PRETORIA, South Africa – Adrian Otaegui of Spain shot an 8-under 62 Friday to take a two-shot lead at the Tshwane Open in South Africa. Otaegui had a small chance to shoot the first 59 in European Tour history when he needed to pick up two shots on the last two holes. But he settled for par on No. 17 after just missing a chip-in for birdie, and then bogeyed his last hole, his only dropped shot of the day. The 22-year-old Otaegui still made nine birdies at the par-70 Pretoria Country Club, jumping 18 places up the leaderboard and moving to 11-under 129. South Africa’s Merrick Bremner was second on 9 under after a 66. Overnight co-leader David Horsey dropped three shots off the lead in a tie for third on 8 under with Keith Horne, Edoardo Molinari and Trevor Fisher Jr. Fisher, who won the Africa Open last weekend, made four straight birdies from No. 6, but also had three bogeys in his 66. Former Ryder Cup winner Molinari was in position for his first victory on the tour in five years after a second straight 66, with four birdies and no bogeys. Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark, who shared the first-round lead with Horsey, dropped to a tie for 13th after a 72. European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke boosted his chances of a top-10 finish with a 67 to move to 2 under.
Despite having departed from Yonder Mountain String Band, mandolinist Jeff Austin continues to put on exciting live performances with his solo band. The group released their first record, The Simple Truth, earlier this year, and just announced a fall tour in support of that release.Jeff Austin Keeps ‘Em Dancing In PortlandYou can see the full tour schedule below, which begins on September 15th and wraps up on October 2nd. You can check the band’s website for details.Jeff Austin Band Fall Tour9/15 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS9/16 – Hangar 9 – Carbondale, IL9/18 – Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC9/19 – Brewgrass Festival – Asheville, NC9/19 – The Grey Eagle Tavern – Asheville, NC (late night show)9/20 – Workplay Theatre – Birmingham, AL9/23 – Minglewood Hall – Memphis, TN9/24 – Varsity Theatre – Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge, LA9/25 – Bears on Fairfield – Shreveport, LA9/26 – TALOA Music Festival – Guthrie, OK9/27 – George’s Majestic Lounge – Fayetteville, AR9/30 – The Redstone Room @ River Music Experience – Davenport, IA10/1 – 1st Ward Events – Chicago, IL10/2 – Jam It For The Planet- Eau Claire, WI[Cover photo via Greg Homolka]
Citing iconic climbs, such as Alpe d’Huez and the Col du Galibier, the strap-line for the new Orca bike from Spain’s Orbea is ‘Conquer Mountains, Climb Podiums’. According to the company, it’s these storied climbs and the riders who made them sacred that inspired the newest Orca. ‘An Orca born from competition and love of cycling, ready to write history on pavement everywhere.’Orbea notes that road racing bicycles have become amazing minimalist machines – but the more that is taken away, the greater the importance of the remaining elements. ‘Shaping becomes functionally deliberate and calculated. The lower spine of the frame supports the upper members like a suspension bridge, uniting elements in a perfect balance of lightweight rigidity.’Orbea cites a number of features that help to make the new Orca unique…LighterReducing frame weight is an elusive goal. It’s fairly simple to cut weight from a heavy frame – quite difficult to trim even a hundred grams from a structure that is already very lean. Reducing weight became a mantra when creating the new Orca: ‘if a design feature was not vital to stiffness and ride quality, that element must be reshaped or eliminated to reduce frame weight.’StifferFeaturing an ‘oversized spine’, the large majority of torsional and lateral loads are handled by the lower half of the frame. The headtube, downtube and chainstays must resist twisting and transmit the power generated by a rider’s legs to the rear wheel. In turn, this resistance to flex translates directly to more watts on the road.Ride qualityStudying the way the frame behaves under a rider’s weight is beneficial to tuning the way bumps or vibrations are transmitted through the frame. The efficiency of the bottom bracket area contributes the feel that the bike is responsive, that power transfer is instantaneous.According to Orbea, the natural flex patterns created by the carbon layup and structure in the top tube and seat stays deliver an efficient, smooth ride that feels like floating over rough roads. The company continues to point out that ‘The sensation is subtle – but it is noticeable and can be tested. And at the end of a gruelling climb it could make the difference between the podium and the consolation prize.’Racing geometryRacing geometry gets the most of every pedal stroke, efficiently converting every watt into speed. The distances between axles drop, ‘allowing for a more responsive bike that takes curves with ease and has great traction when you start pedalling and when you accelerate as well.’ This saves time and power at the same time. Additionally, a low stack and longer reach allow for a more aerodynamic position on the bike, and a more efficient use of energy.Orbea is part of the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation and is Spain’s largest bicycle operator. Orbea bike frames are manufactured in Asia and finished in Spain – with the brand shipped worldwide.In 2011, Orbea further cemented its relationship with [the namesake to its bike brand] Orca – the wetsuit and apparel tri brand. Heralding from New Zealand, Orca is part of the Orbea family – with Orbea and Orca reaching an agreement in 2011 for Spanish Orbea to acquire Orca’s ‘operation rights in the triathlon and compression area.’This deal gave Orbea global rights to the Orca brand, following ‘four years of fruitful relations’ between the two companies.www.orbea.com Related
U.S. 11th Circuit to amend its rules April 1, 2007 Regular News U.S. 11th Circuit to amend its rules Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2071(b), notice and opportunity for comment is hereby given of proposed amendments to the Rules of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and of proposed amendments to Addendum Five, Non-Criminal Justice Act Counsel Appointments.A copy of the proposed amendments may be obtained on and after April 2 from the court’s Web site at www.ca11.uscourts.gov. A copy may also be obtained without charge from the Office of the Clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, 56 Forsyth St., N.W., Atlanta, GA 30303 (phone: 404-335-6100) Comments on the proposed amendments may be submitted in writing to the clerk at the above street address by May 2.
