Confirmed: Liverpool ace hit with FOUR game ban

first_img Lazar Markovic is red carded against Basle Lazar Markovic has been suspended for four European games following his sending off against Basle in December.The Liverpool winger was shown a straight red card in the Reds’ final Champions League group game for catching Behrang Safari in the face with a flick of his hand.The decision to dismiss the Serbian was blasted by Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool supporters and a host of pundits, and was branded the “softest red card ever”.But the Merseyside club did not launch an appeal and a UEFA disciplinary committee has now handed out a strict punishment, with Markovic given an extra game on top of the normal three-match ban for violent conduct because he was sent off when playing for Benfica in a Europa League match last May.He will miss both legs of the last-32 Europa League clash against Besiktas, the first of which is at Anfield on Thursday, as well as the home and away last-16 matches should the Reds progress. 1last_img read more

GAA News: Malin’s impressive victory over St. Naul’s

first_imgAll County League Division 2 result; Malin 6-09 St Naul’s 1-11Played in torrential rain in Connolly Park Malin led by five at the break before the crowd were treated to seven second half goals – six of them from Malin. Malin started well getting great joy down the left with Brendan McLaughlin opening the scoring followed by Matthew Byrne with a long range score and then Stephen McLaughlin added another shortly after.The visitors got off the mark when Shane Conneely’s shot from the left had to be pushed over by Darragh McLaughlin. Malin responded with Damien Harkin’s well timed run as he slotted over a rare point. Stephen Griffin tapped over a free after Cathal Lowthar’s run had been halted. Malin came back with Matthew Byrne doing well up the right before cutting in and over with the left. Anthony Kelly scored a free when Stephen McLaughlin’s Usain Bolt like run was halted by Brian McCabe who saw a black card dished out for his trouble. Mclaughlin’s speed again set up Matthew Byrne to advance and score to put Malin five ahead as the half time score read Malin 0-07 St Naul’s 0-02. Matthew Byrne hit a beauty of a point right in front of the stand at the start of the second half before both sides missed goal chances. Stephen Griffin hit a close in free as the Mountcharles men stayed in touch. A Malin fumble in defence was punished by Cathal Lowthar as he hit over from a central area and Stephen Griffin hit an excellent point with the outside of the boot as St Naul’s improved at the start of the second half. Conneely and Griffin worked a great move up the pitch and Malin looked set to concede a goal but they managed to get back well as Conneely settled for a point.Malin then hit three goals in two minutes to put the game to bed. The first a was a well worked move when a lovely through ball seen Paul McLaughlin run down the right and shoot into the corner from outside the thirteen. Seamus Houghton then knocked down a long ball into Brendan Mclaughlin who finished with aplomb. Kieron McColgan hit a third goal advancing in from the left and hitting high into the net.They nearly had a fourth when Paul McLaughlin hit the base of the post but Matthew Byrne was on hand to make sure to get a point out of the move. Malin got another goal when Stephen McLaughlin’s run drew in a defender and he passed to Seamus Houghton who hit between the keepers legs. Barry Rose jinked and hit a good score in reply for St Nauls. Brendan McCole also hit a good long range point for the visitors from the 45.He added another a few minutes later from the left. Declan Walsh then hit Malin’s fifth goal after Anthony Kelly put him through from the left and he cut in from the byline and hit a near post effort from the angle. Barry Rose hit a good point from out on the touchline and the visitors got a consolation goal when John Rose hit a fortunate effort for St Nauls when his long ball in from the 45 out on the touch line deceived fullback, full forward and keeper to creep in. Malin came back immediately with a goal of their own with Seamus Houghton’s excellent high fetch and he had the composure to set up Dan McDaid who made no mistake one on one. Stephen Griffin hit a free but it was Malin’s day in the rain with plenty of goals on show to keep Malin the the hunt for promotion – Final score Malin 6-09 St Naul’s 1-11.Malin team and scorers: Darragh McLaughlin, Michael McLaughlin, Conor Farren, Gary Farren, Kieron McColgan (1-00), Declan Walsh (1-00), Paul McLaughlin(1-00), Anthony Kelly (0-01), Christopher McLaughlin, Stephen McLaughlin (0-01), Matthew Byrne (0-05), Brendan Mclaughlin (1-01), Danny McCarron, Seamus