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Brady, Belichick, Peyton can set NFL playoff records

Reuters

If this weekend’s games go as expected, the AFC’s Super Bowl team will be quarterbacked by either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady for the eighth time in the last 12 years. So it’s no surprise that in addition to trying to get back to the Super Bowl with their teams, Manning and Brady are both closing in on some all-time NFL playoff records.

It’s also no surprise that the coach who has been to five Super Bowls with Brady, Bill Belichick, is closing in on some playoff records of his own. Here’s a look at the records that Manning, Brady and Belichick have a chance at tying or breaking in the coming weeks:

Most career postseason wins by a coach: Belichick is 17-7 in the postseason in his career, tying him with Joe Gibbs for the third-most playoff wins ever. Only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19) have more, and Belichick will tie Landry for first all time if the Patriots win the Super Bowl. If the Patriots reach the Super Bowl Belichick will also tie Shula’s record for most Super Bowl appearances as a head coach (six) and if the Patriots win the Super Bowl Belichick will tie Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl wins by a head coach (four). Saturday will be Belichick’s 25th postseason game as a head coach; only Landry and Shula (36 each) have more.

Most career postseason wins by a starting quarterback: The Patriots are 16-6 with Brady as their starter in the playoffs, tying Brady with Joe Montana for the most wins ever by a starting quarterback in the postseason. If the Patriots beat the Texans on Saturday, Brady will be all alone in first place with his 17th playoff win.

Most career postseason touchdown passes: Brady has 38 touchdown passes in the playoffs, third all-time behind Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44). Brady needs eight touchdown passes in the playoffs (which won’t be easy, but is possible if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl) to pass Montana.

Most career postseason attempts and completions: Brady already owns both of these records (499 completions in 793 attempts), but it’s noteworthy that he’ll pad those records on Saturday while becoming the first player in NFL history to throw 800 playoff passes and complete 500 playoff passes.

Most career postseason passing yards: Manning is third all-time, with 5,389 career postseason passing yards. With a big game on Sunday he could pass Joe Montana (5,772) for second place, and with two or three postseason games he could move past Brett Favre (5,855) for first place all time.

And here are some noteworthy postseason records involving other players in this year’s postseason:

Highest career postseason passer rating: Aaron Rodgers owned this record heading into these playoffs, and he still does after the Packers’ win over the Vikings. Rodgers’ career postseason passer rating is 105.4, which tops the longstanding record that was previously held by another Packers quarterback, Bart Starr, who had a passer rating of 104.8 in his 10 career postseason games.

Most career postseason field goals and field goal attempts: Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri owned both of these records even before he went 3-for-4 on Sunday. Vinatieri now has made 48 playoff field goals in 58 attempts. David Akers is second place in both categories with 35 field goals in 42 attempts. Akers might (or might not) get a chance to narrow the gap with Vinatieri against the Packers.

Most career postseason catches: Jerry Rice owns this record, with 151 career playoff catches, and that record won’t be broken any time soon, if ever. But Reggie Wayne moved into second place all time on Sunday, when he caught nine passes to get to 92 in his career.

Most career postseason touchdown catches: Jerry Rice owns this record, with 22 career playoff touchdowns, and that record won’t be broken any time soon, if ever. But Randy Moss is currently tied for third place, with 10 playoff touchdowns, and he could move into second place if he scores three touchdowns in this postseason. Steelers Hall of Famer John Stallworth is currently No. 2, with 12 career playoff touchdowns.

Most career postseason interceptions: Ravens safety Ed Reed has eight playoff picks, one shy of the NFL record shared by Charlie Waters, Bill Simpson and Ronnie Lott. With one more interception Reed will tie the record, and with two he’ll have the record all to himself. Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel has seven career playoff interceptions, so with one pick he’ll tie Reed, with two picks he’ll tie the all-time record, and with three picks he’ll break it.

Most career postseason interception return yards: I bet you didn’t know that Asante Samuel already owns this record, with 227 yards gained on his seven interceptions. Amaze your friends while watching the Falcons on Sunday with this moderately interesting fact.

Most career postseason interception return touchdowns: Seriously, do people realize how good Asante Samuel has been in the playoffs? He owns this record, too, with four. The only other player with more than two pick-sixes in NFL postseason history is former Raider Willie Brown, who had three interception return touchdowns, one of which was immortalized in one of the greatest NFL Films clips ever.

