Fantasy writer Marvin Elequin joins Yahoo Fantasy expert Matt Harmon to rank rookie receivers who have made an impact in 2020.
Fantasy writer Marvin Elequin joins Yahoo Fantasy expert Matt Harmon to rank rookie receivers who have made an impact in 2020.
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Tom Brady is one win away from the Super Bowl, two wins away from a seventh ring. If that doesn’t get you excited about the final weeks of the strangest NFL season ever, perhaps the thought of Brady heading to Green Bay next weekend to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will. Lambeau Field will be as unfamiliar for Brady as putting on the Tampa Bay uniform was to begin the year. But the situation won’t be, with Brady set to play in his 14th conference title game, his first as a member of the NFC. Best of all, he’ll do it without the dour Bill Belichick there to grab any of the glory. The greatest ever? Uh, yeah, but was that ever really in doubt? Certainly not after taking down Drew Brees and the Saints on Sunday in the Superdome. Surely not when Brady can still deliver touchdown passes and find a way to win at the age of 43 in the rookie year of his second career at Tampa Bay. No, it wasn’t exactly the Brady of old against Brees and the Saints. He barely glanced deep down the field and didn’t need to guide his team to one of his patented last-minute drives to win. But he was steady, and he didn’t make many mistakes. And on a day when fellow 40-something Brees threw three interceptions — including one in the fourth quarter that Brady and the Bucs quickly cashed in on — that was plenty enough for a 30-20 win. Just another Sunday at the office for a quarterback whose post-season credentials may never be challenged. “There’s only four teams left and we’re one of them,’’ Brady said. ”I’m just so proud of everyone, our organization. It’s a really unique team.’’ His team in New England was unique, too, going to nine Super Bowls with Brady under centre and winning six of them. Brady’s legacy was secure before he decided to leave the icy northeast and take up residence in sunny Florida, but there were still questions that followed him to Tampa Bay. Chief among them was who was most responsible for the great run in New England, the quarterback or the coach. One season didn’t totally answer that, but it should be noted that the Patriots aren’t in the playoffs and Brady is one game away from the Super Bowl with a team that went 7-9 the year before he arrived. No wonder he was all smiles in the Zoom call that followed the game. “It feels great to beat a great football team,’’ Brady said. ”That’s what feels best.’’ Brady beat a great quarterback, too, and not advancing might mean Brees is done at the age of 42. Long after the game was over, Brady went back on the field at the Superdome in street clothes to chat with Brees, who brought his family onto the field. Brees didn’t commit to retiring, though he looked and sounded a lot like a player who knows he’s done. “I appreciate all that this game has given to me,’’ Brees said. ”There are obviously so many incredible memories, so many incredible relationships that have come from playing this game.’’ For Brady, though, there’s another game on Sunday and, hopefully, a Super Bowl two weeks after that. He knows the drill better than anyone by now, even if playing in frigid Green Bay will be a new experience. The Packers and Rodgers are favoured in the early line by 4 points, much like the Saints were favoured at home against the Buccaneers. Winning three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl is a huge challenge, but when Brady is playing well everyone around him tends to play better, too. That includes the Tampa defence, which came up big with four turnovers. "This time they turned it over and that’s usually the story of football games,’’ said Brady, who lost to the Saints twice during the regular season. The Bucs can’t expect that story to play out against Green Bay, where Rodgers is having an MVP season and has won enough in the post-season to understand how to get it done. It’s hard to imagine Brady winning that game with a 199-yard passing performance like he had against the Saints, and hard to figure out how Tampa can move the ball without throwing more downfield. Asked how the Bucs can be successful in Green Bay, Brady had a quick answer. "You’ve just got to have some mental toughness and wear some warm clothes,’’ he said. The mental toughness will be there, that’s for sure. And after playing two decades in New England, the cold weather isn’t going to be an issue, either. He's already won more rings than anyone. And now No. 7 seems ripe for the taking. ___ Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or http::twitter.com/timdahlberg Tim Dahlberg, The Associated Press
Meyer oversaw teams where many players were arrested and an assistant coach consistently abused his wife, but that doesn't seem to concern Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
