Maybe you’re not into reading and you skipped our comprehensive breakdown of how EA Sports develops Madden ratings for 2,600 NFL players. Maybe you also passed on my story about what it took to get into the game and just how rough it would be for a normal person out on the NFL gridiron (even a virtual gridiron). We still have you covered with this short video produced by Paul DiNatale, Ryan Nantell and Patrick Smith on the whole process, from my grisly tryout to how I fared playing quarterback for the New York Giants.

When Hakeem Olajuwon speaks, people listen. And what he had to say about the Denver Nuggets’ JaVale McGee was significant.“No question, I see him as another star,” Olajuwon said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports in Houston. “That guy should dominate the league.”McGee has been working out with “The Dream,” and the Hall of Famer center known for his dazzling array of inside moves sees a lot in the athletic but unpolished Nugget.“He has tremendous talent,” Olajuwon said. “I give him all these moves and he can finish and he’s already skilled. So now just show him how to use that skill to (get) to the next level.”Then he added: “McGee is incredible because he’s not just a seven-footer, he’s skilled. He’s very agile.”And Olajuwon said McGee’s range and mobility give him a skill set to blossom into a special player.“Most of my moves are designed from a shot-blockers perspective,” Olajuwon said. “I am a shot blocker. What are the moves most difficult for a shot blocker? I’m coming from inside out. This move is very difficult for a shot blocker to block.“The moves that we work on are not for a stiff big guy. With him, he’s agile. The move flows. So I’m excited to see what he’s going to do this year.”Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri said on a Denver radio station, “Hakeem told me he was just amazed at JaVale’s physical abilities and his athletic abilities. How long he is, how quick his feet are. I saw him working on keeping his feet away from each other and not tangling; just little things that you take for granted. He worked high on his jump hook and on getting his lift very high when he does that. He told him nobody can stop him, nobody is as big as him if he gets his lift and his hand up. There’s so many things Hakeem is teaching him, and we’re very pleased with his work.” read more

Not that so many people have missed the NHL, but the league and players seem to be finally making some headway in labor negotiations that have claimed the first month of the season.A secret, long-awaited bargaining session has spurred so much hope that there are plans for another meeting in coming days.NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and players’ association special counsel Steve Fehr met for long stretches Saturday in an undisclosed location, marking the first time the sides had gotten together for talks in more than two weeks.”We had a series of meetings over the course of the day and had a good, frank discussion on the most important issues separating us,” Daly told The Associated Press in an email Sunday morning. ”We plan to meet again early in the week.”Daly and Fehr hadn’t met since Oct. 18 when both sides rejected offers, but a series of phone conversations this week did enough to produce a new round of talks. It is unclear how long they were together on Saturday, but the discussions lasted well into the night.”I agree with what Bill said. Hopefully we can continue the dialogue, expand the group, and make steady progress,” Fehr said Sunday in a statement.There is a sense of urgency now because nearly two months of the season and the prized Winter Classic have already been called off. The hope of a full season being played is already gone, and if a deal isn’t reached soon, the NHL could be looking at its second lost campaign since 2004.The lockout reached its 50th day Sunday, but a glimmer of optimism emerged. There have already been 327 games canceled – including the outdoor Winter Classic that was wiped out Friday.A big point of contention between the NHL and the players’ association has been the ”make whole” provision, which will ensure that all existing player contracts will be paid out regardless of any changes made to the split of hockey-related revenues or contract language.The NHL appears ready to cover more of the costs of those deals as opposed to making them part of the players’ share of revenue in future years. In its most recent offer last month, the NHL said it would honor the current contracts in deferred payments, but those would be included in the players’ share of revenues. read more

