Super Bowl 2018 prop bet: Coin toss results in the usual from the Patriots

We got one of the earliest Super Bowl prop bets out of the way with the opening coin toss. The Philadelphia Eagles called tails, but it came up heads. The New England Patriots elected to defer and will receive the ball to start the game. The Eagles will start the second half with the ball.

This marked the fifth straight year tails came up in the Super Bowl coin toss. Tails has the slight historical edge, now leading 27-25. Teams winning the toss have gone on to lose 27 of the 51 Super Bowls. We’ll see if the Patriots can buck that slight trend:

Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola for scores in the third quarter, tying things up 28-28 heading into the final period. Justin Tucker gave the Ravens a three-point edge with a 25-yard field goal. But Brandon LaFell hauled in a 23-yard pass from Brady to seal the win.

The Ravens carried a four-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Patriots with a trip to Super Bowl XLVI on the line. Four points is nothing to Brady. He ran in a one-yard touchdown to take a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter.

Eli Manning and the Giants turned the tables on the Patriots in that Super Bowl, pulling off a comeback win of their own with a fourth-quarter touchdown from Ahmad Bradshaw to beat the Patriots 21-17.

Hornacek said Tuesday that the plan is for Noah to remain away for the foreseeable future. He wasn’t sure if Noah would return before the end of the season, noting that the decision would come from team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

The Knicks attempted to deal Noah prior to the trade deadline earlier this month but could not find a team willing to take on the $54 million he is owed over the remainder of his contract, which runs through the 2019-20 season.

New York, according to sources, has shown no desire to waive Noah. As of late last week, he hadn’t been open to any buyout discussions, sources said.

Hornacek said several times Tuesday that the team has moved on from the Noah situation.jaguars_110-223x223

Von Miller stripped this chicken wing like it was a quarterback with a slow release

As good as Von Miller is at playing football, his ability to eat wings might be even more impressive. That’s saying something for a Super Bowl MVP.

Miller was on Hot Ones, where he was being interviewed while eating different chicken wings with increasing levels of heat.

But look at how clean this was:

It really hit home. Like, I don’t want to fail this easy class, so I just started getting into it. I started being engaged, and once you get into it, the stuff that you learn in classes, it started off by taking that one easy class, and it started by taking another class, and another class, and before you know it, it was like, man, I only need a couple more classes to really make this a part of my life, and I went for it.

The league will turn to Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. to sing this year’s rendition of “America the Beautiful” in advance of Super Bowl 52 between the Patriots and Eagles, which will be broadcast live on NBC (live stream). Odom is an accomplished actor and singer, having won a Tony Award for best actor in a musical and a Grammy Award for best musical theater album for his work in Hamilton.

He won’t be the only star to give the big game the gravity it deserves. Odom will give way for three-time Grammy Award winner Pink, who will captivate Americans and bettors alike with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The pregame show will also mark the first day of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new career. The accomplished NASCAR driver retired from the sport last year at the age of 43, thanks in part to a history of concussions sustained behind the wheel. He’s joining NBC’s broadcast team, and he’ll be part of the crew breaking down Sunday’s football action despite his lengthy career as a race car driver.

Oddly enough, he’ll follow up Sunday’s assignment with a trip to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the Winter Olympics — another major event that features zero auto racing.bears_037-223x223

Hosmer’s deal leaves Padres with overstuffed outfield

Now that San Diego’s first base position is in Eric Hosmer’s $144 million hands, it seems as if there are 144 million candidates for the one remaining starting spot in the Padres’ outfield.

Wil Myers will move to one of the corner spots after playing first base the previous two seasons, manager Andy Green said, and Manuel Margot remains a fixture in center field after a notable rookie season in 2017.

After all, if my choice at starting pitcher is between him and Luis Castillo, I am willing to roll the dice on either, knowing that certainty just isn’t there with these players. Castillo is just as unproven as Ohtani, and doesn’t offer the obvious versatility that Ohtani does.

Harbaugh has a reputation for setting up varied QBs for success, thriving in the NFL with college spread QBs Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick and making good use of Rudock and Speight at Michigan. The way he tends to do it is with big formations that force defenses to fill the field with big, coverage-inept defenders, then motion to create matchups for his better receivers:

The RB motions out wide, and Michigan State matches him with the CB in a double A-gap zone blitz. The result is easy matchups for TE Ian Bunting and slot WR Grant Perry on the slants, and O’Korn picks up some gain. But a faster read and throw would have done more to discourage aggressive pressures like this.

The agreement was first reported by FanRag Sports.

The 32-year-old lefty was 7-4 with 10 saves and 53 strikeouts over 66 2/3 innings in 71 relief appearances last year for Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which acquired him for a pair of minor leaguers at the July 31 trade deadline. Watson had a 2.57 ERA while pitching seven innings over 11 relief outings in the Dodgers’ run to within one game of winning the World Series.