Houghton (1-00) and Damien Harkin (0-01). Adam Byrne for Danny McCarron (Ht), Dan McDaid (1-00) for Matthew Byrne 45 mins, Darren McLarkey for Christopher Mclaughlin 50 mins, Michael Byrne for Darren McLarkey 52 mins (black card). St Naul’s team and scorers: Paddy Burke, Conor McBrearty, Brendan McCole (0-02), Conor McDevitt, Martin Breslin, Aidan Kennedy, John Rose (1-00), Lee McBrearty, Des McGroarty, Cathal Lowthar (0-01), Andrew Gallagher, Barry Rose (0-02), Shane Conneely (0-02), Stephen Griffin(0-04) and Brian  McCabe. Subs used: Glen McDyre for Andrew Gallagher and Enda Lynch for Brian McCabe (black card).There was no reserve game.The Mary Houghton CompetitionThe Mary Houghton competition took place last Wednesday evening in Connolly Park. 24 girl’s turned up and were divided into three teams (red, green and blue) who competed against each other. This was a very enjoyable event with the blue team winning on the night. The girls all recieved refreshments after the even and all the grils that took part will be presented at the annual underage presentation night later in the year. We would like to thank everyone who helped out on the night and the sponsors – the Houghton family.Sliabh Sneacht Sponsered ClimbWell Done to the Minor Board & Finance Committee who organised a very successful Sponsored Climb of Sliabh Sneacht on Saturday. Thank you to everyone who came along and took part, a great Club & Community day out. Thank you also to everyone who contributed in any way. Any remaining cards can be handed back to the managers throughout next week or any of the following: Danny Lafferty 086 8988180, Maria 087 7763679 or Linda 086 3452769.Malin GAA 5K The club will be holding a 5K walk or run in association with Inishowen AC on Wednesday the 10th of August at 7.30pm. Registration will be from 6.30pm. the event is being sponsered by Frank Scott of Nu World Heating CentreAnnual Sports Day Cheque PresentationCheques for €1,500 were presented to both the Meningitis Research Foundation and the Jack & Jill Foundation last week, following a very successful Sport’s Day on Sunday 5th June & Country Queen Final on Saturday 11th June. The Annual Sport’s Day is run by Malin GAA with all proceeds going to chosen charities who have assisted local families in time of need.Thank you to everyone who contributed in any way, a fantastic return for two brilliant charities.Night at the RacesThank you to everyone who supported our Night at the Races on Saturday Night 16th of July. It was a hugely successful event and lots of fun. Thank you to our Main Sponsor James Houghton Construction, our Race Sponsors: Sean McLaughlin(O) Buses, Martin McLaughlin(F) Buses, John McLaughlin(JM) Plumbing, Malin Hotel, Charlie Byrne Health & Fitness, Seaview Tavern, Farren’s Bar & Ronald Boggs Butchers. Thank you to our Senior & Reserve Team who organised the event in conjunction with the Finance Committee and Sean Owen. Thanks to everyone who bought horses, trainers and jockeys and everyone who came and contributed on the night.UnderageWell Done to the U12A Boys who beat Naomh Padraig, Muff last Sunday evening in Buncrana in the Gerry O’Neill Final. A great evening for the club and a fabulous achievement for the team and their Managers. The girls under 10’s finals day was held last Saturday morning in Urris and the girl’s under 8’s finals were held last Friday evening in Carndonagh.On behalf of the Managers Angela O’Donnell, Fran Monagle and Shaun McLaughlin they would like to thank the all the under 8 and 10 girl’s for the way they conducted themselves over both the finals days. They were a credit to the club parents and the coaches. The under 8’s had a fantastic fun evening with high levels of skills on shown on the evening. The under 10’s came away disapointed after getting beat by Steelstown by a point in the semi-final.They put in a heroic team performance but luck was just not on their side on the day. Thank you to the parents for their support throughout the year. Details of the under 11 and under 9 league will be available shortly. The minor girls are away to Moville on Wednesday at 12.00pm midday, their first ever away game. The minor girls have training every Monday at 8:00pm. All girls from aged 15 upwards and new members are welcome to attend.ShopThe club shop is open every Saturday from 12.00 – 2.00 and Sunday from 11.20 – 2.00 or alternatively contact Susan Byrne on 9370638 or 0867832242 . The shop has a great range of stock in all sizes including coats, jackets, hoodies, tracksuits, socks, shorts, hats, new gear bags and much more club merchandise.GAA News: Malin’s impressive victory over St. Naul’s was last modified: July 25th, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Malin GAA noteslast_img read more

