How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » Best rookie QB seasons by yards per attempt, 1970-2015 1989-96 (D. Robinson era).6671998-2010 (P. Manning era).678 1996-97.2442011.125 It wasn’t always so dire. Back in the late 2000s, Peyton Manning was still a Colt, the Tennessee Titans had a 13-win season, and even the Jacksonville Jaguars were pretty good. The AFC South was one of the best divisions in the NFL: SPURSCOLTS 7Marcus Mariota2015TEN7.62 Since 2010, Manning’s final season playing for Indianapolis, the division has taken a nosedive. But the AFC South can still be saved. The NFC West was the worst division in football for five straight seasons, from 2006 through 2010, but in 2013, it was on top and one of the best of all time. Can the AFC South manage the same kind of revival?Houston TexansHouston’s defense — led by the extremely talented and extremely corny J.J. Watt — allowed just 19.6 points per game last season, tied for 7th in the NFL (and just a hair behind the Carolina Panthers at 19.3). Unfortunately, four quarterbacks made starts for Houston’s offense. That’s never a good sign, but it’s especially bad when those four quarterbacks are as dispensable as these guys:Brian Hoyer: Has played for New England, Arizona, Cleveland and Houston.Ryan Mallett: New England, Houston, Baltimore.T.J. Yates: Houston, Atlanta, Houston again.Brandon Weeden: Cleveland, Dallas, Houston.As a unit, these mediocre journeymen averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, good for 29th in the NFL,2They did throw 28 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Good work! while somehow still feeding DeAndre Hopkins enough (192 targets!) to have him finish third in NFL receiving yards. They were good enough for Houston to make the playoffs at 9-7, before being humiliated by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans will now put their offense in the hands of Brock Osweiler, a very tall man with seven career starts. He can’t be expected to dominate out of the gate, but some consistency would be nice. If he starts at least 13 games, he’ll be the first Houston QB to do so since 2012.Indianapolis ColtsThe mid-1990s San Antonio Spurs were masters of timing. After a solid stretch under David Robinson, San Antonio had a single terrible season at the perfect moment, capturing the consensus No. 1 draft pick. The Spurs then rode that pick — Tim Duncan — to a new era of even greater success.Through 2014, the Colts looked (to the untrained eye) like they’d pulled off the same trick. Peyton Manning’s absence in 2011 meant the Colts were terrible enough to draft his replacement, Andrew Luck: 1997-2016 (T. Duncan era).7102012-14 (A. Luck era).688 There are a lot of great quarterbacks on that list, but a few flameouts as well. RGIII and Dennis Shaw never matched their rookie seasons, and Rodney Peete became a successful but unexceptional journeyman. The Titans are making a big bet that Mariota is the real deal. If he is, Tennessee could start contending sooner rather than later.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team 1Ben Roethlisberger2004PIT8.88 6Dennis Shaw1970BUF7.81 And then they hit a wall in 2015. The Colts went 8-8, but were lucky to have done so well. Over the course of the season, their -75 point differential was worse than that of the Baltimore Ravens and Jaguars, who both went 5-11. The Colts have been propped up by their division, going 20-4 against the AFC South over the last four seasons and 21-19 against everyone else. The Colts’ roster is weak once you look past the QB, and it’s suddenly not so clear that Luck is the next big thing.This offseason, the Colts added very little. It could still be enough to win the AFC South — we give them a 36 percent chance of doing that — but don’t expect much past that.Jacksonville JaguarsThe Jaguars have not had a lot of success recently. The last time they finished above .500 was in 2007, and the 2013 squad had a real shot at being the worst team in NFL history. At the Jaguars’ low point that season, Vegas set them as 28-point underdogs against the Denver Broncos.But in the past couple of years, the Jaguars, while still definitely bad, have become kind of exciting. In 2013, they