“With Storm and Exeter – two traditionally tough fixtures – in the space of a week, we’re looking to the senior players to continue to show leadership as they have throughout the competition.” Academy backs coach Sean Marsden “We started really well against Quins but they punished us after the break when we gave them possession inside our own half,” said Marsden.“With Storm and Exeter – two traditionally tough fixtures – in the space of a week, we’re looking to the senior players to continue to show leadership as they have throughout the competition, while the young players returning from injury is a real positive for us.”Entry is free for season card holders and £5 for non-season card holders.Bristol Bears ‘A’ team to face Saracens Storm at Clifton RFC on Monday, September 24th (7pm KO):15. Tom Pincus; 14. Maliq Holden (Cornish Pirates), 13. Charlie Powell, 12. Nathan Chamberlain, 11. Aaron Chapman; 10. Sam Bedlow, 9. Nic Stirzaker; 1. Jordan Lay, 2. Tom Lindsay, 3. Ollie Dawe, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Sam Jeffries, 6. Jake Heenan (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Sam Graham.Replacements: 16. Will Capon, 17. Jack Cosgrove, 18. Nick English, 19. Ehize Ehizode, 20. James Dun, 21. Reiss Cullen, 22. Sam Leeming (Hartpury), 23. Euan Evans (Bristol Uni). Sean Marsden’s side – who suffered a loss at the hands of Harlequins in the last outing in the competition – face third placed Saracens Storm at Clifton RFC.Aaron Chapman returns to action from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, while James Dun and Jack Cosgrove is also included in the 23-man squad.Sam Jeffries makes his first outing of the season following a head injury sustained during the pre-season campaign.
Juan Mata against Man Utd sacking Solskjaerby Freddie Taylor25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuan Mata does not believe that Manchester United should sack manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Some fans and pundits believe that Solskjaer is not good enough to turn around the fortunes of such a giant club.But Mata believes that replacing yet another manager, their fourth since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2012, would be the easy thing to do.He said to the Daily Mail: “It is the easy thing to do. “Change your manager and it can help change your mindset, but it is never a good sign.”It is much better to have a manager for 25 years and win 13 Premier Leagues.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
Based on projected wins or over/under win totals. Data gathered on March 14, 2017.Sources: Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Las Vegas Review-Journal 5San Diego Padres6965656866.6 4Arizona Diamondbacks7877777877.4 How forecasters view the NL West 1Los Angeles Dodgers9794989595.9 2San Francisco Giants8888858887.1 In honor of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, which starts April 2, FiveThirtyEight is once again assembling some of our favorite baseball writers to chat about what’s ahead. Today, we focus on the National League West with Molly Knight, author of “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” and Sarah Wexler, a writer for Dodgers Digest and The Hardball Times. The transcript below has been edited. 3Colorado Rockies7778748177.4 RANKTEAMPECOTAFANGRAPHSDAVENPORTWESTGATEAVERAGE EXPECTED NUMBER OF WINS neil (Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight senior sportswriter): All right, so let’s talk NL West! I’m gonna start with the Dodgers, since they’re considered by most people to be the favorites in the division. (And, of course, both of you are very familiar with them!)mollyknight: It’s totally bizarre to me that they’ve won the division four years in a row. And yet somehow the Giants have won 11 World Series during that run.neil: Hah — yes, it does feel that way for the Giants. (At least until last year.)mollyknight: When I was reporting my book, Dodgers President Stan Kasten told me the goal was to make the playoffs every year because the playoffs are such a crapshoot and there’s no other way to control winning a title.But now it strikes me they may be turning into the ’90s Atlanta Braves. Which were also run by … Stan Kasten.neil: Well, that was one thing I wanted to ask about — the Dodgers seem to have an absurd amount of talent this year. FanGraphs considers L.A. to be the most talented team — not just in the NL West, but in all of baseball. It also gives them the third-best odds of winning the World Series.It seems kind of assumed that the Cubs are the NL’s best team. But is it possible that we’re all underrating the Dodgers, particularly with a healthy Clayton Kershaw, an improving Corey Seager, the Logan Forsythe trade, etc.? (Feels weird to say a $240 million team is underrated.)mollyknight: I still think the Cubs are better, but the gap is narrowing. The Cubs don’t have much starting pitching depth. If anything happens to one of their big three, I believe the Dodgers become the favorite.What do you think, Sarah?sarahwexler: That sounds about right. We saw last year the way the Dodgers were able to cobble together a rotation that worked (with