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Where was Todd Gurley during the NFC Championship?
The Rams’ star running back saw just four carries in their biggest game of the year. Todd Gurley saw limited carries in the Rams’ 26-23 overtime win against the Saints in the NFC Championship. It raised a lot of questions considering Gurley has been one of the NFL’s most dominant running backs the past two years. Gurley had two drops in the first half, and finished the game with just four carries for 10 yards and a touchdown, including one reception for three yards on three targets. His backup, C.J. Anderson, had 16 carries for 44 yards. He also had fewer overall touches: Rams HB snap count todayC.J. Anderson 36Todd Gurley 32— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) January 20, 2019 With no report of injury or any other reason as to why one of the NFL’s best running backs wasn’t getting any burn, people were understandably wondering where Gurley was. He did miss the last two weeks of the regular season with inflammation in his knee, after he injured it in the third quarter of Los Angeles’ 30-23 loss to the Eagles in Week 15. For what it’s worth, he seemed (understandably, duh) happy that the Rams were going to the Super Bowl: "We're goin' to the @SuperBowl!" - @TG3II#NFLPlayoffs #LARams pic.twitter.com/Vd1KBupeFC— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019 After the game, Jared Goff told Fox’s Chris Myers, “You just have to feed off what we are doing, and C.J. was running the ball well. I expect Todd to have a hell of a game in the Super Bowl though.” Things could actually be fine with Gurley, only based on what Sean McVay said before the NFC Championship. Here’s what McVay said during the week leading up to the game: “I think it’s more of a feel than anything else based on the flow of the game. Thought (RBs Coach) Skip (Peete) did a great job,” McVay said Thursday. “We want to be able to get those guys both involved, but certainly, when Todd is rolling you want to keep him rolling. I think it’s more of a result of, OK, how is the flow of the game going? Certain situations that come up.’ But you do feel good about having two very productive backs and their ability to be able to kind of spell each other.” In the previous week, Anderson had more carries than Gurley (23 vs. 16). Going with the flow of the game worked that week, as Anderson had 123 yards and two touchdowns. But Gurley was also effective with 115 yards and a touchdown. At the very least, Gurley has time to get right for the Super Bowl. Whether he’s just in a funk or injured, Gurley’s got two weeks before the Rams compete for the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
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The Saints, Rams and refs turned the NFC Championship game into a sloppy, glorious mess
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a Rams win. Sunday’s NFC Championship Game wasn’t pretty. It featured sloppy, tipped interceptions, weird playcalling, and at least one egregiously terrible call from the officials. But it was an instant classic — a nailbiter of a game that swung on a pair of two-minute drills and was eventually settled in overtime. The Rams proved they could win a sloppy, relatively low-scoring affair. And it gave the Saints a legitimate gripe with the league after a game-changing non-call. What were all the mistakes? Let’s run through them step by step. We’ll move in chronological order, which means all the best, dumbest stuff is waiting at the end. The Rams tried to cover Alvin Kamara with a defensive lineman Los Angeles could have made a statement by forcing a punt on the Saints’ first possession in the Superdome. New Orleans had already converted a third-and-8 into a new set of downs, but a stop on third-and-3 would quiet a frenzied crowd and set the tone for an upset on the bayou. Instead, LA got its wires crossed and 290-pound defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers wound up covering the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. It was a mismatch Drew Brees noticed immediately. The 40-year-old quarterback lofted a dime to cap Kamara’s wheel route, resulting in a 21-yard gain that set the home team up in field goal range. The Saints couldn’t turn that into a touchdown, but the ensuing field goal turned what could have been a message-sending defensive stand into an early deficit for Los Angeles Michael Brockers fell for the oldest trick in the book The Saints faced fourth-and-2 from the Rams’ 10 yard line when Drew Brees trotted out from the sideline and took his place behind center. While there’s a chance New Orleans was lining up to run a play, Brees had every intent on seeing if he could find a rube along the LA defensive front to barge across the line of scrimmage and give his team a new set of downs without any risk attached. And then Michael Brockers came strolling up to the line, looking like an in-over-his-head tourist stepping up to a sidewalk game of three-card monte. Brees had no problem taking his vacation money: Michael Brockers, you big dummy. One play later, the Saints turned this free first down into a five-yard TD pass pic.twitter.com/gM4PWuZPfD— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 20, 2019 One play later, Brees hit third-string tight end Garrett Griffin for a five-yard touchdown pass that gave New Orleans a 13-0 first quarter lead. Marcus Peters set a pitch-perfect pick ... on his own teammate Garrett Griffin’s second career reception was a touchdown that gave his Saints a double-digit lead in the NFC title game. So how did an anonymous third-string tight end find the stage to shin in the playoffs? Well, he got a valuable assist from Marcus Peters — who plays for the Rams. The Rams just ran a pick... on themselves pic.twitter.com/s46DmwTOkl— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 20, 2019 Todd Gurley toughest challenge came from Todd Gurley Gurley only had four touches in the first 29 minutes of Sunday’s NFC title game. That’s shocking — but the way he was playing, it was easy to understand why. Gurley’s first two carries resulted in a combined -2 yards. His first two targets went as poorly as they could have, too. His first resulted in a Demario Davis interception and three Saints points to cap the Rams’ opening possession. His second target came on another third down play. This one forced the Rams to kick a 36-yard field goal instead of earning another shot at a tide-turning touchdown in the second quarter. Route: goodHands: badTodd Gurley with his second drop of the game pic.twitter.com/aHLwjr1MA3— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 20, 2019 And he couldn’t be relied on when he had the ball out of his hands, either. Gurley whiffed on that blitz pickup against Eli Apple and then got away with a clear hold.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) January 20, 2019 Fortunately, Gurley was able to earn some redemption as the second quarter ticked to a close. His six-yard touchdown run pushed his total output into the black and crept the Rams to within 13-10 at halftime. Using Taysom Hill at quarterback wasn’t a good idea The Saints’ third-string quarterback has been a unique offensive weapon at Sean Payton’s disposal all year. He’s a hell of a running back, a force on a special teams, and he even caught a touchdown pass from Drew Brees on Sunday. That was a good way to use the 221-pound Swiss Army knife. Putting him at quarterback and splitting Brees out wide wasn’t. The Saints tried several times to put Hill at quarterback, but it ended up being too cutesy and blew up in New Orleans’ face over and over. It almost created a turnover for the Saints when a read option play with Hill and Alvin Kamara caused a fumble. Aaron Donald is a cheat code, part 4,325 pic.twitter.com/Y6Ive1l7xj— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 20, 2019 Hill can do so many things for the Saints, but it probably would’ve been smart to just stick with Brees — the NFL’s all-time leading passer — at quarterback. Fortunately for the Saints, however, it turns out there’s at least one good non-fake punt way to use Hill: noted NFL wide receiver Taysom Hill pic.twitter.com/kXgt74Gm96— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 20, 2019 The Saints shot themselves in the foot, then the referees amputated The Saints were working to salt the clock away before kicking a game-winning field goal after a 41-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. set up a brand new set of downs at the Rams 13-yard line. Three runs would have wound the clock down to approximately one minute left and a 31-yard field goal attempt even if they’d all been stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Instead, Sean Payton dialed up a too-aggressive pass play on first down that bounced to Michael Thomas, stopping the clock. A stuffed run burned the Rams’ second timeout and brought up third-and-10 with 1:48 to play. Convert it, and New Orleans would all but seal up the game. Blow it, and LA would get the ball back with more than 90 seconds to either tie the game or take the lead. And then this happened: That’s Tommylee Lewis getting absolutely lambasted by Nickell Robey-Coleman with both a helmet-to-helmet hit and one that looked a whoolllllle lot like pass interference. Or, as our own Alex Kirsher described it: Tommylee Lewis was running a little wheel route on third-and-10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line, with the score tied at 20 in the final two minutes of the NFC Championship. He was about to catch it just shy of the first-down marker when Robey-Coleman annihilated him. There’s a decent bit to the PI rule, but the biggest thrust of it is that “contact by a player who is not playing the ball that restricts the opponent’s opportunity to make the catch” is not allowed. Well, that means you can’t destroy a receiver well before the ball arrives if you, yourself, are not looking at the ball or making any effort to catch it. The Rams returned the favor Los Angeles stuck with viper-like efficiency, driving 42 yards in five plays to set up first-and-10 at the Saints’ 33 yard line. That left 45 seconds to gain extra yardage for a game-tying field goal attempt, or plenty of time for a few shots at the end zone. Instead, the Rams ran the ball once and attempted a pair of short passes before settling for a 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Michael Thomas picked an awful time to lose sight of the ball Thomas has been the Saints’ most explosive receiver in 2018, an All-Pro presence who has carried the New Orleans offense when it has needed him the most. But when Dante Fowler brought the pressure that caused Brees to loft up a floater, he was unable to showcase the vision that made him one of the game’s most dangerous threats, instead getting caught up hand-fighting with John Johnson. .@iamjohnthethird interception?CONFIRMED! ☝️ pic.twitter.com/dTilfv4eQ0— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 20, 2019 The Rams rode a combination of skill and luck as Brees’ aborted pass landed right in the chest of a falling Johnson, who had the wherewithal to haul in the pass from his back. That ended the Saints’ opening overtime possession — and set up Greg Zeurlein’s game-winning 57-yard field goal that ended New Orleans’ season in front of a stunned home crowd.
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Live blog and highlights from Patriots-Chiefs in the AFC Championship
The Chiefs and Patriots had an offensive shootout the last time they played. Will it be more of the same for the AFC Championship? We have a live blog of the action, including top plays and analysis. 6:40 p.m.: We’ve got the Patriots and Chiefs in the AFC Championship, to see who will go on and face the Rams in the Super Bowl. We’ll have a running live blog of the action, including highlights, top plays and more. Below, you can find all the viewing information and everything else you need to watch the game. Kickoff is set for shortly after 6:40 p.m.! The AFC Championship is the second of two conference title games on Sunday, and it features the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs playing host to the second-seeded New England Patriots to determine who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The game is set for 6:40 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by CBS (live streaming via FuboTV, CBS All-Access). When these two teams met in the regular season, it was as close as it can get. A total of 30 points were scored in the fourth quarter alone, but the Patriots made out with a 43-40 victory, despite four touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes. Tom Brady only tossed one touchdown, but didn’t throw an interception while Mahomes was picked off twice. It was a very evenly-matched game, but New England’s superior defense made just enough stops (it wasn’t a great day for them by any means) to let the Patriots sneak through with a win. Both teams had bye weeks in the wild card round of the playoffs, and both teams made it through their divisional round games much easier than their NFC counterparts (the Rams and Saints) were able to do. While those NFC games were close, the Patriots walked through the Chargers, winning 41-28, and the Chiefs made short work of Andrew Luck and the Colts, winning 31-13. Below is all you need to know to watch the action on Sunday. Time, TV, and streaming info Time: 6:40 p.m. ET Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. TV: CBS Streaming: FuboTV, CBS All-Access Odds: The Chiefs opened as 3.5-point favorites, making the Patriots a rare underdog, per OddsShark. Patriots vs. Chiefs news In big injury news, the Chiefs will get Eric Berry back for the AFC title game on Sunday, per their final injury report. The Patriots are also quite healthy. Be sure to peep the Arrowhead Pride Q&A with the folks at Pats Pulpit, and of course the reverse post on the latter blog. Dustin Colquitt has been with the Chiefs since ... well for a very long time. He’s seen it all. And he likes what he sees in this year’s team (unsurprisingly). The core of the Patriots roster is very strong, and has seen quite a few AFC title games. It’s going to be loud and cold at Arrowhead. The Patriots are aware. How have the Chiefs and Patriots changed since they met in Week 6? Justin Houston realizes that not many players get to make it to the conference championship game. Patriots players explain the challenges of defending Patrick Mahomes. The Patriots seeing themselves as underdogs has Chiefs players and fans tickled. Over at Arrowhead Pride they have a look at how the Chiefs offense beats the New England defense, how the Chiefs defense beats the New England offense, five stats that could determine Sunday’s game, five things to watch and, of course, predictions. And at Pats Pulpit, they have defensive keys to victory for the Patriots, some advanced stats on the Chiefs offense, film review of how the Patriots defended the Chiefs in Week 6, and one thing the Patriots defense can do to send them to the Super Bowl. Patriots vs. Chiefs prediction Of the six SB Nation NFL experts picking the conference championships, five of them think the Chiefs will win, leaving just one picking the Patriots. The OddsShark computer picked Kansas City, while the coin flip landed on New England.
