Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: AFC, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game take center stage this afternoon when the Denver Broncos face the New England Patriots on CBS. Manning-Brady Bowl XVI features history’s greatest QB rivalry — Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Although Brady has a 10–5 all-time record vs. Manning, including a 7–2 mark at Foxboro, this year’s Patriots (6-2) seem far more vulnerable than this year’s Broncos (6-1).

 

In the previous 15 games, Brady has completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 3,680 yards, 27 TDs and 12 INTs for a 96.4 passer rating; Manning has completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 4,371 yards, 31 TDs and 20 INTs for an 88.0 passer rating. The 37-year-old Brady and 38-year-old Manning can’t keep up this pace forever. Enjoy the hype and hoopla while it lasts.

 
Related: Manning vs Brady All-Time Head-to-Head Stats (Infographic)

 

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

 

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Denver -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have always had a two-man mutual admiration society, but they've amped up the praise heading into their 16th career matchup. "Peyton has been a phenomenal player — so consistent and durable for a long period of time," Brady said. "We've had a great rivalry in the AFC East (when Manning was with Indianapolis), and this year is no different." Brady's too modest to point out that he's had a significant upper hand in his personal rivalry with Peyton, holding a 10–5 record against Manning's teams, but both quarterbacks have produced huge head-to-head numbers in what amounts to a season's worth of work, and Manning won the most recent encounter, 26–16 in last season's AFC Championship Game. Football is a team game, but quarterback is the most important position in team sports, and all eyes will be on the two future Hall of Famers under center.


Related: Ranking the 5 Most Memorable Brady-Manning Games

 

2. Patriots Peaking?

The Patriots played their best, most complete game of the season in routing the Bears 51–23 last Sunday in a game that wasn't even as close as the score, as the P-men raced to a 45–7 third-quarter lead before a couple of meaningless Chicago touchdowns. New England was flawless in all three phases, prompting cornerback Darrelle Revis — who had an interception against the Bears — to observe: "We're a team on a mission." The Patriots have won four straight, but it's worth noting that one week earlier, they struggled to beat the lowly Jets, and four of their six wins have come against teams with losing records, including the rapidly imploding Bears. In other words, it's premature to anoint this team the AFC favorite. This game will be far more revealing about the Patriots' prospects.

 

3. Run to Glory

Most of the ink gets spilled in talking about the quarterbacks, but the running game takes on special importance when the Patriots and Broncos get together. Since 2006, the team that has rushed for more yardage has posted a 6–2 record in this rivalry, including last season's playoff meeting, when the Broncos outrushed the Patriots 107–64. Neither of these teams has been particularly adept at running the ball this season; the Patriots rank 17th in the NFL, the Broncos 21st. In terms of run defense, the Broncos have an overwhelming advantage, ranking first in the NFL, allowing only 72.4 yards per game, while the Patriots surrender an average of 129.6. "We don't want people running the ball on us," said Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall. "We want to get to all of the things we can do with our packages in the pass rush. To do that we have to stop the run."

 

Final Analysis

 

Some key factors seem to favor New England in this one: Brady's head-to-head record against Manning, his 14-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio during the Patriots’ current four-game winning streak, their 4–0 record at home this season and their 13-game winning streak in Foxboro. This Denver team looks like a Super Bowl contender, but they won't get there unscathed.

 
Prediction: New England 31, Denver 28
Teaser:
Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-31-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 31:

 

This week's Top 25 cheerleader showdown.

 

LeBron James made his re-debut for Cleveland last night. It wasn't exactly Jordan-esque. His intro was pretty ballin' though.

 

Justin Bieber was in Cleveland in all his d-bag glory.

 

Not a great night for Russell Westbrook, who broke his hand and got into it with a fan.

 

LaVar Arrington had a nice J.J. Watt costume, even amid racial allegations.

 

Steve Ballmer even frightens his own son with his intensity.

 

Some weird dude videobombed Jimbo Fisher's postgame interview.

 

• Eric Decker took to Twitter to ask fans what they love about the Jets. The results were about what you'd expect.

 

• Scare of the day: When sea lions attack.

 

• This is inspiring: Deaf cheerleader defies the odds.

 

• Here's LeBron's epic intro last night.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 31, 2014 - 10:58
Path: /nba/lebron-james-calls-his-return-game-%E2%80%9Cone-biggest-sporting-events%E2%80%A6-ever%E2%80%9D
Body:

Surely you’ve heard by now — LeBron James is back in Ohio, once again the leader of his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Last night’s ugly 95-90 home loss to the New York Knicks marked his first regular season game as a reborn Cav, and the birth of Cleveland’s new mega team featuring James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. James looked stiff and, frankly, not himself in the game. It’s unlikely the Cavs’ faltering start will be representative of their year at large.

