Articles By Rob Doster

Path: /nfl/tennessee-titans-vs-jacksonville-jaguars-preview-and-prediction

If you’re looking forward to watching tonight’s matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars on the NFL Network, you’re either a Draftnik who wants to see who’ll have a shot at the top pick; you have a son on one of the teams; or you have a serious gambling problem.


It’s hard to imagine any other motivation for tuning in for a pairing of the two of the NFL’s worst franchises, who sport matching 2–12 records. Of course, we are talking about professional football players (of a sort), so some small measure of pride and athleticism will still be on display at EverBank Field. We hope.


Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguarss


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: Jacksonville -3.5


Tennessee’s Key to Victory: A Mistake-Free Game from Clipboard Charlie

Third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is being forced back into action for the Titans following injuries to Zach Mettenberger and Jake Locker, but the news isn’t all bad on the Titans QB front. Whitehurst led the Titans to victory in the last meeting between these two teams, completing 17-of-28 passes for 233 yards in Tennessee’s 16–14 Week 6 win over Jacksonville in Nashville. If the Titans are to snap an NFL-worst eight-game losing streak, Whitehurst needs to protect the football and make some plays in the passing game. Whitehurst’s 89.1 passer rating actually leads the team (albeit in limited action), and his 5-to-2 TD-to-INT ratio is respectable. “I feel good about Charlie and what he's done. ... He started against Jacksonville the last time and played a pretty good game,” said coach Ken Whisenhunt. “He’s been a great support in the room, and we have confidence in him that when he plays he’s going to be successful.”



Jacksonville’s Key to Victory: Protect Blake Bortles

When Jags rookie Blake Bortles has had time to throw, he’s looked like a competent quarterback. Sadly, though, he’s had virtually no time to throw at any point this season. Bortles has been sacked an NFL-worst 41 times since Oct. 9 alone, and that punishment has to be adding up and putting a dent in his confidence when he drops back to pass. Bortles has 15 interceptions and a meager 70.9 passer rating, learning the hard way how tough life in the NFL can be. “In college, you can run around and do more stuff, but in the NFL guys are a lot faster and stronger,” he said. “So it’s a little more difficult. You want to be able to get rid of the ball and live another down, not lose 5, 10 yards on third down and create longer field-goal situations. Those are definitely things I’m working on.” The Jags would gladly take a repeat of Bortles’ Nov. 30 showing against the Giants, when he threw for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a 25–24 Jags win. If given time, he can easily produce similar numbers against a struggling Titans defense. 


Final Analysis


The stats say that these teams are in the NFL’s bottom five in both offense and defense, and the stats don’t lie. The Jags have managed to force 18 turnovers, two more than the Titans, so we’ll go with that as our tiebreaker.

Prediction: Jacksonville 17, Tennessee 13
Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-17-2014

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


• Skill players aren't the only ones who do well with the ladies. Just ask Georgia kicker — yep, kicker — Marshall Morgan.


Andre Iguodala made fun of Mike Conley's uncalled traveling violation in a most delightful way, although it cost him a technical. 


• Well this is awkward: Jets owner Woody Johnson favorited a "Fire John Idzik" tweet. Accidentally, he said.


A Chicago sports anchor used an interesting graphic to call for cutting ties with Jay Cutler


Steph Curry has a pure jump shot — science says so.


Larry David talked golf, Jets and the Seinfeld finale on Simmons' podcast


The Browns pretty much hung Johnny Football out to dry in his first start.


The chefs try to impress Rob Gronkowski with their sausages on tonight's "Top Chef."


• This is not a new idea, but it's well executed: A bench warmer made himself a recruiting video


Evan Turner compared himself to Jesus.


Here's a heartwarming video montage of people getting puppies for Christmas.


• There was a "rain delay" at the Nets game.


-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-16-2014

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


Your college football cheerleader showdown, bowl game edition


Warren Buffett took in a Cavs game in a Cavs jersey.


Jay Cutler showed up early for his press conference, spouted a few cliches, and left.


Carmelo Anthony has decided to dress like Darkwing Duck.


Bubba Watson drops a new single today as "BubbaClaus."


Average home attendance for every FBS school. It's getting tough to fill seats. 


Andrew Hawkins of the Browns had some thoughtful things to say about his protest


Here's Tom Izzo playing Christmas songs on the accordion, and reminding us all we hate the accordion.


Johnny Miller's not giving up on Tiger Woods.


Some U.S. cities actually want to be considered for upcoming Olympics.


• In case you were wondering, here's how the Internet actually works.


• John Wall and Liam Neeson star in a "Taken"-inspired promo.


