New York Giants slight underdog in second Philly game according to Vegas

The New York Giants almost pulled off a win against the Eagles in their first matchup of the season, but Vegas doesn’t favor the team to come that close again on Sunday. However, they weren’t positive enough about the odds for the Eagles to give them a big advantage either. It’s hard to call this game in one direction or the other and the Eagles came out as a slight but not overwhelming favorite.

The spread is -4 in favor of the Eagles according to BetOnline. The money line for the Eagles is -212 compared to +182 for the Giants. And the over/under for the game has been set at 44.5 points.

This comes after the Eagles pulled off a narrow victory in the first meeting between the two teams, after Evan Engram’s now famous dropped pass. The Giants could have won if they were able to hold onto the ball for a bit longer and run the clock out, but the Eagles seem to have improved since then.

They held the Cowboys to 9 points in their most recent victory, the only game they’ve played since their one point win against the Giants. They’re also less banged up injury wise than they were for the first game. Namely, big name receiver Alshon Jeffery is expected to make his return against the Giants. It remains to be seen how much he’ll add to the Philadelphia offense.

This one isn’t going to be easy for the Giants by any stretch of the imagination, but they have their own improvements since the Eagles game and that will be put to the test in Sunday’s matchup that they remain an underdog for.

Rafael Dos Anjos wins grueling fight against Paul Felder at UFC Vegas 14

Tonight the UFC returned for their 14th fight night inside the APEX. In the main event of the evening, there was a lightweight matchup between former champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13), and The Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5).

It’s been a wild ride on how we got to this UFC main event. Last week at this time, fight fans thought they were going to see RDA take on Islam Makhachev. However, staff infection pulled Makhachev out of the anticipated main event.

The UFC looked around for a replacement and found a quality one at the commentators booth. Paul Felder was expected to be the color commentator for tonight’s fights. Instead, the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC found himself in the main event.

Opening Rounds

As the fight underway, Felder looked very sharp in the striking. Felder was doing a good job of landing kicks up the middle and straight shots. RDA had his moments as well, but Felder was getting the better of the exchanges.

Two minutes into the first round, Dos Anjos shot in and landed his first takedown. Felder did a good job of working his way back to the fence and getting back up. Once back on their feet, RDA was doing much better popping Felder with straight lefts.

Competitive first round, but it should go to RDA. As the second round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, RDA continued to pop Felder with shots up the middle. A minute into the round and Felder started opening up with powerful kicks.

Just as Felder started to land, Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown. However, Felder did a good job of defending. Once they separated, both men started trading big shots. RDA then shot in and landed a takedown with two minutes left in the round.

Middle Rounds

The former UFC champion was able to control Felder the rest of the round to take a 2-0 lead. As the third round got underway, Felder continued to look for low kicks. The opening 30 seconds were all Felder which caused RDA to shoot for a takedown.

Felder defended extremely well and kept the fight standing. As soon as RDA got close, Felder initiated the clinch and pushed Dos Anjos against the fence. However, RDA used it to shoot in for a takedown which he landed.

RDA came close to getting Felder’s back, but Felder forced a scramble to get the fight back to the feet. After a brief exchange, Dos Anjos shot in for another takedown. Dos Anjos was able to slam Felder down to the ground and sealed the third round for him.

Felder opened the fourth strong knowing he needed to finish the former UFC champion. RDA started landing decent shots, but he was continuing to look for the takedown. However, Felder was doing a good job of holding the center.

Felder was landing some good shots, but a RDA shot found Felder once again against the fence. Felder did a good job of staying on his feet and he even reversed the position. However, he wasn’t able to separate until there was about a minute left in the round.

In the final minute, Felder really started to open up his striking. Just as Felder was landing some good shots, he shot for a takedown and landed. RDA got back up, but it was a much better round for the Irish Dragon.

RDA’s successful return at UFC Vegas 14

As the final round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, Felder knew that it was all or nothing. Felder opened with a beautiful 1-2, but RDA countered with a good body kick.

Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown, but Felder defended well. However, after a brief separation, RDA shot in and landed the takedown. Dos Anjos was looking for the submission when he was on top in the final round.

However, Felder was doing a decent job of defending. Despite that, Dos Anjos was doing a good job of holding him down. With a minute left in the fight, Felder was able to work his way back up to his feet.

However, the former UFC champion was able to get him right back down. Felder displayed an incredible amount of heart, but RDA was too efficient and strong throughout all five rounds.

