NFL power rankings: 49ers leap back into Top 3

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NFL power rankings: 49ers leap back into Top 3

New England's tour de force against Houston on Monday Night Football gave us a new No. 1 atop the weekly power rankings and Cam Newton's show as an icon and entertainer versus Atlanta provided further shakeup at the top. Three weeks remain in the regular season and jockeying for playoff positions is getting fierce…

1 (4) New England Patriots (10-3) Death, taxes and Tom Brady looking unbeatable in December. Some things never change.
2 (3)  Denver Broncos (10-3) For all of the talk about Peyton Manning, the defense has yet to allow a 300-yard passing game.
3 (5) 49ers (9-3-1) Can Kaepernick join  Morton, Bradshaw, Ferragamo, Plunkett, Hostetler, Dilfer, Brady and Delhomme, QBs who started season on bench but took team to Super Bowl?
4 (1) Houston Texans (11-2) Too trite to write, "Houston, you have a problem" here? Meh…
5 (2) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) Players can’t go Rodney Dangerfield route this week and complain about a lack of respect.
6 (6) Green Bay Packers (9-4) Aaron Rodgers' 35-game streak with a TD pass in a home game comes to an end…in a win.
7 (7) Indianapolis Colts (9-4) With 3,759 yards passing, Andrew Luck passes Peyton Manning for No. 2 on NFL's single-season rookie list. Up next: Cam Newton's 4,051 yards.
8 (9) New York Giants (8-5) David Wilson's franchise-record 327 all-purpose yards fourth-most in NFL since 2000.
9 (11) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) The 58-0 blowout of Arizona is third-largest shutout victory in NFL since 1941.
10 (8) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) The last time they played a game without both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs? Try Dec. 29, 2002.
11 (15) St. Louis Rams (6-6-1) Three of Sam Bradford's four career fourth-quarter comebacks have come this year, and Rams have won three straight for first time since 2006.
12 (17) Washington (7-6) RG III's passer rating of 134.7 over last four games highest by rookie QB over such a stretch since 1960.
13 (18) Minnesota Vikings (7-6) Adrian Peterson 506 rushing yards away from eclipsing Eric Dickerson's single-season record.
14 (19) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) Rafael Septien, Dan Bailey is on your tail. Bailey's sixth career game-winning FG is one less than Septien.
15 (10) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) Sophomore slump? Andy Dalton with two TDs and three INTs in last two games after having nine TDs and no INTs in previous three games.
16 (12) Chicago Bears (8-5) Brandon Marshall's fourth 100-catch season ties him with Rice, Harrison and Welker for most in NFL history.
17 (13) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) Plaxico Burress. Remember him?
18 (14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) Buc's mid-season four-game winning streak about to be undone with three straight losses, and counting.
19 (16) New Orleans Saints (5-8) Half of Drew Brees' uncaptain-like NFC-leading 18 INTs have come in last three games.
20 (20) New York Jets (6-7) Don't look now, but the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have won three of four.
21 (23) Cleveland Browns (5-8) "Ordinary" Trent Richardson ties Jim Brown's franchise rookie record with ninth rushing TD.
22 (21) Miami Dolphins (5-8) Two of Reggie Bush's three 100-yards-from-scrimmage games have come against the Bay Area teams.
23 (22) Buffalo Bills (5-8) Up next, a "home" game in that football Mecca known as…Toronto?!?
24 (26) San Diego Chargers  (5-8) Zombie Apocalypse Redux. Or, how Norv Turner won't go away.
25 (28) Carolina Panthers (4-9) Looks like Cam Newton received good advice in his suggestion box as he is first QB in NFL history with 250 yards passing, a passing TD, 100 yards rushing, and a rushing TD.
26 (29) Philadelphia Eaglers (4-9) So now the Eagles have won a game more recently than the Phillies. And they can thank Nick Foles for that.
27 (24) Tennessee Titans (4-9) Chris Johnson is eighth player to begin career with five 1,000-yard rushing seasons. 
28 (25) Detroit Lions (4-9) The last time the Lions defeated the Packers in Green Bay? Erik Kramer was the QB and Barry Sanders was the RB, way back on Dec. 15, 1991.
29 (27) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) Shockingly, or not, Larry Fitzgerald has caught just one pass four times this season.
30 (30) Raiders (3-10) What would YOU give up in a trade for Darren McFadden and/or Rolando McClain?
31 (31) Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) Maybe Romeo Crennel won't forget about Jamaal Charles this time around against the Raiders?
32 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) At least Chad Henne is consistent. He's thrown an INT in all three starts this season.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
     
     
     

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on