McCourty expects to be challenged by Rivers

537317.jpg

McCourty expects to be challenged by Rivers

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Philip Rivers threw one interception last year when the SanDiego Chargers hosted the New England Patriots in Week 7.

That interception was made by then-rookie cornerback DevinMcCourty. It was McCourtys first career interception.

Six more picks later, McCourty finished his standout rookiecampaign with seven total interceptions, and most certainly opened the eyes ofall quarterbacks and offensive coordinators around the league.

Now in his second season, McCourty is preparing to faceRivers and the high-powered Chargers offense for a second time, this Sunday atGillette Stadium.

Youve got to just compete, said McCourty on Thursday.This week, with Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd both being the receivers,theyre guys that can get vertical down the field as well. So weve got ourhands full again.

Thats what you kind of expect. In the NFL, you have morereceivers that are bigger guys and still can run very well and run good routes.So each week, youve got to be ready to go against top guys.

The Chargers are presumably saying the same thing aboutMcCourty, after the game he played against them last year, and the strongseason he finished with.

Still, McCourty believes teams are going to take theirchances, even if hes put himself on the map.

Last year I came in and I was a rookie, and I was asked thesame question as a rookie, Do you think theyll challenge you deep? And Isaid, Yea and they did, said McCourty. This year, with the guys we have upfront, I mean, of course, still, Im only in my second year, and we got Ras-IDowling out there with Kyle Arrington and me. Teams are going to take theirchances.

They have good receivers. They believe in their receivers.So theyre always going to take those chances down the field.

I dont believe in those kind of things, added McCourty.I dont think offenses or players look at what youve done before and say,You know what, were going to leave that guy alone today. As a corner, Iexpect each week to go out there and be challenged, because this week weregoing out there, and weve got Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson, with PhilipRivers. I dont think theyre going to look at me and say, Were not throwingover there.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.

AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

steelers_gians_leveon_bell_120416.jpg

AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

Click here for the complete story