Winter meetings predictions: What’s going to go down in Orlando

With much of the industry and the leaders of all 30 teams on site in Orlando, Florida, the winter meetings should deliver rumors, splashy trades and big-money moves by free agents. We asked our experts to predict what is likely to happen at the meetings before everyone leaves at the end of the week.

The showings by both in-transition teams indicate that Dorsey made the right choice. The Giants, for example, got beaten senseless in the fourth quarter by the Cowboys on Sunday and looked like a team in need of a total overhaul, with nothing to build on and a lot of mistakes to undo.

Arizona needs an upgrade at quarterback after passing on Patrick Mahomes in 2017, but Josh Allen of Wyoming isn’t the answer. Instead, the Cardinals can become a more defensive-dominant team for the future with Hurst.

Dallas has relied on Dez Bryant to be its consistent playmaker at receiver, but he has proven unreliable and past his prime. If the Cowboys continue to struggle, they could have their pick of the top receiver on their board.

Jeter declined comment for this story, but it would be easy for him to argue that he and majority owner Bruce Sherman bought a mess left by Loria and Samson.

The Marlins had a payroll of $115 million last season, and even after unloading most of Stanton’s $295 million (what’s left of the 13-year, $325 million contract extension he signed in 2014) and dropping Dee Gordon’s $38 million (the amount left on his five-year, $50 million deal signed in 2016) on the Mariners, they likely aren’t done.

“I think the fans were hoping that a white knight would roll in and throw money at the roster and go get some pitching,” Spencer said.

The brief window of optimism about the Bears hanging in the playoff race slammed shut fast with three straight aggravating losses. chargers_046-180x180

Cleveland led 21-7 entering the fourth quarter and it seemed like the Browns might finally win a game in 2017.

The Browns, as they seem to do every week, find themselves among the weekend’s worst bad beats. Cleveland opened as a 6-point underdog, before it was bet all the way down to 2.5 by kickoff. So, unless you got the Browns on the opening line, you walked away from this game wondering why you even bothered wasting money on a team that is now 1-28 under Hue Jackson.

However, the Packers rallied to force overtime behind a pair of 1-yard touchdowns, including a Brett Hundley-to-Davante Adams score with just 17 seconds left.

The Ravens have found their identity of Alex Collins’ physical running and their defense’s consistent pounding. But they’ll need Joe Flacco to find his one-time clutch self to knock off the Steelers in Heinz Field to stay in the AFC North race. Without Jimmy Smith, however, Baltimore won’t have answers for Antonio Brown, and a heavy dose of Le’Veon Bell will ring it home for Pittsburgh.

In Week 2, even before the Seahawks defense was gutted by injury, the 49ers made them sweat it out in Seattle. It’s tough to imagine Russell Wilson and Co. being held to 12 points by the 49ers, even in Santa Clara (not that it’s ever been a home-field edge for them). And that defense will still submit C.J. Beathard to another trial by fire, reminding everybody why the 49ers are in no rush to subject Jimmy Garoppollo to any of that yet.

The Rams will miss Robert Woods this week, but they will be mildly relieved that they’re facing the Saints’ off-and-on defense instead of the constant threat the Vikings imposed last week. The Saints, though, are closing the gap on the Rams in terms of offenses that can truly score at will, as the win over Washington attests. They’ve rushed for 150 yards or more in five of their last six games. The Rams can’t afford to let that continue.chargers_004-180x180

The four-time All-Star selection was the 76th player taken in the 2007 draft.

Well, they’re both Scott Boras clients, so there’s no tie-breaker there. I’ll say Hosmer signs first, if only because his estimated contract would be less than Martinez’s, thus conceivably bringing more teams into the bidding process. Plus, those “Hosmer to the Padres” rumors are heating up. If Martinez gets something like six years and $150 million and Hosmer six years and $120 million, I’d probably go with the Martinez contract.

Bills receiver Deonte Thompson on playing in a blizzard: “The snow was so high so every time we stepped in it, we would sink so it was tough to run a route. This is going to be something I tell my grandkids about. … It was a crazy day.”

In his eight seasons with the Marlins, Stanton, a career .268 hitter, has belted 267 home runs and has 672 RBIs. He has never played on a winning team; the Yankees reached Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last season.

Of those taken before him, 21 have played fewer than 100 games in the majors and 27 never made a big league debut.

In Las Vegas, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook moved the Yankees’ odds of winning the 2018 World Series from 8-1 to 6-1 on Saturday morning. The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently the favorite at 9-2 odds.

The Broncos dug deep to put aside their embarrassment and look like they were supposed to look, for the first time in a long time. The Jets were there for the taking, and they took. The trick will be keeping it up in a winnable horse-powered road game on a short week.lakers_008

Browns come close, but still winless after overtime loss to Packers

The Browns came so close to victory Sunday, but they remain winless following a 27-21 overtime loss to the Packers.