the help of an excellent bullpen, of course) despite a league-leading number of injuries because of the incredible depth they have. And while that hopefully won’t be necessary this year, it’s certainly something they could do again if they had to.Also, I think it’s telling that they’ve traded away both Jose De Leon and Chase De Jong this offseason and they’re still flush with starting pitcher depth.mollyknight: It’s going to be so fun when top prospect Cody Bellinger gets called up. He’s a rock star. I think Seager/Bellinger will be the West Coast version of Bryzzo, and I’m here for it. And I think Bryzzo is here for it, too. They’re fun guys who love to compete. That rivalry should be outstanding.sarahwexler: I’m very much looking forward to Bellinger, too, though you have to wonder what that means for Adrian Gonzalez, who’s been an absolute rock at 1B for the Dodgersmollyknight: Yeah, that’s sort of the iceberg looming on the horizon for me with this team, tbh.neil: Although even that is a good problem to have!mollyknight: I don’t know how the team will respond if Gonzo’s production continues to taper off (as it does for all players on the wrong side of 32). It’s very difficult to bench a guy like that. But Bellinger plays in the outfield also, so I believe we may see him there first.neil: That’s going to be one of the questions that weighs on L.A. manager Dave Roberts. What did you think of his first season?mollyknight: He showed a willingness to embrace analytics and use relievers in unorthodox ways, both of which are vital to any team’s success going forward. This oversimplifies, but the three teams left standing at the very end (Cubs, Indians, Dodgers) all had managers willing to use their closers in the eighth inning or earlier.neil: That’s a great point — probably one of the reasons that creative bullpen management is the big new trend people are talking about leaguewide.mollyknight: Zach Britton sends his regards from hell.neil: Haha.So we’ve raved about the Dodgers’ strengths — what are the potential pitfalls for this team?sarahwexler: For as much talent and depth as there is in their rotation, there’s also a lot of uncertainty there. Will Rich Hill’s blisters be an issue again? Will Kenta Maeda wear out like he did last season? Is Julio Urias going to live up to his potential? Will we ever see Hyun-Jin Ryu again?mollyknight: They need to hit left-handed pitching. Logan Forsythe is a nice addition at second, but if he’s going to be leading off, I’m slightly concerned that his on-base percentage was .333 last season.Also, Clayton Kershaw can only pitch once every five days.sarahwexler: $240 million team, and they haven’t even figured out a way to clone Clayton Kershaw yet. Pft.mollyknight: I’m calling for a nonpartisan investigation into Rich Hill’s blister.neil: As long as nobody has to investigate his treatment method.sarahwexler: I was going to make a golden showers joke, but I restrained myself.mollyknight: I did not know about this, and now my lunch is ruined.neil: On that note, let’s move on to the Giants! They had such an up-and-down season in 2016 — at their best, they looked ready to keep that even-year championship streak going; at their worst, they nearly tailspun their way out of the playoffs down the stretch. What version do we expect to see this year?sarahwexler: I think those Giants evened out to about where they were supposed to be, and I think we’ll see similar end results with them this year. They’ve made a few key changes in signing closer Mark Melancon and bringing in Jae-gyun Hwang to play 3B, but besides that, they’re really not a radically different team.neil: How big was the Melancon pickup? The bullpen was a huge issue for them last year.sarahwexler: It was a great signing for them. It definitely fills one of their most substantial needs, and for one year fewer (and slightly less average annual value) than Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen got (which makes sense, given that Melancon’s a bit older and not quite as good, though still very good).Of course, besides that, their bullpen doesn’t look especially different, so we’ll see.mollyknight: It is tough to count the Giants out though. Never forget Hunter Pence is a witch.sarahwexler: I usually go with alien myself. Maybe he’s a witch from another planet.mollyknight: He actually lives in my friend’s building in San Francisco — and it’s sinking!sarahwexler: Something something metaphor for America.neil: Or the Giants’ division odds down the stretch?mollyknight: I was there in the fall, and I ran into him in the gym. He was doing Pilates.So Giants fans reading this should know that Hunter Pence takes his offseason seriously enough to do Pilates while the building sinks.neil: Even Pence is getting a little long in the tooth, though (supernatural origin notwithstanding). If this is basically the same group as the past few years, back for another go-around, they seem a little bit short of where L.A. is talent-wise (to say nothing of the NL’s other heaviest hitters). What has to go right for San Francisco to win the division?mollyknight: Buster Posey hitting for power again. Matt Moore turning into the guy