Articles By Rob Doster

Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-detroit-lions-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

This Green Bay vs. Detroit divisional pairing has shootout written all over it, as Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford will be flinging footballs all over Ford Field Sunday afternoon on FOX. The Packers arrive in Motown carrying some momentum thanks to their somewhat miraculous 31–24 comeback win over the Jets that allowed the Pack to avoid the dreaded 0–2 start. Meanwhile, the Lions, who looked impressive in toying with the Giants in a 35–14 Week 1 win, limp home following a thrashing at the hands of the Panthers in Charlotte. A narrative has yet to take hold in the wide-open NFC North, where all four teams are 1–1, but the winner of this one has an opportunity for a tiny bit of separation. 

 

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Detroit -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Ground Games Stuck in Neutral

Neither team has mounted anything resembling an effective rushing attack so far in this young NFL season. The respective rushing leaders — Eddie Lacy for the Packers (77 yards) and Joique Bell for the Lions (87 yards) — have yet to crack the century mark after two games. The Lions rank 28th in the NFL in rushing at 73.0 yards per game, while the Packers are only two spots better at 26th, with 80.0 yards per game. The good news for the Lions is that the Packers defense has been unable to stop the run, allowing 176.5 rushing yards per game to rank 31st in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Lions are second in the NFL in run defense, surrendering 57.5 yards per game so far. If Detroit can press this advantage and establish the ground game, its offensive options should open up considerably.   

 

2. Jordy and Megatron

The NFL’s current two leaders in receiving yardage will be on the field for this one. Yes, one of them is Calvin Johnson. No, he's not No. 1. That would be Packers wideout Jordy Nelson, who has 292 receiving yards in two games, including a nine-catch, 209-yard shredding of the Jets secondary during the Packers' comeback win. Aaron Rodgers targeted Nelson 16 times on Sunday, the most attention he has ever lavished on one receiver in a single game. And Nelson did his part, averaging 9.7 yards after the catch. It's early, but Nelson is on pace for a 144-catch, 2,336-yard season and is staking his claim to be the second-best receiver in the NFC. Johnson remains the gold standard among receivers, but Nelson could be in the process of making history for the Green and Gold.

 

3. Will Tate Be Golden?

The Lions acquired Golden Tate during the offseason to provide Megatron and the Lions offense with a complementary piece, one that would relieve the pressure on Johnson and give quarterback Matthew Stafford another target. The Panthers proved last Sunday that taking Tate away as an option is an effective approach to stopping the Lions offense, primarily in the sense that it forces an over-reliance on Johnson. "When you can take away the other reads and guys who can hurt you on offense, it does kind of make you one-dimensional," Panthers safety Thomas DeCoud said. "And then they are going to try and feed their big receiver, their big target and now we can key in on that and be ready." Look for Stafford to try to find Tate in an attempt to open up other facets of the offense.

 

Final Analysis

 

The Panthers provided a blueprint for beating the Lions, turning them into a one-dimensional offense. While that dimension — throw the ball up and let Megatron go get it — can be effective, the Lions must get production from the ground game to relieve pressure off of the Matthew Stafford-Calving Johnson combo. Aaron Rodgers remains an unstoppable force, but the Packers have been similarly one-dimensional, relying on frequent Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson hookups to bail them out. Whichever team shows more diversity has the upper hand, and given the Pack's lack of a run defense, that team could be the Lions.

 

Prediction: Detroit 31, Green Bay 28
Teaser:
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-19-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 19, 2014 - 10:58
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-18-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 18:

 

• With the new schedule gearing up, enjoy this slideshow of the loveliest ladies of fall TV, including the still-enticing Tea Leoni.

 

A sequel to Zoolander might actually happen. Of course, Hansel's not as hot as he once was.

 

Another classic Jeter commercial, courtesy of Gatorade.

 

Interesting story on former golf superstar-in-waiting Anthony Kim, who has all but disappeared.

 

• Artifact of the day: Tom Brady's resume from back when he wasn't sure he had a future in football. So where do you see yourself in five years, Mr. Brady?

 

• Inspirational story of the day: A Ravens player retired to give a kidney to his brother.

 

The Jameis Winston suspension raises serious red flags about the kid's judgment.

 

The earth swallowed up a soccer player mid-celebration.

 

A Braves fan tried to catch a home run ball with his hat. The results were disastrous for him, funny for the rest of us.

 

• Ever wonder how NFL ref Ed Hochuli maintains those guns of his? Wonder no more.

 

The director of the "Friday Night Lights" movie no longer allows his son to play football.

 

• Watch Brandon McCarthy's immaculate inning — nine pitches, nine strikes, three outs.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 10:44
Path: /nfl/tampa-bay-buccaneers-vs-atlanta-falcons-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

A stoppable force encounters a movable object, as the offense-challenged Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the Georgia Dome to face the virtually defenseless Atlanta Falcons in the second installment of “Thursday Night Football” on CBS. New Bucs coach Lovie Smith is still seeking his first win in his new job, but it's far too soon for Bucs fans to panic — Smith was 5–11 in his first season in Chicago before winning back-to-back NFC North titles. Tampa Bay likely faces a similarly challenging season given its 0–2 start, but good times could be ahead. 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Atlanta -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Time for a Return on the Josh McCown Investment

Josh McCown's spectacular performance for the 2013 Bears in relief of Jay Cutler — McCown bested his higher-profile counterpart in virtually every downfield passing stat in posting a 109.0 passer rating — earned the journeyman quarterback a big payday in Tampa Bay, but the investment has yet to yield dividends for the Bucs. In two games, the Tampa offense has produced only 31 points, and while McCown is completing a high percentage of his throws (67.9 percent), he's only 24th in the NFL in yards per attempt and has thrown only two TD passes to three interceptions. He has a pair of inviting downfield targets in Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans, both of whom stand 6-5, so look for McCown to test the suspect Falcons pass defense with some longer throws. Through two games, the Falcons are next-to-last in the NFL against the pass, surrendering 317.5 yards per game. 

