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

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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.

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

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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Who is Mike Elias?

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Who is Mike Elias?

Where to begin after a team loses 115 games? That’s the main question settling into Mike Elias’ future when he takes over the Baltimore Orioles' beached ship.

Multiple reports have pegged Elias as the Orioles new general manager. He’s yet another front office member of the Houston Astros to be plucked by an outside organization for a larger role. He’s young, comes from an analytics-fueled front office and walks into a job where there only seems to be one direction to go following last season. 

Elias also has local ties. The 36-year-old is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He went to Yale where he worked four seasons as a left-handed pitcher. Elias jumped into scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals directly after graduation.

Similar to Nationals manager Mike Rizzo, Elias moved up from a scouting baseline to a prominent decision-maker in the front office. Elias was ported from St. Louis to Houston when the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to become general manager in 2011. The duo, and rest of the front office took over a team that was about to embark on three consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. The organization became notable around the league for its fervent reworking of approach and willingness to absorb losses to vault to the top of the annual draft.

In 2012, the Astros selected Carlos Correa No. 1 overall. Elias, then a special assistant to the general manager, has received a large amount of the credit for taking a shortstop who became Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. Nine of the Astros’ 14 selections that year made it to the major leagues. Not all with the Astros. Not all with a large degree of success. But, they made it.

Houston selected burgeoning All-Star Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. 

However, the Astros’ high-end draft history wasn’t perfect with Luhnow and Elias in place. They selected Stanford starter Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Just 27, he is out of baseball after never making it past Triple A. The Astros took Brady Aiken with the top overall pick in 2014. He never signed. 

Yet, the organization continued to turn. Bregman developed into a star. Jose Altuve won the MVP award, Lance McCullers, also part of the 2012 class, became an All-Star. Four years after Luhnow arrived to reverse the organization’s course, the Astros had a winning season and reached the postseason. Two years later they won the World Series.

Hiring Elias signals the Orioles, long viewed as one of the stodgier organizations in baseball, are shifting to the modern era. Baltimore was known more for its reticence to embrace analytics as opposed to its use of the information. The move may also calm the ongoing rotation of the front office bosses. Elias will be the organization’s fourth general manager since the Nationals started playing baseball again in the District in 2005. 

Among Elias’ initial tasks is finding a new manager. The Orioles fired Buck Showalter after 8 ½ seasons. Three of them led to the postseason. But, the mess of last season forced a change.

They also need to hit in the draft. The Orioles hold the 2019 top overall pick.

Elias will try to conjure a way to resuscitate the Orioles while fighting the expansive cash flow of the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox within the division. 

He’s been part of turnarounds before. This one would fully be in his hands.