Oklahoma City Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins and his brother-in-law Quincy Alpough have both been charged with assault after allegedly punching a woman and her brother  outside a Houston nightclub July 20, according to multiple reports.According to  police reports, 28-year-old Perkins and his brother-in-law Alpough were outside Nox nightclub in Harris County, Texas, when they got into an altercation with the complainant, Mikeeta Cotton, after the vehicle she was driving collided with another car in a fender bender accident.According to court documents, Alpough emerged from one of the vehicles and pushed Cotton. At that point, Cotton’s brother got out of the car “to check on her.” He told police that Perkins, who was a passenger in the other car, punched him in the head, causing him to fall to the ground.Cotton alleges Perkins then punched her in the face with a closed fist and knocked her to the ground.A third person in Cotton’s car claims Alpough elbowed her in the throat — knocking her unconscious. All three victims, whose story has been corroborated by additional witnesses, also say that a group of people then kicked them while they were on the ground.The case was originally dismissed in July, but was re-opened after investigators decided there was enough evidence to charge Perkins and Alpough.Perkins was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on $1,000 bond Thursday morning. read more

The Yankees rank third even by this standard. But the Red Sox are a clear No. 1 and are about three times as popular as you’d guess from the size of the Boston media market. The Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Pirates and Reds also over-perform relative to their market size.Red Sox haters might complain that the team’s market is much bigger than Boston alone: They are also the “local” team in the rest of New England (except for western Connecticut).But extent to which a team’s popularity expands may have a lot to do with how well the team is run — and how often it wins. The Toronto Blue Jays theoretically have a whole country to themselves — but they are unpopular relative to the size of the Toronto market itself, let alone as compared to the population of Canada. The correlation between a team’s Google search popularity and its number of post-season appearances since 2004 is .62, a fair amount higher than that between its popularity and its market size (.38).Performing worst relative to its population are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I’m somewhat suspicious of this datapoint, however. There are so many variations on the team’s name (“LA Angels,” “Anaheim Angels,” “That Team With Mike Trout and 24 Other People”) that Google Trends might not be picking up on all the ways to search for them, even with its new-and-improved algorithms. Facebook maps of sports fandom, such as the one Facebook just published about Major League Baseball, are one of my favorite things:But as Will Oremus of Slate notes, this approach conceals important information. Facebook’s map, which identifies the team with the most “likes” in each U.S. county, might give you the idea that the Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins are exceptionally popular. Indeed, they are reasonably well-liked over a broad geographical area. But most of the counties in their territories are rural and have low populations. The problem is analogous to looking at maps of presidential election results by county, which might convey the impression that Mitt Romney won the 2012 election when he did not.Another way to evaluate a baseball team’s popularity is to look at data from Google Trends.Google Trends recently unveiled a beta feature in which it aggregates search terms into topics. For example, searches for “St. Louis Cardinals,” “Saint Louis Cardinals,” “cardinals baseball” and so forth, are grouped under the same topic heading. (The feature can also theoretically avoid false positives; for example, searches for “Texas Ranger” that were seeking information on the defunct television show will not be confused with those for the baseball team.) In most cases, this functionality seems to be quite smart; the topic “Miami Marlins” seems to pick up searches for “Florida Marlins” as well, as the team was known prior to 2012.The chart below lists the number of Google searches for the topic associated with each MLB team. The figures listed are relative to the league average. (The Atlanta Braves’ popularity, for example, is listed as 1.14, which means that they are searched for 1.14 times as often as the average MLB club.) They reflect Google searches worldwide since 2004, except in the case of the Washington Nationals, where I’ve run the numbers from April 2005 forward, because the team played in Montreal before that time.By Google searches, the Rangers have only about average popularity, while the Twins and the Rockies are below average. Conversely, the New York Mets, who didn’t win a single county in the Facebook map, are the sixth-most searched for team worldwide.The most striking feature of the Google data, however, is the dominance of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. They are searched for 3.8 and 3.7 times, respectively, more often than the league average, and more than 10 times as often as the least popular teams.The Yankees, of course, have a large population to draw from: There are roughly 20 million people in the New York metro area. How does each team’s Google search popularity compare to the size of its television market?We make that comparison in the table below. I’ve listed each team’s popularity on Google, the relative size of its TV market (markets with two teams are divided evenly between them), and then taken the ratio between the two. read more

