2015 NFL Preview The Ravens Bengals Steelers And Yes Even The Browns

Cleveland Browns2014 Record: 7-9 | 2015 Proj. W: 6.2 | Playoff Odds: 9.7%Off. Rank: 31st | Def. Rank: 11th | S.T. Rank: 14thAs usual, the Browns’ quarterback situation is dismal. Backup Johnny Manziel gets most of the headlines despite (or, perhaps, because of) a spectacularly trying rookie campaign, but new starter Josh McCown isn’t much better. The 36-year-old journeyman showed unexpected flashes of brilliance in eight games as a Bear in 2013, but he returned to form — ranking second-worst in the NFL in QBR — with the Buccaneers last season. Judging from the rest of his career, it would be unrealistic to expect much more from McCown in 2015.We all know that the NFL is a passing league, so Cleveland’s QB predicament puts them at a disadvantage. But if there’s any good news for the Browns, it’s that you don’t necessarily need a great passing attack to build a winning team. And with McCown and Manziel unlikely to lead the Browns out of the quarterback wilderness, it falls upon the team’s defense to provide an edge instead.The Browns return nine starters from what was an effective, and unusual, defense in 2014. Typically, defenses that limit opponents’ passing also have an edge against the running game, and Cleveland was excellent versus the pass — it was third-best in EPA allowed on passing plays, trailing only the Texans and Bills. But the Browns had trouble slowing down opposing runners. Against rushing plays, they ranked 31st in EPA allowed, ahead of only the Saints.Again, the NFL is a passing league, so Cleveland had a top-10 defense despite its weakness against the run. But given the Browns’ lack of offensive playmakers,12Their most important offensive player might be a center. In the five starts Alex Mack made in 2014 before suffering a season-ending injury, the Browns averaged 26 points and a 75 QBR; over the remainder of the season, they averaged 16 points and a 25 QBR. their defense can’t afford to have any vulnerabilities if they hope to win games. That’s why Cleveland drafted nose tackle Danny Shelton 12th overall and added defensive lineman Randy Starks in free agency, with an eye on getting tougher against the run and building an elite all-around defense.It’s an unconventional formula for team-building, but a roster engineered to keep the score low and close can make for upsets. Just last year, the Buffalo Bills used a similar blueprint to win nine games despite having the league’s fifth-worst offense. So if the Browns defense is better than their offense is bad, and they get a few lucky bounces of the ball on special teams, Cleveland might have a winner for just the third time since the franchise was reborn in 1999. Baltimore Ravens2014 Record: 10-6 | 2015 Projected Wins: 9.0 | Playoff Odds: 54.7%Offensive Rank: 15th | Defensive Rank: 5th | Special Teams Rank: 2ndA slight favorite in the AFC North according to ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index (FPI) ratings, Baltimore is more likely than not to make its seventh playoff appearance since 2008. In part, that’s because general manager Ozzie Newsome is playing his own brand of Moneyball. One of his favorite strategies: using free agency to build depth and plug roster holes, rather than trying to sign big-name players at a premium. It’s an approach that keeps the Ravens out of boom-and-bust rebuilding cycles, and keeps generating tickets to the Plinko game that is the NFL playoffs.For instance, Baltimore needed to address its weakness at secondary this offseason. Although the Ravens were tough against the run1They allowed the NFL’s third-fewest rushing expected points. and consistently put pressure on opposing QBs, they also allowed the league’s 10th-most expected points added (EPA) through the air because injuries forced them to field a handful of scrap-heap defensive backs. So Newsome added cornerback Kyle Arrington and safety Kendrick Lewis in free agency to bolster the secondary — moves he could afford to make because of cap room freed up by trading defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for draft picks. The deft deal-making2Along with the return of cornerback Jimmy Smith from injury. is a big reason experts think Baltimore will reclaim elite-defense status this season.Another signature Newsome move was to let free-agent wide receiver Torrey Smith walk, rather than paying the $22 million sticker price he was eventually guaranteed by San Francisco. While other teams shell out for expensive free-agent receivers such as Smith, Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace, Newsome has had success with cheaper options. Take Steve Smith, whom the Ravens were able to sign on the cheap3Paying only an average of $3.5 million per season. a year ago because of his advancing age (he was 35 last season). All Smith did in his Baltimore debut was produce one of the top receiving seasons in Ravens history — and help quarterback Joe Flacco post the best Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) of his career.Even running back Justin Forsett, whose breakout season lifted Baltimore’s yards per carry from last in the league in 2013 to a tie for sixth last season, was paid only $730,000 a year ago — a pittance by RB standards. Forsett got a raise for 2015 but should benefit from another secret weapon smart teams often use: continuity. All five starters on the Ravens’ offensive line are also returning, and incoming offensive coordinator Marc Trestman is expected to keep predecessor Gary Kubiak’s running scheme.Newsome appears to recognize a few fundamental truths about the NFL: namely, that bank-breaking offseason pickups are rarely worth the trouble and that teams are better off using their money to build depth and bolster multiple positions. It’s a formula that has served the Ravens well over the years and should continue to pay off in 2015. Read more: 2015 NFL Previews FiveThirtyEight is previewing the 2015 NFL season ahead of the first game of the year. Check out our coverage of every division » Cincinnati Bengals2014 Record: 10-5-1 | 2015 Proj. W: 8.4 | Playoff Odds: 42.1%Off. Rank: 14th | Def. Rank: 12th | S.T. Rank: 8thFPI predicts that the Bengals will be solid again in 2015, and one of the primary reasons is continuity. Twenty-one of their 22 starters are back from a year ago, which ties for the second-most returning starters any NFL team has carried into a season since 2006. Plus, prodigal defensive end Michael Johnson returns after a season in Tampa Bay, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict might (eventually) come back from the knee injury that cost him most of 2014.While researching FPI,4I was on the production analytics team that developed FPI this summer. we found that consistency like this, especially when the team is already decent — as the Bengals were last year — is a small but reliable predictor of success. And in the absence of a first-class quarterback, Cincinnati needs all of these small things to go its way if the team wants to stay competitive.Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton has a lifetime QBR of 51, which pretty much makes him the definition of average. (QBR is scaled where the league-wide mean is 50.) Fans and observers have spent years wondering if Dalton can become a top passer, but four seasons of consistently middling numbers probably suggest that we’ve seen his best. He’s dependable, and even good enough to make a winner out of a team if it surrounds him with talent. But rarely do quarterbacks blossom into something new after four full seasons in the NFL.So instead of counting on Dalton to be great, Cincinnati has built a balanced roster that doesn’t need a star turn at QB. Wideout A.J. Green, for instance, picks up the slack by serving as Dalton’s target more than 30 percent of the time, one of the highest shares for any receiver in the league. Although Dalton played well enough to win two of the three games Green missed last season, it would be unwise to think the Bengals offense would prosper for long without Green’s ability to stretch defenses downfield.And defensively, FPI projects the Bengals to bounce back after a down year in 2014. Cincy’s defense had allowed the NFL’s second-fewest overall EPA and fifth-lowest rate of yards per attempt two years ago, but they fell to 16th and 20th, respectively, after the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer a year ago. Losing a coordinator can be surprisingly traumatic for a defense (more on this later), so they should be better in Paul Guenther’s second season at the helm.Continuity, on both the roster and coaching staff, is one of several small factors Cincinnati will have to rely on this season. Because unless, by some miracle, Dalton turns into a top passer, the Bengals need all the advantages they can get. In preparation for the 2015 NFL season, FiveThirtyEight is running a series of eight division previews, each highlighting the numbers that may influence a team’s performance (including projections and rankings based on ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index). Today we focus on the AFC North, where Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have all taken the division title twice over the past six seasons. Will the defending-champ Steelers hand it off again this year? And can the Browns finally break into that group? Pittsburgh Steelers2014 Record: 11-5 | 2015 Proj. W: 8.3 | Playoff Odds: 41.4%Off. Rank: 9th | Def. Rank: 24th | S.T. Rank: 4thThe Steelers had a very un-Steeler-like team in 2014. The offense was white-hot: Antonio Brown led all NFL receivers in fantasy scoring5Using ESPN’s standard scoring system. by a wide margin, Le’Veon Bell finished second among running backs, and Ben Roethlisberger ranked fifth among quarterbacks.6Even Heath Miller ranked 11th among tight ends despite seeing the fourth-lowest target frequency of any qualifier at his position. The defense, on the other hand, was full of holes, as age7They were one of the oldest defenses in the league. and free agency8They lost a number of veterans, including Larry Foote, LaMarr Woodley and Ryan Clark. caused a unit once nicknamed the “Steel Curtain” to allow the league’s third-worst rate of yards per play.Pittsburgh still used that bizarro-world formula to squeak past its rivals for the division crown. But it doesn’t bode well as a blueprint for sustainable winning, because there are reasons to think the defense won’t rebound even as the offense falls back to earth.By virtue of regression to the mean, we usually expect defenses to bounce back from uncharacteristically bad seasons, but Pittsburgh’s situation is complicated by the departure of legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. When developing FPI, we found that defensive coordinators have a similar (albeit smaller) impact on defense as quarterbacks do on offense — namely, that when a team has a returning coordinator, its defensive performance tends to be better and more consistent between seasons. Conversely, when a new coordinator comes in, the defense usually declines a bit9Regardless of its previous quality. and generally is harder to project.10In statistical speak, the variance is higher in projections involving new defensive coordinators. So it’s difficult to say whether the 2015 Steelers will be any better defensively than the 2014 team.And Pittsburgh might not be able to afford another down defensive year. Although the Steeler offense was surprisingly strong in 2014, it’s probably not realistic to expect a repeat performance — most obviously because Bell will be suspended for the season’s first two games, but also because the team is unlikely to be as healthy as it was last season. Not only was Pittsburgh’s offensive “injury score”11A weighted total of players designated as “out,” “doubtful” or “questionable” by the NFL’s official weekly injury reports. the lowest of any team a year ago, but the team also lost less than half as much playing time to injury as the average NFL offense from the past nine years. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be so fortunate again.This doesn’t necessarily mean Pittsburgh needs a complete rebirth of the Steel Curtain defense. (The FPI projections still point to the Steelers being a top-10 team, after all.) But with Baltimore and Cincinnati each boasting a slightly higher probability of winning the division, the defense probably has to improve if the Steelers want to repeat as AFC North champs. read more