-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-15-2014

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


Merry Christmas from the Dufners


• Chad johnson tweeted out his generous tip


It was the Dez Bryant show last night


Johnny Football's dismal debut wasn't a huge surprise. Fortunately, it did lead to some fun Internet memes. Plus, for some reason, Joe Buck decided to share his thoughts

Amazing gesture from Oregon State to honor Marcus Mariota


• As if Kobe weren't depressed enough about this season, his team threw him a pathetic plane party to celebrate his passing Jordan on the scoring list


Apparently traveling is no longer against the rules in the NBA


• In case you're into legal jargon, here's the Adrian Peterson lawsuit against the Shield


The Kings fired Mike Malone out of nowhere. Merry Christmas. 


• A terrible roughing the passer ended the Niners' hopes against Seattle.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, December 15, 2014 - 10:31
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-vs-seattle-seahawks-preview-and-prediction-2014

The sizzling Seattle Seahawks will go for a third straight victory over the struggling San Francisco 49ers this afternoon on FOX. Seattle (9-4) shined in the Thanksgiving nightcap, beating San Francisco (7–6) 19-3 just two weeks ago. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggled, in particular, completing just 16-of-29 passes (55.2 percent) for a season-low 121 yards, zero TDs and two INTs for a season-low 36.7 passer rating.


Circumstances have only gotten worse for the 49ers, who lost 24-13 to the lowly Raiders last week. Over the past two weeks, Kaepernick has passed for a combined 295 yards, one TD and four INTs while taking nine sacks for 44 lost yards in two defeats. Kaepernick’s worst games have historically come at Seattle, where he is 0-3 with two TDs, six INTs and two lost fumbles.


San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Seattle -10


San Francisco’s Key to Victory: Rally Around Harbaugh

A report surfaced that Jim Harbaugh’s alma mater, Michigan, had reached out to the Niners’ boss about its vacant coaching job. With speculation running rampant that Harbaugh has one foot out the door — especially when you consider that CEO Jed York publicly referred to San Fran’s performance in a loss to the Raiders as “unacceptable” — it seems that the distractions swirling around the Niners’ headquarters are too much to overcome this week. But Harbaugh retains the respect of his players, who could rally around their embattled coach and strike a blow against their hated rivals from the Northwest. Harbaugh isn’t letting his job status distract from the task at hand. “My priorities are No. 1, winning football games, No. 2, with the welfare of our players, coaches and our staff, and lastly is what my personal and professional future is,” Harbaugh said. “My priorities are winning games.” 


Seattle’s Key to Victory: Don’t Look Ahead

The obvious temptation will be for the Seahawks to have one eye on a potentially division-deciding matchup with Arizona in Week 16, with the memory of their Thanksgiving domination of the Niners still fresh in their minds. Coach Pete Carroll is wary of overlooking a wounded, dangerous division rival and is alerting his team to the likelihood that the Niners will come to play. “That’s why they’re so dangerous coming in right now, because of his leadership and his toughness about the way he runs his program,” Carroll said of Harbaugh. “All the other stuff you guys thought was going on, there ain’t much to it. Really, it’s two football guys going at it and two guys who love to compete and battle and there’s nobody I’d rather play.” With that backdrop, a lapse in focus seems unlikely for a team that has won six of seven and is flexing its defensive muscles, allowing only 20 points in its last three wins.  


Final Analysis


The Niners’ season of promise has crumbled, hitting a low point in a Week 14 loss to their sad-sack Bay Area brethren Oakland Raiders. With the playoffs all but out of reach, they’ll have to settle for playing spoiler against the surging Seahawks. But given the bad blood between these two teams, expect a fierce and focused Seattle team to take care of its business. 

Prediction: Seattle 24, San Francisco 13
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-12-2014

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


Mrs. Tom Brady took a trip to the beach, and cameras were clicking


• Urban Meyer's wife caught on fire the other night


Bruce Arians botched a challenge last night


The Bears have reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction


This guy's amazing golf trick shot involves a swimming pool and a fake cup


Gosder Cherilus is not a doctor, but he has a grim prognosis for Jadeveon Clowney.


An open letter to Johnny Manziel


A reminder for J.J. Watt that it's tough for a defensive player to win MVP.


Here's a crazy conspiracy theory behind Gary Andersen's departure from Wisconsin for Oregon State.


• Today's year-end list: The best sports media feuds of 2014


Jared Lorenzen offered his services to the Cardinals via Twitter


• Kobe had some hard words for his soft Laker teammates.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 11:04
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-11-2014

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


Broadcaster Chelsa Messinger learned recently that Chris Berman has a Costanza-sized wallet. Also, Chelsa Messinger is rather attractive. 