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Bill O’Brien, Rick Smith say Tom Savage is the starter

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The Texans made a big move up the draft board on Thursday night when they sent their 2018 first-round pick to the Browns for the chance to use the 12th overall pick on quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Houston had already sent their 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland as a way to erase Brock Osweiler from their roster, so one might think that mortgaging the future in that manner would give Watson the inside track on a starting job this year. Both Texans coach Bill O’Brien and General Manager Rick Smith say that isn’t the case.

O’Brien called Savage the starter after the Watson pick was announced and Smith said he was “comfortable” with Savage as the starter, whcih was what he said in his pre-draft press conference as well. Watson didn’t upset the apple cart when discussing his immediate future.

“All I need to do is put my head down, don’t say anything, learn from all the veterans, learn from Tom Savage, learn from Brandon Weeden and just play my role,” Watson said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Whatever my role is help the team win.”

It’s April, which means there’s a lot of time for Watson to learn the offense and make people with the team less comfortable with leaving him on the bench. Until and unless that happens, it will be Savage at the helm in Houston.

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Both Cleveland and Washington deny Kirk Cousins trade talks

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One of the cannonballs into the pool on a busy news night for the NFL was a report from its own network that the Browns were trying to trade for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

By the end of the night, one-sixteenth of the network’s ownership had denied it, with both teams poo-poohing it.

Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns executive Sashi Brown dismissed it, calling it “bad reporting.”

Meanwhile in Washington, via John Keim of ESPN.com, coach Jay Gruden said they didn’t “receive one call” about Cousins.

The Browns used three picks Thursday night, none on quarterbacks, which means their depth chart still consists of Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler.

And until Cousins has a long-term deal somewhere, the speculation about him will continue, in Cleveland and elsewhere. But the time being, both teams are shooting this one down.

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Malik McDowell, Dalvin Cook among big names left after first round

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The NFL announced earlier this month that 22 players would be attending this year’s draft in Philadelphia, although that number dropped by one when cornerback Gareon Conley changed his plans this week.

Conley wound up going in the first round despite the sexual assault allegations that led him to pass on the trip, but a few of the other invitees remained on the board through all 32 picks. Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell, Alabama tackle Cam Robinson, Washington cornerback Kevin King and Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie all remain available heading into Round Two on Friday night.

They have company among recognizable names from outside of Philadelphia. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook didn’t join Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey as a first-round pick and joins Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon at the top of the list of available backs.

Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, Washington safety Budda Baker and Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham are others that sometimes appeared as first-round picks in mock drafts before going unselected on Thursday. Quarterbacks Davis Webb and DeShone Kizer also figure to be among the names coming off the board when the draft resumes with the Packers on the clock at No. 33.

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49ers end Reuben Foster’s slide

AP

Reuben Foster’s loss was San Francisco’s gain.

The Alabama linebacker, one of the top talents in the draft, slid after being sent home from the Scouting Combine and, more recently, generating a positive drug test via a dilute sample.

It caused him to plunge, but the 49ers decided to trade up to get him, doing a deal with the Seahawks for the 31st pick in the draft.

The 49ers gave up their second-round pick and a fourth-round pick to make the move up and grab Foster, who possibly would have been nabbed by the Saints.

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Saints close first round by taking Ryan Ramczyk

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The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books.

The Saints closed out the night’s activities in Philadelphia by taking Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd overall pick. The pick was one they acquired from the Patriots in the trade that sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

Ramczyk is the latest of many strong blockers to come out of Madison in recent years and was widely projected to be a first-round pick this season. He had hip surgery after the end of the Badgers’ season, which may have pushed him down a bit but he ended the night making good on those projections.

They had previously taken cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th pick of the round, so they were able to address both sides of the ball before the night was out.

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Tak McKinley arrives with a flourish, with an “F”

AP

Pass rusher Takkarist McKinley brings a great story to the NFL. He also brings a colorful vocabulary.

During a live interview with Deion Sanders of NFL Network, McKinley spoke about the influence of his  late grandmother, and the promise he made to her to become a Division I athlete.

“I completed my promise,” McKinley said. “It means every f–king thing to me. Excuse my language. Man, fine me later. Fine me later, man.”

It will be interesting to see whether the NFL does, given that he made the statement during a broadcast on the league-owned network.

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Steelers grab T.J. Watt with 30th overall pick

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The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick in the draft.

The brother of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, T.J. made a name for himself at Wisconsin last season.

He started just one season for the Badgers after converting to the defensive side of the ball. Watt posted a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to earn First Team All-Big Ten and multiple All-American honors for Wisconsin last season.