Rafael Dos Anjos defeats Paul Felder by Split Decision (50-45, 50-45, 47-48)

Buffalo Bills ready for the challenge of Kyler Murray, Cardinals offense

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The Buffalo Bills conquered the forces of Russell Wilson last week, but their NFC West endeavors get no easier.

A win over the NFC-leading Seattle Seahawks should’ve, in theory, rendered doubters in the 2020 Buffalo Bills an endangered species. The Bills not only led a majority of the Seattle game by at least two possessions, but they neutralized the Swiss Army quarterback that is Russell Wilson through four turnovers (two interceptions and fumbles each).

But any progress the Bills made last weekend can immediately become undone by Wilson’s NFC West compatriot.

The road to respectability revealed a fast lane for the Bills last weekend, but another roadblock awaits in the form of the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Buffalo (7-2) will face an Arizona offense that sits atop the NFL at 422 yards a game. The Cardinals (5-3) not only enter with voltage but fury as well after enduring a 34-31 defeat to the Miami Dolphins last weekend.

The primary reason for the revolution has undoubtedly been a combination of quarterback Kyler Murray, a top overall draft pick who has made several large leaps in his sophomore season. Murray has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his eight games thus far. That includes three each over the past two games to tally 16 on the season.

Buffalo brass knows a dangerous challenge lies ahead.

“They’ve got a terrific young quarterback…and an offense that is ranked number one in the league, so we’re gonna have our hands full with what they do on offense,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said earlier this week, per Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “Trying to get a grasp around what’s the best approach that we need to take to slow them down. It’s hard to compare (Seattle and Arizona) other than the fact that they are both very explosive offenses. We’re gonna have to bring our ‘A’ game to have a chance to be successful.”

“The speed and quickness element are off the charts,” head coach Sean McDermott added in the same report. “Having never coached against him before, just when you’re watching on film and you watch it on TV, you can see the difference. We’re talking elite (defensive) athletes that are around him, he’s not running around just average athletes out there, he’s running around great athletes, and he looks different even than those athletes, so I’ve been able to get an appreciation for him.”

Murray has also caused relentless damage on the ground, gaining at 50 rushing yards in all but two games this season. He put up a career-best 106 in a losing effort against the Dolphins last week but the Cardinals are 6-3 when he otherwise reaches the half-century mark on the ground.

During game prep for Arizona, reserve receiver/returner Isaiah McKenzie played the role of Murray on the scout team.

“It certainly helps,” McDermott said of the McKenzie imitation, in another report from Garrett Stepien of 247 Sports. “A lot? I don’t know, I think that remains to be seen. I would just say it certainly helps to get ourselves acclimated to that type of speed and quickness.”

Another factor in the Arizona revolution has been receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who came over to the Cardinals through an offseason trade with the Houston Texans. Hopkins’ final game in the Space City came against the Bills during the AFC Wild Card playoffs, when he earned 90 yards on six receptions in addition to a two-point conversion in the Texans’ overtime victory. Arizona’s other offensive talents include running back Kenyan Drake and Hopkins’ fellow receivers Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, and the immortal Larry Fitzgerald.

Only adding to the Bills’ plight is the fact that they’ll be missing two of their top cornerbacks (Josh Norman, Levi Wallace) and a strong reserve safety (Dean Marlowe) after a positive COVID-19 test also sidelined several of those in close contact. Buffalo has made several roster moves to combat the losses.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Rookie Darnay Holmes quietly having impressive rookie season

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants have seen their 2020 rookie class impress through the first nine weeks of the season. First-round pick Andrew Thomas struggled early one but has improved his play week-by-week. Third-round offensive tackle Matt Peart has played limited snaps but impressed with each performance. And fourth-round defensive back Darnay Holmes has not had his name called much by commentators but, quietly, has had an impressive rookie season.

Darnay Holmes is a rookie cornerback out of UCLA that the Giants have been starting in the slot this season. Slot cornerback was a major area of weakness for the Giants in 2019, but it has not been the defense’s kryptonite this season. This is in large part due to Darnay Holmes playing at a high level as a rookie.

Darnay Holmes Stats and Highlights

According to Pro Football Focus, Darnay Holmes is the only rookie cornerback in the NFL with 15+ targets to not allow a touchdown this season. Darnay has been targeted in coverage 39 times and has held his matchups scoreless. Some of his toughest matchups include CeeDee Lamb and JuJu Smith-Schuster. This is especially impressive when considering that Darnay Holmes has never played slot cornerback before this season. At UCLA, Holmes was an outside cornerback. He has made the transition inside for the first time this season.