The Strange Dynasty Of The San Francisco Giants Is Over Yes It

✗ +3 Dodgers1946196642772133.3 Yankees1976198621931127.3 ✓ Over the course of the past decade, the San Francisco Giants put together one of the strangest dynasties in baseball history. And now it is officially coming to an end.The Giants still have five players left over from their 2014 championship season, but the returns have diminished greatly since then. The team is in last place in the National League West; the FiveThirtyEight model currently predicts it to finish 70-92, which would be one of the worst records in franchise history.1Technically the 2017 version was even worse, although that team at least had injuries to blame (and a playoff appearance the year before to suggest a potential turnaround). And it could get worse by season’s end, with ace Madison Bumgarner (among others) on the trade block.The Giants got here in part by trying to extend the dynasty past its expiration date. But who can blame them? When a team’s initial successes defy the odds, it can be especially difficult to know when a downturn is permanent or just a detour along the road to another title. This is especially true of San Francisco, which sandwiched two mediocre nonplayoff seasons in between World Series titles. But we come here not to bury the Giants’ dynasty but to praise it — and imagine how Farhan Zaidi, the new president of baseball operations, might construct another one where the original once stood.So what makes the Giants’ dynasty of the 2010s — and yes, it was a bona fide dynasty — maybe the most interesting ever?Up and downThe simplest answer to that question lies with the team’s every-other-year pattern of success. In even-numbered years from 2010 through 2016, the Giants’ winning percentage was .557; in odd years, it was only .506. But plenty of teams have gone on wild championship roller-coaster rides. The Giants’ version was one of the most memorable because of how unexpectedly it materialized and how difficult it was to get a handle on, even while it was happening.Sabermetrics pioneer Bill James has a method of determining dynastic runs that involves giving out points for seasons of various accomplishments. He keeps a running tally of a team’s dynasty points after each season; whenever a team’s running total hits 10, it automatically becomes a dynasty — of which there have been only 38 in baseball history. ✓✓✓ ✗ Source: billjamesonline.com ✓✓ ✓✓ Cardinals196319712104944.4% ✓✓ +1 ✓✓+2 ✓✓+3 Phillies197619831142825.0 Seasons ✓✓✓✓✓+6 Giants201020163103742.9 ✓✓ ✓+1 Bill James’s dynasty accounting systemWhat an MLB team must do in a season to earn or lose dynasty points ✓✓+4 Yankees19201943106162425.0 +5 Made Playoffs?Won Division?Won Pennant?Won World Series?Losing record90+ Wins?100+ Wins?Dynasty points Keeping in mind that the majority of San Francisco’s dynasty took place in the double-wild-card era, where in theory it is easier to snag an occasional playoff berth to keep the run going, you could argue that a Giants-like run is even harder to pull off now than during the Cardinals’ era (most of which happened when the “playoffs” consisted only of the World Series).If all of this sounds like a knock on what San Francisco accomplished, it’s not. It actually just makes it more fascinating: Only nine teams in history ever won three World Series in a five-year period anyway, and none of those had anywhere near as many ups and downs — nor proved as many doubters wrong — as the 2010-16 Giants did.Growing a dynasty … on top of a dynasty?Surprisingly, that run actually began on the heels of another dynasty, at least according to James’s accounting system. The 2000-04 Giants hit a running total of 10 points as well, despite not winning any championships, because they won at least 90 games five years in a row with two division crowns, a pennant in 2002 and 100 victories in 2003. That team was powered by Barry Bonds at the peak of his historic hitting powers,4And with Bonds allegedly benefiting from performance-enhancing drugs. with help from second baseman Jeff Kent, pitcher Jason Schmidt and shortstop Rich Aurilia. But the club’s performance fell after much of Bonds’s supporting cast signed elsewhere (SB Nation recently made a great video about the bitter Bonds-Kent feud), and the Giants’ main attraction in the ensuing seasons was Bonds’s largely joyless pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.By 2008, Bonds was out of baseball and the Giants were terrible, winning just 72 games. They had just three players who had been ranked among Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects in the previous few seasons: pitchers Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez. Their farm system ranked just 23rd in baseball. Practically nothing about the Giants’ situation suggested that another dynasty was around the corner.But as bleak as San Francisco’s outlook appeared to be, the ingredients were largely in place for the run that was to come. To go with Cain and Lincecum, fellow dynasty cornerstones Bumgarner, Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt would all be drafted in 2007-09, while third baseman Pablo Sandoval and reliever Sergio Romo both made their MLB debuts in the summer of 2008. Nine players were on all three Giants championship squads — Posey, Bumgarner, Cain, Sandoval, Romo, Lincecum, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez — and of those, six were either acquired by or made their MLB debuts for San Francisco in the 18-month span between May 2007 and November 2008. The team had also hired manager Bruce Bochy away from the division-rival San Diego Padres prior to the 2007 season.The Giants’ penchant for acquiring and developing homegrown talent helps explain a good amount of their success earlier this decade. From 2010 through 2016, only two teams (the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays) got more total wins above replacement5Averaging together the WAR versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. from players who initially debuted with the team than San Francisco did. That group was headlined by Posey and Bumgarner, both of whom were top-10 draft picks, but it also included a fourth-rounder (Crawford), fifth-rounder (Belt) and 18th-rounder (Matt Duffy) who each peaked as 4-win players or better despite their lack of pedigree.Spare parts to the rescueThose Giants were made all the more interesting by the odd veteran pieces that filled in the gaps around the homegrown talent, particularly in the postseason. Journeyman castoffs Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff led the 2010 Giants in regular-season WAR, while that year’s NLCS MVP was Cody Ross (who had been claimed off waivers from the Marlins in August), and the World Series MVP was veteran shortstop Edgar Renteria, who had missed more than half the regular season with injuries.The trend continued in subsequent title runs. Outfielder Angel Pagan rebounded from a disappointing 2011 season with the Mets to produce 4.4 WAR for the Giants in their 2012 championship campaign. Melky Cabrera, on his fourth team in four years, was the All-Star Game’s MVP and hit an NL-best .346 that year before being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs (and recusing himself from the batting crown). Second baseman Marco Scutaro, picked up via trade in July, claimed NLCS MVP honors. After Posey and Bumgarner, frenetic outfielder Hunter Pence, acquired four days after Scutaro, was the Giants’ best player by WAR in 2013 and 2014, posting an 1.167 on-base plus slugging in the 2014 World Series. Even in 2016, obscure third baseman Conor Gillaspie provided playoff heroics when his ninth-inning home run won the NL wild-card game over the Mets.This quirky combination of young draftees and veteran reclamation projects helped each Giants championship team forge a different identity. The 2010 team was widely identified with Lincecum, Cain and eccentric, heavily bearded closer Brian Wilson. The 2012 version had evolved to become Posey’s team (he was named NL MVP) with Sandoval, the “Kung Fu Panda,” inheriting the role of postseason talisman from Wilson. And the 2014 season was all about the dominance of Bumgarner, who became virtually unhittable in October, winning the NLCS and World Series MVPs. Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean continually found ways to retool the roster on the fly, returning it to a championship level even after a 76-win season in 2013 suggested to many that San Francisco’s days of winning it all were probably over.An extraordinary timeThe Giants’ dynasty was also lucky to come along during an era of comparative parity in Major League Baseball. In 2015, my colleague Rob Arthur and I noted that MLB was getting tougher and tougher to predict during the decade of the 2010s, which happened to overlap with the entirety of San Francisco’s run to that point. In particular, the share of variance in team records explained by luck — which tracks with how compressed team records are across the league — had spiked upward to 64 percent that season, the highest mark since right after the 1994 strike.The Giants weren’t particularly dominant on paper during their dynastic years, never finishing higher than sixth in baseball in Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System during any of their championship seasons, but it was the perfect moment to be a good team that gets hot at exactly the right time. Although it is unlikely that San Francisco’s World Series runs were wholly (or even mostly) the product of making the playoffs and having the postseason crapshoot fall in their favor three times, there’s no denying that the Giants’ path was made easier by the lack of super-teams across the rest of MLB.And now, those days are gone. (Not that it would help the current Giants much if they weren’t.) Starting in 2016, the league became very much top-heavy and thus much easier to predict than it had been earlier in the decade. The simultaneous emergence of juggernauts in the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians over the past few seasons have left the next tier of teams feeling the squeeze. Yes, some of today’s reduced parity also owes to the surplus of tanking teams trying to emulate the championship runs of the Cubs and Astros, but the teams at the top are also just stacked with talent. That has made it much tougher to be a merely solid ballclub with World Series aspirations.The aftermathAfter falling short against the Cubs in the 2016 NL Division Series, the Giants hoped to return to contention with largely the same group plus ex-Nationals closer Mark Melancon (who’d been good the previous season). Instead, Bumgarner injured himself in an early season dirt bike accident, Melancon was terrible, and the team collapsed to 64 wins. Then San Francisco doubled down on reviving its even-year magic in 2018 by trading for 30-something stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. It didn’t work: Longoria was a disappointment at 1.2 WAR, McCutchen was traded to the Yankees at midseason, and Bumgarner was injured again. After 73 wins last year and this season’s 20-26 start, and facing Bochy’s retirement at the end of 2019, the franchise has finally begun staring down the specter of a rebuild.It’s easy to look back with hindsight and criticize the moves San Francisco made to try to keep its window of contention open. Well after the 2014 championship, for instance, the Giants signed pitchers Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Melancon to long-term deals totaling $282 million, which looks like a terrible waste now — as well as a betrayal of the dynasty’s original homegrown roots.But this was also the same team that rode out a playoff absence in 2011 to win again in 2012, and a 76-win disappointment in 2013 to win again in 2014. As Bumgarner told the L.A. Times before this season, “Pretty much every year we’ve won, we were not expected to win.”The