But yesterday also showed us the latest of Mr. James’ hubris. We’d be foolish to undermine his confidence about his playing abilities — he’s one of the greatest ballers the game’s ever seen — but he’s clearly imagined himself into quite the inflated cultural figure. When asked about the significance of his return game, James said “this is probably one of the biggest sporting events that is up there ever,” according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

James’ P.R. team is probably wishing for a mulligan on this one. Especially after James reportedly co-opted his team’s first practice at training camp, holding an impromptu players-only meeting during which he gave each roster member a specific, personal goal for the season. This before rookie coach David Blatt was able to begin his own team instructions.

If you assumed LeBron had learned his media lessons since his gaudy, absurd production of “The Decision” and the ridiculous “not one, not two, not three…” celebration that followed with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh when he joined the Miami Heat four years ago — well, you assumed wrong. James may have figured out that it behooves him to keep expectations for wins, losses and awards lower, but he hasn’t yet seen how to hide some of his megalomaniacal tendencies.

Maybe it will take a retired, further-wizened LeBron to wield his substantial power without all the corny reminders of how tall he stands over the pack. Or maybe he’ll never be humble enough to stop giving his skeptics more reasons to mock him.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 31, 2014 - 10:12
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-30-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 30:

 

• Fireball is getting recalled in Europe, but here in 'Murica, we don't mind a little propylene glycol in our booze. Nor do we mind Fireball girls.

 

• Madison Bumgarner ruled this postseason, but he had a weak postgame. First, he only chugged six beers, not seven, and then he was outshone by the awkward Chevy guy.

 

• Oops. For winning World Series MVP, Bumgarner was awarded a truck that was recently recalled.

 

Fans in San Fran adopted a piece of West Virginia culture, burning couches to celebrate.

 

Five things we learned from the 2014 MLB season.

 

• Throwback Thursday: Current college football players as kids in their Halloween costumes. Or, if hoops is your thing: Current college basketball players in their Halloween costumes.

 

Michael Jordan doesn't think much of Barack Obama's golf game.

 

Tom Brady welcomed NBA season in fine fashion.

 

Bruce Feldman goes inside the quarterback's brain.

 

• Remember Antoine Dodson? He's going to fight the intruder who inspired his famous rant, in a celebrity boxing match.

 

• Pablo Sandoval celebrated the Giants World Series win in a costume panda head.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 10:59
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-carolina-panthers-preview-and-prediction-0
Body:

A surface glance at this matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers would indicate that a boring clash of NFC mediocrities is in store, as the NFL Network takes over “Thursday Night Football” broadcasts. But a look at the standings reveals that the top spot in the NFC South is actually on the line. It's true — one of these teams is likely to make the playoffs, and the winner of this one takes a giant step toward that goal.

 

After a 2–0 start, the Panthers are 1–4–1 and coming off of a disappointing 13–9 home loss to Seattle in a game that was theirs for the taking. Looking at recent results, the Saints (3-4) would seem to have the upper hand, since they're coming off their best performance of the season, a 44–23 win over Green Bay. But New Orleans must venture away from the friendly, comfy confines of the Superdome, and Sean Payton's Saints have not exactly been kings of the road.

 

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: New Orleans -3

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. New Orleans' Road Woes

It's becoming a sadly familiar refrain for Saints fans: The team is great at home, but take one foot out of New Orleans and they become the Raiders. The numbers are stark — 3–0 at home, 0–4 on the road this season, after going 3–5 away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2013. The hopeful thing, though, is that the Saints' road games have been competitive; they led in the fourth quarter in three of the four losses. "You look at how we've lost three of those four road games and you say, `We made some critical errors at the end,’" said tackle Zach Strief. "It's not that we were getting dominated on the road." But until the Saints close the deal on the road, this bit of futility is going to follow them like a black cloud. 

 

2. Can Cam Reverse the Trend?

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's numbers have been on a season-long decline. After posting a 100.2 passer rating in a September win over Detroit, Newton has seen his stats and his production plummet, hitting a season-low 61.0 passer rating in the loss to Seattle. A contributing factor: a troublesome ankle that has impacted Newton’s production as a runner. A year after posting six rushing touchdowns, Newton has found the end zone on the ground only once so far this season and has seen his yards per carry average dip by a yard (5.3 to 4.3). A New Orleans pass rush that was invigorated against the Packers — four sacks and 13 hurries — will look to keep the big-bodied Newton in the pocket and get him to the ground a few times. 

 

3. Saints’ Renewed Rushing Attack

The Saints' reliance on Drew Brees and the passing attack has been well documented. But New Orleans has seen a rushing renaissance in 2014. The Saints are averaging 133 yards per game on the ground, seventh in the NFL, and rank second in the league with 5.1 yards per carry. That makes this a tough matchup for the Panthers, who are surrendering 5.2 yards per carry (28th in the NFL). Mark Ingram exploded for 172 yards rushing against the Packers, and the Saints would no doubt love to get similar production from the former Heisman Trophy winner this week. 