• The time is nigh for year-end lists. Here are the funniest athlete tweets of 2014


A question for the ages.


Cam Newton's brush with death has given him a new appreciation for life


An Iowa State hoops star was popped for hosting a marijuana house.


Looks like Willis McGahee wants to try rugby


Jim Kelly's nephew committed to the Ole Miss Rebels, can't spell Rebel


The Astros sent out an overly optimistic tweet.


Alley-oop buzzer-beaters are always fun


• An early Christmas present from SI: A Kate Upton video


Giants punter Steve Weatherford has himself frozen to -30 degrees.


• Is this the worst airball in NBA history?


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 11:29
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Cardinals, NFC, St. Louis Rams, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-vs-st-louis-rams-preview-and-prediction-2014

The surging St. Louis Rams (7-6) welcome an Arizona Cardinals (10-3) team that shook off two straight tough losses to post a key win over Kansas City in Week 14. Basically, both of these long-suffering franchises are merely happy to be playing meaningful football in December. “For some teams, (playing in December) doesn’t mean a damn thing except the season’s almost over,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “This one means a lot because everything rides from here on in, so every game is a real playoff game, especially in the NFC.”


Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: St. Louis -4.5


Arizona’s Key to Victory: Ask Kerwynn Williams

Who is Kerwynn Williams, you ask? The second-year back from Utah State was an oasis in an offensive desert for the Cards in a desperately needed Week 14 win over Kansas City. Williams, who had never touched the ball in a regular-season game prior to last Sunday, came off of the bench to replace an injured Andre Ellington and churned out 100 yards on 19 carries against Kansas City. Quarterback Drew Stanton is struggling — he’s thrown five interceptions in the four games since Carson Palmer’s injury — and the Cards will need the threat of a running game to take some pressure off of Stanton and open things up for receivers Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, who have combined for only two touchdown receptions since the calendar turned to November.



St. Louis’ Key to Victory: Continue the Clampdown

The Rams are the first team since 2009 to post back-to-back shutouts, a truly impressive feat in an offensive era. Yes, the victims were the lowly Raiders and Redskins, but a shutout’s a shutout, and if you go back a few weeks, the Rams surrendered only seven points to Peyton Manning and the reigning AFC champion Denver Broncos. A sputtering Cardinals offense presents the opportunity for something truly historic: three consecutive shutouts for the first time since the 1976 Steelers. Interestingly enough, the Cardinals’ offensive troubles began when quarterback Carson Palmer tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 10. Since then, the Cardinals have managed only four offensive touchdowns in four games, and leading rusher Andre Ellington has joined Palmer on the shelf due to injury. Jeff Fisher is confident that his team can maintain its recent defensive dominance. “I want to see it again,” Fisher said. “We need to keep playing, keep preparing the way we are.”


Final Analysis



The injury-depleted Cardinals are clinging to a one-game lead in the NFC West, and a tussle with a Rams team that is at the top of its game defensively is a tough matchup for a team that is searching for its offensive identity. The Rams may not match the Steel Curtain with a third straight shutout, but they should be able to outscore the Cards.  

Prediction: St. Louis 23, Arizona 17
Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-10-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 10:


Charlotte McKinney will be appearing in "Joe Dirt 2." In other news, they're actually making "Joe Dirt 2." 


J.J. Watt lost a bet, and J.J. Watt pays all debts


ESPN asked a group of toddlers for their opinions on college football. They're stepping on Skip Bayless' turf there. 


Police were called to the home of Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett over a domestic dispute


Dunk or posterization: you make the call


Geno Smith thinks he's shown flashes of being a Pro Bowler. Geno is not very self aware. 


• Bad news for the growing legion of FSU haters: The Noles just snagged the nation's best recruit


The latest on Cam Newton's injury due to a scary crash. If I were a snarky internet commenter, I'd point out that another Cam Newton drive ended in a turnover. 


• I'm on Gronk overload, but if you're not, here are some photos of him with kittens


There go the Cubs, giving their fans false hope again


Jason Kidd gives written tests on game days. Sounds fun to play for. 


• Robin Lopez has a beef with the Pistons mascot.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-9-2014

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


Golden Tate thinks Russell Wilson stole Joseph Fauria's girlfriend Erika Anne Hammond (pictured). What is it with the Seahawks and love triangles?


Some Niners fans are taking their Kaepernick hot takes to their natural conclusions.


• It was a royal summit in Brooklyn last night — King James and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Oh, and America's royal couple, too.


John Wall had an emotional post-game interview following the death of a young cancer patient.


Blake Griffin hit a step-back game-winner to cap a 45-point night.