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The Rams’ big-play ability could win them Super Bowl 53
Jared Goff made big plays against the Saints and the Rams defense finally kept an offense from getting chunk plays. The New Orleans Saints jumped out to a 13-0 lead and had several chances to nail the Los Angeles Rams’ coffin shut. Instead, it’s the Rams headed to Super Bowl 53 after stealing away a 26-23 overtime win in the NFC Championship. The Rams did it without much help from running back Todd Gurley, who spent much of the game watching from the sideline and finished with just 10 yards on four attempts. What saved the Rams was what they’ve been great at all year: Explosive plays. Los Angeles made the bigger plays on offense, and kept the Saints from making many plays at all downfield. It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Rams, but their propensity for chunk plays could be the key to winning Super Bowl 53. Jared Goff came up big enough times to win For all the bells and whistles that Sean McVay has brought to Los Angeles, the Rams are often a powerhouse offense. They bulldozed the Cowboys in the Divisional Round and finished the regular season with the third most rushing yards and third best rushing yards per attempt. That game plan didn’t work as well against the Saints. Gurley was absent for much of the game and C.J. Anderson was bottled up for 44 yards on 16 attempts. Goff usually needs to make only a few great plays to supplement the Rams rushing attack, but he needed to do more Sunday. With the Rams desperately needing points before halftime, Goff dropped in an absolutely beautiful pass to Brandin Cooks for a 36-yard gain. Jared Goff with a beauty of a pass to Brandin Cooks for 36 yards #LARams pic.twitter.com/QVhaSXxwfD— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal) January 20, 2019 When the Rams needed a third-down conversion in the fourth quarter to keep a drive alive, Goff extended a play and threw a dart to tight end Gerald Everett for a 39-yard gain. Goff finds Gerald Everett on 3rd and 3 for a 39 yard gain #LARams pic.twitter.com/bLfWABO019— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal) January 20, 2019 Another one of his biggest plays was just a 6-yard pass to Tyler Higbee. The Rams were facing a second-and-13 situation in Saints territory and only needed a few yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal. Goff avoided what could’ve been a devastating sack on the play and flipped the ball out to Higbee. Two plays later, Greg Zuerlein drilled a 57-yard field goal for the win. Goff finished with 297 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. That’s nowhere near his best stat lines of the year, but it was enough and came when the Saints dared Goff to beat them. He pulled it off. The Rams defense didn’t give up big plays With just a few minutes left in the game, and the Saints trying to put together a game-winning drive, Drew Brees lobbed a ball into traffic that could’ve been intercepted. Instead, Lamarcus Joyner misplayed the pass in the air, allowing Ted Ginn Jr. to haul it in for a 43-yard gain. Lamarcus Joyner did not play this ball well… pic.twitter.com/3loKV9bFHq— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 20, 2019 It was the only play of the game for the Saints that went for more than 25 yards. That’s a surprisingly good day for a Rams defense that is typically a boom-or-bust unit that thrives off of sacks and turnovers, but has been prone to allow big plays. In the first meeting of the Rams and Saints during the regular season, wide receiver Michael Thomas had a career-best 211 receiving yards. This time around he had 36 yards on four receptions. The Rams defense can consistently create chaos up front with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. But if it can also avoid allowing big chunks at a time, it’s a defense that will be tough to score against. The Saints found that out in the NFC Championship and it could be a problem for the winner of the AFC Championship too.
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Celebrate the Rams’ NFC title with new merch and apparel
Sean McVay’s squad is heading to Atlanta after going into the Superdome and beating Drew Brees & Co in overtime. Sean McVay, Jared Goff, Aaron Donald, and the high-flying Rams are officially taking their talents to Super Bowl 53. With their 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome on Sunday, the Rams are NFC champs for the first time since 2002. Back then, it was Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk. and Torry Holt as the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Seventeen years later, it’s Jared Goff, Todd Gurley II, and Brandin Cooks lighting up the scoreboard en route to the Super Bowl. The title game rematch lived up the hype, and then some. After a slow start, Goff and the offense found their rhythm in the second half as they battled back from an early 13-point deficit to get the better of the Saints inside the Superdome. If you’re looking to savor the moment with some fresh Rams merch, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to gear up and celebrate their NFC title. For Rams fans looking to celebrate with some new T-shirts Make sure to get your 2019 NFC Champs hat Don’t forget your NFC Champs sweatshirt, too! And if you’re already thinking ahead to Super Bowl 53 Check out the new Todd Gurley II Super Bowl Nike jersey that just dropped. Nike Todd Gurley II Nike Super Bowl 53 Jersey for $119.99 Looking for more product reviews, shopping guides, and good deals on sports merchandise and apparel? Check out our Buy Stuff section.
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The Rams have their kicker to thank for a trip to the Super Bowl
The offense better say thank you to Greg Zuerlein The NFC Championship Game went to overtime when it had no business doing so. The Rams were given the game on a silver platter after an incredible no-call on pass interference resulted in a short Saints field goal, and with one time out all they needed to do was march down the field, like they’ve done countless times this season. Instead L.A. took nine plays to go 45 yards, burning over a minute of clock time in the process. On paper it really doesn’t look that bad, but is it — promise. After a few decent plays the mistakes began with 53 seconds left on the clock. The Saints defense collapsed in broken coverage giving Robert Woods an open lane to the end zone, with zero defenders in a position to stop him. Instead of keeping his footing and scoring what would have likely been a game-winning touchdown, he tripped and got a 16-yard gain. This play took the wind out of the offense, and suddenly it was as if the offense forgot how to move the ball. 3-yard pass up the middle to Todd Gurley (45 seconds left) Incomplete pass on a no-huddle. Incomplete pass as Goff throws away early, scared he’ll be sacked and pushed out of field goal position. These three plays defined the end of regulation, and gave ample cause for the Rams to cough this game up when they were put in the driver’s seat. There’s little doubt the Saints were screwed on the non-call pass interference, but this moment is really what made the game so close. Greg Zuerlein bailed out the offense with the game-tying field goal from 48 yards, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Rams’ offense lost its teeth when it needed them the most. When paired with Sean McVay’s inexplicable decision to kick a field goal from a half-yard out, it creates a tapestry of a young team terrified of making mistakes on the bigger stage of any of their careers. We know it’s a moot point, the Rams went on thanks to a monster 57-yard field goal from Zuerlein in overtime — but it never should have been that close. Now a kicker becomes a legend. GREG THE LEG-END pic.twitter.com/2aA72Rirmb— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019
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Rams win a wild NFC Championship over Saints in overtime
The Rams escaped New Orleans with a victory and a trip to the Super Bowl after winning the NFC Championship, 26-23, in overtime. The Los Angeles Rams are headed to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII after beating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship on Sunday, 26-23. It was a close game that went to overtime, and one that was marred by poor decision-making (for both teams) and poor officiating. New Orleans got out to an early 13-0 lead thanks to a pair of field goals and a touchdown, but the Rams quickly responded before the end of the first half, making it 13-10 going into halftime. Much of the game was a battle for field position, and the Rams frequently had to work with less as the Saints largely won that battle. But even working with that field position, the Rams kept battling back. Down three points and starting from their own 9-yard line, they drove down the field late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20 points apiece, giving the ball back to the Saints with five minutes left in the game. They managed to kick a field goal for the lead, but they also did a horrible job of managing the clock, and instead of giving the Rams the ball back with under a minute to go, they only took about 12 seconds off following the two-minute warning. That allowed the Rams to come back and kick a field goal to force overtime. To be fair to the Saints, there was also an incredibly bad call by the referees, who missed one of the most blatant examples pass interference I’ve personally ever seen. If they get that call, they probably kneel it out and kick a field goal as time expires. Instead, they went to overtime. In overtime, the Saints received and Brees had a pass tipped at the line before it was intercepted by John Johnson. The Rams then moved into field goal range, right on the cusp of it, and had a 57-yard attempt for Greg Zuerlein. He made it, and the Rams are going to the Super Bowl. Brees finished the game with 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Saints rushed for just 48 yards as a team, with Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler and Ndamukong Suh coming up big on the defensive line. Goff finished the game with 297 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Brandin Cooks caught seven passes for 107 yards, while Todd Gurley had just four carries for 10 yards, compared to 16 carries for 44 yards for C.J. Anderson. Below, you can see the live blog from Sunday’s game in reverse order, including highlights and analysis. Rams 26, Saints 23, FINAL: The Saints start overtime from their own 26-yard line. Brees goes incomplete deep to Arnold, and the Rams are called for pass interference (make-up call?), giving the Saints 14 yards. On 1st-and-10 from the New Orleans 40, Donald blows up an Ingram run for a loss of 6 yards. Brees then has a pass tipped at the line and it’s intercepted by John Johnson! Wow! The Rams drive, and Zuerlein has to attempt a 57-yard field goal. ... It’s good! The Rams win! Saints 23, Rams 23, 0:15, 4Q: The Lutz kickoff goes for a touchback. On first down, Goff throws incomplete to Reynolds. Second down, Goff goes to Reynolds again, this time it’s caught for 19 yards. Another pass goes to Everett, but it’s incomplete. They’re at the New Orleans 49-yard line after a 7-yard completion to Cooks. On third down, Goff hits Woods for 16 yards and they’re on the New Orleans 30-yard line. The Rams spend their last timeout. Goff hits Gurley for 3 yards, then throws incomplete. They bring in Zuerlein for a 48-yard try with 19 seconds left. The Saints take a timeout prior to the snap. But if they were trying to ice it, no dice. The field goal is good and we have a tie game. The Saints kneel it out and we’re going to overtime. The Saints will receive the overtime kickoff! Saints 23, Rams 20, 1:41, 4Q: The Rams save a timeout when Brees goes incomplete to Thomas on first down instead of a run for some reason. Then the Saints have to take a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty. The Saints run it for no gain and the Rams burn a timeout. On third down the Saints ... try for another pass? What a terrible decision for Sean Payton! There was definitely a missed pass interference, but still. The 31-yard field goal, though, is good, and the Rams are getting the ball back with far more time on the clock — 1:41 — than they had any right to expect to have. NO FLAG?!#LARvsNO pic.twitter.com/HxZJ7CgwSt— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 20, 2019 Saints 20, Rams 20, 1:58, 4Q: Zuerlein’s kickoff is off, and the Saints start on the 30-yard line. Brees hits Carr for 5 yards, Ingram for 3 yards, then Kamara for 8 yards to convert the third down. Ingram loses 2 yards on a run after Donald blows up the play, then Brees does what Brees does best and hits Ginn for a 43-yard reception, which takes us to the two-minute warning. TED GINN: @NFL pic.twitter.com/VXXXgbsFKj— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019 Saints 20, Rams 20, 5:03, 4Q: It’s a quick 3-and-out for the Rams after a holding call on Terron Armstead pushes them back 10 yards on first down. Brees throws two incomplete passes and Kamara has a short run, leading to a Morstead punt to the Los Angeles 9-yard line. From there, Goff hits Everett for a 39-yard reception, Anderson picks up 5 yards on a run, then Goff hits Reynolds for a 33-yard reception. That puts them in field goal range, and after getting to the 1-yard line, they are called for delay of game. They settle for a 24-yard field goal from Zuerlein to tie it. Saints 20, Rams 17, 12:22, 4Q: Brees hits Smith for 10 yards, then Thomas for 9 yards. Ingram rushes for a 6-yard gain, and then with Hill in the game at quarterback, they fumble the handoff to Kamara, who manages to jump on it for no gain. Mark Barron and Aaron Donald both delivered big hits. Brees throws incomplete to Ginn on a 3rd-and-7, so Morstead punts it to the Los Angeles 13-yard line. So the Rams get the ball back, and Goff is immediately sacked for a loss of 8 yards by Cameron Jordan. Then it’s a 1-yard loss by Anderson, and Hekker has to punt it. He does, and there’s an illegal block on the Rams, so New Orleans will get the ball in Los Angeles territory. .@camjordan94 is a MONSTER pic.twitter.com/psCP78SHjl— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019 Saints 20, Rams 17, 3:06, 3Q: Now in a 10-point hole, the Rams take over from their own 25-yard line. They quickly face a 3rd-and-2, and convert it with a short pass to Cooks, then Cooks catches another one for 14 yards an another first down. Davis is called for offsides, and then on 2nd-and-3, Goff hits Cooks again, this one for 25 yards. Vonn Bell tackled him, and stayed down with an injury. Reynolds gets the carry to the left side all the way to the 1-yard line. On first down, Goff fumbles and they lose 2 yards on the play. On 2nd-and-3, Anderson goes for 2 yards, so it’s 3rd-and-1. They go play action, and Tyler Higbee is uncovered. Goff finds him, and the Rams are back in business! Also, more than just the Saints fan with a strong natural whistle, there appear to be multiple fans in the crowd with whistles. That’s not good. .