 

Final Analysis

 

The numbers seem to favor New Orleans, but the Saints' road futility is starting to embed itself in the franchise's DNA, and that's not a positive indicator heading into a critical division matchup on the road. The powerful New Orleans offense seems to have difficulty protecting the football away from home, and Carolina has been highly adept at forcing miscues (14 on the season). Plus, Drew Brees has struggled in his last two visits to Carolina, tossing four interceptions and posting a 73.1 passer rating. Look for miscues to make the difference in this one.

 
Prediction: Carolina 24, New Orleans 23
Teaser:
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-29-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 11:24
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-27-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 27, 2014 - 10:35
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-arizona-cardinals-preview-and-prediction
Body:

A pair of 5-1 teams that met under similar circumstances last season will get together again when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals this afternoon on FOX. Last season, Philadelphia hosted Arizona following a Week 12 bye. This year, the Eagles travel to take on the Cardinals after a Week 7 bye.

 

Arizona is undefeated at home this year, with quality wins over the Chargers (18–17), 49ers (23–14) and Redskins (30–20). Meanwhile, Philly has had issues on the road, with a last-second 30–27 win at Indianapolis and 26–21 defeat at San Francisco. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, in particular, has struggled on the road, with a combined one TD and three INTs — after just two INTs in all of 2013.

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

 

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Arizona -2.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Carson Palmer for MVP?

Okay, so that's a bit extreme, but the Cardinals’ quarterback has his team in first place in a division that was thought to belong to the Seahawks and 49ers. Despite dealing with a shoulder injury that has caused him to miss three games, Palmer has led the Cards to a 3–0 record, completing 74-of-112 passes for 807 yards, six touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 101.3. In fact, in his last 12 starts for Arizona, Palmer is 10–2, and his passer rating of 97.8 over that span ranks seventh in the NFL. And he's hungry after last year's 10–6 record wasn't enough to get the Cards to the postseason. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," Palmer said. "I think we're getting ready to define hopefully my time here and our time as a team."

 

2. Philly's Jekyll-and-Hyde Defense

The Eagles went into their bye with one of their most dominant defensive performances in years in a 27–0 win over the Giants, a game in which they allowed only 254 total yards. In the three preceding games, though, the Philly defense was alarmingly porous, allowing 461 yards per game — including 511 yards in a 37–34 win over the Redskins. So which Eagles defense will we see? One hopeful sign for Philly fans is the return of linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has missed the past four games with an injured calf.

 

3. What About the Eagles Playmakers?

Much like the defense, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy seemed to emerge from a season-long shell against the Giants, rushing for 149 yards on 22 carries. Prior to that, though, McCoy had been a colossal disappointment to all those fantasy owners who drafted him in the first few picks. Before the Giants game, McCoy had averaged only 2.9 yards per carry on the season. Likewise, quarterback Nick Foles has struggled to return to the heights he enjoyed in a breakthrough 2014 season; he's thrown seven interceptions this season after throwing only two all of last season. The Birds also may welcome back diminutive playmaker Darren Sproles (sprained MCL), who could help Philly find some consistency on offense. 

 

Final Analysis

 

The Cardinals have the top run defense in the NFL, allowing only 72 yards rushing per game, meaning that Foles will need to make some plays for the Eagles to be successful. Look for Chip Kelly to find ways to get Sproles the ball in space, allowing him to make plays and open things up downfield. But if Palmer continues to protect the ball, it might not matter. The Cards are having a charmed season, and Bruce Arians' team is playing well enough to pick up a key win at home.

 
Prediction: Arizona 27, Philadelphia 24
Teaser:
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 26, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-24-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 24:

 

Olivia Munn got a ring from Aaron Rodgers. Not the ring, but still nice.

 

Peyton Manning ripped his own scoreboard operator for disrespect.

 

• Alright, alright, alright — look who's starting for the Titans.

 

• Hate stuff like this: A Chargers player was out on his feet last night, but later went back in the game.

 

Time for the KC pitchers to hit. Should be amusing.

 

Georgia State's Isaiah Dennis, who stands 6-0, threw down over three teammates.

 

• The Warriors engaged in a little fun rookie hazing, forcing Aaron Craft to sing "Party in the USA" in a bear costume in front of fans.

 

Watch ESPN's lovely Britt McHenry juggle a basketball like a soccer ball. Pretty impressive.

 

• Weird story of the day: 18-year-old Notre Dame freshman Justin Brent went on a date with middle-aged porn star Lisa Ann, and an Instagram photo surfaced of the two of them in bed.

 

Brian Urlacher says Jay Cutler's only elite on payday.

 

Tough news about Steve Nash.

 

• Watch Jeremy Lin pose as an adidas employee in an elaborate prank.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 24, 2014 - 10:46
Path: /nfl/san-diego-chargers-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Week 8 of the NFL slate kicks off with tonight’s AFC West divisional matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos on CBS/NFL Network. This game features a pair of MVP-candidate quarterbacks in San Diego’s Philip Rivers (17 TDs, three INTs) and Denver’s Peyton Manning (510 career TD passes).

