Adding Damon Harrison (98) and Olivier Vernon (54) to the defensive line was a key step in the rejuvenation of the Giants defense

The overhaul happened in the span of an offseason, with five free-agent acquisitions, a first-round pick and several undrafted free-agent finds. The defensive rebuild was spearheaded by general manager Jerry Reese, assistant general manager Kevin Abrams, vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross and their scouting staff. Together they pulled off the improbable; some might have even said the impossible prior to this season.

Mens Drew Brees Jersey The Giants’ front-office brass hit on all three of their major offseason signings. Jenkins made the Pro Bowl and the other two were deserving. Vernon led the team in sacks with 8.5 and Harrison led all defensive tackles with 86 tackles, including six for a loss.

It begins Sunday against a Packers team they already lost to earlier this season in Green Bay.

RB Paul Perkins. The rookie has increased his rushing total in each of the past six games. He even made his first career start in Week 17 against the Redskins, when he became the Giants’ first 100-yard rusher of the season. If Perkins can give the Giants any sort of rushing attack (they had 54 yards rushing as a team in their first meeting with the Packers), it will help open passing lanes against a depleted secondary that can be exploited. And Packers all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be kept off the field.
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Their defense plays at an extremely high level. They’ve held three of their past four opponents to 10 points or fewer, and two of those teams (Cowboys and Redskins) were top-10 offenses. So are the Packers. If the Giants keep Green Bay and Rodgers in check and under 20 points, Manning & Co. will leave Lambeau Field with a win. Even during the final three games of their six-game winning streak, Green Bay has given up 24 points or more. The Packers are an average team (5-5) when they don’t score 30 points this season.

World Juniors 2017 results: Russia ends Denmark¡¯s impressive run with a 4-0 win

The most impressive World Juniors run for Denmark in years ended without a goal.

Russia shut out the upstart Danes in the 2017 World Junior Championships quarterfinals on Monday, earning a 4-0 win and a ticket to the tournament semifinals for the seventh year in a row.
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Russia will face the winner of the United States and Switzerland game.

Goalie Ilya Samsonov wasn¡¯t tested much, stopping all 14 shots Denmark put on him for his first shutout of the tournament. Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov continued his impressive tournament, scoring twice in the win.

Denmark¡¯s power play ultimately failed them, going 0-for-6 on the day. The Danes finish the tournament with just three goals on 20 power play chances. The quarterfinals appearance was just the third in the country¡¯s history.
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This is the most savage thing I¡¯ve seen on a basketball court in months. Kris Dunn really dribbled left, ran right, and ended up past Napier with the ball in his hands. Dunn could have magically teleported from one side to the other, and Napier would have been less confused about how it happened. LOOK AT HIS FACE.

That¡¯s the look of a guy who just realized the girl he was flirting with all night just walked out of the club with another dude. It¡¯s the look of someone who realized he forgot his wife¡¯s birthday. It¡¯s someone who just thought to himself, ¡°You know, maybe the bees are dying at an alarming rate globally.¡± It¡¯s Level V trauma. Please, doctors, you might need to resuscitate this man. Break out the defibrillator, because his heart stopped beating.

There’s an entire mythological universe I’ve created

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That summer, director Spike Lee offered Kobe the role of Jesus Shuttlesworth in the movie “He Got Game.” The role was perfect — top high school basketball player must choose between getting his estranged father’s prison sentence reduced by playing college ball at the governor’s alma mater or going to the school of his choice.

“We were kids,” said his high school friend, Kevin Sanchez. “We still listened to our parents back then.”

In 2000, Kobe released a corny rap song — “K.O.B.E.,” featuring Tyra Banks — that absolutely bombed. He was dropped from his record label soon after. Only embarrassing YouTube videos of Kobe performing at All-Star Weekend in a leopard print hat and leather suit remain of his rap career.

¡°There’s an entire mythological universe I’ve created.¡±
– KOBE BRYANT
“I was like super shocked when he came out with that K.O.B.E song,” Sanchez said. “That really wasn’t him.”
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Sanchez was one of the best rappers in Philadelphia back in the 1990s. He’d hang with Kobe at lunch, after school, working with him on his rhymes. They’d find battles on South Street, in the Gallery (an underground mall), at Temple University or in this barbershop on N. 54th and Wynnefield Avenue. Kobe’s rap name was “The Eighth Man.”

“I was a battle MC. I hunted every top MC in the city and battled them,” Sanchez said. “He’d come with me and watch me just destroy everyone.”

After high school, they started a rap group called Cheizaw, signed a record deal with Sony and spoke on the phone almost every day. “We’d freestyle for hours. He could beatbox,” Sanchez said. “I remember when he blocked [Michael] Jordan’s shot. He was going crazy. He called up and was like, ‘I need to be charged up. I need to freestyle for like 45 minutes.”

Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings came up very empty against the Packers on Saturday.