@Ty_Higs19 trying to quiet down the Super Dome pic.twitter.com/GvzkZ4lvV7— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019 yep that's a whistle #LARvsNO pic.twitter.com/rZrpSjyHrZ— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 20, 2019 Saints 20, Rams 10, 8:34, 3Q: So New Orleans gets it at their own 39-yard line, and they immediately start picking up chunks of yardage. Kamara gets 8 and then 9 yards on receptions, Ingram rushes for 16 yards. Kamara catches two more passes for 8 and then 9 yards, and on 3rd-and-2 from the 2-yard line, Brees hits Hill for a touchdown and the Saints have a 10-point lead! Taysom Hill finally got a TD … reception: @thecheckdown pic.twitter.com/XCh5gpfGDz— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019 Saints 13, Rams 10, 14:05, 3Q: It’s a quick 3-and-out for the Rams, as they lose 4 yards on a Woods reverse, followed by two incomplete passes to Woods. Hekker punts it 50 yards to the New Orleans 29-yard line and the Saints have the ball back. Saints 13, Rams 10, END 2Q: Brees hits Ginn for 6 yards, and he fumbles, but the bal goes out of bounds. They convert a 3rd-and-2 with a 5-yard run from Kamara, but then Brees is sacked by Ndamukong Suh on two consecutive plays. That brings us to the two-minute warning, and the Saints have to punt it away. The Rams take over and they quickly start moving down the field, with Reynolds catching passes for 9 and 13 yards. Then Cooks for 17 yards after a couple incomplete passes to convert a 3rd-and-10. On 1st-and-10, Goff goes back to Cooks for a 36-yard pass which puts them inside the 10-yard line. Gurley gets the carry, and he gets the 6-yard touchdown! The extra point is good and it’s a 3-point game! If Todd Gurley is on your team, let him run for TDs@thecheckdown pic.twitter.com/cELejFrD1p— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 20, 2019 Saints 13, Rams 3, 5:20 2Q: The Saints get the ball back and it’s a very quick drive — Kamara loses 2 yards, Griffin picks up 7 yards and then Brees is incomplete throwing to Kamara. Thomas Morstead punts to the Los Angeles 22-yard line. Los Angeles doesn’t do much better, as Anderson picks up 3 yards, Woods gets 6 yards and Anderson gets another 3 for a first down. But two incomplete passes and a short run leads to a Hekker punt — and this one isn’t faked. New Orleans takes over from their own 17-yard line. Saints 13, Rams 3, 9:45 2Q: After the fake punt, Goff scrambles for 7 yards, throws incomplete and then hits Everett for 11 yards. Anderson picks up 8 yards, then 2 yards, but is stopped for no gain and a Goff pass goes incomplete to Gurley. That makes it another fourth down, and Greg Zuerlein comes out for a 36-yard field goal, which he makes. The Rams are on the board! Saints 13, Rams 0, 12:09, 2Q: Oof, penalties are really hurting the Rams. That encroachment penalty was huge, and they immediately lose 5 yards due to a false start, just after C.J. Anderson had rushed for 5 yards. Anderson picks up 5 yards again on third down and they are going to punt. Or are they? As Johnny Hekker tends to do, they fake it and Hekker tosses it to Sam Shields for 12 yards and a first down! Wow, can’t believe Johnny Hekker faked it. That NEVER happens: @thecheckdown pic.twitter.com/VEvGa5tZcc— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019 Saints 13, Rams 0, 1:35, 1Q: Tight end Josh Hill immediately puts the Saints into Rams territory with a 24-yard reception on first down. He leaves the game by order of the officials to get checked out for a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit. After two short gains, Brees hits Thomas again for 19 yards and a first down. Then they face another third down, and they don’t get it as Kamara can’t pick up the 4 yards needed (Taysom Hill was in at quarterback). On fourth down, the Saints line up like they’re going for another rush, but Michael Brockers is called for encroachment. So instead of a fourth down, the Saints have a 1st-and-5 from the 5-yard line. Brees throws to ... Garrett Griffin? That was his second NFL target, and it’s a touchdown! Just as we all expected, Garrett Griffin scores the Saints’ first TD: @NFL pic.twitter.com/JUyt0rvAxL— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 20, 2019 Michael Brockers, you big dummy. One play later, the Saints turned this free first down into a five-yard TD pass pic.twitter.com/gM4PWuZPfD— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 20, 2019 Saints 6, Rams 0, 5:26, 1Q: And we have our first punt of the game as the Rams go 3-and-out. Goff went to Robert Woods twice, once for no gain and once incomplete, and they only picked up 2 yards on a Gurley run. So possession shifts back to the Saints, who take over from their own 34-yard line. Saints 6, Rams 0, 7:06, 1Q: Rams have to start their first drive from their own 10-yard line after an illegal block in the back penalty on the kickoff. They pick up 7 yards, and then lose 4 on a Todd Gurley run. On third down, Jared Goff throws to Gurley, and the pass bounces right out of Gurley’s hands and into the waiting arms of Demario Davis! It’s an interception and the Saints are right back in the red zone! Davis was also the one to make the tackle for loss on Gurley. The Saints can’t do much with the field position, but Lutz boots a 29-yard field goal for the 6-point lead. Saints D protecting the DOME @demario__davis pic.twitter.com/qXR8BD67xS— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019 Saints 3, Rams 0, 10:04, 1Q: The Saints receive the opening kickoff, and Drew Brees takes the field. The Saints faced an early 3rd-and-long situation, but Brees hit Ted Ginn for a 9-yard gain to convert. They then faced another third down, and Brees hit Alvin Kamara deep for a 21-yard gain. Kamara then had a 14-yard gain, but the drive stalled there after Arnold couldn’t secure a catch in the end zone. They settle for 3 points with a 37-yard Will Lutz field goal. .@DrewBrees floats it perfectly to @a_kamara6 for 21 yards! #HomeInTheDome: #LARvsNO on FOX pic.twitter.com/mpENX9xtHN— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019 3:00 p.m.: Hello! We’re here for Rams vs. Saints in the NFC Championship, and we’ll have a running live blog of the action, including highlights, top plays and more. Below, you can find all the viewing information and everything else you need to watch the game. Kickoff is set for shortly after 3:05 p.m.! The top two seeds in either conference will meet in the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday, beginning with the latter, a showdown between the top-seeded New Orleans Saints and second-seeded Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome. The game is set to begin at 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX (live streaming via FuboTV, FOX Sports GO). The Rams finished the regular season at 13-3, with one of their few losses coming to the Saints in an offensive showdown in New Orleans. The Saints won that meeting, 45-35, handing the Rams their first loss of the season. Jared Goff threw for three touchdowns and nearly 400 yards, but also had an interception, while Todd Gurley was limited to 68 yards rushing. New Orleans managed 141 yards of rushing as a team, while Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Neither quarterback was sacked in the outing. Saints receiver Michael Thomas dominated the game, with 12 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown. Both teams had a bye in the wild card round, and handled their opponents in the divisional round, though both games were close in their own way. The Saints only put up 20 points against the Eagles, and had to come from behind to get the victory as the Eagles fell apart in the second half. The Cowboys kept it close with a late rally against the Rams, but Los Angeles managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter to keep the game out of reach as Dallas scored late and tried to make something happen. But the Rams got out of there with a 30-22 win. Both games were quite a bit closer than most predicted, and the week of rest from the wild card round shouldn’t play too much of a factor here after such a hard-fought divisional round. Below, you can find all you need to know to watch the action on Sunday. Time, TV, and streaming info Time: 3:05 p.m. ET Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La. TV: FOX Streaming: FuboTV, FOX Sports GO Odds: The Saints opened as 3-point favorites, making the Rams the underdog, but just barely, according to OddsShark. Rams vs. Saints news The Rams are as healthy as can be going into the NFC Championship, as they listed no players on their final injury report for Sunday’s game. The Saints, on the other hand, will be without Benjamin Watson and Keith Kirkwood, and listed three others on their injury report, all of whom are offensive linemen. For Los Angeles, it won’t be about riding one or two players to the Super Bowl. They’re fully into the “we, not me” attitude. Michael Thomas is, more than anything, in the zone. He’s playing the best football of his career by far and will be extremely difficult to stop for the Rams. Be sure to peep the Turf Show Times Q&A with the folks at Canal Street Chronicles, and of course, the reverse post on the latter blog. Speaking of Turf Show Times, they have five Saints players to watch, win-loss predictions by their staff and bold predictions by their staff. And speaking of Canal Street Chronicles, be sure to peep their latest preview podcast, a preview of the Saints offense vs. the Rams defense, some conference championship picks and their own bold predictions. Saints fans should be worried about the offensive struggles they faced in the divisional round. Rams fans are the only ones who should be worried about the Saints offense. Drew Brees will make you pay. This is just a fact of life. Rams vs. Saints prediction Of the six SB Nation NFL experts picking the conference championships, only two think the Rams can come out on top. That leaves four picking New Orleans, and they’re joined by the OddsShark computer. The coin flip landed on Los Angeles.
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Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal sends the Rams to Super Bowl 53
The Rams had a rough go at things, but advanced to the Super Bowl with an overtime win. It took overtime, but the Rams were able to beat the Saints 26-23 in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl in Atlanta. The Rams won on a 57-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, who lived up to his “Legatron” nickname with the booming kick: GREG THE LEG-END pic.twitter.com/2aA72Rirmb— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 20, 2019 It set a Rams postseason record, but there was a lot that came before the kick that will be talked about in the coming days. How we got to overtime was complicated, and controversial. An egregious no-call that forced the Saints to settle for a field goal to make it a 23-20 game in New Orleans’ favor. Here’s the play in question: The Rams then got the football back with 1:45 remaining, and threatened to win the game with a quick start to their drive. After a Robert Woods 16-yard reception got the Rams to the Saints’ 49-yard line, the Saints defense was able to hold the Rams’ offense. It forced a Greg Zuerlein 48-yard field goal attempt, which he nailed after a failed icing attempt: We're heading to OVERTIME.: #LARvsNO on FOX pic.twitter.com/J7P87mt9NL— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019 Drew Brees kneeled the football after the Saints got the ball back, and we headed into overtime. The Saints got the ball first, and it resulted in disaster. On a second-and-16 from their own 34-yard line, Brees got nailed by Dante Fowler, and threw a duck into the sky that Josh Johnson came down with for the Rams: The @RamsNFL defense forces the INTERCEPTION!Huge turnover in OT. #LARams #NFLPlayoffs: #LARvsNO on FOX pic.twitter.com/Bn54AaPEBR— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019 Moments later, Zuerlein sent the Rams to the Super Bowl. The Rams will play either the Patriots or the Chiefs in Atlanta. The Rams beat the Chiefs earlier in the season in what many believe to be the best regular season game in NFL history, 54-51. No matter who they play, we should be in for a treat in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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Sean McVay will be the youngest coach in Super Bowl history
McVay broke Mike Tomlin’s record at just 32 years old. Mike Tomlin is having a rough year. His Steelers crashed out of playoff contention. His star wide receiver wants out of Pittsburgh. And now, after the Rams’ NFC Championship Game win Sunday, he’s no longer the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history. That record now belongs to Sean McVay, who guided Los Angeles to a comeback victory in the hostile confines of the Superdome to send the Rams back to the promised land for the first time since the Greatest Show on Turf was disbanded. The 32-year-old head coach needed only two seasons to turn LA from a 7-9 non-threat into one of the final two teams standing in February. Tomlin was only 36 years old when he led the Steelers to a world championship in 2009. McVay’s become the model for 2019’s coaching hires This lends credence to the rash of head coaching hires that’s gripped the league in January. Franchises have been more willing than ever to bet on inexperienced assistant coaches with innovative offensive backgrounds in hopes of finding the next McVay. In Arizona, that turned Kliff Kingbury from a guy who’d been fired at Texas Tech into the Cardinals new sideline general. In Wisconsin, the Packers turned to McVay’s former offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur, in hopes of riding out the final years of Aaron Rodgers’ peak. Even Adam Gase was granted a second life after being fired by the Dolphins, landing in New York for a job with the Jets. Those hires were all made, in part, due to McVay’s astronomical rise in Los Angeles. The 34-year-old is 24-8 in the regular season as a head coach and needed just two seasons to put Jeff Fisher’s “7-9 bullshit” so far in his rear view it’s barely a speck in the horizon. Now he’s just one victory away from adding another record to his mantle; youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
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This PI non-call in Rams-Saints is one of the wildest things ever
Meet the football equivalent of getting away with an assassination in front of millions of witnesses. The NFL’s pass-interference rule is always enforced with varying rigor. Some days, defensive backs have a bit more latitude than others to hit receivers before the ball arrives. Maybe one week, a slight shove a half-second before the ball arrives is fine, and the next week, the same shove gets called. It happens in a high-speed, high-contact sport. But this is hilarious. I need to compose myself after laughing for two minutes at this premature body slam by the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman not getting flagged: Tommylee Lewis was running a little wheel route on third-and-10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line, with the score tied at 20 in the final two minutes of the NFC Championship. He was about to catch it just shy of the first-down marker when Robey-Coleman annihilated him. There’s a decent bit to the PI rule, but the biggest thrust of it is that “contact by a player who is not playing the ball that restricts the opponent’s opportunity to make the catch” is not allowed. Well, that means you can’t destroy a receiver well before the ball arrives if you, yourself, are not looking at the ball or making any effort to catch it. Had Robey-Coleman been paying closer attention, he probably could’ve cut the route, intercepted Drew Brees’ pass, and run about 90 yards the other way. Instead, the Saints got a 31-yard field goal from Will Lutz to go up 23-20. The Rams countered with their own field-goal drive immediately after that, bringing up overtime.