everyone once thought he could be, on a consistent basis. Hunter Pence not changing his underwear.And the Dodgers collapsing.sarahwexler: All of that, plus Hwang panning out at 3B, and maybe also figuring out a way to plug the black hole that is their left field.mollyknight: It would also help if their bullpen didn’t blow 32 games. Melancon really should help. I don’t know how it could get any worse than last year. I looked up one night last September and saw Joe Nathan pitching in a tie game at Coors Field and thought I was hallucinating.neil: According to FanGraphs, basically the Dodgers and Giants were the only teams that had any shot at the division all year. Is this a two-team race again? Colorado got some buzz over the offseason (as much buzz as the Rockies ever really get).sarahwexler: The Rockies kind of seem to do the same thing every year, which is get off to a really hot start that leads people to question if they’re legit. They then answer that question by falling off quickly.mollyknight: It’s so hard to evaluate the Rockies since I’m not even sure what game they play in Denver. It looks nothing like baseball. Can you even imagine being a pitcher drafted by the Rockies?neil: Well, that was going to be one of my questions — is it possible their rotation looks … kinda OK?sarahwexler: They do actually have some intriguing young arms.mollyknight: They’ve got a young kid they drafted last year named Riley Pint who sits 97 and can touch 100. He’s 19 years old. I WANT TO BELIEVE.They’ve also got Nolan Arenado, who, in my opinion, is the most underrated player in baseball.neil: What did you make of the Ian Desmond signing? Was it as bad as everyone said?sarahwexler: Can’t say I love giving five years/$70 million to a guy to play a position he hasn’t played a single inning at in his entire career, but I don’t think their 1B situation is going to be what makes or breaks them this year.mollyknight: Their farm system is decent. I believe Baseball America has them at No. 10. The problem is the Dodgers and the Padres are both deeper. But they do have two potential future stars, in Pint and shortstop Brendan Rodgers — though neither one is close to the big leagues right now.neil: So even if the “dark horse” talk is premature for the Rockies, maybe they’re finally taking steps in the right direction. (Now, if only anybody can figure out what the heck to do about the weird underperformance of their batters on the road …)mollyknight: Spoiling the Dodgers’ or Giants’ season might be the best they can hope for this year.neil: The other team that I think is interesting as a spoiler is Arizona. They were one of the buzzy teams of last offseason and had a complete disaster of a season. Any chance they bounce back?mollyknight: I saw Zack Greinke was sitting 89 during his last spring training start. That is not what you want.I mean, unless you are Dodgers baseball-ops president Andrew Friedman.sarahwexler: Greinke rebounding is obviously going to be essential for this Dbacks team, as is Shelby Miller looking … well, better, but that’s a low bar.mollyknight: The Diamondbacks have a bunch of sort-of-broken young pitchers with plenty of promise. If someone can fix a couple of them, then this team looks very different.sarahwexler: Yeah, Taijuan Walker’s a guy who’s yet to live up to his potential, but I still think his addition improves their rotation.mollyknight: Shelby Miller, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin, Archie Bradley — all of these guys were GUYS at one point.sarahwexler: Plus, Robbie Ray was one of the top strikeout guys in baseball last year. What’s up with that?mollyknight: Dansby Swanson looks like a franchise shortstop. That Shelby Miller trade will go down as one of the worst deals in the history of baseball if he doesn’t turn it around. No pressure, Shelbs. They’ve got to hope Greinke has a good first half and then unload him for prospects and money relief. They cannot win while paying his salary. Their farm system is in ruins.They’ve finally got a smart front office in there, but they are a decade behind other teams in terms of analytics. The good news is nobody expects anything, and Paul Goldschmidt exists. The bad news is everything else, including the uniforms.neil: Yeah, they seem like a team in a weird place, with too many expensive players to fully rebuild right now but nowhere near enough talent to contend.mollyknight: I believe Dan Haren will fix the Diamondbacks with his tweets alone.neil: Finally, we have the San Diego Padres. Exactly how bad are they going to be?sarahwexler: Oof. When I got asked to do this, one of my first thoughts was, “Oh, great, I have to find things to say about the Padres.” Uh … Carter Capps might be fun to watch?neil: Yes! They have to be glad that Carter Capps a) will return from injury and b) still has a legal delivery!mollyknight: I still can’t believe GM A.J. Preller didn’t get fired for trying to hide injuries of players he traded last year. I will give this to the Padres: Even when they are bad, it’s never boring.neil: Will other GMs ever trade with Preller again?sarahwexler: I mean, what does he even have at this point that anyone would