait until the end of the season — when he enters the final year of his current contract — before deciding his future, and Sarri has grown exasperated with facing constant questions on the subject.

“I don’t know [if he will stay] but I think it’s time to decide,” Sarri said of Hazard on Friday. “I have not the power to do this. I am the coach, not the president, I’m not in charge of the market.

“I’m the coach. I want to speak to him only about the position on the pitch. [But] I think we have to solve the problem if we want to [plan] the future. We have to solve this problem.”nike nfl jerseys for cheap

After the Watford game Hazard pointedly stated that he prefers playing as a winger to the false nine role that Sarri has given him in the last four Premier League matches but the Italian added that he will continue to deploy his superstar in the position that best helps Chelsea on the pitch.6
Asked if Hazard is now his preferred option up front ahead of Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata — who was omitted from the match day squad against Watford for tactical reasons despite being fit — Sarri hinted that he will persist with the strategy against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

“It depends on the moment,” he explained. “In this moment we need to be solid, and with Hazard in this position I think we can become more solid. It’s a good option for the defensive phase, I think, but it depends on the moment.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Maybe in the future we will be able to play with Hazard and a striker together. It’s not a big problem for us, I think.”

Chelsea will be without Pedro Rodriguez and Callum Hudson-Odoi against Palace after both men picked up hamstring injuries during the Watford game. Sarri expects the Spaniard to miss around 10 days, while the academy prospect’s issue is less serious and he should return to training next week.

Man United’s Sanchez and Lukaku must prove themselves – Solskjaer

The Norwegian has already had an impact on Paul Pogba’s form since taking over from Jose Mourinho and the 45-year-old says it is up to Sanchez and Lukaku to follow the Frenchman’s example and use the fresh start to get back to their best.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I cannot do anything for their performances on the pitch,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. “I’m here to give them the path and it’s up to them to do it on the pitch. It’s up to them when they get a chance that’s the name of the game as a footballer. You’ve got to do it yourself.”5

Lukaku, who is back after compassionate leave, has managed just six goals this season while Sanchez, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, has scored only once this term.

Pogba also struggled for form during a disappointing start to the season but the midfielder has been one of the stars of Solskjaer’s first two games, scoring twice in the 3-1 win over Huddersfield on Boxing Day.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Solskjaer has also confirmed Antonio Valencia is nearing a comeback from injury and will remain club captain when he returns to the team. The United caretaker boss was less optimistic about Chris Smalling’s fitness and revealed the defender may have to wait until the trip to Tottenham on Jan. 13 due to a foot injury.

“Antonio is the captain when fit,” he said. “He’s going through a couple of tough sessions now to get him ready for the busy period. There are not many better right backs going forward.

“Smalling has got a sore foot so I don’t think we’ll see him until the New Year, maybe not before Spurs. Marcos [Rojo] and Scott [McTominay] look like they can take part soon.”