listed draftee Denard Robinson’s position as “offensive weapon,” which was stupid, but in a fun way! In 2014, they had their biggest comeback ever, and in 2015, two Jaguars reached 1,000 yards receiving (after none did in the previous nine seasons). Jacksonville’s defense is still a disaster (31st in points allowed in 2015), but this has become a non-depressing team that lost close, watchable games.Add to all that one of the best draft classes in both 2015 and 2016, and the confidence of Jaguars fans may soon be rewarded: Tennessee TitansThe Tennessee Titans had a big offseason, bolstering their offensive line by drafting tackle Jack Conklin (No. 8 overall) and signing center Ben Jones. They also added weapons in running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Rishard Matthews. They appear to be sort of going for it.All these moves hinge on Marcus Mariota. The rookie QB had one hell of a first game in 2015 and a solid season overall. His 7.6 yards per attempt is the seventh-best mark for a rookie QB since 1970. RANKPLAYERSEASONTEAMYARDS PER ATTEMPT Source: Pro-football-reference.com, Basketball-reference.com 3Matt Ryan2008ATL7.93 10Jim Kelly1986BUF7.49 5Cam Newton2011CAR7.84 Minimum eight startsSource: pro-football-reference.com 8Rodney Peete1989DET7.58 SEASONSWIN %SEASONSWIN % 4Russell Wilson2012SEA7.93 It once looked like the Colts were pulling a Spurs 9Jameis Winston2015TB7.56 2Robert Griffin2012WAS8.14 To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division.The AFC South has been the punching bag of our NFL preseason previews. In 2015, we called it “perhaps the most imbalanced division in football,” and in 2014, we wrote that the division “can’t be any worse than it was last year.” (We were correct: The division won 25 games total, up from 24 the year before.)Going into 2016, the AFC South is still awful — awful enough that our Elo-based projections put the division’s best team — the Houston Texans — at just 8.3 wins for the season.1If you haven’t encountered them on our site before, Elo ratings are a measure of overall team strength that update after each game. At least those strength of schedule ranks look good — these bad teams get to play each other twice.
Didier Drogba finally brought down the curtain on his glorious Chelsea career on Tuesday. The striker confirmed that he is leaving the club when his contract runs out at the end of June.The 34-year-old Ivory Coast international has spent eight years at Chelsea, scoring 157 goals in 341 appearances, and helped the Blues to win 10 titles.One of those titles, of course, was the Champions League victory over Bayern Munich on Saturday, when Drogba scored a late equaliser in normal time and then netted the winning kick in the penalty shootout.He said: “I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea. It has been a very difficult decision for me to make, but I am very proud of what we have achieved. As a team we have accomplished so much, and have won every single trophy possible. Saturday was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans, and I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club which has been my home for the last eight years.“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club especially Roman [Abramovich], and my team-mates, many of whom have become very close friends and will be my friends for life. I would also like to say a very special thank you to the Chelsea fans, who have shown me so much love and support over the years.“I wish the club all the best and continued success for the future – you will always be in my heart.”Chelsea, meanwhile, praised the striker’s contribution to the most successful era of the club’s history. The chief executive, Ron Gourlay, said: “Didier is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and will always be part of the Chelsea family. He is certainly leaving on a high after Saturday night but he feels the time is right for a new challenge.“Of course Didier has contributed so much to all of Chelsea’s recent successes. He has been a consummate professional during his entire time here and as one of the natural leaders in our squad he has been an inspiration to a lot of our younger players.