#1

nt 8-6 last season

in Deutsch in Medien und Literatur 15.08.2018 04:32
von elaine95 • 278 Beiträge

Four of the five teams that gave up the fewest points during the regular season are the last four left with a shot at the Super Bowl Jim Kelly Jersey , something that had never happened since the NFL-AFL merger nearly a half-century ago.

And three of the four toughest to gain yards against are still around, too.

Still think that all a team needs to succeed in the modern game is an elite QB? Go ahead and take a close look at Sunday’s matchups for the conference championship games.

Sure, Tom Brady (assuming his injured right hand is good to go) and the New England Patriots will be playing for the AFC title, just like they always do, but they’ll be going up against Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles will send Nick Foles out to face the Minnesota Vikings and Case Keenum, hardly a marquee matchup between quarterbacks, and one set up by injuries to other signal-callers.

What this quartet of teams does have in common is solid defense, showing once again that while everyone is paying so much attention to one side of the ball, it’s the other that might truly matter the most. The more league rules and officiating tend to favor offenses, the more figuring out ways to slow that down is imperative.

”When you have a defense that can shut that type of firepower down,” said Brian Robison, a linebacker on the Vikings defense that ranked No. 1 in yards and points allowed, ”it allows you to win ballgames.”

Minnesota gave up 15.8 points per game. Jacksonville was No. 2 at 16.8, followed by No. 4 Philadelphia’s 18.4 and No. 5 New England’s 18.5.

”There’s teams that have really good defenses that aren’t talked about,” Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. ”We’re one of them.”

It’s the first time since the 1970 merger there has been that sort of defensive dominance among the NFL’s final four. The closest was at the end of the 2010 season, when teams that ranked No. 1 (Steelers) Derrius Guice Jersey , No. 2 (Packers), No. 4 (Bears) and No. 6 (Jets) in points allowed reached the conference title games.

”The most heralded guys on the field are the quarterbacks. So I would say, nine times out of 10, your detail goes into your offensive planning and things like that,” said Jacksonville’s leading tackler, Telvin Smith, who returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown last weekend. ”Offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships. I’m happy I’m on the defensive side.”

He is part of a young, talented and speedy D that rose to prominence quickly via a combination of shrewd drafting (linebackers Smith and Myles Jack, defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr., cornerback Jalen Ramsey) and free-agent signings that panned out (defensive lineman Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson).

Take a look at the rankings in various regular-season categories related to defense, and you can’t miss the Jaguars. That helps explain how they made it this far with Bortles, whose 84.7 rating ranked 22nd among QBs with at least 100 pass attempts and whose 13 interceptions were exceeded by only six players.

Campbell tied for second in NFL with 14.5 sacks, while Ngakoue added 12 and led the league by forcing six fumbles. Bouye tied for third with six interceptions, while Ramsey Lawrence Taylor Giants Jersey , Gipson and Church each had four. As a unit, the Jaguars were No. 2 in yards allowed at 286.1, trailing the No. 1 Vikings (275.9), with the Eagles (306.5) at No. 4. The Jaguars were also second in sacks and total takeaways, while they topped the NFL with seven defensive TDs.

Exceptional defense can carry a team far: In nine of the last 10 seasons, the No. 1 or No. 2 team in points allowed participated in a conference championship game. The exception was 2015, when the Seahawks led the league in that category but lost in the divisional round, and the Bengals ranked second but lost in the wild-card round.

”Now it’s down to, `May the best defense win,”’ Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said. ”We each get to showcase what we can do.”



AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Massachusetts; Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida; and Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.