retool-on-the-fly mindset served the Giants well — until it didn’t.As much as the failure of recent big-name acquisitions to recapture their former glory has hurt the Giants, another big factor has been the failure of the team’s homegrown core to age gracefully — and the lack of anything in the pipeline behind it. Although Crawford can still make the occasional spectacular play, he is down from a 5-win player in 2016 to a subreplacement one now, and he’ll make $15.2 million each of the next two seasons after 2019. Belt was worth 4.2 WAR in 2016; now he’s on pace for a more middling 2.2 WAR in 2019 despite his $17.2 million salary, which also repeats in 2020 and 2021. Duffy fell off in 2016 and was traded for Matt Moore, who was miserable for the Giants in 2017 and was himself dealt for peanuts.Even with Bumgarner healthy, the Giants have the league’s worst starting rotation according to WAR. And recent drafts have produced little of note. The farm system ranked 26th in Keith Law’s preseason rankings. Things suddenly look dire again.Rebuilding the next dynastyWith Sabean’s successor, Bobby Evans, removed from his post as general manager last September, the man tasked with rebuilding the Giants now is former Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi, who has gained a reputation as an innovator and a genius since leaving his doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley to join the Oakland A’s front office under billion-dollar Billy Beane in 2005.Zaidi began shaking up San Francisco’s usual methods with a seemingly endless stream of anonymous signings before the season, in the hopes that at least some of them turn into viable major leaguers. That dizzying roster carousel did not let up once the season got underway, either. The team has started to employ modern pitching tactics like using an opener (which went poorly) and having position players like Sandoval throw mop-up innings (which went well!).But Zaidi has also run into friction six months into his new job. Already a figure of suspicion among Giants fans for his Dodger background, Zaidi was booed by season-ticket holders (granted, at Zaidi’s own urging) during a preseason meet-and-greet after he mentioned potentially using the opener. More seriously, he was openly criticized by Derek Holland after the pitcher was demoted from the starting rotation.Maybe all the constant roster-shuffling and other analytics-minded front-office techniques will pay off for San Francisco in the long run. But for now, the Giants are a bad team that can only get worse. The players are noticing — and so are the fans. AT&T Park was home to baseball’s third-best attendance mark as recently as 2017, but no team has shed more fans per game this season than San Francisco, whose 2019 attendance is down by more than 6,000 as compared with last year.How long will the Giants’ rebuild last? It might take a while to clear the current roster’s worst financial obligations from the books. Even in a world without Bumgarner, the team has $124 million committed to just seven players next year, with a payroll that could balloon to $172 million after arbitration and options are picked up. But as San Francisco’s ill-fated late push to sign Bryce Harper showed, the team hasn’t ruled out shelling out money for talent despite starting a new chapter in franchise history. Zaidi’s tightrope walk between alienating one of baseball’s best fan bases and genuinely refreshing the roster should be interesting to watch over the next few seasons.But it does also mean that the Giants dynasty of the early teens is firmly in the rearview mirror. What San Francisco accomplished then still defies statistical explanation to a certain degree, even acknowledging that most dynasties need an unlikely string of good fortune to build a great roster with long-term staying power. Through a combination of strong starting pitching, an impressive homegrown core and unbelievably shrewd veteran pickups, the Giants put together one of baseball’s most improbable strings of championships ever — a run that will be better appreciated only as it recedes into the realm of history. Now we have to see what Zaidi can do as a follow-up act.Check out our latest MLB predictions. ✗-2 ✓ But every dynasty also has to end. When a team has a zero-point season, its rolling tally drops at least 2 points (it falls by 3 if the team also has a losing record). When the rolling tally dips to zero again, or the team has three straight pointless seasons, the dynasty is definitively over.2And the dynasty’s final season is retroactively set to the last year in which the team picked up any dynasty points.This decade’s Giants officially qualified as a dynasty by hitting 10 points after the 2014 World Series victory, ultimately extending the span of their run from 2010 to 2016 with one additional playoff appearance.3Technically the Giants haven’t had three straight zero-point seasons or a running total of zero yet (their running total was 3 through 2018, which was their second-straight zero-point season), but our model gives them next to no chance of picking up any dynasty points — and thereby extending the run — in 2019. But of those seven seasons, three contributed nothing to (and therefore actively detracted from) San Francisco’s running dynasty total. Among the 38 distinct teams that James’s system considers dynasties, only one — the 1963-71 St. Louis Cardinals — had a higher share of their “dynasty years” contribute nothing to the dynasty itself. +2 Cardinals1926193531731030.0 The weirdest dynasties ever?Among MLB dynasties (as defined by Bill James’s point system), largest share of seasons during a run that contributed zero points to the dynasty In general, a season contributes nothing to the dynasty if the team fails to make the playoffs or win 90 games.Source: Baseball Databank Angels200220091112825.0 -3 Red Sox2002201841851729.4 TeamStartEndTitlesMax Dynasty PtsZero-PtTotalZero-Pt Share Dodgers1973199121381942.1 read more