Think again about what happened here. Zimmer — who coached Deion Sanders and Darren Woodson in Dallas — volunteered the fact that Rhodes was supposed to cover Nelson, until players decided on their own plan. Newman — who was a rookie when Zimmer became the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, who followed the coach to Cincinnati and Minnesota, who lobbied for Zimmer as a head coach and once said the coach could be enshrined in Canton based on what he had done to make teams better — apparently was part of a group that decided not to listen to him in this instance.
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Evidently, so was Rhodes, whose development into a Pro Bowl corner has largely been on Zimmer’s watch, and who said after the game the Vikings’ defensive backs settled on the plan not during the game, but in practice last week.
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“We felt as a team, as players, we came together, and we felt like we’d never done that when we played against the Packers,” he said. “Us as DBs felt like we could handle him. That’s how we felt as DBs, that we could stay on our side and cover him. In the beginning, we’d always played against them and played our sides, we never followed, so that’s what we felt as DBs. That’s what we went with.”

Because of injuries to each player, Rhodes hadn’t faced Nelson since Nov. 23, 2014, so it’s tough to use history as a benchmark. But that isn’t the main point here. Players whom Zimmer has developed, who would be seen as some of the coach’s star pupils, suddenly decided not to follow a game plan — and apparently not to tell Zimmer, defensive coordinator George Edwards nor defensive backs coach Jerry Gray about it. Did they lose faith in the scheme after a 34-6 loss to the Colts last Sunday? Did they think their ideas wouldn’t be heard if they approached coaches with them?

Tony Romo asked a mic’d up Ezekiel Elliott ‘Did you just jump in the Salvation Army Bucket?’

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott was mic’d up when he celebrated a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by jumping into a giant Salvation Army kettle behind the end zone. Somehow, this makes a truly fun touchdown celebration even more delightful.

Elliott is congratulated by several teammates, including Tony Romo.

“Did you just jump in the Salvation Army Bucket?” Romo asked, laughing.

“Yeah,” Elliott said.

“You’re stupid,” Romo replied with a good-natured shove.

“I had to,” Elliott says. “It’s classic.”

Elliott comes to an important realization after he sees the replay of the celebration.

“Hey, I just broke the rookie touchdown record,” Elliott said.

We see this play out every draft with quarterbacks. Some 6’6 schmuck who can’t hit the broad side of a barn moves up on draft boards because scouts hear the Six Million Dollar Man sound effect when they see his throwing motion and he can palm a pumpkin. Seems lots of scouts and GMs prioritize quarterbacks looking the part over their actual play. They are more concerned with how well a quarterback can wear a suit than what he can do in pads.

Granted evaluating college players, especially quarterbacks, is no easy task. It’s an inexact science. That shit is hard. There’s only about half a dozen people on the planet who are really good at being NFL quarterbacks.

But with Osweiler the red flags were there. I personally would have been extremely reluctant about entrusting a guy who has a tattoo with a glaring grammatical error to excel at the most cerebral position in all of sports. But hey … he’s 6’7.

On the other end of the quarterback evaluation spectrum we have Dak Prescott. After a two game slump, Dak got back on track with that whole “exceeding expectations” thing he’s been doing this season.

Dak with his best Russell Wilson impression with 32 completions and not hitting 300 yards.

Week 15 fantasy football inactives watch: Who’s in, and who’s out?

To help you set your lineups and avoid starting a player who won’t take the field, we will post fantasy-relevant updates and analysis here as NFL teams release their Sunday inactive lists before kickoff. Any rankings cited in this column come from our ESPN Fantasy staff ranks.

Have a tough call to make in DFS? Our experts debate players with similar salaries across multiple positions to help you decide on the best picks.

Fantasy football cheat sheet: Start and sit tips
All of the best fantasy football advice and relevant information for Week 15 from our Insider experts, and all in one place.
Ruled out before Sunday

RB Darren Sproles (concussion), WR Marquess Wilson (groin), WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion), LB Derrick Johnson (Achilles), WR Donte Moncrief (hamstring), S Harrison Smith (ankle), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle), WR Julio Jones (toe), WR Danny Amendola (ankle), LB Brandon Marshall (hamstring), S Karl Joseph (toe), RB Melvin Gordon (hip), RB James Starks (concussion)

Kalif Raymond (3:05 p.m.): Raymond, who has averaged 10.2 yards per punt return over the last two games, is a surprise inactive today for the Broncos. Jordan Norwood, whose three fumbles on punts this season were a large reason why Raymond was activated in the first place, will likely get a chance at special teams redemption.

San Francisco 49ers (2:40 p.m.): Colin Kaepernick is still the No. 1 quarterback for the 49ers, but the identity of his backup has changed. For the first time this season, Christian Ponder will be active for the team, with Blaine Gabbert sitting Week 15 out.

DeAngelo Williams (11:58 a.m.): There had been a lot of talk about Williams returning from his knee injury this week, but he will miss his sixth straight game, despite not having been listed on the Pittsburgh injury report headed into the weekend. Le’Veon Bell owners who might have had some butterflies about some of his workload getting stolen by Williams need not fear.

