Redskins

Dalton, Green lead Bengals past Chiefs, 28-6

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Dalton, Green lead Bengals past Chiefs, 28-6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Cincinnati Bengals are back to eyeing the playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking forward to the end of the season.

Andy Dalton threw for 230 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his ninth straight game and the Bengals beat the woeful Chiefs 28-6 on Sunday.

Green finished with six catches for 91 yards in another dazzling performance, Mohamed Sanu had a scoring grab and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 101 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals (5-5) won their second straight following a maddening four-game losing streak.

Cincinnati plays its next four games against teams that began the day with losing records.

None of them are as bad as the Chiefs, though.

Jamaal Charles had 87 yards rushing for Kansas City (1-9), but that was the only highlight for a team that lost its seventh straight amid a gloomy backdrop at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs' once-raucous home venue was only about half-full most of the game, and a good portion of those who showed up were dressed in black - a grass roots effort organized by fans who have been trying to pressure team ownership to clean out the front office.

Once again, an airplane towed a banner calling for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.

The Chiefs' performance on the field wasn't much different than the rest of the year: They took an early lead for a change, but the offense couldn't get going behind quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, and two more key players went down with injuries and did not return.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe hurt his neck and right tackle Branden Albert hurt his back.

As if the Bengals weren't just fine when the Chiefs had their full complement of players.

Dalton and Green shredded their porous pass defense, Ellis pounded away at a front line that had played better of late, and a middle-of-the-road Cincinnati defense looked like an iron curtain against a Kansas City offense that has been utterly inept.

The result: The Bengals are back to .500, and eying back-to-back postseason appearances for only the second time in franchise history, while the Chiefs have dropped seven straight games in a single season for the first time since Oct. 5-Nov. 23, 2008.

The Chiefs struck first for the second straight week, turning several nice runs by Charles into a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, before reality set in again.

The Bengals marched 78 yards the other direction, twice converting on fourth down - once when Cedric Peerman ran 32 yards on a fake punt, and once when Dalton scrambled for 11 yards on fourth-and-7. Dalton capped the drive with a 5-yard fade pass to Green, who managed to stab the ball with one hand and then slap both feet into the end zone before falling out of bounds.

Peyton Hillis fumbled on the Chiefs' ensuing possession, their league-leading 31st turnover this season, but they dodged trouble when Mike Nugent missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt.

Cincinnati made it 14-3 later in the second quarter when Dalton fooled the entire Kansas City defense on a perfectly executed naked bootleg. The 1-yard TD run came on fourth down after a video review showed that Gresham had been stopped just shy of the goal line on a 10-yard catch.

The Bengals' most impressive drive of the game came after they forced the Chiefs to punt for the third straight time, an 11-play, 78-yard masterpiece in which they faced third down once.

Ellis capped that one off with a short touchdown plunge for a 21-3 lead.

Cassel deftly led the Chiefs to a field goal in the closing seconds of the half, but coach Romeo Crennel elected to put Quinn into the game at quarterback to start the third quarter.

Cassel sustained a concussion earlier this season, and then lost his job to Quinn, who was active for the first time since sustaining his own concussion Oct. 28 against Oakland.

Quinn didn't fare much better leading the Kansas City offense, and the Bengals tacked on Sanu's touchdown catch in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

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