Marvin Lewis has been with his team longer than any other

NFL head coach besides Bill Belichick at New England. For the first time in years D.K. Metcalf Jersey , his tenure is at risk. Lewis is finishing his contract as he enters his 15th season with the Bengals. Cincinnati has been through two painful seasons, following a home playoff meltdown against Pittsburgh in 2015 and a 6-9-1 finish last season. Lewis failed to get a contract extension in the offseason. He readily acknowledges he would have been replaced already by any owner other than Mike Brown, who values loyalty. Lewis is 0-7 in the playoffs, an NFL record for futility. His team had five straight first-round playoff losses, another record. ”In coaching, I’ve been fortunate in my 37 years,” said Lewis, who also has been an assistant in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington. ”I’ve had very few jobs, where unfortunately a lot of coaches had to move.” If he wants to stay beyond 2017, Lewis will have to do one of his best coaching jobs. The Bengals got a lot younger in the offseason, and they’re dealing with suspensions for cornerback Adam ”Pacman” Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict at the outset. After making the playoffs five straight seasons from 2011-15, they fell back last season. Receiver A.J. Green, running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert missed significant playing time but are fully recovered. This is a pivotal season in Cincinnati, where the Bengals will find out if last season was an anomaly or the start of a downward trend. ”I wouldn’t say the window has closed,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. Some things to watch this season: BURFICT, BURFICT, BURFICT: The Bengals have steadfastly defended their volatile linebacker, whose history of egregious hits – most notably the one on Antonio Brown’s head that led to the playoff meltdown against Pittsburgh – has become a focus for the league. He’s suspended for the first three games after leveling a Chiefs running back during a preseason game. Burfict is their most irreplaceable defensive player , and also their most mercurial. He’s drawn fewer fines and penalties than earlier in his career, but his unpredictability remains a concern. He set off a scrum during a practice in training camp when he tackled Bernard during a non-contact drill. ZAMPESE’S SECOND CHANCE: While Lewis gets attention for his contract situation, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is in the spotlight as well. He was elevated to the position last season when Hue Jackson became the Browns’ head coach, and the offense struggled in its new incarnation. Jackson was known for his flair and creativity; Zampese took a more straightforward approach. The running game never got into a rhythm, and Zampese wasn’t able to come up with viable options after players got hurt. ”The results didn’t unfold as I anticipated, but the process of how the weeks work and the duties and all those things happened exactly how I thought it would,” Zampese said. THOSE YOUNG TACKLES: Cedric Obguehi has one career start at left tackle, where he’ll fill in for Andrew Whitworth. Jake Fisher has three career starts at right tackle. Whether they can hold their own is the main question on offense. Ogbuehi got the job at right tackle last season, but played so poorly that he wound up benched and later moved to the left side, his more accustomed spot. Dalton was sacked 41 times last season, twice as often as in either of the two previous seasons. YOUNG DEFENSIVE LINE, TOO: The Bengals have let go of tackle Domata Peko and ends Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt, giving their young linemen openings to move into bigger roles. In the past two years, they’ve drafted tackles Andrew Billings and Ryan Glasgow and end Jordan Willis. ”There’s going to be a step up and an uptick here on Sunday, but I think they’re ready for it,” Lewis said. EXTRA MOTIVATION: Many Bengals went through their first losing season in Cincinnati, learning what it’s like to be playing out a season in December. It wasn’t fun. ”The weeks go a lot faster when you’re winning, the city is better when you’re winning, and there’s not a lot of nitpicking Gary Jennings Jr. Jersey ,” Jones said. ”Since I’ve been here, I’ve had only two losing seasons. I’m not used to that. Every now and then, you’re going to have a year like that.” — The Philadelphia Eagles have St. Nick, and he hasn’t let them down in the clutch. The problem on Sunday is that New Orleans has a lot of Saints — and a stronger team.Nick Foles has been nothing short of superb in replacing Carson Wentz, first in the 2017 season when he guided Philly to its first NFL championship since 1960. And now, with Wentz again injured, Foles helped the Eagles slalom their way to an NFC wild-card berth.Then, as in last February’s Super Bowl win over New England, he drove the Eagles to a late winning touchdown at Chicago.Can he keep it up? He’ll have to against Drew Brees & Co. in the Superdome, where the Saints annihilated the Eagles 48-7 on Nov 18, Philadelphia’s only loss by more than seven points all season.From there, the Eagles have won six of seven, counting the 16-15 decision over the Bears last week.“It’s a credit to the players and the coaches for just kind of staying in the moment, just trying to win the week, starting with today,” coach Doug Pederson says. “Just win today and then win tomorrow, try to go 1-0 each week. That’s been the mentality and the mindset all season, even during those couple weeks of adversity in there.“You still have to have a belief that we can get it done. The players do believe. They just come to work every day ready to go. There’s great leadership on the team. It’s really kind of held us together and pulled us through this stretch, and really the last three games of the regular season , I mean, they were all must win. Guys really understood what we needed to do, came together. They’ve jelled and here we are today.”Where they are is ranked No. 12 in the final AP Pro32 and 8-point underdogs against No. 1 New Orleans. It’s hard not to share the faith in Foles and the Eagles after seeing what they have done. Then again, looking at their secondary and how Chicago found lots of open room, it’s impossible not to believe in the home team.SAINTS, 31-20No. 5 (tie) Los Angeles Chargers (plus 4) at No. 5 (tie) New England, SundayLet’s begin by mentioning that the Chargers are the better team. Right now, they might be the best overall team in the league. Should they win at Gillette Stadium, Pro Picks will be tempted to ride them all the way to and through Atlanta.However, Philip Rivers never beats Tom Brady (0-7 is quite an ugly number) and the Patriots are the only unbeaten home team this season. Plus, the weather could be a factor, which always favors New England.BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 23-16No. 8 Indianapolis (plus 5) at No. 4 Kansas City, Saturday.Last weekend’s most impressive squad? The Colts, by far.Indeed, over the last two months, it’s difficult to find any team that has been more dangerous and dynamic than Indianapolis. Andrew Luck, finally healthy, is playing at his highest level. The offensive line is a wall Ugo Amadi Jersey , the defense has become a force, and the coaching is first-rate.The Chiefs have so much going for them when they have the ball, led by Patrick Mahomes’ passing in Andy Reid’s brilliant schemes. They have hardly anything except a pass rush going for them on defense, and Indy doesn’t allow sacks or even much pressure on Luck.Plus, the Colts are 4-0 in the playoffs against Kansas City, which hasn’t gotten to a conference title game since the 1993 season.UPSET SPECIAL: COLTS, 26-24No. 11 Dallas (plus 7) at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams, Saturday nightAnother prime-time showcase for Ezekiel Elliott, and he’ll need to be extremely productive, as he was vs. Seattle.So, though, will his counterpart, Todd Gurley, likely back from a knee injury and crucial to the Rams advancing.Dallas has a solid enough defense to keep the creative Rams off-balance, especially if Gurley is limited. Los Angeles has not looked like a power in the last month and needed to straighten out some issues in the bye week.Still, we can’t see an upset here.RAMS, 23-17

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