 

2. The Matt Ryan Roller Coaster

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan followed the best game of his career with one of the worst. Ryan was spectacular in the opener against the Saints, completing 31-of-43 for 448 yards and three touchdowns, but away from the confines of the Georgia Dome, he suffered an untimely reversal against the Bengals, completing 24-of-44 passes for 231 yards and one touchdown against three interceptions. His lone TD came in the fourth quarter with the Falcons trailing 24–3 — garbage time, in other words. This follows a career-long home/road pattern for Ryan, who has a 97.7 career rating and 29 interceptions at home, compared to an 84.7 rating and 51 picks on the road. Fortunately for Ryan and the Falcons, he's back in the Dome and should have opportunities to get his numbers back on the right side of the curve.

 

3. Next Man Up

Injuries are an unfortunate fact of life in the NFL, but the Bucs have been simply devastated by the injury bug. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Mason Foster were hurt in the loss to the Rams, joining running back Doug Martin, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, defensive ends Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn and cornerback Michael Jenkins on a crowded, cluttered shelf. In all, five defensive starters were missing for the stretch run of the Rams loss. Running back Bobby Rainey took advantage of his opportunity in relief of Martin, rushing for 144 yards on 22 carries and catching three passes for 30 yards. Now, it's up to other subs to step into the void. "There's no excuse. Whoever's out there we believe in wholeheartedly," said cornerback Alterraun Verner. "Obviously, Gerald going down was a big blow, and some of the other guys from previous weeks. I mean, that's the game. Everybody knows that this game is going to have injuries and people going down. People have to step up."

 

Final Analysis

 

There's not a lot of pressure on the Bucs, who aren't burdened by expectations under a new regime that is still finding its footing amid an 0–2 start that already has fans thinking about the 2015 draft. The Falcons, on the other hand, have a sense of urgency. The Mike Smith/Matt Ryan duo can't afford another 4–12 debacle, putting a home game against a struggling opponent into the must-win category. Look for the Falcons to hold serve against the injury-depleted visitors.  

 

Prediction: Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 17
Teaser:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Graeme McDowell, Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2014-4-questions-graeme-mcdowell
Body:

After a miracle comeback at the Ryder Cup Matches at Medinah in 2012, Europe is the prohibitive favorite to retain the Cup on home turf, as Tom Watson takes a shorthanded American team to Scotland for the most pressure-packed event in golf. Can a U.S. team led by crafty veteran Phil Mickelson and young gun Rickie Fowler upset a European powerhouse led by four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup maestro Sergio Garcia?

 

Athlon caught up with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, a Ryder cup veteran with a match record of 5-5-2 in three Cups, to get his perspective.

 

How is the pressure of the Ryder Cup compared to a major championship?

It’s very different. One’s individual pressure. Obviously, I had a chance to experience both things in the space of three or four months of each other (in 2010). Back nine of the U.S. Open and then coming down the stretch against Hunter (Mahan at the Ryder Cup). I can safely say it was ten-fold the pressure at the Ryder Cup. No doubt about it. You’re only letting yourself down by not taking care of it at a major championship. But you feel the fates of all your teammates and everything that goes into the Ryder Cup. And especially how passionate Europe is about the Ryder Cup. We’re certainly very, very into it.

 

Describe the experience of playing in a Ryder Cup.

I feel like I’ve experienced everything I can experience at the Ryder Cup. I’ve lost. I’ve won. I hit the last shot, I hit the first shot, I’ve played both sides of the Atlantic. At Gleneagles, I’ve made a promise to myself that I’m going to go and enjoy it. Try to shrug the pressure off a little bit. Play with my eyes open and take it all in and really embrace and enjoy as opposed to getting all tense and feeling like it’s pretty painful at times.

 

What about Gleneagles as a venue?

I think it will be a good venue. Weather is something we can’t control, and I’m sure it’ll be a talking point. But I think from a crowd’s point of view, Scottish fans are very educated and they love their golf and they will be absolutely fired up. First Ryder Cup (in Scotland) for many, many years. I’m expecting it to be pretty amazing. From a match play standpoint, the course is kind of irrelevant. Take Dove Mountain (former home of the WGC-Match Play Championship). That’s a golf course where you couldn’t play a stroke-play event. It would just be impossible. But it works for match play. The golf course can be irrelevant from a match play standpoint. It’s just ball against ball. Doesn’t matter if there is lots of rough or no rough. Long, short. Doesn’t really matter. Beautiful, not beautiful. Match play, the golf course is less relevant than it is at a major championship. I’m all for the Ryder Cup being at iconic venues. But it’s more about the people and the atmosphere and the experience and the matches.

 

You’ve played on two winning teams and one losing team. How do you view this one?

It’s something I’m very much looking forward to. A huge honor. I paced myself well this season, coming off good form in the summer, and I think I can be an instrumental part of the team. I’m getting to the veteran stage and I feel like I can definitely be a decent sort of leader for the young guys on the team.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 11:46
All taxonomy terms: Rickie Fowler, Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2014-4-questions-rickie-fowler
Body:

After a miracle comeback at the Ryder Cup Matches at Medinah in 2012, Europe is the prohibitive favorite to retain the Cup on home turf, as Tom Watson takes a shorthanded American team to Scotland for the most pressure-packed event in golf. Can a U.S. team led by crafty veteran Phil Mickelson and young gun Rickie Fowler upset a European powerhouse led by four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup maestro Sergio Garcia?

 

One of the keys to the U.S. effort, Rickie Fowler will be participating in his second Cup after a record of 0-1-2 in 2010 — but with four top-5 finishes in this year's majors under his stylish white belt. Athlon talked to Fowler for his perspective as the teams head to Gleneagles.

 

How is the pressure of a Ryder Cup different than a major?