 

Last season, the Chargers played the Broncos better than just about any team this side of the Seahawks. All three meetings between the two were one-score margins, with Denver winning on the road 28–20 in Week 10, San Diego winning at Sports Authority Field at Mile High 27–20 in Week 15 and the Broncos earning a 24–17 victory in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs. The Bolts did not fare as well against the Broncos in 2012, losing 35–24 at home in Week 6 and 30–23 in Week 11.

 

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Denver -8

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Back to Work for Peyton Manning

Manning hasn't had much time to savor his newly minted record for career touchdown passes, but chances are pretty good that he'll add to that record in this game. Manning has thrown touchdowns in each of his 11 meetings with the Chargers, including a total of eight in the three games in which these teams met last season. Manning's Broncos avenged a December loss to the Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High by dispatching San Diego a few weeks later in the playoffs. During his Broncos tenure, Manning is 4-1 against the Chargers, but he knows that the familiarity cuts both ways. "We're playing a great team in the Chargers, a team we're very familiar with, as they are with us," Manning said. "They beat us last year, so we got to get ready on this short week."

 

2. Freeney vs. Manning

For nine years, Dwight Freeney and Peyton Manning were highly successful teammates in Indianapolis. Finally, Freeney gets a chance to attack the former Colt like he's attacked quarterbacks across the league throughout his career. Freeney leads the team with 14 quarterback hits and 12 pressures, and he's sixth among active players with 110.0 career sacks. "It should be interesting,” Freeney told Chargers.com. “But it should be good.  It’s going to be a little bit different for me because I’m used to having him on the same team, but it should be fun.  I’m excited to see what’s going to happen with it.  2011 was the last time I’ve actually seen him.  In practice you go against the guys all the time but you obviously don’t hit them. I’ll tell you what though; I’m not laying up against him!  It’s going to be an experience I’ll never forget."

 

3. Playing Keep-away

Following Manning's record-setting touchdown pass, a couple of his teammates engaged in a playful (and scripted) game of keep-away with the football in question. The Chargers would love to play a real game of keep-away with the Broncos signal-caller. The formula worked in last December's win in Denver, when Ryan Mathews rushed for 129 yards and the Chargers held the ball for more than 38 minutes. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich wouldn't mind seeing a repeat performance. "We want to be on the field as much as we can,” he said. “We want to play our game. And that is our game. Our game is convert on third down, mix it with the run and pass, be efficient and score touchdowns in the red zone." In Mathews’ absence while he nurses a knee injury, look for Branden Oliver to get plenty of chances. Oliver has rushed for 282 yards on 60 carries the last three weeks. 

 

Final Analysis

 

The weekend gets off to a strong start with this matchup of division rivals off to strong starts. Denver is riding high following its best performance of the season, a 42–17 win over San Francisco, while San Diego was lackluster in a loss to Kansas City. In addition, the Broncos' run defense is much improved this season, which could hamper the Chargers’ ball-control ambitions. 

 
Prediction: Denver 31, San Diego 21
Teaser:
San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Overtime
Path: /golf/65-funny-fantasy-golf-team-names
Body:

The adjusted golf calendar means that the 2014-15 PGA Tour season is already underway. So for fantasy die-hards, that means another draft. So it's time to dust off the dumb, dirty and/or tasteless puns and come up with a team name. Here’s our list for 2015, in no particular order of awesomeness.

 

Weapons of Grass Destruction
This reference worked a little better in 2002.

 

21 Graemes

Never saw the movie on which this is based, but it was supposed to be good.

 

Putt Pirates
Sure to induce a few giggles at the draft table.


Tiger’s Wood
This one’s almost too obvious.


Tiagra Woods
Now we’re talking. That’s pretty creative.

 

Jagged Little Phil

Nothing like an ironic Alanis Morrissette reference for your fantasy golf league.

 

The Fore Horsemen
The “fore” genre provides a deep well of name choices. Some of them are pretty crude. Use your imagination.


Dimpled Balls
The ball genre is fertile ground for your golf fantasy team name. And for cheap laughs.


No. 1 Balls in Golf
Maybe your team could get a Titleist sponsorship.


Dude, Where’s My Par?
Nice. Golf clap for that one.


Sultans of Swing
Nothing says golf like a late 1970s Dire Straits reference.


Fairway to Heaven
Going even further into the music archives. Can’t go wrong with classic Zep.

 

Shankapotamus
Sure, it’s stolen from that talking baby commercial. But it’s still solid.

 

Grip It and Sip It
Could be a good slogan for John Daly's new cocktail, which actually exists.

 

The Swinging Johnsons
What? We’re just talking about Dustin and Zach.

 

A Shingo Ate My Baby
Sure, Shingo Katayama's an obscure player, but his name's worth its weight in fantasy golf gold.


Cinderella Boys
Caddyshack references always work.


Shooter McGavin
Ditto for Happy Gilmore references.


Working on my Putz
No comment.

