Former New York Giants DC James Bettcher gets job with 49ers

New York Giants, James Bettcher

The Pat Shurmur era is fortunately over for the New York Giants, but one name that Giants fans probably remember is getting a new job in the NFC West. James Bettcher was, of course, defensive coordinator in the Shurmur era. Few fans had strong opinions about him when he was brought in, and most were waiting to see how he would do before making strong judgements.

Bettcher, obviously, didn’t do well enough – few areas of the team did under Shurmur. He was fired when the Giants cleaned house to make room for the current staff that was largely picked by Joe Judge.

Now, he’s getting a job as a senior defensive assistant with the 49ers.

He’s not the only one in that former administration to get a job elsewhere after the Giants cleaned house. Pat Shurmur himself is back in the league, too, but had to drop back down to offensive coordinator when moving to the Broncos.

The Giants moved on from Bettcher by acquiring Patrick Graham, who so far has been far more successful than other Giants defensive coordinators over the last few years. Unlike the others, Giants fans were actually hoping that Graham would stay, and one of the team’s first offseason moves was securing a contract extension for him.

Generally, the Giants have been better coached all around as of recent. And we can see that clearly here, with the current defensive coordinator getting a new contract while the former one moves into a defensive assistant position.

JoJo Calderwood outpoints Jessica Eye at UFC 257

One of the more intriguing matchups at UFC 257 was the flyweight contest between Jessica Eye (15-8) and Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (14-5). Both of these top ten flyweights were looking to bounce back after taking losses in 2020.

2020 was a tough year for the UFC‘s Calderwood. Calderwood earned a title shot and was expected to fight Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the champion suffered a knee injury and the fight was going to be pushed back.

Calderwood wanted to take another fight instead of wait for the shot. She was looking at a lengthy layoff and didn’t want that heading into a title shot. Calderwood took on Jennifer Maia and was submitted in the first round. Maia took away Calderwood’s UFC title shot.

2020 was also not a great year for Jessica Eye. Eye is a former UFC title challenger and spent a good portion of the year ranked as the number one contender. However, that changed when she headlined a fight night against Cynthia Calvillo.

Calvillo was making her flyweight debut and used her superior grappling to beat Eye by a decision. Eye tumbled in the rankings and was looking to get back towards a UFC title shot with a win tonight.

UFC 257 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 257 flyweight contest kicked off with both ladies meeting in the middle with a big exchange. These two didn’t waste any time at all. Calderwood looked for knees in the clinch while Eye worked the uppercuts.

After a couple of exchanges, Eye pushed Calderwood up against the fence in the clinch. The two separated and Calderwood landed a very nice 1-2 off of a leg kick. After that, Eye went right back to clinching Calderwood but ate a knee for her efforts.

Calderwood was able to break the clinch and she landed a body kick. Jessica Eye did a good job of landing a couple of good shots before the two clinched again. Calderwood again was able to break free. Halfway through the round and the two exchanged big shots before they clinched again.

Eye was able to get the better of the position and she started landing good knees against the fence. She then was able to land some good body shots, but Calderwood countered with knees. The separated and both started exchanged again.

Through the first round of this UFC 257 flyweight contest, Jessica Eye continuously was getting the best of the clinch. A furious pace to the first round and I’ll lean towards Jessica Eye after one.

Round 2

The second round at UFC 257 kicked off with a big body kick from JoJo Calderwood. The two clinched and they both landed body shots in the clinch. Calderwood then landed some clean shots on the outside.

After that, she then landed a big front kick to the face. Calderwood then popped Eye with a clean 1-2. Eye was trying to close the distance, but Calderwood was catching coming in. Both ladies exchanged clean jabs with three minutes left in the round.

The two clinched again and Calderwood landed a couple of clean knees. Eye did land a couple of nice shots to the body. Calderwood then landed a nasty body kick and followed it up with a clean right hand.

Another good body kick lands for Calderwood. Eye was pushing forward, but Calderwood was touching her up in the second. Eye landed a clean jab with 90 seconds left in the round, but Calderwood countered with some good body kicks.

