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Today's Best

from ESPN 12/19/14
After years of speculation, the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo has finally been traded, to the Dallas Mavericks along with Dwight Powell for Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson and Jae Crowder along with first- and second-round draft picks. Let's take a look at what this deal means for both teams -- and the talent-laden West.

by Josh Peter, USA Today 12/16/14
Former Oakland pitcher Brad Halsey was found dead at the base of a cliff on Halloween. How he got there is a mystery, much like the last few years of his life.


Home Grown

from New York Times 12/19/14
Two weeks remain in the N.F.L. season, and the postseason picture is still wide open. Eleven teams have been eliminated, and four teams – the Colts, Patriots, Broncos and Cardinals — have guaranteed themselves a playoff berth. Here, we walk you through the possibilities for all the teams that have not yet been eliminated.

by Matthew Fairburn, 12/19/14
The Bills have played the Broncos and Packers in consecutive weeks and have to travel to New England in the final week of the season to play the Patriots. But in order for that game against the Patriots to mean something, the Bills need to take care of business on the road against the Raiders. On paper, the 2-12 Raiders look like a team the Bills should beat, but that's exactly the type of trap Buffalo is trying to avoid.


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Our Contribution

Judged on a Sliding Scale

by Bill Pucko, 12/8/14

It wasn't a play that'll turn up on the highlight reels. It wasn't necessarily a game changer.

In the second quarter of the Bills at Denver game, Buffalo faced a third and one Buffalo from the Broncos 25. It was a big play at the time. Quarterback Kyle Orton got flushed out of the pocket and half-heartedly ran with the ball. Rather than make every effort to pick up the yard and a first down on the scramble, Orton simply gave up. He went into an early slide for a two yard loss. Buffalo settled for a field goal.

Now there's something to be said for self-preservation, but to quote the game announcers, "Don't you have to at least try to make that?"

Well don't you? The play spoke volumes about Orton and how he'll be perceived as a guy who doesn't really care.

It is reminiscent of a play in a Yankees vs. Red Sox baseball game ten years ago. You remember it. Derek Jeter flew headlong into the stands to catch a foul ball. He came out bloody but with the baseball. In the other dugout, Nomar Garciaparra never so much as got up off the bench. That play helped define both. Derek was deified. Nomar was on the fast track out of Boston, traded that season even as the rest of the team wound up winning the World Series. Forget that the guy won a couple of batting titles. He lacked Jeter's passion for the game.

On Sunday night, New England quarterback Tom Brady, every bit as nimble as Orton, was faced with a similar situation. It was third and five against the San Diego Chargers. Brady slipped away and made it unchallenged. The future Hall of Famer jumped to his feet to signal a first down for his team.

You never really know how or when you're going to be judged. Sometimes it's fair, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it sticks. Kyle Orton broke a Buffalo franchise record by completing 37 passes. His 57 attempts tied a Bills record. But more than any of those 37 completions or 57 attempts, the play he gave up on is the one we'll remember.


from 5/21/14

Tyler Ennis' game likely would have benefited from another season or two in college, but as a possible lottery pick, he probably made the right decision from a financial standpoint.

from 5/20/14
Both Toronto and Minnesota jumped five places this week, with the Blue Jays continuing an impressive rise up the rankings. Toronto is the only team in the AL East with a positive run differential, thanks in large part to the division's best offense -- the Blue Jays have scored the third-most runs in the AL and lead the league in home runs.



by Dave Richard, 12/19/14
It's Week 16, which means most of you are playing in your leagues' Super Bowls. I'm in three myself. Let's get to work!

by Nick Mensio, 12/16/14
C.J. Spiller (collarbone) was activated from short-term I.R. on Monday. It was his first week eligible to return. It remains unclear if he’ll play in Week 16. Fred Jackson has been dominating touches in the Buffalo backfield of late, but Spiller would likely cut into it against the Raiders.