How will These Siblings Fair in Winter Olympics?

Written by Molly Shea, Lauren Steussy and Hannah Withiam at New York Post.com

Being world-class sometimes runs in the family.

Superstar siblings are taking over Team USA — and these duos insist that this connection gives them an edge as they head to the Winter Olympics, which kick off in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Wednesday.

Whether they practice brutal honesty or create a secret language, these athletes have forged connections you can only get from growing up together.

“When you get to this level, you go through a lot of ups and downs,” says US Olympic women’s cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen, 28, whose younger brother Erik is on the men’s cross-country ski team. “Your brother or sister will be the support you need to get there.”

Here’s a look at the siblings competing in this year’s games and the methods they’ll rely on as they fight for gold.

The Shibutanis

As kids growing up in Greenwich, Conn., skating was supposed to be Maia Shibutani’s thing. Her older brother, Alex, had aspirations of playing in the NBA — and even attended basketball camp in the summer.

But each day after his mom picked him up from camp, they would head to the rink to watch his 4-year-old sister practice. Alex, then 7, initially wasn’t too keen on his sibling’s budding hobby.

“At first, I would go to the arcade … so I could play [table] hockey,” he says. “Eventually, I got bored and saw that Maia was having a lot of fun on the ice. I decided to give it a try and the rest is history.”

Nearly 20 years later — with a ninth-place finish at the 2014 Sochi Olympics under their belts — the “Shib Sibs” Maia, 23, and Alex, 26, are favored to medal as one of Team USA’s three ice-dance pairs.

Though they’re able to maintain perfectly synchronized smiles while executing complicated side-by-side step sequences, their dad, Chris Shibutani, says that they can occasionally butt heads since they’re both “very strongly opinionated people.”

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Matt Patricia To Become Lions Head Coach

Written by Edward Lewis at NFL.com

Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions officially have a new head man.

The team announced Monday that former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will be tasked with turning around a Lions team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season. The Lions are slated to introduce Patricia at a news conference on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.

“This position comes with great responsibility, and I will commit every ounce of my energy to this football team, starting today,” Patricia said in a statement. “My family is excited to become part of this wonderful city that displays so much passion for their teams.

“I can’t express enough appreciation to the entire New England Patriots franchise, particularly Robert and Jonathan Kraft and their entire family. I will truly cherish these last 14 years as a member of this incredible organization.”

Patricia’s hiring comes just one day after the DC fell to Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. It wasn’t the finest performance from Patricia’s unit, through Sunday’s outcome was more outlier than the norm for Patricia-led defenses.

The 43-year-old has been Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator in New England since 2012. In those six seasons, Patricia has never ranked outside the top 10 in scoring defense, winning two Super Bowl rings in that same time frame.

“On behalf of me and my family, I would like to congratulate and welcome Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions as our new head coach,” Lions owner and chairman Martha Firestone Ford said. “… I was most pleased with how we handled all the interviews and I am confident that we have found the right man to lead our football team.”

“When we launched the search for our next head coach, I wanted to find a leader that could take us to the next level and I am confident we have found that in Matt Patricia,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn added. “He has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career, and he’s ready for the responsibility and its challenges.”

Before his time as Pats DC, Patricia coached safeties, linebackers and offensive line (as an assistant OL coach in 2005) in New England. Patricia, who’s been on the Pats’ coaching staff since 2004, has never been a part of an NFL team that has won fewer than 10 games.

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10 Predictions For 2018 NFL Season

Written by Dan Graziano at ESPN.com

Super Bowl LII just ended. The Philadelphia Eagles are still celebrating. But that’s not what matters here.

You wake this morning to face a stretch of seven painful, football-free months. The 2018 season is more than a half-year away, and you’re already aching to see what happens next.

We’ve got you covered.

For the third year in a row, we have looked into our crystal ball and foreseen many of the key events of the next NFL season, so you don’t have to wait. As you know from reading this column the past two years, all 10 of these predictions are absolutely, 100 percent guaranteed to come true.