 

Brandt Awareness or The Grateful Sned
Brandt Snedeker's name brings fantasy possibilities. 

 

May the Schwartzel Be With You
A Spaceballs reference combined with a Masters champ equals fantasy gem.

 

Bring Me the Head of Sergio Garcia

Another obscure movie reference, but works for the Sergio haters out there.

 

Ground Control to Captain Tom

Consider this a sick burn of Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson.

 

Fists of Furyk

 

Lama's Looper

Keegan and Sara

 

FIGJAM on Toast

Billy Ho's Before Bros

 

14 Dollars the Hard Way

The Bohn Identity

Terminator 2: Jason Day

Choi Story

 

John Daly's Pants

Everything but the Stewart Cink

 

Cink or Swim

Weir Science

From Jerry Kelly to Justin Rose

Matt Every Little Thing

Return to Senden

DeLaet Gratification

Back to the Kuchar

Breaking Baddeley

Tee Party

Angry Birdies

Multiple Fore-gasms

Don't Rory Be Happy

I Like Big Putts and I Cannot Lie

Bubba's Hovercraft

The Poulter-geists

Dufnering Miss Daisy

Bring in Da Fred Funk

Party of Fore

Guest Vijays

Couples Therapy

Dr. Vijay's Antler Spray

Long Putters

Puff Caddie

Where's Faldo

Thorbjorn Free

Oh Henrik

Jonas Blixt Brothers

The Bogey Men

The DrawShank Redemptions

Who's Your Caddy

Droppin' A Deuce

The Ball Washers

The Long Balls

The Happy Hookers

The Strokers

The Wedgies

 

Brandel's Hair
 
Gretzky's Grandkid

 

A Nod to the Gods

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 17:49
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-22-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 22:

 

• Meet Coed's Cheerleader of the Week, MaCall of UCLA.

 

Hatin' Ass Spurrier misses Will Muschamp, and he isn't even gone yet.

 

Game 1 of the World Series was over almost as soon as it began. It didn't help that Big Game James didn't rise to the occasion.

 

• A little lost amid Peyton's records is the fact that he's playing the best football of his career at age 38. How is that possible?

 

Don't worry, Kobe — Phil Jackson, Paul George and Flea have your back.

 

Good longform read on Oscar Schmidt, the greatest scorer never to play in the NBA.

 

Pavel Datsyuk had a sick goal waved off. But it's still worth a link.

 

Mike Ditka looks at the Bears and sees a lack of leadership.

 

• A top QB recruit picked UCLA. He said he wanted to play for a school that wasn't used to winning. That's gotta hurt.

 

The late Ben Bradlee once told Golf Digest what it was like to play golf with JFK.

 

• A T-Wolves fan made a 90210-themed introduction for his team.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:19
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-21-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 21:

 

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has the hottest hairstylist in the SEC. That's her in the picture.

 

The Redskins nickname is alright alright alright with Washington fan Matthew McConaughey.

 

Bill O'Brien got a little snippy after the Texans' meltdown.

 

• Another grumpy coach: Jimbo Fisher, who's tired of taking questions about his saintly quarterback.

 

Skip Bayless should have left his latest hot take in the oven.

 

Don't be like this bro, who dressed up like Ray Rice for a Halloween party.

 

Does postseason momentum carry into the World Series? Rarely.

 

They're getting serious over at Bleacher Report.

 

Ryan Callahan of the Lightning took out a camera with a cross-check.

 

Lawrence Timmons lost most of his pregame meal on Heinz Field.

 

The Blade Runner got five years. Haven't been following closely enough to know whether to be outraged.

 

• Unlike his surly colleagues, Les Miles takes a dumb question and has fun with it.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:36
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-20-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 20:

 

• Happy 26th birthday to Victoria's Secret model Candice Swanepoel. Celebrate by reliving her year in Instagram photos.

 

• Peyton Manning made history last night. He did not make "H18TORY." Can we stop using numbers as letters now? Plea5e?

 

Celebrities took to Twitter to celebrate Peyton's accomplisment, although Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes broke out the ring-check in congratulating "Eli's brother."

 

• You've seen it by now, but yesterday, the Rams pulled off possibly the greatest fake-out in NFL history.

 

The NFL Monday hangover includes an item on a different Manning possibly threatening Brett Favre's interceptions record.

 

Things got heated in the locker room after the Bears' disheartening loss to Miami. Not shockingly, Brandon Marshall was the one doing much of the yelling.

 

• Had the little keep-away game with Peyton's record-setting TD ball been spontaneous, it would have been cute. It wasn't spontaneous, though.

 

• This will put a dent in the J.J. Watt for MVP campaign: His play doesn't have much to do with whether the Texans win or lose.

 

Darnell Dockett had the last word in a game-long beef with Raiders fans.

 

• The World Series starts tomorrow. Here's a position by position breakdown.

 

• So did Notre Dame get screwed the other night? No, not really.

