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). Here we take a look at what’s going on in the NFC South through the lens of the salary cap. Tampa Bay Buccaneers2014 Record: 2-14 | 2015 Proj. W: 5.7 | Playoff Odds: 6.1%Off. Rank: 29th | Def. Rank: 28th | S.T. Rank: 15thPlayer taking up the most cap space: DT Gerald McCoy ($14.6 million, 10.7 percent of the cap)McCoy has made three straight Pro Bowls and is probably the best defensive tackle in the league (Pro Football Focus put him at second in 2014, first in 2013 and second in 2012). Thanks to his play, he’s gotten paid:McCoy isn’t just the biggest cap hit at his position, he’s also an enormous outlier. The closest defensive tackle, the Bengals’ Geno Atkins, is paid $9 million per year. That’s a $5.6 million gap — only wide receiver Calvin Johnson ($7.4 million more than Demaryius Thomas) and running back Peterson ($6.2 million more than Matt Forte) are that far ahead of their nearest positional rivals. McCoy might not have the name recognition of those two stars, but he’s younger and closer to his peak.Despite McCoy, in 2014 the Buccaneers defense ranked 28th in passing yards allowed, 19th in rushing yards allowed, 25th in points allowed and 21st in sacks. A single player can have only so much impact on a team’s defensive performance.But McCoy is still a big part of the Bucs’ future. Tampa Bay isn’t realistically looking to win in 2015. Its path forward — into the tier of teams that legitimately contend for the Super Bowl each year — is a bet on top pick QB Jameis Winston. If he pans out, the Bucs will aim to contend a few years down the line, with McCoy as a cornerstone of a defense that’ll look very different than it looks today. Read more: What To Expect If You’re A Packers, Lions, Vikings Or Bears Fan New Orleans Saints2014 Record: 7-9 | 2015 Proj. W: 8.7 | Playoff Odds: 51.7%Off. Rank: 8th | Def. Rank: 27th | S.T. Rank: 16thPlayer taking up the most cap space: QB Drew Brees ($26.4 million, 18.2 percent of the cap)No NFL team spends as much of its cap on one player as New Orleans spends on Drew Brees. The QB has been one of the league’s best since he joined New Orleans in 2006, but in 2015 he’ll have lost most of his favorite targets. He’s also 36. The latter puts him in rare company.Only 38 QBs in NFL history have thrown 500 attempts after turning 36. Thirty-six of them also had at least 500 attempts from age 26 through 35, closer to a quarterback’s peak decade.3The other two QBs — Butch Songin and Doug Flutie — had many more attempts after they turned 36 than before, which is nuts. For obvious reasons, these quarterbacks are some of the best in NFL history. It’s a group that includes 12 Hall of Famers and four presumptive Hall of Famers (Brady, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Brett Favre).To make sense of whether Brees, another all-time great, is due for a decline, let’s look at what happened to these quarterbacks’ ANY/A and interception rates after they turned 36:That’s … not much of a dip in performance. Weighting by attempts after age 35, the ANY/A of the QBs was basically unchanged. Interception rates improved by a decent chunk, 0.3 percentage points, which is around two fewer interceptions a year for a pass-friendly QB.The 2014 Saints season was a mess, but Brees, despite an uncharacteristic 33-17 TD-INT ratio, was stellar as always. He’ll likely retire as the career leader in completion percentage, a lame consolation prize for an elite QB competing against Peyton Manning’s records and Brady’s titles, but if the Saints can stop stripping for parts for a few seasons, he may have another Super Bowl push in him yet. Atlanta Falcons2014 Record: 6-10 | 2015 Projected Wins: 9.4 | Playoff Odds: 63.6%Offensive Rank: 7th | Defensive Rank: 16th | Special Teams Rank: 3rdPlayer taking up the most cap space: QB Matt Ryan ($19.5 million, 13.3 percent of the cap)One basic issue with NFL parity: If a team wants to win a Super Bowl in today’s league, it pretty much has to have a great QB. There are maybe 10 of these QBs on the planet, but 32 NFL teams. If your team is lucky enough to have a great QB, it’s probably paying him a huge amount of money. If your team doesn’t have one, it’s likely waiting to win some sort of QB lottery, gambling on either a high-pick rookie or an aging free agent (even one who, thanks to two neck surgeries, still can’t feel his fingertips).This year’s league includes several Hall of Fame QBs, and Matt Ryan is probably not one of them. But he is good enough for the Falcons to win a championship.It’s impossible to reduce every component of a QB’s performance into a single number, but adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) does a fine enough job, showing the strongest correlation with wins among common statistics.1Adjusted net yards per attempt is based on a QB’s pass yards, pass attempts, interceptions, touchdowns, sacks, and sack yardage. It is calculated as (pass yards + 20*(pass