Month: February 2018

Burke leads Knicks past Magic to end 8-game losing streak

The second half, not so much.

Magic: Rookie F Isaac Austin, who has not played since Dec. 26 due to a sore right ankle, will play in a NBA G League game Friday night. … Vucevic had missed 23 games with a fractured left hand. … Gordon had missed nine games (and the All-Star Slam Dunk contest) with a strained left hip flexor.

“The defense was bad, really bad in the first quarter,” Kanter said. “Coach came into the locker room and said one thing: `We are not going to watch any film. Just go out there and get loose and start the second half with energy.’ We have enough guys to shoot and score the ball. The most important for us right now is defense.”

“I get criticized for not playing defense. I have accepted that in the past. I’m not accepting it now,” Burke said. “I know I’m quick enough to play defense, I have the mentality to play defense and I know I can be a pest on the ball.”

While he didn’t play a single game in 2017 and has more mileage under his belt than most quarterbacks with 76 career starts, Andrew Luck is a singular presence who can spark an immediate turnaround. We saw this in 2012 when he teamed with first-year head coach Chuck Pagano to take a 2-14 team and push it to an 11-5 record as a rookie. He’ll have a similar task ahead of him in 2018, assuming he’s back to 100 percent after rehabbing the shoulder injury that cost him this past season.

2019 marks the first time the game has been played in Atlanta since 2000, when Tennessee’s Kevin Dyson was stopped half a yard short from giving the world its first-ever Super Bowl overtime. It will be the third time the game has gone to Georgia’s capital and the first to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The stadium is less than 1 year old, but it’s no stranger to big games. MBS played host to 2017’s SEC Championship Game, which pushed the Georgia Bulldogs into the College Football Playoff over the Auburn Tigers. One month later, it was the setting for the CFP National Championship Game, where Alabama knocked off the Bulldogs in overtime after an epic comeback.jaguars_097-223x223

Super Bowl pregame show 2018: Performers and schedule of events

The Super Bowl is a massive event, with the entire week leading up to it being filled with happenings and as many ways as humanly possible for the NFL — and its sponsors — to make money. The festivities have been in full swing for some time now, but there will be one more big event before the game itself: the pregame show.

The majority of the expert panel here at SB Nation is taking the defending champions, with only Harry Lyles Jr. and Ryan Van Bibber thinking upset.

Two weeks ago, Geoff Schwartz, Jeanna Thomas, and Joel Thorman all correctly picked the Patriots and Eagles to win at home in the conference championships. All three are picking the Patriots to repeat as champions.

But no one at SB Nation did better over the course of the entire season than Lyles. His 175-91 record was a full three games better than anybody else, so his pick of the Eagles comes with a little extra weight.

Philadelphia will start Nick Foles, who took over at quarterback when Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury in December. But the Eagles’ best chance is to lean on their stingy defense Sunday.

Foles took over the starting role for the Eagles when Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL. He finished the game with 373 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and even caught a touchdown pass. It was the most prolific day of offense in Super Bowl history and the 41-33 final score was the second-most points ever scored in the big game.

The victory was the first Super Bowl title ever for the Eagles.

But it’s also OK to put aside the hate for a moment and appreciate just how ridiculously good these two have been for the last 17 years. To acknowledge that we’re not going to get to see this for too much longer. And admit that we might never see an NFL run like this ever again.

In less than three quarters, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles topped the record for combined yardage in a Super Bowl. The previous record was 929 — set way back in Super Bowl 22 — when Washington and the Denver Broncos met 30 years ago.bears_040-223x223

The relationship with the city is something Kapler wants the Phillies to embrace.

Because they’ve been through the ups and downs, they’ve displayed courage, they’ve come together as units, they know what it feels like to have people count them out and then to prove people wrong, he said.

Kapler said the Phillies’ video production staff put together a piece for the team over the weekend that included some highlights from the other sports teams in the city, as well as some footage from the movie Rocky spliced in and some highlights of their own players.

Rory McIlroy is no stranger to the mobocracy that chases Tiger Woods around a golf tournament, but even a player who’s teed it up many times with the aging superstar can’t believe how his boyhood idol deals with increasingly unruly crowds that may cost golf’s most popular player a few shots per event.

Indeed, McIlroy, who played the first two rounds of the Genesis Open with Woods and Justin Thomas, believes the hordes of spectators that move as one and cheer every Tiger swing, sometimes mid-stroke, may be detrimental to the former world No. 1’s scorecard.