Calderwood was really connecting everywhere with the kicks in the second. She started working calf kicks before going back to the body. Jessica Eye was able to catch Calderwood spinning in the final minute and Eye landed a takedown. Despite the takedown, I have this UFC 257 contest even heading into the third.

Round 3

This UFC 257 flyweight contest was up for grabs heading into the third round. Calderwood opened the striking with a couple of body kicks. Jessica Eye closed the distance and was able to force a clinch 20 seconds in.

For the next minute of the fight, Eye was just controlling Calderwood against the fence. Not a ton of action and the referee was threatening to separate. Eye was trying to take Calderwood down, but Calderwood’s defense really halted the action.

Halfway through the round and Calderwood landed a knee, but she couldn’t separate from Eye. Finally the referee separates the two and Calderwood landed a couple of clean shots to the body.

Eye tried to clinch again, but Calderwood defended well. Calderwood then popped Eye with a couple of shots. Jessica Eye was trying to throw, but she was out of range. Calderwood then hit her clean with a right hand that forced a takedown attempt.

Calderwood sprawled well and forced the fight back up. The two then clinched and Calderwood started landing good knees to the body. When the two separated, Calderwood continued to look for shots. Eye looked very tired.

The two clinched against the fence and Calderwood started landing big shots. Calderwood landed a big knee and Eye gets cut open. The round comes to a close and Calderwood should get the decision here.

JoJo Calderwood def. Jessica Eye by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Marina Rodriguez knocks out Amanda Ribas at UFC 257

Kicking off the UFC 257 main card was an anticipated strawweight matchup. Budding superstar, Amanda Ribas (10-1) took on fellow Brazilian, Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2). Both entered this contest inside the UFC‘s top ten.

Ribas has taken the MMA world by storm over the past year. From her skill in the octagon to her infectious personality, the Brazilian seems to have it all. As mentioned, she’s extremely skilled.

Ribas entered the octagon tonight undefeated in the UFC. She has wins over Paige VanZant, Mackenzie Dern, and Randa Markos in her career so far. However, it was clear that her toughest test stood in front of her tonight.

Marina Rodriguez earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series a couple of years ago. However, her UFC run hasn’t been the smoothest thus far. It is worth noting that she’s faced top competition.

So far she is 2-1-2 in her five fights inside the octagon. Rodriguez suffered her first career loss to former UFC champion Carla Esparza in her last fight. She was looking to get a huge bounce back win tonight and stop the hype train of Amanda Ribas.

UFC 257 Recap

Round 1

The first fight on the UFC 257 main card got started with a touch of the gloves. Ribas was trying to work her way inside early with straight punches. However, Rodriguez was doing a good job of circling around the outside.

Both ladies connected with a few shots, however Ribas was able to work her way in. Rodriguez made an error that allowed Ribas to get ahold of her. Once she grabbed her, Ribas was able to land the takedown with a few minutes to work.

Rodriguez was able to keep Ribas inside the guard. However, Ribas was doing well at landing shots on Rodriguez. Rodriguez tried to throw up submissions, but Ribas did a good job of defending. The round comes to an end and it’s 1-0 for Ribas at UFC 257.

Round 2

The second round of the UFC 257 bout kicked off with Ribas looking to close the distance. Rodriguez was looking to work her kicks to keep her distance. Ribas worked her way in but Rodriguez landed a massive right hand that dropped Amanda Ribas.

Amanda Ribas folded and Rodriguez followed up with a few shots. Herb Dean stepped in and there was a moment of confusion. The fight wasn’t stopped after Rodriguez thought it was. She went right back to work and finished off Amanda Ribas. Massive win for Marina Rodriguez.

Marina Rodriguez def. Amanda Ribas by TKO – Round 2

Buffalo Bills: A lesson to learn from each AFC champion

Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are back in the AFC title game for the first time in 27 years. What can they learn from those that came before them?

A lot of cherished memories from the 1990s seem to be making a comeback these days. If the Buffalo Bills play their cards right on Sunday, their appearances in the Super Bowl can join Saved by the Bell, The Matrix, and Dunkaroos.

