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Not to worry, vintage Federer is back and perhaps better than ever


In the 15 years he has reigned as a Grand Slam singles champion, there has never, ever been this much uncertainty surrounding Roger Federer.

And you can be sure there is no one more curious about the going-forward viability of this 35-year-old than Federer himself. After an unprecedented six-month in
jury-induced layoff, he is avidly sifting the daily data, crunching those early match numbers.

“How is the game, how is the ball, how is the body, how is everything?” Federer said, describing the ongoing search. “I’m getting tons of information out of these last few days now.”

Amazingly, Roger Federer never faced a break point against Tomas Berdych in a lopsided straight-sets win at the Australian Open.

It’s a complex calculus, but after the first two rounds here at the Australian Open the sample size was too small to be conclusive. That’s because Federer had the good fortune to draw opponents ranked Nos. 300 and 200, both of whom had qualified their way into the draw.

Kansas State desperately needs a quality win or two before people — up to and including the NCAA tournament selection committee — start believing. Saturday would be a pretty good place to start. Meanwhile, no team is a better indicator of just how strong this league is than TCU, which spent its first four years as a Big 12 member as the closest thing the league had to a reliable doormat. Coach Jamie Dixon’s first season is already tied for the best start in school history, and the Horned Frogs are young enough that their ceiling might still be miles off.

Justin Houston, Chiefs agree to record 6-year, $101 million deal


The Kansas City Chiefs have signed outside linebacker Justin Houston to a record long-term contract, according to Adam Schefter. Houston will play on a six-year deal worth $101 million, including $52.5 million guaranteed. The Chiefs, who used their franchise tag on Houston in March, were able to reach a deal with him right before the July 15 deadline for long-term contracts by making the pass rusher the highest-paid player in team history.

Game Mens K.J. Wright Jersey Under the new deal, Houston is now the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL, surpassing the five-year, $66 million extension Clay Matthews signed with the Green Bay Packers two years ago.

It is the second-richest contract for any defensive player in NFL history, behind only the six-year, $114 million deal that the Miami Dolphins gave to Ndamukong Suh in March. It eclipses the eight-year, $108.88 million deal that J.J. Watt signed in September.
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Houston acknowledged his new deal on Twitter, thanking the Chiefs and the fans:

Blessed to sign contract with the KC Chiefs. Thanks to my family #1 & my agents Joel Segal & @gbo74 for the awesome contract!

“After reviewing all the evidence presented by the parties, the District Court agreed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that the trademarks should never have been registered in the first place because they may disparage Native Americans. We introduced evidence that for decades, the National Congress of American Indians and other leading Native American groups and individuals have opposed the team’s name. We also introduced dictionary definitions, scholarly articles, newspaper clips and other evidence of how the term ¡®redskin’ has been used over the years.”

Giannis duels The Process for the first time!


Monday’s Sixers-Bucks encounter can only mean one thing: Giannis duels The Process for the first time! Giannis Antetokounmpo (43.0) and Joel Embiid (46.0), for the record, are currently averaging more combined points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per 36 minutes than LeBron James (42.6). With two games against Houston and James Harden also looming for the Bucks, this is a handy time to mention that The Greek Freak is threatening to become the first player in league history to ?lead his team over the course of the season in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and field goal percentage.

Devin Booker scored 39 and Kawhi Leonard nearly kept pace with 38 as the Suns edged past the Spurs at Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

“I think they enjoyed the show,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They were loud. They were active. It was split pretty good between Suns fans and Spurs fans and that’s always a great environment to play in. So, the fans deserve a lot of credit for coming out and enjoying NBA basketball. I hope they got what they thought they were going to get.”

That certainly appeared to be the case as the crowd served up “MVP” chants every time Leonard stood at the free throw line.

Leonard’s performance registered as his 11th 30-point game of the season, which is the most by a Spurs player through the first 40 games of the season since 1995-96, when David Robinson put together 13 30-point outings.

“He’s improving every year,” Parker said. “He’s already all-NBA first team. So, I think MVP is the next step for him.”
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Booker might not be far behind in his NBA ascension. His 39 points ranked as the most surrendered to a player by the Spurs since the 2014-15 season, when Kyrie Irving ran roughshod for 57 points.

Limited Womens Ra’Shede Hageman Jersey “Obviously he was very aggressive. He can shoot the ball,” Leonard said of Booker. “He got to the paint and made shots. Once he starts making shots, it’s really hard to guard someone.”

Aaron Rodgers’ interception-free streak ends at 318 consecutive passes


aron Rodgers’ career-best interception-free streak ended Sunday after 318 consecutive pass attempts. On his 319th, the Green Bay Packers quarterback threw an interception in the third quarter of Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys safety Jeff Heath made a diving interception on a deep ball intended for Packers receiver Davante Adams. It came with the Packers leading 28-13 with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

Before that, Rodgers’ last interception came on Nov. 13 in a loss at the Tennessee Titans.