The Last Transition…or Not

first_imgReflections on Todd & Peggy Podcast #3By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean The audio recording below is the third part of a conversation with Todd, a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, and his wife Peggy, an elementary school teacher. Peggy and Todd generously shared some of their experiences as a military family, to help those of us serving military families have a better understanding of what they go through. Below the recording you’ll find a blog post reflecting on this part of Todd and Peggy’s story. This is part 3 – The Last Transition…or Not Audio Player/files/2016/03/MFLN-FT-Todd-and-Peggy-3-2.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Listen to Todd & Peggy Podcast #2 Listen to Todd & Peggy Podcast #1 The Last Transition … or Not“When one parent in a family serves in the military, the whole family serves. Military life requires great commitment and sacrifice not only for the service member but also the spouse, children and other family members.”The above thought occurred to me as I listened to podcast #3 where Todd and Peggy reflect back on their experiences as a couple and a family with children as he pursued his military career. Military service with its deployments, weekend trainings and other demands impact the whole family and not just the service member.In this podcast, Todd and Peggy discuss their next transition – retirement from the military. Their experience shows how important it is for couples to discuss not only the timing of this transition but also what it means for their relationship and their family.As a couple, Todd and Peggy agreed that he will retire from the military either in 5 years or if he is deployed again. They decided that as a family they did not want to go through the experience of another deployment.  However, both Todd and Peggy recognized that after retirement, the military will remain an important part of their everyday lives.Military service itself is not so difficult – military members train for it – but separation from family can be very difficult. It takes a toll on the children who tend to become more connected with the stay-at-home parent. Peggy talks about being a single parent during deployments and Todd described feeling that his relationship with his children at times was not as “tight” as Peggy’s.Long deployments also can negatively impact a couple’s marriage. Todd notes that many marriages do not survive the separations of military service. Couples not only need to spend time preparing for the financial aspects of deployment but also for the relational and emotional aspects.  Todd believes that the military could do more to prepare service members for these latter challenges.Todd and Peggy were the fortunate ones; the podcast interview shows that they weathered those difficult transitions and developed an even stronger marriage. However, significant numbers of military marriages do not survive.When asked to give one word to describe his military service, Todd said “service” to country and that he dedicated his life to the military. Peggy responded with the word “pride,” saying that she was proud of everything Todd has done. Despite the hardships, both Todd and Peggy were proud of his accomplishments and felt that the sacrifice was more than worth it.In your work with military members and their families, consider how you might help young service members who are just marrying and beginning their families to prepare for the impacts of military service. What steps can they take now to ensure that they are like Todd and Peggy as they approach retirement with pride and meaning?Karen Shirer is a member of the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions Team and the Associate Dean with the University of Minnesota, Extension Center for Family Development. Karen is also the parent of two adult daughters, a grandmother, a spouse, and a cancer survivor.last_img read more

