Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-8-2014

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


Melanie Collins will be filling in for Michelle Beadle on SportsNation. We approve.


The Giants' Madison Bumgarner outdid himself by pounding five beers at once after San Fran's series clincher.


Bryce Harper spent the Giants series murdering baseballs.


• Clayton Kershaw has not exactly enhanced his legend this postseason, although last night really wasn't his fault. One theory holds that he tips his pitches out of the stretch.


Bulls announcer Stacey King encouraged fans to follow the team on "Pine Rest." In his defense, Pinterest really is a chick thing, isn't it?


• Whoa — AJ McCarron criticized Nick Saban and said Bama has "no true leaders." Has Phyllis from Mulga heard about this?


The first flying car may be closer than you realize.


A Kansas City church absolved Billy Butler for stealing.


Bill Simmons took advantage of his time off to get a quick mani-pedi.


Some poor French person asked Jay Z who he was, eliciting a priceless response.


• See if this pregame speech from the Georgia Tech chaplain doesn't make you want to run through a brick wall.



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

Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 10:58
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-7-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 7:


Here's a gallery of Florida State superfan Lauren Hanley.


Nick Young tried to guard Kobe and ended up in the hospital.


I wish I cared about something as much as Finebaum caller Phyllis cares about the Crimson Tide.


Watch Nick Saban's bodyguard effortlessly chokeslam a celebrating Ole Miss bro.


• A little Tuesday heartstring-tugging: A 5-year-old cancer patient got to play with the Utah Jazz.


• Cardinals fans encountered some Ferguson protestors. It did not go well.


Hockey player PK Subban's secret weapon: flatulence.


• This is cool: Classic baseball cards make a stop-motion graphic.


• Pierre Garcon yanked on Richard Sherman's dreads. Sherman saved his reply for after the game.


The best Brady Hoke site on the Internet.


Tiger, Phil could come together on a proposed Ryder Cup task force.


• You've probably seen this, but I don't care because it's awesome: Brandt Snedeker shooting skeet with a 4-iron.



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

Post date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-6-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for October 6:


• Breaking news: Anna Kournikova's still got it.


The goalposts from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium took a tour of Oxford following Ole Miss' win over Bama.


The Patriots and Devon Still put everything in perspective last night.


13 Hot NFL Takes from a wild weekend.


Tom Brady and Julian Edelman played a little sideline hot potato over who got to spike the ball.


Dee Ford was … confused in his pursuit of Frank Gore.


Trent Dilfer: "You cannot lose games and still win." That kind of analysis is why he makes the big bucks.


Joe Thomas and Brian Hoyer had a dance-off after the Browns' improbable win over the Titans.


Buck Showalter apparently has a dugout phone to the psychic hotline.


Los Angeles could be getting two NFL teams within the next two years.


• While his team was getting drubbed, Texas A&M backup QB Kyle Allen was chatting up a young coed on the sideline.


• Lorenzo Cain: Where Angels fly balls go to die.




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

Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-3-2014

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


• A great weekend in college football is yielding some great cheerleader showdowns.


Tennessee has adapted Lil Jon's "Turn Down for What" into "Third Down for What," launching a love affair between the school and the rapper.


Arizona won the game against Oregon and then won Twitter with a great Duck Hunt tweet.


One ill-timed and unnecessary penalty flag might have impacted the inaugural college football playoff.


• Tomorrow, Mississippi is the center of the college football universe. Given that the Rebs and Bulldogs play in one of the SEC's least populous states, their ascendancy is impressive.


Houston lost to UFC last night in the most heartbreaking manner imaginable.


Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was chewing on something gross last night.


The helmet worn by Auburn's Chris Davis on the immortal kick-six is going up for auction. Harvey Updyke may buy it to use as a bedpan.


Jetes says there will still be a place for sportswriters, even when he launches his unfiltered athletes website. Whew.


Deadspin had some fun yesterday presenting evidence that Stevie Wonder is not blind.


• The Royals flashed serious leather in their win over the Angels.



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

Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: Brooklyn Nets, NBA
Path: /nba/brooklyn-nets-are-sale

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has quickly gained a reputation in the NBA. In his huge thirst for a championship, the Russian tycoon has thrown enough bad money at a middling roster to make one of the hippest brands in the league crater financially. The roughly $80 million he paid in the luxury tax this summer (barely less than the approximate $100 million his roster cost) was easily an NBA record.


Prokhorov gave general manager Billy King a light so green that he drove the Nets into a state of guaranteed, prolonged mediocrity. The NBA’s salary cap is dense with punitive measures for teams that spend recklessly, and Brooklyn is going to be paying extra for years, just for the right to field a team. Prokhorov may be a billionaire, but his money only goes so far here.

So now, faced with the prospect of little-to-no glory and all those extra fees, Prokhorov wants to sell. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez have all been terrific players at one time or another, but they’re all injury-prone, past their peaks, and ultimately never amounted to a team tough enough to compete with LeBron James.

