MMQB previews the key Super Bowl matchups and storylines between the defending champion Seahawks and NE Patriots:
SEAHAWKS’ OFFENSE VS. PATRIOTS’ DEFENSE
1) Seattle’s passing game
The Patriots have the best man coverage in football. The Seahawks’ passing attack is heavy on isolation routes, and we just saw their receivers get stifled for 55 minutes by the Packers’ man-centric defense. Expect Darrelle Revis to shadow Doug Baldwin, eliminating Russell Wilson’s top target. The Seahawks might be able to occasionally work Baldwin open from the slot with short-area pick routes, stack releases, and their staple wheel routes, but Revis is phenomenal at working through traffic to defend those (see his interception in the AFC Championship Game). Most likely, Wilson will have to look elsewhere. But with two safeties in help coverage—a tactic the Patriots use often and will certainly employ against the mobile Wilson—do we really foresee Jermaine Kearse consistently separating from Brandon Browner? Or Ricardo Lockette shaking free from Kyle Arrington and a safety?
Ohio State’s run game the big difference as Buckeyes defeat the Oregon Ducks for 2015 College Football Playoff’s National Title:
ARLINGTON, Texas — Ohio State was done when Braxton Miller got hurt in August.
Ohio State was done when it lost at home to Virginia Tech in September.
A funny thing happened: Every time the Buckeyes looked done, they kept getting better. And in the new era of college football, that was enough to earn a chance to win a championship.
They took advantage of an opportunity they never would have had in the BCS, shrugging off questions about whether they belonged among college football’s final four. Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and the Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T, upsetting Marcus Mariota and Oregon 42-20 on Monday night.
Behind their bullish backup quarterback Jones and the relentless running of Elliott, the Buckeyes (14-1) completed a remarkable in-season turnaround with a dominating performance against the Ducks (13-2). Read the rest of this entry
NBA: The Boston Celtics finally trade Rajon Rondo who goes to Dallas to join an already loaded Mavs team as Boston rebuilds:
Via ESPN Dallas:
DALLAS — The opportunity to play for a contender again has Rajon Rondo feeling revitalized after leaving a rebuilding franchise in the Boston Celtics.
“There’s one goal that you have in mind, and I’m dying to get another ring again,” Rondo said in his introductory news conference after joining the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster trade. “I want another parade.”
The Mavs acquired Rondo along with rookie power forward Dwight Powell from the Celtics in exchange for center Brandan Wright, point guard Jameer Nelson, small forward Jae Crowder, a protected first-round pick, a second-round pick and a $12.9 million trade exception in a deal finalized Thursday night.
College Football: Alabama vs Ohio State, Oregon Ducks vs Florida State Advance To College Football Playoff
1st Annual College Football Playoff is set; Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State set for championship showdown:
Game Previews via ESPN:
NO. 2 OREGON DUCKS (12-1) vs. NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (13-0)
JAN. 1, 5 P.M. ET, ROSE BOWL, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (ESPN)
Season highlight: Winning the Pac-12 championship. The Ducks’ 38-point win against Arizona made up for the fact the Wildcats gave the Ducks their only blemish of the season. But when you come back and absolutely dominate that opponent in the most important game of the season, those wounds seem to heal pretty quickly. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had more than one Heisman moment and finished the day with three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns. Read the rest of this entry
Sports Illustrated and Sports Media World sit down with Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler in Portland for extensive SI NBA feature:
Jimmy Butler’s smile says it all: It’s been a good month for the Bulls’ budding star.
Back in Butler’s hometown of Tomball, Texas, they might even use a phrase like “boom times” to describe his strong start this season. Chicago’s defensive-minded shooting guard is averaging 20.8 points and posting career-high numbers across the board. Not only is Butler looking like a leading candidate to become a first-time All-Star, he is also emerging as one of the most-coveted free agents of the 2015 class.
The smile crept across Butler’s face again as he thought back to the Tomball teenager who, even though he wasn’t recruited by a single Division-I school, was convinced that he was the best player in the country.
“Derrick [Rose] and I were both in the Class of 2007,” Butler told SI.com during an extended interview in Portland, where the Bulls were playing, on Saturday. “At that time, I never paid attention to the game. I didn’t know this guy was No. 1 in the nation or this guy was No. 10. Some of my teammates did and obviously Derrick was No. 1 in the nation. They’d come to the games and say, ‘Did you see what Derrick Rose did last night? Simeon High School! Chicago, Illinois!’ Everyone in the nation knew who Derrick Rose was.
“Me being myself, I was like, ‘Let him come down here, I’ll give him 40.’”