Watson was 5-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 47 games for the Pirates last season after beginning the season as Pittsburgh’s closer, but he was removed in favor of Felipe Rivero after blowing consecutive save opportunities in Baltimore in June.

Watson was an All-Star for the Pirates in 2014 while serving as a setup man for Mark Melancon. Watson, who became a free agent in December, is also highly durable. He has a 33-17 career record with a 2.68 ERA in 474 relief appearances since making his major league debut in 2011.
bears_017

The best strategies for drafting closers

We’re still more than a month away from the start of the MLB season … so how do you approach drafting bullpen arms at this time of year?

For the rest of the bunch, I’d play the follow the leader game. If someone picks Mark Melancon, I’ll grab Sam Dyson. If Jeurys Familia gets drafted, I’ll pounce on AJ Ramos. For one thing, the more lottery tickets I draft in this fashion, the more chances I have that at least one of these closer competitors will come out on top come April. Plus, say my Carl Edwards Jr. ends up as the Cubs’ go-to guy. That opens a big door for me to call the guy who put all of his eggs into Brandon Morrow’s basket and name my price.

Ferdinand Dahl posed a 76.40 in his second run, improving from his 42.20 in the first round. Elias Ambuehl of Switzerland posted a 71.60, improving on an 18.80. James Woods had a huge second run, putting together two separate triple corks, improving on a 29.20 with a score of 91.00, good for second place in the finals, behind Braaten.

Gus Kenworthy struggled n his second, with a 20.00, so he’ll have to rely on the third run. Teal Harle of Canada also struggled in both of his runs. Nick Goepper of the United States posted a 69.00, improving on his 59.00, but not nearly enough.

Ale Beaulieu-Marchand pushed countryman McEachran out of the podium spots with his second run, which scored a 92.40. Oscar Wester, the leader from the qualifying rounds, scored just a 62.00 in his second run. Oystein Braaten, already in gold position, fell in his third run so he didn’t improve, but was still in first from his opening run.

Lewis, 33, who caught 24 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns in 2017, ranks second in franchise history in receiving touchdowns (33) and third in receptions (375) and receiving yards (4,502). The next game he plays will tie him with receiver Jimmy Smith for second place on the franchise’s list of most games played (171), behind center Brad Meester (209 games in 14 seasons).

Lewis played in all 16 games in 2017 for just the second time since 2012.

The team also announced it was picking up options on reserve offensive linemen Josh Wells and Tyler Shatley. Wells has played in 32 games with three starts, all in 2017. Shatley has played in 46 games with eight starts.

Alex Bowman is leading the Daytona 500, passing defending race-winner Kurt Busch. Bowman did not race in the Cup Series last season and is making his first start on a restrictor-plate track since October 2016 at Talladega Superspeedway.royals_012

There have been some great Super Bowl halftime performances, but there have also been some awful Super Bowl halftime performances.

Here are the five worst Super Bowl halftime performances in the history of the big game.

Cold Play’s Super Bowl 50 performance wasn’t terrible — it just underwhelmed and lacked spectacle. The band was collectively treated like a footnote and eventually dismissed as an opening act for Beyoncé, who had an electric performance with Bruno Mars and stole the show.

He and supermodel wife Gisele Bündchen, who according to Forbes earned $30.5 million in 2016 through endorsement deals and her own line of lingerie and skincare products, among other mediums, have an embarrassment of wealth. They were one of just two couples on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest-paid celebrities in the world, along with Beyonce and Jay Z.

And though Brady made “just” $8 million in endorsements that year, also according to Forbes, that well of wealth won’t dry up as long as people wear UGGs and eat Dunkin’ Donuts. All this to say Brady has nothing left to prove off the field, either.

Earlier this month, the NFL announced P!nk as the national anthem performer at this year’s Super Bowl. It will be her first time performing on the Super Bowl stage.

Of course, Timberlake already is part of a long list of memorable Super Bowl halftime performances, but his show in 2018 is expected to have plenty of flare. This will be Timberlake’s third time performing on the Super Bowl halftime stage, giving him the distinction of having the most appearances by an individual entertainer.

This will be Timberlake’s third time performing on the Super Bowl Halftime stage, giving him the distinction of having the most appearances by an individual entertainer. He previously performed at Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVII.

The Super Bowl halftime show is the most-watched musical event of the year. Last year’s show, headlined by Lady Gaga, was the most-watched musical event of all time across all platforms and the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance in history through broadcast and digital channels. Super Bowl 52 marks Pepsi’s sixth year as title sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show.
bills_049

The Dolphins made a strong position stronger, taking Missouri DE Charles Harris in the first round and Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan in the second.