It is different. I think the biggest ones for me, that kind of set me up for The Ryder Cup, it wasn't any of the professional events I played.  It was the Walker Cup experience, being in the team atmosphere. I think coming off and playing right out of college helped me, as well in 2010. So I'll still definitely be feeling the nerves this year as well, but I'm looking forward to it and pulling from the past experiences in 2010 and the two Walker Cups I have played.  It's a bit different when you are playing for a few other guys on the team, captain and wearing the red, white and blue.

 

Although you were not on the 2012 team, you sense any extra motivation to win it this year after what happened at Medinah?

You always want to go into those wanting to win, but with the way the last couple have gone, being on the losing side in '10 and then watching the guys come up short on the final day there at Medinah, yeah, it gives us a little fire to get it all together this year. I think the biggest thing is kind of get the team together, get everyone kind of on the same page. I know everyone's going to want to win, but bringing the team together is always big. I know Europe's always very strong at team camaraderie. Not that the U.S. doesn't get along, but I feel like we can work on getting the team together a little bit better and see if we can all pull together as a team and bring the cup home.

 

How tough was it not to be on the team the last time?

It was a struggle for me through that summer because my main goal that year was to make the Ryder Cup team. I was in position and was playing decent, and then I didn't make it well known, but after the fact, a lot of people knew that I was playing injured with my back that was giving me trouble. So it was a struggle just because I knew I could play well and I wanted to play well, and I wasn't able to because of the pain that my back was giving me and wasn't able to put myself in a position to make good swings. I'm definitely pleased with what I've done fitness-wise, and I've put myself in a position now where I'm locked up for the Ryder Cup team and I can go ahead and play.

 

What impact do you expect captain Tom Watson to have on the U.S. team?

I've gotten to know him a little bit. He's a living legend of the game. It will be cool to have him as a captain and it will be a lot cooler if we're able to bring the Cup back for him.

 

Teaser:
Ryder Cup 2014: Athlon Talks to Rickie Fowler
Post date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-17-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 17:

 

The top 35 cheerleading squads of the NCAA. This list will require extensive study to assess.

 

The Nats and Orioles clinched, leading to celebrations like the one in the photo above and the one seen here where Adam Jones smashes pies into fans' faces, and also conjuring visions of a Beltway World Series.

 

• No matter your opinion of Adrian Peterson, I think we can all agree that the Vikings are stumbling around cluelessly.

 

• In addition to a new contract, LeBron James also has new hair.

 

Greg Doyel caught up with the fainting goat kid from Arkansas State.

 

Blake Griffin hit Open Mic Night at the Laugh Factory. I'm afraid to watch it; let me know how he did.

 

A Cubs fan lost his wedding ring onto the field while giving high-fives. That's the most Cubs fan thing possible.

 

Watch Texas A&M punter Drew Kaiser campaign for the Heisman Trophy. If I had a vote, he'd get it.

 

Dwight Howard's problems with authority extend to red lights.

 

Lolo Jones' stint on Dancing with the Stars was … ill-fated.

 

• Why do celebrities even throw out first pitches? Charles Barkley bounced one last night.

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 10:45
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-16-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 16:

 

• Jessica Biel is guest-starring on "New Girl" tonight. Seems like a good excuse to link to this slideshow of some of her greatest on-screen moments.

 

• Redskins fans have this bizarre notion that Kirk Cousins is their savior. These t-shirts are just one example.

 

• Bad news for the NFC: Darren Sproles is running wild.

 

Jetes delighted an old lady in Tampa with a picture and a wave.

 

• Interesting stuff here: What schools give out multi-year scholarships?

 

• Bizarre play of the weekend: an Arkansas State fake punt in which a player acted like he was dead. Oh, and it was intercepted.

 

Eastern Kentucky's football intro video is worth the click. It's like The Matrix meets Tron.

 

The great Gus Johnson soccer experiment is over.

 

Serbia: No. 2 and loving it.

 

China has walking lanes for texters.

 

50 Cent is bodyguarding for Melo now.

 

• Mets phenom Jacob deGrom fanned the first eight batters he faced.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 11:41
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-15-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 15:

 

Congrats to Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2014. Although social media was not impressed with her talent, which consisted of banging cups on the floor while singing "Happy."

 

• We normally endorse ridiculous fan behavior and attire, but this Vikings fan crossed a line.

 

Colin Kaepernick got flagged for inappropriate language. He was more guilty of inappropriate second-half suckitude.

 

The Jets lost yesterday in the Jets-iest way possible.

 

The Chargers claim they "exposed" Richard Sherman, who responded via Twitter (although he refused to talk to the media).

 

Peyton expressed his displeasure with Julius Thomas rather openly.

 

A woman choked her husband for refusing to buy her a Cowboys hat. Them's Jerry Jones' kind of people.

 

Unintentional failed dunk faceplant or pre-planned pratfall? You make the call.

 

Some reporter tried to figure out how many times Derek Jeter has swung the bat in games. I think we've officially reached Peak Jetes.

 

An amorous LSU couple didn't account for gravity.

 

Interesting perspective from Charles Barkley on the Adrian Peterson situation.

 

• Watch Adam Jones destroy a camera with a foul ball, from the POV of the camera.

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, September 15, 2014 - 10:52
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/atlanta-falcons-vs-cincinnati-bengals-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Atlanta and Cincinnati, two teams riding the high of improbable Week 1 victories, will meet up in Paul Brown Stadium Sunday afternoon on CBS, and the winner will take an important early step toward playoff contention. The Bengals won a division game in a venue — Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium — where quarterback Andy Dalton had never won as a starter, while the Falcons shocked NFC South rivals (and popular Super Bowl picks) Drew Brees and the Saints with an offensive explosion in the Georgia Dome. 

 

Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Cincinnati -5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Matty Ice Stay Red-Hot?

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is merely coming off the best performance of his career in Atlanta's 37–34 overtime win over New Orleans. Ryan completed 31-of-43 passes for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. But it was some unexpected scrambling that really frustrated a helpless Saints defense that was able to sack the statuesque Ryan only once. Rushing for 15 yards on three carries, Ryan also extended a number of plays with some deft movement in the pocket, including sidestepping the rush on a 39-yard pass to Roddy White that led to an important field goal right before halftime. "He's played a lot of games, made a lot of plays for us," coach Mike Smith said after the game. "But I was really impressed with his ability to extend some plays by moving around in the pocket. And he was very, very accurate. When you have (568 yards) of total offense and 448 through the air, your quarterback is playing well." Now, the question becomes: Can he do it away from the comfort of the Georgia Dome?

