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We’re months past the winter holidays and sellers have a great chance to think about what we’ve learned, now that the dust has settled. Each holiday shopping season is an intense, focused study in what motivates customers to buy and brings many opportunities for improvement. Looking back, it would be too easy to think that […]

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Sony Michel sprints his way to a 74-yard touchdown to make it an insurmountable 21-0.

Columbus prosecutor Robert S. Tobias told USA Today in an email that he believed Elliott had been violent with his accuser, but didn’t think his office had the evidence to pursue charges:

“I think we’ve made major progress since our last game,” Smart said. “But on the other hand, we haven’t played a game since our last game. You want your on-court results to mirror the progress you’re making off the court and in practice culturally. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen as fast as you want it to. But this is a big year for us to take a big jump on the court in terms of results.”

Said Bamba: “The platform for winning now is as big as can be. We have a really talented team this year. Can’t wait to get out there and show how things have changed since last year.”

“He’s had to deal with more than most people deal with in their entire career,” Rivera said. “Some of it’s happened naturally. Some of it, he’s brought on himself. But he’s tried to be that guy who says, O.K., I can compartmentalize it, and I can do football when I have to do football. It’s what I say to the guys: Be where your feet are. Last week he epitomized that as well as you can.”

So now that story is gone, Newton’s healthy, and the offense is geared to help him take the next step. And the Panthers can turn the page on all this, starting tonight.

And let’s start with the one player to actually change hands in the deal. The 49ers took half-measures this offseason to address the quarterback position, signing Brian Hoyer as a result of his experience playing under new coach Kyle Shanahan before using a third-round pick on C.J. Beathard.

As a white-and-blue sea of players parts, Sony Michel sprints his way to a 74-yard touchdown to make it an insurmountable 21-0.
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That’s one of Smart’s strengths, though.

Thielen grew up watching Vikings games on Sundays on the couch with his dad, idolizing the legendary receivers that came through Minneapolis. “You’re watching guys like Cris Carter and Randy Moss and Jake Reed,” Thielen says.

Who envisioned Chris Paul going down with a sore knee after one game and missing several weeks? I expected improvement from Victor Oladipo as one of the main guys in Indiana, but did anyone envision this type of start (25.5 PPG)? Who thought Kawhi Leonard would miss all of the preseason with a mysterious quad injury that would keep him sidelined all of October and possibly longer?

Can Goff (five turnovers) continue avoiding major mistakes and carry the offense should an opposing defense stuff Gurley? If the answer to both questions is yes, the Rams are well on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Contributing to Stafford’s big night (423 yards) was that Pittsburgh’s sack-happy pass rushers (T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree) failed to get home against the elusive QB. Stafford led the league in sacks taken heading into Week 8, but was taken down just twice by the Steelers. Stafford also exposed the vulnerable spots of Pittsburgh’s cover-two defense on big plays in the first half.

It was the first of several times that Smart would take the temperature on Bamba, curious as to how serious he really was about considering the Longhorns. Bamba, who was meticulous about his recruiting, assured Smart that he wasn’t wasting his time. By the fall, when Bamba visited, Smart felt like he had a real shot. He began pouring as much time as he personally could into the recruitment; he had a lot of catching up to do to others who had been recruiting Bamba for longer.

Said Horn, a 20-year coaching veteran with two previous head-coaching stops: “The time that he puts into [building relationships] is very different.”
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After the game the players run off the field into the small locker room.

Stat of the Week: Kevin Owens has spent over half–559 of his 1,028 days, to be exact–employed by WWE as the NXT, United States, Intercontinental, or Universal champion.

Al Snow’s weekly advice column, Inside Al’s Head, discussed the tragic events from the Las Vegas shooting this past Sunday.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said Snow. “It’s so sad that there is nothing any of us can say or do to change this horrific event.”

Bortles hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t had to be, and you can easily argue that circumstance is better for a young quarterback than giving him a bunch of weapons and asking him to win every game. And all this really left me with two thoughts to close out this week.

In Super Bowl XXI, McConkey etched his name into Giants lore with a momentum-shifting 25-yard punt return, a 44-yard reception on a flea-flicker and a fourth quarter coup de grace touchdown catch that is still fondly remembered in franchise history.

Both the NFL and NFLPA argued before the three-judge panel in New Orleans. The NFL is asking the court to throw out the stay that’s put Elliott’s suspension on hold. There will be no decision Monday, but one is expected soon:

“We chose to come to the University of Chicago!” Wilkerson shouts inside the cramped space, voice hoarse from yelling during the game. The players shush each other in anticipation and look to Wilkerson, standing in the middle of the huddle.

The injury to Rodgers is a rerun of the 2013 season, when, in the eighth game of the season, Rodgers broke his left collarbone, also in a key division game the Packers went on to lose.
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Snow’s advice to wrestling fans at live events is to be aware.

Bayne Honors Roush Fenway’s First Victory with Darlington Throwback Trevor Bayne’s #6 AdvoCare Ford will sport a familiar scheme when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) returns to Darlington Raceway for the famed Southern 500. As part of NASCAR’s official throwback weekend, Bayne’s Ford will harken back to the first paint scheme run during Roush Fenway Racing’s first two seasons with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin.

We’re about halfway through the third quarter in Jacksonville, and Michel just ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run to give Georgia a 28-0 lead. You have to wonder if Smart is going to leave his starters in much longer.

After a week of full practices, Ross has been removed from the pregame injury report. With Tyler Boyd and Cody Core already ruled out this week, it will be interesting to see how Ross’ contribution in Week 8 plays out. As ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell notes, he should see significant playing time.