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Why did Sean McVay settle for a game-tying field goal against the Saints?
This is not the Rams coach we know. With the ball less than a yard away from the end zone, down 20-17 to the Saints, the Rams decided to kick a field goal instead of going for the touchdown. KICK IS GOOD @RamsNFL kick a field goal to tie up the game. Score: 20-20 #LaRams #pLAyoffs #SaintsvsRams pic.twitter.com/tkeJTtSF7b— Lesley Marin (@lesleymarin) January 20, 2019 It remains to be seen if this is the right decision for the Rams, but Sean McVay did opt to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line just a week ago against the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams were up 23-15, McVay ran the ball on fourth-and-goal, and the Rams scored a touchdown to go up 30-15, effectively ending the game. McVay seems like a guy that knows the value of a touchdown during big time NFL games, but here he opted for the safer route and kicked a 24-yard field goal that tied the game at 20. We’ll have to see if this is a call that bites them in the ass — a 24-20 lead against Drew Brees in the Superdome could’ve been the final nail in the coffin for the Saints.
1 h
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This Saints defender hurdled his teammates to butt drop on a receiver
Boom. I don’t really know what Saints defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth was thinking here, but I’m kinda good with it. ❗️⁉️⁉️⁉️⁉️❓❓‼️ pic.twitter.com/413BvFdxyM— ㅤㅤㅤ (@alltwentytwo) January 20, 2019 Look, I’m not advocating that players should wantonly leap on each other without cause — but if they’re going to then the butt drop is the preferred way to do it. Don’t worry, Rams’ receiver Josh Reynolds was totally fine, which is remarkable considering you had a 305 pound man come off the second rope like Yokozuna. This just means we can enjoy this good butt drop for what it is.
3 h
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Here’s where that whistling noise is coming from during Rams-Saints
It’s bothering everybody watching on television, but Saints fans are used to it. If you’re watching the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game, you’ve probably heard a whistle so piercing, it sounds like one that referees use during a game. That’s no referee whistle, but rather it’s Saints superfan Leroy Mitchell Jr., better known as the “Whistle Monsta.” He’s been helping make the Superdome loud since 1996, after learning from his uncle at the age of 15. Jeff Duncan profiled Mitchell for the Times-Picayune in 2012: The 1996 Saints were in the midst of a dreadful 3-13 campaign, the last of Jim Mora’s coaching tenure in New Orleans. The Superdome was lifeless, and the lack of intensity transferred to the players on the field. Mitchell put his lips and two and two together. A hobby became his hallmark. A Saints super fan was born. ”I had an epiphany,” said Mitchell, 44. “The team wasn’t very good and they needed us at that time. I had the whistle. I needed to figure out how I was going to incorporate that into helping the team. There was a lot of hot air in the Dome back then. I figured I’d take that hot air, blow it through the whistle and provide the sound. Necessity is the mother of invention.” He’s even got an entire routine that he goes through before each Saints game. It includes some crunches, face paint, among other things: According to the Times-Picayune, you can find Whistle Monsta in Row 1 of Section 111 of the Superdome, which is behind the opponent’s bench. That’s some convenient placement. It’s not surprising somebody like the Whistle Monsta exists, considering how deafening the Superdome crowd can be. He, and the rest of the Saints faithful have proven to be a pain for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense.
3 h
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Fox hilariously panicked when Michael Thomas’ butt was accidentally on TV
They tried to show the Superdome instead, but we still saw his ass. The NFC and AFC Championship games are going to be watched by millions of people on Sunday. It’s good exposure for the NFL, and the players on the field. However, Michael Thomas got a little bit too much exposure on a catch, when Aqib Talib pulled his pants down, unveiling his bare ass: FOX just tried to hide Michael Thomas' butt crack with a quick aerial shot of the Superdome #LARvsNO pic.twitter.com/X0qIqzNVYu— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) January 20, 2019 And no, your computer or mobile device isn’t messed up. Fox tried cutting away quickly with an aerial shot of the Superdome. However, the damage was done, and we had all already seen Thomas’ rear end. Thomas got a gain of three yards on the play, so it wasn’t for nothing. Though the Saints had to settle for a field goal on the drive. Thomas isn’t the only player to have his butt on national television. Devin Hester has had his cheeks exposed on NBC back in the day: And in 2012, DeMarco Murray got pants’d by the Steelers: People often show their ass by losing their temper and making a fool of themselves. If I’m Thomas, I’d rather show my ass on one of sports’ biggest stages, instead of the former.
4 h
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Live results and highlights from Rams vs. Saints
The Saints won a shootout against the Rams the first time out, and now the stakes are much higher in the NFC Championship game. We have a live blog of the action, including highlights and analysis. 3:00 p.m.: Hello! We’re here for Rams vs. Saints in the NFC Championship, and we’ll have a running live blog of the action, including highlights, top plays and more. Below, you can find all the viewing information and everything else you need to watch the game. Kickoff is set for shortly after 3:05 p.m.! The top two seeds in either conference will meet in the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday, beginning with the latter, a showdown between the top-seeded New Orleans Saints and second-seeded Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome. The game is set to begin at 3:05 p.m. ET on FOX (live streaming via FuboTV, FOX Sports GO). The Rams finished the regular season at 13-3, with one of their few losses coming to the Saints in an offensive showdown in New Orleans. The Saints won that meeting, 45-35, handing the Rams their first loss of the season. Jared Goff threw for three touchdowns and nearly 400 yards, but also had an interception, while Todd Gurley was limited to 68 yards rushing. New Orleans managed 141 yards of rushing as a team, while Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Neither quarterback was sacked in the outing. Saints receiver Michael Thomas dominated the game, with 12 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown. Both teams had a bye in the wild card round, and handled their opponents in the divisional round, though both games were close in their own way. The Saints only put up 20 points against the Eagles, and had to come from behind to get the victory as the Eagles fell apart in the second half. The Cowboys kept it close with a late rally against the Rams, but Los Angeles managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter to keep the game out of reach as Dallas scored late and tried to make something happen. But the Rams got out of there with a 30-22 win. Both games were quite a bit closer than most predicted, and the week of rest from the wild card round shouldn’t play too much of a factor here after such a hard-fought divisional round. Below, you can find all you need to know to watch the action on Sunday. Time, TV, and streaming info Time: 3:05 p.m. ET Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La. TV: FOX Streaming: FuboTV, FOX Sports GO Odds: The Saints opened as 3-point favorites, making the Rams the underdog, but just barely, according to OddsShark. Rams vs. Saints news The Rams are as healthy as can be going into the NFC Championship, as they listed no players on their final injury report for Sunday’s game. The Saints, on the other hand, will be without Benjamin Watson and Keith Kirkwood, and listed three others on their injury report, all of whom are offensive linemen. For Los Angeles, it won’t be about riding one or two players to the Super Bowl. They’re fully into the “we, not me” attitude. Michael Thomas is, more than anything, in the zone. He’s playing the best football of his career by far and will be extremely difficult to stop for the Rams. Be sure to peep the Turf Show Times Q&A with the folks at Canal Street Chronicles, and of course, the reverse post on the latter blog. Speaking of Turf Show Times, they have five Saints players to watch, win-loss predictions by their staff and bold predictions by their staff. And speaking of Canal Street Chronicles, be sure to peep their latest preview podcast, a preview of the Saints offense vs. the Rams defense, some conference championship picks and their own bold predictions. Saints fans should be worried about the offensive struggles they faced in the divisional round. Rams fans are the only ones who should be worried about the Saints offense. Drew Brees will make you pay. This is just a fact of life. Rams vs. Saints prediction Of the six SB Nation NFL experts picking the conference championships, only two think the Rams can come out on top. That leaves four picking New Orleans, and they’re joined by the OddsShark computer. The coin flip landed on Los Angeles.
4 h
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Marquette was the best stop on Dwyane Wade’s retirement tour
Wade was honored by his alma mater on Sunday. Dwyane Wade’s #OneLastDance retirement tour is hitting the home stretch. Wade has spent his final NBA season swapping jerseys, getting gifts and watching tribute videos all while continuing to contribute to a Miami Heat team fighting for a playoff spot. On Sunday afternoon, a day after scoring 14 points to help lead the Heat to a victory in Chicago, Wade made an appearance at his alma mater, Marquette. It’s safe to say no place has been more excited to welcome back Wade one last time. Today in one photo. pic.twitter.com/dbn05bFrlI— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) January 20, 2019 Marquette retired Wade’s No. 3 in 2007. He was the leader of the school’s 2002-2003 team that went all the way to the Final Four before losing to Kansas. Wade spoke to the crowd during the game: “I carry that Marquette badge with me proudly everywhere I go.” - @DwyaneWadeGolden Eagles and @MiamiHEAT star, Wade looks back on his time in Milwaukee as he sees his No. 3 jersey lifted into the rafters. #onelastdance pic.twitter.com/RRlq0iYwmI— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 20, 2019 Marquette busted out all the stops for this one. It had video tributes from his old head coach Tom Crean, former teammates Steve Novak and Travis Diener, and other notable NBA alumni like Wes Matthews and Jae Crowder. The school also released its own tribute video that will give you chills if you remember that magical Final Four run: From Marquette University, No. 3, @DwyaneWade... pic.twitter.com/IG74CAbxj3— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 20, 2019 Marquette also surprised Wade by bringing his kids to the game. By the way, this year’s Golden Eagles can play a bit, too, and have their own superstar in Markus Howard. No. 15 Marquette torched Providence in the second half for a come-from-behind 79-68 victory, with Howard leading the way with 24 points (teammate Sam Hauser dropped 25 points). Marquette is now 16-3 overall and 5-1 in the Big East. D-Wade has to like that.
5 h
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Jimmy Buffett, Cheap Trick and Choppa headline NFC Championship Game music
Get ready. There’s something for everyone when it comes to music at the NFC Championship game, and by “everyone” I mean people who like Jimmy Buffett, Cheap Trick or Choppa. It’s a musical smorgasbord in New Orleans ahead of Rams vs. Saints, which Cheap Trick kicking things off with a concert downtown which began at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. The band doesn’t have a specific connection to New Orleans, but was enshrined into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, and Surrender is still a banger. At the game itself gulf coast native Jimmy Buffett will perform the national anthem, which should be — interesting. Buffett performed the anthem in 1989 during Game 1 of the NLCS, so if you need to get Parrothead-hyped before he belts it out, enjoy. Halftime is going to be the real highlight. New Orleans rapper Choppa will perform the incomparable Saints hype song “Choppa Style,” accompanied by the Ying Yang Twins, who will perform “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk).”
5 h
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Tom Brady made a hype video that’s going to make Boston run through walls
TB12 is ready. Tom Brady isn’t normally much of a hype video kind of guy, but when the entire football world doubted whether that Patriots could make another Super Bowl that changed. View this post on Instagram If you happen to be lucky... A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on Jan 20, 2019 at 6:08am PST On Sunday morning Brady posted a hype video that’s going to get Boston to run through walls. He solicited sporting legends from the city, David Ortiz, Paul Pierce and Zdeno Chara to discuss what winning titles for Boston meant to them, along with highlights of the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins all climbing the summit in their respective sports. If this doesn’t get the city hyped, nothing will.
7 h
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Drake cursed all 4 NFL teams entering championship Sunday
Football is cancelled. Drake couldn’t decide on a team to curse ahead of the NFC and AFC Championship games, so he decided to dole out his bad juju to everyone. via @champagnepapi, Instagram The man’s talent for dooming teams knows no bounds. Imagine one of those psychic World Cup-predicting octopuses, except in reverse — and they’re Canadian rappers who used to be on Degrassi. That’s pretty much Drake’s main skill. If he decides he’s going to ride or die with your team, then they are 100 percent going to crash and burn in spectacular fashion. Don’t believe it? Will Alabama fall victim to the Drake Curse? pic.twitter.com/WiV6tuggEE— ESPN (@espn) January 3, 2019 There’s only one way this ends up: We’re going to see two 0-0 ties, going to endless overtime. By midnight players will collapse on the field, exhausted. The Super Bowl will need to be postponed. By Wednesday the games are still being played. Stadiums are a disaster area as fans are forced to relieve themselves in the stands. Roger Goodell is forced to call an emergency meeting after Rams vs. Saints is delayed 12 hrs because players decided to sleep on the field. The rules of the game are altered — AFC and NFC players are fantasy drafted into the teams mid-game, just to have the numbers to keep them being played. The game never ends. Children are born, learn the game, and immediately drafted into one of the two monolithic teams, still playing the championship games. Drake did this, but it was God’s plan.