2014 MVP: Dodgers Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw also wins NL MVP as Angels slugger Mike Trout wins his first AL MVP:
NEW YORK (AP) — For once, Clayton Kershaw was glad to see a long shutout streak end.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968, coasting to an easy victory Thursday.
”A little bit of shock, honestly,” the Dodgers ace said on a conference call. ”I guess I never really anticipated to win that.”
A day after unanimously taking the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw completed a Los Angeles sweep. A little earlier, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was a unanimous pick for the AL MVP. Read the rest of this entry
The New York Times on the economic and financial impact of local hero LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and NE Ohio:
When LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in July, fans celebrated by hanging banners, getting drunk and digging old jerseys out of purgatory. They ran into the streets, honked horns and hugged strangers. And some of them started trying to figure out just how much money was about to rain down on Cleveland. According to one estimate, the return of the “king,” as James is known, will add $500 million a year to the city’s economy. “When people say this is just about an athlete making money, there’s more to it than that,” said Edward FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, at a news conference devoted to the anticipated windfall. “Other people will make a living.”
James is certainly a good investment for the Cavaliers, who will probably cover his $20.6 million salary just from increased ticket sales. The last season James played in Cleveland, after all, the Cavs sold every available regular-season seat at an average price of $55.95, earning about $47 million. Last season, the Cavaliers sold just 84 percent at an average price of just $43.31, for a decline of $16 million. This year, season tickets sold out the day James announced his return, and demand is so overwhelming that the team is raffling the remaining single-game tickets so that everyone in Cleveland has a fair chance. Read the rest of this entry
MLB: SF Giants Win 3rd World Series Title In 5 Years Behind MVP Pitcher Madison Bumgarner & Pablo Sandoval
World Series: Giants beat Royals in Game 7 to win another World Series title as Ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner wins Series MVP:
KANSAS CITY — The names roll smoothly off the tongue, for they have become legendary. Willie Mays. Willie McCovey. Barry Bonds. Juan Marichal. Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell. Mel Ott. Each occupies a hallowed spot in the pantheon of Giants franchise greats. Add another to this assemblage: Madison Bumgarner.
The 25-year-old left-hander joined this distinguished group Wednesday night by completing a World Series performance that might rank as the finest by a Giant in the club’s history. He garnished his victories in Games 1 and 5 with five shutout innings of relief to earn the save in Game 7 to help San Francisco outlast the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. The decision sealed the Giants’ third World Series triumph in five seasons.
With the win, the Giants broke a string of nine consecutive home-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series, becoming the first road team to win Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates. Predictably, Bumgarner was unanimously named the Series’ Most Valuable Player Award winner after allowing one earned run in 21 innings, for a microscopic 0.43 ERA. The award created a matching set for Bumgarner, who also won MVP honors in the National League Championship Series against St. Louis.
New Lakers PG Jeremy Lin On His New Opportunity In LA, Moving On From Houston & Gaining Magic’s Support
Sports Media World and Sports Illustrated connect w/ Lakers PG Jeremy Lin to talk Lakers, Kobe, Magic and departing Houston:
Jeremy Lin found out he’d be the Lakers’ starting point guard in peculiar fashion. Magic Johnson vouched for Lin last Wednesday, shortly after Steve Nash was ruled out for the season with a back injury. And yet coach Byron Scott, Johnson’s Showtime backcourt partner, delayed his decision until after Ronnie Price bruised his right knee in the preseason finale on Friday. Once Scott was ready to choose Lin as the starter for Tuesday’s opener against the Rockets in Los Angeles, he informed reporters before telling Lin or his teammates.
Many NBA players might be taken aback by not receiving a direct show of support or a team-wide pronouncement, but the world learned at the beginning of Linsanity in 2012 that Lin isn’t easily included in the group of many NBA players. In less than eight months he went from the D-League, to the toast of the Big Apple and global superstardom, to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with Houston that went unmatched by the Knicks. Read the rest of this entry
Seattle Times on the Seahawks trading talented Percy Harvin to the Jets after bad chemistry and locker room incidents emerge:
RENTON – In a move that shocked the NFL, the Seahawks on Friday traded receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick.
One source confirmed to The Seattle Times on Friday that the deal, first reported by Fox Sports, was agreed upon and an official announcement was made by the teams on Saturday morning. The trade does not become official until Harvin passes a physical.
One source told The Times the Seahawks had decided Harvin, 26, “just wasn’t a fit” with the rest of the team and the trade had as much to do with what was happening in the locker room as it did Harvin’s production on the field. The team, a source said, was “just ready to move on” from Harvin despite his obvious on-field gifts.
Sources also said a few incidents in recent months helped set the stage for Friday’s stunning trade.