Now, get to reading while I excuse myself to go scrub the internet clean of the past two years’ editions of this column. Here are 10 bold predictions for the 2018 NFL season:

1. Free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins signs with the Jets

It’s a six-year, $186 million contracts with $100 million in guarantees, including $75 million fully guaranteed at signing. The Jets outbid the Browns, Jaguars and division-rival Bills for Cousins, who becomes the highest-paid player in NFL history after hitting the market following two seasons as Washington’s franchise player. He then leads the Jets to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff spot.

2. Odell Beckham Jr. sits out at least one regular-season game

Beckham’s contract situation is going to be a tricky one for the Giants, who hold a 2018 option on him and aren’t in a hurry to give him the extension he wants coming off an ankle injury that cost him almost the entire 2017 season.

Uninterested in taking the field without a new deal, Beckham stays in California throughout training camp and, Aaron Donald-style, sits out the season opener in protest. New coach Pat Shurmur and quarterback Eli Manning continue to insist they can get by with Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as their top receiving options — and are wrong.

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Bucks Get Tyler Zeller From Nets

Written by Colin Ward-Henniger at CBS Sports.com

The Milwaukee Bucks added to their frontcourt depth by agreeing to acquire center Tyler Zeller from the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

In return, the Nets will receive guard Rashad Vaughn, along with a second-round draft pick, the details of which Wojnarowski detailed in his report:

The Bucks will send the 2018 second-round pick to the Nets should it fall between 31 and 47 in the draft. Otherwise, Phoenix will receive the pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. If the Bucks pick doesn’t convey in 2018, Milwaukee will send its unprotected second-round pick in 2020 to Brooklyn, league sources said.

Zeller is a 7-foot center averaging 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in nearly 17 minutes this season for the Nets. He’ll compete with Bucks big men John Henson and Thon Maker for playing time in Milwaukee.

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Eagles Win First SuperBowl as Philadelphia Burns.

Written by Colin Dwyer at NPR.com

You’d be forgiven if you went to bed early having chalked up another win for New England.

After all, the Patriots may have been losing to the Philadelphia Eagles with just a few minutes to play — but they had Tom Brady under center, the man who has helmed countless fourth-quarter comebacks, including a rather historic one to win last year’s title game. He had thrown for nearly 500 yards and three touchdowns already by this point. Surely this Super Bowl would play out just like so many we’ve seen before, with Brady steering the Pats down the field to pull out the win — right?

It didn’t exactly pan out that way.

In a slobberknocker of a matchup, with both offenses looking unstoppable for much of the game, it was ultimately Philadelphia’s defense that made the decisive plays in the final minutes to win Super Bowl LII, 41-33. First, they forced an uncharacteristic fumble by Brady, then — after a brief drive by Philadelphia — they stopped the Pats again on the last drive of the game.

Now, the Eagles are Super Bowl champs for the first time in franchise history.

And, in a development that even a psychic would have had a hard time believing at season’s start, Nick Foles has been named Super Bowl MVP. The oft-maligned quarterback — who had been a backup riding the pine until a late-season injury sidelined franchise QB Carson Wentz — threw for more than 370 yards and went blow for blow with Brady, arguably the greatest player in NFL history.

In fact, it was Foles who connected on the game’s final haymaker, hitting tight end Zach Ertz for the go-ahead score with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.

But it was far from just Foles who led the Eagles’ relentless attack. Rookie running back Corey Clement racked up 100 receiving yards, including a touchdown, while ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount gashed his former team’s defense for 90 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.

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Blake Griffin Traded To Detroit Pistons

Written by ESPN News Service at ESPN.com

Blake Griffin is ready for the next chapter of his basketball career.

On Tuesday, the All-Star forward tweeted out a statement to thank the LA Clippers’ fans and the city of Los Angeles after he was traded to the Detroit Pistons.

The 28-year-old Griffin had been the face of the Clippers, and in July he agreed to a $171 million, five-year deal, ending a brief flirtation with free agency. The deal didn’t include a no-trade clause.

While a free agent in the 2017 offseason, Griffin met with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers and several players at Staples Center in a celebration of his career. At the end of the two-hour fete, Griffin rose and spoke, telling teammates, his coach and the owner, “I want my legacy to be a Clipper.”