MadBum is SI's Sportsman of the Year.


Tim Tebow played Santa for some Wal-Mart shoppers.


The Olympics finally try a little self-repair.


Watch a toddler flip out on the green after missing a tap-in. I can relate, kid.


• This is truly horrifying: Floyd Mayweather might have witnessed a murder-suicide over FaceTime.


• Watch Zach LaVine blow the wide-open slam.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-8-2014

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


The 50 hottest sports fans on Instagram.


• True nightmare fuel: Digger Phelps dressed as a character from The Nutcracker. That's him in the photo above.


• Today's year-end list: The 50 most influential people in sports for 2014. Bad sign: TMZ's Harvey Levin made the list.


This year's inaugural playoff quartet represents college football royalty.


Take solace that you're having a better week than the Big 12.


A couple refs shared a fist bump after a Broncos touchdown. Must've had money on Denver.


Tom Brady let off some steam last night.


Elton John fell out of a chair at a tennis match.


Some people see Johnny Manziel's attendance at Cavs games as a lack of dedication. People like his bosses.


Watch a Swedish goalie celebrate a win by "ice fishing" and riding a zamboni.


If only this were true.


• Cam Newton's Superman celebration sparked an entertaining brawl.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 10:41
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-san-diego-chargers-preview-and-prediction

The reigning kings of December will collide in Qualcomm Stadium, as the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers will face off tonight on NBC. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers rival Santa Claus for ownership of this month; they have a combined December record of 75–13 and rank first (Brady) and second (Rivers) in the NFL in December winning percentage since 1950 among quarterbacks with 25 starts or more. The Patriots (9-3) are in bounce-back mode after seeing their seven-game winning streak snapped in a 26–21 loss to Green Bay, while the Chargers (8-4) are coming off a key comeback win over Baltimore.


New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: New England -4


New England’s Key to Victory: Maintain Focus

A trip to the warm climes of San Diego can seem like a vacation, and L.A. is just a quick drive up the coast, as we saw when tight end Rob Gronkowski took in a Clippers game with Justin Bieber earlier this week. The Patriots have a reputation for being the most business-like, results-driven team in the game, but it’s critical that this group regain the level of intensity that led to its recent seven-game surge. They need to be particularly focused on preventing big plays; after Aaron Rodgers burned New England’s secondary for first-half touchdown passes of 32 and 45 yards, leading to a nine-point halftime deficit that proved too much to overcome. “It’s important for us to not be distracted by nice weather and things that are going on out here and realize that we have a job to do this week,” left guard Dan Connelly said. “We have to treat it as much like a regular week as we can.”



San Diego’s Key to Victory: Reverse the Curse

The history of this series favors the Patriots — overwhelmingly. Tom Brady has never lost to San Diego, boasting a 5-0 record against the Bolts. His counterpart, Philip Rivers, is 1-5 against the Patriots, with the one win coming against a Matt Cassel-led New England team in 2008. The respective stats tell the story: Rivers has a 5-to-8 TD-to-interception ratio against the Brady-led Pats, with a 73.4 passer rating, while Brady has 11 TD passes and a 91.4 rating against San Diego. But Rivers made a salient point on this subject: These franchises haven’t met since 2011, and every year is new. “We’ve never played this Patriot team,” he said. “We’re 0-0 against this group. There are a lot of guys in that locker room that have never played the Patriots in their life. You can’t really say this team is 1-5 against them.” It’s up to these Chargers to ignore the history and play loose and confident.


Final Analysis


The loss in Green Bay and the end of the seven-game winning streak was in all likelihood the wakeup call New England needed. Look for the Patriots to embark on yet another December surge with a key road win over a Chargers team that has been living on the edge all season.

Prediction: New England 27, San Diego 24
New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, NBA
Path: /nba/golden-state-warriors-are-juggernaut

Anthony Davis’ MVP coming-out party hit a bump last night, when his New Orleans Pelicans rolled into Oakland to take on Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Behind the tutelage of new coach Steve Kerr and the flaming hot shooting hands of Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have looked like basketball’s best team this season, with their 112-85 dismantling of New Orleans extending their winning streak to 11 games and improving their record to a scary 16-2.

Curry, this week, was named the Western Conference Player of the Month, and he deserves every bit of the accolades. His unbelievably good shooting doesn’t really even scratch the surface of his deep value to GSW. He’s also one of the game’s best ball-handlers and distributors, and he has greatly expanded his effect upon defenses in 2014-15 with more dribble penetration and mid-range scoring.