Graham to arrive at OSU with lofty expectations

“Legacy” is an oft-used word in association with Ohio State football.   It is used to describe the honor and responsibility passed down from OSU teams to their present counterparts.For incoming recruit and quarterback prospect Taylor Graham, the word “legacy” carries a deeper meaning.Graham will be bringing more than just his personal belongings, a Kordell Stewart poster and a laptop to campus with him this fall. He has the exploits of his father, former OSU quarterback Kent Graham, as baggage.The elder Graham, the OSU signal-caller under John Cooper in the 1991 season, went on to a journeyman’s career in the NFL. He played for eight different teams, beginning with the New York Giants and then retiring from the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2002.His son, a 6-foot-4-inch, 211-pound prospect from dad’s alma mater, Wheaton North in Illinois, hopes to have a career that equals or surpasses that of his famous father.Kevin Noon, managing editor of BuckeyeGrove.com, thinks he may have the skills to do just that.“He has the tools to be successful at this level, having an Ohio State and NFL alum as a father to go along with his frame,” Noon said.While he is not the only quarterback recruited for OSU’s 2010 class, the other, Marion Franklin product Verlon Reed, is expected to switch to another position because of his versatile athleticism. That puts Graham in a position to eventually challenge for the same starting position his father once anchored.Graham may not possess the speed or agility of current Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, or even Reed for that matter, but he is more in the mold of a classic, drop-back passer like former OSU greats Bobby Hoying or, yes, Kent Graham.“He is mobile enough to move around in the pocket if need be, but will never be mistaken as a dual-threat quarterback,” Noon said. “He has a big arm and a great football mind but will still need to work on his touch and decision-making.”In addition to his accuracy and mechanics, he walks onto campus with durability concerns. He broke an ankle just five games into his junior season. Then, with a scholarship offer from OSU already in hand, Graham suffered a PCL tear in his knee and was once again limited to five games his senior year.During those 10 games he was able to compete in, however, he threw for 1,380 yards and eight touchdowns, against just one interception.Noon doesn’t appear overly concerned.“He hasn’t been able to escape the injury bug over the past two seasons, but neither of the past injuries could be classified as ‘chronic,’” Noon said.Graham, who was born at the OSU Medical Center in the literal and figurative shadow of The ‘Shoe, will have quite a tradition to live up to. If he can prove that he can overcome the ‘injury-prone’ label and the added pressure that comes with being a true legacy, someday he’ll get his chance. read more

Back to back Billy Price becomes second Ohio State center in a

Billy Price and the Buckeyes prepare to take the field for warmups prior to the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 2 in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorBack to back.For the second year in a row, an Ohio State lineman was awarded the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the best center in the nation. One year after Pat Elflein won the award, redshirt senior Billy Price was voted to receive the trophy. He received the honor at the College Football Awards show Thursday night.Price beat finalists Alabama’s Bradley Bozeman and LSU’s Will Clapp for the trophy.The redshirt senior adds the trophy to his list of accolades, which includes the 2017 Big Ten offensive lineman of the year award. The Associated Press named Price a second-team All-American last season and he was named a first-team All-Big Ten honoree. Price was named a Rimington Trophy finalist on Monday and was named to the watch list in May. Both Price and Elflein switched from guard to center for their respective senior seasons. read more