 

2. A.J. Green: The AFC's Best Wideout

As long as Megatron keeps slicing through defenses for Detroit, the title of Best Wideout in the NFL is taken, but Green is staking a strong claim for Best of the Rest. Coming off a season stat line of 98-1,426-11, Green resumed his abuse of hapless defensive backs, burning the Ravens for six catches for 131 yards and a decisive 77-yard touchdown in Cincy's 23–16 win in Baltimore. Quarterback Andy Dalton's comfort level with his prime target is only growing; against the Ravens, Dalton was 6-of-8 for 131 yards and a touchdown when targeting Green. In only three-plus seasons, Green has 12 touchdown catches of 30 yards or longer, and that ability to produce the big play assures that Dalton will continue to look his way. Against a Falcons defense that surrendered 333 passing yards in Week 1, Green could run wild.

 

3. Protecting the Jungle

Paul Brown Stadium is suddenly one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. The Bengals have won nine straight regular-season games at home, and the Jungle will present a challenging setting for Atlanta's attempt to chalk up its first two-game winning streak since 2012. The Bengals' propensity for protecting their home turf is an important component of this new golden era for a team that is gunning for its fourth consecutive winning season, which would be a first in the history of a downtrodden franchise. If Cincinnati is to take the next step and win a playoff game, the Bengals need to play that postseason game at home, and protecting home turf during the regular season — especially against ostensibly weaker teams — is critical to reaching that goal. Of course, given the Bengals' surprising home playoff loss to San Diego last season, there are no guarantees. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Both defenses will be under the gun on Sunday. The Bengals allowed 423 yards to the Ravens and needed the cooperation of Joe Flacco & Co. via some well-timed mistakes to come out of Baltimore with a win. The Falcons needed every one of their 568 total yards against the Saints, because the defense was busy surrendering 472 yards and a number of big plays. The Bengals seem to have the edge in physicality, and given the Falcons' 1–7 road record in 2013, home should be very sweet indeed for Cincy on Sunday. 

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Atlanta 21
Teaser:
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-12-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 12:

 

• Plenty of weak matchups in college football this weekend, but the cheerleader matchups are pretty good.

 

There were an alarming number of purple No. 27 jerseys on display in Baltimore last night. Perhaps the news cycle is a little behind up there.

 

James Brown addressed the Ray Rice elephant in the room in an eloquent opening to CBS' Thursday night game.

 

An attempted celebratory mid-air bump sent a high school football coach flying.

 

Inspirational story of the day involves basketball player born with one hand.

 

Bill Simmons and his readers contemplate the ongoing employment of Roger Goodell.

 

Hey look — Tiger actually won something!

 

• Scary moment last night: Giancarlo Stanton got carted off in an ambulance after being beaned in the face. The beaner, Mike Fiers, offered a heartfelt apology via Twitter.

 

A Houston defensive back was apparently being controlled by a gamer with slow reflexes.

 

People showed up at a high school rivalry game wearing t-shirts featuring the mug shot of a student at the opposing school.

 

• First-pitch follies: Joakim Noah botched his first try, but got a mulligan and threw a strike.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 12, 2014 - 11:06
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-11-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 11:

 

• On a day for honoring America, it doesn't get much more American than the USC song girls.

 

Today, 11 Links celebrates the last living 9/11 rescue dog, 15-year-old Bretagne. That's a good, good doggie.

 

• Take a minute today and watch this video of Pat Tillman, which was recorded on Sept. 12, 2001.

 

• Thirteen years ago today, a Boston College lacrosse player was one of countless heroes.

 

• In their inimitably profane style, Deadspin calls for Roger Goodell's ouster.

 

The WSJ says the Ray Rice saga is just the latest example of the NFL's habit of trying to airbrush uncomfortable history.

 

Paul George made a fool of himself on Twitter. So much for the post-broken leg goodwill.

 

T.I. is USA Today's celebrity NFL picker this week.

 

An adorable baby bear had some serious fun with a flagstick on a golf course, then walked off with a ball.

 

• Note to self: Never call Mike Tyson a convicted rapist to his face.

 

Oscar Pistorius is not guilty of murder, but there's still a lesser charge pending.

 

• No matter your opinions of Dubya, his post-Sept. 11 World Series first pitch while wearing a flak jacket brought out the chill bumps.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 10:44
Path: /nfl/pittsburgh-steelers-vs-baltimore-ravens-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Baltimore and Pittsburgh, two old rivals that are seemingly in transition, are set to collide at M&T Bank Stadium for a critical AFC North matchup tonight on CBS that also will be simulcast on the NFL Network. The Ravens find themselves in virtual must-win mode after losing their home opener to division foe Cincinnati, but an important week of preparation has spiraled out of control with the nation's laser focus on the Ray Rice debacle and the team's (and head coach's) clumsy handling of the disgraced lead back. The Steelers were able to grab a division win against the Browns but showed plenty of warts in doing so. The loser had better buckle in for a week of doomsday proclamations from a frustrated fan base.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Balitmore Ravens

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Baltimore -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Will Either Defense Show Up?

These two franchises built their reputations on throwing up brick walls at opposing offenses, but those days are seemingly in the past. Neither unit cracked the top 10 in the NFL in total defense last season, and neither proved up to the task in Week 1 of 2014. Baltimore allowed Andy Dalton, a former whipping boy for the Ravens defense, the time and space to do what he wanted, failing to sack him a single time, failing to force a turnover and surrendering 301 yards on a tidy 25-of-38 passing line. Most critically, the defense suffered an unconscionable breakdown on a 77-yard Dalton-to-A.J. Green catch and run for the decisive touchdown in a 23–16 Bengals win. Meanwhile, Dick LeBeau's defense allowed 27 second-half points to the Browns, who used a no-huddle attack that kept the Steelers on their heels. Cleveland pierced the Steel Curtain for 183 yards rushing (100 by unheralded rookie Terrance West) and 6.0 yards per carry, alarming numbers for a proud run defense. This game could produce what would once have been unthinkable for this series: an offensive shootout.

