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  • 20 Apr
    Pro Picks is slumping. Two straight weeks of heavy losses makes us look like the Cleveland Browns.To get back on track, we start with a must-miss affair on Thursday night. Well probably be watching hockey instead of the Titans hosting the Jaguars.Still, despite Tennessee being 3-4 and Jacksonville at 2-4, both are in the hunt in the depressing AFC South. So this game has some importance as we approach November.Weve played seven games, weve had chances to win in all of them, Titans coach Mike Mularkey says. And for some reason or not, we havent. And some reason or not, we have. What weve done good has helped us get over the top. These have all been close games, and weve just got to find a way.Jacksonville found a way to look awful at home against Oakland last Sunday. What was supposed to be a breakthrough season is beginning to look broken yet again for the Jags.Were just not doing enough of those things right, coach Gus Bradley says of the key plays in games. It feels like a broken record. Weve bounced back from it. We see some resilience. ... The fight and all that is there, its just were not taking advantage of opportunities, especially in the red zone offensively.Tennessee (No. 25 in AP Pro32) is a 3-point favorite against No. 29 Jacksonville. Jaguars go 2-0 in weak division.JAGUARS, 27-23KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIPIf you are still listening after Atlanta let us down, go with DENVER to get some vengeance on San Diego.No. 6 Philadelphia (plus 4) at No. 2 DallasWere as surprised as anyone by the Cowboys success, which continues off their bye.BEST BET: COWBOYS, 27-20No. 9 Oakland (plus 1 1/2) at No. 22 Tampa BayWell ride the Raiders train in Florida one more time.UPSET SPECIAL: RAIDERS, 26-24No. 14 Detroit (plus 3) at No. 17 HoustonAnother road team we like to win outright this week.LIONS, 33-23No. 5 Minnesota (minus 6) at No. 30 Chicago, Monday nightAnd another.VIKINGS, 20-10No. 1 New England (minus 6) at No. 15 BuffaloYou get the message. Yet another ...PATRIOTS, 35-22No. 13 Washington (plus 3) vs. No. 18 Cincinnati at LondonBoth teams are not at home here, though Bengals are hosts.REDSKINS, 27-23No. 28 New York Jets (minus 3) at No. 32 ClevelandThought about Browns getting first win, but their QB situation is too damaging.JETS, 16-9No. 3 Seattle (minus 2 1/2) at No. 26 New OrleansFollowing that exhausting tie at Arizona and long trip, cant go with Seahawks.SAINTS, 24-20No. 8 Green Bay (plus 3) at No. 10 AtlantaIf Falcons lose third straight, it becomes 2015 all over again.FALCONS, 27-21No. 7 Kansas City (minus 2 1/2) at No. 21 IndianapolisChiefs defense could victimize weak Indy blockers.CHIEFS, 20-16No. 19 San Diego (plus 5 1/2) at No. 4 DenverBroncos defense WILL victimize Chargers front line.BRONCOS, 19-17No. 12 Arizona (plus 3) at No. 27 CarolinaRematch of Januarys NFC title game. Hardly the luster this time.PANTHERS, 21-20---Last Week: Against spread (4-11). Straight up: (9-6)Season Totals: Against spread (47-54-4). Straight up: (59-48)Best Bet: 3-4 against spread, 4-3 straight up.Upset special: 4-3 against spread, 4-3 straight up.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Buy Saucony Ireland ., for the next three years with the signings on Monday of Daryl Townsend and Michael Carter. Wholesale Saucony Shoes . To the surprise of many, it isnt the Wolverines but their in-state rivals the Michigan State Spartans. http://www.wholesalesauconyireland.com/ . Their experience showed Tuesday as the No. 10 Badgers blunted a Saint Louis surge to win 63-57 and advance to face West Virginia in Wednesdays finals of the Cancun Challenge. Wholesale Saucony ireland . Despite dominating possession, Schalke needed an own goal from Nicolas Hoefler for the breakthrough a minute before the interval. The Freiburg midfielder misjudged Jefferson Farfans corner and bundled the ball into his own net. Cheap Saucony Ireland . Marincin has played in two NHL games so far this season with two penalty minutes. The 21-year-old has three goals, four assists and a plus-5 rating in 24 games with the American Hockey Leagues Oklahoma City Barons this season. This is the time of year when MVP candidates are made. The V stands for valuable, and theres nothing more valuable than stepping your game up a notch to lead your team to wins in December. (Except, of course, doing the same thing in January, but MVP is a regular-season award.)As our panel of 12 experts reassessed the top candidates after Week 13s action, how did things change? Who helped himself? Who moved up? Who dropped