Elite Womens Mariano Rivera Jersey In between the two interceptions, Rodgers had thrown 24 touchdowns and had 2,659 yards passing.

The 24 touchdowns was the second-longest streak between picks in NFL history, behind Tom Brady’s 26 in 2010, including playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

Below is a breakdown of all the high-profile signal callers that have recently inked new deals.
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Manning, now 34 and entering his 11th season in the NFL, would reportedly like to top all those deals. If the Giants were to use the franchise tag on Manning, he’d make around $25 million next season. As ESPN’s Dan Graziano points out, though, it’s inevitable that the two sides will eventually come to terms on a deal.

After struggling in 2013 with a quarterback rating of 69.4 and a league-high 27 interceptions, Manning bounced back last season and, statistically, had one of the better years of his career. He completed a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes and threw for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Manning also produced a quarterback rating of 92.1.

The advanced stats reflected positively on Manning’s 2014 season, as well. His 70.9 QBR was eighth-best in the league and he was 11th in Football Outsiders’ Defensive Yards Above Replacement number.

NFL preseason schedule 2015: Jameis Winston’s debut set for Saturday


The first week of the 2015 NFL preseason is nearly in the books, with six games on Thursday and six games on Friday. But there’s still plenty of action before it’s said and done, including three games on Saturday and a game between the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

On Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers will face the Houston Texans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Arizona Cardinals. There’s plenty to pay attention to from each game, from the debut of Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to determining what the heck the 49ers will actually look like after such a ridiculously poor offseason.

Winston will be the most interesting thing at this stage. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the Buccaneers are putting all of their eggs in his basket right off the bat. This is Winston’s team, and seeing how he looks for however long he plays will be plenty interesting.

The second one is the performance bust, the guy who plays most or all of the year and just can’t do it. Those are the real killers. A guy you drafted in the first round is a guy with a long leash. Spend five weeks with 15 total fantasy points? Well, you were No. 6 overall this year, we gotta keep running you out there.

An injury bust hurts. A performance bust ends your year.

We’re trying to identify some potential bust candidates of both varieties. Obviously these guys aren’t sure to fail — if they were, they wouldn’t be “busts,” they’d be “undrafted” — but they are scarier propositions than some other guys you might draft in the same range.

On Saturday, Palmer is expected to play at least a series, and the offensive line will need to pull out all the stops to make sure Palmer stays on his feet in the limited time he’s in action.

Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell torched the Miami Dolphins for 167 yards on 29 carries Sunday


Le’Veon Bell says his patient approach to playing running back will change the NFL similar to how Stephen Curry changed the way basketball is played in the NBA.

“I think I’m changing the game,” the Pittsburgh Steelers running back told Bleacher Report. “In that sense, I’m what Steph Curry is to basketball. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think Steph Curry is the best basketball player, but he changed the game so he’s going to always go down as being remembered. Now everyone wants to shoot the 3 and shoot it from deep.”

Pittsburgh RB Le’Veon Bell torched the Miami Dolphins for 167 yards on 29 carries Sunday, breaking the Steelers’ single-game postseason rushing record previously held by Franco Harris.

Authentic Mens Kevin Minter Jersey Building depth: The improved depth was evident on special teams, where the Lions had one of the better units in the league. Johnson Bademosi, not the strongest cornerback signing, brought another level to special teams. While he only had four stops, he was consistently a part of why Sam Martin had one of the best punting seasons in league history.

Safeties Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson gave the Lions two players with versatility (defense and special teams) while building secondary depth. Detroit had a much deeper team from the top of the roster to the practice squad. Expect this to continue, because depth-building is typically a multiyear process.
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Decisiveness: Quinn didn’t keep players on the roster just because they were his signings, and he had no problem making the difficult move if it was necessary. That’s important for an organization that often seemed to hang on to players a year or two too long.

NFL odds 2015, Week 1: Patriots, Packers, Cowboys top favorites


New England opens the season as a 7-point home favorite according to sportsbooks monitored by Preseason lines for this game had the Patriots as a 3-point favorite, but with Tom Brady’s successful appeal lifting his suspension New England became a much bigger favorite. The Patriots are 13-1 straight up in their last 14 games as a regular season favorite. They open the season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

Pittsburgh is 7-2 ATS in its last nine regular season games as an underdog.

The Seattle Seahawks are 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games against division rivals. Seattle opens its season as a 4-point road favorite visiting the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

The Rams seem to have all of the pieces in place to contend for a playoff spot this season, but they will need to improve in games against divisional opponents. St. Louis is 2-9 SU in its last 11 games against NFC West foes according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
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Arguments will be made for Sonny Bill Williams or Greg Inglis, both amazing athletes in their own right. Perhaps even more gifted at Rugby League than Hayne was, but neither have the body types that create a successful NFL running back. This is part of the problem too. A player assuming they can switch first needs to answer a simple question: “Am I as good as Jarryd Hayne?” The answer will be no.