2014Oakland3-132 2013Tampa Bay4-12— Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 8Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 8 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game 2001Detroit2-1410 SEA73SEA65HOU 38, SEA 41-8.2– Arizona3-43119.9 Miami4-32419.1 Cleveland0-81119.0 SEASONTEAMFINAL RECORDYRS. TO PLAYOFFS NO79NO75CHI 12, NO 20-4.0– WINS 2007St. Louis3-13— NE84NE81LAC 13, NE 21-3.6– Oakland3-52220.6 TB55%CAR52%CAR 17, TB 3+5.1– We’re at the unofficial halfway point of the season, and with the possible exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, no team’s season has been without turbulence. The defense of the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots has been dreadful at times. Eli Manning and the New York Giants had a decent chance of making the playoffs in preseason, but they have proven to be terrible. Even teams that are currently cruising, like the Steelers and Saints, have had to survive rough patches. But one thing has been consistent in this strange season: The San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns have been utterly hopeless.This is nothing new. The Browns and 49ers rank No. 1 and No. 2 for fewest wins since Week 1 of 2015. And while the 49ers received some positive news Tuesday when they acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots for a second-round draft pick, the Browns reportedly failed to notify the NFL about a trade for Bengals backup QB A.J. McCarron before the trade deadline. (So at least the Niners are better than the Browns when it comes to filing logistical paperwork.) Regardless, both teams are on course to finish last in their respective divisions for the third straight year.If they keep up their incompetence, the Browns and Niners will be rewarded with the opportunity to select the best college players in next year’s draft. The NFL’s draft system is designed to prevent teams from being too bad for too long, but this duo has defied that system in recent years — and may continue to do so. Source: ESPN The future is bleak for the Browns and 49ersFewest wins projected in the NFL over the next three seasons PIT52PIT57PIT 20, DET 15+2.1– Of the 10 teams that have started a season 0-8 from 2001 to 2014, half of them made the playoffs within the next three seasons. Some of these turnarounds shouldn’t be surprising, especially in the case of the 2011 Indianapolis Colts, who lost Peyton Manning to a neck injury prior to the start of the season. They selected Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft and made the playoffs for the next three years. Likewise, the infamous 0-16 Detroit Lions parlayed their ineptitude in 2008 into Matthew Stafford and made the playoffs within three seasons.But then when you look at the other five teams that started 0-8 — which each averaged 4.7 wins a season for the three years after their 0-8 start — the future suddenly becomes gloomier.To test what the future holds for these two, we ran a regression to try to predict the total number of wins of all 30 teams over the next three seasons, based on statistics from the current season. We used some standard metrics: offensive and defensive expected points added and a concoction of each player’s age and number of snaps played. What our model spat out was interesting but not shocking: Cleveland and San Fran are projected to be two of the worst teams for the next three years. Perhaps the addition of Garoppolo will help the Niners outpace our projections slightly, and perhaps the Browns will finally develop that franchise quarterback, be it possible draft picks like Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold or Mason Rudolph or even current rookie starter DeShone Kizer. (Just kidding, it’s not DeShone Kizer.) But for both teams, our projections see no clear light at the end of the tunnel. 