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No surprise here: Fox says Manning is his MVP

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No surprise here: Fox says Manning is his MVP

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Rarely one to talk publicly about the big picture or much beyond winning the next game, Denver coach John Fox weighed in on the interesting race for Most Valuable Player.

That race could come down to Peyton Manning of the Broncos vs. old rival Tom Brady of the Patriots and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings.

``Obviously, I'm going to be a little biased,'' Fox said Monday.

His vote, of course, would go to Manning, not so much for the numbers he's put up as for the obstacles he's overcome - namely, a season off, four neck surgeries and the task of becoming the Broncos quarterback after spending his entire career with the Colts.

``With all due respect for everyone involved, what's unique about Peyton ... he's done it in a new city with a new team at that position,'' Fox said. ``In my own personal opinion, that's what separates him from the field.''

Of course, getting the nod from the Broncos coach is one thing. The decision from the real voters won't be handed down until Super Bowl week.

The way things are going for the Broncos, Manning might be on hand to collect it personally if he wins.

Denver (12-3) is on a 10-game winning streak and positioned for a first-round bye in the playoffs and possibly even the top seed. Manning has 4,355 yards, 203 away from the second most in his 14 seasons. His 34 touchdowns are ranked second over a career in which he has already won a record four MVP awards.

In his postgame news conference after Denver's 34-12 win over Cleveland on Sunday, Manning said he hasn't thought about his chances of winning No. 5.

``It has been such a unique season for me personally, I really feel fortunate to be playing,'' he said. ``I really have had an interesting year and a half and so I'm proud our team is in the mix. Anything that comes along the way individually, in my past, I have accepted those on behalf of the teams I have been on. They're individual awards, but in my opinion they have always been team awards. That's kind of how I continue to approach things.''

Fox, who has been coaching for nearly 35 years and needs one more victory to reach 100 as an NFL head coach, said he still learns from Manning.

Manning has come to Denver and changed the culture in the locker room, essentially by demanding his teammates become students of the game off the field in addition to working as hard as he does on it.

``I see how hard he works,'' Fox said. ``He has it down to a science as far as time management in an NFL season. I saw him in the cool tub watching his iPad. Someone asked me if I was worried about the iPad. I said, no, I don't care about the iPad, I care about him. Don't want him to get electrocuted. But it's remarkable how hard he works.''

He said Manning also sets the tone by never taking his foot off the gas. During their winning streak, the Broncos have won by an average score of 31-17. They have taken double-digit leads in every game but one, and nobody has played them closer than seven points.

``We talk about that a lot, not coasting, pedal downhill,'' 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.''

Peterson is also coming off a major injury, a torn-up knee that knocked him out in December of last season, meaning he and Manning are also prime contenders for Comeback Player of the Year.

Brady, meanwhile, would be considered the third major candidate in the MVP voting.

In that case, voters would be choosing between:

-Peterson, a running back who made a remarkably fast comeback and, at present, has rushed for 1,898 yards and led a 3-13 team in 2011 to the verge of the playoffs in 2012.

-Brady, a quarterback who has more yards (4,543) but fewer touchdowns (32) than Manning and who also has a victory over Manning: New England's 31-21 win in October that marks the last time Denver lost.

-And, of course, Manning, who has engineered the league's longest winning streak and is turning a good team into a potentially great one.

Fox knows how he'd vote. But he said he's not in the business of lobbying.

``I was asked what I thought,'' he said, ``and I told you.''

Notes: Fox reported two injuries: KR Trindon Holliday (ankle) and CB Tracy Porter (concussion). ... Fox gave the Broncos a rare ``Victory Monday'' - the day off after a win. The team reports back to work Wednesday. ... With 65 yards receiving, WR Eric Decker joined Demaryius Thomas in the 1,000-yard club. The Broncos have their first 1,000-yard receiving duo since 2004. ... Denver moved up to fourth in overall offense and third in overall defense and, with a week left, remains the only team ranked in the top five in both categories.

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

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

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

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.

Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:

Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.

There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.

If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.

If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.

One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.

On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.

Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.

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