“We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League final. The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time – either as a player or as a guest of ours.”Drogba leaves Chelsea having scored 157 goals in 341 appearances. He is the club’s fourth all-time highest scorer, his 34 goals in European competition is a Chelsea record by 10 goals and managed nine strikes in nine cup finals.He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Carling Cups and, finally, the Champions League. He has been named Chelsea’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year and won the Premier League golden boot twice.Read the rest of this story on the Guardian.co.uk
Patrick Ewing is the most prominent athlete to come out of Georgetown University, a player for the ages that helped solidify the Hoyas, along with coach John Thompson, as a national powerhouse in the 1980s.Now Ewing is giving back to Thompson and Georgetown.Ewing and longtime agent David Falk are donating $3.3 million to the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Facility, a $60 million, 144,000-square-foot building on Georgetown’s Washington, D.C., campus. It will house practice courts, training facilities, meeting rooms and offices. The facility will serve all 29 of the Hoyas’ scholarship sports.Georgetown is expected to break ground on the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Facility this summer.“Coach Thompson was my coach, mentor and friend,” Ewing said in a release. “He guided me through a very formative period in my life and helped me prepare for success on and off the court. Giving back to the university in his honor is special.”Ewing and Thompson led Georgetown to the 1984 national title and reached the Final Four three times in four years. Falk, a prominent NBA agent who also represented Michael Jordan’s NBA career, once called Thompson “the most influential person in my life — other than my mother.”“This is a very special opportunity for me to honor a man I love and respect,” Falk said in a release. “To do it together with Patrick Ewing, who was a dominant figure in both John’s basketball program and in my career, makes it even more rewarding.”The donation amount of $3.3 million is an intentional callback to the No. 33 uniform Ewing made famous at Georgetown. In 2011, Falk, a Syracuse alumnus, pledged $15 million to his alma mater, helping to create the David B. Falk Center for Sports Management.
Ron Washington said he resigned as the manager of the Texas Rangers earlier this month because he was unfaithful to his wife.On Sept. 5, the Texas Rangers announced Washington had resigned as manager, effective immediately. At the time, no reason was given for Washington’s departure other than that it was to address an off-the-field matter.On Thursday, Washington cleared up some of the speculation when he said that after more than four decades of marriage he had cheated on his wife.“I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed, more than I’ve ever been in my life. I don’t run when I make a mistake. And when you put yourself in situations you own it. Those are the type of things my wife would always say to me,” Washington said. “I was not true to my wife. After 42 years, I broke her trust. I’m here today to own that mistake and to apologize to her and to those I disappointed, and those who have trusted in me and I let them down.”Washington offered no further details about the dalliance and did not reveal whom he cheated with.Washington talked about telling his wife to quit her job when he was 22 years old when he said he figured out the game and felt he had “arrived.”“Today, I’m at a very low time in my life. I’m sorry for breaking the trust that I had with my wife and for disappointing my players, for disappointing my coaches, for disappointing Major League Baseball and for disappointing the Texas Rangers. All I ask is for your forgiveness and your understanding. I also ask that you respect our privacy as we go on with our lives. This matter is certainly personal, and we’re trying hard to put it behind us.”After his announcement, Washington took no questions from the media. He walked over toward the exit door, put an arm around his wife and walked out the door.