And with Kerr’s new democratic-feeling rotations — which evoke the hyper-intelligent ethos of one of his old teams, Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs — production has been coming from unexpected places, too. Reserve big man Marreese Speights is enjoying his best season as a pro, clocking a staggering 26.18 player efficiency rating to go with 55 percent shooting from the floor. Starting center Andrew Bogut, long depressed within Mark Jackson’s retrogressive offensive sets, is now free to push the ball up the floor himself and behave like a wingman.

The Warriors can hit you in so many ways. They’ve gone on this run without yet even having great play from Andre Iguodala, easily their most versatile forward and their best defender outside the paint. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time you read about how great this team is.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 15:01
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-5-2014

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


• Leading off today, SI swimsuit models in Christmas masks and bikinis. Season's greetings.


Prison was not kind to Ryan Leaf, although it looks like he ate well.


Watch golfer Luke Donald flee from a charging baboon.


Six simple charts that explain this NFL season.


Details are emerging about Kosta Karageorge, the Ohio State player who took his own life.


• The insane catches keep coming. This one's by Brandon Marshall.


Grantland goes longform on Taylor Swift.


• Darwin Awards nominee: A Nebraska defensive end tried to take a selfie with a raccoon and got bitten.


The Yankees have their replacement for the Captain.


Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith discussed Ferguson on Inside the NBA.


LeBron took time to check out his stat sheet during the Knicks game.


• A promotional blimp crashed into some fans at the Blazers game.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 12:25
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-4-2014

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


Golfer Martin Kaymer has a new girlfriend. That's her in the photo. Mazel tov.


The Philadelphia 76ers will not go 0-82. Beyond that, no guarantees.


The Florida Gators have themselves a head coach. And Jim McElwain will want to read this before he starts.


Monta Ellis beat the buzzer as only he can.


Longform read on the plight of one Tony Romo.


Haloti Ngata suspended for Adderall.


Kenny Smith wrote an open letter to Charles Barkley about Ferguson.


Ohio State thanked Devin Gardner for his show of sportsmanship after J.T. Barrett's injury.


Watch Cody Zeller posterize Pau Gasol.


• There's a new Terminator movie coming out, and there's a trailer. Cautiously optimistic.


Penn State wants Jerry Sandusky to renew his season tickets. I guess he'll have to scalp them.


• This is rare: Watch Elfrid Payton airball two free throws in a row.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 11:36
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-chicago-bears-preview-and-prediction-2014

A Chicago Bears team that harbored Super Bowl dreams when the season began limps into tonight’s matchup on the NFL Network with a Dallas Cowboys team that still has postseason aspirations but is smarting from a Thanksgiving flameout. The Bears (5-7) have won three straight against the Cowboys (8-4) and two straight at home, but those are empty numbers in what is shaping up to be a lost season in the Windy City. 


Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NFL Network

Spread: Dallas -3.5


Dallas’ Key to Victory: Forget Thanksgiving

Now that the calendar has turned to December, many are expecting another Cowboys swoon. In fact, that swoon may have started early with a dispiriting 33–10 loss at home to Philadelphia on Thanksgiving. In laying that Turkey Day egg, the ’Boys dropped from a tie for the division lead to out of the playoffs altogether had they started the next week. So was the game a sign of another ignominious collapse or a much-needed wake-up call? The answer could come this week as the Cowboys take on a Bears team that is playing out the string. It’s premature to call this a must-win for the 8-4 Cowboys, but for a team that has yet to lose on the road this season (5-0), a return to form is essential. Tony Romo has thrived away from home this season, with a 12-to-1 TD-to-interception ratio and a 122.0 passer rating, helping the Cowboys enter this one with a renewed sense of confidence. “No excuses,” said defensive tackle Jerome Mincey. “We just gotta get better. Sometimes it's good to get a good old-fashioned butt-kicking to get you going again.” 


Chicago’s Key to Victory: Offensive Balance

At this point, the Chicago defense is what it is. The Bears, unlike their “Monsters of the Midway” predecessors, are going to allow some points. It’s up to the offense, the supposed specialty of head coach Marc Trestman, to keep Chicago competitive as the curtain lowers on a disappointing season. The Bears joined the Cowboys in underachieving in front of a Thanksgiving audience, and a primary culprit was a lack of balance. Running back Matt Forté carried the ball only five times for six yards in the 34-17 loss to Detroit. Chicago ranks 28th in the NFL with 23.1 rushing attempts per game and ranks 26th with 93.2 yards per game on the ground. Forté would welcome a chance to touch the ball more frequently. “It’s of the utmost importance, especially if we’re playing outside, with the weather and stuff,” he said. “You can’t just sit back there and throw 50 passes a game and expect to win.”