In Detroit, where the Cavaliers will play the Pistons on Tuesday night, LeBron James lamented that trades like Griffin’s are considered part of the business, while players who explore free agency are blamed for being disloyal.

“When a player gets traded, it’s, ‘They was doing what’s best for the franchise.’ But when a player decides to leave, it’s, ‘He’s not loyal. He’s a snake. He’s not committed.’ It’s just, that’s the narrative of how it goes. So I’m definitely [aware],” he said. “I know that firsthand.”

Griffin will not play Tuesday night, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Griffin will wear jersey No. 23 with the Pistons, making the switch to the same number he wore in college at Oklahoma. His previous jersey number, 32, is not available in Detroit because the Pistons had retired it in honor of Richard Hamilton.

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Cavaliers’ Love Out 6-8 Weeks

Written by Colin Ward-Henninger at CBS Sports.com

This hasn’t been a good week for All-Stars when it comes to injuries.

First DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles. Then the Wizards announced that John Wall would have a knee procedure and be out for two months. Now it’s Kevin Love’s turn.

Love broke his hand during Tuesday’s game between the Cleveland Cavalier sand Detroit Pistons, and will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks.

 

Here’s the play where Love was injured:

The injury comes at the worst possible time for the Cavs, who had won two games in a row entering Tuesday’s game after losing 10 of 13. The bad month was accompanied by some reported finger-pointing and hostility from the Cavs, with Isaiah Thomas questioning why Love left the team’s blowout loss to the Thunder early.

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh’s computer projection model shows a decline for the Cavs with Love out of the lineup.

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Alex Smith Traded To Redskins

Written Charean Williams at ProFootballTalk.com

Alex Smith doesn’t have to wonder about his future any longer, and Washington no longer has to wonder who its quarterback will be in 2018.

The Chiefs reached an agreement to trade Smith to Washington, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. There is no word on the compensation the Chiefs will receive.

Although the trade cannot be consummated until the first day of the league year, which begins March 14, Paylor reports the sides have agreed to the deal.

Smith was entering the final year of his deal, with a cap number of $20.6 million for 2018. The Chiefs will save $17 million on their cap.

It paves the way for Patrick Mahomes to take over as the starting quarterback in Kansas City. It also assures that Kirk Cousins will enter free agency after Washington used the franchise tag on him in consecutive years.

Bret Bielema Nets $12 Million Pay Off From Arkansas

Written by Barrette Sallee at CBS Sports.com

The buyout life is the best life, and former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will be living right after being fired by the Razorbacks shortly after their season-ending loss to Missouri in November 2017.

According to a release from the Razorback Foundation, Bielema is eligible to receive up to $11.935 million in monthly installments through December 31, 2020.  Backdating that to December 2017, that would be $322,567.57 per month. That figure is subject to the right of offset, meaning any coaching salary he receives during that time frame would be deducted what’s owed to him by Arkansas.

Kyle Deckelbaum of KATV provided the full release from the Razorback Foundation.

So, to put it more simply, Bielema can be incredibly selective while choosing his next step. He told Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated that he has received feelers from NFL teams. He also said the social media aspect of college football recruiting got annoying at times and that he is also considering a role in television.

With a buyout like the one he’s receiving after his stint at Arkansas, perhaps TV is the best option.

Bielema went 29-34 overall in five seasons at Arkansas, 11-29 in the SEC. In 2017, his Hogs went 4-8 overall and 1-7 in conference play. Prior to his stint in Fayetteville, he posted a 68-24 record at Wisconsin from 2006-12, won three straight Big Ten championships from 2010-12 and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl after each of those titles.

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Essential Guide to Betting the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl 

This year’s NFL playoffs have been especially exciting. We saw several games come down to the wire in the Divisional Round, with the Vikings winning on the final play, a heave from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs, which has now been dubbed, “The Minnesota Miracle.”  

Watching the games is exciting, but throw in a monetary stake, not just being a fan of the sport or your particular team, and you add a whole extra element.  