The Oakland Athletics, for weeks now, have been terrible. They’ve gone 27-37 in the season’s second half, with a 12-17 record in August and an even uglier 8-15 mark in September. Yet thanks largely to some atrocious play by their AL West rivals in Seattle, the A’s are about to clinch their third straight playoff berth anyway.Still, few people seem to be taking Oakland seriously as a World Series contender. Some of that disrespect comes from simple math: By having to play an additional one-game playoff just to get to the American League Division Series, the A’s face a tougher climb than MLB’s six division winners. But much of the disdain for Oakland’s chances stems from an overemphasis on momentum. If the A’s have stunk up the joint for most of August and September, why should anyone believe October will be any different?Because there’s no evidence to suggest that how a team plays heading into the postseason has any correlation with how it fares in the postseason. That’s why.Last week, we looked at teams’ regular-season road records and whether those can predict playoff success (the answer was yes, they do). Here, we used the same methodology, looking at every playoff game from 1969 through 2013 to see whether we could find a predictive link between late-season performance and playoff success.In the end, we found that full-season winning percentages were a significant predictor of postseason outcomes. But the degree to which a team was hot after June, July or August was not statistically significant when it came to forecasting playoff proficiency.Now that doesn’t necessarily prove definitively that there’s nothing to the momentum theory. As Bill James reminds us, an absence of evidence isn’t conclusive proof by itself, and it’s possible that further research using a different approach could yield different results.Still, given the hot-or-not narratives that pop up every October, and the lack of evidence to support the momentum theory, it’s probably time to take the A’s a bit more seriously as contenders. Jay Jaffe (at Baseball Prospectus) and Dave Cameron (for Fox Sports) both tested the theory by looking at playoff results from 1995 on and couldn’t find any statistically significant correlation either.Yes, the A’s will probably have to get past a stingy Kansas City Royals squad, one that’s excelled at pitching and defense all year, just to crack the ALDS. But with a pitching staff bolstered by the acquisitions of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that has struggled in the second half but looked strong in the first half, the A’s have the talent to compete for a title in a playoff field that lacks a clear favorite.As sharply as their luck turned down the stretch, it could just as easily turn for the better — starting now.CORRECTION (Sept. 26, 11:57 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly said the Oakland Athletics have gone 27-39 in the season’s second half and had a 8-14 mark in September. They have gone 27-37 in the second half and 8-15 in September.
The chart above shows these increases for the 18 teams that have qualified for the Stanley Cup Final over the past nine seasons. The 2009 Detroit Red Wings had the biggest change in intensity between the regular season and the playoffs — they averaged 14.0 more hits per game in the postseason. Last year’s finals featured the Los Angeles Kings, who increased their hit number by 8.0 per game, and the New York Rangers, whose hit number rose by 6.8.And it’s not just that the hits increase as the season goes on. When I restricted the data to only regular-season games in the last few weeks of the season (March and April), I still found a playoff increase of 14.4 hits per game. This suggests that the differences between the regular and postseason are not attributable to an overall increase in hitting as the season goes on. Thinning out the data a bit more to look only at regular-season games between two eventual playoff teams, I still found that there were 14.2 more hits in postseason games than in regular-season ones.The players, of course, have rising hit tallies themselves. The active player with the biggest increase in hits: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Blake Comeau. While Comeau averages just 2.0 hits per game in the regular season, his postseason average is 5.5. Even though he has played only six postseason games, this difference is statistically significant.Every game in the the first round of the playoffs is likely to feature a lot of heavy hitting. If you’re looking for the series that should have the biggest intensity jump, look no further than the Montreal Canadiens versus the Ottawa Senators and Comeau’s Penguins versus the Rangers. Both of these series feature six players whose playoff increase in hits is in the top 50 in the NHL. It’s April, and the Stanley Cup lies in wait. The NHL postseason starts Wednesday, and with it comes the NHL’s most intense play. It’s not just the stakes that rise this time of year. It’s the on-ice aggression, too.Using data from every regular and postseason NHL game from 2005-06 through today, I identified every hit that was registered on the official play-by-play record. When comparing the total number of non-overtime hits in the more than 11,000 regular-season games and more than 750 postseason games, I found that there’s a massive and statistically significant increase in hits when the playoffs start.Regular-season games average about 42.0 total hits for both teams prior to overtime. In the playoffs, that number jumps 36 percent to 57.2 pre-overtime hits per game.Out of the 144 playoff teams since the 2005-06 NHL season, 142 increased their average number of hits per game after the playoffs started. For 101 of the teams, this difference is unlikely to have occurred because of randomness.1Meaning the p-value was less than .05.
