Eagles

NFL Notes: Cardinals ink Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald to 1-year extensions

NFL Notes: Cardinals ink Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald to 1-year extensions

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer have signed one-year contract extensions with the Arizona Cardinals.

The deals put Fitzgerald under contract through the 2017 season and Palmer through 2018.

Fitzgerald, holder of virtually all the franchise receiving records with statistics among the NFL's all-time greats, turns 33 on Aug. 31.

Palmer is 36 and entering his fourth season with the Cardinals. He set franchise records and personal bests for yards passing, touchdown passes and quarterback rating in leading Arizona to a 13-3 record last season.

Fitzgerald's 109 catches last season broke the franchise mark he set a decade earlier.

General manager Steve Keim said in a news release that the signings reaffirm the team's intention that "these two great players end their stellar careers with the Cardinals."

Patriots: Brady talks decision to not appeal suspension
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Addressing reporters for the first time since opting not to pursue further appeals of his four-game suspension in the "Deflategate" saga, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called it a personal decision and said he is trying to move on.

The four-time Super Bowl winner spoke to the media Friday at New England's training camp. He is allowed to practice with the team and play in the Patriots' preseason games but will miss the first four regular-season games.

"I tried to come out here and just focus on what I need to do to get better and help our team," he said. "I'll be excited to be back when I'm back, and I'll be cheering our team on, hoping they can go out and win every game."

Brady was suspended for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship win over Indianapolis. He initially won a court appeal, but that was overturned, and Brady chose not to continue the legal fight.

The 39-year-old led the league with 36 touchdown passes last season. He must be away from the team beginning Sept. 3, the day of final cuts, and can return on Oct. 3, the day after the Patriots' fourth game of the season, against AFC East rival Buffalo. The first game for which Brady will be eligible is Oct. 9 at Cleveland.

The suspension will snap his streak of 126 consecutive games played -- 112 in the regular season and 14 playoff games.

Asked if it was a difficult decision not to pursue legal avenues to dismiss the suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady replied:

"I think it's just personal and I've tried to move on from it so I try to, like I said, focus on the positive and being out here with my teammates and getting better. I don't want to go out and do anything but try to be a great example for your teammates, and we've got a lot of competitive guys that are down here on the practice field, and I think that's where the focus needs to be (see full story)."

Chiefs: Nick Foles signing announced
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs announced the signing of quarterback Nick Foles on Friday, giving them a veteran backup to Alex Smith and alleviating one of the biggest question marks on the roster.

The sides had agreed to terms of a contract earlier this week.

Foles was granted his release from the Rams this past summer after they chose quarterback Jared Goff with the first pick in the NFL draft. Foles had been linked to the Cowboys before deciding to sign with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who originally drafted him in Philadelphia.

Foles was expected to begin practicing with the Chiefs on Friday.

Kansas City was poised to begin the season with Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray or rookie Kevin Hogan as the No. 2 quarterback. None of them have taken a meaningful snap in the NFL.

Bills: LB Reggie Ragland injures left knee
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland left practice Friday with a left knee injury.

Bills coach Rex Ryan says the team does not believe any knee ligaments were damaged, but Ragland will undergo further testing to determine the severity of the injury.

The non-contact injury took place in a team drill near the end of Buffalo's morning practice. Ragland was going after the ball carrier on a running play before pulling up and going to the ground. He was able to walk to the locker room under his own power.

Ragland is projected to start at inside linebacker for Buffalo after being drafted 41st overall. The Bills are already without first-round pick Shaq Lawson, projected to start at outside linebacker.

In other Bills injury news, Ryan said defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (undisclosed non-football illness) will likely return to practice on Monday.

NFL: Montee Ball sentenced to jail for domestic abuse
MADISON, Wis. -- Former NFL and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and battery for his role in two domestic abuse incidents. 

In an agreement with prosecutors, the 25-year-old Ball entered the plea to three of six charges against him. Ball was charged with battery and disorderly conduct in February after his girlfriend told police he had thrown her across a Madison hotel room. About a month later, a previous girlfriend told police she had been assaulted by Ball in 2014. He was charged with strangulation, substantial battery and disorderly conduct. 

A Dane County judge Friday also ordered Ball to serve 18 months of probation. Ball holds touchdown records at Wisconsin. He was drafted by Denver in 2013 and cut after two seasons.

Cowboys: Trial set in Darren McFadden civil lawsuit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A federal judge in Little Rock has scheduled an August 2017 jury trial in Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden's lawsuit against his longtime business manager.

McFadden filed the $15 million civil lawsuit in June against Michael Vick of Mabelvale and 10 others named only as "Doe." The lawsuit alleges that Vick misappropriated and mishandled money throughout McFadden's NFL career, including $3 million lost in a bitcoin business venture.

In court filings this week, the case was set for a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker the week of Aug. 21, 2017. 

In his response to the lawsuit, Vick, who is not the former NFL player, denies all allegations and asks that the lawsuit be dismissed.

What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

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What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

Several parking lots outside the Linc will open as early as 11:30 a.m. Sunday for fans who require extra time preparing for kickoff for the NFC Championship Game.

The Wells Fargo Center lots as well as the M and N lots — located just east of the stadium — and the P lot, next to Citizens Bank Park, are scheduled to open at 11:30 a.m., the Eagles announced.

The Linc's K lot, just north of the stadium, will open at 1 p.m.

The Citizens Bank Park lots are scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

Gates to the Head House Plaza open at 3:30 p.m. and the inner gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m. Located on the north end of the stadium, The Head House Plaza offers outdoor bars, food stands, live music and numerous other pregame activities for fans arriving early. It also includes an entrance to the Eagles Pro Shop.