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Leon Draisaitl offers his condolences to defencemen on the other six Canadian teams forced to contend with the foot speed of Connor McDavid this shortened NHL season. "It's so hard to defend," Draisaitl says of the Edmonton Oilers captain's burst up ice. "I wouldn't want to be that guy standing at the blue-line with him coming 1,000 miles an hour at me. He just has that gift that no one else has." Whether it be in practice or in games, Draisaitl and the Oilers routinely witness the magic of McDavid's gifts. At six-foot-three, 193 pounds, McDavid skates fast enough to garner speeding tickets in school zones. His drive to the net is relentless. His playmaking abilities sublime. WATCH | Ranking the North division: At age 24, the Richmond Hill, Ont., native is determined improve his game this season, if that's even possible for a player with 164 goals and 474 points in his first 354 NHL appearances. On the eve of training camp, McDavid told reporters that his team must do a better job of keeping the puck out of the Edmonton net. "No one's hiding their head in the sand here," he said at the time. "Everyone understands where we're at." And he plans to lead by example in that regard. "Offensively, I think I check off most of the boxes," he said. "Defensively is where it's at. It's the little things: stopping on pucks, winning battles, hounding pucks on the forecheck. Getting involved in battles and winning faceoffs. "It's just rounding out that game and being solid all over the ice." Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada's seven NHL teams are playing only one another during the 56-game campaign. Treating the fans As such, Canadian hockey fans are in for a treat with McDavid on their tablets, smartphones, and televisions all season long — with many of his games in primetime for those in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. "We're all a little bit more careful against McDavid," said Montreal centre Phillip Danault. "We all know the speed he's got, his quick hands, quick edges. "I don't know how he changes directions like that, but that's one of his strengths." McDavid's many strengths took over the game last Thursday in a 5-2 victory for the Edmonton Oilers over the Vancouver Canucks. The captain dominated with a hat trick and four points. "He was exceptional," said Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green. "One of the best players in the world." With a game plan designed to minimize the damage inflicted by No. 97, the Canadiens limited McDavid to a lone assist Saturday night and, not coincidentally, beat the Oilers 5-1. WATCH | Connor McDavid dominates the Canucks: Leading the charge With the Canadiens up 1-0 in the first period, McDavid stripped the puck from Montreal forward Tyler Toffoli and roared up the ice on a breakaway. Montreal goalie Carey Price slammed his pads shut just in time. "You want to play against the best players in the world," Price says. "Connor, in my opinion, is the best player in the world. "He's so talented, and with his speed and his hands and his vision, it's a pleasure to share the ice with him." The question of who shares the ice with McDavid — on the home side — will no doubt dominate workday chats around the virtual water cooler this week in the Alberta capital. On Saturday, McDavid's linemate Zack Kassian missed the game due to the birth of his daughter Olivia. And the Canadiens were the more rested team. Still, Edmonton's depth looked shaky, especially in comparison to Montreal's contributions from all four lines and the back end. "They were definitely quicker than us," McDavid said. "They got the jump on us early and Price was solid all over. "Playing three games in three-and-half-days is a lot coming out the gate. But not making any excuses for ourselves. We have to be better. We have to win more battles." Rest assured; the captain will lead the charge.
The 9-year NBA veteran joined the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast to discuss Brooklyn’s blockbuster move for James Harden and the instant offense he brings to the Nets. Hear the full conversation on the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
They are vying for the head of the table when this season is over. If only to prove that the baton isn’t going to be a handoff as much as an alley fight.
NEW ORLEANS — Nearly two hours after the New Orleans Saints' season had ended, Drew Brees stood on the Superdome field in street clothes, throwing passes to his children while his wife, Brittany, captured images of those moments with her cellphone. Brees routinely throws the ball around with his kids after home games, but after a 30-20 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night, he lingered longer than usual — and there was no telling whether that familiar postgame scene would play out again. Two days after Brees' 42nd birthday, his 20th NFL season ended with statistically his worst playoff performance. Brees threw three interceptions, his most in 18 post-season appearances. His 134 yards passing were a career-playoff low. And because of COVID-19 restrictions, there were fewer than 4,000 fans in the 73,000-seat Superdome to bid him farewell — if indeed it was his final game in a Saints uniform. For now, Brees won't say. But he's also said nothing that would lead one to believe he's prepared to play next season, his last under contract. “I’ll answer this question one time and that is that I”m going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things just like I did last year and make a decision,” Brees said. That decision for the NFL's all-time leader in yards passing will come after a fourth straight season that saw the Saints (13-5) win 11 or more games and go to the playoffs, only to come up short of the Super Bowl. This season, Brees missed four games with multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung, but came back in time to see New Orleans through to its fourth straight NFC South crown and a convincing playoff victory over Chicago in the wild-card round. “I would never regret it. Never. No complaints, no regrets," Brees said. "I’ve always tried to play this game with a great respect and a great reverence for it, and