TD) – 45*(interceptions thrown) – sack yards)/(passing attempts + sacks). The chart below ranks each team’s QBs (with a minimum of 10 starts) by ANY/A, from 1990 through 2014.Twenty-one of the last 25 Super Bowls went either to QBs who had one of the top five ANY/A performances that season or to Tom Brady, whose career ANY/A is the fourth highest of all time.2Brady’s ANY/A doesn’t align with the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins. The Patriots QB came in seventh, eighth, ninth and 12th during his championship seasons but was first in 2007 and 2010 and second in 2011 and 2012. Ben Roethlisberger had a championship in a down year, and borderline “elites” Eli Manning and Joe Flacco add one each. That leaves just one QB in the past 25 years, Trent Dilfer of the 2000 Ravens, who won a ring despite being a bad — or even just mediocre — quarterback.So is Matt Ryan, who has a top-10 ANY/A in four of the past seven seasons, Super Bowl material? Sure! He’s no Drew Brees, but he was just a hair behind both Brady and Russell Wilson last year, and more often than not he’s close to being among the league’s best QBs. And that lukewarm recommendation is, in the QB-hungry NFL, enough to warrant a $19.5 million cap hit. “When you come into a season, every fan thinks that their football team has a chance to win the Super Bowl, and that’s what I believe the 32 clubs are working towards.”— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, May 5, 2011The NFL prizes parity, and the 2014 NFC South had loads of it. Every team finished below .500, no team was eliminated until Week 14 (Tampa Bay, at 2-11) and a division winner wasn’t determined until a Week 17 lose-and-go-home battle. If you squinted just right, it had the appearance of exciting football.In a twisted way, 2014 was a continuation of years of the division’s parity. During the last 13 seasons, New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have won three division titles apiece, Carolina four. Going into 2014, Adam Schein of NFL.com touted it as the league’s “most entertaining division” simply because it was so balanced that there was no clear favorite. Balance is overrated.The biggest instrument in the NFL’s quest for parity is the salary cap, in which the more a team pays for its strengths the more it (generally) exposes its weaknesses. The NFC South has three players — quarterback Drew Brees, defensive end Charles Johnson and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy — who will be the biggest cap hits in the NFL in 2015 at their positions. Let’s take a look at each team’s biggest obligation. Carolina Panthers2014 Record: 7-8-1 | 2015 Proj. W: 8.3 | Playoff Odds: 42.4%Off. Rank: 21st | Def. Rank: 7th | S.T. Rank: 24th Player taking up the most cap space: DE Charles Johnson ($20.0 million, 13.4 percent of the cap)Johnson4Not to be confused with Minnesota wide receiver Charles Johnson, who, in a sad coup for fantasy sports, has much better name recognition. is a solid defensive end — ProFootballFocus graded him as 11th in the league (among players who play in a 4-3) in 2014. Having a bad contract is not the same as being a bad player, but his is definitely a bad contract. But it’s not the Panthers’ most perplexing cap move in recent years. A year removed, let’s take a look at Carolina’s disastrous running backs.Honorable mention: The Panthers’ 2014 running back/fullback trio of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert ($13.9 million, 10.1 percent of the cap).That $14 million is a lot to spend on a backfield. The Seahawks, who led the league in rushing in 2014, spent $8 million on Marshawn Lynch but only about $1.5 million on other backs. In exchange for all these dollars, the Panthers were seventh in the NFL in rushing yards, with 127 per game. That sounds pretty good! Except their QB ran for more than a quarter of those yards, and the Panthers’ backs caught few passes in a league that’s relying more on QB play.Let’s take a look at how much Carolina’s RBs really contributed. The chart below shows how much yardage each team’s 2014 running back corps (including fullbacks) contributed to team rushing and receiving.Carolina falls into that bottom left quadrant, teams whose running backs contributed below-average rushing and receiving yards per game. Neighbors include Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay — three of the NFL’s worst teams in 2014 — and Minnesota, whose star back, Adrian Peterson, was accused of child abuse and did not play after Week 1.Williams is off the books in 2015, but Carolina is still spending almost $12 million in cap dollars on Stewart and Tolbert. The pair combined for 37 receptions last year. With WR Kelvin Benjamin out for the season, Ted Ginn Jr. is the team’s No. 1 receiver despite being a 30-year-old with five starts in the past five seasons. Behind him on the depth chart is someone named Brenton Bersin. The Panthers might need their RBs to catch some passes.