Cleveland (0-13) held a 21-14 lead late, but a 65-yard punt return by Trevor Davis set up Green Bay’s game-tying score.

The Browns also got a big game from Isaiah Crowell, who ran for 121 yards on 19 carries.

The Packers, meanwhile, struggled to find consistency on the ground with just 85 yards on 27 attempts. Hundley went 35 of 46 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 31 yards to keep the playoff hopes alive for the Packers (7-6), who hope to get Rodgers back next week from a broken collarbone.

The game was tied at 110 before Bazemore, a forward known for his defense, did his thing. Twice he picked off Magic passes and quickly threw them down.

“We made winning plays in the last 90 seconds,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Kent Bazemore . . . his activity, his competitiveness. … Obviously, the steal in the middle of the court, but the activity, length, and arms on the inbounds makes it difficult (on the Magic).”

“If I look at myself, the last three games against the big dogs, I wasn’t big enough,” Seguin said. “I’ve got to be a lot better.”

Seguin assisted on Jamie Benn’s goal that pulled Dallas to 4-3 with 15:44 to play. Maxime Lagace held the Stars scoreless for the final 15:43 and finished with 36 saves.

That time included a two-minute power play and 1:29 with an extra skater after the Stars pulled goalie Ben Bishop, who stopped 34 shots.

“I knew they were gonna buzz,” Lagace said. “They like to look for the tap-ins. I just kept my head on the puck and ended up on my blocker or pads.”panthers_098

Imploding Broncos fight twice at practice ahead of Raiders game, report says

The Broncos are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and have been called “soft” by general manager John Elway. It’s no surprise tensions were high Thursday ahead of an AFC West division matchup with the Raiders.

Elway came under fire for the comments he made last week during a ceremony honoring former Broncos coach Red Miller and Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis, and even stirred emotions in the team’s locker room as Brandon Marshall and Harris expressed their frustration with his remarks.

“In his mind, he’s ready to go, if you watch him practice and the conversations with him,” McCarthy told reporters Monday. “But this is a medical decision.

“It is now in the evaluation stage. There’s a number of medical opinions that will be involved in the decision. At this time, I do not have a clean decision for you or an update. That’s where it stands.

“Hey, it’s a process,” McCarthy added. “They’re evaluating and hopefully we will have a decision as soon as we can. At the end of the day, the organization is focused on doing what’s in the best interests of Aaron Rodgers’ health.”

The Giants nearly got a massive break when Samaje Perine appeared to fumble the ball deep in Washington territory, but it was overturned on review. Washington punted again.

Four of the top five vote-getters for the Heisman Trophy made the first team, including the runaway winner Mayfield. Stanford’s Bryce Love, the Heisman runner-up, and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, the nation’s leading rusher and fifth-place finisher for the Heisman, were the first-team running backs. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who finished fourth in the Heisman voting, made the team as an all-purpose player.royals_009

Vontaze Burfict carted off after illegal crackback block by Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster

For the second time in Monday night’s bitter rivalry between the Steelers and Bengals, a star defensive linebacker was carted off the field after suffering an injury.

Thompson, who has been out since Nov. 1 with a strained left calf, will play against the Hawks barring any setback from how his body responds from Monday’s training.

Thompson began the season on the bench and stated his goal of winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Lue quickly shifted gears, bringing Thompson back to the starting center position for five of the eight games he’s played because of Kevin Love’s struggles at the 5.

“We’re playing good basketball right now, having a good flow and a good rhythm, and Tristan understands that,” Lue said. “We’re just going to keep it the same way for right now.”

The Cavs went 16-3 in Thompson’s absence — including wins in 13 of their past 14 games.

The coach said one area in which the team has felt comfortable going “overboard” when it comes to Fultz’s development is managing his diet.

“Like, really paying attention to educating him on the sleep and the food and the hydration, all that type of stuff,” Brown said. “It’s a holistic program, and it’s not like everybody is confused on how to treat this time. We’ve had lots of practice at it, and I think that he’ll come out better for it, in a twisted way, for the time that we’ve been able to give him when he just can’t play NBA basketball.”

Jones has returned 24 kicks for 789 yards for an average of 32.9 yards, which ranks fourth best in the FBS this season.

He is third nationally with three all-purpose plays of 90 or more yards.

Line changes: Charlie Coyle and Malcolm Subban return and lead list of waiver adds

Centering a third line and secondary power play, Johnson hasn’t scored a goal since Oct. 24 and has just two assists since then. While the Lightning aren’t missing much from their 27-year-old supporting actor while the top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov average 4.4 points per game, Johnson’s personal fantasy managers can’t be too thrilled. If that’s you, check your waiver wire for other, more promising, options at center.

