NFL picks and predictions, Buccaneers vs. Steelers 2014: Experts believe in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) crushed the Carolina Panthers 37-13 on Sunday Night Football last weekend, convincing the experts that they’re a solid pick against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3). Pittsburgh hosts the Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon and there are few who are willing to select Lovie Smith’s group. Tampa Bay is coming off an ugly 56-14 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons last Thursday.

Once again, the Seahawks allowed this because they used a defensive tackle to spy. This time Manning stepped right up through the void where the dropping defensive tackle should have been and bought enough time to let the route combination develop. Then he made the throw down the field.

By the time the ball gets there neither Chancellor nor Maxwell are close enough to affect the catch. That was a 42-yard completion that took the Broncos from their own 20 to the Seahawks 38-yard line.

Then for some crazy reason they tried to do some other shit. After a spike on first down, Manning missed on a short pass to running back Ronnie Hillman. Then he hit Demaryius Thomas on an out route for 12 yards. With 24 seconds left from the Seattle 26-yard line, somebody said screw it and they went scissors again.

That helps the Seahawks this time because nickel corner, Marcus Burley, actually stayed on Sanders the whole way through the wheel route, or at least tried to, instead of turning him over like he would have in zone. Sanders got separation, and Chancellor was a half a step late getting over the top of him. Peyton’s pass was a little too soft forcing Sanders to wait for half a second. By the time he had his hands on the ball, Chancellor knocked the hell out of him, and he wasn’t able to hold on.

However, the Broncos took note that the concept itself worked, even though Sanders dropped the pass.8

Calf injury to keep Adrian Beltre out of WBC’s first round

Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre reported to spring training Friday with a strained left calf muscle that will sideline him about three weeks and will keep him out of the opening round of the World Baseball Classic.

Beltre, 37, said he injured the muscle working out at his home in California on Tuesday. He was planning to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC, and could join the team if it advances past the first round.

Beltre, winner of five Gold Gloves and a four-time All-Star, said his main concern is being ready for Opening Day of the season, but that he wants to play for his country.

The Rangers signed catcher A.J. Jimenez to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. Toronto released him on Monday.

Andrew Miller pitched two or more innings 10 times after joining the Tribe in a deadline trade, helping spark discussion across baseball about the most effective way to use elite relief pitchers.

Miller was admittedly exhausted following his last World Series appearance. He spent a healthy chunk of the offseason working out with Carrasco in Tampa, Florida, and Salazar joined them for a couple of weeks.

“When I came out of Game 7, I was almost relieved,” Miller said. “I thought, ‘I’m done. I can’t possibly pitch again this season.’ But I felt like I recovered well. I was shocked, honestly, how well I felt.

“I’ve had seasons where we didn’t make a playoff run and I threw far fewer innings, and I felt more lingering effects from throwing than I did last year. Hopefully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to take care of myself. And they do an incredible job of taking care of us with this organization. Between the off days and the work we do with our training staff here, it paid off down the stretch.”

Browns’ quarterback search continues with visit from Josh McCown

The Cleveland Browns are casting a wide net in their search for a quarterback, entering the offseason with a ton of uncertainty at the position. Last year’s starter Brian Hoyer is set to hit free agency in March, and backup Johnny Manziel followed up his dismal rookie campaign on the field by checking himself into a rehab facility in late January.

Head coach Mike Pettine told reporters at the NFL Combine that it’s “probably accurate” that the team is looking for someone to compete with Manziel for the starting position.

The Browns spent the past two days meeting with free agent QB Josh McCown, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month. The veteran signal caller instantly became one of the more attractive options in a weak quarterback market, although he was arguably one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last season. He has also had visits with the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

McCown went 1-10 as a starter with Tampa Bay in 2014, completing 184 of 327 passes for 2,206 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His completion percentage (56.3 percent) and yards per attempt (6.8) both ranked 31st out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks, and only Blake Bortles had a worse passer rating than McCown (70.5) last season.

The main reason the Raiders are so far behind is from cutting high priced players and leaving behind dead money which doesn’t factor into the total. That played a major role in 2013, but 2014 was a different story as they had nearly cleared the books of dead money and had some $61 million to spend under the cap.

After all was said and done, they left $7.4 million unspent from last offseason that rolled over to this year’s cap.

Fans see that rollover and think it’s a good thing and wise spending choices, but in reality it just contributed to putting the Raiders in the same position they were before, plus a few more million. They currently have over $53 million to spend and with some expected cuts (Matt Schaub and LaMarr Woodley in particular) that number would rise to around $64 million.