NFL picks and predictions, Titans vs. Colts: Indianapolis appears a safe bet

The Indianapolis Colts(1-2) enter Week 4 with few doubters for Sunday’s home game against the Tennessee Titans (1-2), as many are predicting the Colts to come out victorious. The Colts began the season with two consecutive losses but bounced back last Sunday with a resounding win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meanwhile, the Titans looked fantastic in their season opener, pounding the Kansas City Chiefs 26-10 before dropping ugly games to the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals.

Indianapolis was expected by most pundits to win the AFC South for the second straight year, but it has suffered a bevy of injuries. Middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman has missed time with a hamstring injury, while outside linebacker Robert Mathis is out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon.

“I really hope someone calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell. If one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner is a liar, and I get to talk about that on my podcast. Please, call me and say I’m in trouble, I dare you.”

The suspension given to Simmons by ESPN for criticizing Goodell is actually one week longer than the original suspension given to Rice for knocking out his girlfriend in an Atlantic City elevator. Simmons’ rant happened after ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” released a report on how the Ravens and NFL attempted to cover up the incident.

ESPN has issued a statement on Simmons’ suspension:

“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards. We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”

The Ravens have since released Rice after the video of him striking his now-wife was circulated by TMZ.2

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The Pacers lost six straight games entering the All-Star break.

Brooks Orpik, D, Washington Capitals: “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a place that has good ice. I think Pittsburgh actually has good ice, after years of Sidney [Crosby] going over … it started with all of us bitching about it. It finally got to the point where Sid would go every day and constructively sit down with the guys who ran the rink and tell them exactly what he felt was wrong with it. It was good dialogue between them, and the ice started getting better and better. That’s the one place I think is consistently pretty good.

David Perron, LW, St. Louis Blues: “I think we all understand the business. There’s concerts, there’s different things. I don’t think it’s great. I think there’s different things in between periods. There are shows. There are so many people skating on the ice. … The temperature when [the stands are] filled up is hot. I wouldn’t want to be the guy trying to fix it because I’m not sure where to start, but it’s definitely something we have to look at.”

The Pacers lost six straight games entering the All-Star break. They sit sixth in the Eastern Conference at 29-28.

ESPN first reported earlier this week that the Philadelphia 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor was among the targets Bird has pursued to fortify the roster around George, Myles Turner and Jeff Teague.

Indiana can’t offer George one of the league’s new designated player extensions — in excess of $200 million, in this case — unless he makes one of the league’s three All-NBA teams this season. The 26-year-old, having recovered admirably from the gruesome leg fracture he suffered on Team USA duty in the summer of 2014, is averaging 22.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season.

In his first full day in charge, after Tuesday’s stunning promotion from an advisory role in the wake of the twin dismissals of longtime Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, Johnson arrived at the Lakers’ offices early Wednesday to work the trade phones and, yes, throw in a call to Bird.235000253135345325-C201-2

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NFL Combine 2016: Wide receiver drills

The NFL Combine will feature a host of top collegiate wide receivers in the country starting on Feb. 17, one year after standout NFL rookies Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin took center stage in Indianapolis to showcase their talents before scouts and coaches.

The highlight of the event for the wide receivers is The Gauntlet, a turn-and-catch drill combined with a 53-yard sprint across the field where each player will have to catch seven passes from coaches and five different quarterbacks. All of this is done while they run at full speed in a straight line.

It’s the ultimate test of coordination and vision for these prospects, and it simulates game-like conditions by requiring a high amount of concentration. Running routes with precise timing is key at the next level, and the prospects will have an opportunity to prove they can make the adjustment.

Receivers can also improve their draft stock in the combine’s main events:

For wideouts, the 40-yard dash can mean the difference between being a first-round selection or late-round flier. Past players such as Arizona Cardinals wideout John Brown, who recorded a 4.34-second 40 last year, used a fast time to vault their status. This time around will be no different in the marquee event.

Of course, not all of those teams need a center. And the trick is that while playing with those elite power forwards might maximize Okafor’s skills, it’s probably not the best complement for the existing star. The Kings aren’t likely to kick Cousins out of the post for Okafor, for example.