Hamilton wins Belgian GP to trim Vettel’s lead to 7 points

first_imgCelebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Vettel finished second, about 2 seconds behind Hamilton.“Sebastian was very, very close. He was very consistent throughout,” said Hamilton, after his 200th GP. “That’s what racing’s about.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingHamilton was in good form all weekend, topping every part of qualifying.“Really brilliant,” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. “Hamilton’s drive was really fantastic.” Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (right) raises his trophy in the air on the podium after winning the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany placed second and Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia (left) placed third. (Photo by OLIVIER MATTHYS / AP)SPA-FRANORCHAMPS, Belgium — Lewis Hamilton celebrated his record-equaling 68th pole position with victory at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, trimming championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s lead to seven points.Hamilton clinched his fifth win of the season and 58th overall, having equaled Michael Schumacher’s pole record.ADVERTISEMENT The 19-year-old Verstappen secured a podium with third place in China but has been hit with reliability issues since.Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso retired on lap 27 — the latest setback as McLaren continues to struggle with Honda engines. The Spanish driver has completed only three races so far.The Spa track, nestled in the Ardennes forest, is the longest in F1 at 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) and the race is often full of incident, especially when it rains.It stayed dry, but there was one heated clash between Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, prompting the safety car to come out after they made contact with each other on lap 30, sending debris onto the track.Their tense relationship is degrading fast.After bumping on the track at the Azerbaijan GP in June, they did it again when they touched wheels as Ocon moved on the outside of the track shortly after the start, with Perez responding by squeezing the Frenchman against the barrier.Later the pair came into contact again with Ocon’s front wing flying away and a tire dropping off Perez’s car as a result.This prompted a furious, expletive-laced outburst from Ocon, who was already unhappy that his team had pitted Perez for new tires ahead of him. After both cars pitted for repairs, Ocon finished ninth but Perez had to retire just before the end.The safety car stayed out for four laps, which was too long for Hamilton’s liking, and he used an expletive of his own to complain.“There was hardly any debris about,” Hamilton said afterward. “They did a good job cleaning the track.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Drivers worry that their tires lose heat if they stay behind the car too long.But Vettel failed to capitalize.“Maybe that was the problem, my restart was too good,” Vettel said. “I was too close.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ On a track more suited to Mercedes than Ferrari, Hamilton felt Vettel got “way too close” for comfort.“This weekend we definitely didn’t have the race pace. The car is not quite where we need it,” Hamilton said. “It was only just enough to stay ahead.”Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third — for his sixth podium of the season — finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas fifth.Ricciardo showed great race intelligence and opportunism to pass Bottas after the safety car incident.After 12 races, four-time F1 champion Vettel has 220 points to three-time champion Hamilton’s 213 heading into next weekend’s Italian GP in Monza.“The positive thing is that we had really good race pace,” Vettel said. “I’m looking forward to next week.”Hamilton made a good start to the race on the long climb up to Eau Rouge, with Vettel on his tail.But Max Verstappen’s hopes of a first win this season ended on lap 8 when his Red Bull lost power.“I can’t believe this,” Verstappen said. His exasperation was understandable — it is the sixth time this season he has failed to finish the race, and some 80,000 Dutch fans had crossed the border to cheer him on.“I’m not happy at all,” Verstappen said. “I am very disappointed for the fans who buy an expensive ticket to watch and I retire after eight laps. No words.” NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaulcenter_img Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Although it was a comfortable win for the British driver, it got a bit tense toward the end.“I was waiting for Lewis to make a mistake and he didn’t,” Vettel said.With about 10 laps left, Vettel almost overtook his challenger as they emerged from behind the safety car.Vettel got his Ferrari alongside Hamilton on a long straight, but Hamilton edged his Mercedes into the corner just in time.“I’m not entirely happy,” said Vettel, adding that he got his approach slightly wrong.ADVERTISEMENT Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ LATEST STORIES Guiao focused on winning, not securing top draft pick Biggest Pogo service provider padlocked for tax evasion View commentslast_img read more

10 days agoSouthend fail in bid to make Henrik Larsson new boss

first_imgSouthend fail in bid to make Henrik Larsson new bossby Ian Ferris10 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Celtic and Sweden striker Henrik Larsson will not be the new manager of League One strugglers Southend United.The 48 year old had been in talks with the Shrimpers to take charge with former Celtic team-mates Johan Mjallby and Tommy Johnson as assistants.But Johnson, who would have been head of recruitment, has accepted an alternative offer and discussions with all three have ended.Chairman Ron Martin said all three were set to sign contracts at Roots Hall on Wednesday before Johnson pulled out. TagsFootball League OneAbout the authorIan FerrisShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Auburn Cancels Alabamas Perfect Season with Miraculous Last Second

The 2013 Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama lived up to the anticipated hype in what was arguably one of the greatest college football games in history.Auburn beat Alabama 34-28 on the final play of the game. After being tied with .1 second left in the game, the Alabama Crimson Tide missed a long last-second field goal, where the Tigers’ Chris Davis caught the ball in the back of the end zone and ran it back for a 109-yard touchdown.“What it was like?” Davis said. “Like I keep saying, God is good, God is good.”Auburn’s coach Gus Malzahn attributed the win partially to the fans.“We talked about that we wanted to keep it close, and if we could get it to the fourth quarter playing at home, with our crowd, we would find a way to win,” Malzahn said. “You know, the way we won the last two weeks is really unbelievable.” read more

