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Beside The Points For Monday, Dec. 18, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

Pats-Steelers delivered

We need to talk about the last few minutes of New England vs. Pittsburgh, one of the nuttiest finishes I’ve certainly seen. It begins with a Gronk drive for the ages and a Dion Lewis run that put New England up 27-24 and swung the odds 36.7 points in New England’s favor. A deep pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster brought Pittsburgh to the 10 yard line, swinging the odds back in their favor by 45.4 points. A touchdown from Jesse James would have ended it, but it was called back, swinging the would-be 99.5 percent chance of winning to a mere 47.5 percent win probability. That chance evaporated when Ben Roethlisberger threw a pick. [ESPN]

America’s snowboarding future is great

Chloe Kim is a generational talent and is the early favorite to bring home gold in the snowboarding competition. In 2016, she was the first woman to land back to back 1080s and scored a perfect 100 that year at the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix. Given that the only other person to ever get a perfect score is legend Shaun White, there’s high hopes for Kim. [Vogue]

Toronto pivoted

The reset of the Toronto Raptors’ offense appears to have gone off without a hitch, with broad changes to play style not resulting in the normal chaos we’d expect from quick pivots. Indeed, Toronto last year was in the bottom third of the league on assist percentage, assist ratio, shot quality, pace, and three point attempts per game: This year so far they’re in 22nd, 9th, 7th, 11th, and 6th place, respectively, in those offensive categories. [FiveThirtyEight]

Richardson out

Jerry Richardson will sell his ownership of the Carolina Panthers after the 2017 season. The announcement comes after Sports Illustrated published information about a number of settlements with four former employees regarding Richardson’s inappropriate behavior in the workplace including sexual harassment of multiple women and the use of racial slurs. [ESPN]

Try out our fun new interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?

Chicago is Cleveland’s best chance

The Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns 27-10, putting Baltimore in great position to make the playoffs (87 percent chance of making the postseason) and Cleveland in terrific position (78 percent chance) to go 0-16 this year. The reality is that the Browns are running out of opponents they can beat — they had a 17 percent chance of triumphing over Baltimore — and with a tough Week 17 game against the playoff-bound Steelers (5 percent chance of victory) it looks to all come down to next week’s game, a bout with Chicago where the Browns have a 18 percent chance of winning. [FiveThirtyEight]

Jags playoff bound

For the first time since the Bush administration, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be going to the postseason. Indeed, the Jaguars have a legit shot – 19 percent chance — of securing a first round bye as well. Blake Bortles has also looked like a good quarterback lately, so truly anything is possible. [ESPN]

Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!

Big Number

22.0 points per game

Average points scored by an NFL team this year, down from 22.8 in 2015 and 2016 and a high of 23.4 points in 2013. The days of the pass-heavy score-friendly NFL offense appear to be coming to a close. [FiveThirtyEight]

Leaks from Slack:



let’s go


Oh, and don’t forget
The gloves come off

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.