Garoppolo inks extension with 49ers

 

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Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has reportedly signed a 5-year contract extension worth $137.5M with the San Francisco 49ers. The news was first reported by the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

The 49ers acquired Garoppolo in 2017 via a made season trade with the New England Patriots, where he served as a backup to Tom Brady for over three seasons.

Garoppolo played in six games in 2017, starting five. During that span he went 5-0, passing for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing five interceptions.

He was scheduled to become a free agent, but it was widely expected that the 49ers would sign Garoppolo long term, and they did just that, making Jimmy G their franchise guy.

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Trying to explain the Josh McDaniels debacle

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was set to become the next coach of the Indianapolis Colts, but backed out just hours after the Colts announced the hire on Tuesday.

It was rumored that McDaniels might have been scared off by Andrew Luck’s injury anomaly, or owner Jim Irsay’s tendencies to do as he pleases with the team, limiting what McDaniels could control.

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN reported that control was a large reason for McDaniels’ decision to stay put in New England. Patriots coach Bill Belichick reportedly told his offensive coordinator that he could begin taking on more duties with the team, including roster decisions and salary cap management. New England already lost defensive coordinator/ rocket scientist Matt Patricia, who will be the next coach of the Detroit Lions.

McDaniels deciding to return to the Patriots sparked conspiracy theories suggesting that Belichick was retiring sooner than expected. While highly unlikely, it does make sense that Belichick is preparing McDaniels to be his successor, if the report of increased control is true.

The Colts were expected to hire McDaniels several weeks before they announced him as the coach, but were prohibited from officially doing so because he had yet to coach in the Super Bowl, which the Patriots lost to the Eagles.

Many potential replacements around the league took other coaching jobs during that duration, leaving the Colts with limited options. They are expected to request an interview with Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

McDaniels’ agent Bob LaMonte dropped him as a client on Wednesday.

2018 NFL Draft order set

With the Eagles winning Super Bowl LII, the 2018 NFL Draft order is officially set.

The recipients of the ninth and tenth picks will be decided by coin flip at a later time. The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers will occupy those two spots.

The Cleveland Browns hold two top-five picks, numbers one and four. Houston swapped picks with the Browns last year to draft DeShaun Watson, and this year’s Texans first-rounder was a part of the deal. Cleveland also holds the 33rd and 35th picks.

2018 NFL DRAFT ORDER

  1. Cleveland Browns (0-16)
  2. New York Giants (3-13)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (3-14)
  4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans, 4-12)
  5. Denver Broncos (5-11)
  6. New York Jets (5-11)
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
  8. Chicago Bears (5-11)
  9. Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers (6-10, pending coin flip)
  10. Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers (6-10, pending coin flip)
  11. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)
  13. Washington Redskins (7-9)
  14. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
  15. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
  16. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
  17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
  18. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
  19. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)
  20. Detroit Lions (9-7)
  21. Buffalo Bills (9-7, lost Wild Card)
  22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs, 10-6, lost Wild Card)
  23. Los Angeles Rams (11-5, lost Wild Card)
  24. Carolina Panthers (11-5, lost Wild Card)
  25. Tennessee Titans (9-7, lost Divisional)
  26. Atlanta Falcons (10-6, lost Divisional)
  27. New Orleans Saints (11-5, lost Divisional)
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3, lost Divisional)
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC Championship)
  30. Minnesota Vikings (13-3, lost NFC Championship)
  31. New England Patriots (13-3, lost Super Bowl)
  32. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3, won Super Bowl)

Why You Should Care About the NHL on Super Bowl Sunday

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, so for most Americans there is only one game that matters. It starts at 6 p.m. EST and it will either end in Tom Brady getting another ring and seven months of annoying Pats fans. Or the entire country being forced to deal with Eagles fans for the seven years and how great this team was.

Neither option is great.

But there is another way, on Sunday starting at 12:30 EST there are three NHL games that you can watch to avoid just a little bit of Super Bowl mania.

This is a preview of how each of these games will impact the standings and maybe, be more entertaining than the Super Bowl.

Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals

Unless you have been living under a rock since September you are at least somewhat aware of how #good the Golden Knights have been in their first season ever.

What you may not know is Vegas has been historically #good in the 2017-18 season.

The Knights have 34 wins which is the most ever by an expansion team in NHL history. Oh and by the way, it’s February so Vegas is very much in the mix for a playoff appearance as they boast the best record in the Western Conference and second to only the Tampa Bay Lightning in the league.

So if you have a chance to watch this team, you should take it.

As for the Capitals, while they haven’t been as good as last year they have the most points in the Metropolitan division and have been one of the best (regular season) teams in the NHL in recent years.

I give this game a watch-ability rating of: Better than any Redskins or Raiders game that was on in 2017.

