Redskins

Broncos to finish season in style

Broncos to finish season in style

The difference Peyton Manning has made in Denver actually is measurable.

Try from 8-8, which the Broncos were a year ago in winning the AFC West, to 12-3. Try losing their final three games of 2011 and sneaking into the back door of the playoffs to winning their last 11 and moving into the postseason as the NFL's best team.

Those are the numbers, along with Denver (No. 1 in the AP Pro32) being a 16-point favorite over Kansas City (No. 32, AP Pro32), which is 2-13.

What Manning has brought to the Broncos in swagger, confidence and performance that has been impressive even by the four-time league MVP's standards.

Don't look for any temporary respite in any of those areas against the weak Chiefs.

``We talk about that a lot, not coasting, pedal downhill,'' coach John Fox said. ``I appreciate him. I think that's a big reason why he's accomplished what he's accomplished, whether it's here or in Indianapolis. He's a tremendous competitor, doesn't let up. I think that's how you need to be to be successful.''

Few teams have been more successful this season than the Broncos. Kansas City has no chance Sunday.

BRONCOS, 37-6

No. 20 Carolina (plus 4) at No. 16 New Orleans

After this, Saints will be unburdened from bounties that damaged season.

BEST BET: SAINTS, 40-27

No. 31 Jacksonville (plus 5 1/2 ) at No. 26 Tennessee

As bad as Jaguars might be, Titans look worse right now.

UPSET SPECIAL: JAGUARS, 17-13

No. 14 Dallas (plus 3 1/2 ) at No. 9 Washington

NBC and NFL get their wish: tight game between archrivals to win division.

REDSKINS, 29-27

No. 7 Houston (minus 6 1/2 ) at No. 10 Indianapolis

Texans never have won at Indy. They won't start now.

COLTS, 27-24

No. 19 Miami (plus 11) at No. 4 New England

Patriots playing for a bye, just might get it.

PATRIOTS, 30-17

No. 3 Green Bay (minus 3) at No. 12 Minnesota

Shouldn't be playing hunches so late in season. But ...

VIKINGS, 24-23

No. 27 Arizona (plus 15) at No. 6 San Francisco

Minnesota's win gives 49ers shot at a bye.

49ERS, 30-9

No. 18 St. Louis (plus 10) at No. 5 Seattle

Our ears still are ringing from the noise level at CenturyLink.

SEAHAWKS, 31-20

No. 8 Baltimore (plus 3) at No. 11 Cincinnati

These teams could meet in wild-card round next week.

RAVENS, 20-19

No. 29 Philadelphia (plus 9 1/2 ) at No. 15 New York Giants

Big last stand for Michael Vick and Andy Reid? Nah.

GIANTS, 24-13

No. 13 Chicago (minus 3) at No. 28 Detroit

Reeling Bears still have playoff shot. Lions have packed it in.

BEARS, 27-17

No. 24 New York Jets (plus 3) at No. 25 Buffalo

Go with the losing team with less turmoil.

BILLS, 24-16

No. 23 Cleveland (OFF) at No. 17 Pittsburgh

Strange not seeing Steelers in contention. Not strange with Browns.

STEELERS, 17-13

No. 22 Tampa Bay (OFF) at No. 2 Atlanta

Falcons won't have meaningful game for two more weeks.

FALCONS, 27-23

No. 30 Oakland (OFF) at No. 21 San Diego

Norv Turner could be leaving with a two-game winning streak.

CHARGERS, 30-10

---

2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 12-4 (105-118-7). Straight up: 13-3 (147-88-1)

Best Bet: 7-7-2 against spread, 11-5 straight up.

Upset special: 11-5 against spread, 9-7 straight up.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Does Adrian Peterson want Case Keenum to start at QB? Sure sounds like it

dcslpeterson031319.jpg
USA Today Sports

Does Adrian Peterson want Case Keenum to start at QB? Sure sounds like it

The Redskins coaching staff intend to use their practice time in Richmond to determine the team's starting quarterback for the 2019 season, but for Adrian Peterson, that determination has been made. 