8 h
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NFC opens as 1.5-point favorite vs. AFC heading into conference championships
The Super Bowl 53 matchup is not set yet, but we’ve got some odds if you want to get on it early! The NFC and AFC Championship games take place Sunday afternoon, but even before the Super Bowl 53 matchup is set, you can bet on either of the conferences. Betonline.ag has posted initial AFC vs. NFC odds and has the NFC installed as a 1.5 point favorite. The early point total is set at 58.5 points. There would have been some potential value with more chance of upsets earlier in the playoffs, but with the top four seeds advancing, I would not anticipate a ton of value on the line. The four possible matchups are Chiefs vs. Saints, Chiefs vs. Rams, Patriots vs. Saints, and Patriots vs. Rams. Through the first 52 Super Bowls, the NFC has a 27-25 edge straight up and is 27-23-2 against the spread. Last year’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots saw the four-point underdog Eagles win outright. Underdogs have covered 13 of the past 17 Super Bowls, and ten of those saw the underdog win outright. This year’s game is trending to have the closest point spread since Super Bowl 49, when the line was either Seahawks -1 or pick ‘em, depending on your sportsbook of choice. The point total has gone over 27 times and under 24 times, with no point total installed for Super Bowl 1. In last year’s game, the over hit on the 57 point total, marking the seventh time in the past ten years the over hit. If the generic AFC-NFC point total holds, it would surpass the 57 point total leading up to Patriots-Falcons and Saints-Colts as the highest point total installed in Super Bowl history. Prior to this year, there have been ten Super Bowls with a point total of 50 or higher. The final score has gone under in six of those games.
9 h
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Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook are beefing again, and it’s extra spicy this time
Two past beefers rekindled their war of words in spectacular fashion. Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook are two of the most, uh, vocal athletes in the NBA, and they don’t like each other! We were reminded of that late in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ game against the Thunder on Saturday afternoon when Embiid accidentally pummeled into a sprinting Westbrook. It started some drama. Russ was heated after this hard foul from Embiid pic.twitter.com/DoveCV4Lk6— ESPN (@espn) January 19, 2019 If you look closely at the replay, you can see Embiid gave Russ a little extra nudge. Russ wasn’t OK with it, as he had to be restrained from going at Embiid. There was more talk after the game. What did Russ say? Russ had the line of the night. When asked if he was cool with Embiid, he quite bluntly said “F*** no.” Russell Westbrook on the foul from Joel Embiid, and then asked if they are “cool.” (Warning: language): pic.twitter.com/7i0ahyEFTH— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 20, 2019 Russ: I don’t think he just landed on me. I think he added something a little extra to it. But it’s ok. Reporter: So you guys are cool? Russ: F*** No. What did Embiid say? Embiid was his usual self postgame, poking fun at the situation. “I was going for the block and I think he lost the ball but I was already in the air. I don’t know why he was mad ... but he’s always in his feelings.” This isn’t the first time Embiid and Westbrook have beefed In 2017, Russ and Embiid had their first big petty war. It started when Steven Adams fouled out and Embiid waved him off the court. Game of the year. Embiid fouls out Steven Adams, waves bye to him pic.twitter.com/J5SlgmDKBy— James Wobden (@WorldWideWob) December 16, 2017 Russ retaliated after the Thunder won that game by waving Embiid off the floor. Russell Westbrook makes sure to wave goodbye to Joel Embiid after the game. pic.twitter.com/yAb97UQLW6— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) December 16, 2017 Russ elaborated after the game: Russell Westbrook on waving goodbye to Joel Embiid after the buzzer: “I told him to go home.” pic.twitter.com/SUBIhfIIzu— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 16, 2017 “I was telling him to ‘Go home.’ He was talkin’ mess to Steve-O. Fouled out, waving to the crowd which was unnecessary. Waving to Steve-O bye. Now it’s time for him to go home.” But Embiid got the final line in, making fun of Russ’s shot selection: “[Russell Westbrook] shot like 10-for-33. I wish I would’ve shot 33 times.” pic.twitter.com/V3JdyiyRFm— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 16, 2017 Embiid: “He told me to go home. I mean this is my home, so I guess it’s time for him to go home. They won the game, I give them a lot of credit, he did a lot of things, but the dude shot like 10-for-33. I wish I would have shot 33 times. I guess we would have had a better chance of actually winning the game. But you know, he told me to go home and this is my home and I ain’t going nowhere.”
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Lakers-Rockets was the PERFECT opening to the NBA’s Saturday showcase
An amazing game featured a wild game-tying three, a Lakers choke job, and more James Harden brillince. James Harden’s absurdity continued for yet another January night in a bizarre, long-winded battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets on Saturday. Harden went off for 48 points — which makes 163 over his last three games — to beat L.A. in overtime, 138-134. And he wasn’t even the hero of the night. The hero was Eric Gordon who hit an off-balance, game-tying three-point shot to complete Houston’s rally from a 21-point deficit. The Rockets won by launching a brigade of deep shots yet again, coming close to their record-setting 70 from three nights prior with 68. ERIC GORDON SENDS IT TO OT IN HOUSTON! #Rockets pic.twitter.com/iLEmS50D2U— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 20, 2019 Houston was hitting from everywhere. The final minute was chaos With 40.9 seconds left, L.A. led, 118-112. That’s two full possessions with not much time left, yet the Lakers still messed this one up. Here’s how that played out: Harden banked in a stepback three-point shot with 32 seconds left to bring the game to a three-point deficit. Stephenson missed a three, giving Houston the ball with 12 seconds left L.A. smartly fouled Harden to put him at the line, down three. He made both attempts. Houston fouled Ivica Zubac to put him at the line with 4.9 seconds left. He made both. Gordon hit the game-tying three with two seconds to play ERIC GORDON SENDS IT TO OT IN HOUSTON! #Rockets pic.twitter.com/iLEmS50D2U— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 20, 2019 It took an unreal amount of failure for L.A. to lose that lead. Overtime was just as intense It was all Ingram in overtime for the Lakers, who scored seven of the team’s 14 points. He hit shots fading away and a big three-point shot to keep his team in the game. Brandon Ingram ties it 132-all in OT with under 40 seconds remaining pic.twitter.com/gmYGsRup5c— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) January 20, 2019 But Harden and Gordon were too much. They scored 17 combined points in the extra minutes, draining a three-point shot each and making it count at the free throw line. LA trailed by just one with 30 seconds left, but a terrible Kentavious Caldwell-Pope airballed three sucked the life from the Lakers, and down they went. Just an atrocious shot at an atrocious time by KCP (he was 0-for-6 from 3 at this point) pic.twitter.com/VPmbdGNXb9— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) January 20, 2019 The Lakers really choked this game away It was all L.A. for the first half of the game, growing a lead up to 21 points. At the half, they led, 64-46. Kyle Kuzma had 24 points, and it appeared that the under-manned Lakers (without LeBron James) would roll past the under-manned Rockets (without Chris Paul and Clint Capela.) But then the Rockets switched gears, and by Rockets, we specifically mean Harden. His threes started going down, and The Beard carved right through the Lakers perimeter defense and into the paint. He finished with six assists. @JHarden13 puts up 48 PTS, 8 3PM to lead the @HoustonRockets 21-point comeback OT win! #RocketsThe Beard has scored 30+ points in 19 consecutive games. Only Wilt Chamberlain has had a longer streak of such games. (4 times) pic.twitter.com/bsNhekb56v— NBA (@NBA) January 20, 2019 Gordon knocked down fives threes on 10 tries, James Ennis went 4-of-6 and Gerald Green 4-of-11. The Rockets’ brand was strong. On the other side, the Lakers lost their identity. The offense unexplainably moved out of Kuzma’s hands, and fell flat for stretches. It wasn’t pretty. The real turning point was when Lonzo Ball went down with an ankle sprain Midway through the third quarter, Ball went down with an ugly-looking ankle injury. He didn’t get off the ground for a few minutes, and then Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson carried him to the locker room. ⁦@ZO2_⁩ sprained his ankle badly and needed to be carried off pic.twitter.com/9hlJ20fNea— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinn23) January 20, 2019 Initial X-rays for Lonzo came back negative, but he didn’t return to the game. In teammate Brandon Ingram’s mind, Ball’s injury made all the difference. “Right when Lonzo went down, I think that’s exactly when it went away,” he said, according to Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen. ERIC GORDON SENDS IT TO OT IN HOUSTON! #Rockets pic.twitter.com/iLEmS50D2U— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 20, 2019 Brandon Ingram ties it 132-all in OT with under 40 seconds remaining pic.twitter.com/gmYGsRup5c— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) January 20, 2019 Just an atrocious shot at an atrocious time by KCP (he was 0-for-6 from 3 at this point) pic.twitter.com/VPmbdGNXb9— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) January 20, 2019 This just proves James Harden is the MVP favorite now Giannis Antetokounmpo is worthy of the award, but Harden is doing the most right now. His 163 points over the last three games have ALL come unassisted. Only Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have scored more over a three-game stretch. Harden’s 48-point night also extended his streak of 30 or more to 19 straight, joining Wilt Chamberlain. So no, Josh Hart’s hilarious hands-behind is back defense was not effective. Josh Hart tried guarding Harden with no hands, but a foul was still called on Lance pic.twitter.com/AIXAUFSrQC— ESPN (@espn) January 20, 2019 Harden is truly doing it all, proving he can single-handedly carry an offense. The NBA in the month of January has been the James Harden show, and there’s no signs of that slowing down.
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Are Chiefs fans really the loudest in the world?
The record book says yes. The New England Patriots are preparing for a rare postseason road game this weekend, when they’ll travel to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. While Tom Brady has a long list of postseason accolades, he hasn’t been great away from Gillette Stadium. He’s 3-4 in his career playoff games on the road and now he’ll have to go to a notoriously loud stadium in Kansas City. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t too worried about it. “Look, the hardest thing about playing in Arrowhead is the Chiefs,” Belichick told WEEI this week. “They are a great football team, the top seed in the AFC this year. Obviously, they are very good and playing them anywhere is hard. They are good at home, but they are good everywhere. “We’re going to have to do a great job competing against the Chiefs and whatever else it is, it is. Crowd noise, there’s nothing we can really do about any of that. What we can control is our performance and our execution and that is what we’re going to focus on.” So the Patriots aren’t too worried about the crowd noise. But should they be? The stats say they should. Chiefs fans are the crowd noise record holders The Guinness Book of World Records says no sports crowd in the world is louder than Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium. On Sept. 29, 2014 — during a Week 4 game against the New England Patriots — Chiefs fans were recorded at 142.2 decibels. That’s louder than an aircraft carrier deck or a rock concert. The record was previous held by Seattle Seahawks fans, who were recorded at 137.6 decibels during a 2013 game. And before that it was European soccer fans who held the record when the crowd at a 2011 game in Turkey between Galatasaray SC and Fenerbahce was recorded at 131.76 decibels. Critics of the record would say that the Chiefs and Seahawks have stadiums that are designed to be loud on the field. Five teams — the Cowboys, Jets, Packers, Giants, and Broncos — averaged more fans per home game than the Chiefs, who had an average attendance of 75,972 in 2018. The Seahawks were down at 15th with 69,001 fans per game. In the case of CenturyLink Field in Seattle, the stadium’s partial roof reverberates noise back to the field. But Arrowhead Stadium doesn’t have as much structural help. It has a large amount of general bowl seating without many luxury suites — and those luxury boxes aren’t enclosed. So mostly it’s just that the Chiefs have a whole bunch of fans yelling really loudly. So loud that they’ve been asked by officials to quiet down multiple times. Here’s an example in 1990 when Broncos quarterback John Elway asked the referee to quiet down Chiefs fans. Remember back in 1990 when Arrowhead Stadium was so loud John Elway had to ask the ref to quiet the crowd? @KyleBrandt goes back in time to remind the @Chiefs to "get their groove back" at home for his #PlayersWereExcitedToSee pic.twitter.com/Wo38W9mblE— GMFB (@gmfb) January 5, 2018 It happened again two years later when Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich couldn’t get a snap off. 9/28/92: Raiders vs Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The Raiders have 3rd & 43 because of a personal foul and a delay of game. Arrowhead gets so loud that Todd Marinovich can’t snap the ball, Elway style. This is an all-timer. pic.twitter.com/mzgfhS1m4f— Chase Snyder (@ChasingSnyder) January 28, 2018 You probably won’t see Bill Belichick or Tom Brady asking the officials to quiet Chiefs fans down Sunday, but one thing is for certain. You can expect Arrowhead Stadium to be rocking.