San Jose Sharks at Carolina Hurricanes

This is also an intriguing match up in large part because of the impact that it has on the standings.

A win for Carolina would not only put them in the playoff picture, but it would put them in first wild card seed. Granted they will be tied for that slot and still only ahead of the Flyers by one point. But the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoff picture is not something you see every year and should be cherished.

For the Sharks this game will be all about building separation between themselves and the Anaheim Ducks. Right now San Jose sits two points up on the Ducks for second place in the Pacific division.

The Sharks have been in the playoffs the past few years but other than a Stanley Cup run in 2016, they’ve struggled to get it going when the calendar turns to May. The San Jose core is also getting up there in age so the team knows they only have some many runs left in them before players start to leave or retire.

I give this game a watch-ability rating of: Panthers vs. Saints in week 13

Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiéns

While this game doesn’t have a huge impact on the standings, there will be  some interesting players to watch this in the game.

For the Canadians the player to watch is Carey Price, he is a world class player who is having a below average year by his standards. Price continues to look to bounce back to spark his team as they try to make a late run to the postseason.

The Senators are well out of the playoff race, however many people forget that Matt Duchene is having somewhat of an under whelming year for the Sens and he will be looking to start building a case for himself and why he deserves a huge contract when his contract is up after the end of the 2018-19 season.

I give this game a watch-ability rating of: Broncos vs. Giants, both teams were supposed to be good but neither was and now it’s week 10 and this is just a bad game.

Sideline Intel Staff Super Bowl Picks

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The game is near. Here’s what we think:

Ryan Ladika: Patriots 30 Eagles 27 

I’m picking the New England Patriots. While the Philadelphia Eagles are coming off of an absolute dismantling of one of the NFL’s top defenses in the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, they were also going up against a lesser quarterback, compared to newly-minted 2017 NFL MVP Tom Brady, in Case Keenum. Brady has shown us time and time again that he has the expertise and execution to engineer scoring drives whenever he’s on the field. I don’t realistically see Nick Foles standing toe to toe with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Graham Foley: Eagles 29 Patriots 20

While Brady and Belichick vs. Foles and Pederson seems like a no-brainer for the GOATs, look closer.

The Eagles defense gets incredible pressure by rushing just four, making it difficult to find an open receiver with seven in coverage even for Brady. And don’t forget that No. 1 ranked rush defense.

The Eagles’ offensive line dominated a Minnesota front seven that is far superior to New England’s. With protection, and an incredible run-game going against the 29th-ranked rush defense in yards per attempt, Foles should be able to do enough for a win.

Brady will be Brady and make it close. But Philadelphia has the better team.

Ryan Sharp: Patriots 30 Eagles 16

Last year, the Patriots were down 28-3 in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI. Everybody knows what followed. Two weeks ago, the Patriots turned the ball over down 10 points in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship. Everybody knows what followed.

If Carson Wentz were in this game, the score would be closer, but the result would be the same. Nearly the entire Patriots roster has played in a Super Bowl and they are led by the greatest coach and quarterback of all time. In a game like this, experience can mean a lot. An inexperienced team led by Nick Foles is not an ideal game plan going against the NFL’s most dominant team.

Their roster may not be deep, but with the leadership of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, New England can beat any team in any game. I’m convinced it takes luck to beat them. The motivation of winning a sixth championship certainly helps as well.

Jeff Griffith: Patriots 24 Eagles 17

Nick Foles was outstanding against the Vikings. 22-of-36 for 352 yards and three touchdowns is no stat line to scoff at. That version of Nick Foles can beat anybody, in my opinion. We conveniently forget, though, that his performance in the NFC title game could still be considered a major outlier based on his stats from the three previous games — never eclipsing 200 yards or two scores in a contest aside from a home defeat over the New York Giants. With that being said, there’s much more to this game for the Eagles, of course, and I do think a battle in the trenches favors the NFC champs. But until I see a concrete reason on the field as to why Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can’t get it done on the biggest stage — which we very well could see tomorrow night — I have to go with Dynasty over Destiny. In my mind, it’s going to be low scoring, which can favor Philadelphia, but I think a late touchdown drive seals Brady’s sixth ring.

Jacob Rosenfarb: Patriots 31 Eagles 24

Super Bowl 52 comes down to a matchup between football’s best player and football’s best roster. The Philadelphia Eagles support one of the deepest rosters in the game, with standout players at almost every position. The New England Patriots on the other hand, have Tom Brady and come Sunday that may be all they need. Nick Foles has filled in admirably for the injured Carson Wentz, but he is no match for the defensive genius of Bill Belichick. Defensively, the Patriots will put pressure on Foles and force him into quick decisions, while offensively the Pats will pick on the Eagles corners with quick routes that negate Philadelphia’s ability to get pressure.

Josh Zaklis: Patriots 27 Eagles 21

Both of these teams have the talent to win.