The $2 billion price tag that new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer paid couldn’t have hurt, either. Prokhorov is a businessman, and as much as he’d love for his toy to work, he’s not going to let the opportunity to flip it for massive gain go to waste. NBA franchises are selling for a ton right now — so much, in fact, that any reasonable economist should expect their prices to hit a point of diminishing returns in coming years.


As of now, there is one reported serious suitor for the Nets: Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets, owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nets Daily — who broke the story — claims that current valuations have the team package (which doesn't include the brand-new, state-of-the-art Barclays Center in Park Slope) worth around $1.7 billion. The arena itself is said to be in the ballpark of $1.1 billion. Stay tuned.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-dallas-cowboys-game-preview-and-prediction

This Lone Star State showdown is the fourth meeting all-time between Houston and Dallas and will unfold Sunday on CBS. The Cowboys have won the past two meetings — 27–13 in 2010, 34–6 in ’06 — after an embarrassing 19–10 loss in the Texans’ first-ever game as an expansion franchise in ‘02, a game in which David Carr outdueled Quincy Carter. This time around, both of Texas’ teams are riding high with a 3–1 record.


Houston has a legit MVP candidate (albeit an non-traditional one) in defensive end J.J. Watt, who has two sacks, an 80-yard pick-six and a receiving TD so far this season. The Cowboys ride in on a three-game winning streak that includes last Sunday's 38–17 beatdown of the Saints in what was probably Dallas' most complete performance in years. 


Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Dallas -6


Three Things to Watch


1. Can the Cowboys Handle Success?

By Week 5, I think we all expected to be speculating about Jason Garrett's replacement in Big D, and whether the 'Boys would cut bait with Tony Romo. Instead, Garrett and Romo are at the helm of one of the best offenses in the NFL, a unit that's averaging 28.8 points and 384 yards per game. "In my time in the NFL this is as complete a unit as I've been a part of, and I think you can almost simplify the game a little bit," Romo said. The Cowboys' 21-point win over New Orleans — a preseason Super Bowl favorite — was the fourth-largest winning margin of the Garrett era and came against a team that retains enough cachet to make the victory significant in terms of confidence. But the obvious question remains: Can the Cowboys build on their hot start, or will things inevitably implode at Valley Ranch? At least Garrett & Co. have bought themselves some time with their hot start, and they should be able to play loose and relaxed. 


2. Staying Grounded

The Cowboys' most significant step forward has come in the running game. They lead the NFL by a wide margin in rushing yardage, averaging 165 yards per game on 32.5 attempts per contest, their most rushing attempts per game since 2005. DeMarco Murray has joined Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson and Emmitt Smith as the only players with at least 100 yards and one TD in each of their first four games of a season. Murray is finding room to run behind a rejuvenated offensive line that was an offseason priority in Dallas, and a punishing ground game could help neutralize pass-rusher extraordinaire J.J. Watt. The Texans haven’t had nearly as much success on the ground — they're averaging 114.8 yards per game — but they remain committed to establishing the run, especially if injury-plagued running back Arian Foster is ready to go. "We have to keep making sure that we stick the run in there. We can't just throw it 55 or 60 times a game and get away with that," coach Bill O'Brien said. "We've got to figure out how to run the ball better from a coaching standpoint and from a playing standpoint."


3. Tracking the Takeaways

In a game that's relatively evenly matched, turnovers can make the difference, and this is where the Texans might have a slight advantage. They've forced a league-leading nine turnovers, with J.J. Watt's electrifying 80-yard pick-six in the win over Buffalo the highlight. An injury-riddled Dallas defense has also relied on turnovers, forcing eight in the team's first four games. After tossing three interceptions in the opener in San Francisco, Romo has done a great job protecting the football — which means that we might be overdue for a few miscues. His counterpart, Ryan Fitzpatrick, has thrown five interceptions in the last two games, so the Cowboys might be able to pressure him into mistakes as well. 


Final Analysis


With a punishing, explosive ground game and a quarterback who's playing some of his best football, the Cowboys look like a safe bet to run their record to 4–1 in front of some appreciative, postseason-starved fans. Of course, there's always a chance that the fast start in Big D is merely more tantalizing fool's gold, but there is something a little different about Dallas these days. Until they show us otherwise, we'll continue to be bullish on these Cowboys.

Prediction: Dallas 27, Houston 21
Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-2-2014

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


• With Derek Jeter retired, girlfriend Hannah Davis is back at work modeling bikinis. Somebody has to pay the bills.


Charlie Whitehurst, aka Clipboard Jesus, is one of Nashville's 25 Most Beautiful People. I feel like he's staring right into my soul.


The Giants' Madison Bumgarner celebrated his gem by chugging four beers simultaneously.


• The best part of last night's snoozefest was this old lady somehow finding her way to the dugout, to the dismay of the security guard.


This young Pirates fan stationed behind home plate took better cuts than any of the actual PIrates hitters.


Antrel Rolle has an interesting theory for Prince Amukamara's success this season.


I'm glad I'm not Michigan AD Dave Brandon. Well, except for the huge salary.


Here's a longform humor piece on Phil Jackson trying to introduce the triangle offense to the Knicks.


Steve Smith isn't going to let his beef with the Panthers go.