2011Indianapolis2-141 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION FiveThirtyEight vs. The ReadersHalloween weekend gave some real frights to the readers in our NFL prediction game, in which we invite you to outsmart our Elo algorithm. The biggest came in the Buffalo Bills’ 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders, where the readers were more hopeful that Derek Carr and company had turned a corner. Buffalo held serve at home and registered a net 12.8-point loss for our readers. The Miami Dolphins had their biggest nightmare of the season on Thursday, when their league-worst offense was shut out for the second time this season, this time against the Baltimore Ravens. That loss wasn’t pretty for the readers, either — they netted a 4.4-point loss.Week 8 wasn’t all gloom and doom for the readers, though. They enjoyed a 5.1-point net win in the Carolina Panthers’ 17-3 victory on the road over the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Dallas also came to the readers’ rescue, handing them 3.4 net points with its 33-19 win over Washington. Thanks for playing this week — be sure you make your Week 9 picks nice and early. 2010Buffalo4-12— The playoffs may never come after a bad startYears until teams made it to playoffs after starting season with 0-8 record, 2001-14 Indianapolis2-62716.0 TEAM2017 RECORDPAST THREE SEASONSNEXT THREE SEASONS N.Y. Giants1-62320.4 2007Miami1-151 N.Y. Jets3-51920.1 2013Jacksonville4-12— 2008Cincinnati4-11-11 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.RESULTREADERS’ NET PTS BAL53BAL51MIA 0, BAL 40-4.4– WSH52DAL54DAL 33, WSH 19+3.4– 2008Detroit0-163 ATL60ATL64ATL 25, NYJ 20+0.7– CIN70CIN71IND 23, CIN 24-1.2– MIN84MIN86MIN 33, CLE 16-1.2– Chicago3-51421.8 BUF66BUF53OAK 14, BUF 34-12.8– San Francisco0-81516.1 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group KC78KC76DEN 19, KC 29-3.6– Detroit3-42721.9 PHI90PHI90SF 10, PHI 33-1.4– The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. read more

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The No. 5 Ohio State football team had arguably its loudest statement of the season last week in Columbus versus then-No.10 Nebraska. On Saturday against Maryland, OSU followed up the 62-3 beatdown over the Huskers with another 62-3 demolition of the Terrapins at Capital One Field.In the age of the College Football Playoff, impressive wins in ranked matchups carry a lot of weight, but dominating an inferior opponent is just as important in the eyes of the committee. OSU now enters the final two weeks of the season where every opportunity must be seized by the Buckeyes.“Championships are won and lost in November and you start seeing teams take a step away from the pack,” said redshirt junior guard Billy Price. “We’re hitting at the right moment. We’re peaking at the right moment.”The offensive firepower started early in the first half with redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett and junior H-back Curtis Samuel at the centerfold. On the second play of the game, Barrett threw a pick to Maryland cornerback J.C. Jackson, but it was ultimately called back on a defensive pass interference penalty. Seven plays later, Samuel took a handoff from Barrett and ran two yards, untouched into the end zone.On the next drive, Barrett led a flawless series that ended in his first touchdown of the day — a four-yard touchdown run. He commanded a four-play drive, racking up 56 yards in just 1:15. Against Nebraska, the OSU offense drove downfield at a stunning rate. The Buckeyes only had one drive that took longer than five minutes. The Terrapins provided even less resistance to the OSU offense, with not one touchdown drive being longer than 4:12. By the end of the first half, Barrett had four total touchdowns and 192 passing yards on 13 of 17 passing, and Samuel accounted for 122 total yards with one touchdown, including four plays of double-digit yardage.“Like I’ve been saying for weeks, we’ve been calling the right plays, but it’s just about execution,” Samuel said. “We felt that we weren’t executing at the highest level possible. Now, we’re just executing. That’s why everything looks smooth out there.”Smooth is an understatement. When combining the second half against Nebraska with the first half of the Maryland game, OSU has scored 76 points, which is more than the Wisconsin, Penn State and Northwestern games combined.One major factor for the OSU offensive chemistry is the use of Samuel. OSU coach Urban Meyer and co-offensive coordinators Ed Warinner and Tim Beck have been ridiculed in the past for the lack of touches for the dynamic playmaker. The last three weeks, Samuel has had 16 carries and 20 receptions for 389 total yards and six touchdowns. Currently, Samuel is the only player in college football with over 600 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards. Meyer had one word to describe the play of his H-back.“Ridiculous,” he said. “The thing that’s so good about Curtis, his football smarts is unbelievable. You think about the things he does and now he’s back to return punts as well. Get him rested cause we got a big one next week.”The Buckeyes have two games left on its regular season schedule: Michigan State and Michigan. With No. 2 Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, OSU is in the picture of the College Football Playoff. And not only is the offense dominant rolling into East Lansing, Michigan, next week, the defense has been stout.The Scarlet and Gray surrendered just 176 yards to Maryland, compared to 581 by Barrett and the offense. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore had his fourth pick of the season, and the team’s 15th. He said that each and every game, the defensive backs try to flip the momentum.“Before the season, they didn’t even know who we were because of the great players we had like Tyvis (Powell), Vonn (Bell) and Eli (Apple),” Lattimore said. “We were just trying to show everyone there was no dropoff in the defensive backfield.”Redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard, who has been a vocal and exemplary leader on defense, said that the mentality for the defense in the second half of the season has changed to finishing each play.“When we have a team on the ropes, we kinda always say we want to step on their throats and not let up because we gotta send a message, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Hubbard said. “And I like it.” read more

Members of Ohio State’s men’s ice hockey team celebrate a goal by freshman forward Tanner Laczynski (9) in the third period of the Buckeye’s game against Bowling Green on Oct. 22. The Buckeyes won 6-1. Credit: Breanna Crye | For The LanternAfter opening the new year with a split series last week against No. 4 Penn State, and cracking the top 10 in the USCHO.com rankings, the 10th-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team (10-4-4) is set for two nonconference meetings against Arizona State (6-13-0) on Friday and Saturday.The Sun Devils’ hockey program is in just its second year of existence, but has performed well against good opponents. With the Sun Devils facing another top-10 opponents this weekend, OSU coach Steve Rohlik said that win or lose for Arizona State, the Sun Devils impact may be bigger off the ice.“I think it’s really important what they’re doing. They’re the face of expansion,” Rohlik said. “It could be the door out West, and I think all of us in college hockey are hoping for their success because we love to see this game grow.”The Sun Devils are fresh off three straight losses to ranked opponents, including being swept by No. 1 Denver last weekend. Coach Greg Powers’ squad is allowing an average of four goals per game this season, and has been outscored by its opponents 84-47 in 19 games.Despite that, Rohlik said ASU is a quality opponent, and he anticipates two tough games.“I know they work extremely hard, are well-coached. They just started Division I, but they’ve played some awfully good teams pretty darn well,” he said. “They’ve won some games, and I’m impressed with what they’re doing on tape.” Freshman forward Tanner Laczynski returns to the Buckeyes following his appearance with the United States hockey junior team for the World Junior Championships in Canada, where the Stars and Stripes defeated the hosts in the gold medal match in a shootout, 5-4.Headed into the matchup with the Sun Devils, Laczynski said being a newcomer makes them an unfamiliar opponent, but added that he expects them to come ready to work.“They’re going to try to get in the Big Ten in the next couple years, so this is a big game for them,” he said. “They’re going to be ready to play, and we can’t take them lightly. So we’ve got to be ready, just like every game, and play a full 60 minutes both games.”Puck drop at the Schottenstein Center is set for 7 p.m. Friday night, and 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. read more

The 30th annual Lady Buckeye Invitational will be held Saturday and Sunday on the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State Golf Club.Ohio State, the defending champion, will host 11 other teams from the Midwest region, including multiple teams from the Big Ten Conference.“It’s exciting to play on our home course and with the Big Ten Tournament next weekend, this will be a good warm-up,” said In Hong Lim, a junior at OSU and the individual champion in last year’s tournament.The Lady Buckeye Invitational is the last regular season tournament for OSU before the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA regional and championship tournaments.“This is the best tournament of the year in my opinion,” said Emma Jandel, the only senior on the team. “It’s nice that we don’t have to travel, and I’m excited to play at home for the last time.”Even though Lim is the defending individual champ, she said, “I don’t really think about the individual scores. I try to play for the team.”Lim and Jandel agree that Michigan State will be the team’s biggest competition. They have met multiple times this year at other tournaments and scores have been close.“Michigan State is ranked just above us right now, so it will be exciting to play them,” Lim said.Shotgun start will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.The Buckeyes are looking to add another victory to the 12 championships they have won in the past at the Lady Buckeye Invitational. read more