The Predators Comeback Is No Fluke

Home-ice advantage in the NHL playoffs might be a myth, but don’t tell that to the Nashville Predators. During these playoffs, the Preds are 9-1 when skating on their home sheet at Bridgestone Arena, and home wins in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final have drawn them level with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the series, which moves back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday.But it might have been bad luck in the first place that the Predators had to come home and dig out of a 2-0 hole. That’s because the Preds actually played pretty well during Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh, dominating possession and outshooting the Pens 64-39. If not for some uncharacteristically awful play from goalie Pekka Rinne, who stopped just 78 percent of the shots he faced in Games 1 and 2 before being pulled in the third period in Game 2, the Preds might already be planning their parade route through Nashville. (It’s not all on Rinne; some questionable officiating in Game 1 didn’t help the Preds much, either.)It was fitting, then, that Rinne’s return to form these past two games has Nashville back in the hunt for its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Rinne was spectacular in Games 3 and 4 — he stopped 50 of the 52 shots he faced, including insane saves like this one. Rinne leads the playoffs in wins and ranks fourth in save percentage among qualified goalies. (And he’s shouldered a much larger workload than the three goalies ahead of him on that list.)Perhaps the best proof of Rinne’s revival is his dominance on high-quality scoring opportunities. The Penguins took more than twice as many shots from the slot — the dangerous area directly in front of the net1The definition of “the slot” varies depending on who you talk to, but in this case, we used its boundaries as defined by war-on-ice.com. — in Games 3 and 4 as they did in the series’ first two games (20 vs. 7) but scored seven fewer goals. If the Predators hope to finish off their comeback, they’ll need their netminder — who remains the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP — to keep shaking off Games 1 and 2 and continue his excellent play.Rinne isn’t the only reason that Nashville has been able to claw its way back into the series. Nashville’s shooters have remembered how to finish: In Games 1 and 2, the Preds scored on just 6.3 percent of the shots they took. In Games 3 and 4, that number jumped to 15.3. And the Predators’ defense has limited the effectiveness of some of Pittsburgh’s top forwards. In Games 3 and 4, Phil Kessel, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin combined for a grand total of zero points on just nine shots and combined for a -10 plus/minus. For the Pens to avoid blowing a 2-0 series lead, they’ll need their stars — in particular Malkin, who leads the league in scoring this postseason — to start playing as such.Only five NHL teams have ever come back from a 2-0 series deficit in the finals and won; the Preds are in a position to become the sixth. To do it, they’ll need to keep dominating at home and win at least one game in Pittsburgh — much easier said than done. But based on the way Nashville has played this series, even in the losses, it has the goods to earn the state of Tennessee its long-awaited first pro championship.CORRECTION (June 7, 4:15 p.m.): An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that only four NHL teams have come back from a 2-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup Final. There have been five. The Nashville Predators are trying to become the sixth. read more