It was a hard day shooting for the No. 12 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team, which struggled to find the back of the net in its first loss of the season to No. 5 Denver Saturday. Despite outshooting the Pioneers 38-30, the Buckeyes lost, 10-9, snapping a four-game win streak to start the year. The shots from OSU, said coach Nick Myers, rarely challenged the goalie, something he credited to the Pioneers’ defense. “We felt like we had a plan and credit Denver for playing a great zone and their goalies playing really well,” Myers said. “We struggled to break the seal and couldn’t get the extra goal we needed.” Offensively, the game started slow, with neither squad being able to find the back of the net for almost the first seven minutes. The action, though, would pick up, as OSU (4-1) and Denver would score twice before the end of the game’s first period. Goals from OSU freshman attacker Carter Brown, senior attacker Logan Schuss and junior midfielder Michael Italiano in the second quarter gave the Buckeyes a 5-3 lead with about five minutes to play in the first half. From that point on, though, Denver would command the rest of the game. Scoring the next five goals, and seven of the game’s final eleven, the Pioneers kept the contest out of the Buckeyes’ reach until the very last minutes. A goal from sophomore midfielder Jesse King goal with just more than a minute remaining pulled OSU within one score with the hopes of sending the game into overtime. On the ensuing faceoff, senior midfielder Trey Wilkes won the ball and gave the Buckeyes possession in the last minute. But OSU could not capitalize as a shot from King sailed high and allowed Denver to run out the remainder of the clock. Italiano, who tallied two goals Saturday, was disappointed in the loss, but admitted Denver’s defense was the difference in the game. “We had the game plan to get the ball, get down there and try to get the goal,” Italiano said regarding OSU’s last series to try and tie the contest. “We didn’t get the look we wanted, credit Denver’s defense. They showed up today and got the stop and the win.” Denver swapped out two goal keepers, one in each half, who combined for 18 saves on the day, stifling a previously hot OSU offense. Senior midfielder Dominique Alexander said he thinks the Buckeyes’ poor shooting day had more to do with the goalies’ ability than an off-day for OSU’s offense. “Sometimes you play a hot goalie, or two hot goalies in their case,” Alexander said. “We’ve got good shooters on our team and I have confidence in any one of those guys.” The Buckeyes are set to travel to Charlottesville, Va., to take on No. 9 Virginia on March 16 at 3 p.m. They will then head to Notre Dame, Ind., to face the No. 3 Fighting Irish on March 20.
OSU wrestling coach Tom Ryan watches on during a match against Minnesota on Feb. 6, 2015. Credit: Lantern file photoST. LOUIS — Ohio State wrestling placed second at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis with 110 points, trailing only Penn State at 146.5.With five All-Americans, the Buckeyes had a strong performance and are already looking to build for next year. Every starter will be returning for the Buckeyes in 2018.“Senior year, the nationals are going to be in Cleveland,” junior Kyle Snyder said after winning the 285-pound NCAA Championship. “So no better place to bring one to Ohio State. Our lineup is going to be really good next year.”With Snyder returning, the Buckeyes will enter 2018 with six wrestlers likely to be ranked in the top five of their weight class.The team clinched second place by the end of competition in the consolation bracket, before championship matches had begun.While Penn State led the field by a wide margin early and never looked as if they would surrender the lead, OSU had to fend off the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma State to ensure its silver finish. Oklahoma State finished third with 103 points and Iowa finished fourth with 97.The team featured one individual champion, a runner-up, two third place finishers, and a wrestler in both fourth and fifth place.Snyder captured his second national title over Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery at heavyweight, and redshirt junior Bo Jordan finished as a runner-up to Penn State’s Mark Hall.Redshirt junior 133-pounder Nathan Tomasello and redshirt freshman 197-pounder Kollin Moore each finished third in their respective weight classes, while 149-pounder Micah Jordan finished fourth and 184-pounder Myles Martin finished fifth.With that, the team features five All-Americans, each of which will be returning for the 2018 season.