 

• The pressure of a bad start is getting to Saints coach Sean Payton.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 20, 2014 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, NFC, NFC East, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

The New York Giants hope to bounce back from one of their worst performances in years, while the Dallas Cowboys hope to continue their unexpected ascent to the top of the NFC mountain, as these two classic NFC East rivals collide this afternoon on FOX. Dallas won both of last season's meetings, with Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray rushing for 86 yards in both games — a respectable number, but one that would disappoint Murray this season as he chases history.

 

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

 

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Dallas -6.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Romo's Roll

Don't look now, but Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has played like a Hall of Famer during this five-game winning streak. Since a three-interception performance in the opening loss to San Francisco, Romo has thrown 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions in the ensuing five games, without a passer rating below 93.5. Making Romo's life easier? A running game that relieves much of the pressure that has so often forced Romo into critical mistakes. Dallas is averaging a league-leading 33.3 rushes per game, and Romo's 191 pass attempts are the fewest of his starting career through Dallas' first six games. "We've had good running games in the past before -- probably not as many in a row — but my job is to obviously get us into good plays and get the ball to DeMarco and run the ball to the right looks," Romo said. "On third down, the running game doesn't help you as much — you've got to go out and execute it." So far, that execution has been nearly flawless.

 

2. Good Eli or Bad Eli?

Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a popular whipping boy, but it's still a bit unfair to lay all of New York's struggles at his feet. In the Giants' 27–0 loss to the Eagles, which snapped a three-game winning streak for the G-men, Manning was pummeled, getting sacked eight times and hit seven more. But it is fair to say that Manning's production is an accurate bellwether for the Giants. In the three-game winning streak that preceded the Philly loss, Manning threw eight touchdowns and only one interception, completing 70.1 percent of his passes. In the Giants' three losses this season, Manning has thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions, completing 60 percent of his throws. Now, the Giants hope that good Eli makes an appearance, even without star wideout Victor Cruz, lost for the season to a torn patellar tendon. "You just hate it happened to Victor because he loves playing this game," Manning said. "He has a great attitude, and so to see him get injured and be out for the season, I feel for him."

 

3. When will the mileage catch up with DeMarco Murray?

Dallas running back DeMarco Murray has been remarkable this season, leading the NFL in rushing by a wide margin with 785 yards and joining Jim Brown as the only two players to rush for 100 yards or more in each of a team's first six games of the season. But production like that has to come at a price. Murray has the fourth-most rushing attempts in NFL history through six games, having toted the rock 159 times, an average of 26.5 carries per game. Over a full 16-game season, that extrapolates to 424 carries, which would set an NFL record. It's a sad fact of life as an NFL running back that there are only so many carries a body can take. Will the Cowboys start to taper Murray's carries a bit to save him for the stretch run? Look for Joseph Randle (fresh off a shoplifting scandal) to get a few more relief carries, starting this week — especially when (and if) Murray cracks the 100-yard barrier for the seventh time. Randle can't outrun the mall cops, but he is averaging 7.1 yards per carry this season.

 

Final Analysis

 

Combine the Cowboys' positive mojo, their eye-opening win at NFC kingpin Seattle and their two wins over the Giants last season, and this has the makings of another Dallas statement win. Anything's possible in a division rivalry like this one, but the Cowboys appear poised to keep the magic going.

 
Prediction: Dallas 31, New York 17
Teaser:
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-17-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 10:48
All taxonomy terms: Atlanta Hawks, Chris Webber, NBA
Path: /nba/chris-webber-might-buy-atlanta-hawks
Body:

Chris Webber never really left the NBA. After retiring and ending his 15-year career (including five All-Star selections and five All-NBA spots), he began moonlighting as an analyst on TNT. Now he’s spewing his wisdom for the game over on NBA TV, and also considering a much loftier perch in the league.

“The Webber Group,” as the former star calls it via Twitter, “contacted the NBA to respectively express our intentions to acquire the majority interest of the Atlanta Hawks.” Here’s Webber’s statement in full:

 

 

Webber’s purposeful words about his interest in the team get at the reason the Hawks are on the market in the first place, and the weird history of pro basketball in Atlanta generally. 

This summer, just before racist remarks made by general manager Danny Ferry were leaked, about prospective free agent signing Luol Deng — who Ferry said “has a little African in him” — current majority owner Bruce Levenson announced the team was for sale. Levenson himself was caught with his own politically correct pants down, too, in an e-mail that made the rounds.

 

Through all the Ferry-Levenson controversy, one thing became crystal clear: The Hawks’ organizational incompetence. They’ve simply failed — time and time again — at both appealing to their city culturally and building a team that’s more than first-round playoff fodder in the consistently weak Eastern Conference.

Whether Webber and Co. have the chutzpah and savvy needed to turn things around is unclear — there’s no sort of experience that could compare to the task of running an NBA team. But Atlanta boasts a regional population in the millions and is a proud, fertile place for sports. That they ranked 28th in attendance in 2013-14 is alarming, and tells us that whoever’s next is likely to do much better.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-16-2014
Body:

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

 

• To help you plan for Halloween: Here's how some celebs have dressed up for past Halloweens.