Klopp and Neville rant takes another twist

first_imgGary Neville’s latest suggestion about Liverpool seem not to have gone down well with the German boss Jurgen Klopp following his comments.The United legend suggested that Liverpool’s best shot at delivering the first ever Premier League trophy would come if they didn’t try to juggle every competition this term.When asked about Neville’s recommendation at his Friday press conference, the Reds boss laughed it off and claimed he didn’t fully understand Neville’s logic.“Gary should come over and tell me exactly how that would work,” Klopp said. “You bring your kids in the Champions League? That would be funny!“I don’t want to be too critical because I don’t know exactly how he said it but sitting in an office and talking about football is completely different to doing the job, to be honest.Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Manchester UnitedVidic: “Ronaldo is the most professional footballer I’ve seen” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Nemanja Vidic opened up on how a 21-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo’s professionalism left him stunned at Manchester United.“What did he say about Manchester United in that case? The club he’s more interested in. Nothing?“I don’t know exactly what it means but to focus on one competition can only be if maybe you are already out of the competition nearly.“If it’s late in the season that you see you have a chance to do that or do this and all that stuff.“Last year, for example, we had no chance to focus on one competition because we had to qualify for the Champions League and I don’t think that even Gary Neville would have said: ‘Quarter-finals of the Champions League, let City win’.”last_img read more

The Best Thibaut Courtois rules the goalkeeping world

first_imgThe now Real Madrid goalkeeper won the award thanks to his fantastic performances while playing with Premier League club Chelsea last seasonBelgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made tons of noise during the summer, after being transferred from English Premier League club Chelsea to Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid.The 26-years-old played with the Blues from 2011 to 2018, with a three-year-loan to Atletico Madrid.But during the summer he was transferred to Real Madrid, where he has just appeared in three occasions under the goal.Nonetheless, his great performances in North London made him deserve The Best FIFA Goalkeeper award today.He beat Hugo Lloris from Tottenham Hotspur and Kasper Schmeichel from Leicester City.Premier LeaguePremier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…This is the first time the Belgian has won the award and might help him kick-start his career in the Spanish La Liga tournament.The Best FIFA Goalkeeper: 2017: Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus 2018: Thibaut Courtois – ChelseaCongratulations, Thibaut Courtois 👐Winner of #TheBest FIFA Goalkeeper 2018 🏆#FIFAFootballAwards pic.twitter.com/N1XVG9uYTf— #TheBest (@FIFAcom) September 24, 2018last_img read more

Mazzoleni perfectly followed the procedure – FIGC Presidenton racial abuse

first_imgFIGC President Gabriele Gravina has maintained that the referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni who officiated the match between Napoli and Inter “could not interrupt” the due to racist abuse.He adds that he perfectly followed procedure and called for a statement which was made over the stadium speaker. It was stated that if racial abuse continues, the game will be temporarily suspended.“Mazzoleni could not interrupt the game. He perfectly followed procedure,” Federation chief Gravina told Rai Sport via Football Italia“Unfortunately, at times there are people who don’t know the procedures correctly.”Cristiano Ronaldo, JuventusSerie A Betting: Match-day 3 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Considering there is a number of perfect starts so early in the Serie A season, as well as a few surprisingly not-so perfect ones….“The chief of security, in particular Questore Cardona, clearly stated that with five minutes left in the game, he could never have suspended play with the risk of creating a massacre.“Mazzoleni applied the procedure precisely the way it was planned. We will discuss with the Minister for the Interior to see if these procedures can be revised and simplified.“We can make it clearer that for example after three warnings in the stadium, the teams go back into the locker room, with the decision made by the security chief at the stadium.“In any case, there is already a system in place to apply very severe sanctions.”last_img read more

Robert Huth retires from football

first_imgFormer Leicester City defender Robert Huth has announced his retirement from football after reports linking him with a move to Derby County.While responding to claims that he’s set to join Frank Lampard’s Derby County on an 18-month deal, Huth also revealed that has retired from playing football.Three-time Premier League winner 🏆@robert_huth has announced his retirement from football.More: https://t.co/4jMeUvdmLO pic.twitter.com/Q3l66opxGO— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 11, 2019Harry Maguire, Manchester UnitedLiverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.According to Sky Sports, the 34-year-old replied to the Twitter report saying: “This literally couldn’t be less true,” Huth said. “I’ve retired! (I just haven’t done an interview and cried about it).”Huth had quite a successful career playing only in England, as he represented Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Stoke, and Leicester.The defender came up through the Youth system at Chelsea and won two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge.He made 42 appearances for Chelsea and scored no goals, and left in 2016 to join Middlesbrough.The German center back would later Stoke City after three years at the Riverside Stadium and was part of Leicester’s squad that won the Premier League title against all odds in 2016.last_img read more