The Patriots Arent Quite Their Usual Dominant Selves This Year

Playoff %Playoff % This year, though, New England is a perfect 5-0 at home but only 3-3 on the road — respectable but nowhere near the league’s best. (The Pats have also been outscored by 11 points in away games, against a road schedule that ranks just 28th in average opposing Elo.) And this might come up in the playoffs, unlike so many seasons in which the Pats had home-field advantage through the AFC title game.1Since 2010, New England has played a total of 15 non-Super Bowl playoff games — of which 13 have been hosted at Gillette Stadium. Right now, New England is in line for the AFC’s No. 2 seed behind the Kansas City Chiefs, but only a half-game separates them from the fourth-seeded Steelers.Owning the turnover battleTurnover margin is one of the most important factors in determining who wins or loses any football game. Conventional stathead wisdom, though, tells us that outlier turnover seasons — whether avoiding them on offense, forcing them on defense, or both — are unsustainable. While there are some ways a team can influence its tendency to have more takeaways than giveaways, a lot of it also comes down to luck.Unless, of course, you’re the Patriots. New England perennially dominates this category, ranking first by a mile from 2010 through 2017 with a +116 turnover differential, almost double that of the next-best team. A lot of that is a function of having Tom Brady at QB; he’s tied for the second-lowest interception percentage of any passer in NFL history. But the Pats are also great at avoiding fumbles — only the Falcons had coughed it up fewer times since 2010, and no team had lost fewer fumbles than the Pats. And their defense had forced the second-most turnovers of any team this decade (behind the Giants), ranking second in interceptions and tied for third in fumbles recovered.Such opportunism has historically paid big dividends for New England, but this year’s squad is still trying to recapture that formula. The Pats are currently +5 in turnovers, which ranks ninth in the league but is nothing special by their standards. Brady has his highest interception rate since 2013 (his seven picks already are only one off of his full-season total from last year), driving a big overall increase in giveaways per game, though the team is being more careful in recent weeks. And while the Pats have forced at least one turnover in all but one game this season, they are tied for eighth-to-last in the league in games with three or more takeaways, six behind the league-leading Bears.Yards and pointsIn addition to — and correlated with — their dominant turnover differential, the Patriots have always had another trick up their sleeves in terms of winning extra games. It involves their yards per point (YPP): essentially, how efficiently they turn field position into scores on offense and how inefficiently they force opponents to do the same. By definition, when you have a lower YPP than the opponent, you will win more often because you’re trading field position for points at a more favorable rate than they are.Like turnover margin, YPP is supposed to be pretty inconsistent from year to year, bouncing around with a team’s luck at picking up key first downs and converting red zone chances, along with the all-important knack for “bending but not breaking” on defense. Yet the Pats dominate this category so thoroughly and so consistently, it might be the single biggest factor in their ongoing success. Not only had they ranked first in both offensive and defensive YPP since 2010, but their net YPP differential of +5.6 was more than double the No. 2 Packers’ +2.5 mark over that span.(This is one of the big reasons that worries about the Patriots’ defense always need to be tempered. Belichick’s team has traditionally punched above its weight in terms of points allowed, just because it always makes opponents work so hard to turn gains on the field into rewards on the scoreboard.)This season, the Pats remain among the top net YPP teams, ranking fourth, but they are not quite dominating like usual. They rank just seventh in offensive YPP and sixth on defense, with a net YPP of +2.8, which trails the Bears, Saints and Chiefs. On top of the increase in turnovers per game from above, New England’s efficiency rankings on third down and in the red zone are worse, and the team has slipped in those same “situational” categories on defense. And if you want another cause for the Patriots’ YPP decline, their net starting field position is -2.6 yards per drive this season (meaning the opponent starts 2.6 yards closer to the end zone than the Pats), after a decade in which that number was a league-best +4.6.In other words, many of the little things that usually add up to that massive YPP advantage for New England aren’t quite working as well so far this year. But the good news for the Pats is that their turnover margin and net YPP tend to improve radically from this point in the season onward, in no small part because Belichick specifically tries to build a tough, physical team that thrives in bad weather. So even in a relative down season by their key indicators, don’t be surprised if the Patriots build them up at least some before season’s end.Gronk smash!Tight end Rob Gronkowski has long been the Pats’ not-so-secret weapon on offense, helping the team transition seamlessly from the powerful Randy Moss-Wes Welker offense of a previous era to the version that’s been terrorizing the league for most of this decade.But the famously fragile Gronk has appeared to show his age and mileage this season more than perhaps ever before. He’s missed three games with various ailments, and when he has played, he’s been limited to just 63.0 yards per game with a career-low 0.25 touchdown catches per contest. Gronkowski’s reduced mobility has hurt his trademark ability to rumble after the catch for spectacular gains, and it’s made him much less of a focal point in the offense than he’s accustomed to being. When on the field, Gronk has seen only 18.7 percent of the targets in the Pats’ passing game, his lowest number since getting 17.7 percent as a rookie.But Gronk’s influence on the Patriots’ offense remains undeniable. In the eight games the star tight end has played in 2018, Brady’s passer rating is 98.2; in the three he missed, it dropped to 91.6 (league average is 94.9). Even with Gronkowski playing in a more limited physical condition than usual, producing less of a statistical footprint than before, this is confirmation that he’s still one of the biggest engines driving the Patriots’ success. The biggest question might simply be what kind of durability Gronkowski’s banged-up body will have over the rest of the season.Brady stays ageless … sort ofAlong with Belichick, the one constant in New England’s dynasty has been No. 12 under center. Brady has probably been the single most valuable player in the NFL this century, and he’s been crucial in engineering five Super Bowl titles for the Patriots with his consistency, leadership and ability to rally the team back from seemingly insurmountable deficits.But at 41 — an age at which almost no other QB has ever been productive — there is a near-constant watch for any sign of slippage in Brady’s performance. And he has been a bit less sharp statistically than in years past. His adjusted