 

2. A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Until last season, all Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger did was win a vast majority of their starts. But dueling 8–8 seasons marred by turnovers have dented their armor a bit. Big Ben was fairly impressive against the Browns, completing 23-of-34 passes for 365 yards, but he found the end zone only once and was sacked four times after being dumped 42 times in 2013. Lacking a credible running threat, Flacco was forced to the air at an alarming rate in the Ravens' opener, throwing 62 passes (completing 35) for 345 yards, a touchdown and a critical interception that drew boos from the home crowd. Until Flacco and new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak get better acquainted, look for Big Ben to retain the upper hand in this personal rivalry.

 

3. Bell Cow Backs

The Steelers have to be thrilled with second-year running back Le'Veon Bell, who picked up right where he left off late last season, rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and adding 88 receiving yards in the win over Cleveland, the best combined yardage performance by a Pittsburgh running back since 2006. History is working against Bell — the Steelers haven't had a back exceed 100 yards against the Ravens in almost a decade — but his combination of vision, speed and toughness could reverse that trend. The Ravens had hoped that Bernard Pierce would fill Rice's shoes, but an early fumble against the Bengals opened the door for Justin Forsett, who responded with 70 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and is enough of a dual threat to earn the lion's share of the snaps. Both teams will try to get their lead backs untracked to take pressure off the quarterbacks.

 

Final Analysis

 

Much like last week, the Ravens have to be glad to get back to the field and away from the questions about their disgraced former teammate. But on the field, they face a whole different set of questions about their ability to protect the football, force turnovers and generally live up to the standard of excellence they've set under John Harbaugh. Similarly, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can ride his impressive record only so far in a what-have-you-done-lately league. It's premature to put either coach on the hot seat, but a loss in this one does turn up the heat. The Steelers seem to have the better running threat, which could give them an edge in this one.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20
Teaser:
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Washington Redskins, NFL
Path: /nfl/should-redskins-change-their-nickname
Body:

It's one of the most contentious issues in sports: Should the Washington Redskins change an outdated and offensive nickname? Here, Athlon editors take opposing viewpoints.

 

Yes

Washington (insert racist nickname) owner Daniel Snyder needs a lesson in both United States history and sports history. I’ll save the junior high school history lesson (see: Trail of Tears, Indian Removal Act of 1830) and cut right to the sports history.

 

Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the Stanford Indians. In 1972, however, one of America’s finest research institutions had the wisdom to change its nickname. Eight years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (okay, some U.S. history), Stanford made a proactive decision on the nickname Indians, which is much less offensive than the “R-word” slur currently used in Washington. These days, the Indians are a distant memory and Stanford boasts greats such as John Elway and Andrew Luck, who both played for the Stanford Cardinal.

 

But it’s not just “West Coast hippy liberals” who have common sense and decency. Hardened New Yorkers have dealt with the same issue with similar success.

 

Chris Mullen led the 1985 NCAA Tournament in scoring en route to leading the St. John’s Redmen to the Final Four. Fans cheered on, wearing a logo that depicted a cartoonish Native American dribbling a basketball in full headdress.

 

Despite a “tradition” of bigotry — however ham-handed and unintentional it may have been — the Redmen became the Red Storm in 1994. That was 20 years ago. Recent high school graduates never lived in a world where Redmen was an acceptable nickname in New York, a city not known for its political correctness.

 

But what about the nation’s capital? Oh, that’s right… the Washington Bullets became known as the Washington Wizards in 1997 due to the name’s tangential relationship to violent crime. And when baseball returned to Washington in 2005, the team didn’t return to its 60-year-old “roots” as the Washington Senators, it settled on Washington Nationals. The NBA and MLB teams in D.C. have already changed names. The NFL is next.

 

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Point being, Snyder can (and will) run this team into the ground no matter what their nickname is.

 

No

Clearly, if Washington were an expansion franchise beginning play in 2014, they wouldn’t choose “Redskins” as their nickname. The moniker is no doubt anachronistic. I’ll even stipulate that it’s offensive to some people. But that doesn’t mean it should change.

 

And it might surprise you to know that Americans agree with me in overwhelming numbers.

 

That’s right: Despite a non-stop media onslaught in TV, print and social media over the necessity of discarding this ongoing affront to decency, only 23 percent of respondents in a recent ESPN poll think the name should be changed. That’s up from eight percent only a few years ago, but it’s hardly a mandate. I mean, 45 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, and 26 percent either believe Obama is the Antichrist or aren’t sure. In other words, you can find 23 percent of Americans who believe just about anything. It’s a statistically insignificant number in a democratic society where 50 percent minus one is a losing posture.

 

Admittedly, owner Daniel Snyder’s stubborn insistence on keeping the name and his clumsy efforts at justifying it have combined to have the opposite effect on public opinion, but his general ineptitude as an owner and a human being shouldn’t sway this debate.

 

As outdated as the nickname may be, I believe that it’s dangerous to succumb to self-righteous Tweeters and media poseurs trying to impose their version of political correctness on one of the most storied franchises in sports, a franchise that has long carried its nickname as a point of pride, not of bigotry.

 

I’ll give the last word to Mitchell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: “(The team nickname) has been around a long time, and I know that are certain aspects of the name redskins that historically was rather derogatory to natives, but in the way the (Washington) Redskins use the name, my personal stance is they haven’t shown me anything that is directly offensive.” Good enough for me.

 

Teaser:
Should the Redskins Change Their Nickname? Athlon Editors Debate
Post date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 12:47
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-10-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 10:46
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-9-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 9:

 

Summer's not over until the girls of Instagram say it's over.

