Defences decisive in Broncos-Packers battle

Jay Asser 1/11/2015
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Peyton Manning will come up against Aaron Rodgers.

A match-up between Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning doesn’t hold the same weight this season as in years past, but the Denver Broncos’ defence has them entering an undefeated clash against the Green Bay Packers with reason for confidence.

While Green Bay has been balanced with both sides of the ball contributing to their flawless 6-0 mark, Denver has had to rely not on their future Hall of Fame quarterback to win their first six games, but instead on their dominant defence.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference
– NBA Preview: LeBron can be a kingmaker once more

Though the Packers’ 16.8 points allowed per game edges the Broncos’ mark of 17.0 for best in the league, Denver’s unit has enduring three interceptions by Manning that have been returned for touchdowns, accounting for 20 of their 102 total points allowed.

Teams have had difficulty moving the ball against the Broncos, who surrender the fewest yards per game in the league at 281.3 and are tied for most interceptions with 10.


The success of the defence has been needed with Manning throwing only two touchdowns to seven interceptions in the past two games, combined with the running game averaging just 85.0 yards to rank 31st.

To remain unbeaten, Denver will once again need their defence to come through against Rodgers.

“Our job is to stop their quarterback. Their job is going to be to stop ours,” Denver defensive end Antonio Smith said. “It will be a battle of the defences when you bring it back to the beginning.”

The meeting will be the fourth time in NFL history two undefeated teams have met this late in the year.

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Clippers’ Jordan brings added defensive strength

Jay Asser 31/10/2015
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Making his mark: DeAndre Jordan.

DeAndre Jordan has been a defensive force in the early stages of the season for the Los Angeles Clippers as they’ve begun the new campaign perfect with two wins.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference
– NBA: Timberwolves honour Saunders in victory

Jordan’s scoring has been sparse, but his impact in the paint by swatting shots and grabbing rebounds has fuelled the Clippers. The centre was particularly energised in the match-up with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, with six points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in 26 minutes as the Clippers won 104-88.

Jordan, of course, was almost a Maverick when he agreed to terms with the franchise to end his free agency in the summer, only to later change his mind and rejoin Los Angeles as his courting turned into a spectacle.

“It’s definitely an emotional game,” Jordan said of playing against Dallas. “The emotions were high obviously because it was our home opener. We wanted to give the fans what they missed.”

The only area Jordan didn’t hurt the Mavericks in was at the free throw line, where he went just 2-of-8 as Dallas intentionally fouled him at times.

Jordan’s off-season decision has poured petrol on the rivalry flames between the two teams, with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban taking shots before the team’s first meeting of the season.

Cuban claimed he “didn’t give a s*** about the Clippers,” while adding: “Look, the Clippers are the Clippers. You can change the players, you can change the owner, but the Clippers are who they’ve been for the last 30 years.”

Although, Dallas have the 2011 championship on Los Angeles, the Clippers have finished higher in the standings the past four years.

Jordan and his team-mates will expectedly get a hostile welcome when the teams meet again in Dallas on November 11.

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NFL: Lewis gives Tom Brady and the Patriots a new weapon

Jay Asser 31/10/2015
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Major asset: Dion Lewis.

Tom Brady’s assault on the NFL this season has been helped by his arsenal of weapons in the air game, including newcomer Dion Lewis.

– NBA team-by-team guide: Western Conference
– NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference
– NBA Preview: LeBron can be a kingmaker once more

The running back had 93 of Brady’s 356 passing yards in the 36-7 thrashing of AFC East foes the Miami Dolphins, all of which came in the first half on six catches.

Showing off his elusiveness, Lewis had 84 yards from catches, with a large chunk coming on his 16- yard touchdown, a 17-yard screen to pick up a first down on thirdand-16 and a 19-yard slip out of the backfield where he broke Miami linebacker Koa Misi’s ankles.

Lewis missed last week’s division clash with the New York Jets due to an abdominal injury, but looked as shifty as he had the rest of this season against the Dolphins.

“I’m just excited to be back out there,” Lewis said. “You know, missing last week, I was eager to get back out there with my guys and try and help the best way I can. Everybody was well prepared for this game coming off a short week, and we came to work.”

The Patriots left the ground work to bruiser LeGarrette Blount, who carried 17 times for 72 yards, but the 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis has also been an effective rusher when given the opportunity this year.

Lewis’ 220 yards on the ground make him one of just three players in the league with more than 200 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving, along with Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and New Orleans’ Mark Ingram.

“He’s a dynamic player,” team-mate Rob Gronkowski said. “The dude is unreal with the way he can move. I don’t know if anyone else can move like that, the way he can cut. He’s great to have on the team. He’s a great guy and it’s amazing to have him out there with us.”

Lewis has filled a major role in the offence which was vacated when space-back Shane Vereen signed with the New York Giants in the offseason.

The Patriots took a chance on Lewis with a futures contract last year after the 25-year-old missed the entire 2013 season with a fractured fibula and couldn’t find his way onto a roster in 2014.

Along with 5-foot-10, 200-pound wide receiver Julian Edelman, Lewis provides Brady a safety blanket underneath, contrasting with the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski, who leads the league with seven receiving touchdowns and ranks second with 13 grabs over 20 yards.

Now at 7-0, New England have an extended break before returning to face Washington in Week 9.

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