 

Royals fan Paul Rudd took selfies with players and invited everyone to his mom's house for a kegger after KC clinched.

 

• A list I'm glad I'm not on: The 11 most infamous Twitter accounts in sports media.

 

LeBron talks about forgiveness.

 

• Something I didn't know: The Kansas City Royals are named after livestock. Think Lorde knows about this?

 

Watch a mesmerizing GIF of A.J. Pierzynski flopping like Vlade Divac.

 

Rory McIlroy had to go lefty to make a par yesterday.

 

The resurgent Browns have a potentially explosive situation on their hands.

 

• Interesting historical tidbit: A Jets scout wanted to draft Tom Brady but was overruled by Bill Parcells. Good call, Tuna.

 

Golf Digest did a survey to find the top 30 good guys on the PGA Tour.

 

MJ points out to advocates of a shorter NBA season that it would hit them in the wallet.

 

• Watch a dude who looks like Aaron Rodgers learn what it's like to be Aaron Rodgers.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 10:46
Path: /nfl/new-york-jets-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The New York Jets, who arrive in Foxboro in the midst of their longest losing streak in seven years, will try to get off the schneid on the road against a surging New England Patriots team that has looked like a Super Bowl contender the last two weeks. The obvious distaste these two AFC East franchises have for one another adds some spice to an otherwise lackluster primetime matchup on CBS/NFL Network.

 

"You don't have to worry about the motivation," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "It's going to be there. Both teams don't like each other. There's respect for each other, but I don't think you really like each other. We know we have to be at our very best." What Ryan will have to worry about is his quarterback. He remains committed to Geno Smith, who played reasonably well last week against Denver but needs more help from the running game to avoid obvious passing situations and disastrous turnovers.

 

New York Jets at New England Patriots

 

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: New England -10

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Can Desperation Breed Success for the Jets?

No franchise in football is more desperate for a win than the Jets. Coach Rex Ryan entered the season on the hot seat, and a 1–5 start — the worst stretch of the Ryan era in New York — doesn't exactly turn down the temperature. The Jets' obvious desperation will have to manifest itself in a commitment to the run and in winning individual battles at the line of scrimmage. New York has rushed for a combined 122 yards the last two weeks, but it's essential that the Jets relieve pressure from quarterback Geno Smith by chewing clock on the ground. This would be a good week for the running back tandem of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson to get untracked. "We're built to run," Ryan said. "I think we've just got to stay the course with it and see what happens."

 

2. Will Geno Get Marooned on Revis Island?

The Jets wouldn't return cornerback Darrelle Revis' calls during the offseason. Now's his chance to make them pay for their apparent disinterest. Rex Ryan, who did have an interest in re-acquiring one of the best players in Jets history, couldn't persuade the front office to comply, and now he has to face Revis as a division rival. "Oh, man, I'm not going to go there," said Ryan, when asked about his desire to bring Revis back to New York. "Let's focus on the team right now in front of us, and recognize the guy is an excellent player and plays on someone else's team. That's the way it is." Ryan claims credit for the "Revis Island" approach of putting an elite corner in single coverage on the opponent's best receiver, a strategy that is gaining traction across the NFL. Now, struggling second-year quarterback Geno Smith has the unenviable task of looking for top receiver Eric Decker and seeing Revis draped all over him.

 

3. Tom Brady vs. Depleted Jets Secondary

As if the Jets needed something else to worry about, they face a resurgent Tom Brady without all their pieces in the secondary. Their best cornerback, Dee Milliner, was placed on injured reserve this week with an Achilles injury, making an already depleted secondary even weaker. The Jets are allowing an opposing passer rating of 109.2, 30th in the NFL, and they've grabbed only one interception while allowing a league-high 15 touchdowns. Brady has been flawless the last two weeks, completing a combined 50-of-72 (69.4 percent) passes for 653 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in wins over Cincinnati and Buffalo. The Jets will need their pass rush, which has produced 19 sacks thus far, to force Brady into mistakes. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Tom Brady has won six straight regular-season home games against the Jets and is almost certain to make it seven. Gillette Stadium is no place for an ailing team to get well, particularly against a Patriots team that is playing its best football of the season right now. 

 
Prediction: New England 27, New York 10
Teaser:
New York Jets vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-15-2014
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-14-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 14:

 

J-Law brought the smokeshow to a London movie premiere.

 

Is that a Mighty Ducks tattoo on Austin Pettis of the Rams? I think so.

 

Interesting long-form read about the redemption and possible relapse of Irving Fryar.

 

Tom Coughlin to the Giants: Shut up and play.

 

The 10 best fields in college football, starting with the Smurf Turf in Boise.

 

Jon Gruden didn't know what a stalwart was. Or a synonym.