鈥?The Latest on the NFL combine (all times EST):1:45 p.m.Browns coach Hue Jackson hopes to avoid starting a rookie quarterback in 2018.Cleveland owns the No. 1 overall pick, and is expected to use it to select a quarterback from a talented group that includes Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.The Browns will use this week’s combine to evaluate that foursome and other top players.Last season, the Browns started rookie DeShone Kizer Mike McGlinchey Youth Jersey , who went 0-15 as the Browns became the second team in NFL history to lose all 16 games.“I would hope not,” Jackson said when asked if he intends to start a rookie QB. “There’s going to be other opportunities as we all know. We just go to see how it all fits as we move forward.”The Browns are expected to be active in free agency and it’s possible they’ll land their starting quarterback there. Jackson refused to comment on Cleveland’s intended targets, but one of them is certain to be Cincinnati quarterback AJ McCarron. The Browns were poised to acquire McCarron in a trade last season before the deal was scrapped because the teams failed to file paperwork with the league on time.1:30 p.m.The Chicago Bears plan to part ways with quarterback Mike Glennon.General manager Ryan Pace said the Bears will release him rather than bring him back for a second season after he lost his starting job to rookie Mitchell Trubisky.Pace, speaking at the NFL combine, said a mechanism in Glennon’s contract prevents the Bears from letting him go until the start of the league’s calendar year on March 14. The Bears were also releasing linebacker Willie Young.Glennon left Tampa Bay to sign a three-year contract with the Bears last March and replace Jay Cutler as the starter. He went 1-3 with five interceptions, three lost fumbles and four touchdown passes before Trubisky 鈥?the No. 2 overall draft pick 鈥?took over.“We were going to be aggressive at that position,” Pace said. “We were going to take swings at that position and be aggressive at the most important position, really, in sports. There are multiple factors that go into that. But really, what stands out, as I look back, was Mitch’s acceleration, too.“So, it was kind of twofold. So I can sit back now and be happy that we have a guy that we feel good about, a young quarterback that we want to build around.”A triceps injury limited Young to four games last season. He had 26 sacks in four seasons with Chicago, giving him 32 in eight years with the Bears and Detroit Lions.1 p.m.The NFL’s competition committee is meeting in Indianapolis this week and the group is looking into ways to redefine the troublesome catch rule. The committee also is entertaining the notion of turning the defensive pass interference call into a 15-yard penalty.It’s currently a spot of foul flag.At least one head coach is certain the league won’t mess with that rule.Broncos coach Vance Joseph was among the first coaches to step to the podium at the NFL combine and he says the catch rule certainly needs to be addressed.But Joseph insists there’s no way the NFL would follow the NCAA’s lead in making defensive pass interference a 15-yard infraction instead of putting the ball at the spot of the foul.Joseph says pro football fans like seeing points scored and if that rule is changed, there will be “a lot of defensive backs grabbing and pulling guys Davante Adams Jersey Youth , so that’s not going to change.”11 a.m.Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott says cutting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is not part of the team’s current plans, though he won’t rule out trading the three-year starter.McDermott says it’s too early to remove any option off the table “other than cutting him at this point,” in answering a question as to whether the Bills would consider trading Taylor. “We’re in a good position with some options out there, so that’ll work itself out,” he added at the NFL combine on Wednesday.Taylor’s future in Buffalo remains in question even though he helped lead the Bills to a 9-7 record and clinch the team’s first playoff berth since 1999. Taylor has a 23-21 record with the Bills and went 8-6 last season while also being benched for one game in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman.The Bills considered cutting Taylor last March before the quarterback agreed to restructure his contract by reducing it from a five-year to a two-year term.Taylor enters the final year of his deal, and is due a $6 million bonus in two weeks. General manager Brandon Beane previously said the Bills could comfortably afford carrying Taylor’s contract this year, which will count $18 million against the salary cap.8:45 a.m.Jon Gruden is back from the broadcast booth and the highest-paid coach in NFL history.Unlike his colleague, Matt Patricia didn’t balk at leaving Bill Belichick’s brigade.Andy Reid is in the midst of another major roster shake-up and his protege, Doug Pederson, is basking in Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl triumph.All are in Indianapolis at the NFL combine this week hoping to better their chances of winning in 2018.Top college prospects, including a group of quarterbacks that could produce five first-round draft picks, will spend four days getting poked and prodded, tested and timed.GMs and coaches will do their best to get to know them off the field as well, either in formal 15-minute interviews or during a mixed zone after their physical assessments..

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