"Offensively, we really look good with Case Keenum back there. He’s a veteran," Peterson said last weekend at SportsCon in Dallas

Peterson's comments came just 10 days before the Redskins open training camp with what's expected to be an open battle at quarterback between Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins, not to mention Colt McCoy if he's healthy. Of that group, Keenum has had the most success in the NFL, particularly his excellent 2017 campaign in Minnesota where he completed 67 percent of his passes for more than 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns against just seven interceptions in 14 starts.

It's important to point out that Keenum has only hit that level of play one year out of eight seasons in the NFL. The rest of his career has been marked with more interceptions and a lower completion percentage. 

Still, watching Redskins minicamp in early June when Keenum and Haskins got the majority of the snaps, it was clear the offense ran smoother with the veteran instead of the rookie.

"He’s been in the league for a long time. He’s a gunslinger. He’s a guy that’s going to throw the ball and spread it around," Peterson said of Keenum.

That doesn't mean the future Hall of Fame running back didn't speak well of Haskins, or more accurately, Haskins' potential. 

"I'm looking forward to seeing what he'll do in training camp," Peterson said of the rookie from Ohio State. "Once he gets more under his belt and becomes more comfortable, he'll be able to play faster as well."

In minicamp, the pace of the NFL - calling plays, adjusting at the line of scrimmage, and most of all, the speed of the pass rush - seemed to overwhelm Haskins at times. Those are all things he can learn, and his arm is already the best on the team. Once the mental game catches up, his physical traits are absolutely capable of winning big in the NFL. 

What might make the most sense in listening to Peterson's comments is how he looked at the 2018 season. Last year, Washington lost a lot of talent to injuries, including their top two QBs in Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, and still finished in the playoff hunt. 

"The most important thing for us is guys staying healthy. Last year we had 22 guys on IR, and was still one game away from making the playoffs if we would've won the last two," Peterson said. "That's the thing that impresses me the most. We really went through a grind in losing our first-, second- and third-string QB throughout the year, and still had a chance to make the playoffs. I feel like the mindset is there."

For a team with the mindset of grinding wins and getting into the playoffs, Keenum makes more sense than Haskins. At least it does for Peterson. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

On a night celebrating women’s soccer, a tale of two Roses

roselavellenbcsw.jpg
NBCSW

On a night celebrating women’s soccer, a tale of two Roses

Rose Lavelle met the future of American soccer. Her name is Rose Lavelle.

Two Roses convened on the field Saturday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds - one a celebrity at age 24 after helping the United States women’s national team to a World Cup title this month, the other a seven-year-old girl who shares a name and a love for soccer with her favorite player. 

A National Women’s Soccer League match between the Washington Spirit and the Houston Dash brought the Rose Lavelles together. It’s one of the two big questions facing women’s soccer in the United States: Can the nine-team NWSL become a viable league after two of its predecessors failed? And will the women’s national team players prevail in their lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s governing body and their primary employer, demanding equal pay and an end to what they call institutionalized gender discrimination? 

One of those issues will be decided in a courtroom, the other on nights just like this one when an announced sellout crowd of 5,500 fans showed up to watch nine players who played for their countries in the recent World Cup in France. It would have been 10, but Lavelle’s hamstring injury kept her on the bench.

If the crowd was disappointed, it didn’t show. Despite withering heat that pushed the game time back an hour to 8 p.m. and never relented, fans banged drums, waved flags and cheered for Lavelle as she worked with a team trainer before the game. Not even an hour-long lightning delay at halftime dampened the mood. Many fans returned from the safety of their cars to finish watching a game that didn’t end until 11 p.m. 

Everywhere you looked there were young girls in the crowd wearing Spirit and national team jerseys. Sometimes it was their dads who bought the merchandise. 