 

Jerry Jones says he's been instructed not to talk about Johnny Football any more. Instructed by whom? I didn't know Jerry answered to anyone.

 

Deion Sanders' 29,000-square-foot palace is going on the auction block.

 

White Chocolate's still got it.

 

• Jimmy Kimmel appeals to the five-year-old in all of us. Last night, weather map drawings shaped like pee-pees.

 

Tennessee fans want to do that checkerboard thing again — in Vanderbilt's stadium.

 

• Bulls fans will be delighted to see this sweet Derrick Rose crossover.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-13-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 13:

 

J-Lo put on an ab show after a workout. Reminder: The woman is 45.

 

A morning-after wrap of a wild day in the NFL.

 

Doug Baldwin did not handle Seattle's loss very well.

 

Aaron Rodgers pulled the old Dan Marino fake spike against the Dolphins. If anybody should have seen it coming, it's Miami.

 

• In an otherwise stellar day, Jay Cutler hit a ref in the nuggets with a left-handed pass.

 

Brandon Marshall's stiff-arm is a thing to be feared.

 

The most Philly story ever.

 

Postseason baseball reminded us last night that it can still make magic.

 

• End of days? We live in a world where Mississippi State is the nation's No. 1 team.

 

Blue Jackets fan Dancing Kevin is real, and he's spectacular.

 

This on-side kick in a Texas high school game is pretty impressive.

 

Ronnie Price threw everything he had at Andre Iguodala, including his right shoe.

 

• The play of the day yesterday, and the play of the season so far: Tony Romo to Terrance Williams.

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 10:49
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC, Seattle Seahawks, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-seattle-seahawks-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Tony Romo returns to the scene of the crime, as his surprising Dallas Cowboys face the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon on FOX. Although Jan. 6, 2007, seems like another lifetime ago in NFL years, the memory of Romo fumbling the snap of a would-be go-ahead, 19-yard field goal with 1:19 left for what coulda-shoulda-woulda been Dallas’ first playoff victory since 1996 is still fresh in the minds of the Cowboys faithful. It won’t be any easier for Romo this week, as the Boys take on the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, where Seattle carries a 19–1 record (including playoffs) with Russell Wilson starting at quarterback. These two teams have combined for a 7–2 start.

 

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

 

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Seattle -8

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Unstoppable Force/Immovable Object

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is on a history-making tear to start the 2014 season. Murray leads the NFL with 670 rushing yards, and his 134 yards per game average puts him on pace for a record-setting 2,144-yard season. He's the cornerstone of the NFL's second-ranked rushing attack. But he hasn't faced a run defense the caliber of Seattle's. The Legion of Boom leads the NFL in stopping the run, allowing only 62.3 yards per game, and the best that a running back has mustered against the Seahawks this season has been Montee Ball's 38 yards on 14 carries in Seattle's overtime win over Denver. The Murray-Seahawks matchup is one of the most intriguing of the first half of the season. "They are going to run the ball and we are going to do everything we can to stop it," said Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. “I love that. And I will be right there on every single play. He’s (Murray) been on a roll, so I’m trying to be the person to stop that."

 

2. Sherman vs. Bryant

If there's a matchup that carries more intrigue than DeMarco Murray vs. the Seattle front, it's Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant against Seattle motormouth Richard Sherman. Even with the Cowboys' commitment to the run, Bryant is on pace for a 102-catch, 13-touchdown season, and he provided the key play in Dallas' win over Houston with a remarkable 37-yard catch in overtime that set up the Cowboys' game-winning field goal. Sherman, who led the NFL with eight interceptions last season, has yet to grab one this year, but that's due as much to avoidance of his side of the field as anything. "He's a great corner, arguably the best in the league," Bryant said. "I do look forward to it, just a great battle. It's not about that. It's really about trying to get this 'W.'" But if Bryant and the Boys fail in that task, expect Sherman to have something to say about it.

 

3. Precision Passers

The two most accurate passers in the NFL so far this season will take CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Russell Wilson leads the league with a 70.3 completion percentage, while Tony Romo is just a tick behind at 69.2. Romo has rebounded nicely from his three-interception performance in a season-opening loss to San Francisco, throwing eight touchdowns to only two interceptions during the Cowboys' current four-game winning streak, despite battling a balky back that has plagued him all season. In the Seahawks' win over Washington, Wilson became only the second quarterback to have two regular-season games in his career with 200 or more yards passing and 100 or more yards rushing, but his running ability is merely the cherry on the sundae. Wilson has a 112.9 passer rating and an 8-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. 

 

Final Analysis

 

Dallas is looking for its first five-game winning streak since 2007, and it would no doubt love to get it, but the Cowboys’ four-game winning streak has given them a cushion that strips this game of some of the urgency it would otherwise have. Wilson and the Seahawks defense will use the emotional edge provided by the 12th Man to hold serve at home. 

 
Prediction: Seattle 28, Dallas 21
Teaser:
Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, October 12, 2014 - 09:00

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