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4 keys to Patriots vs. Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game
Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz previews what to watch for in Kansas City, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Alright folks, time for championship weekend. I have many thoughts and I’ve waited to weigh in on the AFC Championship Game until as late as possible to gather as much info as I needed. I’m ready to go. Let’s dive in with the game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and New England Patriots. This game is a rematch of a Week 6 victory in New England that the Patriots won 43-40 on a late field goal. It was a back-and-forth offensive affair, with the Patriots just making more plays than the Chiefs at the end of the game. While it would be easy to assume the game this weekend might mimic that, I doubt it. Here are four things to watch for Sunday, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Will the Chiefs’ homefield advantage be a factor? The Patriots are an excellent team at home. They were 9-0 and averaged 30+ points at home this season. Their defense allowed just 17 points a game in their friendly confines. On the road, the Patriots are 3-5 this season, allowing almost seven points more a game than at home. They’ve played sloppy on offense and haven’t been able to score. However, they beat the one playoff team they faced on the road: the Chicago Bears. I don’t buy this “Patriots are bad on the road in the playoffs” stuff, either. They’ve played two, yes TWO, road games in the playoffs since the 2007 season —both in Denver. That’s hardly a large sample size and with a completely different team outside of coach and quarterback. The Chiefs are similar to the Patriots. They are outstanding at home, and not so hot on the road, especially on defense. For whatever reason, the Chiefs defense is money in Kansas City. They allow almost half as many points at home and force more turnovers. They thrive on the crowd and their pass rush in Arrowhead. How do the Patriots stop the Chiefs offense? In three of the four games between the Patriots and Chiefs since 2014, the Chiefs have scored 40+ points. Two of those games were with Alex Smith under center. With both Smith and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, the Patriots haven’t had an answer for Tyreek Hill in their last two games. He’s had 20 targets, 14 catches and 275 yards. Beyond that, Kareem Hunt torched them, both on the ground and in the air. He’s off the team, but the option of using the back on Sunday is still there. Last week against the Colts, Damien Williams rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes. How do the Patriots stop this offensive explosion? It’s easy enough, but they must mix up coverage against the Chiefs. The Patriots are a high-man coverage team. They typically, or in the past, have taken their best cornerback — which is Stephon Gilmore now — and put him on No. 2, and then doubled the best receiver with their second-best corner and a safety. Well, against the Chiefs, that’s easier said than done. If you decide to double Hill, then you can’t put Gilmore on the next best receiver, because that player is Travis Kelce. So that’s not happening. If the Patriots insist on playing man coverage, as I’d expect them to do, they will most likely bracket Kelce, like they did in the first game this season. If Hill is lined up in a stationary position, the Patriots must get in his grill. They can’t allow him to get free releases and run up and down the field without any contact. In fact, I’d expect the Patriots defense to be aggressive in creating contact off the line of scrimmage as much as possible. Earlier this season, we saw the Ravens go out of their way to chip Kelce if he lined up near the line. The Patriots will do that as well. The Patriots will reroute any crossers and be hands-on as much as possible. What about Mahomes? When the Patriots mix up coverage, expect zero pressure, and off the zero-pressure look, a three-man rush. The Patriots showed the zero-pressure drop into a three-man rush in their first meeting and it forced some early throws from Mahomes. The goal is getting someone to rush free and then Mahomes makes a poor decision and one of the droppers can pick the ball off. The Patriots must have a plan for Mahomes when he breaks out of the pocket. We’ve seen most of his damage done when Mahomes rolls to his right out of the pocket. The Patriots will rush and contain Mahomes as best as possible, possibly even having a spy to not allow Mahomes to make those extra plays. When Mahomes does leave the pocket, he’s not doing so to run. He’s looking to pass, but defenses often key on Mahomes running and he throws the ball into the areas where the defenders aren’t anymore, creating big plays for the offense. Whatever the Pats do, they must be multiple and not show the same coverage over and over. One thing that will help the defense is their offense. The game plan is always the same against the Chiefs: Run the football against their poor rushing defense and play keep-away from Mahomes. However, when the Chiefs start scoring points and build up their lead, the Patriots must stick to the game plan, like the Chargers did. Will they panic and move off the plan? If they do, this game is done. Who gets the ball first? Both teams usually like to defer if they win the toss. Like last weekend, I expect the Pats to take the ball first if they win the toss. There’s no better way to control the tempo of the game by coming out fast and taking control.
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All you need to know to follow Chiefs vs. Patriots in the AFC Championship
The Chiefs and Patriots had an offensive shootout the last time they played. Will it be more of the same for the AFC Championship? The AFC Championship is the second of two conference title games on Sunday, and it features the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs playing host to the second-seeded New England Patriots to determine who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The game is set for 6:40 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by CBS (live streaming via FuboTV, CBS All-Access). When these two teams met in the regular season, it was as close as it can get. A total of 30 points were scored in the fourth quarter alone, but the Patriots made out with a 43-40 victory, despite four touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes. Tom Brady only tossed one touchdown, but didn’t throw an interception while Mahomes was picked off twice. It was a very evenly-matched game, but New England’s superior defense made just enough stops (it wasn’t a great day for them by any means) to let the Patriots sneak through with a win. Both teams had bye weeks in the wild card round of the playoffs, and both teams made it through their divisional round games much easier than their NFC counterparts (the Rams and Saints) were able to do. While those NFC games were close, the Patriots walked through the Chargers, winning 41-28, and the Chiefs made short work of Andrew Luck and the Colts, winning 31-13. Below is all you need to know to watch the action on Sunday. Time, TV, and streaming info Time: 6:40 p.m. ET Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. TV: CBS Streaming: FuboTV, CBS All-Access Odds: The Chiefs opened as 3.5-point favorites, making the Patriots a rare underdog, per OddsShark. Patriots vs. Chiefs news In big injury news, the Chiefs will get Eric Berry back for the AFC title game on Sunday, per their final injury report. The Patriots are also quite healthy. Be sure to peep the Arrowhead Pride Q&A with the folks at Pats Pulpit, and of course the reverse post on the latter blog. Dustin Colquitt has been with the Chiefs since ... well for a very long time. He’s seen it all. And he likes what he sees in this year’s team (unsurprisingly). The core of the Patriots roster is very strong, and has seen quite a few AFC title games. It’s going to be loud and cold at Arrowhead. The Patriots are aware. How have the Chiefs and Patriots changed since they met in Week 6? Justin Houston realizes that not many players get to make it to the conference championship game. Patriots players explain the challenges of defending Patrick Mahomes. The Patriots seeing themselves as underdogs has Chiefs players and fans tickled. Over at Arrowhead Pride they have a look at how the Chiefs offense beats the New England defense, how the Chiefs defense beats the New England offense, five stats that could determine Sunday’s game, five things to watch and, of course, predictions. And at Pats Pulpit, they have defensive keys to victory for the Patriots, some advanced stats on the Chiefs offense, film review of how the Patriots defended the Chiefs in Week 6, and one thing the Patriots defense can do to send them to the Super Bowl. Patriots vs. Chiefs prediction Of the six SB Nation NFL experts picking the conference championships, five of them think the Chiefs will win, leaving just one picking the Patriots. The OddsShark computer picked Kansas City, while the coin flip landed on New England.
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4 picks for the 2019 NFL Conference Championship games
I hate chalk, and yet here we are. The 2019 NFL playoffs have reached the final four. The playoffs opened with the underdogs covering in all four wild card round games. That was followed by all four divisional round favorites winning, and three covering the spread. Now we arrive in the AFC and NFC title games, and one wonders if we’ll see chalk or upsets. All lines are courtesy of OddsShark. New Orleans Saints (-3) over Los Angeles RamsUnder 56.5 This is a tough one to break down, and so I’ll go with home field advantage and lay three points with the Saints. Look for Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to bulldoze through a Rams run defense that ranked 28th in efficiency this season. I don’t think either offense is going to light things up like we saw in Week 9. There will be points to be had, but not the fireworks we might come to expect. Accordingly, I’m going to bet the under on 56.5 points. Both passing attacks have some question marks right now, so look for a lot of the ground game. Kansas City Chiefs (-3) over New England PatriotsOver 56 Early in the week, I was leaning Patriots. With kickoff closing in, I’m switching sides and laying the three points with the Chiefs. The Chiefs have scored 32.2 points per game at home, while New England allows six more points per game on the road than at home. The Patriots are 9-0 at home and 3-5 on the road this season, and I think it continues. Consider this a passing of the torch game. It’s going to be cold and that has moved the over/under all over the place. You could have gotten it as low as 54, but it’s back up around 56 now. I’m sticking with the over at 56, as the wind should not be an issue in this one.
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Is a Floyd Mayweather rematch next for Manny Pacquiao?
Manny Pacquiao says he’d love to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. next, provided the man comes out of retirement. Pacquiao took a dominant unanimous decision over Adrien Broner on Saturday. Manny Pacquiao has been talking a lot about Floyd Mayweather Jr., and seems rather confident that he can beat him in a rematch of their 2015 showdown. Much of the talk prior to Pacquiao’s Saturday bout against Adrien Broner has been about Mayweather and what comes next. Pacquiao hasn’t shied away from the discussion, and he didn’t after a dominant unanimous decision victory over Broner. After earning that victory, Pacquiao was asked if he wanted to fight Mayweather, who was in the building for the bout. “Floyd Mayweather, co-promoter here this evening, in the house, watching and assessing you, sometimes during the fight. Do you want that fight?” he was asked. “Tell him to come back [from retirement] to the ring and we will fight,” Pacquiao said. “I am willing to fight Floyd Mayweather again.” Mayweather was then asked if he would accept the fight, as they had a camera trained on him. He was told that a “simple nod will do.” The camera focused on him for about 15 seconds as Mayweather didn’t move his head an inch. The 40-year-old boxer and Mayweather, 41, went back-and-forth in “negotiations” about a potential bout for literal years before they met in 2015, and it was a hugely disappointing fight that many believed happened several years too late. In other words, both fighters were nearing the end of their careers, though Pacquiao seemed to have lost a step much more than Mayweather. A rematch, nearly four years after it was already considered too late, isn’t necessarily that appealing from a boxing standpoint but like it or not, they’re still the two biggest names in the sport and such a rematch would make some serious money. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather know that. Is it the right fight to make? Yes, probably. As much as I personally don’t care about seeing these two fight so late in their careers, I’d rather they be fighting each other than either getting destroyed by or outboxing some of the younger talent in the sport’s most competitive division(s). I’d rather they fight each other and highlight some of the other talent on the card. Pacquiao fighting Broner made sense because Broner is in a transitional period of his career. He was once considered the future of boxing and after a loss to Marcus Maidana in 2013, his career has been downhill. At 29 years old, Broner was in exactly the right place to launch himself back into the elite-level boxer discussion with a potential win over Pacquiao. That fight made sense. A rematch with Mayweather makes sense. Does Pacquiao have a chance in a rematch? Of course. This is a man that captured world titles in a record eight weight classes over the span of two decades, and has beaten some of the best there ever was. His style is not one that has any notable disadvantages against Mayweather’s style. Pacquiao is a smart guy who knows that he has to change his gameplan — perhaps getting out to a quicker start than usual given how the first fight went — to hand Mayweather that elusive loss. You also have the fact that Pacquiao simply looked great against Broner. Sure, he was expected to win, but Pacquiao looked fast and in shape that whole bout. Then you have the recent history of Mayweather, who remains undefeated as a professional boxer but whose past two “bouts” were a publicity stunt against Connor McGregor, who is not a boxer, and a short “exhibition” against the young kickboxing prodigy, Tenshin Nasukawa. That latter bout did not allow kicking, and almost assuredly would have went a different way if it did. The point is that Mayweather is hardly being challenged at this point in his career, which is a weird statement to begin with as Mayweather is “retired” (for the third time). That said, Pacquiao has at times looked good and at other times looked awful in recent fights. It’s really hard to gauge where he’s at with his talent right now. It wouldn’t be the most shocking thing if he became the man to knock out Mayweather, but it would be surprising if he out-boxed Mayweather for 12 rounds. What’s the downside? Other than having to fork over what will probably be at least $100 to watch what will surely be more spectacle than sport, the biggest downside is the overlooking of amazing talent coming up in just about every weight class to see two legends, well past their primes, battle it out in what will probably be a sad reminder of the great bout we missed when these two were at their peaks. The bout simply has little opportunity for excitement save for a surprise knockout, likely from Pacquiao. That would be historic and shocking, and it would give Mayweather, sitting at an official 50-0 for his career, a loss on his unblemished record. Of course, that’s a downside for Mayweather, as I personally couldn’t care less about Mayweather’s legacy. And finally, there is the usual downside of older guys going at it and potentially doing serious harm to their brains or the rest of their bodies. People retire for a reason, and a pay day isn’t always worth coming out of retirement for.