Art with a social objective

first_imgDelhiites witnessed a beautiful selection of artworks at the Sheraton, Saket recently. During a glittering inauguration, art lovers, celebrities, art collectors assembled together to appreciate the works of art on display. Celebrities like Shilpa Raina Wahal fashion designer, Preeti Vohra model, Bandana Singh of Group 4 securities, Aruna Sethi Chairperson of Luxury Committee, Indo American Chamber Of Commerce, Delhi Chapter, Vijay Chowdhary of luxury farm developers and several others were present at the event. In the words of artist Sweta Jha who is based in Singapore, “Painting is my passion. I started drawing in my childhood. Eventually this hobby became an essential part of my life. As I grew up, I became busy with regular academics, but I never neglected my artistic skills. I used to sharpen my painting skills constantly. I turned my passion into my career because I realised that one can achieve better results and success in the field of their passion. Now my main focus is on Madhubani and Mithala style of paintings. Being based in Singapore, I have successfully promoted these paintings there and have been overjoyed with the response. Now I have the opportunity of showcasing my works here in India.” Also Read – Add new books to your shelfArtist Sushma Rishi from Delhi has taken an affinity towards painting modern contemporary art with a social objective motive wherein she depicts a general feeling of community well being with women and nature. Use of bright vibrant colors is visible in abundance in most of her paintings since she staunchly believes that we all need that splash of vivaciousness in our lives through passionate hues.  Deepali Mundra from Indore paints calm and serene works which depicts the meditative mind and the emotions we go through when one is in a state of meditation. As per the words of art curator and organiser Vikram Sethi, “This show depicts divine forms of art which make one realise how important spirituality and meditation is in our lives.”last_img read more

48magnitude quake strikes Bengal

first_imgKolkata: iaAn earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale struck West Bengal’s Bankura district on Sunday, authorities said. According to Regional Meteorological Centre Kolkata, the earthquake occurred at 10.39 a.m. at a depth of 10 kilometres in Bankura region. Tremors were felt in Purulia, Jhargram and other adjoining areas.last_img

Viacom is launching Comedy Central in France effe

first_imgViacom is launching Comedy Central in France, effective October 4th. The entertainment-themed channel will be distributed on all telecoms affiliate platforms, including Orange, Free, SFR, Numericable, Bouygues and Videofutur, reaching more than 13 million households.The channel will also be available via a wide range of devices, providing real-time access to Comedy Central TV, Comedy Central Replay and Comedy Central Play, the brand’s SVOD offer. Additional OTT distribution will be made available on iTunes and Google Play.“Comedy as a genre has universal appeal around the world,” said Amalia Martinez de Velasco, SVP entertainment brands, VIMN Southern & Western Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We have successfully launched the Comedy Central brand in many regions across Europe, Africa and Middle East, and we are now very happy to bring it to French audiences, with its mix of premium and original content.“Our focus is on bringing the best of our international production tailored to the tastes of the French audience, not only long form, but also paying particular attention to short form content.”Series on the new channel will include Corporate, I Live With Models and Key And Peele. Leading programmes such as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and South Park will air day and date with the US channel.last_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet carnivalDerryhalloween A gruesome ghost train is to roll into Derry at the end of the month as part of the city’s annual Hallowe’en Carnival taking place from 25 October to 2 November.Thousands of revellers are expected to flock to the city for the Hallowe’en party to end all parties, and the packed  programme for 2014’s Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival features some exciting new events that will have you quaking in your boots.Forget Amityville – enter the spooktacular Chateau Le Fear which will take over Ebrington Square from October 17 – 2 November 2, bringing all your worst nightmares to life. If you want to find out more about the spectres that stir in the City of Bones then hop on the ghastly ghost bus for a terrifying tour of Derry, or enjoy some fearsome family fun in St Columb’s Hall.Walk the city’s historic ramparts if you dare during the Awakening the Walls, Citadel of Dreams with thrills and spills aplenty in store for your tiny ghosts and ghouls from 30 October  – 1 November.And if you survive the spine-chilling surprises then why not sample some of the impressive  fayre at the immense Tower Grill, which will be cooking up some devilicious delights in the Guildhall Square.Throughout the city enjoy spooky story-telling, bat-watching, creepy crafts, scary shows and fiendish fun aplenty.center_img Enjoy the fun at the Freaky Funfair which will also take up residence in the Square from October 22 – November 2, with its own gruesome Hallowe’en ghost train.Mayor of Derry Councillor Brenda Stevenson said the programme featured fun for all the family.She said: “Hallowe’en is Derry’s annual highlight event and there’s definitely no better time to visit the city. The festival atmosphere is incredible and there are activities for all age groups, making it the ultimate family friendly destination.“As the Festival takes place on Friday this year, the fun spills over right into the weekend, making it ideal for anyone planning a mid-term family break. So why not join us in the City of Bones for a fright night celebration to remember?”The main carnival parade will be followed by a spectacular fireworks display on the Banks of the River Foyle at 8.00pm. SOMETHING SPOOKY FOR EVERYONE THIS HALLOWEEN was last modified: October 13th, 2014 by stephenstephen Tags:last_img read more