Deep Dive: Not all hot starters will make NFL postseason

first_imgCombined record of opponents: 4-5  Dario Offstein is a junior writing about sports. His column, “Deep Dive,” runs every other Tuesday. New England Patriots The Cowboys’ new offense continues to impress. Quarterback Dak Prescott is leading the league in quarterback rating, ESPN’s most thorough efficiency rating, and has the second-most touchdown passes behind Mahomes. Thanks to a rash of injuries and bad luck affecting the Eagles, Dallas already has a two-game lead in its division, which will be difficult to overcome down the stretch. Jerry Jones probably likes his playoff chances right now, but I still have the Cowboys slightly below the Rams since their wins are less impressive. Playoff chances: 80% Head coach Andy Reid has built a video game offense in real life, and it seems no one has the answer for stopping it. I came across this bizarre statistic, courtesy of Scott Barrett with Pro Football Focus: In just the first half of games, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is averaging 300 yards and 2.7 touchdowns through the air. Extrapolate those numbers over a season and you get 4,800 yards and 43 touchdowns. That’s only been done six times in NFL history by a few guys named Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Mahomes himself last year. Can you imagine what those numbers would be if he needed to keep his foot on the gas in the second half? Playoff chances: 95% Kansas City Chiefs The Rams have the most impressive three wins among the undefeated teams with two road victories and a win in their NFC title game rematch with the Saints. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s return has been the key to unlocking the Rams’ offensive potential, and head coach Sean McVay spent the offseason designing plays to overcome the offensive woes that limited the Rams to 3 points in last year’s Super Bowl. The NFC West is looking very competitive this year, but this team isn’t going anywhere. Playoff chances: 85% Combined record of opponents: 0-9 Combined record of opponents: 1-8 The Pack has not looked particularly sharp in any of its games, but it’s found a way to stay undefeated. This offense is far from clicking on all cylinders — Aaron Rodgers’ quarterback rating is below that of Jaguars’ sixth round rookie Gardner Minshew, and star wide receiver Davante Adams has also underperformed. They also face some stiff competition within the NFC North and some tough tests in the coming weeks, including games against the Eagles, Cowboys, Chiefs and Chargers. The early leg up will help their playoff chances given the challenging stretch ahead. Playoff chances: 55% Dallas Cowboys Buffalo Bills With two wins and a tie, the Lions are technically still undefeated, and they’ve mustered wins over good teams in the Chargers and Eagles. They’d be 3-0 if they could’ve just held on against Arizona Week 1. Matthew Stafford appears to have rebounded from a down year, and the defense has come up with big stops in both wins. However, the Lions have three tough divisional opponents, and it won’t be easy to grab a wild card in the NFC. Playoff chances: 30% Combined record of opponents: 1-8 Three weeks of the NFL season are in the books, and I know what you’re thinking: How do we know which hot-starting teams are contenders and which are pretenders? What are the big games to keep an eye on these next two weeks? Worry not, dear reader, you’ve come to the right place; this week’s deep dive will answer all these questions and more. center_img Green Bay Packers I’d be surprised if any of the above teams missed the playoffs, but the jury is still out on the remaining undefeated teams.  Combined record of opponents: 1-7 Detroit Lions Los Angeles Rams Combined record of opponents: 4-5 Combined record of opponents: 3-5 Raise your hand if you’re surprised the Patriots are off to a 3-0 start. No one? That’s what I thought. The biggest story for New England has been the turmoil wide receiver Antonio Brown brought to town, but those days are over. After his release Friday, it looks as though Brown won’t be on an NFL roster ever again. This team will very likely cruise into the playoffs regardless — they’ve got an easy schedule up until a five-game stretch in November and December where they’ll play the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs. Playoff chances: 90% It appears quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is back to his winning ways after returning from tearing his ACL last season. He hovers around the league average in quarterback rating and found a way to win against the Buccaneers despite conceding five turnovers. The NFC West might be the strongest division in football, and the 49ers still have to face the Rams and Seahawks twice apiece. The Niners still have much to prove, but they’ll be alright if head coach Kyle Shanahan can continue his offensive wizardry. Playoff chances: 45% San Francisco 49ers Let’s start by looking at each team that has made it through the first three weeks undefeated, along with how likely I believe it is that they make the playoffs. Combined record of opponents: 2-6-1 With a strong defense and some timely playmaking by quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills have looked better than expected. They’ve faced three unimpressive offenses, but they’ve been taking care of business, holding them to under 5 yards per play. The Bills’ schedule will get more difficult, but they have enough winnable games — including two against the Dolphins — to grab one of the two AFC wild card spots. Playoff chances: 50%last_img read more