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Recap and reaction from Pacquiao vs. Broner
Manny Pacquiao dominated Adrien Broner on Saturday. We have a recap and round-by-round analysis from the pay-per-view card on Saturday. Manny Pacquiao dominated Adrien Broner in their surprisingly entertaining main event of a Showtime boxing card on Saturday. Pacquiao, in his first bout since turning 40 years old, retained his WBA world welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory. Pacquiao looked much faster than he has in recent fights, showcasing his style of amazing angles combined with flurries of punches to consistently overwhelm Broner. Compared to how he’s looked in his last two or three fights, Pacquiao once again looked like the dominant champion he once was. He worked the body early and often, while Broner played a game that was purely defensive, depending on his counter-punching. He did get some of those counter-punches in, but not nearly enough to make it that close of a bout. Going into the championship rounds, Broner arguably only took one of the previous ten rounds. Now sitting at 61-7-2 for his career, the question becomes: what’s next for Pacquiao? Many have been talking about a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Pacquiao, for his part, showed plenty to make that seem probable going forward. In the co-feature, undefeated Marcus Browne and Badou Jack went to war. Both fighters had their moments, but Browne controlled the action for most of the bout, and a nasty cut on Jack’s forehead in the middle rounds became a gusher and hampered him throughout the final six rounds or so. It’s surprising the fight wasn’t stopped given the sheer amount of blood leaking out of him (and splashing on the referee, commentators and probably the audience). Still, it was a close, exciting bout that Browne took by unanimous decision, winning the vacant WBC silver light heavyweight strap. The main card’s second bout saw Rau’see Warren face off against Nordine Oubaali for the vacant WBC world bantamweight title. Warren and Oubaali put on a fantastic fight, going the distance, but it was Oubaali who was more active and did more damage, ultimately winning a close unanimous decision. In the opening bout of the pay-per-view broadcast, Hugo Ruiz faced Alberto Guevara, a late replacement for Jhack Tepora, who came in five pounds overweight at the weigh-ins. While Ruiz would have had his hands full with Tepora, he easily dominated Guevara for 10 rounds for a unanimous decision, though many were disappointed he wasn’t more aggressive after scoring a knockdown in the opening frame. Below, you can find the round-by-round action from our live blog of the main card, as well as full results from the entire card on Saturday. Manny Pacquiao def. Adrien Broner via unanimous decision Round 1: And we’re off! Pacquiao starting by pawing the jab out there, and they tie up briefly. Pacquiao gets Broner against the ropes and Broner immediately holds him to get away. Pacquiao comes forward with a three-punch combo, but Broner gets out of the way. Pacquiao eats short counter left, but then lands one of his own from the right side, followed by a left hook. Straight to the body from Pacquiao, and a right uppercut from Broner. Hard left to the body by Pacquiao as the first round ends. Not a dominant round for either fighter, but Pacquiao threw more and landed more. Round 2: Broner probing with the jab as he tries to find his range. Short right hook to the body from Broner. Broner goes one-two over the top but Pacquiao avoids them. Hard right straight form Broner, and Pacquiao responds with a quick flurry of four punches, but Broner ducks and circles. Massive right over the top lands flush for Pacquiao, and Broner drops his guard, eating a double jab from Pacquiao’s left. Broner may have landed a hard shot early, but Pacquiao is dominating these close flurries. Two big lefts to the body from Pacquiao. Counter right from Broner lands. Definitely a Pacquiao round. Round 3: Pacquiao comes right out with a double-jab combo and a big left hook that just misses. He’s got Broner on the ropes, but the younger fighter circles away. Massive left hand from Pacquiao hurts Broner, who has to clinch to avoid a flurry. Short counter shot from Broner lands after a bit of jabbing from range. Big left to the body from Pacquiao, and then another. Two big jabs from Pacquiao, and Broner is essentially running away in the final 10 seconds here. Another big Pacquiao round! Round 4: Broner connects with two big counters in the first 30 seconds of this round, but Pacquiao isn’t shying away from the fight. He comes forward with a big right hand that came from nowhere, but Broner escapes the follow-ups. Good right jab from Pacquiao, and Broner just misses with the counter. That’s the punch Broner wants, and Pacquiao can’t get too comfortable sitting on that jab. Hard left to the body from Pacquiao and Broner responds with a nice counter. Broner could have won that round! Round 5: Broner throwing more in this round, but Pacquiao comes forward with some big combinations, which Broner circles away from. Pacquiao lands a nice right jab. Broner trying very hard to stay active offensively, but Pacquiao is so dangerous he’s having trouble finding his windows. Big left hook from Pacquiao lands, and an even bigger one is just avoided by Broner. Round 6: Hard left to the body from Pacquiao, then a stiff right jab. Another big left to the body from Pacquiao. He’s sitting on his punches more, and Broner is definitely feeling it. Another big left to the body on Broner. Broner lands a stiff counter left right at the bell, and it did some damage. Still, ti was probably Pacquiao’s round. Round 7: Pacquiao is chasing Broner now, landing his punches in flurries. Broner is getting the occasional counter in, but he’s landing one punch at a time while Pacquiao is just peppering him. Broner may be surprised by just how fast Pacquiao remains at 40 years old. Big hook from Pacquiao did some damage, then another hard left hand over the top. Pacquiao gets Broner into the corner and he starts unloading. He fires off about a dozen punches, and Broner ties up. They are separated, and Pacquiao goes right back to it, peppering Broner’s midsection with hooks. Broner just survives to the bell but that could have been a 10-8 round. Round 8: Broner connects with a nice left counter right at the start of this round, then a counter uppercut after getting pressed to the ropes. Pacquiao a bit more tentative, but he connects with some sharp jabs. He’s eating hard shots when he does low, so he throws two big overhands, both of which land. Pacquiao ducks a jab and lands a hard left hook to the head. Big jab to the body from Pacquiao. We’re headed to the ninth, with Pacquiao likely up by a lot. Round 9: Short left to the body from Pacquiao, following a right jab. Big left hand over the top, then a one-two for Pacquiao. Broner tries to tie it up, and Pacquiao is getting away from it. Broner ... grabs Pacquiao’s leg? The referee is having none of that. Massive left hand that staggers broner, who backs into the ropes and turtles up with 30 seconds left. Pacquiao again with a big flurry, then another. Broner has recovered, and even throws a hard right jab, and at the 10-second mark, he ducks a massive straight that probably would have floored him. Round 10: Right jab from Pacquiao lands, left jab from Broner misses. Big left to the body from Pacquiao, and Broner is now avoiding those shots — he’s taken several. Right jab from Broner lands, and he slips the follow-up from Pacquiao. Another left to the body from Pacquiao. Broner with a strong counter left, but he’s still far too inactive. He eats a hard right hook over the top. Round 11: Left jab from Broner lands early, and a counter right hook. Then he eats a body shot and a right hook over the top, and then another big body shot. Broner keeps looking at the clock, and nearly eats a hook that would have taken his head off. Broner with a good straight right, but Pacquiao continues to swarm. Broner now trying to avoid as much as possible. Pacquiao dives in with a left to the body, and a winging left hook that just misses. Broner survives to the final round. Round 12: Pacquiao has some swelling under his eye, but he’s still looking fresh out there, while Broner isn’t engaging. Another hook to the body from Pacquiao. Straight left up top for Pacquiao. This round is very inactive as Broner spends most of his time running away. Not a good look for him. This will be Pacquiao or somebody made a very bad mistake. Marcus Browne def. Badou Jack via unanimous decision Round 1: Browne uncorks the first big shot, trying for a massive right hook, but Jack blocks the bulk of it. They tie up, and Jack ands a short shot to the body. Browne goes with a three-punch combo, two of which go to the body and land. Left straight over the top from Browne, then a short right hook, though Jack defends them well. Hook to the body from Jack. Browne is throwing with serious power, which could be a factor if this one goes the distance. Short hook to the body and a big right hook upstairs from Browne. It’s a slow start for Jack, but there’s (probably) a lot of fight left. Round 2: Big right over the top from Jack after another feelingout period. Straight to the body from Jack. Browne lands some strong shots to the body, and works the jab. This one slowed down a lot in the second round, ntot a whole lot going on. It’s probably Browne’s round just because he was more active. Round 3: Three-punch combo from Browne, again, and all three land, including two big body shots. Hard body shot from Jack, who then misses with a slow right hook. The jab fake followed by a big followup hook JUST misses for Jack. Jack gets Browne against the ropes and works the body with a few hard punches. Another hard body shot for Jack, who is doing a good job of getting in and out. He pushes Browne to the ropes again and lands a few short body shots. Definitely Jack’s best round thus far. Round 4: Browne is getting a bit more aggressive, at least to start this fourth round. He comes forward and goes to the body several times in the first minute. Jack gets a counter left in there occasionally, but Browne is putting the pressure on. He has Jack backing up for much of this round. Round 5: Jack ties up early, and is separated. The referee warns Jack for holding, and warns him a second time. Referee stops the bout and tells both fighters they need to stop holding. Jack gets Browne against the ropes and lands a nice left hook, and then some hard body shots. They tie up and are separated two more times, and then a third. Browne is holding Jack’s arms when they tie up. OK, and they tie up again. And again. All of these are initiated by Jack, and Browne comes out with some huge punches. He connects with a body shot, then a big left hook. Jack looks tired and this one may be over soon if he keeps fighting like that. Round 6: Jack lands two hard body shots, and when he goes up top, Browne ties him up this time. And they’re separated. The referee is getting sick of the holding and both corners have been warned multiple times. Browne with a nice high-low combination. Jack has stepped it up and he’s throwing, but Browne is the faster, more powerful striker right now. Round 7: Jack comes forward throwing hard, with two big hooks, one of which lands hard up top. Brown responds with a strong punch to the body, but Jack walks him into the ropes and connects on a few short body shots of his own. Browne is weathering the storm, but he ties up multiple times. And the referee takes a point away from Browne! Jack initiated about a dozen more tie-ups than Browne, but Browne gets the point taken away. Jack has a cut on his face that’s leaking blood. Round 8: Jack lands two hard right hands up top, then a short hook to the body. Browne tags Jack with a hard hook to the jaw. Browne wings two hooks, massive hooks on either side of Jack’s face, and the blood is just leaking from his head. Jack probably can’t see very well. This one slows down in the latter half of the round, but Browne most certainly took it. Round 9: Browne is definitely going for that cut on Jack’s forehead. He was focusing a lot on the body previously, but now he’s getting the jab out there far more, trying to get it flowing to block Jack’s vision. Jack is turtling, covering up his face, and there really is no room for offense from him. Browne is just peppering his gloves and occasionally grazing Jack’s face, which is enough at the moment. Round 10: Browne comes out firing, but he gets turned around in the corner and Jack has a burst of offense, peppering him with jabs and hooks. Browne weathers the storm and gets out of it, but Jack keeps up the pressure for much of the round. He certainly doesn’t look tired anymore, but he doesn’t connect with anything big.Round 11: Browne comes forward again, throwing hard jabs as Jack tries to protect himself. The fight is stopped briefly so Jack can be examined by the doctors, because his face is entirely coated in blood. They resume fighting, and Browne goes back to the jab with short hooks. Jack lands a hard right hook that may have staggered Browne, and we’re heading to Round 12. Round 12: Jack lands another hard hook, and Browne is backing up immediately. He ties up. Right now, Browne is in survival mode, trying to get to the judges because Jack is throwing everything he has. Short left straight from Browne lands up top. Body shot from Jack. Short right uppercut from Jack lands, but Browne should have this as the fight ends. Nordine Oubaali def. Rau’shee Warren via unanimous decision Round 1: Oubaali tries for some quick jabs to the body, and misses with a huge overhand that Warren circles away from. Warren quickly gets to flicking his right jab out there, trying to establish it early. Right hand to the body from Oubaali, but it just grazes. Hard left hook from Warren, then two hard jabs over the top and a third to the body. Oubaali is throwing a lot, pressing the pace, but Warren is keeping himelf out of danger. Oubaali pressures Warren into the corner, and Warren eats a hard right as he’s escaping. Warren throws several jabs after that. Very good first round, but it’s hard to call it either way! Round 2: Oubaali is just trying to keep his hands out there — he’s throwing a ton of punches, many of which aren’t landing, but he’s doing a good job of controlling the pace. Warren is looking a little gunshy as Oubaali throws so much. Left hook from Warren misses, but he does get back to the right jab, backing Oubaali up. Warren comes in, trying to take the center of the ring, but he eats a stiff counter right, and then another one, and he stumbles briefly. He definitely took some serious damage there, but the round