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Mullet makeover: What LeBron James, Tom Brady and Tiger Woods would look like with Jaromir Jagr hair

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, as we celebrate Jaromir Jagr’s 45th birthday, we are going to great lengths to honor the man, the myth and the mullet. When he broke into the league with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990-91, the kid from Kladno had tremendous talents, sick skills and luscious locks. And even as he toils all these years later for the Florida Panthers — his eighth NHL team — there’s no denying his influence on generations of hockey players around the world.

Which got us wondering: What would the sports world look like if his reach had extended beyond the frozen fields? What would key athletes look like after getting Jagr bombed — getting their very own mullet makeover?

Lynn’s father, Donald Wilson, grew up in the Los Angeles area and once tried out for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a left-handed pitcher.

“I met my father later in life,” Lynn said. “There was some miscommunication there between him and my mom, and that’s a long a– story so I don’t want to get into it. But he’s important in my life right now.”

Lynn said when he discovered his father, he started going to L.A. and spending more time with him and his family, so he’s familiar with the West Coast lifestyle.

“He has three kids by my stepmom,” Lynn said. “They’ve all graduated from college and have been very successful outside of college. He’s a very responsible man, a hard-working man, and those are the things I respect and like about him.”

Said Donald Wilson, who now resides in Corona: “It’s been a beautiful journey, and I can’t think of a more deserving person. And I’m not saying that just because he’s my kid. But he has a strong family background. It’s been a tremendous experience.”

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Carson Palmer is back, but he thought long and hard about retiring

Philip Rivers seems to be reluctantly embracing the team’s move from San Diego to Los Angeles, but it’ll be interesting to see how he feels after a full season there. At 35 years old and with his fortune made, he has to be thinking about when it’s time to wrap it up and go home to all those kids.

Carson Palmer is back, but he thought long and hard about retiring. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said last August, “That’s all I think about,” when asked whether he ponders life after Palmer. That pondering should ramp up this offseason.

Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense had issues in 2016, averaging only 19.4 points per game (26th in the league).

“The players are going to be pushed by him daily, and he’s going to push us to another level to be great,” Allen said. “I think he’s a good person for the job because he’ll put the work in.”

Manuel will have to deal with scrutiny, of course, but expect him to be unfazed. Folks will bring up the story of him asking then-draft prospect Eli Apple, now with New York Giants, if he liked men during an interview at the NFL combine. Manuel was publicly reprimanded by the organization and required to go through sensitivity training; he apologized for the embarrassment he caused.

If Manuel’s defense falters in matchups against Drew Brees, Jameis Winston and Cam Newton next season, he’ll certainly hear criticism. But again, it’s not his personality to be rattled, no matter the situation.

“All of these things I don’t have an answer to — we just have to work through it.”

Jared Goff threw five touchdown passes and seven interceptions as a rookie.

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How the Lions can become a Super Bowl contender for years to come

In the interest of a better, more productive NFL offseason, SB Nation’s NFL crew is putting on the general manager’s cap and fixing some of the league’s most moribund franchises, from free agents to marketing campaigns guaranteed not to backfire.

The Detroit Lions are mostly fine. They won 11 games last season, and made the playoffs for the second time in four seasons — something they could last say in 1999. The defense was outstanding, finishing No. 2 in yards and points allowed per game during the regular season. The offense probably didn’t give Detroit the return on investment it was hoping for, averaging a hair over 20 points per game, but it’s still a relatively young unit that was in its first year under head coach Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.

Warrren’s chief introduction to the NFL came in 1997 with the St. Louis Rams in a front office legal role. But former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil said that Warren’s contribution was much larger.

“What we did there in three years and in winning a Super Bowl is hard to do,” Vermeil said. “One of the reasons why was Kevin did a tremendous job of getting me, the rest of the coaching staff and getting our players in the right frame of mind to coach and be coached. He spent a lot of time helping players mature. Kevin is gifted, very intelligent with a great asset of emotional intelligence. And in a crisis, when shit hits the fan, he knows what to do. He can be empathetic, but he can be tough. Sometimes in the NFL, you have to be that when you really have to be that.”

Warren, 51, the youngest of seven children, said he learned those traits growing up in Phoenix from his father, Morrison, Sr.; his mother, Margaret; and his oldest brother, Morrison, Jr.

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