For the first time since 1994, the Bills will partake in the AFC Championship Game, shipping off to Arrowhead Stadium to battle the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS). Their last AFC title tilt appearance likewise came against the Chiefs, when earned a 30-13 win at RIch Stadium en route to Super Bowl XXVIII, the last of four consecutive Big Game appearances. In the long interim, Bills fans have continued to appreciate the efforts of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, and many, many others.

Over a quarter century later, worthy successors have finally risen in their place. Josh Allen has begun toppling Kelly’s franchise passing records. The tandem of Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley has emulated that of Reed and Don Beebe. Jerry Hughes has risen up in Smith’s place in pass rushing duties.

Speaking with Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, Reed confirmed that he and his old teammates have been keeping up with the Bills victorious’ modern endeavors. The receiver was pleased to see that the young Western New Yorkers seemed to be eumulating those conference champion squads throughout their historic season.

“It takes you back in a lot of ways, because they’re scoring a lot of points,” Reed said. “They are taking a lot out of the book of our teams, and I’m sure Sean McDermott has referenced us many times during the season and the last four years he’s been there. They’ve got a quarterback that, from one year to the next, has just made a complete turnaround. And they’ve got the weapons. I just think they’ve got everybody that that front office wanted to get. You can get all the pieces you want, but if they don’t work in the system, it really doesn’t matter.”

In honor of the Bills’ big day, ESM looks back on what the present Bills can learn from the champions of the past, as they seek to reach the first of what they hope is far more than a mere four consecutive Super Bowls…

1990-91: Keep up the pace

With their propensity for big yardage and scoring outputs, the 1990 Bills wouldn’t be out of place in the modern NFL, one that worships the offensive side of the ball. One of the ways Buffalo turned up the heat on their opponents was an uptempo attack that wore defenses down. Even when the New York Giants neutralized the offense by holding the ball for over 40 minutes in Super Bowl XXV, the Bills were able to quickly set themselves up for a game-winning field goal attempt when they got the ball back at their own 10 with 2:16 to go in the game.

Kelly confirmed in December that he had gone over his no-hiddle endeavors with modern offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. The Hall-of-Fame said that the Bills’ current setup makes them a good fit for an up-tempo setting.

“I got to spend a lot of time with Brian last year we got together and sat and watched film when I was playing with our no huddle offense,” Kelly said, per a report from team reporter Chris Brown. “Looking at some of the plays that I ran a lot because I liked them and they were an easy read and you can utilize all your receivers that you need to especially the one-on-ones that I had with James Lofton and Andre Reed. And Josh now has (Cole) Beasley, (John) Brown and of course (Stefon) Diggs.”

1991-92: Defense (still) wins championships

No one’s denying that the Bills are prepared for a shootout with the Chiefs. But while NFL scoreboards routine reach the 30s these days, there have been plenty of examples where the value of a strong defense has come to the forefront. After all, we’re two years from the slugfest in Super Bowl LIII that saw the Patriots take a 13-3 decision from the Rams.

The Bills were sure to keep their defense up to par, and far beyond it, during their conference dominance. Their uptempo offensive antics were brought back in their first AFC title defense, once again leading the league in yardage and finishing second in scoring. But after easily handling Kansas City in the Divisional round, they ran into a determined Denver Broncos team that would allow only a late Scott Norwood field goal in the championship game.

Their defense, however, took care of a potent Denver. The Broncos invaded Buffalo territory on each of their first five possessions, but crucial sacks and stops forced them into uncomfortable situations. Buffalo recovered only one of four Denver fumbles, but it led to longer field goal attempts for David Treadwell, who missed each of his three chances. Carlton Bailey provided the biggest scoring chunk of the afternoon with an 11-yard touchdown through a John Elway interception.

Today, the Bills defense has apparently saved their best for last. When Allen’s usual passing antics were stifled by Orchard Park’s winds during last week’s Divisional round, they likewise held their opponent, Baltimore, in check and provided a death blow through a pick-six. Taron Johnson’s return as a little bit longer than Bailey’s going 101 yards for the clincher in a 17-3 win.