• NBA halftime entertainer Red Panda is retiring. Here's a video tribute.


Giants tight end Larry Donnell benched himself in fantasy, and lost as a result.


• Watch Matthew McConaughey fire up his Texas Longhorns, complete with "Wolf of Wall Street" chest-beating.



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

Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 10:40
Path: /nfl/minnesota-vikings-vs-green-bay-packers-game-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC North teams that are coming off their best performances of the season — and trying to keep up with division-leading Detroit — will meet up at Lambeau Field, as Green Bay is set to host Minnesota tonight on CBS/NFL Network. The Packers (2-2) return home from a 38–17 thrashing of the Bears, while the Vikings (2-2) roll in following a 41–28 home win over the Falcons that represented the franchise's fourth-best offensive performance of all time in terms of total yardage (558).


All signs would seem to point to a shootout, although the health of breakout Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (sprained ankle), who passed for 317 yards in his starting debut, remains a question as the game approaches. The Vikings remain optimistic that their newfound offensive catalyst will be ready to go in a hostile environment, but even if he's not, the Vikes showed against Atlanta that they can move the ball without franchise cornerstone Adrian Peterson.


Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Green Bay -9


Three Things to Watch


1. Contrast in Styles

The Packers' 38-point explosion in Soldier Field masked an ongoing deficiency: their perplexing inability to run the football. Green Bay was outrushed by the Bears 235-56, and once again, lead back Eddie Lacy failed to crack the 50-yard barrier (he had a season-high 48 yards on 17 rushes). Fortunately, quarterback Aaron Rodgers played a ruthlessly efficient game, passing for 302 yards and four touchdowns, but the Pack needed the cooperation of the Bears through turnovers and penalties to win comfortably. Meanwhile, the Vikings showed uncommon balance against Atlanta in amassing 558 total yards, including 241 on the ground — their highest total without Adrian Peterson since 2011. With Teddy Bridgewater's health uncertain, look for the Vikings to try to pound the Packers' NFL-worst rushing defense (176 ypg) with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. Meanwhile, Rodgers will look for holes in a Vikings pass defense that is allowing 241 yards per game.


2. Third Down Woes

Both teams have been plagued this season by an inability to stop their opponents on third down. The Vikings rank 31st in the NFL in third-down defense, surrendering first-down conversions half the time. "It's terrible," says Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. "We've got a lot of work to do. I'm extremely disappointed in that. We'll put a lot more time and effort into it than what we have." Zimmer can take some solace in that the Packers are actually worse on third down (52.6 percent). Whichever team can get its defense off the field should seize the advantage.


3. Home Sweet Home

The Packers have dominated the Vikings at Lambeau Field over the last two decades. Over that span, Green Bay is 15–4–1 at home against Minnesota, including a 3–0–1 record in the last four meetings in cheese country (the tie came when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with an injury). The teams' playoff meeting in January  2012 was symptomatic of the Pack's home dominance; Green Bay beat the Vikings 24–10 in the Wild Card game to take the season series 2–1, and in the process, the Packers held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing after allowing 210 and 199 to Peterson in the two regular-season meetings. The Vikings have some work to do to crack the Lambeau mystique in the rivalry, and that's asking a lot of a rookie quarterback.


Final Analysis


The Packers don't mind being one-dimensional as long as they move the ball and score points as they did against the Bears. After all, that one dimension — the Aaron Rodgers-led passing game — remains as potent as ever. Despite their futility on the ground, the Packers finished every drive against the Bears with at least a field-goal attempt. The Vikings have been far too inconsistent offensively this season to expect them to win in a stadium where they've enjoyed little recent success. Barring another offensive explosion from rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Pack should be able to protect the tundra.

Prediction: Green Bay 31, Minnesota 17
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-1-2014

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


Coed's Cheerleader of the Week is a solid choice.


In case you've been wondering, as I have, what today's top female celebrities would look like with Michael Strahan's teeth, here's your answer.


Pedro Martinez ripped Ned Yost's managing in two languages. Still, the Royals' first playoff win in 29 years was worth the wait. The fantastic finish even yielded a classic George Brett GIF.


• Of course, one portly Royals fan took the opportunity to catch up on his sleep. had a "Dewey Defeats Truman" moment.


The death of Rob Bironas still is shrouded in mystery.


• Derek Jeter is not going quietly into retirement. Jetes is starting a new website.


Grantland calls Oregon coach Mark Helfrich the "quiet genius."


The best news of the day, bar none.


• In case you went to bed, here's the game-winning hit in last night's Royals-A's marathon.



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

Post date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-30-2014

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


• Now that we've reached the end of September, here's the month in sports-related ladies.


LaRon Landry? PEDs? Surely you can't be serious.


• Not surprisingly, the Cardinals lead the Wall Street Journal's MLB Hateability Index.


• Yesterday's headline of the day: "Mike Leach Predicts Human Extinction." Is that click bait or what?


A Chiefs fan had a rather rude way of expressing his allegiances.


• Salacious gossip of the day: It's gotten ugly in Johnny Weir's split from his husband.