Indianapolis Colts (11:55 a.m.): With both Denzelle Good (concussion) and Joe Reitz (back) being inactive for today’s game, the Colts will have to start three rookies on the offensive line: Joe Haeg, Ryan Kelly and Le’Raven Clark. As a result, Andrew Luck may not have as much time to throw the ball downfield as usual.

Adrian Peterson (11:50 a.m.): As previously reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Vikings running back has been activated for today’s game, and will start for the Minnesota Vikings. Matt Asiata, who had been questionable to play with an ankle injury, is also active, and should split time in the backfield with both Peterson and Jerick McKinnon.

Chicago Bears (11:45 a.m.): NT Eddie Goldman (ankle) reinjured an ankle that had previously caused him to miss six weeks of action this season, and will not play in Week 15. The defense will also be without CB Bryce Callahan (knee).

Theo Riddick (11:40 a.m.): A wrist injury will indeed keep the Detroit running back out of action today. Dwayne Washington is likely to get (pardon the pun) the lion’s share of carries in the backfield, though Zach Zenner (concussion) is active.

Benjamin is merely a low-end WR3 until we see some more consistency from him and the entire Panthers offense

Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers: See Newton, Cam. Benjamin needed a terrific catch to score last week but still caught only two passes and, prior to last week, had gone eight straight games with single-digit points. Again, with the Seahawks defense back at home and at full strength finally, I think this is a long day for the Panthers and their players. Benjamin is merely a low-end WR3 until we see some more consistency from him and the entire Panthers offense.

Allen Robinson, Jaguars: With just 11 targets total to Robinson in the past two games, it’s clear Blake Bortles is really bortling his relationship with A-Rob. Robinson has just five receptions in those two weeks (though one of them was a touchdown) and this is, shall we say, not a great matchup for a passing offense that is struggling.

Which wide receivers have the easiest and toughest matchups in Week 13? Check out the downloadable PDF cheat sheet listing every matchup to help with your fantasy football decisions.

Also, be sure to take advantage of our Roster Advisor tool to get an edge on your opponents. And for those taking part in the Eliminator Challenge, you can get an edge here, too, with the Survivor Guide.

Our weekly ESPN Insider cheat sheet provides a rundown of the greatest hits from all of our Insider fantasy football content. In this file, you’ll find answers to the top questions of the week, along with injury updates, matchup advantages and wild-card plays from Eric Karabell, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Matt Bowen, Scott Kacsmar and Mike Clay. It’s all the best tips, distilled into one handy file.

Some things you can’t predict — like the Dallas Cowboys losing by one in the opener and then rattling off 11 wins in a row with a rookie fourth-round quarterback leading the way.

The Cowboys did it again Thursday night, escaping with a 17-15 win on the road in Minnesota to keep the win streak alive. It was a game that didn’t feature huge stats by anyone, but Ezekiel Elliott (86 yards rushing and a touchdown) and Dez Bryant (four catches, 84 yards and a touchdown) both came out just fine.

For those things that are a little easier to predict than the magical Cowboys season, our team of Insiders has a whole bunch of tips and nuggets you don’t want to miss.

Chiefs proud of Tyreek Hill on and off field

Chiefs coach Andy Reid repeated on Wednesday what has become his standard line when discussing Tyreek Hill of late, as the rookie wide receiver has become a larger part of the Kansas City offense.

In talking about Hill winning this week’s AFC offensive player of the week award after his two offensive touchdowns in Sunday night’s win over the Denver Broncos, Reid said he’s “more proud of him for what he’s doing off the field than on the field.”

Hill is on probation in Oklahoma because of a December 2014 incident, after which he pleaded guilty to punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend. The Chiefs drafted him in the fifth round anyway, sparking considerable controversy in Kansas City. With the passage of time, the criticism has diminished to an extent.

In addition to Brady and Gronkowski not practicing, wide receiver Julian Edelman also wasn’t spotted at Wednesday’s practice. He’s been managing a foot injury since Oct. 6.

Even worse is when there’s no emotion at all, a clear sign that players have already checked out. Newton says the Panthers, despite their record, still have the best locker room he’s ever experienced. With that one ingredient, even the pipe dream of a worst-to-first run after Thanksgiving remains alive. “That’s why the locker room is so important,” Rivera says. “There’s a direct correlation between how you do on the field and the pulse you feel from inside that room.”

Rivera’s room didn’t truly begin to take shape until January 2013. The Panthers had finished 7-9 in the 2012 season, and the clock was ticking on the second-year coach. Rivera invited a handful of team leaders to dinner in Charlotte. After a few appetizers, he asked them to do an autopsy on the season, focusing on the bad vibe in the locker room. The players responded with prolonged silence. “So again, ‘Guys, come on, what’s going on in there?'”

Rivera grew up in a military family-his father, Eugenio, served 32 years in the Army, including two tours in Vietnam-and he once had a group of retired Air Force pilots speak to the team.

At dinner, Rivera reminded his players about the story of how the pilots would peel off their ranks after every mission, throw them on the table and talk openly about one another’s performances. “Then the floodgates just opened,” Rivera says. “At first I was like, ‘Golly, screw you guys, why didn’t you tell me any of this during the season?'”