net yards per attempt index at Pro-Football-Reference.com, which measures passing efficiency relative to the league (where 100 is average), is 111 this year, down from 117 last season and 138 the year before that. It hadn’t been so low since Brady was barely above average (102) in 2013.Of course, there are reasons for Brady’s decline that go beyond his advanced age, from Gronk’s aforementioned absences to a four-game suspension for top target Julian Edelman at the start of the season and a WR corps in flux early on before adding Josh Gordon and shuffling roles for the likes of Phillip Dorsett and (WR-turned-RB) Cordarrelle Patterson. But Brady has managed to work around weird receiving situations before — and, in fact, his passer rating was better over the season’s first four games (94.0) than it’s been over the four most recent ones (90.8).Combine that with a ProFootballFocus grade that’s down a bit from last season (though still sixth-best among QBs) and those ubiquitous stats about Brady’s off-target throws (at 22.1 percent, no qualified passer has thrown an errant pass more frequently this year), and it’s fair to ask whether Brady is playing at quite the same level as he did over the past few seasons. Whether because of Brady or the receivers, the Pats are currently tied for eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt — their worst showing since (again) 2013, a season that saw New England fall short in the AFC title game.2Though it does bear mentioning that six of the eight Super Bowl champs this decade ranked among the top 10 in ANY/A, right in line with the Pats’ current performance. Taken altogether, these numbers reveal a Patriots squad that is not fully playing at the level it’s used to at this stage of the season. And that shows up in big-picture indicators such as Elo or even point differential, where the Pats’ +58 margin is its weakest of the decade through 11 contests. But even so, a lessened version of the Patriots still ranks among the league’s top teams. And as we mentioned above, the Vikings will be a good opponent for Belichick to use as a measuring stick for his roster. According to our combination of matchup quality (i.e., the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings in each game) and game importance (how likely it is to swing either team’s odds of making the playoffs), this will be the fourth-best game of the week: HOU95.73.8CLE1.31.45.21462 GB6.13.0ARI<0.1<0.13.01412 BUF56JAX55BUF 24, JAX 21-13.0– WSH38.9%+/-19.5PHI23.7%+/-11.130.61525 NO81NO83NO 31, ATL 17-0.9– CIN75%CIN63%CLE 35, CIN 20+13.4– The best matchups of Week 13Week 13 games by ranking of average Elo ratings (using the harmonic mean) plus ranking of total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions CHI96.33.9NYG<0.1<0.13.91474 KC99.90.2OAK<0.1<0.10.21479 IND29.514.5JAX0.10.114.71468 IND68IND70IND 27, MIA 24-0.6– SEA74.910.5SF<0.1<0.110.51460 HOU58HOU63HOU 34, TEN 17+2.3– PIT70PIT69DEN 24, PIT 17+0.0 Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. DEN13.010.7CIN6.45.316.01453 Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group LAC88.27.0PIT93.95.612.61619 DET1.31.6LAR>99.9<0.11.61550 LAC84LAC85LAC 45, ARI 10-0.9– MIA5.13.9BUF1.31.35.21425 Here’s a surprise: The New England Patriots are 8-3, leading the AFC East, with some of the best odds in the conference of winning the Super Bowl.Oh, right. I’ve just described basically every Pats season in recent memory. This is the ninth consecutive season that New England has won at least eight of its first 11 games. The team’s current Elo rating of 1641, however, is the lowest it’s been through the same stage of the season since 2009 (and we don’t talk about that season).So what are we to make of these Patriots, then? After overcoming the typical early season hiccups, is this year’s version ready to build championship momentum down the stretch like normal? Or is there still something a little bit off about a team that was showering its punter (of all players) with praise after an uncharacteristically modest win over the lowly New York Jets last week?In advance of New England’s showdown Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, let’s take a look at some of the Patriots’ calling-card metrics to see whether this season is business as usual in Foxboro.Road warriors?One of the Pats’ most eye-catching statistics during Bill Belichick’s time as head coach has been their near-invincibility at home, where they’ve won 87 percent of their games this decade. But their road record — winning more than 70 percent of the time away from Gillette Stadium — could be even more remarkable. From 2010 to 2017, the Pats’ winning percentage on the road was about 10.5 percentage points higher than what we’d expect from their home record — the third biggest gap in the NFL (behind the Cowboys and Eagles): NE77NE82NE 27, NYJ 13+0.4– Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality BAL46.118.0ATL4.23.121.01539 While the game has a lot more at stake for Minnesota, whose spot in the playoffs is still not fully locked in, there is still plenty for the Patriots to play for as well. Not only will this game affect seeding for the postseason (Elo says the Pats currently have a 60 percent chance of securing a first-round playoff bye), but it will also be another telling data point as to whether the Pats can get back to their mega-dominant form of the recent past, or if they’ll be merely good — but mortal — according to their signature metrics.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersIf you want to know where your team stands, FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings are a good indicator. You can check them out in our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks how often each team should make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Did you know you can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game? Try it out, and maybe you can climb up our giant leaderboard.Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the reader picks last week: CHI53CHI59CHI 23, DET 16+2.9– MIN62.813.6NE99.11.014.61610 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION MIN71MIN60MIN 24, GB 17-10.0– DAL65DAL67DAL 31, WSH 23-0.5– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 12Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 12 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game On average, Elo beat our readers by 18.9 points in the game last week, bringing its record to 11 wins and one loss so far this season. Readers had the best pick of Week 12 — rightly pumping the brakes on Cincinnati’s chances of beating the Browns — but they were punished for picking against Elo in the Bills’ upset over the Jaguars, and they didn’t show enough faith in the victorious Vikings, Eagles and Bucs.Among individual users who did better than average, congrats are in order to Ryan Gnizak, who led all users in Week 12 with 263.5 points, and to Greg Chili Van Hollebeke, who held on to a slim lead for the entire season with 934.5 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions. CAR62CAR57SEA 30, CAR 27+4.1– BAL83BAL81BAL 34, OAK 17-2.3– TB63TB58TB 27, SF 9-5.7– PHI80PHI69PHI 25, NYG 22-8.1– DAL60.313.3NO>99.90.113.31635 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS TEN20.57.2NYJ<0.1<0.17.21417 CAR30.914.9TB0.70.815.71492 read more