And as Durant comes back to town Wednesday, the past remains and the emotions will flood back, but the striking contrast of where the Thunder were then and are now has reshaped the feel of it all. Westbrook and Durant were the great duo that once was, and while George isn’t a replacement, he does represent something Russ and the Thunder worried they might not see again: hope.

The ESPN studio host sent out a Sunday morning tweet highlighting that only two teams in the Super Bowl era — the 1993 Cowboys and 2007 Giants — overcame 0-2 starts to win their next six games.

A few hours later, New Orleans became the third after a 30-10 waxing of Tampa Bay.

Wingo also pointed out that those Cowboys and Giants squads proceeded to win the Super Bowl.

Methodology: These rankings are based on which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams would be favored against lower-ranked teams. Coming off a win doesn’t guarantee a jump, and a loss doesn’t guarantee a fall.

Triumph: The Eagles have had an OK season. They have the best record, have scored the most points, thrown the most passing touchdowns, have the best red zone efficiency, forced the third-most turnovers, allowed the second-lowest third-down conversion percentage … you get the point.nike_steelers_2919

There wasn’t much to criticize Cam Newton about Monday.

Cam Newton says Panthers just ‘scratching the surface’ after record night

Unless you’re one of his closest friends.

Newton said following Monday’s 45-21 win over the Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium he had a text from a friend waiting for him when he got back to his locker.

Woodyard, who registered a team-high seven tackles, said Tennessee’s defense accomplished three of its four pregame goals: Create turnovers (two), stop the run (53 yards on 14 carries), and harass quarterback Andy Dalton (a strip-sack by outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and two pressures).

The inability to complete the fourth one — not letting A.J. Green become a factor — almost proved disastrous. Green beat cornerback Logan Ryan on an inside slant and zipped through Tennessee’s secondary for a 70-yard score to give Cincinnati a 20-17 lead with 5:03 remaining.

Atlanta also forfeited its third-round selection in next June’s amateur draft as punishment for offering “impermissible benefits” to an unidentified draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State — Rudolph was nearly perfect in Saturday’s shootout win at Iowa State. The 6-5, 230-pound senior was 25 of 31 for 376 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma State’s 49-42 victory.

Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown, leaving it tough for coach Mike Zimmer to even consider turning to Teddy Bridgewater. “It’s going to be hard to yank him out of there right now,” Zimmer said of Keenum. “He’s playing good. I still have really high hopes for Teddy, and a lot of things happen throughout the course of the season, so we’ll just see how it goes.”nike_steelers_720

Why you should add Spencer Dinwiddie and other key free agents

John Collins, Atlanta Hawks (30.4): This rookie has done a lot with a little this season; he’s averaging just 23.3 minutes per game during his past eight appearances, but is sinking nearly 59 percent of his shots while slashing 11.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a block per game over this recent sample.

The slow pace of Milwaukee (third lowest) is something I’m avoiding when possible, especially given Booker’s spotty production in other categories (he has seven or fewer rebounds-plus-assists in seven of 11 November games).

With Eric Bledsoe likely in attack mode and the rest of this Bucks roster relying on penetration, the fact that Booker has committed at four fouls in the majority of games this month is just another red flag. Considering 28 teams are in action tonight, you can find a more stable option than Booker (heck, you can do better in this game, as I prefer Khris Middleton).

“It would be pretty tough not to panic, but I don’t think we are panicking,” said running back Alfred Morris, who had 91 yards filling in for Ezekiel Elliott. “It’s been two tough losses, ugly losses on top of that. But at the same time, I know the character of this team and the fight we have.”

Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is the emergency kicker for the Eagles. But he completely missed the safety net on a practice try on the sidelines, sending the ball into the stands. He did reach the goal line with his first kickoff, though.

Dolphins’ Jay Cutler throws three picks, leaves to be evaluated for a concussion

The Dolphins began the second half of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with Matt Moore at quarterback.

Starter Jay Cutler was taken out to be evaluated for a concussion after he was hit by Buccaneers defensive end Ryan Russell on the penultimate play of the first half.

Cutler had been booed by Dolphins fans at Hard Rock Stadium after throwing three interceptions, one of which was in the end zone, as the Bucs (4-6) built a 20-7 lead.

Embiid sat out a win at Utah two weeks ago for what the Sixers called “load management” as they try to keep him healthy after a number of injuries. He made just 7 of 16 shots, but again proved the team’s emotional leader.

“I like our guys playing with an edge. I like them having some level of swagger and feeling good about themselves,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “That was a big play. It certainly got the crowd involved.”

With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal — his third short one — with :01 left in regulation. The drive was kept alive when Jenkins’ interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty against him.

Regression looks like the Cardinals’ friend after a disappointing 2017 season. The upside of disappointment is that it can motivate you going forward. The Cardinals have been frequently mentioned as an aggressor in early hot stove activity, and an impact player tacked onto this baseline would put the Cardinals back near baseball’s elite tier.