First, a brief discussion in which Stephen recalls getting spied on by the Patriots.

From there, we went division by division through the NFL, picking winners, players we like, teams we want to see improve, etc.
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Finally, we wrapped it up in the best way possible, picking which team would be the worst this year, the team that’s going to get the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Have a listen!

You can listen above, or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, if that’s your sort of thing.

The Bengals are one of six undefeated teams through the first four weeks


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The Bengals are one of six undefeated teams through the first four weeks. The Green Bay Packers improved 5-0 in the early slate of games with a home win against the St. Louis Rams.

In the second group of games, CBS split its coverage between the Broncos vs. Raiders and a game between the New England Patriots and Brandon Weeden-led Dallas Cowboys. New England won that game, 30-6. The Arizona Cardinals also dominated the Detroit Lions, and Matthew Stafford was benched it got so bad.

On Sunday night, the San Francisco 49ers looked to bounce back from three consecutive losses with a showdown against the New York Giants. The Giants got their third straight win in a thriller, however, when Eli Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell for a last-second touchdown and a 30-27 win.

Prior to giving up a 17-point lead in Cincy, the Seahawks had been 71-0 over their 39 seasons as an NFL franchise when leading by 17 or more going into the fourth quarter, according to Pro Football Reference. Carroll was 9-0 with in those situations. It’s a kick to the gut, as it would’ve been a huge win for a team that’s struggled to re-find their identity. They’ve got to find it next week at home against an unbeaten Panthers team.
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The Buccaneers finally won a home game, snapping an 11-game losing streak in Raymond James Stadium. That’s all.

Matt Stafford has had better days. After throwing two picks in the first half and helping the Cardinals jump out to a 28-7 lead, Jim Caldwell told the Lions’ struggling quarterback that he’d get the hook if he threw another one. He did. Caldwell kept his promise.

The league has heard the concerns, and is monitoring the handcheck stuff


Team officials privately worry how deadly offenses could become if the league returns to the zero-tolerance policy on handchecking that helped boost pre-lockout scoring numbers. It’s hard to prove, but most coaches and front-office executives agree defenses get away with a little more bump-and-grind than in the mid-2000s — when the NBA was obsessed with creating a more viewer-friendly game.

The league has heard the concerns, and is monitoring the handcheck stuff. “That area is tough — the freedom of movement, especially away from the ball,” Vandeweghe said. “It’s tough for referees to watch everything. But I think we’ve found a good balance.”

Game Mens Tyler Lockett Jersey (As an aside, Vandeweghe confirmed the controversial last-two-minute reports aren’t going anywhere. In fact, he said the NBA would “probably” start releasing full game reports at some point.)

“I think that’s a challenge for Joel Embiid, guarding a stretch 5,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “You’ve got a 7-foot-2 rookie that’s having to figure out Al Horford picking and popping, and it’s one of the dilemmas. They needed every one of those 19 3s and I give them credit.

Most fans understand that a team can play hard, tough defense and still give up 120 points. They enjoy the fireworks. If fans eventually revolt at teams taking 40 or 50 3s per game, the NBA will have to make some stylistic adjustments. But it’s unclear how much that sort of 3-point volume can really warp the underlying substance — the per-possession numbers — of the game.

DeAndre Hopkins Authentic Jersey “We love great competition,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t care if the score is in the 120s or the 90s. Great competition is great competition.”

Here¡¯s why the Rockets went 15-2 in December


The Houston Rockets should enter the New Year with their heads held sky high. After all, the team went 15-2 in December, securing big-time victories including a signature win over the Warriors, 132-127; a hard-fought victory over the Thunder, 102-99; a comeback win in overtime against Minnesota, 112-109; and a beatdown of a shorthanded Clippers team, 140-113.

The only other team to record just two losses last month was the San Antonio Spurs; Golden State lost three, Cleveland lost four, the Knicks lost eight.

In college, you can have a system and build a team around it. You make recruiting decisions and build rotations around what will work in your system. It doesn¡¯t work like that in the pros. Unless you¡¯re the rare coach with personnel powers ¡ª only Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy, Thibodeau, and currently do ¡ª you have deal with what your bosses give you.
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Authentic Kids Kyle Fuller Jersey Hoiberg was hired to revolutionize the Bulls¡¯ offense. His bosses have not given him the personnel to accomplish that. In fact, they have done the opposite.

On a basic level, this is just plain malpractice by the Bulls front office. If you pay a coach $25 million to do something, you should give him the tools to do that thing. When he fails to do what was asked of him immediately because you gave him the wrong tools, don¡¯t blame him. Reconsider your decisions, perhaps by considering trading some of the players who don¡¯t fit.