Scathing indictment of the Brady Hoke regime at Michigan.


The Raiders did in fact cut bait with Dennis Allen after their abysmal 0-4 start.


• A fix for you NBA fans: a Rubio-to-Wiggins alley-oop slam.


Joseph Fauria sprained his ankle trying to prevent his puppy from peeing.


Michael Strahan apparently will have a cameo in the "Magic Mike" sequel.


• Some reporter had the stones to ask Bill Belichick if he was evaluating the Patriots' quarterback situation. His reply was priceless.



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

Post date: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 10:53
All taxonomy terms: Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-fallout-defense-phil-mickelson

You've no doubt read the headlines this morning after another disappointing U.S. Ryder Cup loss:

"Mickelson Unloads on Watson"

"Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson Feud"

"Phil Mickelson Was Wrong to Rip Tom Watson"


How about this: "Phil Asked a Probing Question, Gives Honest Answer"? Because that's what happened.


In an era when whitebread golfers give politically correct, pablum-flavored non-answers, Mickelson's candor concerning what constitutes effective Ryder Cup leadership was refreshing. If the U.S. is ever going to win back the Cup, Watson's failed captaincy needs to be dissected and important lessons extracted.


Mickelson was on the last U.S. team to win the Cup — the underdog 2008 team that posted a stunning win under Paul Azinger at Valhalla — and in yesterday's presser, he was asked what worked that year. What followed has been framed as a scathing condemnation of Watson; in actuality, it was a reasoned assessment of what has worked and what hasn't, from a guy who should know.


Here's the transcript of the offending remarks:


Q. Anyone that was on the team at Valhalla, can you put your finger on what worked in 2008 and what hasn't worked since?

Mickelson: There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod, who -- when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. In my case, we had Ray Floyd, and we hung out together and we were all invested in each other's play. We were invested in picking Hunter that week; Anthony Kim and myself and Justin were in a pod, and we were involved on having Hunter be our guy to fill our pod. So we were invested in the process. And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this. How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. And I think that, you know, we all do the best that we can and we're all trying our hardest, and I'm just looking back at what gave us the most success. Because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.


Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that's gone on this week.

Mickelson: Oh, I'm sorry you're taking it that way. I'm just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best. It's certainly -- I don't understand why you would take it that way. You asked me what I thought we should do going toward to bring our best golf out and I go back to when we played our best golf and try to replicate that formula.


Q. That didn't happen this week?

Mickelson: Uh (pausing) no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.


Pardon me for not thinking of that as some sick burn of Watson, whose decision-making and demeanor were clearly questionable even to the most casual observer.


With momentum in hand on Friday, Watson benched the red-hot duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed for afternoon foursomes. On Saturday, the captain kept Mickelson and partner Keegan Bradley sidelined all day, despite Lefty's text pleadings that Watson later leaked to the press.


Watson was also quick to deride the players for their failures, and while it's true that the captain doesn't hit a shot, an effective leader deflects blame from players and absorbs the arrows himself.


Mickelson, who went 2-1 at this Ryder Cup and won his singles match against local hero Stephen Gallacher, could be forgiven for a little frustration. And while it was indelicate of him to criticize Watson while sharing the dais with him, that doesn't negate the accuracy of his statements.


Mickelson has earned his stature in the game. He has 42 PGA Tour wins — four more than Watson — and his five majors have come during an era when Tiger Woods has gobbled up major wins like Lefty gobbles In-N-Out burgers. Watson, on the other hand, had his major ascendancy during Jack Nicklaus' twilight years. Mickelson has earned his way onto every Ryder Cup team since 1995 on merits, without a captain's pick in the bunch. Granted, he hasn't always played well, but he's certainly not alone in that fact. Mickelson's all-time Ryder Cup match record of 16-19-6 looks mediocre on its face, but it outshines Woods' record of 13-17-3 and is merely symptomatic of American futility in the event. For comparison's sake, Jim Furyk, whose Cup experience coincides with much of Phil's, has a 10-20-4 ledger.


I'm as big a Watson fan as anyone — his run at the 2009 British Open was one of the most thrilling performances in the game's history — but his captaincy was clearly a disaster. The forum might have made Mickelson's observations a little awkward and hard to digest, but he wasn't wrong.

Post date: Monday, September 29, 2014 - 11:31
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-29-2014

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


• This is interesting: The most popular female athletes according to Google. No. 1 is Maria Sharapova.


Two babies neatly encapsulate what yesterday was like for Bears and Packers fans.


Jerry Jones doesn't look like a man who still regrets missing out on Johnny Football. He looks like a creepy Bond villain.


So long, Captain. And thanks.


Europe's grip on the Ryder Cup tightens. But their grip on sobriety was not very tight at all yesterday.


So Brady Hoke's player safety issues apparently predated his Michigan tenure.


• One failed captain sticks up for another: Nick Faldo says Phil Mickelson threw Tom Watson under the bus in the Ryder Cup presser.


• All you need to know: Simmons vs. the Worldwide Leader.


• Something to look forward to: This could be the best football Saturday in SEC history.


