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Just A Quarterback Away From Greatness
FiveThirtyEight
 

We start by talking about Super Bowl LV. The matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is already full of takes, although sports pundits don’t seem content to make claims about this year’s game alone. We dismiss the notion that the duel between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes will in any way decide the GOAT debate. Brady has nothing to prove (although another ring would be nice), and Mahomes is 25. He could lose to Brady and then win six Super Bowls in a row, or Brady could turn in an amazing game in a loss to Mahomes. What is exciting is that Tampa Bay and Kansas City are two of the most complete teams in the NFL right now. They’ve also taken completely different team-building paths to the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Rams are already following the Bucs’ template, having just traded Jared Goff and a bunch of draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ approach of giving away first-round picks like candy wouldn’t work if more teams in the league did it, but by zagging where most teams zig, they’ve been able to build a veteran roster that could be the best team in the NFC, if Stafford works out.

Next, we talk about the latest tensions between Major League Baseball and its Players Association. The league pulled out a last-minute proposal to delay the start of the season in the name of COVID-19 safety — Arizona and Florida are hot spots not just for spring training but also for the coronavirus at the moment. However, the players were fairly convinced that the league’s real reason to push back was to try and get more fans in the stands later in the year when vaccines will hopefully be more widely distributed. The 2021 baseball season will continue as scheduled, but this exchange does not bode well for negotiations over the next collective bargaining agreement, after the current CBA expires in December. The Hot Takedown crew expects there to be some sort of strike in our future. There’s just too much suspicion of bad faith between the sides to resolve sticky issues like how the league would handle an expanded playoff without adversely affecting player salaries. But given that MLB was able to pull off a 60-game season in 2020, a work stoppage in 2022 might not mean no baseball that year. It might just mean winter baseball.

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Sara talks about the National Women’s Hockey League, which has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. It’s a shame that we’re not all focused on the league’s Isobel Cup playoffs on Thursday and Friday. The league is pulling in a lot more sponsorship money and playing some great hockey — although Geoff thinks what it really needs are more Canadian teams.

What we’re looking at this week:



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Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.

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