Darnay Holmes has 2 pass deflections on the season so far. He has also totaled 21 combined tackles and even gotten busy as a pass-rusher with 0.5 sack, 2 pressures, and 1 quarterback hit on 14 blitz attempts.

One area where Darnay can improve, however, is his tackling consistency. Holmes has missed 5 tackles on the season for a 19.2% missed tackle percentage, a percentage that is a bit too high. Overall, it has been an impressive rookie season for Darnay Holmes as he starts his first career games at the slot cornerback position. Holmes is a young and talented player with room to grow and he could grow into a large role on the Giants’ defense long-term.

New York Yankees: Can Mike Ford have a role in 2021?

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

New York Yankees first-baseman Mike Ford had a breakout 2019 season. He hit .259 with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs in his first major-league season, adding a .909 OPS. However, 2020 was a completely different story, finding himself at the alternate site at times. With the Yankees potentially adding multiple infielders this off-season, it leads questions as to whether Ford will have a role on the team in 2021.

Potential Reinforcements

Mike Ford provides a lefty spark off the bench, but may not be an option down the road. He struggles against righties with just a .205 average and his defense lacks.

That being said, the Yankees are looking to add infielders this off-season. The main priority is to retain DJ LeMahieu, but are also in the mix to trade for Francisco Lindor and to sign other free agents, such as Andrelton Simmons or Tommy La Stella.

If the Yankees were to re-sign LeMahieu and acquire one more infielder, it could potentially risk Ford being out of a spot. It could potentially also put current first-baseman Luke Voit out of a spot if LeMahieu were to move over to first-base.

But, since Ford is a lefty, it could help his case for staying if LeMahieu switches to first. There’s almost a greater chance that Ford stays over Voit in many situations, as lefty power is very valuable, especially at Yankee Stadium.

If the Yankees can return Mike Ford back to 2019 form, there’s a very real chance that he keeps a role with the Yankees. Him being a lefty helps his chances of staying in New York.

Buffalo Bills announce COVID-19 related absences for Sunday’s game

Buffalo Bills CB Josh Norman has tested positive for COVID-19. Three players and an assistant coach will likewise miss Sunday’s game.

The Buffalo Bills announced on Saturday that cornerback Josh Norman has tested positive for COVID-19. Norman will thus not play in Buffalo’s Sunday visit to Glendale against the Arizona Cardinals (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox). Three players who were determined to be in close contact will also be held from the trip, as will defensive assistant coach Leonard Johnson. Among the missing players are CB Levi Wallace, S Dean Marlowe, and TE Tyler Kroft.

Norman was expected to make his return to the Buffalo lineup after missing three games to a hamstring injury. The absence of he and Wallace comes as the Bills (7-2) take on an Arizona team that tops the NFL in total offense (422 yards per game). Buffalo’s three primarily cornerbacks (Norman, Wallace, and Tre’Davious White) have been communally active for only a single game this season. Though listed second in their respective depth chart rows, Kroft and Marlowe have made strong contributions to the Bills’ success. Kroft leads all Buffalo tight ends with 119 receiving yards and is tied for the overall team lead with three touchdown receptions alongside Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs. Marlowe is perhaps best known for recovering the crucial fumble that gave the Bills a 24-21 victory over New England two weeks ago.

According to Josina Anderson, Norman took four nasal COVID-19 tests, with half of them being positive/negative. Anderson remarked that Norman “sounded strong” when they spoke.

“It is what it is,” Norman said, per Anderson. “I’m handling it. I’ll be fine.”

In the wake of the absences, Buffalo called up the following members of their practice squad…

LB Darron Lee-Best known as a former first-round pick of the New York Jets, Lee earned a Super Bowl ring through the Kansas City Chiefs’ trek to the title last season. He was signed to the Bills’ practice squad on November 2.

CB Daryl Worley-Worley inked a one-year, $3 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys last offseason, but was released after their slow start and failing to find a trading partner. He earned 14 tackles over seven games in Texas, starting four games.

WR Jake Kumerow-Kumerow was part of the Green Bay Packers’ final training camp cuts in September, but he was signed by the Bills three days after his release to join their practice squad. Kumerow previously partook in last Sunday’s Buffalo win over Seattle, earning 16 snaps.

S Josh Thomas-An undrafted free agent out of Appalachian State, Thomas has played in one game with the Bills thus far, earning a tackle in their 24-21 win over New England in Week 8.