Watch Sue Paterno dance to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." If you dare.


• Watch Hunter Pence rally Giants fans with a postgame speech.



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

Post date: Monday, September 29, 2014 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-dallas-cowboys-game-preview-and-prediction

Dallas will aim to extend its winning streak to three games and erase one of the most painful memories of its 2013 season when it hosts New Orleans tonight on NBC. If recent history between these two teams matters, it favors the Saints in this one. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is 0–3 all time against New Orleans, while Saints coach Sean Payton has a 3–1 ledger against Dallas.


And the teams' most recent meeting was a low point for the Garrett regime. Last season in Week 10, the Saints destroyed the Cowboys 49-17 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and four TDs (passer rating of 139.0), and running back Mark Ingram rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown. In the teams' last meeting in Dallas, in 2012, the game was much closer but still produced a Saints offensive explosion, as Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and Marques Colston caught 10 passes for 153 yards.


New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Spread: New Orleans -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Romo vs. Saints secondary

We've established that Saints quarterback Drew Brees has a stellar history against the Cowboys, but we must also acknowledge that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has a certain comfort level against the Saints. In his last home start against New Orleans in 2012, Romo passed for 416 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 123.8 QB rating. Wide receiver Dez Bryant had a career game in that matchup, catching nine passes for 224 yards and two 58-yard touchdowns. They'll be facing a Saints defense that has shown an alarming inability to produce big plays. This unit has forced just one turnover and has collected only four sacks in three games while allowing 369 yards per contest. The Saints have been particularly vulnerable on third-and-long. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will need to construct a creative game plan to thwart his former employer on its home field. 


2. Dissension in Big D?

Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne made headlines earlier in the week when he skipped a walk-through and stormed out of the Cowboys' Valley Ranch headquarters after learning of his demotion. "I think he understood that he made a mistake," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Claiborne, who was called out on the radio by owner Jerry Jones. "Guys are competitors. When they hear news that doesn't go their way, different guys react different ways. He obviously knew that he didn't react the right way, and he had a chance to kind of collect himself. He came by last night and we addressed it, and we addressed it head on. He's back in here this morning and ready to go to work." The drama in Big D seemingly never ends, and although the Cowboys’ miraculous comeback in a Week 3 win over the Rams bought them a little time, they're one ill-timed loss from returning to full-on meltdown mode.


3. The Saints' Search for Consistency

New Orleans has only been consistent in its inconsistency so far this season. The offense has looked unstoppable on occasion but has sputtered at some inopportune times. On paper, the Saints possess one of the NFL's better offenses: fourth in both total yards and red zone touchdown percentage, and first in third-down conversions — but only seventh in scoring. Until the defense finds its footing, the offense has to convert every opportunity presented to it. 


Final Analysis


The Saints are one of the bigger disappointments in this young NFL season. Even in their first win of the season, a fairly comfortable 20-9 victory over the Vikings, there were errors and breakdowns on defense, and once again, the Saints failed to force a turnover, although they didn't turn it over on offense, either. After an offseason focused on takeaways, New Orleans is riding an 11-quarter streak without one and is still searching for a defensive spark. If they can't find one against the turnover-prone Cowboys, it could be a long season.

Prediction: Dallas 35, New Orleans 27
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, September 28, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-washington-redskins-game-preview-and-prediction

Proud franchises trying to stay pace in the NFC East will write the latest chapter in their rivalry when the New York Giants take on the Washington Redskins tonight on CBS and the NFL Network. A third loss for either of these 1–2 teams could be a death blow in the division race, with both looking up at unbeaten Philadelphia and both fighting the perception that their best days are long gone.


The loser of this one will be in sole possession of last place in the NFC East. Given the short week and the risk of injury — the Redskins in particular enter this game very banged up — both teams have reduced their practice intensity, which could lead to some sloppiness early on. "Obviously this is a week that I would rather not have a Thursday night game," said Redskins coach Jay Gruden, who lost cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Duke Ihenacho to season-ending injuries last week’s loss at Philadelphia and had a total of 17 players listed on Monday's injury report. 


New York Giants at Washington Redskins


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Washington -3.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Giants Go Ground-and-Pound

The Giants showed a surprising ability to run the football and impose their will in Sunday's 30–17 win over the Texans. Rashad Jennings' 176 rushing yards were the most by a Giants running back in two years. "One point we ran the same play three times in a row," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "They were rolling. They liked it." In all, the Giants amassed 193 yards rushing after mustering only 53 in the opener with Detroit and 81 in the loss to the Cardinals. The Redskins are allowing only 64.7 yards per game on the ground, so it will be interesting to see if the Giants have any luck establishing the run and relieving pressure from Manning's shoulders. 


2. Ball Protection by the Quarterbacks

Simply put, Manning has transformed into a turnover machine, leading the NFL with 27 interceptions last season. But in the win over the Texans, Manning had his first interception-free outing in eight games, dating back to a Nov. 24 loss to Dallas. If Manning protects the football, the Giants are a different team, and a far more dangerous one. Washington's Kirk Cousins, filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III, has been handed this audition and is playing for his future as an NFL starter, either in Washington or somewhere else, and can ill afford any untimely miscues. The quarterback who wins the turnover battle will have a leg up in this one. 