Rams: With no first-round pick, they went with South Alabama TE Gerald Everett in the second. He could be a nice complement to returning TE Tyler Higbee. Rams coach Sean McVay loves utilizing the position (no team received more yards out of the tight end position than McVay’s Redskins last season). In his last two years at South Alabama, Everett caught 90 passes for 1,292 yards and 12 TDs.

Dolphins: Harris is versatile and should help in sub packages as a pass rusher. He led Missouri with nine sacks last season and 28 quarterback knockdowns.

Pereira once recalled for us that Young, who died in 2001, saw it all coming, that he kept replay-rule proposals and revisions in a file he marked, “The Monster Grows.”

That monster remains at-large, ready to pounce on and disembowel NFL games here, there and everywhere. Just don’t do something, stand there!

Sean McDermott has brought discipline, preparation and a killer defense. They hit on their first-round cornerback Tre’Davious White and fifth-round linebacker Matt Milano.

They have to play the Patriots twice and at Kansas City. Rookie wideout Zay Jones hasn’t developed as expected, leaving them one weapon shy surrounding playmaking quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

They admit, however, that there was great mystery in the run-up to that halftime show.

“When some of us went to Houston, we were told they were doing rehearsals,” said a relative. “People from the NFL and MTV were there so [we] thought we would get a preview of the performance.”

26. Jameis Winston, quarterback, Buccaneers (16): Winston lived up to the hype as a player, turning in a solid rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick and giving the downtrodden Bucs reason to hope for an imminent turnaround. Winston becoming a star could be a problem for the league, though, as his ugly rape case in college won’t soon be forgotten.bills_029

Earlier this month, Katie Sowers became just the second woman hired by an NFL team as a full-time coach.

The offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers made more history Tuesday, when she came out publicly as a lesbian in a report by Outsports, making her the first openly LGBT coach in league history.

“No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are,” Sowers told Outsports. “There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation.”

What is happening as the season enters its home stretch? The day-after conversations now center on fights over necklaces and nasty hits, with Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals the most recent example. Vontaze Burfict was stretchered off the field to undergo concussion evaluation after an illegal hit by JuJu Smith-Schuster, who taunted him as he stood over him. Not long after that, George Iloka of the Bengals drilled Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the face mask on a game-tying touchdown. All of which came after the sobering sight of a Steelers player being immobilized and carted off, to be hospitalized overnight with a spinal contusion.

The NFL swiftly punished Smith-Schuster and Iloka, suspending each for one game for “violations of safety-related playing rules.”

“With Katie’s announcement, athletes around the league and throughout sport will have a better understanding of how their words and actions impact those around them, only furthering the effort to make sport inclusive and accessible for everyone — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Hudson Taylor, the executive director of Athlete Ally, said in a statement.

“While we’ve seen a growing number of athletes come out over the past 5 years, we’ve failed to see that progress on the coaching front, which makes coach Sowers’ decision especially heartening. We’re hopeful that her announcement will open the door for other coaches to follow in her footsteps.”

“I think teams make big mistakes in the draft, and look I’ve been a part, Lord knows I haven’t been perfect in the teams I’ve been on, we’ve all made mistakes,” Ballard told reporters at his news conference. “But I don’t ever want to pass up a really good player that I think has a long career in this league that fits our criteria of what we want.”cowboys_373

They currently combine for just one top-50 win.

Losses by Arizona State, Iowa and Michigan State also helped the Wolfpack’s cause. Cal also benefited from that re-evaluation of those data points. The Bears went 1-1 on their Pac-12 swing through Los Angeles, but moved up two spots to No. 17 overall. Cal sports an RPI of 17 and overall and nonconference schedules rated in the top 25.

And both NC State and Cal are likely to pick up a few more top-50 wins to maintain or improve on these spots.

The committee releases only its top 16 teams in the reveals, but when applying that information to a full bracket, deeper ramifications exist. Such is the case of the SEC. Six teams from the conference appeared on the committee’s list, meaning one procedure it likes to follow — separating conference foes along the top four seed lines — isn’t possible.

Coughlin was confident that his players could win with physicality and discipline, no matter who was on the other side — and it often worked. There are a ton of coaches who try to outsmart Belichick and Brady, but Coughlin’s not one of them. The Coughlin-led Giants didn’t do that, and I don’t see the Jaguars trying to do that this weekend, either. The goal is to beat them with physicality.

But the team that has become known for obsessive preparation habits made clear in the days leading up to Saturday’s game it was thinking about nothing but the No. 5-seeded Titans. It’s why SN contributing columnist and former NFL GM Jeff Diamond, who knows from experience, wrote that Tennessee would be walking into a hornet’s nest in Foxborough.