Outside linebacker was a big need for the Steelers as James Harrison isn’t getting any younger.

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Browns move up to No. 29, take David Njoku

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The Browns are the busiest team in the NFL tonight.

With the 29th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns selected David Njoku, the athletic tight end from the University of Miami.

The Browns moved up to No. 29 in a trade with the Packers, packaging the 33rd and 108th overall picks to get the 29th pick.

Thanks to their many trades, the Browns had three first-round picks: They took Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall, took Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers 25th overall and then took Njoku. That’s two talented players on defense and a talented player on offense.

No team in the NFL added the kind of talent the Browns added tonight. Cleveland still hasn’t identified its franchise quarterback, but the Browns are starting to put a team in place that looks like it can compete, something that hasn’t been the case recently in Cleveland.

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Cowboys scarf down Taco Charlton with the 28th pick

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With a run of pass-rushers late in the first round, the Cowboys got their Taco to go.

With the 28th pick, Dallas added Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.

He had 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last year for the Wolverines, and has the kind of size and speed which make him a good option for the Cowboys.

While it’s hard to find the kind of “war daddy” pass-rusher Jerry Jones was hoping for at the end of the first round, Charlton’s a good option for a team which needs all the help they can find opposite Demarcus Lawrence.

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Bills take Tre’Davious White after trading down to No. 27

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The Bills were originally scheduled to pick much earlier on Thursday night, but the Chiefs’ desire to get quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped change that.

The Chiefs sent the Bills their first-round pick next year, a third-round pick this year and the No. 27 pick in exchange for the 10th pick and that haul was too much for Buffalo to pass up. They used that No. 27 pick to add LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White to their roster.

White started for most of his time in Baton Rouge and gives new Bills coach Sean McDermott an option to help build a cornerback corps that’s said goodbye to Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey-Coleman since the end of last season. Their departures should help White’s bid to play early for the Bills.

White is the third LSU player and fifth cornerback to come off the board on Thursday night. He’s also a punt returner, so his contributions to the Bills may go beyond defense.

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Falcons trade up for Tak McKinley

AP

The Seahawks held the 26th pick in the draft. Until the Falcons acquired it from them.

Atlanta moved up from No. 31 to select pass rusher Takkarist McKinley from UCLA.

He gives the Falcons a bookend to Vic Beasley, on a defense that quickly has become one of the best in the NFL under Dan Quinn.

The Seaahwks will now slide into the No. 31 spot, and possibly could slide down even farther.

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Browns select Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers

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The Cleveland Browns could have had Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick if they wanted him to fill a pressing need at the quarterback position.

Instead, the Browns traded back and ended up with Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers could play several different positions in the NFL, but was primarily a linebacker/safety at Michigan.

Peppers finished third in both tackles (72) and all-purpose yardage (an average of 62.6 yards per game) for the Wolverines in 2016, while leading the team with 16 tackles for loss and four sacks.

He’s also a capable special teams performer as well.

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At 24, Raiders take a chance on Gareon Conley

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In perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round of the NFL draft, the Raiders have selected Gareon Conley, the Ohio State cornerback who came under intense scrutiny this week when he was named as a suspect in a sexual assault investigation.

Until his name surfaced in the police investigation, Conley was expected to be a high first-round pick. As it turned out, Conley wasn’t a high first-round pick, but he was a first-round pick, with the Raiders taking him at No. 24.

Obviously, the Raiders have to be confident that Conley will be cleared. Conley has professed his innocence and insisted that he has multiple witnesses who can testify that he was never alone with his accuser on the night in question.

Conley is an undeniably talented football player. The Raiders also believe they can trust him to be clean off the field.

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Giants take Evan Engram with the 23rd pick

AP

The Giants found the tight end they needed, adding a pass-catching threat.

With the 23rd pick, they took Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram.

Engram had 65 catches for 926 yards and eight touchdowns last year, and is practically a slot receiver.

His 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine was the fastest at his position, and he gives fellow Ole Miss man Eli Manning another attractive option downfield.

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Lions take Jarrad Davis at No. 21

AP

The Lions needed a linebacker. They got on in Jarrad Davis.

The former Florida defender became the 21st pick in the first round of the draft on Thursday night. Davis likely fills the void created by the departure of DeAndre Levy.

Davis exits the board while Reuben Foster’s free-fall continues. He’s regarded as the best linebacker left on the board.

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