3. Will Phil Simms stick to his pledge?

The ongoing controversy over the Redskins nickname found its poster child in CBS broadcaster Phil Simms, who has expressed a reluctance to use the nickname during broadcasts. "My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game," he said earlier this month. But he broke his own pledge last Thursday night, using the term at least three times in a game that didn't even involve Washington. Leaders of the "Change the Mascot" campaign are paying attention, and Simms will be a part of Friday's recaps no matter what he says. 


Final Analysis


The Giants' temporarily resurgent running game will face a significant obstacle in the Redskins' defensive front, which could force Manning back to the air. And when Manning goes to the air with frequency, bad things have tended to happen lately. For his career, Manning has 16 touchdowns and 17 interceptions against Washington, and if that trend holds, then the home team — whatever Phil Simms wants to call it — will hold serve.  

Prediction: Washington 31, New York 24
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2014-primer

The 2014 Ryder Cup Matches

When: Sept. 26-28

Where: PGA Centenary Course, Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland

Course: 7,262 yards, par 72

All-time record: U.S. leads 25–12–2


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


Athlon talked to two likely keys to the respective teams for their perspective. Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is a Ryder cup veteran with a match record of 5-5-2 in three Cups, while Fowler will be participating in his second Cup after a record of 0-1-2 in 2012 — but with four top-5 finishes in this year's majors under his stylish white belt.


Team USA

Tom Watson, Captain

Raymond Floyd and Andy North, Vice Captains


Keegan Bradley*

Ryder Cup Record: 3-1-0


Rickie Fowler

Ryder Cup Record: 0-1-2


Jim Furyk

Ryder Cup Record: 9-17-4


Zach Johnson

Ryder Cup Record: 6-4-1


Matt Kuchar

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-2


Hunter Mahan*

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-3


Phil Mickelson

Ryder Cup Record: 14-18-6


Patrick Reed

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Webb Simpson*

Ryder Cup Record: 2-2


Jordan Spieth

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Jimmy Walker

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Bubba Watson

Ryder Cup Record: 3-5


*Captain's pick


Team Europe

Paul McGinley, Captain

Des Smyth and Sam Torrance, Vice Captains


Thomas Bjorn

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2-1


Jamie Donaldson

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Victor Dubuisson

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Stephen Gallacher*

Ryder Cup Record: First appearance


Sergio Garcia

Ryder Cup Record: 16-8-4


Martin Kaymer

Ryder Cup Record: 3-2


Graeme McDowell

Ryder Cup Record: 5-5-2


Rory McIlroy

Ryder Cup Record: 4-3-2


Ian Poulter*

Ryder Cup Record: 12-3


Justin Rose

Ryder Cup Record: 6-3


Henrik Stenson

Ryder Cup Record: 2-3-2


Lee Westwood*

Ryder Cup Record: 18-13-6


*Captain's pick



Missing in Action

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


• Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup Record: 13-17-3

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


• Dustin Johnson

Ryder Cup Record: 3-3

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


• Jason Dufner

Ryder Cup Record: 3-1

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


Ryder Cup notebook


• Since the U.S. won the Ryder Cup in 1993 with Tom Watson as captain, the Americans have only two victories — in 1999 and 2008. They have lost each of the past two Ryder Cups by the score of 14½ to 13½.


• The Ryder Cup has not been played in Scotland since 1973, when the event was at Muirfield, site of last summer’s British Open. The U.S. won the competition 19-13.


• Jack Nicklaus is confident in Watson's ability to lead the American contingent onto Scottish soil, given Watson's success at the Open Championship, a tournament he won five times. “If you just look at Tom’s history and legacy there, I guess you could say that if they wanted to pick a winner in Scotland to lead them in Scotland, they have done that,’’ Nicklaus said. “The love and embrace Tom will receive in Scotland as a Ryder Cup captain will likely be the most anybody could ever hope for when leading a team on foreign soil.’’


• Watson is the first repeat captain since Nicklaus in 1987 and a departure from a long-followed PGA of America policy that appointed captains who were 45 to 50 years old and still playing on the PGA Tour. “We’ve done things a little bit different this year,’’ PGA of America president Ted Bishop said when Watson was announced as captain.


• The Centenary Course at Gleneagles was designed by Nicklaus in 1993, and Gleneagles has hosted a European Tour event now known as the Johnnie Walker Championship since 1999 — although the event will not be played in 2014. The course has five par-5s, including three on the back nine.



Post date: Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/jameis-winston-still-top-nfl-prospect

The controversy surrounding Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has prompted discussion over his status as a top NFL prospect. Here, two Athlon editors debate the question: Would you draft Winston?



Truth be told, I like Oregon’s laid back Hawaiian signal-caller, Marcus Mariota, best among NFL Draft class of 2015 QBs. But I’d definitely draft Florida State loose cannon Jameis Winston over injury-prone peers like UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Baylor’s Bryce Petty.