CB Dane Jackson-The Pittsburgh alum was the final pick of the Bills’ draft proceedings in April (239th overall). He earned second-team All-ACC honors last season and forced four fumbles a year prior in his junior campaign. Jackson previously stepped up for an injured Norman against the New York Jets in October and earned his first career interception.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Islanders: Revisiting the 2016 free agency class

Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders had a very eventful 2016 free agency. I look back at this class as the worst thing to happen to the Islanders in a decade. Yes, this event is worse than moving to Brooklyn. This was the most rushed and poorly scouted free agency class, I think, in the history of the NHL.

The Islanders had a bunch of free agents leaving. Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin all left the Island this year. And Garth Snow rushed to sign three players who could emulate the former players’ styles. One by one, you’ll slowly realize how terrible this class was.

Andrew Ladd

Yes, this is the class where the Islanders signed Andrew Ladd to his terrible contract. Do you want to know why they did this? Because Kyle Okposo left for Buffalo, and Snow couldn’t risk losing a top-six forward for nothing in return. Snow believed that the game Andrew Ladd played would be the exact same game that Kyle Okposo played. Look at where this contract has led the Islanders. Trading away a top 4 defenseman to sign back their franchise guys. Garth Snow is a great GM.

This is the equivalent of the New York Giants trading away Odell Beckham Jr. and signing Golden Tate and his ridiculous contract to cover it all up.

P.A. Parenteau

Frans Nielsen was a great player for the Islanders and a top shootout guy of all time. The same could be said for P.A. Parenteau. And of course, Garth Snow had to sign Parenteau who was in no shape to be playing in the NHL. Parenteau was signed to replace Nielsen, and it would revive his career. Parenteau didn’t even make it to training camp.

Jason Chimera

As a kid watching Chimera on the Islanders, I always said that he had cataracts. I still stand by this statement. I’ve never seen anyone have worse hand-eye coordination than Chimera. Yeah, he was a good checker, but he was no Matt Martin. Martin is a top 4th liner every year, Chimera is Chimera.

Conclusion

This class still plagues the Islanders to this day. This class is the main reason in my mind why Snow got fired. Because he was good at drafting and trading, but he always made terrible signings. Isles fans hate Garth Snow.

UFC: Tony Ferguson calls for a fight with Michael Chandler

Tony Ferguson, UFC

There is no division in the UFC that is as exciting as the lightweight division. One of the most exciting fighters in that division is El Cucuy, Tony Ferguson. Ferguson last fought back at UFC 249 when he lost to Justin Gaethje.

Since then, Ferguson has been itching to get back into the octagon. The UFC was trying to book him against Dustin Poirier for UFC 254. However, that fight fell apart due to financial negotiations with Poirier and the UFC. 

The promotion has moved on to booking Poirier against Conor McGregor. Meanwhile the promotion signed former Bellator champion, Michael Chandler. They offered Chandler to Tony Ferguson, however, Ferguson didn’t seem interested. 

Well, some time has passed and Ferguson seems to be changing his tune. The former interim lightweight champion took to Twitter last night to call out the former Bellator champion for a fight in December.

New fight for UFC 256?

The UFC always tries to build up their final PPV card of the year. Last year they had three titles on the line in their final PPV card. This year at UFC 256, the promotion has lost two title fights originally scheduled for that event.

Now, there is one title fight left which is the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. However, the card needs a little more star power after losing Amanda Nunes last week. 

Tony Ferguson has opened the door for the UFC to book a helluva lightweight matchup for that card. Michael Chandler has been itching for a big time fight since he signed with the promotion.

However, the promotion was struggling to book him a fight. He wanted to jump right in to take on someone in the UFC‘s top five to see right away whether he belonged or not. It appears he’s going to get that chance.

Chandler has been very vocal about his desire to fight Tony Ferguson. Now that it appears Ferguson is on board, all the attention will turn to the UFC brass. I think there’s a pretty high probability that this fight gets made for UFC 256.

New York Yankee Analysis: Why the Yankees must sign second baseman DJ Lemahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

For die-hard New York Yankees fans, you already know the answer, but nevertheless it’s worth delving into. Rather than give stats, here is a simple answer, the Yankees would never have even gotten to the postseason in 2019 or 2020 without LeMahieu’s hitting and defense of the second base.  In his 2019 campaign, after the Yankees signed him to a two year $24 million contract, he won a Silver Slugger Award and came in fourth in the MVP balloting.