Rangers Football Club manager Steven Gerrard has criticized West Brom manager Darren Moore for his public praise of James Tavernier.Gerrard insists he wants Tavernier to remain at the Ibrox despite a late interest in his services for Sky Bet Championship side West Brom.The defender was the subject of a transfer bid from West Brom earlier this week but the Scottish side have rejected the offer after club manager Steven Gerrard had a chat with the player.Tavernier was named as Rangers captain by Gerrard upon his appointment as new head coach back in June and his performance against Maribor in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League qualifier proves the decision was the right one.“James was fantastic for us tonight,” Gerrard said, according to Daily Record.Owen reveals why Liverpool didn’t offer Gerrard a new contract Manuel R. Medina – September 6, 2019 According to Owen, the Reds wanted to sell Gerrard two years before he left the club and that’s why they didn’t offer him a contract renewal.“Good players get attention from other clubs all the time but I didn’t like the attention he got from Darren Moore 24 hours before a huge game for us.”“I spoke to him (Moore) about it. James knows how I feel about his footballing abilities. It was a big decision to make him club captain and I know how much he relishes the opportunity.”“I want him to stay here with us for as long as I’m here.”Gers were without Declan John and Josh Windass for the game against Maribor after both players joined Swansea and Wigan Athletic respectively.Rangers take a 3-1 advantage into the second-leg next week with the club knowing a draw would see them advance to the next stage.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has urged UEFA to take action against clubs if they break the rules on Financial Fair Play.German magazine Der Spiegel claims Sheikh Mansour’s City regime added multi-million-pound sponsorship deals with Abu Dhabi companies and using their owner’s fortune to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) stipulations.Last Friday, the Football Leaks emerged with allegations that City were given an FFP settlement when they received sanctions for overspending by UEFA in 2014, and although the club declined to comment on what was called “out of context materials purportedly hacked or stolen from City Football Group and Manchester City”, it claimed “the attempt to damage the club’s reputation is organized and clear.”On his own, Klopp feels UEFA should take appropriate actions when clubs breache the rules, stating that the rules are a good thing for football when enforced.“I heard about the Der Spiegel story, but I didn’t read it so far,” Klopp said as quoted by Goal.Crouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.“It’s really difficult to comment but what I can say in general is that FFP is a really good thing. But we always thought that.”“If it’s in place, they (UEFA) have to do something with it. I have no clue what happens, I know it is about Paris obviously and Man City,” he said.“I’m not sure if other clubs are being talked about as well. That’s all I can say. I think FFP is a really good thing because it sets the rules and stuff like that.”“If everything is fine, then everything is fine. If not, then somebody should do something.”
The Liverpool goalkeeper is being pressured to be the perfect footballer after his £66.8 million transfer from Roma in the summerAfter Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, the transfer of Alisson Becker from Roma to Liverpool was the biggest of the summer transfer window.The Brazilian goalkeeper moved to the English Premier League for £66.8 million.And now he’s working on being the perfect player everybody is expecting.“I came here for a high price and some people expect to me to be perfect,” said Alisson to the BBC.Neymar can win the Ballon d’Or, says Ander Herrera Andrew Smyth – September 13, 2019 An “excited” Ander Herrera believes new Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is a contender for the Ballon d’Or alongside Kylian Mbappe.“It is not easy but I’m trying. I’m working to be better.”“It is really early to say if I’m satisfied with how I’m playing but I’m working to be perfect,” he added.“I am really happy with my move to the Premier League. I’m working really hard to help Liverpool to achieve their goals.”“The Premier League has great intensity, you have to be really focused all the time,” he explained.“One thing that is important here is the concentration and focus. They are asking me to be really mentally strong.”
Newcastle United left-back Paul Dummett was gutted to concede a late goal at Watford in their 1-1 draw but says he’s optimistic of facing United in the next game.Newcastle United were well on their way to their third away victory in the Premier League this season after Rondon Salomon gave them the lead in the 29th minute.But eight minutes from time, substitute Abdoulaye Doucouré scored to salvage a point for Watford.The Magpies face Manchester United next on Wednesday, and Dummett fancies their chances against the Red Devils as they look to put the disappointment of the Watford game behind them.“After leading for so much of the game, working hard as a team and defending well, for them to score in the 82nd minute is really disappointing,” Dummett told nufc.co.uk.“The manager said before that every game is a cup final – we wanted three points, but every point we take is another point on the board.“They had a lot of the ball in the first half before we scored our goal. They had a lot of possession in the second half, as well, but they didn’t really cause us much of a threat until their man got free in the box and they scored.Liverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“It’s disappointing not to hold out and pick up the three points, but we have to be positive and move on to the next game.“Last season, we beat Manchester United and went on a bit of a run after that, and hopefully we can achieve the same as that this season.“They’ve got a new manager and they’ve won a few games, so their confidence will be high coming to play against us.“But, I think Manchester United have always found it hard playing at St. James’ Park against us.“We’ll be doing our best to try and take points off them – hopefully three – and hopefully kick on the same as we did last season.”