Like everyone else, I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger. So I’d like to think that someday soon, Winston will look back on these days and be embarrassed by it all. For his sake, hopefully his eureka-moment regrets come while he’s an NFL millionaire and not a has-been who could’ve been.

Personally, I think the 20-year-old Winston — who was born in Bessemer, Ala., (population 27,500) and attended Hueytown (population 16,000) High School (enrollment 1,100) — is just an immature country kid.

Winston was thrust into the national spotlight on Labor Day Monday Sept. 2, 2013, when he completed 25-of-27 passes for 356 yards, accounting for five TDs and zero turnovers in his first career start for Florida State University (enrollment 41,500).

Since then, he’s won the Heisman Trophy in New York and BCS national title crystal at the Rose Bowl (21 million viewers). He’s been the closer for the Seminoles baseball team and arguably the highest-profile, most-accomplished athlete in all of college sports. But he’s had more than his share of run-ins.

First, there is a serious rape allegation for which a Title IX investigation is pending. That is far and away the most concerning charge — regardless of the current climate of the NFL.

He was also caught on tape stealing crab legs from the local Publix grocery store. But that may have be a wink and nod deal with Winston. FSU was called “Free Shoes University” by Steve Spurrier; it may have become “Free Seafood University.”

The latest error in judgement was his most juvenile. Winston shouted profanities in public, allegedly on a dare from a friend.

A 6'4", 230-pound redshirt sophomore, Winston clearly has plenty of growing up to do. But he still has plenty of time — and undeniable NFL talent.


— Nathan Rush



Let’s see: The NFL has been taking PR body blows over the misbehavior of some of its superstars. The league is struggling to attract female viewership, and the relentless 24-hour news cycle gleefully latches on to every last example of the mistreatment of women at the hands of the misogynistic thugs who populate NFL rosters. While the league’s popularity has yet to suffer, the growing ledger of misdeeds has the NFL in the crosshairs of the morality police — and appropriately so. Now more than ever, character counts when you’re putting together a draft gameplan.

And you’re asking if I would select crableg thief/emotional two-year-old/screamer of sexist obscenities/sexual assault suspect Jameis Winston?

Florida State, which has tolerated an awful lot from its athletes over the years, finally had enough and shelved Winston for an important conference game during what the Noles hope will be a national championship season. When FSU tires of a superstar’s antics — this is the team that opposing fans call the “Criminoles” — it’s a signal to all 32 NFL franchises that this guy simply isn’t worth the trouble.

And his open defiance of his own coach in dressing out for the Clemson game despite the suspension is a clear indication that he’s an uncoachable mess. He’s basically Vince Young with a rap sheet. And like Young, it’s pretty clear that Winston has peaked in college. Even if Winston does an about-face and shows signs of newfound maturity (which seems unlikely), the cloud of his past misdeeds will follow him into all 32 war rooms, where his résumé will be met with a chilly response.

“He’s a big-ass immature kid,” one NFL scout told Sports Illustrated. “I think he needs to stay another year and prove that he can keep himself clean. Maybe even two more years. The skill is there, but …”

Football culture, with its casual acceptance of misogyny and general bad behavior, is about to undergo a needed transformation. The Jameis Winstons of the world need not apply. 


— Rob Doster

Post date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 12:38
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-24-2014

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


• Gotta say, Miranda Lambert has dropped some lbs. and is looking good.


Paulina Gretzky took to Instagram to announce that she and Dustin Johnson are expecting. Mazel tov.


Nick Saban's tired of answering questions about Lane Kiffin. I'm just tired of Lane Kiffin.


There's some mutual trolling going on between ECU and UNC.


• Football hooligans? Fan violence is sweeping the NFL.


Relive the 2012 Ryder Cup through Dan Jenkins' tweets.


Check out Mandatory's interview with legendary wrestling manager Jim Cornette.


• After another fascinating Starbucks anecdote, Peter King let the trolls win on Twitter last night.


Bama fan and tree-killer Harvey Updyke took part in the Twitter hashtag #TweetAtYourself10YearsAgo. It was actually pretty funny and self-aware.


Bill Simmons ripped Roger Goodell to shreds on his podcast. Your move, ESPN.


Clint Dempsey asks New Yorkers about Clint Dempsey. These Kimmel-style ambush videos are always fun.


• A couple took advantage of their Kiss Cam moment in a unique way.



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

Post date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-23-2014

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 23:


Power-ranking the NFL cheerleaders of Week 3.


Metta World Peace is changing his Chinese name to "The Panda's Friend," and he unveiled shoes to match. Also, Metta World Peace is insane.


• Tom Brady knows what it's like to be left hanging on a high-five. So when a photo circulated of his boss suffering a similar fate, he did something about it.


Watch a team of pee-wee footballers try — and fail — to break through a banner. Banner 1, Mighty Mites 0.


James Harrison's retirement lasted all of two weeks. Guess the WalMart greeter thing didn't work out.


A former USC football player is suing the school and Lane Kiffin for forcing him to play through illness and permanently damaging his health.


Jameis Winston has at least two defenders — the parents of backup Sean Maguire.