 

Maryland's unis will feature the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner to honor the 200th anniversary of its writing. Both stylish and educational, although the star on the helmet looks like a ninja star.

 

Manningface was in midseason form last night.

 

A day with the Oregon Duck, the current king of college mascots.

 

• As Clayton Kershaw continues to out-Koufax Sandy Koufax, it might be time for pitcher MVPs in both leagues.

 

• So apparently Roger Goodell was the See No Evil monkey with his hands over his eyes in the Ray Rice situation.

 

Sadly, Janay Rice is mad at everyone but her husband.

 

Interesting analysis of MLB replay overturns.

 

LeSean McCoy blames his 20-cent tip on bad service. Today's reminder that the way we pay waiters is stupid.

 

The Cowboys' inept start has already produced some amusing memes.

 

Thousands of Penn State students celebrated the lifting of the Lions' postseason ban by chanting for the return of Joe Pa's statue.

 

• Watch the Dodgers support Clayton Kershaw's efforts with three throwing errors.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-8-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 8:

 

• The NFL's cheerleaders are already in midseason form, as this gallery reveals.

 

Nothing like a kick to a punter's face to signal the return of America's Game. Good to have you back, football. Here are the best Vines and GIFs from a tasty weekend on the gridiron.

 

• Roger Goodell's having a no good, very bad Monday thanks to the ongoing stench of the Ray Rice situation. If you feel like you need to see the newly available video of the knockout punch, which according to Peter King was in Goodell's possession when he "disciplined" Rice, then click here. It's beyond sickening.

 

• This is interesting: Kareem defends Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson over his supposedly racist email.

 

Here's an interview with ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen on the occasion of the Worldwide Leader's 35th birthday.

 

• I can endorse this chick-mance (or whatever the chick version of a bromance is called): Serena and Woz partied after their U.S. Open final.

 

So the Big Ten might as well be the AAC after their Lost Weekend.

 

Chris Pratt isn't great at everything as it turns out.

 

• Dumbass alert: A fan climbed to the top of the catchfence at Richmond. During the race. This won't help class up the image of the typical NASCAR fan.

 

• Derek Jeter answered a reporter's phone during a presser, like the boss he is.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 11:38
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-atlanta-falcons-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Fresh off an appearance on HBO's “Hard Knocks,“ the Atlanta Falcons hope to deal an early blow to what many expect to be a Saints juggernaut in the NFC South. New Orleans is a near-unanimous choice to win the division, but an upset in the opener could signal a wide-open race. This traditional rivalry has yielded some classic moments, with Atlanta holding a 47–43 lead in the all-time series. In last year's opener, the Saints held off a Falcons team with Super Bowl aspirations, beating them 23–17 and sending them on an injury-filled downward spiral. 

 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: New Orleans -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Big Expectations in the Big Easy

Judging from the preseason prognostications, the Saints are a lock for the playoffs and a decent bet to make a Super Bowl run. How will Sean Payton's team handle being the hunted in an improved NFC South? Last season, the Falcons entered the season with similar expectations and flamed out with a four-win disaster, although injuries were the primary culprit. These Saints look better prepared to deal with the hype than those Falcons did. Payton and quarterback Drew Brees have already combined to win a Super Bowl together, and they know what's required for a deep postseason run. The Saints have won 11 or more games in each of the last four seasons, and it will be a shock if New Orleans doesn't extend that streak to five.

 

2. The Falcons' Hard-Nosed Attitude

The Falcons' stint on “Hard Knocks” revealed a team with a mean streak. Tempers boiled over frequently while the cameras rolled, and efforts to establish a physical identity resulted in training camp fights and preseason game ejections. Atlanta will need to carry that attitude into the regular season while the respective lines, which were subpar last season, find their footing. The Falcons were last in the NFL in rushing in 2013, and they'll have to establish themselves up front to avoid falling into a shootout with the weapon-heavy Saints. Look for Atlanta to try to set a physical tone early in this one to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Matt Ryan.

 

3. Reversing the Road Woes

New Orleans was 3–5 away from the friendly confines of the Superdome in 2013, losing their last three regular-season road games to cost themselves playoff position. If the Saints have any hope of making a Super Bowl run, they'll need to secure home-field advantage — and to do so, they'll need to steal a few wins on the road. This is one of those opportunities. It's far too early to call this a must win for New Orleans, but the Saints need to excel in the winnable road games this season to earn what could be a decisive home playoff advantage.

 

Final Analysis

 

Drew Brees owns half of the 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history, and armed with a formidable array of weapons, he's a strong candidate to post more outrageous numbers and earn MVP honors this season. To help him in his quest, he has buzzed-about rookie receiver Brandin Cooks joining his arsenal. As if the Saints offense wasn't powerful enough, Cooks might be the most explosive offensive rookie of the 2014 season. The Falcons may have had an offseason attitude adjustment, but it will take more than attitude to slow the Saints. Neither team got much done on the ground last season, but a high-flying, back-and-forth aerial show certainly favors the visitors. Give the Saints the nod on defense, too; Rob Ryan's crew fashioned an impressive turnaround last year, finishing third in the NFC in total defense and first against the pass. Finally, there's a coaching advantage as well. Under Payton, the Saints have won 11 out of the last 14 games in the series, a run that was preceded by a 16–6 Falcons run. Look for the Saints' recent dominance in the series to continue, even on the road, as Brees & Co. lay the groundwork for a special season.

 

Prediction: New Orleans 27, Atlanta 17
Teaser:
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-baltimore-ravens-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two teams with postseason aspirations collide in an AFC North tilt that already carries serious implications for both. The Bengals are in the midst of their best run in franchise history but have no postseason wins to show for it. A division title and home playoff game are the expectation for an increasingly restless fan base, and the march to those spoils starts in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Ravens are looking for a bounce-back season following an injury-marred 8–8 disappointment and are glad to get back to football after an offseason that was dominated by the Ray Rice saga.