But Hurney, who was named the interim GM the week before training camp after Dave Gettleman was fired, has been the front-runner throughout the process, according to sources.

The team had tentative plans to announce the new general manager two weeks ago before the allegations were made against Hurney but put them on hold while the NFL investigated.

Hurney’s ex-wife withdrew the complaint after the judge denied a temporary restraining order during an ex parte hearing in which only Jeanne and her attorney appeared.

On Friday evening, the gold, silver and bronze medals in men’s figure skating will be won and lost at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The free skate, known by many as the long program, is the second part of the competition following the short program held on Friday.bears_026

Fantasy managers noticed his late-season breakthrough, but in the end his seasonal ERA was just 4.23.

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox: His slight drop in average fastball velocity probably had a lot to do with his strikeout rate declining to a frighteningly low 19.0 percent in his seven big league starts in 2017, but bear in mind that he also had a well-better-than-league-average 11.4 percent swinging-strike rate that suggests he has considerable room for growth in the strikeout category in 2018.

A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves: Granted, it occurred in only 60 total batters faced, but Minter’s 19.4 percent swinging-strike rate was the fourth highest of anyone in baseball last season who faced at least that many batters. Injuries, including a 2015 Tommy John surgery, have kept him from tallying a lot of innings as a pro, but he already might have the most natural talent of anyone in the Braves’ bullpen.

Luke Weaver, St. Louis Cardinals: Weaver’s underlying metrics suggested he pitched way better than that — his strikeout-to-walk rate alone was 4.93-1 — and he had one of the higher ground ball rates (51.7 percent) of any pitcher to meet all of the non-TBF command criteria.

We’re back to everything I’ve been talking about over the last few years. It lets me know that everything I’ve been saying has been correct for her to be having that type of reaction. We will definitely NOT shut up and dribble. I’m definitely not going to do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to the kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and need somebody to lead them out of the situation they’re in.

It’s more about maintaining his skills gains than actually improving, but a push to capture the third-in-line role (behind David Robertson) would help him better fill the holds column, and if he can somehow work his way into next-in-line status, he’d be an Aroldis Chapman injury away from regular saves and potential top-10 fantasy closer value.

Fast-forward to 2017, and noted physicist Alan Nathan wrote A Humidor at Chase Field: What’s Up With That? after the Diamondbacks announced their intentions. In this, Nathan revisited previous work published in 2011, corroborating those findings using Statcast data. Speaking in current parlance, Nathan determined using humidor-stored balls drops the mean exit velocity 2 mph. Further, he concluded homers should decline 25 to 50 percent in Chase Field.

Such a huge drop sent shock waves throughout fantasy baseball. How will this affect Arizona hitters and pitchers? Where should they be ranked?

A reduction in home runs is only part of the puzzle. Lowered exit velocity influences all batted balls. The better grip could lead to more whiffs and fewer walks. With respect to pitching, the challenge is deciphering how Chase Field will play in terms of runs.
royals_016

Brady admits his personal life affected him in 2016.

His Deflategate battle against the NFL reportedly ended when it did only because Brady had a more important battle with which to concern himself back home.

Brady was willing to give up that fight in the name of personal priorities. There’s no reason to believe they would not trump an unnecessarily long playing career, either. And we know very well how Gisele feels about the matter.

But Brady also witnessed the physical deterioration Manning experienced through his last couple of seasons.

“Football is such a physical sport, and every game could be your last game,” Brady told reporters this week. “It’s the reality of the sport, so I’d love to plan for those things. I try to work hard at the things I need to for my body to feel good week after week and year after year.

McVay led Los Angeles from a 4-12 season in 2016 to an 11-5 record in 2017. He was the favorite to be named the league’s best coach for a while. It helped him out that Gurley broke out with 2,093 yards from scrimmage which earned him the offensive player of the year award. Donald anchored the team’s defense tallying 11 sacks and five forced fumbles on the way to being named the league’s best defensive player.

As for the Saints, it was the first time since 1967 a team has swept the offensive and defensive rookie of the year awards. Lattimore was a first-round pick out of Ohio State while Kamara was taken in the third round out of Tennessee. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was also named the Clutch Performer of the Year.

The Super Bowl in 2018 seems relatively easy to predict if one goes by the odds. The Patriots opened as 5 1/2-point favorites over the Eagles in Super Bowl 52, set to be played Sunday in Minneapolis. So of course the majority of SN’s experts are picking New England to beat Philadelphia. But not all.