While Okorafor has the physical skill set to be a top-flight tackle, the inconsistency of his game film (especially against better competition) is a concern. There will be some talented tackles in Mobile, including Tyrell Crosby (Oregon), Brian O’Neill (Pittsburgh), and Brandon Parker (North Carolina A&T), among others. Okorafor must move his feet to the whistle as a pass protector and attack defenders in the run game to show scouts he’s serious about meeting his potential.

Blanding is an All-American and one of the more prolific tacklers in ACC history with 495 stops. Scouts do question his speed, however, and wonder if he will be able to handle coverage responsibilities at the next level. He’ll get a chance to show his agility in drills during Senior Bowl practices, and then he’ll have to mirror both big-bodied and quick receivers in scrimmages and the game. If he holds up well in those situations, he’ll be a top-50 pick.
cowboys_093

Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod continue to raise a fist during the national anthem, with Chris Long (at left) showing support.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Post in an email that 98 percent of all available tickets have been sold and that sales are down one percent, a figure that doesn’t include the Los Angeles Chargers or Rams, which have significantly reduced seating capacity at their stadiums.

Trump’s Tuesday tweet continues a theme he has sounded since September, when, in a speech in Alabama, he called for NFL owners to suspend or fire any “son of a b—-” who doesn’t stand for the anthem, a demonstration begun by Colin Kaepernick in the summer of 2016. On Friday, he tweeted that Commissioner Roger Goodell “has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss!”

That wasn’t necessary Saturday. There was a bit of good fortune for Foles, like when a would-be interception caromed off a Falcons defender for a key catch that set up a field goal at the end of the first half. But Foles steadied himself and outplayed Ryan, the reigning league MVP, with a 23-for-30, 246-yard passing performance.

Yet even the doubts faced by Keenum and Foles don’t stack up to the level of derision aimed at Bortles, the Jaguars’ once-prized young quarterback who has faced intense scrutiny for his decision-making in the pocket, his delivery and his propensity to throw interceptions. Houston Texans defensive standout Jadeveon Clowney referred to Bortles as “trash” this season, and that was while Bortles was playing well.

McDermott lands in a far different situation in Buffalo. The Bills have not made a playoff appearance since the 1999 season. Ryan spent two seasons there attempting to get the team back to the postseason and couldn’t, failing to deliver on his pledge to make the Bills an on-field bully. Things looked particularly scattered at the end of the season when the team opted to sit down quarterback Tyrod Taylor for contractual reasons but then sent interim coach Anthony Lynn out to explain a decision in which he had not participated.

Lynn was the favorite for the job heading in. McDermott was coming off a season in Carolina in which the Panthers’ defense, minus inexplicably jettisoned cornerback Josh Norman, ranked 21st in the league. Carolina, coming off its Super Bowl appearance, failed to make the playoffs. But McDermott’s good work in previous seasons was not forgotten. cowboys_055

The Eagles were 7-9 last season under Wentz and rookie head coach Doug Pederson.

He’s PFF’s 27th-graded quarterback, 32nd in passing grade out of 38 qualifying passers. He needs his rushing skill to produce for fantasy. Well, this week, he and the Panthers face a Vikings defense that is PFF’s No. 9 team in run-defense grading, and has only allowed two quarterbacks (DeShone Kizer and Kirk Cousins) to score on the ground all year.

Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams: The Eagles haven’t allowed a running back to score a rushing touchdown since Week 4, and have only given up three all year. The team has allowed an average of 41 rushing yards a game to the position since Week 4. Two of Gurley’s three lowest-yardage games of the year have come in two of the Rams’ three losses. The Eagles haven’t allowed a team to top 24 points since Week 2 against Kansas City (and only once all year), and Gurley’s fantasy production tracks pretty strongly to the Rams’ point totals. Don’t expect a shootout here.

Few saw this coming. Finishing above .500 this season would have qualified as progress. The season began with Pederson facing not only criticism but also speculation that his defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, could be after his job. Pederson and Schwartz dismissed such talk, and Jenkins credits Pederson for forging a partnership with his players.

Martavis Bryant and Juju Smith-Schuster, WRs, Steelers: Pittsburgh comes out of its bye week and gets a very tasty matchup for its arsenal of weapons: the Indianapolis Colts. Indy is also without one of its top cornerbacks, having released Vontae Davis on Thursday following a dispute over his groin injury. Nevertheless, all this means is that the Steelers offense should be very tough to stop Sunday. For those who don’t own LeVeon Bell or Antonio Brown, there are other potential productive players to consider: Enter Bryant and Smith-Schuster; and maybe even tight end Jessie James. Smith-Schuster is coming off a 10-target outing in Week 8.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys: While Dez Bryant (see above) is listed as questionable but saying he’ll play, Williams remains a player of interest when Dallas plays Atlanta. Williams is coming off one of the best games of his career, having hauled in all nine of his targets for 141 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9. cowboys_031