1992-93: Contributions can come from all over the depth chart

We’ve seen countless promising seasons derailed through an injured quarterback, particularly in the latter stages of the season. This postseason was no exception, as we saw John Wolford and Taylor Heinicke start games on the NFC side when Jared Goff and Alex Smith were respectively sidelined with late ailments. The 1992-93 Bills are, of course, best known for “The Comeback”, the rally from 35-3 down against the Houston Oilers in the AFC Wild Card round. That historic march was overseen by Frank Reich after Kelly went down with a Week 17 injury. Reich came up big against in the Divisional win over Pittsburgh with two touchdown passes, but he wasn’t the only reserve who rose up. Kenneth Davis tallied 104 yards when the Steelers’ defense bottled up Thomas, while Cliff Hicks earned a sack. The latter earned an interception a week later against Miami in the AFC title game.

Josh Allen is (knock on wood) ready to go for Sunday’s visit to Kansas City, but some unsung heroes have helped fuel the ongoing Buffalo playoff run. Johnson not only had last week’s runback, but his crucial takedown of Jonathan Taylor on third-and-goal at the one helped change the course of the Wild Card victory over the Colts two weeks ago. Daryl Williams has not only been serviceable in replacing the injured Cody Ford, but he earned a crucial fumble recovery in that Wild Card triumph. When John Brown and mastery of trickery Isaiah McKenzie are perhaps your fourth and fifth viable options at receiver, you know you have a deep squad. Head coach Sean McDermott noted the importance of having such a deep unit in a year affected by unprecedented obstacles prior to the playoffs.

“You’ve got to be able to count on depth,” McDermott said, via Chris Brown. “You’ve got to have depth in this league, this year in particular, with not only injuries occurring but the virus, knocking people out. So, it’s highly critical.”

1993-94: Go all out, because you never know when you’ll be back

By the 1993 season, many had tired of the Bills’ schtick. While Norwood’s memorable miss capped off a one-point loss against the Giants, Buffalo’s next two visits to the Super Bowl were one-sided affairs, falling to Washington in a 37-24 debacle that was never really close and avoiding Super Bowl infamy only through Beebe’s strip of a showboating Leon Lett in a 52-17 defeat at the hands of Dallas.

But as the situation became more dire at the Rose Bowl against the Cowboys, likely sending the anti-Bills factions into full fury, Kelly reportedly turned to pass rusher Jeff Wright and suggested they make the return trip yet again.

“We laughed and had a couple of drinks over it,” Wright said in a report from Jerry Sullivan of WIVB. “By God, we did it.”

The Bills defied the doubters, many of whom were questioning players’ efforts and abilities. Those partially died down when they earned a 13-10 upset win over the Cowboys in Irving. Afterwards, they once again posted a dominant effort, capturing the top seed in the AFC once more and winning their last six games prior to Super Bowl XXVIII. Another loss to Dallas awaited, but the Bills’ camaraderie and strength was unmatched.

Thomas, one of the biggest targets after the 1992 season, capped it off with one of the most dominant performances in conference championship history. He tallied 186 yards and three as the Bills crushed the Chiefs 30-13.

“We were a force to be reckoned with. You had to bring your breakfast, your lunch, your dinner and a snack for afterwards, because we were going to be there playing football for 60 minutes,” Thomas said in Sullivan’s report. He seems to feel that the modern Bills have the same brand of hunger and intensity going into Sunday.

“They have that same confidence in who they are and what their abilities are. You can tell they’re having fun. Like us, these guys love going over there to the facility and practicing and being around the guys. And that’s how you bring a great team together.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC targeting Tyron Woodley – Vicente Luque

UFC, Tyrone Woodley

While everyone is focused on UFC 257 tonight, there has been some news that has come out this evening. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani is reporting that the promotion is currently targeting a fight between Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) and Vicente Luque (19-7-1).

The welterweight clash would take place at UFC 260 which of course already contains two title fights. The card is being headlined by the heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou while Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will serve as the co-main.

Now, it appears that the UFC is close to finalizing this welterweight showdown for the main card. It is worth noting that the fight is not finalized at this moment, but there is growing optimism that the fight will be booked.