ends. Round 3: Hard right jab from Warren, and Oubaali hits him with a short counter left. Oubaali gets Warren against the ropes and connects with a right hook and a big jab. Right hook to the body from Oubaali as Warren gets out of the corner and away from the ropes. Oubaali comes forward with some wild hooks, getting Warren against the ropes again and teeing off, but Warren does some good avoiding this time, and gets out of the way. And now in the final seconds we have a brawl, with both fighters swinging counter hooks. Warren may have got the better of these latter exchanges, with both landing hard shots, but it’s still probably Oubaali’s round. Round 4: Warren comes out looking to do some damage after a rough round. He connects with a jab to the body, then a follow-up up top. Big right hook from Warren up top, and then he avoids a hard jab from Oubaali. Overhand left from Oubaali lands. High-action round, though nobody took a ton of damage. Round 5: Warren continues to try and take the center of the ring, and Oubaali has stopped throwing with the same amount of gusto as earlier rounds. Warren misses a winging right hook voer the top, and lands a hard left hook to the body as Oubaali throws a counter over the top. Big left hand from Oubaali misses, but the follow-up jab combo is good. Two massive right hooks from Oubaali land and back Warren up big time. Round 6: Big right hook from Oubaali to start the round, but he whiffs on a straight left to the body. He eats two hooks for his troubles, then a hard jab, and then another. Counter left for Oubaali lands, but Warren responds with two big right hooks. Big flurry right near the end of the round, with Warren landing body shots and Oubaali connecting up top. This one is really close! Round 7: Warren’s jabs are doing some real work in these latter rounds. He staggers Oubaali with a stiff jab, but Oubaali comes forward and wings two big hooks, one of which lands on the body. Another jab from Warren over the top, and Oubaali misses with the counter right. Left hook to the body from Warren. Oubaali gets Warren against the ropes and Oubaali hits him with a short right hand. Warren comes forward with two big right hooks, and eats another short counter, this one stumbles Warren, and Oubaali swarms. He tries to put him down, but Warren survives the storm and makes it to the round without going down. Round 8: Warren comes out a bit slow, he’s probably still feeling that late push from Oubaali. Big right hook from Oubaali lands and Warren has to figure out this punch. Oubaali has connected multiple times with it, and again. Warren is losing ground fast in this bout. Round 9: Big jab from Warren, then another, and Oubaali pauses his onslaught for the moment. Warren’s jab remains a deterrent, but Oubaali is not absorbing much damage with three rounds to go. Short right hook from Warren connects up top. Two hard body shots from Oubaali, then Warren throws a three-punch combo, but eats another one of Oubaali’s hard counters, right on the chin. Warren is responding to Oubaali’s pressure well, but the pressure is still effective. If this goes to the scorecards, somebody is going to be upset. Round 10: Oubaali comes forward this time, and he connects with a couple stiff jabs. Warren is a bit more inactive through the first half of this round. Warren ducks a massive hook from Oubaali, and gets tagged with a short left hook. He throws a hard jab of his own. The two are letting go and swinging a lot more than the previous round now, with Oubaali landing the better of the shots. Round 11: More jabs from Warren. Huge left hook from Warren is ducked by Warren, who throws one of his own, and it’s partially blocked by Oubaali. Hard left to the body from Oubaali. Three big shots over the top land for Oubaali, and Warren once again slowed down in the back half of this round. He’s not sitting down on his punches and he’s throwing at a much lower volume. Round 12: Left hook from Warren misses and he eats a hard right to the body, and a short left hook to the jaw. They tie up on the ropes. Oubaali throws a three-punch combo but Warren dodges all of it. Oubaali connects with a short left hook, but Warren walks through it. Short right hook this time from Oubaali, and it lands. Warren is walking him down, but eating plenty of shots when he comes in. Two big hooks from Warren miss, but he connects on a shorter right hook to the head. Another hard left from Oubaali. He gets Warren against the ropes and lands two big straight lefts to the head. This one was close, but Oubaali should win it. Hugo Ruiz def. Alberto Guevara via unanimous decision Round 1: Ruiz comes out with the aggression, and lands a hard right hook early. Guevara sneaks through his guard and lands a short uppercut, but eats a one-two from Ruiz and is dropped to the mat early in the first round. They tie up and are separated, with Ruizl nading some very hard body shots in the process. Guevara doesn’t really get any good shots in over the first round, save for the short uppercut right before he went down. Round 2: Guevara comes out swinging in the second round, but Ruiz is such a powerful puncher that he’s quickly backed up. Ruiz connects with multiple hard body shots and Guevara looks overmatched here. Ruiz continues to control the pace and Guevara just isn’t able to land much. Round 3: Left straight from Guevara lands up high, but Ruiz responds with a vicious left hook to the body. Guevara fires off two big right hands, but Ruiz avoids both. It’s a slow round this time around. Ruiz backs Guevara into the corner but can’t do much with the positioning. Round 4: Ruiz comes out very fast, winging a left hook to the body and two big right hands over the top, though Guevara avoids the latter two shots. After they tie up briefly, Ruiz fires off a four-punch combo, with the finishing left hook just missing, and it was the most deadly shot. Left hand lands up top for Ruiz. Hard body shot from Ruiz. Ruiz steps right into a stiff jab from Guevara, and eats a follow-up punch that did some damage from Guevara. Left jab from Ruiz. Round 5: Ruiz’s biggest issue through four rounds is that he’s doing a poor job of cutting off the ring — Guevara is escaping to his right every time without issues. After about a minute where nobody lands much, Ruiz has a low blow on Guevara, and the fight is briefly stopped. Double jab from Ruiz when they resume. They both connect on hard body shots as they tie up. Huge overhand right from Ruiz misses. Round 6: Left uppercut from from Ruiz to start, and a one-two to the body. Ruiz is sort of keeping Guevara in this one despite clearly having the skill and tools to stop this fight. He’s not fighting with much urgency, but then again, neither is Guevara. Big left hook from Ruiz misses as Guevara circles away. One-two over the top from Ruiz connects, and they tie up. Right hand over the top lands for Guevara, and a short jab. Round 7: Guevara comes forward with the jab, but Ruiz quickly unloads, landing a hook to the body and connecting with some jabs of his own. Ruiz continues to walk down Guevara, but he lets him out. Every time he corners him, he lets him out. Jab to the body from Ruiz. Left uppercut from Ruiz followed by a right jab lands for Ruiz. Hard right over the top grazes Guevara as the round ends. Round 8: Left jab over the top for Ruiz followed by a big right to the body. Short right hand counter for Guevara as Ruiz wings a big hook. Guevara comes in for a jab, and Ruiz lands a counter right of his own. And repeat exactly what just happened, with Guevara landing a short counter right when they get in tight spaces. Heavy left hand to the body for Ruiz, who also just misses with a hard left uppercut. Round 9: Hook to the body from Guevara, and Ruiz responds with a one-two over the top. Right hook over the top from Ruiz is ducked, and they tie up. Ruiz gets Guevara into the corner and throws a series of left hooks to the body, extremely hard shots. Guevara gets out of the corner. Short right hand over the top from Guevara. Round 10: Ruiz is coming forward and presses Guevara to the ropes. He throws two big hooks and a big shot to the body, but he allows Guevara to go low and tie him up again. Ruiz is landing some great combos, but he’s just missing that extra bit of follow-through. Guevara spends most of this room circling, avoiding the knockout punch — he knows he’s lost virtually every round thus far. Nothing big lands for either as the fight ends. This one was all Ruiz. Hello! We’re here for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner live blog. We’ll have round-by-round coverage of the four-fight pay-per-view card. The current round and bout will always be at the top of this article, while previous rounds and bouts, as well as a list of results on Saturday, can be found below. We’ll be rolling once the first fight gets underway not long after 9 p.m. ET! Pacquiao vs. Broner fight card results Welterweight: Manny Pacquiao def. Adrien Broner via unanimous decisionFeatherweight: Marcus Browne def. Badou Jack via unanimous decisionBantamweight: Nordine Oubaali def. Rau’shee Warren via unanimous decisionFeatherweight: Hugo Ruiz def. Alberto Guevara via unanimous decision Pacquiao vs. Broner fight card results (untelevised) Lightweight: George Kambosos Jr. def. Rey Perez via unanimous decisionWelterweight: Jonathan Steele def. Jayar Inson via split decisionSuper featherweight: Desmond Jarmon def. Canton Miller via majority decisionWelterweight: Destyne Butler def. David Payne via unanimous decisionCruiserweight: Viddal Riley def. Mitchell Spangler via TKO Four titles will be on the line for the four-fight pay-per-view boxing card presented by Showtime on Saturday. In the main event, legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao will once again don the gloves as he tries to get his 61st win as a professional. He’ll be facing Adrien Broner for Pacquiao’s WBA world welterweight championship. Saturday’s card begins at 9 p.m. ET with an estimated walkout time of around 12 a.m. for the main event. It will be broadcast live on Showtime pay-per-view, and live streamed online via Showtime. The card is supported by three other title bouts and three other undefeated competitors, as well as some other big names. For the vacant WBC world bantamweight championship, Rau’shee Warren (16-2) will face Nordine Oubaali (14-0). Fan favorite Badou Jack (22-1-3) will face Marcus Browne (22-0) for the vacant WBC silver light heavyweight belt. The card will open with a bout between Alberto Guevara and Hugo Ruiz (38-4) for the interim WBA featherweight title. Jhack Tepora was originally scheduled to face Hugo Ruiz in the pay-per-view opener, but Tepora came in so overweight that Ruiz will instead face Alberto Guevara. There will be a five-fight undercard that will not be aired as part of the preview, but there are some notables on it, including George Kambosos Jr., Rey Perez and more. Pacquiao has won three of his past five bouts dating back to his May 2015 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and is coming off a seventh-round TKO victory over Lucas Matthysse. Jeff Horn bested him prior to that, in a very narrow decision victory. Broner is coming off a loss to Mikey Garcia and a draw against Jessie Vargas. Prior to that, he had won six of his past seven bouts, and sorely needs a win to stay in the upper echelon of boxing at this stage of his career. Below is all you need to know to follow the action on Saturday. We will have live, round-by-round coverage of the action when the card gets underway. How to watch Pacquiao vs. Broner Date: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev. Time: 9 p.m. ET TV: Showtime pay-per-view Online Streaming: Showtime Odds: Pacquiao is favored at -300 at the time of writing, per OddsShark. Pacquiao vs. Broner fight card (PPV) Welterweight: Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) vs. Adrien Broner (33-3-1)Bantamweight: Rau’shee Warren (16-2) vs. Nordine Oubaali (14-0)Featherweight: Badou Jack (22-1-3) vs. Marcus Browne (22-0)Featherweight: Hugo Ruiz (38-4) vs. Alberto Guevara (27-3) Pacquiao vs. Broner fight card (untelevised) Lightweight: George Kambosos Jr. (15-0) vs. Rey Perez (24-10)Welterweight: Jayar Inson (18-1) vs. Jonathan Steele (8-2-1)Super featherweight: Desmond Jarmon (7-0) vs. Canton Miller (3-1-1-)Welterweight: Destyne Butler (4-0) vs. David Payne (3-1-1)Cruiserweight: Viddal Riley (1-0) vs. Mitchell Spangler (0-0) Card notes: Pacquiao vs. Broner is for Pacquiao’s WBA world welterweight titleWarren vs. Oubaali is for vacant WBC world bantamweight titleJack vs. Browne is for vacant WBC silver light heavyweight title
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Lonzo Ball had to be helped off after ankle injury vs. Rockets
This didn’t look good. Lonzo Ball went down with an ankle injury the the third quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Rockets on Saturday night. Ball, who has a history of ankle injuries and had knee surgery over the summer, looked to be in a whole lot of pain. ⁦@ZO2_⁩ sprained his ankle badly and needed to be carried off pic.twitter.com/9hlJ20fNea— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinn23) January 20, 2019 He stayed on the ground for a while and had to be carried off the floor by Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson. The Lakers are calling the injury a sprain for now. Lonzo had to be carried off the court after injuring his left ankle. pic.twitter.com/t4ULQo0Sle— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 20, 2019 According to the L.A. Times’ Dan Woike, Lonzo is being taken to a hospital for X-rays since the one at the Toyota Center isn’t working.
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Buddy Hield’s off-balance, game-winning, fadeaway 3 was RIDICULOUS
How did this go in? Buddy Hield’s game-winning three to beat the Pistons, 103-101, was one of the most bizarre walk-off finishes of the 2018-19 NBA season. The Kings’ guard avoided three defenders to go under a trap and into an off-balance deep fadeaway as the clock expired. BUDDY BUCKETS AT THE BUZZER! #SacramentoProud pic.twitter.com/P2Nm4kbkNY— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 20, 2019 Hield was so shocked that he ran a lap around the court and bolted straight into the locker room. He finished with 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting (7-of-9 from deep), and has really blossomed into a bright spot for the team. A big story was Q4 for Buddy!He had 15 PTS & 4 3PTM in the period - the final shot being his CLUTCH buzzer-beater!#NBAFantasy #SacramentoProud pic.twitter.com/GZz6r3NNgj— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) January 20, 2019 Buddy Buckets is for real!
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