want to trade for?mollyknight: Pitcher Anderson Espinoza and center fielder Manny Margot, both of whom could either wind up being total stars or total duds. Fun times! I also like Cal Quantrill a lot, especially as a pitcher in that park. He needs to work his way back from Tommy John, but I think he’ll be a solid front-end rotation guy for them in a few years.It’s hard for me to knock the Padres, though, because their ballpark food is so great. They even have beer garden days. And the crowds are so chill. It’s the most relaxing atmosphere in sports.But, yeah, they’re going to be ril bad.neil: One cool thing they might do is to tinker with pitcher usage, having the starter only go through the lineup once. So, that’s fun. (Bad teams should do more of this cool, experimental stuff.)mollyknight: Yes, if you are going to lose, you might as well do it in style.neil: Sounds like “intriguing” is just about the best you can hope for out of this division if you’re not named the Dodgers or Giants.sarahwexler: It’ll likely be another fun chapter in the Dodgers/Giants rivalry, and there’s certainly potential for the Rockies or Dbacks to surprise us. Or for the Padres to make us look like jerks for being so mean to them.mollyknight: I’d be surprised if the Dodgers ran away with the division. The Giants always hang around. As certain as a Madison Bumgarner snotrocket in September, the Giants will be there.sarahwexler: Peeing on blisters, snotrockets … this chat has everything.CORRECTION (March 14, 10:30 p.m.): An earlier version of this chat misattributed one of Sarah Wexler’s lines to Molly Knight. The statement beginning “It’ll likely be another fun chapter in the Dodgers/Giants rivalry…” was said by Wexler, not Knight. An earlier version of this correction misidentified the statement that had been corrected.
Raiders1+5.6+6.4-1.0-0.4-0.4-0.1 HOU64.213.6DEN8.96.019.61468 1Colts-6.1-4.0-10.1+11.4-0.4+11.0 TEN28.510.8DAL21.17.718.51503 The best matchups of Week 9Week 9 games by the highest average Elo rating (using the harmonic mean) plus the total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions 10Jets-2.9-2.1-4.9+2.4+0.5+2.8 5Texans-0.8-5.6-6.4+1.7+5.6+7.4 2Broncos-3.9-2.9-6.7+3.9+5.5+9.3 3Chiefs+3.8-0.3+3.4+8.7-0.6+8.2 PIT88PIT78PIT 33, CLE 18-5.7 Home teams are in bold.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. EPA/G vs. BrownsEPA/G vs Others Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 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 The Simple Rating System is a way of rating NFL teams that measures points per game (for, against and as a differential) relative to average after adjusting for a team’s strength of schedule.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Ravens1-10.9-13.9+1.3+5.6+6.2-0.6 S. DarnoldNYJ55.2%12.44.4%4.0%6.4%5.1-181 PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS KC99.50.5CLE0.30.30.81469 Steelers2-1.5-1.0+0.8+12.2+9.9+1.4 The Browns’ defense is cooling down opposing offensesOffensive expected points added per game for teams against the Cleveland Browns and against all other teams, 2018 season 6Bears-4.6+3.3-1.3+6.7+0.1+6.8 Playoff %Playoff % CIN62CIN64CIN 37, TB 34-0.3 GB18.26.9NE188.8.131.52563 WSH60.415.7ATL23.312.828.51539 J. AllenBUF54.011.11.43.613.13.0-424 OAK56%IND57%IND 42, OAK 28+11.1 DET57DET53SEA 28, DET 14+2.6 Comparing the 2018 rookie QB classKey passing statistics for 2018 rookie quarterbacks (min. 25 attempts) MIN50.815.2DET18.511.726.91535 J. RosenARI55.611.43.03.68.64.3-322 OpponentGamesTot Off.Pass Off.Rush Off.Tot Off.Pass Off.Rush Off. B. MayfieldCLE58.3184.108.40.206.25.1-348 TeamOff.Def.Tot.Off.Def.Tot. To be sure, Mayfield has been far from perfect. His performances look even worse after adjusting for the quality of his competition, since he has put up subpar numbers despite facing what is by far the easiest slate of opposing pass defenses of any quarterback in the league this season.5Minimum 150 attempts. After synthesizing all of that into our Yards Above Backup Quarterback (YAQB) metric, Mayfield has been less valuable than either Darnold or Josh Rosen, though Rosen has compiled his numbers in fewer attempts. (On a per-dropback basis, Mayfield pulls ahead of Rosen, though he is still far behind Darnold.)But while it would have been ideal for the Browns to see Mayfield burst out of the gates with a statistical season like the ones produced by recent rookies Dak Prescott (1,199 YABQ), Robert Griffin III (990) and Russell Wilson (934), it’s entirely possible to emerge from a rough rookie season unscathed as a young passer. Donovan McNabb (-350), Troy Aikman (-374), Matthew Stafford (-569), Terry Bradshaw (-586) and Jared Goff (-660) all debuted with the types of performances Mayfield is tracking for, and they all rebounded. (That said, plenty of bad quarterbacks — Ryan Leaf, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, etc. — also had similarly bad numbers. Judging QBs is hard!) And according to ProFootballFocus, Mayfield is tied for the 16th-best grade of any QB in the league, so the stats may just be penalizing him for the poor performance of his teammates.Either way, the Browns are banking heavily on Mayfield’s