Please find attached the finals draw and finals structure for finals day of the 2015 National Touch League. To view, please click on the attachments below.Related Filesmodified_draw1-pdfmodified_draw_structure_and_format1-pdfRelated LinksModified Finals Draw
The NHL’s “loser point” is the stupidest rule in sports. For the non-puckheads among you, here’s how it works: The NHL awards one point in the standings to a team that loses a game in overtime or a shootout. But teams get two points for winning a game, whether in regulation or beyond. You don’t need a degree in #fancystats to recognize the problem: There are a total of three points to distribute when a game goes to overtime but just two otherwise. So it really pays off to play for OT. As FiveThirtyEight contributors Noah Davis and Michael Lopez documented Wednesday, this encourages dull, passive hockey. Goal scoring falls dramatically in the third period of tied games, right when a game should be coming to its climax.This is more than a minor annoyance; the loser point has already changed the identity of at least one NHL champion. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings finished with 40 wins and 42 losses; they made the playoffs ahead of the 42-40 Dallas Stars because they accumulated 15 loser points to the Stars’ five. Then the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup.Fortunately, having a rule as dumb as the loser point means that almost anything would be an improvement. For instance, the NHL could award three points for a win in regulation. An overtime or shootout winner would still get two points. That would at least make each game worth the same amount in the standings.Or you could eliminate the shootout and go back to having ties. The NHL claims that 70 percent to 80 percent of its fans like the shootout but has never made any detailed data on this available to the public. As regular readers of FiveThirtyEight will know, there are lots of ways to manipulate survey questions to produce a desired outcome. Maybe the same consultants telling Donald Trump that he’d make a great presidential candidate are advising Gary Bettman on the loser point.But I have something more radical in mind. Here’s the idea: You keep playing hockey until someone wins. You know, like in the NBA and Major League Baseball and pretty much every other sport but soccer — and like the NHL itself during the playoffs.The usual objection is that this could lead to some extraordinarily long games for two measly points in the standings. What if the Flyers and Penguins play a five-overtime game and the Penguins need to catch a flight to Calgary? Why add even more ice time to a grueling, 82-game regular season?But these cases are rarer than you might think. If you played every NHL regular-season game under playoff rules — 5-on-5 overtime, indefinitely, until someone scores — it would increase ice time by only about 3 percent. In the chart below, I’ve tracked what percentage of overtime playoff games (since 1995) were resolved within a given number of minutes. In the majority of games — 56 percent — someone scored within the first 10 minutes. Only 7 percent of games, meanwhile, required two or more overtimes.Overall, the average overtime game required 13.6 minutes before someone scored. Since 23 percent of playoff games went to OT, that makes the average length of a playoff game about 63 minutes, as compared to around 61 minutes during the regular season.That’s not much of an increase, and if the NHL were concerned about it, it could counteract it by reducing the regular season to 80 games from 82. Then you’d have no shootouts, no ties, no loser point and no overall increase in ice time.Still, maybe we’re concerned about those cases when one team has played a multiple-overtime game and faces off against another on fresh skates. Equivalent cases come up all the time in other sports — baseball, basketball, tennis — and they deal with it. But you could argue that it’s a bigger problem in hockey given the punishing nature of the sport.The solution is to take players off the ice, which will increase scoring. This isn’t a new idea at all — during the regular season, the NHL plays 4-on-4 hockey in overtime, and there have been proposals to go to 3-on-3.But here’s my insight: Goals are scored so quickly during 3-on-3 play that you could play every game to sudden death and pretty much never inconvenience anyone. The players, the referees, the 13-year-old in Winnipeg who refuses to do his algebra homework until the Jets game is finished — they’d all be OK.You may have noticed, in the graphic above, that I drew a smooth curve (labeled “model”) alongside the historical data. The curve is formed by assuming that there’s a 7.4 percent chance of scoring a goal per minute of overtime play, which is the historical rate in the playoffs since 1995. As you can see, the curve “fits” the historical data extremely well. That means the length of overtime games is easy to model.1It also implies that the rate of scoring is fairly constant throughout overtime. If you know the overall rate of scoring, you can accurately guess how many games will require at least two overtimes, for instance.In 4-on-4 play, there’s a 9.1 percent chance of a goal being scored each minute (according to research by Stephen Pettigrew), about 20 percent higher than under 5-on-5 conditions. It’s 3-on-3 action that sees a really radical shift, however, with a 16.8 percent chance of a goal each minute.So what if overtime was played 3-on-3? About 60 percent of games would be resolved within the first five minutes, and 84 percent within the first 10 minutes. Only about 3 percent of overtime games would require double overtime, and fewer than 1 in 1000 would go to triple-OT. The average overtime game would require just six minutes to complete, barely longer than under the current rules.2And you’d reduce the number of overtime games since the loser point would be eliminated — teams would no longer have an incentive to play for OT. And with just three skaters on the ice at a time, teams could give their bench plenty of rest between shifts.The NHL could also adopt some compromise or another. It could play five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime immediately at the end of regulation, as it does now, then clean the ice3During the regular season, the NHL doesn’t bring the Zamboni out and clean the ice after regulation, something you’d probably need to do if you’re going to play more than a few minutes worth of extra hockey. As a fan, I don’t get why the NHL seems to be in a rush to finish overtime games during the regular season — I love the tension that builds up during the pre-overtime intermission in the playoffs. and play an indefinite amount of 3-on-3 overtime if needed. It could declare a tie if no one had scored after a full 20-minute period of 3-on-3 overtime. (Ties would be a rarity, almost like they are now in the NFL.) It could keep removing players from the ice until it was just goalie versus goalie.4The NHL would need to relax the rule that prohibits goalies from advancing past the red line. Would you not stop whatever you were doing to watch Henrik Lundqvist versus Tuukka Rask, one-on-one?Or insert your own proposal: Overtime decided by rock-paper-scissors? Nearly anything would be better than the loser point.