This would be a massive opportunity for Vicente Luque. Luque is currently ranked tenth in the UFC‘s welterweight division and he’s riding a two-fight win streak. He’s only lost twice since 2015.

Those two losses came against two of the best fighters in the world. He lost to Leon Edwards in 2017 and in 2019 he lost to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Luque will finally look to break through against elite competition when he takes on the former UFC champion.

Redemption for the former UFC champion?

It has been a pretty steep fall from grace for the former UFC welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. After Woodley stopped Darren Till at UFC 228, many were wondering who would be able to stop the champion.

He had the power in his hands and the grappling ability to be a problem for anyone. Woodley was building his resume as one of the greatest welterweights to have ever lived. However, he’s fallen on really hard times.

All of this started at UFC 235 when he was completely dominated by the current champion, Kamaru Usman. After Woodley lost to Usman, he took a year off before he returned to face Gilbert Burns back in May.

Burns completely dominated Woodley and the UFC champion had lost ten consecutive rounds in competition. Desperate for a turnaround, Woodley took a fight against his biggest rival and former interim champion, Colby Covington.

Again, Woodley was completely dominated in this fight. Woodley lost all four rounds before getting finished in the fifth round by Covington. Woodley is still ranked sixth in the division, but it’s shocking to see how much he’s fallen in the last two years.

This will truly be a do or die fight for the former welterweight champion. If he’s able to defeat a hungry Vicente Luque, he might have one more run left. However, if he loses, it’s probably time for him to hang up the gloves for good.

New York Giants predicted to select Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle in mock draft

New York Giants, Jaylen Waddle

The 2021 NFL Draft is a few short months away. But as this offseason begins to ramp up in intensity, the New York Giants will begin looking for ways to improve their offense. Uprgading the offense, more specifically, upgrading the offensive playmakers, is a major point of emphasis for the Giants this offseason. Co-owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman vowed to improve the offense this offseason.

Giants fans have quickly turned their attention to the 2021 NFL Draft and free agency periods. Both free agency and the draft will feature rich wide receiver classes filled with talent for the Giants to acquire. At the top of the NFL Draft, there are a few intriguing options for the Giants at wide receiver.

Ja’Marr Chase and Devonta Smith are two exciting wide receiver options that might not make it to pick number eleven in April. So many Giants fans and analysts have turned their attention towards the draft’s consensus third-best wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle.

Jaylen Waddle is the less talked about wide receiver out of Alabama in this year’s draft class. Devonta Smith, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, has gotten most of the media attention. There is a good chance, though, that Smith is selected inside the top ten picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Same goes for the electric Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU. This leaves Jaylen Waddle as the likely next-best option for the Giants in round one.

Jaylen Waddle stats and highlights

Jaylen Waddle has been mocked to the New York Giants in countless mock drafts recently. It seems like a perfect situation where elite talent meets extreme need. The assumption is that the Giants will draft the best receiver on the board in April. This is contingent on what happens in free agency, though.

If the Giants are able to sign a big-name wide receiver in free agency, they could go another direction in the draft. But one of the Giants’ biggest current needs is at wide receiver, so Jaylen Waddle at eleven overall makes sense.

Jaylen Waddle has game-changing speed combined with crafty route running and impressive receiving skills. It is entirely possible that Waddle runs a sub-4.3s forty-yard dash at his 2021 Pro Day. Waddle’s speed makes him a killer deep threat and also makes him highly efficient on shallow or deep crossers. Waddle is able to create plenty of separation through solid route running combined with his elite speed.

Waddle averaged 11.2 yards after the catch per reception over the past two years at Alabama, per PFF. He also averaged a shocking 21.1 yards per reception in 2020. Jaylen posted 28 receptions, 591 yards, and 4 touchdowns in only six games this year at Alabama. Waddle dealt with an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for most of the year, but showed great heart and competitive nature by recovering from that injury and returning for the National Championship Game in 2021.

Throughout the course of Jaylen Waddle’s collegiate career, he played alongside extremely talented offensive teammates. Alabama has been producing first-round wide receiver talents for years, along with NFL quarterbacks and superior offensive linemen. Despite playing in this loaded offense, Jaylen still put up impressive numbers, totaling 1999 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns since 2018, averaging 18.9 yards per receptions over the course of his collegiate career.