out?With four weeks to go, this is the way we see the NFLs MVP race.Methodology: Each of our 12 panelists nominated their top five candidates.?First-place votes were worth five points, second-place votes worth four, third-place?votes worth three, fourth-place votes worth two and fifth-place worth one.1. Derek Carr, QB | Oakland Raiders?Regular-season passing:?300-for-458 (65.5 percent); 3,375 yards; 24 TDs; 5 INTs; 65.8 Total QBRCase for Carr:?He is Mr. Fourth Quarter. A tough-as-nails team leader who gets better as the game goes along. Down 24-9 to the Bills with a little more than 20 minutes left in the game, Carr led the Raiders to 29 unanswered points and a sixth straight victory. Hes at his best in the biggest moments, which is MVP stuff.Case against Carr:?As was the case last week, Carrs numbers overall dont stack up brilliantly with other MVP-candidate quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan or even Kirk Cousins. Theres also a growing case to be made that Carr is the second-most valuable player on his own team, behind star pass-rusher Khalil Mack.2. Tom Brady, QB?| New England Patriots?Regular-season passing:?208-for-302 (68.9 percent); 2,470 yards; 19 TDs; 1 INT; 82.1 Total QBRCase for Brady:?The touchdown-to-interception ratio is flat-out inconceivable. He has to play without his top offensive weapon now, and if the numbers and wins keep piling up post-Rob Gronkowski, thatll only make Brady look more valuable by seasons end.Case against Brady:?Its all about games played. We went over it last week. For a candidate to win this award in spite of playing only two-thirds as many games as his competitors, his performance has to be considerably and unassailably better than theirs. And there are just too many strong candidates whove played every game.3. Ezekiel Elliott,?RB?| Dallas Cowboys?Regular-season rushing:?263 carries; 1,285 yards; 12 TDs Regular-season receiving:?28 receptions; 322 yards; 1 TDCase for Elliott:?No team runs the ball on a higher percentage of its plays than the Cowboys do, which means the run game is more important for Dallas than it is for any other team in the league. Elliott leads thee league in rushing yards by 242 and in runs of 20 or more yards.ddddddddddddHe stays on the field on third downs and blocks or catches the ball if need be. He is the Dallas offense.Case against Elliott:?As with Carr, there are some who wonder as to whether Elliott is even the most valuable player on his own team, or if that award should go to fellow rookie Dak Prescott. Couple that with the tendency of this award to go to quarterbacks (eight of the past nine years), and you wonder whether Elliotts year can be clearly good enough to convince voters.4. Matthew Stafford,?QB?| Detroit Lions?Regular-season passing:?291-for-433 (67.2 percent); 3,224 yards; 21 TDs; 5 INTs; 72.5 Total QBRCase for Stafford:?He has a case kind of like Carrs, given that his team has had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in seven of its eight victories. Staffords performance has been steady in Jim Bob Cooters offense, and the comebacks are the kinds of heroics that help a guys MVP case.Case against Stafford:?The numbers really arent that good. Even in the fourth quarter, he has just five touchdowns and two interceptions. Overall, hes eighth in Total QBR, eighth in completion percentage, 12th in yards per attempt, 10th in yards and eighth in completion percentage. The numbers look all right next to Carrs, but theyre not among the top in the league. Ephemerally, Stafford feels like an MVP candidate because he passes the eye test and his team is 8-4, but he doesnt have MVP stats.5. Dak Prescott, QB?| Dallas Cowboys?Regular-season passing:?243-for-358 (67.9 percent); 2,974 yards; 19 TDs; 2 INTs; 85.2 Total QBR Regular-season rushing: 217 yards; 5 TDsCase for Prescott:?The Cowboys went 1-11 without Tony Romo last season. This season, with Prescott, theyre 11-1. He diagnoses defenses pre-snap like a veteran, he makes smart decisions during the course of the play and the team clearly believes in him. Theres nothing not to like about him.Case against Prescott: It may or may not be fair to downgrade him for this, but Prescott is operating in maybe the most favorable of circumstances for a quarterback in the entire league. He has the leagues best offensive line in front of him, the leagues best running back and an elite receiver in Dez Bryant, who catches the ball when Prescott chucks it downfield. That doesnt mean hes not most valuable, just that there might be other players carrying a higher share of the responsibility for their teams success. ' ' '