Final Analysis


Forté had an exceptional game when these two teams last met — a 45–28 Bears win last season in which Chicago piled up 490 total yards. But these Bears are averaging only 340 yards per game, and their points-per-game output has fallen by nearly a touchdown compared to last year. This game provides a nice get-well opportunity for a wounded Cowboys team. 

Prediction: Dallas 31, Chicago 20
Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-3-2014

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


Taylor Swift made an appearance at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, as did many other lovely ladies.


Nicki Meyer is not happy that her dad Urban was not named Big Ten Coach of the Year.


Tom Brady was too busy sleeping to hang with Justin Bieber. I suddenly like Tom Brady a little more.


Kendrick Perkins attempted to post up Anthony Davis. His eyes were bigger than his stomach.


The market is crashing for young, expensive NFL quarterbacks.


Then again, things may be looking up for one young QB who answers to Johnny Football.


Kate Upton and Justin Verlander made the Kiss Cam at the Cavs game.


A Nets fan got hauled out of the arena after losing his prosthetic leg.


The College Football Playoff hasn't happened yet and it's already amazing.


Tiger's going back to the future with his golf swing.


Jose Canseco took to Twitter to hit on Shania Twain. Gross.


• A kid got to skate with some pros but got destroyed in the process.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-2-2014

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


50 Anastasia Ashley Instagram photos. You're welcome.


Jon Gruden might like to have last night's final call back. Of course, it's the kind of ending that game deserved.


Kobe tickled Drake's funny bone last night.


Justin Bieber has now infected Gronk and the Clippers with his bandwagon Bieber-ness.


Drew Brees is not ready to go quietly.


Is it finally judgment day for Jameis Winston?


The underbelly of bass fishing: cheaters.


A bizarre story of college football and an assumed identity.


A dude tried to flee from police on a skateboard. New X-Games event?


Watch an Avalanche shot hit both posts but stay out of the net.


• Cool holiday story: Andre Johnson's 80-second shopping spree for underprivileged kids.


• Jets coach Rex Ryan took this latest loss pretty hard.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 12:38
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-1-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 1:


Jenn Sterger made a return to Florida State over the weekend.


Johnny Football had an eventful day: a fumble for a Bills TD, but also a rushing touchdown.


Tom Brady let his feelings be known as the clock wound down on the Packers' win over New England. Hey, at least the guy still cares after all these years.


It was another GIF-tastic NFL weekend.


Nerd alert: Harvard dork Ryan Fitzpatrick has a brainiac son.


Janay Rice is still standing by her man.


The weekend revealed plenty of chinks in the SEC's armor.


Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn inspired each other's recoveries from injury. That's sweet.


Mickey Rourke knocked out a homeless drifter in his return to the ring. Congrats!


• Alabama fell behind against Auburn, but Nacho Guy wasn't worried.


Travis Kelce expressed his opinion of a ref's call with his hand.


• Gerald Green threw himself a sweet alley-oop.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, December 1, 2014 - 10:32
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-green-bay-packers-preview-and-prediction

A potential Super Bowl XLIX preview pits Tom Brady’s New England Patriots (9-2) against Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers (8-3) this afternoon on CBS in the first matchup between these two QB legends. Rodgers has been nearly unstoppable at Lambeau Field this season, where he has thrown for 1,413 yards, 18 TDs and zero INTs on his way to a perfect 5–0 record. Most Packers fans would like to forget Tom Brady’s first and only trip to Title Town, when he threw four TDs in a 35–0 shutout victory in 2006.


New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers


Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Green Bay -3


New England’s Key to Victory: Piercing the Lambeau Mystique

The Patriots are walking into a true hornet’s nest on Sunday. Lambeau Field may provide the best home-field advantage in the NFL. This season, Green Bay is 5–0 on the tundra, outscoring those five opponents 219–85 — an average score of 44–17. In their last two home games, the Packers have shown no mercy, dispatching Chicago 55–14 (after building a 42–0 halftime lead) and Philadelphia 53–20 (after holding a 30–6 halftime advantage). Clearly, it’s incumbent upon the Patriots to weather the early storm. In their last loss, a 41–14 Week 4 blowout at the hands of the Chiefs in Kansas City, the Patriots fell behind 27–0 in the third quarter. A similar start against the Packers will be a death knell for the Patriots’ seven-game winning streak.



Green Bay’s Key to Victory: Disrupting Brady’s Rhythm

The last time the Packers played an elite quarterback, Drew Brees carved up the Green Bay defense in a 21-point Saints win. If Tom Brady gets in a similar groove, it will be a long afternoon for the Packers. After four interception-free games in a row, Brady has tossed four picks in the last three games, giving the Packers a glimmer of hope that they can get him off his game. “When you're playing against these quarterbacks like Brady, it's like having a coach on the field," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Kind of like what Aaron does where he calls a lot of the game and has the flexibility to change things on the field. You have to be on top of your game in terms of the alignments, the disguise, those pre-snap reads. So, hopefully you don't let them get into a rhythm, because he's as good as there is.”