Jaylen Waddle is the definition of a playmaker. He is a reliable receiver with the ability to create huge game-changing plays. If the Giants draft Waddle, they will have the choice of moving him inside to slot receiver or playing him off the line of scrimmage in the outside “Z” receiver position. Either way, Waddle dominated at both of those positions in college. If Jaylen Waddle is on the board for the Giants with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it will be hard for them to pass upon his elite speed and talent.

Chuck Vitolo’s guide to betting UFC 257

Conor McGregor, UFC

Most are expecting a quick KO by Conor McGregor (-190 odds) at UFC 257 and I understand why, but hear me out.

Dustin Poirier is going to be in total defense mode in RD1 as he and the whole world knows that’s when Conor is the most dangerous. Conor finished him inside of two minutes when they first clashed in 2014 but Poirier has since blossomed into one of the best fighters in the promotion since moving up to lightweight (155 pounds) directly following the loss and its hard to believe he (and Conor too for what it’s worth) ever fought at 145 looking at the size of him now.

Judging by eye, Dustin appeared to be wearing the weight cut harder and weighed in just at the 156-pound limit so it’ll be interesting to see if that has any effect on the both as he had been looking bigger than ever in the months leading up to this fight what I believe to be a clear attempt to gain a size advantage on Conor. He’s making a major risk there as not being fully hydrated/at full strength against a lethal McGregor is playing with fire.

If he and his team are smart – and they are – they have to know his best path to victory is a submission (a Dustin submission pays +1000, great value) in round 2 or later.

On the flip side, I believe Conor is sick and tired of the “he has no cardio” narrative. His team also knows if he ever wants a real shot at beating Khabib he’ll have to evolve and I think we see a totally new approach tonight, a more methodical Conor with a pace; although he’ll surely go for a kill shot if he sees one early.

Really think this one has a solid chance of going the distance, and until I see Conor actually get hurt on his feet, let alone finished I’ll never believe it’s gonna happen. This is gonna be a dogfight, and it’ll be close but if Conor doesn’t finish him early, he’ll gas out for a bit midway but catch a second win and secure a decision win (Conor is +650 to win by decision).

DP is a legit black belt though and that submission threat is very real. On the flip side, Conor’s takedown defense and Jui Jitsu are so underrated and Dustin isn’t a terrific wrestler so it’ll be easier said than done so submit him.

Unfortunately for Dustin, his biggest strength (throwing lethal multi-punch combos) is exactly what Conor feeds into on offense as he’s probably the best counterpuncher in UFC history. It’s simply going to be extremely arduous for him to rock Conor standing, and if Conor is able to slip a few of those punches it could be lights out at any moment.

Overall, Conor is overpriced at closing at around -330 at most books and is more accurately about a -200 favorite if popularity wasn’t a factor.

This is going to be a terrific, tantalizing fight no matter how it ends up shaking out.

UFC 257 outside of the main event

Chandler – Hooker

Have to be honest, I don’t watch much, if any, Bellator so I’ve never really seen Michael Chandler fight live. I think he’s doing to be in for a rude UFC awakening against Dan Hooker (-120) though who has the antidotes for strong wrestlers in the forms of lethal knees and super slick submissions. Would be surprised to see Chandler win (even money).

Believe Hooker will get a finish here and cement himself in the top-five of the sport’s toughest division. It’s going to take an almost perfect effort out of Chandler to best Hooker who is really coming into his own and that’s a tall ask of a guy who is making his UFC debut on such a big stage against a seasoned UFC vet.

Hooker should easily be able to control the distance and even just feinting knees should keep Chandler at bay.

Ribas – Rodriguez

This will be Amanda Ribas’ (-330) true coming out party, as she’s already only about 1-2 solid outings away from a title shot and will be that much closer when she finishes a tough 12-1 Marina Rodriguez, whose only loss is against former champ Carla Esparza, tonight.

Had she not gotten a bogus two-year PED suspension that eventually got overturned, Ribas would already be in the title picture. She’s the next big thing in the women’s division.