I appreciate all that this game has given to me. “There are obviously so many incredible memories and so many incredible relationships that have come as a result of playing this game,” Brees continued. "You find out so much about yourself and you have to fight through so much when you play this game. And I’d say this season I probably had to fight through more than I’ve ever had to in any other season in my career, from injury to all the COVID stuff, to just crazy circumstances. And it was worth every moment of it. Absolutely.” Brees said the way this season ended “won't have anything to do” with his decision on whether to retire. As for what will go into the decision, Brees said, “I’ll keep that to myself right now.” Saints coach Sean Payton seemed to be taking his cue from Brees when he, too, sidestepped a question about what his decade-and-a-half relationship with Brees has meant to him. “That's probably for another press conference,” Payton said. “Obviously he's been tremendous for this team, this city. I could go on and on, but let's wait and answer that at the right time.” Other teammates didn't wait, though. “He’s been everything you could imagine a leader could be,” said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Brees' teammate since 2011. "He’s the first one in, the last one out. Every stereotypical leadership core value you think of, Drew has. He exemplifies everything that he does in terms of wanting to be a better teammate.” Veteran linebacker Demario Davis said playing with Brees has meant “everything” to him. “When I came to New Orleans, I wanted to help Drew Brees win another Super Bowl because I feel like he deserves it for the accomplishments that he’s had,” Davis said. "I wanted him to have some more championship trophies on the mantle. “He’s a great teammate, a great leader, a great man, a great husband and a great father,” Davis added. “He’s just an example for all us to try to emulate.” Brees, who brought the Saints their only Super Bowl appearance and win in the 2009 season, is not only the all-time leader in yards passing with 80,358, but also completions 7,142. He began this season first in touchdowns, but is now second with 571, behind the 581 of Tampa Bay's Tom Brady, who is moving on to his 14th conference title game at age 43. When the game ended, Brees greeted a couple of Bucs players, including Brady, who he's known since college, and then pointed to the stands and blew kisses as he jogged to the tunnel leading to the Saints locker room. When he first emerged from the locker room back onto the field in street clothes, he shared a long embrace with Brittany while his three sons and daughter played nearby. “I always soak in the moment and I’m looking up at my family and blowing kisses to my wife and my daughter and fist-pumping my boys,” Brees said. "They’ve become so much a part of this as my kids have gotten older, and they are so invested in this as well. That’s what makes the moment special, to be able to share it all together.” ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Brett Martel, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Marcus Morris Sr. scored a season-high 20 points to lead seven players in double figures, and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Indiana Pacers 129-96 on Sunday night for their first four-game winning streak of the season. With sharpshooter Lou Williams sidelined, Morris came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers, tying his season-high. He was coming off an 18-point performance at Sacramento on Friday. The Clippers made 19 of 39 from long-range, outdueling the Pacers, who were 11 of 38. Fellow reserve Luke Kennard added season highs of 20 points and five 3-pointers. Paul George also had 20 points. Kawhi Leonard had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Clippers. Doug McDermott led the Pacers with 23 points, making five 3-pointers. Domantas Sabonis added 19 points and 14 rebounds. Indiana closed within two points early in the third before the Clippers put the game away. They outscored the Pacers 37-14 the rest of the quarter to lead 100-75 going into the fourth. Los Angeles made eight 3-pointers by six different players and Leonard scored 11 points. The Clippers ran off 10 straight points early in the fourth to lead 110-81. Kennard had a 3-point play and George scored seven in a row. Indiana had won two straight, but was idle since Thursday at Portland. The team's game at Phoenix on Saturday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues. That didn't stop McDermott from bursting out of the gate. He scored 13 of the Pacers' first 21 points. The Clippers hit five 3-pointers while outscoring the Pacers 35-12 over the end of the first quarter and start of the second to build an 18-point lead. Indiana closed strongly with a 20-10 run, including 10 by Sabonis, that left the Pacers trailing 61-55 at halftime. TIP-INS Pacers: Myles Turner was out with a sore right hand. ... Goga Bitzdze returned from a sprained right ankle and scored five points. ... Their four-game trip ended. ... Both teams wore T-shirts honouring Martin Luther King Jr. during warmups. Clippers: Their bench outscored the Pacers' reserves, 65-14. ... It was their fourth straight game with at least 15 3-pointers made, tying the longest such streak in franchise history. ... Williams missed his second straight game with a left hip injury. ... Serge Ibaka was out for non-COVID-19 reasons. UP NEXT Pacers: Host Dallas on Wednesday. Clippers: Host Sacramento on Wednesday. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Beth Harris, The Associated Press