Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-january-9-2014-0
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Jan. 9: 

 

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, on Super Bowl Sunday. .

 

. It's the players who should be wearing them.

 

. But is he elite?

 

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• The Titans decided to "live-tweet" the Music City Miracle on its 15th anniversary. .

 

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• Marv Albert shared his all-time Albert Achievement Awards on Letterman.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, January 9, 2015 - 10:27
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-january-8-2014-0
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for January 8: 

 

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• This is somehow perfect: .

 

, along with his crossing guard duties.

 

• Not sports, but interesting nonetheless: .

 

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• Today in Steve Ballmer insanity: The Clippers owner flails around to Fergie.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 12:08
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-january-7-2014-0
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for January 7: 

 

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. Watch out, bars and strip clubs of Tallahassee.

 

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. In fact, someone did.

 

• Of course,

 

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• The Preds' Pekka Rinne made an insane backwards leg save.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - 10:42
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-january-6-2015
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Jan. 6: 

 

• While we all returned to work in the cold January air following the New Year holiday, .

 

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. I'd vote him in.

 

 

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• More hockey fun: .

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nfc-wild-card-preview-and-prediction-detroit-lions-vs-dallas-cowboys
Body:

The day your five-year-old has waited for his whole life for is finally here — the Dallas Cowboys are back in the postseason. Behind the record-setting offensive trio of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, Dallas won the NFC East with a 12–4 record and has returned to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2009. A 4–0 showing in December has helped erase a stigma that surrounded a Cowboys franchise that could not win in the last month of the year, particularly under coach Jason Garrett and Romo. Dallas entered this season 8–11 in December in four seasons with Garrett, and Romo had gone 14–22 in the month.

 

Meanwhile, Detroit (11-5) is back in the postseason for the second time in three years after previously not having made it since 2000. The Lions are still looking for their first playoff win since a 38–6 Divisional Round win over Dallas on Jan. 12, 1992. That win was the first postseason victory for the franchise since 1957, with only two appearances in between.

 

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

 

Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Dallas -7

 

Detroit’s Key to Victory: Stafford to Johnson

 

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford carries this unfortunate bit of baggage into this game: He is 0–16 as a starting quarterback in road games against teams that finished the season with a winning record, the third-most losses without a win in such games for any quarterback since the 1970 merger. But he’s 2–0 against Tony Romo, which gives the Lions a glimmer of hope. Both wins featured dramatic comebacks, including a 31–30 win in 2013 in which Stafford threw for 488 yards and Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards, the second-best yardage total in NFL history. Johnson’s yardage total of 1,077 this season marks his lowest since 2009, but expect Stafford to look Megatron’s way early and often.

 

Dallas’ Key to Victory: Unleash DeMarco Murray

 

It’s been a season-long theme for Dallas: Use a powerful running attack to set up Tony Romo for success in the passing game. This week, the Cowboys are facing the NFL’s top rushing defense (69.3 ypg), but it’s critical that DeMarco Murray find some running room against the Lions' defense to open things up for Romo and Dez Bryant — a job that gets tougher with the unexpected availability of leg-stomper Ndamukong Suh. The grind of a long NFL season seemed to catch up with Murray, whose 1,845 rushing yards broke Emmitt Smith’s franchise record and were the third most in the NFL over the last eight seasons. In Weeks 15-16, Murray could muster only a combined 139 yards on 2.6 yards per carry, including a season-low 58 yards in a Week 16 win over Indianapolis. He recaptured some of his early-season form with 100 yards on 20 carries against Washington, his 12th 100-yard game of the season (second most in NFL history). We’ll see if the wear and tear of 392 carries hampers him on the postseason stage. 

 

Final Analysis

 

In an unexpected turn of events for two somewhat downtrodden franchises, both the Detroit and Dallas saved some of their best football for late in the season, combining to go 7–1 in the month of December. So which one is prepared to take the next step and win in January? Jerry Jones sees something he likes in his Cowboys, saying that, “This team has a uniqueness to it that could serve us well in the playoffs.” We tend to agree.