Super Bowl picks and predictions are the bottom lines during the two-week hype train that is Super Bowl analysis. The matchup will be dissected and previewed to no end. Will Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots pad the numbers that make up their dynasty? Will the Eagles, with Nick Foles in position to become one of the most unlikely Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in history, shock the world and win their first Super Bowl?bills_028

They’re all full of it to varying degrees, but none more than Roger Goodell’s NFL and his dutiful adjutants, the league’s compliant TV networks.

What’s ladled out — make that shoveled — as social altruism has formed Mount Manure, built on public relations cons and high-definition, high-in-additives baloney.

The annual presentation of NFL games played on Thanksgiving — up to three since 2006, instead of two, to maximize TV rights and get-out-there-and-shop commercial revenues — comes wrapped in home-and-hearth values with good wishes from “our family to yours.” And it’s self-evident nonsense.

“Her red bra was all that was supposed to show, no nipple, no exposure,” the insider said. “It was meant to be a little racy, but nobody meant for her breast to show. It became a big deal because Justin grabbed the costume much too hard and, instead of pulling the one small part, he tore the bra part, too.” (Representatives for Timberlake did not return calls for comment.)

Behind the scenes, there was confusion, as MTV executive producer Salli Frattini, recalled to ESPN The Magazine in 2014: “There was lots of chaos in the [production truck, and we played it back and we were like, ‘Oh, s – – t. What just happened?’ ”

New kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who spent time in six NFL training camps over the past five seasons before finally getting a shot to play this week, was the star of the game for Oakland. The former Cal kicker went 4 for 4 on the day, hitting field goals from 20, 52, 52 and 43 yards in the win.

It’s fitting that the Raiders went with a kicker who has such an unusual backstory because the Raiders won in an unusual way. Going into the season, the biggest question in Oakland had to do with whether or not their defense would actually be able to stop anyone.

We know the Raiders can win a shootout, but can they punch you in the mouth and win with defense?

In 2003, Houston Oilers defensive end Elvin Bethea made a rather impolitic confession as he was about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He admitted he rarely watches NFL games.
bills_002

The storm in Minnesota that dropped more than a foot of snow on campus kept Northwestern from traveling the night before the game.

The well-rested Wildcats arrived about eight hours before tipoff and wore down the banged-up Gophers with a seasoned, spirited rally.

Bryant McIntosh and Vic Law scored 18 points apiece for Northwestern, leading the comeback Tuesday from a 10-point deficit to beat reeling Minnesota 77-69.

“Everyone knows the struggles we’ve had throughout the year to try to find ourselves as a team. We feel like in the last two weeks we’re starting to play good basketball,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “This was a big game.”

Scottie Lindsey added 15 points, Dererk Pardon pitched in 10 points and eight rebounds and Law pulled down 13 rebounds himself for the Wildcats (13-9, 4-5 Big Ten), who won their second straight game after losing five of their previous seven contests.

“I think we need to hold everybody accountable a little more, and I think that’s the biggest think right now, if guys ain’t doing the right job, they need to come out the game,” Thomas had said after the Thunder loss.

Dwyane Wade also called for further accountability; however, his message was aimed more at the players, stating “can’t no one be sensitive” if the coaching staff singled them out.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that the defense turned around after the team selected defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. He’s ranked the 23rd-best edge rusher per PFF with the 10th-highest “Pass Rushing Productivity” rating — which measures pressure created on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks — from the right side.

With 13 picks in the 2018 draft — including five in the first two rounds — and nearly $59 million in available salary-cap space, the offense almost certainly will improve with investments in a franchise quarterback and other supporting cast members.

What the Browns have built to date, though, clearly hasn’t worked. So it’s unsurprising the team announced it had relieved Sashi Brown of his duties as the team’s executive vice president of football operations.

Instead of asking, “Given how links are distributed around the web, how relevant is each site?” you can ask, “Given how wins are distributed around this network, how good is each team?”
jaguars_005

Sean McVay became a top NFL coach of the year candidate in Year 1 with the Rams.

There is plenty to love about the coaching job Sean McVay has done this season with the Los Angeles Rams.

He helped Jared Goff become a franchise quarterback and running back Todd Gurley an MVP candidate. He took a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003 and instantly transformed it into an NFC powerhouse. He made the Rams matter in L.A. and around the NFL.