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.
“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.
Jose Mourinho is certain that Alexis Sanchez must start playing as soon as he arrives in the United States for Manchester United’s pre-season tour after missing their first gameThe Chile international was denied entry into the country after having an application for a US visa rejected.However, the issue has now been resolved and Mourinho is keen to get Sanchez out on to the field as soon as possible with Sunday’s next friendly against San Jose Earthquakes now just two days away.He told the club website: “I don’t even know if he is flying, if he is in Los Angeles or if he is in Manchester – I have no idea about it.“There will be no [Romelu] or [Marcus] Rashford, for sure, and we have to try with what we have.Maguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…“It’s not about if he can play, it’s about when he has to. When Martial left the pitch, it was Mata [leading the attack]. When Mata went to the sides, it was a kid that trained with us for the first time this pre-season [Mason Greenwood].”The absence of forwards Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford is having a telling effect on United with Mourinho not certain if they will be available for their opening Premier League game against Leicester City on August 10 with both stars currently away on holiday following their participation in the World Cup.“There’s no Lukaku or Rashford here and probably not even for the start of the Premier League, so it’s about when Alexis lands and when he lands, he has to play because he trained with us for five days before we departed to Los Angeles and we left one fitness coach behind with him to keep training with him. Of course, it’s individual training but when he arrives, he has to play,” said Mourinho.A Juan Mata goal spared United from defeat in their first preseason game against Mexican side Club America with the sides having to settle for a 1-1 draw at Phoenix.
Gennaro Gattuso has dropped a hint on Suso’s fitness concerns and game plan ahead of the Europa League decider against Olympiacos.Milan can go through with a draw or even a defeat, depending on goal difference but Gattuso is cautious of his approach for the tie“This is a fundamental game for the club and all of us. We’ll be in a fiery atmosphere, but that disappears once you take to the field. We’ve got to focus on the game on a technical and tactical manner, not just psychological,” said the Coach in his Press conference published on Football Italia.Serie 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….“I have to use my experience and pass that on to the players for how they should face the game. Every player is different and has his own characteristics, so not everyone needs the grit I put into matches.“Olympiacos is one of the best sides in Europe when it comes to possession and we mustn’t underestimate the match. We can’t just play in the old-fashioned Italian style of defend and counter. I want to see some character and for us to take control.“It’s important to point out that Olympiacos play good football, they’re not just heart and nothing else. If we look at their players, they’ve got more international experience than us. We cannot underestimate them.”
The absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his strong character was a big blow for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, says football pundit Paul MersonAfter nearly two seasons, Ibrahimovic left Old Trafford in March for MLS side LA Galaxy amid struggles to regain full fitness from a knee ligament injury.Since the Swedish striker’s exit, Mourinho’s relationship with the likes of Paul Pogba hit a boiling point with United struggling in the process.The Portuguese coach was sacked on Tuesday after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, which left United 19 points behind their rivals in sixth in the Premier League.And Merson believes Ibrahimovic’s departure left a huge void at United.“Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a big miss for Manchester United,” Merson told Sky Sports.“He was one of those players that Mourinho had in the dressing room where you didn’t need to keep on listening to the manager’s voice, and he would’ve picked players out.”The former Arsenal midfielder added that Ibrahimovic could have helped Mourinho in a similar manner to what Roy Keane did for Sir Alex Ferguson in the United dressing room.Pochettino admits Wanyama remains in his Spurs plans Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Kenyan international, Victor Wanyama, was the protagonist of a summer transfer saga, but in the end, he is set to stay at Tottenham Hotspur.“Zlatan would not have had what has happened in the last five or six weeks,” added Merson.“He would not have had some of the results, being 2-0 down at Southampton and being absolutely run ragged by Liverpool.“People will say they were trying, but let’s be honest, they got battered. It was embarrassing.“I think Zlatan would’ve gone in there and he would’ve started to dig players out and years ago you would’ve seen the same with Roy Keane and Sir Alex Ferguson.“Ferguson would’ve sat back and Keane would’ve come in and started to pick people out.“Peter Schmeichel would’ve been going mad along with the other experienced players. They would’ve then all calmed down and Sir Alex Ferguson would’ve had his say.”United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been confirmed as Mourinho’s replacement on an interim basis for the remainder of this season.
Georginio Wijnaldum has urged his teammates to fight on despite the blip they suffered at the Etihad Stadium.The Reds unbeaten run came to an end after Man City beat them 2-1 on Thursday night as goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane gave the hosts three points.Firmino’s equaliser wasn’t enough to salvage a point for Klopp’s men but Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum believes the loss will not dent their title aspirations.“I think we did enough to get a point and we could have won it also,” Wijnaldum told Liverpoolfc.com after the final whistle at Etihad Stadium.“We were quite unlucky with the chances but we also could lose it – like we have now. We just have to keep the confidence and try to win the next game.Top 5 Premier League players to watch for next weekend Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 11, 2019 With the international activity cooling down for the next month, we go back to the Premier League’s Top 5 players to watch this weekend.After…“They cleared well and we hit the post. They also had two or three chances so it could have gone either way; we could have won, drawn or lost. At the end, we were unlucky and they won the game.”“We knew before it would be a hard game and we would have to give everything to win the game,” said the Netherlands international.“A few games this season we were lucky we have scored goals, and tonight we were quite unlucky with the chances that we had. That’s football.“Sometimes you have games where you score a lot and score with every chance that you get – and sometimes you don’t. What we have to do now is to keep our confidence and win the next game.”