 

Prediction: Dallas 27, Detroit 21
Teaser:
NFC Wild Card Preview and Prediction: Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys
Post date: Sunday, January 4, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/notable-sports-deaths-2014
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The sports world bid farewell to some legends in 2014. We mourn their passing, but celebrate the memories they leave behind.

 

Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, basketball legend

Died Sept. 8, Age 62

In marking his death, the New York Times called Barnes “one of basketball’s most talented and defiantly self-indulgent players, whose career dissolved in a haze of drugs and alcohol.” But, as sportscaster Bob Costas said, “The truth is that there were many nights, even when Dr. J was in the game, when the best player on the floor was Marvin Barnes.” Barnes helped lead Providence to the Final Four in 1973 before spending two seasons for the Spirits of St. Louis in the American Basketball Association and then four in the NBA.

 

Rob BironasRob Bironas, Tennessee Titans kicker

Died Sept. 20, Age 36

One of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, Bironas holds the NFL single-game record with eight field goals against the Texans in 2007, a year in which he earned All-Pro recognition. Bironas died in a single-car accident in Nashville; witnesses reported that he had been driving aggressively, and tests revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.218.

 

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, boxer

Died April 20, Age 76

Immortalized in song by Bob Dylan and portrayed on screen by Denzel Washington, Carter was a middleweight boxer who was convicted of murder but freed after almost 20 years in prison via a petition of habeas corpus. Carter’s saga inspired the Dylan song “Hurricane” and the 1999 film “The Hurricane.”

 

Jimmy Ellis, boxer

Died May 6, Age 74

Ellis was a former WBA heavyweight champion who had memorable fights with Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, among others. Upon Ellis’ death, Ali said: “In the world of heavyweights I always thought him one of the best.”

 

Tom Gola, basketball Hall of Famer

Died Jan. 26, Age 81

One of the biggest basketball stars of the 1950s, Gola led La Salle to the 1952 NIT title and the 1954 NCAA title. Gola, who still holds the NCAA record for career rebounds with 2,201, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976. He was later elected to the Pennsylvania State House.

 

Tony GwynnTony Gwynn, Baseball Hall of Famer

Died June 16, Age 54

Quite possibly the hardest-working, sweetest-swinging player in baseball history, Mr. Padre used an incomparable mind for the game, tireless hours of film study and an uncanny ability to find gaps in the defense to win eight batting titles and rap out 3,141 career hits. His death from oral cancer made him a cautionary tale against smokeless tobacco use.

 

Frank Jobe, pioneer sports surgeon

Died March 6, Age 88

Countless athletes owe their careers to the pioneering orthopedic surgeon, who performed the first “Tommy John surgery” on the procedure’s namesake in 1974 and also performed the first major shoulder reconstruction for a pro athlete, allowing Orel Hershiser to continue his career.

 

Ralph Kiner, Baseball Hall of Famer

Died Feb. 6, Age 91

In the years following World War II, Kiner was the most feared slugger in baseball, leading MLB in homers every year from 1947-52 and surpassing 50 dingers twice. He then spent 53 years as a beloved broadcaster for the Mets.

 

Philip Lutzenkirchen, football player

Died June 30, Age 23

The former Auburn tight end was a fan favorite who played for the 2010 National Championship team and set a school record for tight ends with 14 career touchdown catches. He died in a one-car crash in his home state of Georgia.

 

Don Meyer, basketball coach

Died May 18, Age 69

Meyer held the record for most wins by a men’s college basketball coach with 923 until his total was surpassed by Mike Krzyzewski in 2011. A highly influential coach and teacher of basketball, Meyer was credited by Pat Summitt with teaching her “how to teach others how to play the game.”

 

Chuck Noll, Hall of Fame NFL coach

Died June 13, Age 82

Noll’s legendary 23-year tenure as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers produced 209 wins, four Super Bowl titles and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He was the architect of the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s and also was known for providing significant opportunities for African Americans, both on the field and on the sidelines.

 

Dr. Jack Ramsey, NBA coach and broadcaster

Died April 28, Age 89

A highly respected coach and broadcaster, Dr. Jack led the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA title and won a total of 864 games as an NBA head coach. He then spent nine seasons as a color commentator for the 76ers and Heat. He also authored several books on basketball.

