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Beside The Points For Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

We figure out the Super Bowl favorite Sunday

New England plays Pittsburgh this Sunday. They’re the two top seeds in the AFC, and the game will set the pair up for the postseason. A win for Pittsburgh locks their first round bye and, per the FiveThirtyEight Elo predictions, increases their chance of winning the Super Bowl from 17 percent to 22 percent. A loss would mean New England has only a 60 percent chance to score that first round bye, but for the Patriots a win gives them a 30 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, up from 22 now and 16 percent if they lose. [FiveThirtyEight]

Lifetime ban

Six Russian women’s hockey players — Inna Dyubanok, Ekaterina Lebedeva, Ekaterina Pashkevich, Anna Shibanova, Ekaterina Smolentseva and Galina Skiba — recieved lifetime bans from competing in the Olympics as part of the continued fallout from the doping scandal that has prevented the Russian team from competing in the forthcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. [The Ice Garden]

Input no longer requested

Beginning in 2018, the USGA will no longer allow viewers at home to call in penalties for players competing. A professional will be doing that now. Call-ins have historically affected tournament outcomes in significant ways. Now you can enjoy golf without having to obsess about the minutiae of the rule book, which I actually think may suck a bunch of the enjoyment out of golf for the people who enjoy golf. [USA Today]

Oh, well, that answers that question

Turns out that Yu Darvish was accidentally tipping off his forthcoming pitches to the Astros’ batters in the World Series, as he had a rather simple tell that was easy to decode. The pitcher made it through 10 outs in two starts. [Deadspin]

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

Blocked and reported

The Golden State Warriors have 8.68 blocks per game which trails only the 1985-86 Washington Bullets historically. In the past three games, the Warriors blocked 12.0 blocks per 48 minutes. Coupled with the fact that Golden State is really good at scoring points off of those blocked shots, it’s yet another instance of the Warriors being even better than their perception as “ridiculously good.” [FiveThirtyEight]

Nick Foles to the rescue?

Carson Wentz tore his ACL, devastating Eagles fans and sucking the air out of one of the most electric seasons the franchise has ever had. His backup is Nick Foles. So, how do backup QBs of wonderful teams do in the postseason? There have been seven quarterbacks who won at least 10 games for their playoff-bound team who were unable to start in the playoffs. Their backup quarterbacks, in five of the seven cases, lost the team’s first game in the playoffs. In one of the cases — Mike Tomczak taking over for Jim Harbaugh in Chicago in 1990 — their team won the first but lost the second game of the playoffs. But one time, the team went 3-0, when Phil Simms backup Jeff Hostestler took the 1990 New York Giants to a Super Bowl win. [FiveThirtyEight]

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


Big Number

62.8 percent

Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will finish the season with a projected 62.8 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ total yards of scrimmage this year, beating out their previous combined record, 58.2 percent in 2014, when the pair notched 3,926 of 6,749 Steelers yards of scrimmage. Either way, they’re the best RB/WR duo in NFL history. [FiveThirtyEight]


Leaks from Slack:

 

ella:

huh

emily:

what omg
also there’s usually way more yelling in curling

andrea:

is this our way of returning to the topic of a curling podcast?
(please)


Predictions




Oh, and don’t forget
Jeremy Kerley blames ghost

Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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