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

 

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Baltimore -1.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Home Sweet Home

Even amid the disappointment of an underachieving 8–8 season, the Ravens were a tough out at home in 2013, going 6–2 at M&T Bank Stadium — including a 20–17 overtime win over the Bengals, who haven't won in Baltimore since 2009. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have posted a 39–9 mark at home, the NFL’s second-best home record during that span (2008-13). The Bengals were 3–5 on the road last season, and they must figure out a way to win more tough road tests to take the next step as a franchise. This game certainly qualifies.

 

2. Cincy's $115 million Man

When news broke of Andy Dalton's six-year, $115 million deal, the Internet exploded in righteous indignation over paying such a huge sum to a guy without a playoff win. Closer scrutiny reveals a deal that includes plenty of protection for the Bengals — only $17 million is guaranteed — and pays Dalton like the solid second-tier quarterback he is. That won't stop Bengals fans from demanding more from the copper-topped gunslinger than last season's 20-interception regular season and first-round playoff flameout. Dalton will be under pressure to lead his team to postseason success, and that starts with winning the division, making this season-opening AFC North showdown especially significant. "The way the schedule is, they start us off right off the bat with a division opponent," Dalton said. "So it does set the tone. It really shows the expectations of what we have here."

 

3. Ravens on the Run

When you have a game manager like Joe Flacco running the show, you need a ground-and-pound element to your offensive attack, something the Ravens were woefully lacking in 2013. Baltimore averaged only 83 yards rushing per game last season on an NFL-worst 3.1 yards per carry, and leading rusher Ray Rice (only 660 yards in 2013) will be missing in action while he serves his suspension for domestic abuse. The spotlight will be on fill-in lead back Bernard Pierce and an offensive line that will be seeking redemption in 2014, as they try to relieve some of the pressure from Flacco's shoulders. Forced to the air in 2013, Flacco tossed a career-worst 22 interceptions. The Ravens must be more balanced this season. 

 

Final Analysis

 

For Cincinnati to have the kind of season its players expect and its fans demand, a good start is important. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is only 4–7 in season openers in his career, including 3–5 on the road, but Cincy did play spoiler for the Ravens last season, dominating John Harbaugh's club 34–17 in the season finale and knocking Baltimore out of playoff contention. Joe Flacco should be operating behind a healthier, stouter offensive line, and he's added a weapon in wideout Steve Smith. His counterpart, Andy Dalton, has struggled against the Ravens, going 2–4 in his six starts and tossing 11 interceptions to only six touchdowns for a passer rating of 62.4. Even without Ray Rice to run the football, this one feels like a Ravens win and an important step in a season of redemption. 

 

Prediction: Baltimore 21, Cincinnati 17
Teaser:
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-5-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 5:

 

• Celebrate Seattle's reign with 19-year-old Seahawks cheerleader Christian, who's back for her second year with the squad.

 

Eddie Lacy of the Packers wore a sweet Hulk t-shirt last night. Didn't prevent a concussion, though.

 

• Aaron Rodgers avoided Richard Sherman during last night's Seahawks beatdown, but he couldn't avoid him after the game.

 

The real stars last night were Beast Mode and Percy.

 

Celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to Joan Rivers when news broke of her death. Even Barry Bonds devoted one of his first-ever tweets to the subject.

 

Early-season intersectional showdowns like Michigan State-Oregon are even more important in the playoff era, says Stewart Mandel.

 

There's an epic high school football showdown tonight in South Florida. I'll meet you there.

 

• Last night, a college football team racked up negative-100 yards in total offense.

 

• Cincinnati chili has its detractors. It also has this unbelievably hideous t-shirt.

 

• After killing with LeBron's letter, Frank Caliendo does Allen Iverson's "practice" rant with the voice of Morgan Freeman.

 

• Celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves is Kimmel's greatest contribution to western culture. Here's the NFL edition.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 11:03
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-4-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 4:

 

• Beyonce turns 33 today. Celebrate with 33 photos of Queen Bey in action.

 

Yao Ming has turned his attention to saving African elephants and rhinos. In other news, Yao Ming is still freakishly huge.

 

Here are five ridiculous NFL predictions as the season gets underway.

 

Melky Cabrera is scared of thunder. Wonder if he still climbs in bed with his parents.

 

Next, Charlie Strong is going to suspend Bevo and Zombie Darrell Royal.

 

Geno Auriemma got busted for calling Mo'Ne Davis.

 

A reasoned assessment of Jeter in twilight.

 

Arkansas-Little Rock's AD had to resign after getting caught on a hot mic talking about a soccer player's mom in a creepy, pervy way.

 

Watch Rory McIlroy scare the crap out of his sleeping caddie. He's made his caddie a rich man, so he can do whatever he wants.

 

Caleb Joseph of the Orioles pursued a foul ball into the camera pit.

 

Lolo Jones is going on Dancing with the Stars. Please let her win something.

 

• Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke did her legendary dance before racing a car.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 11:06
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-3-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 3:

 

• You're running out of time to choose a clever Fantasy Football team name. Let Athlon help.

 

• Ever wonder what today's quarterbacks would look like bald? Wonder no more.

 

Wes Welker is playing the "someone put something in my drink" card.

 

Bruce Feldman digs for the real Kliff Kingsbury.

 

Athlon's Braden Gall and David Fox tell us what we should and shouldn't overreact to after Week 1. They should just acknowledge that it's impossible not to overreact.

 

Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles to Twitter: I'm not Les Miles.

 

Longform read on the reinvention of RG3. Let's hope he's salvagable at this point.

 

The top 25 screencaps of college football's Week 1.

 

The folks at SBNation bring you another fun edition of Breaking Madden.

 

SportsCenter took time to explain what Kenny Hill's nickname — "Trill" — means.

 

Mo'ne Davis threw a perfect two-seam first pitch at Dodger Stadium, and gave Yasiel Puig her autograph, as she continues to excel at life.