Rest of the Main Card

The rest of the card isn’t super inspiring although there’s the potential (as always) for some crazy finishes on the prelims.

Don’t see Jessica Eye/Jojo Calderwood (-120) being very exciting although the bad blood makes it interesting. Not sure that Jessica Eye (+100) has fully recovered mentally from the vicious headkick knockout she suffered at the hands of Valentina and she has a nagging elbow injury that could hinder her.

The same thing goes for Julianna Pena/Sarah McMann (-125) as far as exactment level/chance of a crazy finish goes but I see Pena (+105) grinding out a fairly decisive decision. She’s worth a look at a play as I feel the oddsmakers have the wrong fighter favored.

Undercard

As far as the undercard goes, your best potential for a wild finish should come in the Khalil Roundtree (-380)/Marcin Prachnio bout. One of them will get KO’d and I think Prachnio actually has a solid chance of pulling out a shock upset (+300 dog) via knockout as he’s on a three-fight skid and needs to do something special if he wants to hang around the UFC.

Roundtree simply isn’t good enough to deserve to be almost a 4:1 favorite against anyone in the UFC as he’s been finished in the first round in 2/3 fights himself.

Although Prachnio has been finished in all three of those consecutive losses, they came against pretty stiff competition and was very successful in his ONE championship days.

Long Island’s own Matt Frevola is pretty significantly underpriced at +500 and is worth a look at that number.

Arman Tsarukyan (-700) is riding a significant amount (of mostly unwarranted) hype heading into this one and doesn’t deserve to be a 7:1 favorite here.

Fan favorite Brad Tavaras (+100) Antônio Carlos Junior (-120) should be a back-and-forth battle that I believe will end up going to decision but it’s really a coin flip.

Both fighters are relatively young, but extremely seasoned veterans that have fought the majority of their careers in the UFC so their records aren’t a great indicator of how high-quality they truly are.

If you’re going to play something here, Carlos Júnior by submission at +340 as he’s a high-level BJJ black belt with 8 career submissions under his belt.

Here are my personal plays for the night:

(Chuck Vitolo’s YTD record: 0-0)

• Conor McGregor +Amanda Ribas parlay to win (-145) for 3 units

• Conor McGregor by decision (+650) for .5 units

• Dan Hooker (-120) for 2.5 units

• Amanda Ribas by sub (+280) for 1 units

• Julianna Pena (+108) for 1 unit

(My max bets are 5 units and all odds are courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook)

Report: Deshaun Watson’s top choice is the New York Jets

A report from the Miami Herald has indicated that the outgoing Texan’s destination of choice would be the New York Jets.

According to a report from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Deshaun Watson’s seeking an AFC East destination when his move from the Houston Texans inevitably comes. Watson’s first choice is reportedly the New York Jets, with the Miami Dolphins appearing in the runner-up slot.

Salguero’s report claims that Watson prefers New York over Miami because of the hiring of Robert Saleh as head coach. A separate report from Mike Florio of ProFootbalTalk claimed that Watson wanted the Texans to interview Saleh for their own head coaching vacancy but that Houston management wasn’t interested. Jim Caldwell and former Jets quarterback Josh McCown have been more recently linked to the search for Bill O’Brien’s replacement, but the refusal to bring Saleh in has only made the relationship between Watson and the Texans even icier. Noted Saleh celebrant Richard Sherman encouraged Watson to go to the Jets on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast, advising him to get out of Houston “as quickly as possible”. Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract.

Both the Jets and Dolphins own high picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Jets will choose second and Miami selects immediately after. Miami’s slot was originally held by the Texans, but they sent it to Miami in exchange for Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, and a pair of day three picks. The Jets, however, may have more trade ammunition, as they own two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts thanks to a summer trade with Seattle that involved Jamal Adams. New York will also begin the offseason with the second-most cap space at over $65 million, behind only Jacksonville.

Watson is looking for new surroundings after the relationship between him and the Texans soured after a 4-12 season, one notably marked by the absence of top receiving topic DeAndre Hopkins, who traded to Arizona for rusher David Johnson and two picks beyond the first round. Despite the raw feelings, Watson posted a career-best 33 touchdown passes and 4,823 yards, the latter mark leading the league.