potential — and that was one of the reasons Jackson had to go as head coach. In the big picture, they’re hoping the combination of a promising young QB, an emerging defense and a die-hard fan base proves enticing for whomever Cleveland’s next coach will be. Just the same, though, this week’s move has tacked even more points onto the Browns’ CHAOS (Cumulative High-Activity Organizational Strife) score, which already was the highest in the league over the past two decades. Setting aside the reasons for the change, it’s fitting that the Browns would have made the first coaching swap of the 2018 season, though that’s not overly encouraging for a team dragged down by so much instability over the years.As for the short term, the Browns have said they’re not giving up on 2018 quite yet. Although our Elo prediction model gives Cleveland only a 0.3 percent chance of making the postseason, Elo is probably too hard on the Browns, if we’re being honest. It still ranks them as the worst team in football, while they rank only ninth-worst in SRS, sixth-worst in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Replacement and seventh-worst in Inpredictable’s betting market ratings. Why? Elo doesn’t give teams any credit for being competitive in games they ultimately lose. And if the 2018 Browns have a calling card, that’s sort of it. Last year’s Browns did go 0-6 in games decided by one score, but they also lost eight games by at least two touchdowns. At any randomly selected moment of the 2017 season, they trailed by an average of 6.1 points. This year, they’ve trailed by an average of 3.8 points at any given moment — still not great, but at least indicative of how much more in the hunt they’ve been most weeks. Indeed, four of Cleveland’s games have ended in overtime, which already ties them for the most OT games a team has played in a season since at least 2001.2The earliest year I could search in the ESPN Stats & Information Group database.The biggest reason for Cleveland’s uptick in performance hasn’t been the play of hyped rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield (more on him later). Instead it’s been a defense that, relative to opponent, ranks as the best in the league so far this year in terms of expected points added (EPA). Against Cleveland, Browns’ opponents are averaging 7.5 fewer offensive EPA per game than they are against all other teams, including 9.0 fewer through the air. SEA55.013.1LAC74.59.322.41577 Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup.*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality Jets1-6.8-5.6+0.0-6.2-2.5-2.9 CHI40.512.7BUF220.127.116.11450 2017 SRSChange in 2018 QuarterbackTeamComp%Yds/CTD%Int%Sack%ANY/AYABQ NO87.57.4LAR98.51.08.41650 CAR68.111.7TB10.97.519.21529 HOU60HOU62HOU 42, MIA 23-0.3 CHI65CHI69CHI 24, NYJ 10+1.1 KC82KC83KC 30, DEN 23-1.4 NE71NE85NE 25, BUF 6+4.3 That’s a big contrast to last season’s Browns, who were among the 10 worst defensive teams in the league and were particularly bad against the pass. This year, Cleveland is allowing the third-lowest adjusted net yards per attempt3A measure of passing efficiency that tracks yards per attempt with a bonus for touchdowns and penalties for interceptions and sacks. (ANY/A) of any team in football — a huge testament to the team’s pass coverage, given that the Browns have the league’s fifth-lowest rate of pressures per opposing dropback despite blitzing the third-most frequently of any team. (Stellar defensive end Myles Garrett has eight sacks by himself, but the rest of the team has only 12.) According to the grading system of ProFootballFocus.com, rookie Denzel Ward has been the ninth-best cornerback in the league so far, while safety Damarious Randall and even linebacker Joe Schobert — who ranks as PFF’s top LB in coverage this season — have done quality work stifling opposing pass-catchers.Just having a defense that puts the team in a position to compete represents a huge improvement for Cleveland. But the scoring attack hasn’t kept pace, despite the pedigrees of Jackson and Haley as offensive coaches. The Browns are 26th in offensive SRS; they’ve produced the fifth-fewest offensive EPA per game in the NFL and the fourth-fewest yards per play; they own the league’s third-worst third-down efficiency mark.(We’ll set aside a conversation about Cleveland’s horrid special teams, which has already produced nine missed kicks4Including field goals and extra points. between two different kickers.)Although it’s better than last year’s DeShone Kizer-led disaster, Cleveland’s passing game still ranks just 30th in adjusted net yards per attempt, with Mayfield sitting 29th out of 34 qualified QBs in ANY/A. It isn’t necessarily Mayfield’s fault: Being a rookie quarterback is hard enough, and the Browns have made it even harder on their new QB. Mayfield lost prospective top target Josh Gordon when Cleveland dealt the receiver to New England in mid-September, and then he said goodbye to starting running back Carlos Hyde, whom the team traded to the Jaguars a month later. Meanwhile, his offensive line is allowing the league’s fifth-highest rate of pressures per dropback, and Cleveland’s receivers