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Beside The Points For Monday, Jan. 8, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

CFB Championship game preview

Nick Saban’s Alabama will play former mentee Kirby Smart’s Georgia, and it’s bound to be a great game. Saban has won all 11 games played by former assistants by an average of 28 points, but Georgia is no big underdog here: they beat offensive powerhouse Oklahoma in the playoff and will be strong contenders against last year’s runner up. [ESPN]

Somehow the Patriots even won the bye week

The New England Patriots, which did not play football this past weekend, saw their chances of winning the Super Bowl rise from 31 percent to 34 percent. This came because of several key upsets: They’ll face a Tennessee Titans squad that currently has the lowest Elo rating among teams still in the playoffs, with one substantial AFC contender in Kansas City out of the postseason. [FiveThirtyEight]

Blake Bortles, Jaguars running back

Blake Bortles rushed for 88 yards in the Jaguars victory, 71 yard in scrambles, behind only Colin Kaepernick when it comes to postseason scrambling yards in the past 10 postseasons. Leonard Fournette, an actual running back for the Jags, ran only 57 yards. [ESPN]

Olympic quality in four months

Erin Jackson made the Olympic team for long-track speedskating after pulling third place in the U.S. Speedskating Trials. More remarkable: Jackson — who will be the first black woman to make the team for long-track speedskating — has only been training full time for four months after being an inline speed skater for 15 years. [Deadspin]

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

The one percent, but tennis

Prize money in tennis is incredibly disproportionate, with highly ranked players raking in millions — the top 128 players who qualify for each of the four Grand Slam titles make 18 percent of the total prize money. Those ranked between 200 and 2,000 make almost nothing. [Digg]

Twelve is enough

While those on the outside of the NFL playoffs looking in may long for an expanded field of perhaps 16 playoff teams rather than 12, the difference between a five seed and a six seed and a hypothetical seventh seed or eighth seed is pretty vast. We can find this by looking at Defense-adjusted Value Over Average — a way to describe a team’s efficiency — since 2002. The average DVOA of a fifth seed and sixth seed (11.1 percent an 12.3 percent, respectively) is considerably higher than the DVOA of what would have been the seventh and eighth seeds (4.9 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively). [FiveThirtyEight]

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

Big Number

88.2 percent

That’s the offensive efficiency rating for Alabama, just a hair lower than 88.7 percent, the defensive efficiency rating of Georgia. These teams are remarkably well matched across the board based on their efficiency ratings. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack:


Well another great Andy Reid playoff performance


it’s incredible


Also, Mariota could literally fill out an entire football team — he has run, thrown, caught a TD from himself, and threw a pancake block on the game-sealing run


gruden seemed to imply he was calling a lot of those plays during that big drive
all he’s gotta do is read up on cap space and he can be the whole front office as well


Oh, and don’t forget

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.