 

Oscar Taveras, Baseball phenom

Died Oct. 26, Age 22

Known as "El Fenómeno,” Taveras was a highly coveted baseball prospect from the Dominican Republic who drew comparison to countryman Vladimir Guerrero and spent one season with the St. Louis Cardinals before his death in an automobile accident in his home country.

 

Kevin Ward Jr., driver

Died Aug. 9, Age 20

Ward was an obscure young competitor on the lower levels of professional auto racing before his death in a controversial and tragic dirt-track incident with Sprint Cup star Tony Stewart. Angered by Stewart’s aggressive driving during a sprint car race at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park, Ward got out of his car on the track to confront Stewart but was struck and killed by Stewart’s car.

 

Don Zimmer, MLB player/manager/coach

Died June 4, Age 83

Baseball lifer Zimmer spent 65 years in professional baseball as a player, manager and coach., winning 885 games as a big-league manager. From 2008 until his death, Zim was the last former Brooklyn Dodger still in the game.

 

Other Notables:

Jerry Coleman, baseball player-turned-broadcaster

Lou Hudson, basketball player

Hank Lauricella, Hall of Fame football player

Earl Morrall, Super Bowl quarterback

Robert Newhouse, NFL running back

Bob Suter, hockey player and member of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. team

Orlando Thomas, NFL lineman

Fuzzy Thurston, member of the 1960s Packers dynasty

Bob Welch, MLB pitcher

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 29, 2014 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-24-2014
Body:

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

 

.

 

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• For your Christmas Eve enjoyment, . Speaking of The Rock, .

 

. I'm sure I've linked to many of these this year.

 

• Amazing universe we live in: .

 

• Continuing our countdown theme: .

 

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• This is disturbing: . Not surprising, but disturbing.

 

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• Vlade Divac sank a halfcourt shot for charity and got a round of applause from Jack Nicholson.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 11:34
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-23-2014
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 23: 

 

• The Jags haven't done much right in a while, but they did give us one outlet's .

 

.

 

• BYU and Memphis played a great bowl game, .

 

• Related: .

 

• This is actually a little depressing: . His showing against Cincy led to .

 

. Not quite Vinsanity, but still.

 

. They also show us what happens .

 

 

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• Peyton threw what had to be the worst pick-6 of his career last night.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 11:14
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-22-2014
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 22: 

 

. No. 4 is lovely tennis player Eugenie Bouchard (pictured). 

 

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• Despite yesterday's close game, .

 

. He's turned postgame lockerroom interviews into .

 

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• This is new to me, although they might have been doing it all year: , from NFL RedZone. 

 

 

 

 

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• Relive Marshawn Lynch's earth-shaking Beast Mode moment from yesterday.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 22, 2014 - 11:02
Path: /nfl/seattle-seahawks-vs-arizona-cardinals-preview-and-prediction-2014
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There’s plenty on the line tonight when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals on NBC. Not only is the NFC West Division title hanging in the balance, but the top seed in the conference could be as well.

 

The Cardinals (11-3) secured a playoff berth in their touchdown-free win against St. Louis. It is the first postseason trip for Arizona since 2009, Kurt Warner's last season. And they could use Warner now, as they will go into Sunday's game with third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley under center after injuries to starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.

 

The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks (10-4) won the first meeting between these teams this season 19-3, a game that kick-started their current four-game winning streak. Arizona is 7-0 at home this season, while Seattle is 4-3 on the road. 

 

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinalss

 

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: Seattle -9

 

Seattle’s Key to Victory: Lower the Boom

The Legion of Boom defense is peaking at just the right time. Seattle has held its last four opponents to 27 total points and an average of 188.0 yards per game. In eliminating San Francisco this past Sunday, Seattle sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and allowed only 141 passing yards. They wouldn’t admit it, but the Seahawks’ defenders have to be licking their chops for a shot at Cardinals third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley. The Seattle pass rush has produced 16 sacks in the last four games, and the Seahawks will look to punish Lindley with frequency. “That is a real good part of our game right now,” coach Pete Carroll said of the pass rush. “We're going to try and keep pushing it. I always think it starts up front with the guys rushing the passer, but we certainly feed off one another and it will certainly be important down the stretch.”