In his second year with the Yankees, he topped his first year, winning the MBL batting title by hitting .364 and coming in third in the MVP voting. The Yankees couldn’t have asked more from the previous Colorado Rockies; he has been a Godsend to the team. Every game he leads off the lineup, he usually finds a way to get on base; he also has occasional power, hitting 10 home runs in this shortened season. That’s the equivalent of 27 home runs in a regular season. That is nothing to sneeze at.

Not bringing back LeMahieu would mean they would have to replace him with someone else. If he is the best leadoff hitter in baseball, anyone you would acquire to replace obviously would not be as good and could potentially not pan out at all. The New York Yankees must resign DJ LeMahieu, period! Another area to look at is his defensive ability at second base. Actually DJ is the ultimate utility player as he can play first and third base with the same quality he has at second base. His fielding percentage at second base is excellent and even better at first base, not a single error in 11 games.

DJ LeMahieu is an old-fashioned player, and he is not going to change that. He consistently steps to the plate intending to hit the ball someplace; if it happens to go over the fence, all well and good.  One difference between DJ and similar players is that when he hits the ball, he hits it hard.

Part of his success with the Yankees can be attributed to the Yankees coaching staff. When he came to work for the Yankees, he asked what the Yankees wanted from him. The answer was music to his ears. They said go out there and hit to your strengths, and that’s up the middle and the other way. And since that day, that’s all he has been doing for the Yankees. For the Yankees, LeMahieu is everything they could have asked for.

Despite finishing behind José Abreu and José Ramírez in the MVP race, LeMahieu was undoubtedly the Yankees’ team MVP again this season. It was less than two years ago that fans panned New York’s decision to sign LeMahieu to a two-year deal. Now, everyone knows the organization will suffer serious wrath from its fan base if LeMahieu ends up elsewhere in 2021 and beyond.

DJ LeMahieu was the only New York Yankees to receive a qualifying offer to return next year for 18.9 million dollars. At the deadline to answer DJ rejected off to become a free agent and test the market. That doesn’t mean DJ won’t wear the pinstripes next year, but it does mean the the Yankees will have to compete with the 8-10 teams that have expressed an interest in him. More than money, at 32 DJ may be more interested in the length of the contract, providing him security in the years to come, then the exact money amount of the contract.

The Yankees may be able to take advandage of that and the fact that DJ likes New York and playing at Yankee Stadium. Most believe it will probably take $20 million a years to acquire DJ, and probably for at least four years. Some experts have said he might want a $100 million contract. If that is true the Yankees despite his value to the team, may let me him walk. They do have other fish to fry. If DJ keeps them from solving their other needs, he value gets deminished.

 

 

 

New York Mets: Amed Rosario is working with the man that revamped Justin Turner’s swing

Amed Rosario, New York Mets

In the last few hours, New York Mets‘ shortstop Amed Rosario saw his name circulate in trade rumors because he apparently deleted some photos from his official Instagram profile. Fans started to wonder if there was a deal in the works, but that’s not the case. At least not yet: it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in the future.

But Amed Rosario remains a member of the New York Mets. As Tim Healey of Newsday explained it: “For those wondering about Amed Rosario’s Instagram presence: He deleted Mets-related photos in September to go for a more off-field/lifestyle aesthetic.”

In another Rosario-related piece of news, Healey explained that the Mets’ shortstop wants to improve upon his disappointing 2020 performance. He needs to do so in order to secure his place as the team’s starting SS, given Andres Gimenez’s presence in the roster.

“More significantly, he’s (Rosario) been working this week with Doug Latta (Justin Turner’s swing guru).” If he manages to improve his offensive output, maybe he can deliver on the promise that once made him a top prospect going through the Mets’ farm.

The Mets need Rosario to wake up

In 2020, Rosario slashed .252/.272/.371 with a .277 wOBA and a 76 wRC+. It was a clear downgrade from what he did in 2019, when he finished with a 100 wRC+. This past season, Rosario could only take four walks, against 34 strikeouts.

Fielding-wise, UZR loves him (1.0 in 2020) but DRS doesn’t (-3.) After three full seasons in the majors, the Mets want to see some progress from the athletic shortstop.

That’s why he’s seeking the help of Latta. The former high school coach teaches hitting, and worked wonders with Turner prior to the 2014 season. Before that year, Turner was a utilityman with a .260 career average.

In 2014 with the Dodgers, Turner hit .340 with a 158 wRC+ in 109 games. He became another hitter from that point on, and the Mets are hoping Latta can achieve something similar with Rosario.