Junior forward Nichelle Prince (7) dribbles with the ball during a game against Minnesota on Sept. 17. OSU lost 2-1.The Ohio State women’s soccer team (8-3-3, 3-2-2) hosted the Maryland Terrapins (5-9, 0-6) on Sunday afternoon for what was called the “Go Pink” game.Junior forward Nichelle Prince made it a winning effort, netting a game-winning goal in double overtime to lift OSU to a 2-1 victory.The Buckeyes came out strong and dominated possession in the first half.“Sundays are always a hard game, just finding that energy,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “We had a great crowd, though today, we’re honoring some breast cancer survivors, so I thought that we came out with a good level of energy.”The rest of the half featured back-and-forth play, but no goals, as the teams headed into halftime scoreless.“I just challenged our team at halftime to step up and to find that energy that we had in the first half,” Walker said. “I think we really dominated the game but just struggled to find the back of the net.”The Buckeyes led the Terrapins in shots (5-3), shots on goal (4-0) and corner kicks (3-0) at the half. The Terrapins ended the scoreless affair in the 60th minute when redshirt sophomore forward Alex Anthony struck from 20 yards out, past OSU redshirt junior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker.In the 74th minute, senior midfielder/forward Michela Paradiso was taken down in the box, awarding the Buckeyes a penalty kick. Sophomore midfielder Nikki Walts took the kick and converted it to level the match at 1-1.The goal was Walts’ fifth of the season. She said after the game that she looks to be a spark for the offense, especially when a goal is needed most.“I just prepare the way I always do and when the going gets tough, I step up and try to be a leader on the team,” Walts said. “I just want to get out there and compete and hopefully get a goal and get our team going.”The penalty kick lit a fire under the OSU offense, as it had several opportunities to score but could not find the back of the net. Regulation ended with the teams tied, meaning overtime would be needed to settle the match. The Buckeyes held a 19-7 advantage in shots during regulation. .The struggle for either team to find the second goal continued in the first overtime period, and the match headed into double overtime with the score still standing at 1-1. “The work to win in overtime happens in the offseason,” Walker said. “And our team is extremely fit, and I remind them of that. I remind them of all the work that they’ve done in the offseason to make sure our legs are stronger than our opponent’s legs.”Prince was a playmaker throughout Sunday’s match, shooting in the box a number of times, but she couldn’t convert on the many opportunities in regulation or the first overtime.Prince said that is something any player must be able to cope with and just keep trying to get that point.“I think that’s a part of a forward’s job,” Prince said. “You’re not going to make all of them, but if you keep going there’s going to be one that goes in.”And one certainly went in for Prince.Within the first 30 seconds of the second overtime, Prince shot from 10 yards out near the top of the box off a pass from Paradiso, giving the Buckeyes the 2-1 win.“Just playing almost 110 minutes is a lot,” Prince said. “So just finally after working hard and getting to the box so many times it’s really a great relief to finally get one in. It was really exciting for us.”OSU’s momentum continues to build as it has won two consecutive home games as it prepares to hit the road next weekend.Prince said the team does not get intimidated regardless of the venue or opponent.“We are the good team and we’re not fearful of any team we face,” Prince said.The Buckeyes are set to travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Thursday, before heading to Bloomington, Indiana, for a matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday.