currently have the highest drop rate in the league.Mayfield himself has fought through the team’s situation to tie New York Jets QB Sam Darnold for the best ANY/A of any blue-chip rookie this season. He’s shown better accuracy and more composure under pressure than any of his rookie-class compatriots, with a lower interception rate to boot. However, none of the passers in this year’s rookie crop have played at an average level, or even that of a high-level backup QB — which is pretty much to be expected from a collection of signal callers making their debuts on below-average teams. Saints1-1.3-0.6-3.2+15.8+13.2+1.9 OAK0.20.2SF0.10.10.31370 ARI58ARI50ARI 18, SF 15-9.0 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION Back before the NFL season started, I dived into the Cleveland Browns’ miserable plight since the franchise was resurrected in 1999: One playoff bid in 19 years (and counting) … just two seasons above .500 … nine different head coaches … 28 starting quarterbacks … a combined 1-31 record in 2016 and 2017. You get the idea. I wondered whether it would ever be possible for the Browns to pull out of this cycle of doom, ultimately concluding that the team needed to start building a culture of stability and competency before it could begin truly laying the groundwork to compete.But I suppose things have to get worse before they get better — because we’re eight weeks into the season and Cleveland has fired yet another coach. This time it’s Hue Jackson getting the boot, ending what was statistically the worst coaching tenure of any one coach with any one team in NFL history.1According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jackson’s .088 winning percentage in Cleveland was worse than even Bert Bell’s .185 mark with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1930s and 1940s. Jackson, who probably should have been shown the door after last season’s 0-16 campaign, appears to have sealed his fate by bickering internally with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was fired at the same time. It didn’t help that Jackson also lost five of the season’s first eight games, with a tie thrown in for good measure.The funny thing is, the Browns have actually shown signs of life this season — at least, by Browns standards. So let’s take a look at where they’ve improved — and whether there is more hope in Cleveland than usual in the wake of the team’s latest coaching shake-up.For one thing, the Browns have been much more competitive this season than last. (Granted, it would have been a real challenge to get worse.) Their Simple Rating System (SRS) score of -3.5 ranks 24th in the league, but it’s also more than a touchdown per game better than their -11.0 rating from last season, making Cleveland one of the most improved teams in the NFL this year. YABQ = Yards Above Backup Quarterback, a statistic that summarizes a QB’s passing and rushing production (after adjusting for strength of schedule), relative to that of a typical backup QB in the same number of plays.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com NFL average64.811.65.02.46.66.5— None of that is likely to matter this week, of course, in a game against the dominant Kansas City Chiefs, where any metric you use would consider K.C. a major favorite. (See above.) But even though you wouldn’t know it from the bleak Elo and yet another spin on the NFL coaching carousel, the Browns do appear to be in a better place now than they’ve been in at least a few seasons.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersAll season long, you can follow along with FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings in our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks how often each team should make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. In conjunction, you can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game. (What do you win? Bragging rights! And a place on our giant leaderboard.)Here are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the reader picks last week: BAL50.8%±18.4PIT67.8%±15.533.91584 9Ravens+2.2+1.2+3.4-0.8+5.3+4.5 PHI67PHI63PHI 24, JAX 18-4.7 2018′s most improved NFL teamsLargest year-over-year changes in Simple Rating System (SRS) scores for 2018 NFL teams Buccaneers1-3.1-7.9+1.4+8.8+9.7-0.5 7Bengals-4.1-0.9-5.0+6.2-0.9+5.3 8Seahawks+0.7+1.2+1.9+0.9+3.8+4.7 Chargers1+12.5+4.9+9.1+9.8+10.9-0.8 LAR79LAR74LAR 29, GB 27-4.5 MIN55NO52NO 30, MIN 20+5.4 MIA16.78.7NYJ4.94.313.01426 WSH61WSH63WSH 20, NYG 13-0.3 4Browns-6.8-4.1-11.0+2.7+4.7+7.5 CAR57CAR52CAR 36, BAL 21-6.6 After notching their first collective win of the season against Elo a week ago, the field didn’t quite keep its momentum going in Week 8, losing by the narrow margin of 8.3 points (on average). Readers were smart to keep betting against Jon Gruden’s Raiders, but they gave back some points in wins by the Cardinals, Panthers and Steelers.A quick note: We’ve had readers email to ask why the average user lost points on games in which the readers and Elo had the same average pick probability. That’s because of the nonlinear nature of the game — even when the average picks are the same, a few disastrous (or amazing) picks on either side can swing the point totals. For instance, many readers will pick matchups with 0 percent or 100 percent probabilities, causing them to lose net points when the result goes in the opposite direction. (Naturally, Elo will basically never pick with such certitude, so even when it’s wrong, it loses fewer points relative to those overconfident readers.)Anyway, congrats to Erik de Loos and Ryan Seay, who tied for lead among users in Week 8 with 350.0 points, and to Ellis, who took the seasonlong lead with 779.6 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