Notably, each of Watson’s preferred destinations has an established franchise quarterback option. The Jets will have Sam Darnold in the final year of his rookie contract, while the Dolphins’ offense struggled in Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie campaign last season. Saleh was noncommital when addressing Darnold’s future with the organization during his introductory statements earlier this week, but mentioned that was “premature” to call Darnold his top thrower entering training camp.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Will the New York Giants receive any compensatory picks this year?

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants are not expected to be awarded any compensatory draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants hold the 11th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. They will only have six picks overall to fill the many needs on the roster.

In addition to their first-round pick, the G-Men will have the 42nd overall pick in round two, No. 76 overall in round three, No. 107 overall in round four, and two sixth-round selections — No. 172 and No. 177, the latter received in exchange from the Arizona Cardinals in the Markus Golden trade.

The Giants do not have a fifth-round selection due to the trade with the New York Jets for Leonard Williams. Big Blue also does not have a seventh-round selection either due to the trade with the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yaidom.

According to the compensatory draft pick cancellation chart compiled by “Over The Cap,” the Giants are not due any additional selections due to their aggressive shopping spree in free agency last March. They signed cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Blake Martinez, kicker Graham Gano, outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, quarterback Colt McCoy, tight end Levine Toilolo, and safety/special teamer Nate Ebner.

Safety/Special Teamer Michael Thomas was signed by Houston, but according to the chart, he is listed as non-eligible for compensation.

2 starting pitching the Yankees should consider trading for

New York Yankees, Chris Bassitt

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman continues to scour the market for pitching support, despite signing Corey Kluber to a one year, $11 million deal. It is becoming clear that Cashman doesn’t feel necessarily optimistic about his starting rotation, considering three players haven’t played in a combined five years.

Those players are Kluber, Luis Severino, and Domingo German. While they hold plenty of talent, it has been quite some time that any of the three have taken the mound in a competitive way. Kluber and Severino have both dealt with injuries the past two years, and German has spent the last season serving a domestic abuse suspension.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees make another move relatively soon, whether it be a free agent signing or trade. I’m leaning more toward a trade, considering the Yankees have plenty of assets they can part ways with for a cheaper option to fit under their salary.

Here are two starters the Yankees could consider in a trade:

1.) Chris Bassitt

One stellar option is Oakland Athletics Chris Bassitt. He’s scheduled to make just $4.9 million in 2021. As a round 16 pick back in 2011, Bassitt has gradually made strides at the MLB level. This past year with Oakland, he landed a 2.29 ERA over 63 innings. He’s not a high strikeout pitcher, but he forces weak contact and utilizes a diverse array of pitches. They include a fastball, slider, curveball, changeup, and cutter.

With this many pitches, he’s able to keep batters guessing with his off-speed balls. He hovers in the 92.9 mph range with his fastball, meaning he’s not a strong arm thrower, which is something the Yankees have been attracted to in the past. However, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he is an intimidating figure on the mound and could represent a massive upgrade in the rotation.

It would undoubtedly take a few assets to land him in a trade, but he is a player that can make an impact immediately and still has two years left of control on his contract.

2.) Kyle Hendriks

Another name that has bubbled to the surface is Kyle Hendricks, who is 31 years old and is currently on a four year, $55.5 million deal that expires in 2023. He is expected to earn $14 million in 2021, so the Yankees would have to find a bit more money to fit him into their payroll. However, he is another player that had a stellar 2020 season. With the Chicago Cubs, he landed a 2.88 ERA over 81.1 innings.

He’s another starter it doesn’t strike out a significant number of batters, but rather forces poor contact and often times leaves batters on base. This past season, his left on-base percentage was 82.4%, with a 47.1% ground ball rate. Considering Yankee Stadium and the short porches, it’s always beneficial to see a high ground ball rate for pitchers of interest. I believe he would fit nicely into the rotation, and with several years still left on his deal at a favorable cost, Cashman should at least inquire.