 

• Watch a fleet-footed, plus-sized ball girl snag a plastic bag out of midair at the U.S. Open.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 10:39
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-2-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 2:

 

Coed shows us that August was another good month in sports ladies.

 

Madden 15 includes a hilarious glitch: a teeny, tiny Titan.

 

The latest "This is SportsCenter" is another gem.

 

• Even after a relentless media campaign, 71 percent of Americans think the Redskins should stay the Redskins.

 

Did ESPN's shower report have a hand in Michael Sam's release?

 

• All us hackers can take a little sadistic pleasure in Billy Horschel's ill-timed chunk at the Deutsche Bank.

 

Grantland dissects the tabloid story of the weekend (no, not the celebrity nude photo hack).

 

Was David Price using a little artificial assistance yesterday?

 

• "Singer" Iggy Azalea, girlfriend to Laker Nick "Swaggy P" Young, shows that she's got a little game.

 

Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo is putting on a show at the FIBA World Cup.

 

The Phillies tossed a combined no-hitter yesterday and gave the game ball to the team president, who's battling cancer.

 

• Louisville's Corvin Lamb put an exclamation point on Week 1 in college football with an electrifying kickoff return against Miami.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 11:11
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2014-teams-are-set
Body:

With today's announcement of the captains' picks, the teams are finalized, and the buildup to golf's most pressure-packed event can begin in earnest. After a miracle comeback at the Ryder Cup Matches at Medinah in 2012, Europe is the prohibitive favorite to retain the Cup on home turf, as Tom Watson takes a shorthanded American team to Scotland for the most pressure-packed event in golf. Can a U.S. team led by crafty veteran Phil Mickelson and young gun Rickie Fowler upset a European powerhouse led by four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup maestro Sergio Garcia?

 

Today, European captain Paul McGinley put the finishing touches on his team with the selection of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Scot Stephen Gallacher, a Ryder Cup rookie who will delight the partisans at Gleneagles. Tom Watson countered with Keegan Bradley, who had a successful pairing with Phil Mickelson in 2012 at Medinah, along with Barclays winner Hunter Mahan and 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson. So, at last, here are the respective 12-man teams making the trip to Scotland:

 

Team USA

Tom Watson, Captain

Raymond Floyd and Andy North, Vice Captains

 

Keegan Bradley*

Ryder Cup Record: 3-1-0

 

Rickie Fowler

Ryder Cup Record: 0-1-2

 

Jim Furyk

Ryder Cup Record: 9-17-4

 

Zach Johnson

Ryder Cup Record: 6-4-1

 

Matt Kuchar

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-2

 

Hunter Mahan*

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-3

 

Phil Mickelson

Ryder Cup Record: 14-18-6

 

Patrick Reed

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Webb Simpson

Ryder Cup Record: 2-2

 

Jordan Spieth

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Jimmy Walker

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Bubba Watson

Ryder Cup Record: 3-5

 

 

Team Europe

Paul McGinley, Captain

Des Smyth and Sam Torrance, Vice Captains

 

Thomas Bjorn

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-1

 

Jamie Donaldson

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Victor Dubuisson

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Stephen Gallacher*

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance

 

Sergio Garcia

Ryder Cup Record: 16-8-4

 

Martin Kaymer

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2

 

Graeme McDowell

Ryder Cup Record: 5-5-2

 

Rory McIlroy

Ryder Cup Record: 4-3-2

 

Ian Poulter*

Ryder Cup Record: 12-3

 

Justin Rose

Ryder Cup Record: 6-3

 

Henrik Stenson

Ryder Cup Record: 2-3-2

 

Lee Westwood*

Ryder Cup Record: 18-13-6

 

*Captain's Pick

 

 

Missing in Action

The U.S. team, already an underdog, faces even longer odds with the absence of some key players:

• Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup Record: 13-17-3

Tiger's balky back is his latest physical impediment and caused him to shut it down for the year following a missed cut at the PGA Championship. Despite his lackluster Ryder Cup record, his experience and aura will be missed. Said one PGA Tour pro: "You can’t tell me at least half the European side would not be a little afraid if it came down to a singles match against Tiger on Sunday."

 

• Dustin Johnson

Ryder Cup Record: 3-3

Johnson is in golf exile, either self-imposed or Tour-imposed, while he deals with "personal challenges." The eight-time winner on Tour was a bright spot for a disappointing U.S. team in 2012, winning his singles match and posting a match record of 3-0. "As one of the longest hitters in the game with an undefeated record of 3-0 at Medinah in 2012, he has clearly been an asset for the United States team," said U.S. captain Tom Watson.

 

• Jason Dufner

Ryder Cup Record: 3-1

Like Johnson, Dufner was a stalwart for the 2012 U.S. team, posting a 3-1 record and winning his singles match against Peter Hanson amid a U.S. collapse. Dufner couldn't defend his 2013 PGA Championship title due to an arthritic condition in his neck.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 10:24
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-29-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for August 29:

 

• I must admit to being unfamiliar with Charlotte McKinney. Consider that oversight remedied.

 

Bill Murray took up tickets at the St. Paul Saints game last night, because Bill Murray is awesome.

 

• Johnny who? Last night belonged to Kenny Hill and the Texas A&M Aggies.

 

• Les Miles is a teacher above all else. His monologues are now being used in the classroom.

 

• Vanderbilt got destroyed by Temple, but on the upside, the Dores won the first email challenge in college football history.

 

• Tim Tebow might have a future in this broadcasting thing. If nothing else, he does a nice Spurrier impression.

 

The Jags' Ryan Davis took time for a post-sack selfie.

 

Anthony Brown quit the team and called USC coach Steve Sarkisian a racist on Instagram. Welcome to LA, Sark.

 

Jesus Montero threw an ice cream sandwich at a scout. That's just wasteful.

 

Watch Nick Saban get absolutely lit up as a young special-teamer.

 

The last superfight might happen in 2015. Mayweather-Pacquiao.

 

• Watch Nick Foles go undercover as a waiter to surprise fantasy football drafters.

 

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 10:55

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