Juan Reyes sported a blue and grey “Lavelle” t-shirt bought online moments after she scored in the World Cup final against the Netherlands while his eight-year-old daughter, Sia, admitted her favorite player is actually Alex Morgan, the long-time United States national team star who plays for the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. 

This was their first Spirit game, a short drive from their home in Montgomery Village. Sia is playing club soccer for the first time this year. On the drive up father and daughter even talked about the pay disparity issue. 

“The boys weren’t even chosen for the World Cup!” Sia Reyes said. “And they still get more money.”

“It’s a very important subject and it’s a great way to broach that subject,” Juan Reyes said. “We want to come out and support the league. Buy the shirts, get the hats, get the interest going.” 

Lavelle will be the Spirit’s star attraction when she returns. A relative unknown to casual fans before the World Cup began in June, Lavelle became a household name during it. She scored a goal in the 69th minute of the final against the Netherlands to give the United States a 2-0 lead. That ripper of a left-footed shot, after an electric run from just inside midfield, ended any hope of an upset and ensured the United States’ fourth World Cup title. 

Lavelle scored three goals in the tournament and did wonderful work as a central midfielder. At 5-foot-4, she’s not an imposing physical presence. She wins with exquisite skill and footwork and by thinking a few steps ahead of most everyone else on the field. That style of play quickly turned her into a fan favorite. 

On Thursday, Lavelle was honored at halftime of an MLS game in her hometown of Cincinnati. On Friday, hundreds packed downtown Fountain Square to celebrate her achievement and she received a key to the city and the day named in her honor. It’s been a whirlwind since returning from France a World Cup champion. 

Sitting on a blanket with her parents on the grassy hill behind one of the SoccerPlex nets, seven-year-old Rose Lavelle was entranced. She wore a red and black striped Spirit jersey with her name stitched on the back. It didn’t matter that the other Rose wasn’t playing. 

Asked if she wanted to take part in a postgame ceremony honoring the five Spirit players just back from the World Cup, she beamed. 

“Can I?” Rose Lavelle said, not quite believing. Minutes later, after a 2-1 Washington loss, she and her father, Shawn, walked onto the field with a bouquet of flowers in hand to present to the players. 

You could be skeptical about Saturday night. The U.S. women’s national team captivated the country in 1999 when it won the World Cup with a roster full of legends, but 20 years later we’re on a third professional league that has made a limited impact in seven seasons.

In a country infused with cynicism, smothered by it, it’s always easier to just assume the worst. Next year the women will make another splash at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But will the sport retreat again until the next World Cup comes around? Will the NWSL struggle to draw crowds and television exposure? Will a court victory only create a caste system between the haves on the national team and the have-nots left off it? 

The NWSL has already lasted longer than the first two professional women’s soccer leagues combined. After the World Cup, ESPN picked up 14 games to broadcast nationally. Budweiser announced a multi-year sponsorship. The true test is replicating nights like this in cities across the country, expanding that base of support, not rebuilding it every four years. But the world we inhabit so rarely exists as we’d want it to. And, yes, the cynics are sometimes right. 

But see little Rose jump up and down when she’s told she can go onto the field to meet her namesake. Hear her say “I’m a brave girl” when asked if she’ll be nervous. “I didn’t even cry for my flu shot.”

And she will be brave. She will accidentally be called up to hand her flowers to a different player than expected and, for a moment, it looks like the Roses will not meet after all. 

The ceremony ends and Big Rose is pulled in different directions, quickly signing a few autographs for the kids on the field before she must attend other duties. Little Rose waits her turn patiently, holding a folded program, expectant, hopeful, as the adults around her fret that a major disappointment is coming. But then Rose Lavelle sees the young girl, smiles broadly and bends to greet her. 

“My name is Rose Lavelle,” the child says without hesitation because she is brave.  

NBC Sports Washington’s Anna Witte contributed to this story.