 

 

Arizona’s Key to Victory: A First-string Performance from its Third-string Quarterback

We’re tempted here to say that the Cards’ key to victory is to force Kurt Warner out of retirement, but we’ll resist. Instead, we’ll merely say that Ryan Lindley, the Cards’ third-string quarterback, must do his best Warner impersonation and make enough plays in the passing game to keep the Legion of Boom from pinning its ears back and attacking. Lindley, who was signed off the Chargers’ practice squad a few weeks ago, feels like he’s come a long way since his 2012 start against the Seahawks — a 58–0 loss in which he completed eight passes for 59 yards. For Lindley’s sake, one would hope so. “It’s night and day,” he said. “The amount I've learned and not only grown as a person in two years, but from these guys — B.A. (Bruce Arians), from Carson (Palmer), from Drew (Stanton). I'm a totally different person and totally different player from that point.”

 

Final Analysis

 

Arizona should be able to play loose and relaxed, given that the Cardinals have clinched their first playoff appearance since 2009. But to have any shot at playing a home game on Super Sunday — the Super Bowl is at University of Phoenix Stadium — they need home-field advantage in the playoffs, meaning they need to win this game. When you’re on your third quarterback and facing the NFL’s most dominant defense, that’s too much to ask. 

 
Prediction: Seattle 21, Arizona 10
Teaser:
Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, December 21, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-19-2014
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This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 19: 

 

Mazel tov.

 

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• Buyer beware: .

 

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• For some reason,

 

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• Watch Dwight Howard take out the Nuggets mascot with a playful kick.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, December 19, 2014 - 10:49
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-18-2014
Body:

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

 

. Not what we're used to from Ms. Upton, is it? 

 

after his humiliating benching for Jimmy Clausen. When I look at for Cutler, so do I.

 

 

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• Tis the season: .

 

• Somebody strapped a GoPro to an eagle before the Eagles game. Enjoy.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 10:53
Path: /nfl/tennessee-titans-vs-jacksonville-jaguars-preview-and-prediction
Body:

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
Teaser:
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
Body:

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. .

 

, although it cost him a technical. 

 

• Well this is awkward:. Accidentally, he said.

 

 

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• This is not a new idea, but it's well executed:

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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. It's getting tough to fill seats. 

 

 

, and reminding us all we hate the accordion.

 

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• In case you were wondering, .

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

• 

 

 

. Fortunately, it did lead to . Plus, for some reason,
 

 

• As if Kobe weren't depressed enough about this season,

 

 

• In case you're into legal jargon,

 

. Merry Christmas. 

 

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

 

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

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

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
Teaser:
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
Body:

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

 

 

• 

 

 

 

 

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• Today's year-end list:

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

. Also, Chelsa Messinger is rather attractive. 

 

• The time is nigh for year-end lists.

 

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• An early Christmas present from SI:

 

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• Is this the worst airball in NBA history?

 

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

Teaser:
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
Body:

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
Teaser:
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
Body:

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

 

In other news, they're actually making "Joe Dirt 2." 

 

 

. They're stepping on Skip Bayless' turf there. 

 

 

 

. Geno is not very self aware. 

 

• Bad news for the growing legion of FSU haters:

 

. 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,

 

 

. 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]

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

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

 

. What is it with the Seahawks and love triangles?

 

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• It was a royal summit in Brooklyn last night — . Oh, and .

 

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. I can relate, kid.

 

• This is truly horrifying: .

 

• Watch Zach LaVine blow the wide-open slam.

 

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

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

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

 

.

 

• True nightmare fuel: . That's him in the photo above.

 

• Today's year-end list: . Bad sign: TMZ's Harvey Levin made the list.

 

.

 

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. Must've had money on Denver.

 

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. People like his bosses.

 

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

 

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

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

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 , 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

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 15:01

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