He’s a self-proclaimed “little white wide receiver,” but as a Buckeye, Dane Sanzenbacher has been challenged to be so much more. “I get that a lot. I get pinned as (Anthony) Gonzalez or (Brian) Hartline because we’re both little white wide receivers,” Sanzenbacher said. “It’s easy to learn from the guys and they’re two good mentors to have.” Hartline saw his successor’s potential early on. “Dane Sanzenbacher is doing a really good job at making great strides in his game,” Hartline said following Sanzenbacher’s first season. “There is a point when you get to college and lose your swagger and become not as edgy. As you keep playing, you gain an understanding of the speed of the game and things slow down and you learn how to make adjustments on the run. Dane is doing that and is seeing things a lot quicker.” Three years later, at 5-feet-11-inches, Sanzenbacher is aggressive and has developed that speed. It’s been a learning experience for Sanzenbacher, who wasn’t highly recruited out of Toledo Central Catholic High School. “I would never have imagined I would have been here,” Sanzenbacher said. “Just being able to be a part of it was kind of a dream in the first place and then to get where it’s at right now is pretty crazy.” It’s become the norm for Sanzenbacher to have to block on the Buckeye offense. “You get used to it,” he said. Sanzenbacher etched his name into the record books following OSU’s 73-20 victory over Eastern Michigan on Sept. 25. “Well, I think obviously you never come into a game expecting to do that,” Sanzenbacher said following the game. Sanzenbacher tied Terry Glenn (1995) and Bob Grimes (1952) with four touchdown receptions in a single game, the OSU record. “That was unbelievable, not something I thought I’d do, to be named with names like Terry Glenn,” Sanzenbacher said. “It’s pretty awesome to have a piece of this history wherever you can get it, it’s cool to know that your name will be in the book forever.” Sanzenbacher leads the team with 505 receiving yards and seven touchdowns this season. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has found Sanzenbacher for more receptions, but Sanzenbacher maintains he’s just in the right place at the right time and they connect with one another. “I definitely think we have good chemistry together,” Sanzenbacher said. “I understand what he’s thinking.” “Dane’s good,” Tressel said. “He’s where he’s supposed to be … It’s all according to who’s open, and some of the things we were doing, Dane was the guy that popped open.” Close on his heels is best friend Brandon Saine with six touchdowns. Saine, a graduate of Piqua High School, played Sanzenbacher in high school, but they didn’t know each other personally. Irony struck close to home when Sanzenbacher and Saine were roommates in their first year. Both agree that they are best friends. Looking at all four years, Sanzenbacher is content with the progression of the guys that he entered camp with in 2007. “I think we’re guys that have been through tough wins, tough losses, been through a lot different situations in our career since we were freshman back in the national championship game,” he said. “And being able to win at the Rose Bowl and everything that came in between, I think when you bring that experience it just breeds confidence.” The future for Sanzenbacher is still unclear. “Obviously I want to take this football thing as far as I can. If not, we’ll see, I couldn’t even speculate though, cause I wouldn’t guess I’d be here a year ago.” If Sanzenbacher follows in the footsteps of Gonzalez and Hartline, he should be preparing for the NFL draft. Gonzalez went to the Indianapolis Colts in the first round. In 2009, Hartline went to the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round. Tressel gave each senior a notebook that documented the number of days each player has left as a Buckeye. “It’s crazy how fast that goes though, that’s something that kind of put it into perspective, how little time we have left. It’s kind of depressing,” Sanzenbacher said. “We’ve just rattled them off, so I mean it’s flying by.” In the midst of his senior year, he isn’t thinking about his personal future, but the future of the Buckeyes and the ‘one week at a time’ attitude. One more thing comes to mind: a national championship. “We’re pretty sure they’re sick of us winning championships, but I mean it’s something that comes with the territory,” Sanzenbacher said. “We feel like, at least to the seniors, it’s our job to kind of pass down the knowledge and preach to the younger guys that it just doesn’t happen.”