The Eagles and Vikings kick off the NFC Championship Game at 6:40 p.m.

Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

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Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

Another week, another game with the Eagles being the underdog.

After a dominant defensive performance in a 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round, the Eagles will welcome the No. 2 seed Vikings to the Linc for the NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. on FOX).

Despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage, Minnesota is the favorite to advance and play the Super Bowl on their home field in Minneapolis.

Our analysts all had the Birds winning last week. This week, we’ll see who has the Eagles advancing to Super Bowl LII.

Reuben Frank (15-2)
Two great defenses blah blah blah. Underdogs blah blah blah. Carson Wentz got hurt blah blah blah. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game." OK, LOUDER: "CASE KEENUM IS NOT GOING TO COME INTO THE LINC AND WIN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME." Maybe I'd feel differently if the Vikings were home or if a future Hall of Famer like Drew Brees were coming to town, but you're talking about a relatively inexperienced quarterback who plays his home games in a dome coming into South Philadelphia and dealing with crowd noise, changing weather, a hostile environment and a ferocious defense that's allowed five touchdowns and 9.2 points per game in its last six home games. I don't think Case Keenum can handle what he's about to face Sunday afternoon. I think we're all headed to Minneapolis. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 9

Dave Zangaro (14-3)
I never thought this day would come, if I'm being honest. If you told me in the summer the Eagles were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. 

If you would have told me they were going to be in the NFC Championship Game without Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Now, I'm the crazy one. Because despite all of that and despite the Eagles' technically being the underdogs in this game, I think they're going to win it. 

Had the Saints won last Sunday, I probably wouldn't think that. The thought of Brees coming to town would have been enough for me to pick against the Birds. But then the Minnesota Miracle happened and as great as it was for the Vikings, it could end up being great for the Eagles too. 

Sure, the Vikings are a really good team and maybe they have the best statistical defense in the league and maybe Case Keenum will never come back to Earth. But the Eagles have a pretty good defense too, a good defense that's even better at home. Nick Foles doesn't need to be Wentz, but he will need to make some big-time throws Sunday; I think he does. I think the defense clamps down at home. I think this improbable run somehow keeps going. 

I think the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 13

Derrick Gunn (14-3)
These two teams mirror each other so much. Both are guided by quarterbacks who were backups on their depth charts when this long journey began. Both have defenses that can clamp down on opposing offenses. Both with identical records. And both have never won a Super Bowl (Vikings 0-4, Eagles 0-2). 

For Foles, it's imperative that he stays within himself. Stick to the short, high-percentage passing game and hopefully get some much-needed help from the run game. 

Against the Falcons, the Eagles had 49 yards rushing in the opening quarter but only 47 the rest of the game against Atlanta's ninth-ranked run defense. 

Minnesota's defense is ranked No. 1 overall, No. 2 against the run, No. 2 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. 

The Eagles' defensive front has to get to Keenum before he can find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both are excellent route runners with exceptional hands. What a matchup up this is. Pat Shurmur's offense against Jim Schwartz's defense. 

I've gone back and forth all week on who will win this game in what could be your basic backyard brawl. So what I came up with is this: In the final seconds of the game, the Eagles will be down one point when Jake Elliott gets the call and nails a 50-yarder as time expires. Eagles win and dance their way to the Super Bowl.

Eagles 23, Vikings 21

Ray Didinger (15-2)
Offenses are scoring at a record pace and yardage totals keep mounting. The typical NFL Sunday is all about the point totals climbing and fantasy owners cashing in. But now we're in the post-season and this is when the defense flexes its muscles. This is when scores go down and hitting picks up.

When the Eagles and Vikings meet for the NFC championship, it will be all about defense. The Vikings allowed the fewest points (15.8 per game) and fewest yards (276 per game) during the regular season. The Eagles allowed the fewest yards rushing (79 per game) and allowed just 26 points in the last three games, including the 15-10 win over Atlanta in the divisional playoff.

The Vikings had the best defense in the league on third down allowing 25.2 percent conversions. The Eagles defense was equally stingy at home (26.6 percent). The key to winning this game on the offensive side will be avoiding negative plays. A sack, a penalty, anything that creates a third-and-long situation will kill a drive. A five-yard run will be a big play in this game.

I think the Eagles pressure will eventually get to Keenum and that will be the difference.

Eagles 16, Vikings 13

Andrew Kulp (14-3)
The Vikings are a vastly better team than the Falcons in 2017-18, so I'm not sure I quite understand the confidence in the Eagles locally. Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the notion that it's hard to pick Keenum at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship.

Home-field has and will continue to be a big advantage for the Eagles. The crowd will rattle Keenum the way it did Matt Ryan last week, while simultaneously allowing Foles and the Birds' offense to communicate protection calls against the Vikings' exotic pressure packages.

Compare the two rosters side by side, and they're relatively close in terms of talent. It's pretty much a coin flip. The fans are what move the needle here. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles?

Eagles 26, Vikings 17

Corey Seidman (12-4)
Equal QBs. Eagles have the run game advantage. Vikings have the better WR group. Eagles have the better TEs and offensive line. Vikings have the better secondary. 

This one feels like an extremely close game. But with homefield advantage and a better kicker, I’m 52 percent confident the Eagles pull it out and advance to the Super Bowl. 

(Wouldn’t it be the most Philly thing ever, though, if the Jaguars upset the Patriots, Eagles fans go crazy, and then the Birds lose?) 

Eagles 13, Vikings 10