You can own a game-used Derek Jeter sock for just over four bills.


Speaking of Jetes, he denies that gift basket rumor that we all want to be true.


Speaking of debunked legends, the 1972 Dolphins don't actually get together for a toast when the last unbeaten falls. The world makes no sense any more.


Jay Cutler's fumble produced an enjoyable fumble face.


• Jose Altuve redefines the term "free swinger."



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

Post date: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2014-explaining-format

The 2014 Ryder Cup Matches

When: Sept. 26-28

Where: PGA Centenary Course, Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland

Course: 7,262 yards, par 72

All-time record: U.S. leads 25–12–2


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


To help get you ready for the drama, here's an explanation of the event's format:


Ryder Cup Format

Day One - Friday, Sept. 26

Morning Session — 4 points at stake

2 foursomes matches

2 fourballs matches


Afternoon Session — 4 points at stake

2 fourballs matches

2 foursomes matches


Day Two - Saturday, Sept. 27

Morning Session — 4 points at stake

2 foursomes matches

2 fourballs matches


Afternoon Session — 4 points at stake

2 fourballs matches

2 foursomes matches


Day Three - Sunday, Sept. 28

12 singles matches — 12 points at stake


Total Points at Stake: 28

Europe would retain the Cup with 14 points. The U.S. would need 14½ points to re-claim the Cup.



• In each match, there is one point at stake. Should the match end in a tie, each side is awarded a half-point.

• The Ryder Cup is conducted under rules of match play rather than stroke play. Match play scoring consists of individual holes won, halved or lost. Once a player or team is "up" more holes than there are holes remaining to play, the match is over.

• A foursomes match is a competition between two teams of two golfers. The two teammates take alternate shots throughout the match, with the same ball. A hole is won by the team that completes the hole in the fewest shots.

• A fourball match is a competition between two teams of two golfers, but all four golfers play their own ball throughout the round rather than alternating shots, and each hole is won by the team whose individual golfer has the lowest score.

• A singles match is a standard match play competition between two golfers.

• In a single Ryder Cup, an individual player can play a maximum of five matches (two foursomes, two fourballs and a singles match). All 12 players on both teams participate in singles, but the respective captains can select any eight players to play in fourballs and foursomes.


Post date: Monday, September 22, 2014 - 15:15
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-22-2014

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


• To start off your Monday: Hottest alumni of the Pac-12, including Arizona's Kristen Wiig.


Rickie Fowler showed up in Scotland for the Ryder Cup wearing his allegiance on his head. Your move, Rory.


• Cam Newton made the fashion statement of the young season: lavender jacket, capri pants and funky slip-on shoes.


The Browns ran a pretty sweet trick play to Johnny Manziel, but it was wiped out by a motion penalty. Turns out, it was an illegal "hideout" play anyway. The NFL really is the No Fun League.


This longform piece theorizes that the Jeter Farewell Tour cost the Yankees a playoff spot.


This high school kid's postgame speech makes me want to suit up and crush somebody.


• If you have a strong constitution, watch this brutal women's cycling crash.


Rich Rod was understandably excited after Arizona's Hail Mary win over Cal. Also wearing his heart on his sleeve post-game: Jimbo Fisher.


Watch an Alaska reporter quit on air with an f-bomb after announcing that she owns a cannabis club.


• Cardinals fans brawled with 49ers fans in violent and bloody fashion.



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

Post date: Monday, September 22, 2014 - 10:41
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-detroit-lions-game-preview-and-prediction

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


Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Detroit -6.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Ground Games Stuck in Neutral

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


2. Jordy and Megatron

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


3. Will Tate Be Golden?

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


Final Analysis


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


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

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for September 19:


College cheerleader showdown, Week 4 edition.


The Louisville Courier-Journal took a nice shot at Coach Cal.


• This one's burning up the interwebs today: Falcons-Bucs highlights called by Jim Ross.


• On a night when even the fundamentals eluded the Bucs, Falcons punt returner Devin Hester made a little NFL history.


Ravens fans skipped work in droves today to exchange their Ray Rice jerseys.


A guy dropped his brand new iPhone 6 on live television.


Kansas State gift-wrapped a tough road win for Auburn last night.


We've finally heard from Roger Goodell via a sternly worded letter.


Savvy businessman Peyton Manning realizes that Colorado's weed laws are good for his pizza business.


Tony Gonzalez suggest that RG3 should see a sports psychologist.


• This is cool: Time-lapse video of Levi's Stadium being built.



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

Post date: Friday, September 19, 2014 - 10:58
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-september-18-2014

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


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


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


Another classic Jeter commercial, courtesy of Gatorade.


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


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


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


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


The earth swallowed up a soccer player mid-celebration.


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


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


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


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



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

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

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons


Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS/NFL Network

Spread: Atlanta -6.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Time for a Return on the Josh McCown Investment

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


2. The Matt Ryan Roller Coaster

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


3. Next Man Up

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


Final Analysis


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


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

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


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


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

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


Describe the experience of playing in a Ryder Cup.

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


What about Gleneagles as a venue?

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


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

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


Post date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 11:46