Final Analysis


Two of the hottest teams in the NFL provide the main course for a Thanksgiving weekend feast. It’s worth noting, though, that New England has navigated a tougher schedule and can claim Denver, Cincinnati and Indianapolis among its victims. If the Patriots’ cobbled-together running game can find room to run against Green Bay’s 30th-ranked rush defense, the P-men should run their winning streak to eight.

Prediction: New England 27, Green Bay 24
New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2014

Load up a plate of leftovers and another piece of pie; this Thanksgiving afternoon matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on FOX will go a long way towards deciding the NFC East division. Last year, Philly (8-3) and Big D (8-3) split the season series — with both teams winning on the road, as the Cowboys won 17–3 in Week 7 and the Eagles clinched the division title with a 24–22 win-and-you’re-in victory over Kyle Orton (subbing for an injured Tony Romo) in Week 17. This time around, it’s Philadelphia playing its backup QB, with Mark Sanchez starting in place of Nick Foles.


Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys


Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Dallas -3.5


Philadelphia’s Key to Victory: The Real McCoy

LeSean McCoy’s maddeningly inconsistent season reached a low point in Week 10’s 45–21 win over Carolina, when Shady could muster only 19 yards on 12 carries (1.6 yards per carry). The following week, McCoy slogged his way to 88 yards on 23 tough carries (3.8 yards per carry) with a long of only 13 yards in a 53–20 loss to Green Bay. Against the Titans, though, the old Shady re-emerged. McCoy dashed for 130 yards on only 21 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and broke a 53-yard jaunt that featured more than a flash of the old explosiveness. The threat of the run adds an important dimension to Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense, while relieving pressure from quarterback Mark Sanchez. Dallas has allowed only 160 rushing yards in the last two games, but respect for McCoy and the run game would open things up for Sanchez, Jordan Matthews and the Eagle passing attack.



Dallas’ Key to Victory: Keep Romo Rolling

In two November wins, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has played some of his best football — 71.7 completion percentage, a 7-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 142.4 passer rating. This is all par for the course for Mr. November. Romo has a career record of 28–6 during Turkey Month, with a passer rating of 107.6. So, before the calendar turns to December, it’s critical for Dallas to close the month with a divisional win. Romo’s December struggles — a 14–19 career record — are well documented, so the Cowboys need to build a little margin for error in anticipation of a possible December swoon. The oft-maligned Romo is on the cusp of exorcising a lot of demons, and a home win over Philly would be another important step.


Final Analysis


The Philadelphia defense has produced a lot of big plays this season — the Eagles have scored a league-best 10 non-offensive touchdowns — but Philly has also been vulnerable to big plays and surrendered a ton of points (25.0 per game). If Romo can protect the football, something he has a habit of doing in November, the Cowboys should take the lead in the NFC East at AT&T Stadium.

Prediction: Dallas 31, Philadelphia 28
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-26-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 26:


Cheerleader of the week: Michigan State's Alexa Brewer.


Richard Sherman masterfully trolled the NFL with a cardboard Doug Baldwin.


• A pre-Thanksgiving treat: Watch a photo of Kate Upton get reconstructed using Turkey Day food.


• Today, among other things, we're thankful for Jennifer Lawrence.


Two years ago today, the Buttfumble happened and things were never the same.


A nice gesture from JJ Watt to Houston's first responders.


Fran Tarkenton spent a season on horse painkillers.


The nation's 10 best high school Thanksgiving rivalries.


Oregon's Elgin Cook went up for a dunk, changed his mind in mid-air and embarrassed himself and his family.


The feel-good Devon Still story doesn't feel quite as good if this is true.


Benching RG3 was Jay Gruden's last-ditch attempt to keep the locker room.


• Kenneth Faried's dunk elicited an enthusiastic celebration from Nate Robinson.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 11:29
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-25-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 25:


1970s teen idol David Cassidy has a rather attractive daughter.


Kobe had a message for his teammates.


The legend of Odell Beckham's catch is only growing.


Robert Woods of the Bills got in on the weekend's good hands action. As did the Ravens' Steve Smith.


Peter King and the Red Sox had remarkably ill-timed, ill-phrased tweets.


NFL logo pancake art. It's exactly what it sounds like.


An NFL journeyman was found passed out in a Wendy's drive-thru. As a commenter notes, he got a frosty reception.