Cross country teams head to Great Lakes Regional

Ohio State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship meet with different goals. The men’s team is moving up in the national rankings and the women’s team is hoping for a big finish at the regional meet to secure a spot in the NCAA National Championship meet.After a disappointing 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Pre-National meet Oct. 17, the men’s team has been on a roll. It finished with 11 runners in the top 13 at the Eastern Michigan Fall Classic meet on Oct. 23 and second overall at the Big Ten Championship meet Nov. 1.When the national rankings were released Nov. 2, the men’s team was ranked in the Top 30 for the first time this season at No. 28.The men’s team needs to finish in the top two at the regional meet to be guaranteed a spot in the National Championship meet. If the Buckeyes finish third, they could get an at-large berth.The competition at the regional meet will be tough with two other nationally ranked teams, No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 26 Butler, in attendance.“I think Wisconsin has to be the favorite once again, but I absolutely expect us to be second,” senior runner Jeff See said. “There are a few other teams that should be tough to beat. We just have to stay focused throughout the whole race.”The key to the race is formulating a plan and sticking to it, See said. At the pre-national meet, the team did not have a plan and placed poorly. At the Big Ten Championship meet, they had a plan and executed it to perfection en route to a second place finish.See said the X-factor for the team will be redshirt sophomore Taylor Williams.“I think it’s really important for Taylor Williams to have a big day,” See said. “He’s been ourbackbone for a lot of the ups and downs we’ve faced this season, and if myself and the rest of the team sees him out there having a huge day, we will all follow suit.”The women’s team finished eighth at the Big Ten Championship meet, which hurt its opportunity to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA National Championship meet by dropping them to a No. 5 ranking in the region.“The race was tough, but we all took something away from the experience and I think that as a team, we’ve come away with that much more focus and determination for regionals,” junior Jordan Jennewine said.The top two teams at the regional meet automatically qualify for the NCAA National Championship meet. Without a top-two finish by the Buckeyes, the outlook for a place at the National Championship meet seems bleak.“It’s definitely our goal to finish in the top two at regionals and not leave anything to chance. That’s a very realistic goal for us and that’s what we’ve all been focused on since the conference meet,” Jennewine said.The NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet takes place Saturday at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. read more