"Deep Dive: Not all hot starters will make NFL postseason"

Spieth Wins $10M Golf Prize

first_imgATLANTA — Jordan Spieth treated the Tour Championship as if it were a major. He played like it was, too.Looking for a fitting finish to a sensational season, Spieth poured in putts from all over East Lake and never gave Henrik Stenson or anyone else much of a chance Sept. 27.His final stroke was an 8-foot par putt that was right in the heart for a 1-under 69, and he leaned back with a smile of pure satisfaction.The 22-year-old Texan became golf’s first $22 million man — a PGA Tour record with just over $12 million in prize money, and the $10 million bonus for the FedEx Cup.“This is incredible,” Spieth said. “This is an event where we approach it like a major championship because we know this is possible at the end of it.”Even when he missed back-to-back cuts to start the FedEx Cup playoffs, Spieth spent the month trying to peak for the most important event in the lucrative series.He was the first to show up at East Lake to start grinding on his game. And with a one-shot lead going into the final round, he was on the putting green three hours before his tee time for what caddie Michael Greller called the “early grind.”“We only do this at the majors,” Greller said. It all paid off so handsomely, especially that putter.Spieth made three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn, and they were demoralizing for Stenson. Spieth made a 20-foot birdie on No. 8 for a two-shot swing that he never gave back.He made an 18-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth with Stenson already at tap-in range for birdie. And with Stenson just over 3 feet away for birdie on No. 11, Spieth curled in a 45-foot birdie putt.“Eleven was a dagger,” Spieth said.At that point, Stenson could only smile and bump fists with Spieth.“You can’t expect him to make it,” Stenson said after a 72. “You’re feeling like you got a good chance to make up some ground. But he just poured that one in the middle. It’s fun to watch and just say, ‘Well done.’ The best player this week won the tournament, won the FedEx Cup.”Spieth closed with seven pars for a four-shot victory over Stenson, Danny Lee (65) and Justin Rose (66). His fifth victory of the year, which includes the Masters and the U.S. Open, was worth $1,485,000 million and gave Spieth $12,030,465 for the year.The previous record was $10.9 million by Vijay Singh in 2004.And if that wasn’t enough, Spieth went back to No. 1 in the world.The first person to greet him was his little sister, Ellie, who keeps Spieth and the entire family so grounded in light of so much success. His parents, girlfriend, grandfather and a tight group of high school friends from Dallas were there to watch another amazing performance in a year filled with him.Spieth became the youngest player since Horton Smith in 1929 to win five times in a season, and the youngest to claim the FedEx Cup title.“It’s been a phenomenal year for him,” Stenson said. “I watched it firsthand at the first two rounds at Augusta, and he played phenomenal and putted phenomenal. And it was the same putting display, really, today — just an exhibition on the greens, to be honest.“His putting and mental focus is the best in the world. It’s hard to argue that.”And there’s no longer an argument for PGA Tour player of the year.Jason Day had five victories, including his first major at the PGA Championship, and there was talk a sixth win and the FedEx Cup might put the Australian in the discussion.Not anymore. Spieth made a spirited bid for the Grand Slam and joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to finish no worse than fourth in all the professional majors. Along with the money title, he won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.The only question he couldn’t answer was what he will do for an encore.“This is one I cannot wait to celebrate,” he said.Stenson made a $1 million putt of his own, though it was the least he could do. He was three shots behind when he shanked his shot from the 17th fairway and made double bogey.That dropped him into a four-way tie for fourth and cost him a spot in the FedEx Cup ranking. But he bounced back with a 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th to go back to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup to earn a $3 million bonus (instead of $2 million for third).Stenson had three runner-up finishes in the postseason, and he has five for the year without winning. He still has events left on the European Tour.But this week — and year — was all about Spieth.“It’s the greatest season I’ve ever had, obviously,” Spieth said. “But it’s one where I believe we took our game on course and off course to a level that I didn’t think would be possible at different times in my life.”(DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

"Spieth Wins $10M Golf Prize"