• Joe Pos reminds us that for one shining moment, Priest Holmes was the greatest player fantasy football had ever seen.


The North Carolina Tar Heels left their mark in the Duke locker room.


Rick Pitino was dishing one-liners after an epic beatdown of Savannah State.


• Watch James Harden abandon matador defense in favor of statue defense.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:07
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-woods-names-chris-como-his-new-swing-coach

Tiger Woods announced over the weekend that he had selected little-known Chris Como as his new swing coach, sending out this Saturday morning tweet: "Happy to have Chris Como consulting and working with me on my swing. I’m excited to be back competing." Tiger confidante and former Stanford teammate Notah Begay played matchmaker for the two, putting an end to speculation that Woods was planning to fly solo upon his return to competition following an injury layoff.


So who is Chris Como? Based in Plano, Texas, he's listed among Golf Digest's "Best Young Teachers," and he sounds like a bit of a technician. “I like to study the golf swing in biomechanical terms,” Como wrote in Golf Digest. Sounds like a red flag; the last thing Woods needs to do is overthink. But Tiger has already begun downplaying Como's role, calling him a consultant rather than a teacher and raising questions of just how influential he'll be.


On one hand, Como is coming aboard Team Tiger at the perfect time; at least, former Woods mentor Hank Haney thinks so. “This is the easiest situation that any coach has been in,” he told Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel. “You couldn’t coach Tiger and have a friendlier scenario than Chris Como has. Look at the record Tiger had with Butch (Harmon); I was following that. Look at the record Tiger had with me; Sean (Foley) was following that.


“Let’s face it: The expectations are not super high at this point.”


In addition to being a clever, self-promoting zinger, Haney's comment prompted us to compare Tiger's performance under the tutelage of those three aforementioned mentors. Of course, there's a lot more to a player's success or failure than who's watching him on the range — especially when you're talking about the best player of the last 30 years — but Tiger certainly enjoyed varying degrees of success depending on who was helping call the shots.


Tiger and Butch Harmon


Harmon was Woods' mentor during his stunning ascendancy to the top of the golf world. With Harmon, Woods employed a more upright swing with a pronounced wrist cock.

Tiger under Butch:

• 31 PGA Tour Wins

PGA Tour winning percentage of 26.8%

• 8 Major Championships — 1997, 2001, '02 Masters; 2000, '02 U.S. Open; 2000 British Open; 1999, 2000 PGA Championship

• 8 World Golf Championship Wins

• 5 Money Titles (1997, 1999-2002)

• 5 Times Low Scoring Average (1999-2003)

Quote: “I don’t think he needs a swing coach. If I were advising Tiger I’d tell him, ‘You’re the greatest player that ever lived, just go to the range and hit shots.’”


Tiger and Hank Haney


Haney flattened Woods swing but felt that Tiger was too dedicated to working out and not enough to practicing. But he also oversaw the period with the best winning percentage of Tiger's career.

Tiger Under Hank:

• 31 PGA Tour Wins

PGA Tour winning percentage of 33.3%

• 6 Major Championships — 2005 Masters; 2008 U.S. Open; 2005, '06 British Open; 2006, '07 PGA Championship

• 4 Money Titles (2005-07, 2009)

• 4 Times Low Scoring Average (2005-07, 2009)

Quote: “I think he’d probably be better off just going and doing it himself. He’s the one that he’ll listen to the most. He’s the one that he’s always listened to the most."


Tiger and Sean Foley


Foley is known for his use of video and his rather unorthodox teaching style, but he had the misfortune of tutoring Woods during a particularly injury-plagued phase of his career.

• 8 PGA Tour Wins

• PGA Tour winning percentage of 14.5

• No Major Championships

• 1 Money Title (2013)

• Quote: "It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him."

Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 12:22
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-24-2014

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


• It's official: Katy Perry is your Super Bowl XLIX halftime performer.


Odell Beckham had the catch of this or any other year in the Giants' loss to the Cowboys. It even impressed the heck out of the Cowboys. And, this being the Internet, some classic Beckham memes have emerged.


• Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch had the postgame interview of the year.


Tony Dungy's son is a talented celebration dancer.


Dominic Raiola was a bad sport, and Bill Belichick cleverly trolled him for it.


• There's an NFL doomsday scenario brewing: a 5-11 team in the playoffs and a 12-4 team out.


Clay Travis breaks down the 11 College Football Playoff contenders.


Throw bumping the ref on Jameis Winston's pile of misdeeds.


The Red Sox are having an active and productive offseason.


• T.Y. Hilton broke down during his postgame interview as he talked about his baby daughter.


--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 11:10