Pauline Cafferkey enters an isolation tent before boarding a RAF Hercules at Glasgow Airport on February 23Credit:Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images A nurse who has repeatedly fallen seriously ill after contracting the Ebola virus two years ago has been taken to hospital again, under police escort.Pauline Cafferkey was said to be in a stable condition after she was hospitalised for the fourth time since contracting the deadly viral haemorrhagic fever while working for a charity in Sierra Leone.Doctors said the 40-year-old was undergoing routine monitoring at the infectious disease department of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Last month, Ms Cafferkey was cleared of misconduct over her return to the UK with the virus.She was accused by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded in a “chaotic” screening centre in Heathrow on her return from Sierra Leone in late 2014.Ms Cafferkey said she would never have knowingly put anyone in danger and an independent panel found three charges against her were not proven and her fitness to practise was not affected.It ruled her judgement at the airport in December 2014 had been so impaired by the developing illness that she could not be found guilty of misconduct. Ms Cafferkey was discharged in January 2015, with doctors saying she had completely recovered and was not infectious in any way.However, she was readmitted to hospital twice – in October 2015 and February 2016 – after suffering complications linked to the disease, at one stage falling critically ill.Nicola Sturgeon, first minister, said: “Sending my very best wishes to Pauline Cafferkey. She has already suffered way too much – & all for trying to help others. Thoughts with her.” Officials declined to say if the disease had recurred, or whether she was suffering from other complications, but said there was no risk to the wider public.The nurse was infected with the virus while working as a volunteer for Save The Children during the outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014.On her return at the end of 2014, she was quickly struck down and was taken by military transport plane to the Royal Free Hospital in London. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
A ban from world football’s ruling body on international players wearing poppies has been condemned as “utterly outrageous” by Theresa May.The Prime Minister sharply criticised the Fifa edict as she defended players’ rights to wear the remembrance symbols on shirts or armbands when England meet Scotland at Wembley on Armistice Day.Fifa has turned down a request to wear poppies, ruling that teams may not display political, religious or commercial symbols on their kit. Fifa has said players cannot wear poppies because they are forbidden from displaying political symbolsCredit:Hannah McKay/PA In a direct message to world football’s governing body, which has been plagued by corruption allegations, she said: “Before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out.”Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Sports Committee said Fifa’s decision was an insult to British people.He said: “Someone has shared with me on social media an Ireland football shirt that has a special embroidery on marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. Fifa allow that, so I think people will find it astonishing that the poppy’s not allowed.”John Whittingdale, a former culture, media, and sport secretary, suggested the two home nations should defy Fifa and risk a potential points deduction.He told the BBC: “For [Fifa] to try and brand the poppy as a political symbol shows a total misunderstanding, and I think there are a number of reasons why we are already profoundly unhappy with Fifa’s behaviour and conduct and this adds to that list.”Asked if the teams should risk a points loss, Mr Whittingdale replied: “Yes.”A motion has been lodged at the Scottish Parliament calling for the ban to be scrapped.Maurice Golden, a Conservative MSP, said: “Fifa should overturn this bizarre decision immediately. The fans, players and football associations on both sides of the border want to be able to wear the poppy with pride.”In 2011, Fifa eventually backed down after threatening to ban the England team from wearing poppies in a friendly against Spain, allowing them to display the symbol on black armbands. Mrs May told MPs during Prime Minister’s questions: “I think the stance that has been taken by Fifa is utterly outrageous.”Our football players want to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security. I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.”She said it was a matter for the English and Scottish Football Associations, but there was a “clear message” from the House of Commons that “we want our players to be able to wear those poppies”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Louis, I love you so much I’d get you tattooed on my forehead for life and always proudly show it off xx— Erin (@paulweIIer) June 13, 2017 Never heard anything so selfish— The Last Dinosaur (@TheLastDinosaur) June 13, 2017 Many fans replied, saying they liked the idea and may get a tattoo of him. Louis Theroux has stumbled upon the superfans who get his face and quotes tattooed on their bodies.The documentary giant has watched with growing confusion as fans have bought shirts, tea-towels and purses with his face on.However, things got extremely weird when he saw the vast number of people who have made a permanent commitment, showing their love for him. Others showed sympathy for the television star, saying they can’t imagine how strange he feels right now. Asked wife if she’d get a tattoo of me. She said only if I get one of her. Wtf??— Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) June 13, 2017 this makes me want a louis theroux tattoo— Malika 🐝 (@anomicheroine) June 12, 2017 Seeing that at least 17 of his fans had got his face permanently tattooed on his body, he commented: “Wow.”He then revealed that not even his own wife would make such a commitment – tweeting: “Asked wife if she’d get a tattoo of me. She said only if I get one of her. Wtf??” I’ll get one of you x— Stacey Anthony (@StaceyAnthony__) June 13, 2017