In Carolina, Devin Funchess — the remaining big-and-slow Panthers WR — gets a volume boost, though he’s a pale imitation of Benjamin. This trade doesn’t mean Funchess is suddenly faster or has better hands. And in fact, Greg Olsen could return from his broken foot in a few weeks, and Carolina may have a more speed-oriented receiving attack in mind, utilizing the likes of Curtis Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and Russell Shepard more. In a week without byes, Funchess needs to play better before he emerges from the ranks of the WR3s.

McDermott lands in a far different situation in Buffalo. The Bills have not made a playoff appearance since the 1999 season. Ryan spent two seasons there attempting to get the team back to the postseason and couldn’t, failing to deliver on his pledge to make the Bills an on-field bully. Things looked particularly scattered at the end of the season when the team opted to sit down quarterback Tyrod Taylor for contractual reasons but then sent interim coach Anthony Lynn out to explain a decision in which he had not participated.

Lynn was the favorite for the job heading in. McDermott was coming off a season in Carolina in which the Panthers’ defense, minus inexplicably jettisoned cornerback Josh Norman, ranked 21st in the league. Carolina, coming off its Super Bowl appearance, failed to make the playoffs. But McDermott’s good work in previous seasons was not forgotten. He, like Joseph, had the advantage of being available right now. Teams with coaching vacancies like that, especially given the intense competition to fill out coaching staffs with top assistants.cowboys_097

When I think back on my seven years playing for Coughlin, it all comes down to attention to detail and preparation.

Two teams promoted their own offensive coordinators: the New York Giants with Ben McAdoo and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Dirk Koetter. Three hired someone else’s offensive coordinator: the Cleveland Browns with Cincinnati’s Hue Jackson, the Dolphins with Chicago’s Adam Gase and the Philadelphia Eagles with Kansas City’s Doug Pederson. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly, the offensive-minded head coach fired by the Eagles. The Tennessee Titans made their former offensive assistant turned interim coach, Mike Mularkey, their full-time coach.

O’Hara: It was stressed constantly that although you can’t win the game on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, you can certainly lose it. That was driven home from the time I got there in 2004 until I retired. To be prepared for any situation gave us great confidence heading into any contest, let alone Super Bowl XLII against Belichick and the Patriots. I specifically remember one instance of this in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLII.

“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has since gone on to wage his own war against Goodell and fellow owners, said in October. “I care about a lot of things, but our ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch games. At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing and that’s playing football.

“If all this makes you stronger to represent messages, let’s don’t do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL.”

“It’s pretty obvious that getting public financing for a stadium in the state of California is very, very difficult,” Carter said in a phone interview. “It’s been the crux of the Chargers’ problem in San Diego for a very long time. Are the Chargers better off in L.A.? Maybe marginally so. But that’s compared to what has become a contaminated situation for them in San Diego. It’s a better option. It may not be the ultimate option.”

The Rams spent this season playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Chargers’ temporary home for the 2017 and ’18 seasons will be the StubHub Center in Carson, where they will have a seating capacity of around 30,000.
cowboys_055

The Steelers dedicated the victory to Ryan Shazier, Ron Cook writes.

The Steelers’ crazy victory Sunday night might end up being a huge win. Pittsburgh seemed to be dead late Sunday, down by two possessions in the fourth quarter, with a defense the Ravens’ running game was shredding. They had an emotional week, playing six days after linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a harrowing spinal injury. But somehow, behind 500 yards from Ben Roethlisberger, more than 200 of which went to Antonio Brown, the Steelers pulled it out, 39-38.

It clinched the AFC North for Pittsburgh. More important, it helped protect their first-round bye. The Steelers will play the Patriots next week in a showdown that will decide the top seed. If the Steelers had lost, and for most of the second half it seemed like they would, they would have been in danger of falling into a tie with the Jaguars and out of the second seed. Now, their bye is pretty secure.

Smith-Pelly did not protest during the anthem before the Capitals game on Monday.

This isn’t the first time that the anthem protests crossed into a league known for its more conservative fan base. Last month, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to participate in the protest.

I’m kneeling, Maxwell told reporters after his first anthem protest, for the people who don’t have a voice.

The NFL declined to comment Sunday through a spokesman.

No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making, the CBA says, adding that applies to whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player and whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player, among other things.

The CBA also says: The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth бн above.

cowboys_040