The Bills’ formula is remarkably consistent: Win the turnover battle and let Tyrod Taylor do the rest. The Bills’ defense forced three turnovers, gift-wrapping 13 points in a game that wasn’t as one-sided as the final score indicated. Give head coach Sean McDermott and his hard-hitting group credit. Even without two key members of the secondary and recently departed starter Marcell Dareus, who was traded to Jacksonville, the Bills forced turnovers with hard hitting and flying to the ball. Buffalo leads the NFL with a +14 turnover margin and is now 4-0 at home and in great shape for playoff contention at 5-2.

Coupled with Russell Wilson’s 452 passing yards and four scores, it was just the sixth time in NFL history opposing QBs had over 400 passing yards and four or more touchdowns in the same game.
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Alan Rood is the kind of coach who doesn’t let anything go.

On the sideline he has just one volume level: loud. So when one of his Von Steuben High guards lets a defensive end get past on the inside for an easy lane to the ball carrier, Rood calls the player off the field to correct him immediately. “You have to come downhill!” he says. “If I go downhill, no one can get inside of me!

I feel like you’re in P.E. right now and giving half your effort!” Five minutes later Rood walks back over to the same player to provide some more loud feedback on the same mistake. He hasn’t moved on.

And then the home game would come and they would come see me, and the joy that they had, and then at the end of the season we would sit down and my kids, especially my two boys, they’d say, ‘Dad, you have to keep playing, we love it.’ They are so supportive and so it’s like, I’m sitting there going, ‘Do you really want me to play, or are you just glad Dad is not home to cut off the Xbox?’”

That wouldn’t be a record — the 1932 World Series between the Yankees and Cubs featured 13 Hall of Famers, including two guys named Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — but it would be the most for a World Series since 1950 and a radical departure from some recent matchups.

(There’s also the matter of the Jaguars finding people for that quarterback to throw to; Allen Robinson is a free agent and coming off a torn ACL, Marqise Lee is also a UFA and Allen Hurns is a potential cap casualty, even more likely with this acquisition).

They’ll presumably move on from Abry Jones, and might have to do the same with Malik Jackson to make space for Dareus in 2018. Even if they free up $19 million by letting Blake Bortles go, that basically covers their 2018 draft class.
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Houston had outgained Seattle 246 yards to 77 with 14 first downs to merely four for the ‘Hawks.

Dan Bailey, K, Dallas Cowboys, right groin: Bailey’s groin injury — suffered during the first half of the game against the 49ers, forcing safety Jeff Heath to pinch kick — led to the team’s signing of Mike Nugent to fill in at the kicker position. And he will fill in for a while. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday that Bailey could miss the next “four or more” games, which would put him out until at least Thanksgiving.

Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions, hamstring: Golladay has been sidelined with a balky hamstring since Week 4. He did participate in practices Monday (the team had a Monday practice coming out of its Week 7 bye but does not have to submit an injury report until Wednesday so his level of participation is unknown) and Wednesday (limited) but was absent Thursday and Friday.

For Bamba, the Longhorns’ star freshman — and the program’s most important recruit since Kevin Durant hit campus in 2006 — there’s a reason it’s his favorite principle.

“It’s pretty self-explanatory, and it is the same way for every team, but that’s something we really embrace here,” Bamba says. “If one guy is bringing energy, the next one is going to want to up that.”

The two years prior were more crazy. In 2015, eight teams rolled through the four spots over the five weeks of the rankings, including Oklahoma, which made the final group despite being ranked 15th in the first ranking. In 2014, eight teams showed up in the top four over seven weeks, but Ohio State, which wasn’t among the top four until the final rankings, was all the way down in 16th in the initial standings and wound up winning the national title.

Seahawks ticket-holders have enjoyed outstanding defense at home for ages, making Sunday’s performance by the Texans all the more fascinating. Midway through the second quarter.
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Chargers coach Anthony Lynn will be very interested in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson as the team’s next franchise QB.

The most touching moment of the night, though, was not the applause but the silence. Fifty-eight seconds, one for each casualty of last week’s tragedy. The video board counted up from 0 to 58, as a chilling silent emptiness filled the arena. A projector shined the phrase Vegas Strong and those 58 names of the shooting victims. Nobody made a peep.

Eventually a hockey game took place. Here’s as good a time as any to note that the team started the inaugural season by winning two road games before the first home date.

From McHugh: “After what we saw in the Boston and New York series, it feels like it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I don’t even know what to expect anymore. You think you’ve seen everything in baseball, until you haven’t.”

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn will be very interested in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson as the team’s next franchise QB. Getting a second first-rounder in 2018 would easily allow them to draft him. The Jaguars are one of the few teams that can handle taking on Rivers’ contract, and he could give them several more good seasons.

Coughlin and the Giants didn’t keep Rivers as the No. 1 pick in 2004. It’s too bad Coughlin won’t get this ideal opportunity to see what Rivers can do for the Jaguars.

Four miles away—and only a 20-minute walk from the team’s home rink at T-Mobile Arena—a lone gunman had opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival, spraying bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, killing almost five dozen and wounding hundreds more.

As cell phone footage of the horror looped on the news, the nine-year NHL veteran watched with a familiar pit in his stomach. On Sept. 11, 2001, Engelland, 35, was running on the treadmill at the New Jersey Devils’ practice facility when, across the Hudson River, two hijacked planes struck the Twin Towers.bills_002