For the Eagles that talent is spread out throughout their team. The Philly defense has played out of their minds the past few weeks and for most of the year, but they will be facing the most dominate quarterback of all time.

In order to slow down Tom Brady, the Eagles must take a page out of the Giants playbook and pressure Brady with their front four. If Brady sees the Eagles pulling defenders out of coverage to pressure him then it is all over for the Eagles as he will be able to identify the weaknesses within seconds and put the ball in a receiver’s hands.

If the Patriot defense can stifle the Eagles on offense then it is up to Brady to find a way to put up points on the Eagles defense which is no easy task. Just ask Case Keenum. He can beat the defense by establishing the run and throwing a lot of quick passes throughout the game to keep the Eagles pass rush off of him.

As for my pick; my heart says Eagles but my brain says never bet against Brady and Belichick.

 

Why both teams deserve to lose the Super Bowl

 

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The New England Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday night. Many previews have been written. You’ve likely read something about how “The game will be won by -insert non-skill positions-”, or “What the -insert team name- need to do to beat the -insert other team name.”

Here’s one about why both teams deserve to lose the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia Eagles

-They are wearing green.

This one is actually out of their control, but still deserves mention. The AFC and NFC rotate being the home team in each Super Bowl. This year was the AFC’s turn, and the Patriots picked white. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the team in white has won the past six Super Bowls, and 12 of the past 13. Philadelphia also wore green in Super Bowls XXXIX and XV, losing both.

-There will be blood.

The Philadelphia Police Department sent a notice to businesses near Lincoln Financial Field saying they couldn’t guarantee safety if the Eagles won the NFC Championship. Fans immediately took to the streets after the victory over Minnesota. Imagine if they actually won the Super Bowl — chaos.

There’s still a chance fans riot if the Eagles lose, too. Oh well. At least we’ll get some funny videos of guys falling off light posts.

-It’s funny.

They’re not quite on a Cleveland Browns level, but the Eagles are on of the most snakebitten franchises in NFL history. People love seeing them come ups short. Let’s name a few incidents…

  • Losing 3 straight NFC Championships
  • Donovan McNabb breaking his ribs in the third NFC Championship
  • Finally winning an NFC Championship, then losing the Super Bowl
  • Donovan McNabb going down in 2006, leaving Jeff Garcia to lead the team through the playoffs
  • Losing another NFC Championship
  • Chip Kelly trading every good player
  • Carson Wentz getting injured, leaving Nick Foles to take on the Patriots in the Super Bowl

Ha.

New England Patriots

-Tom Brady won MVP

It’s pretty amazing that Brady put up the numbers he did at age 40. But last four quarterbacks to win MVP and play in the Super Bowl all lost. Most recently was Matt Ryan, who got to experience the comeback from down 28-3 first hand.

-Nick Foles is the opposing quarterback

The only quarterback ever to beat Brady in a Super Bowl is Eli Manning. Above average at best, Manning has strong shot at the Hall of Fame simply because he beat the GOAT in not one, but two Super Bowls. How funny would it be if Nick Foles of all people joined this club exclusive club?

-It’s someone else’s turn.

Do Tom Brady and Bill Belichick really need to play in an eighth Super Bowl? Do Tom Brady and Bill Belichick really need to win a sixth Super Bowl? Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever, and Bill Belichick is the best coach ever. We’ve seen enough.

Breaking down the “Cold Stove”

The 2018 MLB offseason has been unlike anything we’ve seen in a quite some time. As of February 2, just under two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, household names such as Yu Darvish, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez remain unsigned.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that, through MLB Players’ Association Director Tony Clark, the MLB Players’ Association’s full focus is on the “100+ free agents still available.”

There have been many notable moves to discuss, though, despite the overall slow nature of the free agent market. The Milwaukee Brewers made headlines with a blockbuster trade for Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and gave free agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain the payday he was looking for, committing to pay him $80 million for the next five years.

Milwaukee’s outfield now ranks among the best in baseball, with Yelich and Cain joining veteran Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made a lot of noise early in the offseason, winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, signing free agents Justin Upton and Zack Cozart to five and three year deals, respectively, and landing Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers.

The St. Louis Cardinals have also made strides to catch up to the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs, acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. St. Louis also sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics for minor league shortstop Yairo Muñoz and minor league second baseman Max Schrock.

Muñoz will be looking to build off of a strong 2017 campaign in which he hit .300/.330/.464 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. Schrock is not much of a power hitter, but does have a career .324/.372/.439 slash line.

The Colorado Rockies have been an interesting team, in that the team made flashy signings early in the offseason, inking deals with Wade Davis (three years/$52 million), Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee (both three years/$27 million), but taking a look at the bigger picture shows that the team hasn’t improved that much from the 2017 season.

Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez remains a free agent, and it is unlikely he will be find a home until some of the bigger dominoes fall. That leaves Colorado with an outfield consisting of 2017 NL Batting Champion Charlie Blackmon and any combination of Gerardo Parra, Ian Desmond, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia.

If the Rockies want to make another legitimate push for Rocktober, they will need to sign an impact bat to help an offense that finished the 2017 season with a park-adjusted OPS+ of 91, good for 25th in MLB. Uncertainty at first base, coupled with the fact that the club will likely have to rely on a multitude of young players next season, will make this team an interesting one to watch as it heads into its second year of expected contention.

Overall, the Brewers appear to be the most improved team of the offseason so far. The Angels certainly contend with Milwaukee for that title, but there are too many question marks in their pitching staff. Milwaukee missed the playoffs by one game last season, so look for the Brew Crew to make a strong push for October in 2018.

 

 

 

Sideline Intel Bracketology: Feb. 2

As the calendar turns to February, a handful of teams are starting to make their mark as Final Four contenders.

Take the Villanova Wildcats, who have lost just once — at Butler. The ‘Cats are ripping through a deep and competitive Big East with ease, most recently victimizing Creighton by 20. It’s the same deal for teams like Virginia and Purdue, which are both firmly on top of their respective leagues with unblemished conference records.

Others are seeing their résumés take serious hits entering the final month of the season. Arizona StateTCU, and Texas A&M have all gone from former spots in the AP top 10 to now being dangerously close to the bubble.

Speaking of the bubble, as it stands today…

Last Four Byes
Virginia Tech
NC State
Houston
Boise State

Last Four In
Kansas State
Providence
Marquette
Syracuse

First Four Out
Washington
SMU
Missouri
UCLA

Next Four Out
Western Kentucky
Nebraska
Georgia
Utah

Without further ado, the first addition of Sideline Intel’s NCAA Tournament bracket predictions:


EAST REGIONAL | Boston, Mass.

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SOUTH REGIONAL | Atlanta, Ga.

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MIDWEST REGIONAL | Omaha, Neb.

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WEST REGIONAL | Los Angeles, Calif.

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MLB Agent Hints at Possible Boycott

Major League Baseball agent Brodie Van Wagenen said Friday that due to free-agent frustrations, a player-organized boycott of spring training may be in the works.

Wagenen, who has represented MLB players such as Yoenis Cespedes, Robinson Cano and Ryan Howard, stated that players are “outraged” with the lack of free agent signings made this offseason and says the inaction “feels coordinated, rightly or wrongly” by the owners of the 30 ball cubs. It could lead to the first MLB strike since 1994.

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“Players in the midst of long-term contracts are as frustrated as those seeking employment,” Van Wagenen said in the statement tweeted out Friday morning. “Their voices are getting louder and they are uniting in a way not seen since 1994.”

Van Wagenen cited the players’ salary increases from 2007-2012 and 2012-2017, stating that the respective 23 percent and 13.8 percent growth was satisfactory for players and owners. But he said this offseason, the free agent market changed “drastically” compared to recent years.

That statement went on to say that algorithms that are used to calculate players’ values show that many are not getting the money they deserve.

Van Wagenen said that several club presidents and general managers are “frustrated” with the lack of funds needed to sign quality players still available and it raises suspicion of “institutional influence over the spending.”

He finished the statement by emphasizing the fact that baseball franchise values are at an all-time high and that the entertainment is provided solely by the players. United, they have the ability to fight through fines and lawsuits that would only end up hurting the MLB owners in the long run.

“I would suggest that testing the will of 1,200 alpha males at the pinnacle of their profession is not a good strategy for 30 men who are bound by a much smaller fraternity,” Van Wagenen said. “These 1200 players have learned first-hand that battles are won by teamwork, and they understand that Championships can’t be won by individuals. They are won by a group united by a singular focus. Victory at all costs.”

 

Rams, Chiefs to play in Mexico City

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced at a press conference on Wednesday that the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs will play in Mexico City in 2018.

“Over the past two seasons, we have seen the extraordinary passion that exists for NFL football in Mexico,” Goodell said.   “We are excited for another memorable event at Estadio Azteca … in 2018.”

This game, featuring the Rams as the home team, will be the third played in Mexico City since 2016. It is one of four international games on the 2018 NFL Schedule, the other three being in London. The date and time of the game will be announced with the rest of the 2018 schedule.

“It is great to be participating in the NFL’s international games again and working with the league to grow the game abroad,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said. “Mexico has one of the largest NFL fan bases in the world and we are excited to bring Rams football to the millions of fans there.”

Because the Rams are technically the home team, they will only play seven games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next season.

The Oakland Raiders played in the past two games in Mexico City, taking on the Houston Texans in 2016 and New England Patriots in 2017.