Though full-scale sports betting is only regulated in Las Vegas – much of the country bets through other avenues, such as offshore sportsbooks. Contrary to the belief of some, no U.S. federal law criminalizes placing sports bets online. State laws may vary, but few have laws against the act of placing a bet (being a bookie is another story), and even in states where this is illegal, it’s rarely, if ever, enforced.  

Anyway, if you’re looking to bet on the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, here are some great tips to get you started. 

Familiarize Yourself with Sports Betting 

Betting on football is quite simple, but there are lots of different betting market aside from just point spreads and totals. Few outside of the online betting world understand the sheer number of betting options available.  

Learning the advantages and disadvantage of each bet type and forming a profitable NFL betting strategy is vital to success.  

Take Advantage of Bonuses 

One of the main reasons to bet online instead of with a local bookie is because new players will receive a bonus. Even in Las Vegas’ regulated sports betting environment, bonuses are not offered to players who bet at a book for the first time. Of course, there is a catch; they come with what is called a “rollover.” 

A rollover is the number of times you must wager your bonus, plus your original deposit before you can withdraw it. Rollovers typically are 3 to 6 times your deposit amount, plus the bonus amount. They can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand. 

Almost every online sportsbook offers a bonus. If you’re a new to online betting and don’t have many accounts – bonuses are easily hundreds, if not thousands of extra dollars added to your bankroll. Many sites offer promotions specifically for the Super Bowl, so be on the lookout, even if you already have signed up at several online sportsbooks and received bonuses before. 

Line Shopping 

If you’ve skipped most of this article and just read the headings – stop right here. Line shopping is the most important point I will make in this article and the one thing that will save you the most money when betting sports.  

It’s also one of the main reasons to utilize multiple sportsbooks. Too many bettors fall into the trap of using only a single online sportsbook. No winning bettors use just one sportsbook. Yes, you heard that there is not a single winning long-term bettor that using one sportsbook. 

Instead, you should spread your bankroll around multiple sportsbooks and always look for the best odds before placing a bet. The difference between +3 and +3.5 is massive in sports betting, especially in football. Paying -110 versus -115 on a bet may only seem like $5 if you’re placing a wager to win $100, but overall the long haul, it adds up to tens of thousands or more of savings. 

Certain sportsbooks have advantages over others. Some have reduced juice; some have better underdog lines, others post their lines earlier than others. Spread your bankroll around at multiple sportsbooks to use each operator’s strengths. Always get the best price you can on each bet, and you’re one step ahead of almost everyone else who bets sports. 

Choose A Reputable Sportsbook 

There are online sportsbooks that have been in business for decades that are excellent betting options for the Super Bowl. However, there are just as many poor options, as well. Choosing highly rated sportsbooks is extremely important when betting football. After all, it’s no use betting if you can’t get paid. 

What makes a good sportsbook? Well, for one longevity in the market. The longer a book operates in good standing – the better the option. Fast payouts are another critical factor. Do they pay players quickly, do they have a lot of options in their cashier? From there, you can move onto evaluating odds and bonuses. 

There are many sites that provide online sportsbook reviews. Review several sites before deciding and read up before you deposit. Picking a reputable sportsbook will save you a lot of headaches and betting is a lot more fun when you’re sure you’re getting paid. 

Utilize Cryptocurrencies 

Due to banking laws in the United States, processing online gambling transactions through traditional methods, like credit and debit cards and bank wires has become more onerous and costly for online betting sites. These methods are still available at almost all sportsbooks, but we don’t recommend them due to the processing speeds and savings of crypto-currencies. 

Bitcoin is the most popular, but many sites accept lots of other cryptos, including Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dash, and more. Cryptocurrencies have much faster payout speeds than check, bank wire, and other options. They also cost a lot less too. 

Almost all sportsbooks offer withdrawals with cryptocurrencies free of charge. Traditional fiat methods may eat up 10 percent or more of profits. This is a massive amount of money that be taken out of your bankroll if you opt for checks and bank wires over cryptocurrency transactions.  

Use cryptocurrencies as your cashier method of choice and save plenty of time and money.